Thursday, December 05, 2013

Detroit Bankruptcy Ruling Paves Way For Nationwide Attack On Pensions

And paves the way for more tent cities in Obama's worker paradise as corporate criminal bankers now sweep up the last crumbs of any vestige of personal income; Detroit bankrupted by Obama's corporate criminals as precedent for rape of all pensions

GLOBAL RESEARCH
By Jerry White
12/04/2013

Federal bankruptcy court judge Steven Rhodes on Tuesday gave the go ahead for the city of Detroit to proceed with the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
 
 
Obama, criminal corporate banker plans for Americans
In his ruling supporting Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Rhodes explicitly sanctioned the gutting of the pensions of the city’s 23,500 retired municipal workers, overriding prohibitions against such cuts in the Michigan Constitution. Reading out a 90 minute summary of his ruling from the bench, Rhodes provided a pseudo-legal framework for a nationwide attack on the pensions of millions of firefighters, teachers, transit workers, and other public employees.

 
Rhodes crafted his ruling to serve as a precedent for city and state governments across the country to carry out a similar conspiracy against the working class as has been carried out in Detroit, using the federal bankruptcy courts to override state and local laws, and strip workers of retirement benefits earned in the course of years of public service.

It is no accident that only hours after Rhodes issued his ruling, both chambers of the Illinois legislature voted to impose a pension “reform” that will rob Illinois state workers of thousands of dollars in retirement income.
 
 
Rhodes’ ruling marks a turning point in class relations in the US comparable to President Ronald Reagan’s firing of the striking PATCO air traffic controllers in 1981. That action signaled a government-backed attack on the unions in which the strike-breaking methods of the first decades of the 20th century were revived in order to impose mass layoffs and brutal cuts in wages and benefits. With the collaboration of the union leadership, struggles of workers against concessions were isolated and defeated, ushering in an assault on working class living standards that has continued ever since and has been intensified since the Wall Street crash of 2008.

Rhodes’ ruling signals a new stage in the ruling class offensive, in which pensions, medical benefits, safety and health regulations—in short, every limitation on the exploitation of the working class—will be eliminated. This nationwide assault has the explicit backing of the Obama administration, which filed a brief supporting the bankruptcy process. 
 
 
Obama's next all-out frontal assault will be on Social Security
In the 1980s and 1990s, the bankruptcy courts were used to destroy the pensions of workers in steel, the airlines and other industries. They are now being used to shred the rights of public sector workers, 78 percent of whom still have pensions.

 
 
The bankruptcy process will aid Orr—an unelected front-man for the banks—in selling off city assets, privatizing services, and reorganizing the city in the interests of the corporate and financial elite. The entire operation is aimed at maximizing the amount the banks, bond insurers and other financial institutions will extract from the looting of the city and its working class inhabitants.

After the ruling, Orr told reporters that “some very hard decisions regarding pensions” would be included in the adjustment plan he will release in early January. He added that Christie’s auction house would finish its appraisal of the “500 or so highest value pieces of art” at the Detroit Institute of Arts over the next two weeks. He reiterated his intention to “monetize” (i.e., sell off) the publicly owned art collection “in some fashion.” 
 
 
Obama now accelerating destruction of the dollar
The Big Lie of Rhodes—echoed by Orr, Democratic and Republican politicians and the local and national news media—is that the bankruptcy process is being carried out to benefit the people of Detroit. 
 
It is supposedly being done as a “last resort” to provide the population with basic public services.

 
 
 
In reality, those responsible for the decline of Detroit and other industrial cities and towns across the country—the auto giants, the banks and their political servants in both major parties—are using the crisis caused by plant closures, mass layoffs, and budget cuts as a pretext to steal billions of dollars from workers who are in no way responsible for what has occurred.

In his ruling, the judge did not attempt to explain how gutting pensions and throwing tens of thousands of city residents into destitution, or privatizing city services and selling off its cultural treasures, will improve the health and safety of Detroiters.

Rhodes acknowledged that Detroit was entangled in “complex and confusing” financial arrangements pushed by the banks in previous years. While noting that, as a result of these arrangements and the economic crisis, debt servicing could rise from 28 percent to 65 percent of the city’s annual budget, Rhodes never suggested that the Wall Street institutions be made to pay for the disaster they created. Instead, he insisted that the chief source of the city’s financial woes was “legacy costs,” i.e., the pensions and health benefits of retired workers. 
 
 
This claim was challenged during the nine-day trial on the Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing over which he presided last month. Evidence was submitted that Orr’s entire presentation of the financial crisis of the city was exaggerated and distorted in order to justify throwing the city into bankruptcy and cutting pensions.

 
A recent report by the think-tank Demos showed that the chief cause of the crisis was not “unsustainable” benefits, but the banks’ predatory financial schemes, along with years of corporate tax cuts and reductions in state revenue sharing.

Rhodes ignored all such evidence, accepting uncritically and completely Orr’s politically motivated presentation of the city’s financial position.

His ruling was not an exercise in objective jurisprudence. It was a political and class decision made on behalf of the corporate-financial elite. The judge strung together a series of sophistic arguments to distort the facts, circumvent the law, and arrive at a previously determined conclusion. 
 
 
 

In common with the US Supreme Court ruling that countermanded the Florida Supreme Court and halted the counting of votes in order to hand the 2000 presidential election to Bush, Rhodes’s decision asserted federal supremacy to ride roughshod over the Michigan State Constitution and its guarantee of public pensions.

In finding the city eligible for bankruptcy, the judge brushed aside the legal arguments of retirees and others who filed lawsuits challenging Orr’s bankruptcy filing and Michigan’s anti-democratic emergency manager law. Dismissing the plain language of the Michigan Constitution’s ban on “impairing or diminishing” public employee pensions, Rhodes argued that there was no such ban and that the federal courts could sanction an attack on workers’ benefits.

The judge also ruled that the state’s emergency manager law, Public Act 436, was constitutional, even though it was essentially the same law that was repealed by Michigan voters in December 2012.

The judge went through contortions to claim that the bankruptcy filing was carried out in “good faith” even though he acknowledged that Orr had not conducted “good faith” negotiations with retiree groups, unions, and other creditors—one of the requirements under the bankruptcy law. Rhodes ruled that further negotiations were “impracticable” because there were more than 100,000 creditors and the city was running out of time and could not pay its bills.

In his concluding remarks, Rhodes gave an extraordinary account of what he called the “composite narrative” of the objectors’ argument that the filing had been in bad faith.

Rhodes said: “The city’s filing was the consequence of a long-term strategic plan whose goal was the impairment of pension rights through a bankruptcy filing by the city. Its genesis, the narrative says, was hatched by a law review article that two Jones Day attorneys wrote. This is significant because Jones Day did not just become the city’s attorneys, but the law firm from which the emergency manager was hired.”

The “narrative,” he said, included the city engaging the creditors only in the minimum so it could later assert in bankruptcy court that it attempted to negotiate in good faith.

Rhodes acknowledged that not only the objectors, but “many people in Detroit hold to this narrative or at least substantial parts of it.” He added that the “Court does find, in some particulars, the record does support the objectors’ view of the reality that led up to this bankruptcy filing.”

Despite these damning acknowledgments—pointing to a political conspiracy against the people of Detroit—Rhodes insisted that there was “not nearly enough particulars for this Court to find that the filing was in bad faith.”

In essence, Rhodes ruled that no matter how fraudulent the proceedings leading up to the bankruptcy, it could still go forward. He thereby opened, no doubt intentionally, a very wide door for other cities to declare bankruptcy and proceed with their own attacks on the jobs and benefits of the working class.

This ruling underscores the fact that the entire political system—from the White House, to the Democratic and Republican parties, to Congress, to the courts—is an instrument of the financial aristocracy and is carrying out a social counterrevolution against the working class.

The corporate and financial elite is able to proceed with such brazen contempt for social and democratic rights because of the cowardice and complicity of the trade unions. As was made clear in a filing last week, the unions accept the entire framework of the bankruptcy, demanding that the city proceed even more aggressively in selling off art from the DIA. (See,“The unions and the Detroit bankruptcy”).

The mobilization of the working class against this attack requires the exposure of the entire criminal operation and the financial interests that stand to benefit from the looting of pensions and public assets. For this purpose, the Socialist Equality Party is organizing the February 15 Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit.

For more information on the Workers Inquiry, visit detroitinquiry.org.





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France's Hollande Reveals "Benign" Prostate Problem

Cancer spreads from Obama poodle's brain to prostate

SBC
By Brian Love
12/4/2013

PARIS (Reuters) -

French President Francois Hollande acknowledged on Wednesday that he underwent treatment for a swollen prostate just before he ran for office, declaring after a radio station revealed the issue that the condition was "benign".


Frog fruitcake gets multiple finger treatment
The health of French leaders has been a sensitive issue since former president Francois Mitterrand kept his prostate cancer secret for over a decade of his 14 years in power. He died less than a year after leaving office in 1995.

A statement issued by the 59-year-old Hollande's office said he spent a few days in hospital in February 2011 and was treated for "a benign swelling of the prostate."

"No medical follow-up was considered necessary in the wake of the operation," said the statement. The Socialist leader had issued two public health reports since becoming president in May 2012, that last of them in March 2013.


State radio station France Info said on Wednesday Hollande was treated on two occasions for the problem, the second step involving an operation and a stay of one week in hospital.

Hollande's run for the presidency began in March 2011 when he entered his Socialist party's primary contest. He beat conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy in a May 2012 run-off to become France's first Socialist head of state since Mitterrand.

The prostate cancer that ultimately killed Mitterrand was diagnosed just months after he was elected president in 1981 but was only made public in 1992, well into his second term.

 
The prostate cancer that ultimately killed Mitterrand was diagnosed just months after he was elected president in 1981 but was only made public in 1992, well into his second term. His doctor, Claude Gubler, revealed after his death that regular public health reports during his time in office were false.

Georges Pompidou, president from 1969 to 1974, also died from a cancer that was long kept secret.



While there is no constitutional obligation to do so, more recent French leaders from Jacques Chirac to Sarkozy and now Hollande have sought to dispel any concerns by committing to divulge any significant health issues to the public.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault denounced what he described as excessive media intrusion on Hollande's prostate issue, saying that there was no cause for worry and that the president had pledged to be transparent about his health.

Hollande's two official health bulletins as president have reported a "normal" state of health.

Chirac, president from 1995 to 2007, was admitted to hospital with a minor stroke in late 2005 that was played down at the time.

Shortly after he assumed the presidency in 2007, Sarkozy underwent a minor operation, unpublicised at the time, to remove a throat abscess. A subsequent incident, when he was hospitalised after fainting while out jogging, was made public.


Reporting by Brian Love and Sophie Louet; Editing by Mark Heinrich - Reuters






This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 


Syria Militants To Use Kidnapped Nuns As Human Shields

Obama's murdering CIA/FSA scum now applying new terror tactics on orders from the White House

PRESS TV
12/04/2013

Latest media reports from Syria say foreign-sponsored militants fighting against the government plan to use a group of nuns they kidnapped from their convent in the town of Ma'loula as “human shields.” 


Obama's CIA/FSA cowards now attack nuns
Twelve Syrian and Lebanese nuns were kidnapped from a Greek Orthodox convent after foreign-backed militants, including members of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, moved into the center of Ma'loula on Monday following several days of fighting.

The nuns were then taken to the nearby town of Yabrud - which has a large Christian population.

Reports say Syrian forces have been deployed to Ma'loula to restore security there.

The Syrian army has been battling Takfiri militants in the regions near the capital Damascus.

The army has cleared many towns and villages of the militants.

On Tuesday, Syria's Greek Orthodox patriarch called for the release of the nuns, saying, “We appeal to the seed of conscience that God planted in all humans, including the kidnappers, to release our sisters safely.”

Moreover, the Syrian Foreign Ministry sent two letters to the head of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late on Monday, saying, “Syria is facing a barbarian war launched by extremist...gangs targeting its present and future.” 




The ministry added that “terrorists” stormed Mar Takla Convent and held its Mother Superior Pelagia Sayaf and a number of nuns “as hostages and sabotaged churches and houses.”

The foreign-sponsored militants have previously abducted two bishops and a priest.

The militants fighting against the Syrian government had attacked Ma'loula, which is regarded as a symbol of the ancient Christian presence in Syria, early in September. However, they were pushed out of the town by the Syrian troops.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

MAM/SS







This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 


Congressman : U.S. Should Nuke Iran Nuclear Facilities If Needed

Failed "congressman" attempts to grab headlines with psychotic pronouncements

PRESS TV
12/04/2013

A hawkish US congressman calls on Washington to use “tactical nuclear weapons” to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities if military action becomes necessary. 
 
 
Mental midget Duncan Hunter
In an interview with C-SPAN on Wednesday morning, House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Duncan Hunter warned Tehran with a military attack despite a nuclear agreement.

When asked whether attacking Iran is inevitable, the Republican lawmaker said, “I sure as Hell hope not.”

However, he suggested that in case of military action, any American strike would be a “massive aerial bombing campaign,” the Army Times reported.

Hunter said the potential military strike should not feature any “boots on ground” and the US should use its “tactical nuclear weapons” on Iranian targets. 
 
 
He also lashed out at the nuclear agreement sealed between Iran and six major powers in Geneva on November 24.

“Iran has to do nothing,” Hunter said, adding that the US and other UN Security Council countries made a mistake when they inked the preliminary deal that allows Tehran to enrich uranium.

Citing the Iran deal, the Republican lawmaker said the Obama administration is “making friends with our former enemies” while purposely distancing America from allies in the Middle East especially Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Last week, another Republican member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Michele Bachmann said Iran’s nuclear facilities “must be bombed.”

Republican lawmakers have started an anti-Iran campaign to formally challenge President Barack Obama over the nuclear agreement with Iran.

House Republicans are considering several possible responses to the agreement. One option would be pressuring the Senate to consider new sanctions on Iran and the other would be including language in a bill to formally express disapproval of the deal.

Meanwhile, Kingston Reif of the Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation said that “the preventative, first-use of nuclear weapons against Iran would have a devastating impact on US national security and dismember US power and standing in the world.”

“That a senior Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee is even suggesting such a possible course of action is the height of reckless irresponsibility and so far out of bounds it is astonishing,” Reif said.

AGB/HJ





This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 

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