No one was safe,’ once Israeli soldiers began using live ammunition on board the Mavi Marmara, says an authoritative UN investigation team into the Israeli attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla.

Their report is now going to be considered by the 57-member UN Human Rights Council next week that has the chance to finally ensure that Israel is held accountable for committing what the UNFFM found to be serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law including war crimes of willful killing and torture.

The UNFFM found that Israeli military personnel used ‘incredible violence’ against civilians who the investigators describe as ‘persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism’.

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Venezuela: Voices on the Struggle By Jeffery R. Webber and Susan Spronk

22 September, 2010 — The   B u l l e t • Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 416

In mid-June 2010, we caught up with three revolutionary socialist activists, Gonzalo Gómez, Stalin Pérez Borges, and Luis Primo in Caracas, Venezuela to discuss their views on the contradictions and prospects of the Bolivarian process.

JRW and SS: Can you tell us a little bit about your political lives?

GG: I am a co-founder of the radical web-zine and a militant in the radical left Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide) tendency within the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela). Marea Socialista is the furthest left current within the party.

SPB: I am also a militant in Marea Socialista as well as a national coordinator of the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (National Union of Workers, UNT).

LP: I am a member of the leadership of the Union Regional de Trabajadores (Regional Union of Workers, URT) Caracas-Miranda (the regional organization of the UNT). I am currently based in the state of Bolívar working on the Guayana Socialist Plan and re-constituting the UNT, which has fractured in recent years.

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“Manufacturing Dissent”: the Anti-globalization Movement is Funded by the Corporate Elites By Michel Chossudovsky

22 September, 2010 — Global Research

The People’s Movement has been Hijacked

“Everything the [Ford] Foundation did could be regarded as “making the World safe for capitalism”, reducing social tensions by helping to comfort the afflicted, provide safety valves for the angry, and improve the functioning of government (McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (1961-1966), President of the Ford Foundation, (1966-1979))

“By providing the funding and the policy framework to many concerned and dedicated people working within the non-profit sector, the ruling class is able to co-opt leadership from grassroots communities, … and is able to make the funding, accounting, and evaluation components of the work so time consuming and onerous that social justice work is virtually impossible under these conditions” (Paul Kivel, You call this Democracy, Who Benefits, Who Pays and Who Really Decides, 2004, p. 122 )

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Information Clearing House Newsletter 23 September, 2010: Israel Used 'Incredible Violence' Against Gaza Aid Flotilla: UN

23 September, 2010 — ICH

CIA Killed U.S. Citizens in Pakistan
By Jeff Stein
CIA drones killed “many Westerners, including some U.S. passport holders” in Pakistan’s tribal area during the George W. Bush administration, the new book by Bob Woodward says.

“In the Interests of Israel”
Why Russia will not sell the S-300 Air Defense System to Iran
By Gen. Vladimir Ivashov
Denying Iran the right to efficient means of self-defense is tantamount to encouraging aggression against it.

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Information Clearing House Newsletter 22 September, 2010: CIA Directs and Funds Terrorism In Pakistan

22 September, 2010 — Information Clearing House

CIA Directs and Funds Terrorism In Pakistan
CIA’s Afghan Kill Teams Expand U.S. War in Pakistan
By Spencer Ackerman
The teams are practically brigade-sized: a “paramilitary army” of 3000 Afghans, said to be “elite, well-trained” and capable of quietly crossing over in the Pakistani extremist safe havens where U.S. troops aren’t allowed to operate. The CIA directs and funds the teams.

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‘Redneck’: Tea Party just a Spectacle By Joe Bageant

24 September, 2010 — Joe Bageant

More than 43 million people are living below the poverty line, but who are these people? For some reason, in this country, there’s always been an assumption that the poor, or the underclass, are the non-white people that live in this country, and the fact that there has always been a white underclass has become taboo. Author Joe Bageant known for his book Deer Hunting With Jesus and his recent book Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir, explains that the working class are being faithfully mislead.

Video review of ‘Plunder – the crime of our time’ By William Bowles

23 September, 2010

Review of Plunder – the crime of our time directed by Danny Schecter

The spirit of graft and lawlessness is the American Spirit. – Lincoln Steffens, The Shame of the Cities, 1902[1]

Capitalism – it’s a racket, literally:

“I’d like a fair shake at the American Dream” – foreclosure victim

This quote comes from near the beginning of Plunder – the crime of our time and illustrates one of the problems of dealing with the capitalist nightmare: everybody wants a piece of the action, even those who have lost everything they own believe incorrectly that everyone can share in the ‘American Dream’ if only they work hard enough. Worse, one victim of the sub-prime crisis even believes that it was his own fault!

Hedging your bets

Selling short, credit default swaps, credit derivatives, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), mortgage backed securities…the same companies who created these exotic financial ‘instruments’ are also the same companies that profited from selling these worthless products to unsuspecting investors worldwide.

Even worse, these same companies, knowing that their ‘products’ were in fact worthless, actually bet on them being worthless! This is called hedging your bets, so they made money, trillions of dollars in fact out of betting against their own worthless bits of paper (actually nothing more than electrons).

“trading the paper…essentially creating liquid cash from nothing”

Plunder paints—after a couple of viewings—a very accurate picture of how the financialization of capitalism actually works. And this is part of the problem of getting the message across, it’s fiendishly complex, and this is also the problem with Plunder as I hope to show, crime though it may be, the criminal activities of the speculators are symptoms, not causes of a much deeper malaise that affects capitalism.

All those university trained whizzkids, the brightest of the bright, eager and hungry to succeed, were given free rein by their masters to dream up these complicated investment packages. So complicated in fact that even the bosses of companies such as Bear Stearns, Learmann Brothers, AIG, and the like, didn’t understand them either. But then they didn’t need to as long they worked, as long as they made a profit.

I have very mixed feelings about Plunder as Danny Schecter has decided to present the crisis of capital as a crime and Wall Street as the crime scene and investment brokers and hedge fund scam artists as the criminals. It’s a clever analogy but is it actually true? Is the crisis all down to a bunch of criminal fraudsters? Has there ever been a ‘free market’? Is not capitalism fraudulent by definition?

In 1929 the same scene unfolded, albeit using different ‘instruments’ (the computer didn’t exist in 1929, nor was the global circuit of capital up-to-speed). The crash resulted in the US government instituting some controls over how capitalism worked (largely because of the fear of a socialist revolution occurring).

And then, just as now, it was the banks that were at the centre of the crisis. One of the main reforms was to split off investment banking from retail banking as it was the banks, using depositors money, invested in all kinds of speculative schemes, that triggered the crisis. The deregulation that took place in the 1980-90s, reversed this, setting up the system for a fall all over again. Or is this really true? Is it lack of regulation or something systemic to capitalism itself, with or without regulation that is bound to happen? Crashes such as the current one have been occurring for hundreds of years with the same awful results.

It’s always happened this way and eventually it always pops” – Jim Rogers, George Soros’ hedge fund partner, talking about how financial speculation works.

“gambles on the market versus gambles in the market”

Jim Rogers knows of what he speaks. Rogers and Soros founded the very first hedge fund company, knowing full well that betting on the future ‘value’ of a share or securities package created money out of nothing. This is what hedge funds are all about. The creation of value is not predicated on the production of goods and services but on what a piece of paper will be worth in the future.

“$140 trillion of nothing”

There is no doubt in the minds of many who have actually tried to untangle the complex processes employed, that fraud has been and still is, being committed. Some, like Bernie Madoff whose multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme finally unraveled, ended up in the slammer, but as Plunder points out, the federal oversight body charged with ‘regulating’ the financial sector (SEC), knew about Madoff’s fraud for at least ten years and did squat about it. And as one of the people in Schecter’s video points out, he only got thrown in jail because he’d ripped off the rich! The offending corporations that did get busted, got let off with fines, not even admitting to their criminal culpability. The ruling class looks after its own.

“$596 trillion, AIG’s total loan guarantees”

“$54 trillion, the world’s total gross national product”

The AIG figure needs some explaining: AIG was using investors’ money to guarantee loans made to all those fraudulent hedge funds on the basis that the investments were solid. Money would be made, and for a while money was made until the banks, pension funds etc who had bought the fraudulent financial ‘instruments’ realized they’d bought trillions of dollars of toxic debt, at which point the bottom fell out of the market and AIG was broke.

Insider trading and betting on ‘shorts’ (that a share price will fall) are intrinsic to the way the stock market works and insider trading especially, is impossible to stop no matter what regulations are in place as it’s extremely difficult to prove that an individual had inside information on a company’s activities except in rare cases.

“Criminal prosecutions over insider dealing have had an unhappy history in the UK. The Serious Fraud Office and the Department of Trade and Industry were involved in a series of flawed cases until the responsibility for prosecuting was handed to the FSA in 2001. But the City regulator has fared little better, mounting just one case in almost eight years. That ended earlier this month in the first conviction for Ms Cole and her team.” — ‘Net tightens on insider trading‘, The Independent, 6 April, 2010

And this is the one problem I have with Plunder. It accurately explains what triggered the current crisis and documents the awful consequences for millions of people around the world but ultimately it implies that had capitalism been properly regulated, the crisis would not have occurred.

However, buried in the movie are inklings of what really happened and the causes and herein lies the one, crucial weakness of the movie namely, unpacking why exactly, capital instead of investing in real products and services ‘chose’ instead to bank on financial speculation in all its weird and wonderful forms in order to maintain the level of profit.

Financialization of capitalism

Capital needs to keep on reproducing itself either through finding new markets or through keeping down the cost of wages (or both), hence the relocation of manufacturing to cheap labour areas such as China.

By the time Reagan had been elected at the beginning of the 1980s, the ‘neo-liberal’ agenda was well underway and the process of deindustrializing the economy was established.


Accompanying this was the (fortuitous?) arrival of the IT revolution that enabled the true, real-time globalization of the financial sector, that along with its deregulation created exactly the right conditions for the invention of the above-mentioned financial ‘instruments’, all of which are based on the invention of wealth but without adding any real value to the economy. Trillions sucked out of the real economy and transferred to hedge funds, private equity companies and the results are all around us: massive unemployment, collapse of entire sectors of the real economy.

The paradox is surely obvious: as capital fled into the fantasy world of speculation, the entire basis of the economy that produced the capital in the first place, collapsed. Without consumption, fueled not only by credit but by the incomes from (the now non-existent) jobs, the real economy collapses. It’s so obvious that it’s inconceivable that the ‘experts’ were not aware of the consequences and undoubtedly they were aware as the comments by Jim Rogers above illustrates.

The question to ask of Plunder is: without recognizing the fundamental contradictions of capitalism, that regardless of whatever ‘safeguards’ are put in place, or removed for that matter, does Plunder convince viewers that capitalism is a broke-down system that needs to be replaced?

Watch the trailer for the movie here.


1. For an historical overview of capitalism as organized crime see my review, ‘Gangster Capitalism – The United States and the Global rise of Organized Crime‘ by Michael Woodiwiss.

Danny Schecter, Editor,
Author, The Crime of Our Time
Globalvision PO Box 677 NY NY 10035

VTJP Palestine/Israel Newslinks 23 September, 2010: Police release the Jewish settler who shot a Palestinian in Silwan

23 September, 2010 — VTJP


International Middle East Media Center

Obama Urges Israel To Extend Settlement Freeze
IMEMC – 23 Sep 2010 – Thursday September 23, 2010 – 20:49, American president, Barack Obama, urged Israel to extend the freeze on settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, and stated that Palestinian-Israeli peace talks must continue.

Four PFLP Members Convicting Of Planning To Assassinate Israeli Judge
IMEMC – 23 Sep 2010 – Thursday September 23, 2010 – 09:59, The Salem Israeli Military Court in the northern part of the occupied West Bank sentenced four Palestinians, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), to 4-8 years imprisonment after convicting them of planning to assassinate an Israeli military judge.

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VTJP Palestine/Israel Newslinks 22 September, 2010: Israel Makes Meeting Another Arab a Crime

22 September, 2010 — VTJP


International Middle East Media Center

Abbas, Settlement Resumption Doesn’t Necessarily Mean End Of Talks
IMEMC – 22 Sep 2010 – Wednesday September 22, 2010 – 17:42, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signalled, on Wednesday, that renewed settlement construction would not end talks. Abbas’s comments came during a dinner with Jewish leaders in New York.

One Killed, another wounded by Private Security Guard in East Jerusalem
IMEMC – 22 Sep 2010 – Wednesday September 22, 2010 – 13:59, Riots have erupted in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, on Wednesday, following the killing of a Palestinian man by an Israeli private security guard.

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