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It is high time Aussies pulled their insular, xenophobic heads out of their arses and FACED some home truths regarding our conscious complicity in War Crimes. The most infamous and enduring in recent history is of course successive government cover-ups of the cold blooded MURDER of five Australian journalists in Balibo, in 1975. Beginning with Whitlam and (then) Foreign Minister, Gareth ‘zillions in oil’ Evans and extending to OVERT LIAR and WAR CRIMINAL John ‘aluminium tubing’ Howard and the Iraq civilian HOLOCAUST; through to the present servile government and the Sri Lankan military’s brazen summary executions of suspected LTTE fighters and the concentration of almost the entire Tamil population in camps not fit for human habitation. It should not be forgotten that the Sri Lankan ambassador to the UN, Palitha ‘only losers get tried for war crimes’ Kohona, holds dual Australian and Sri Lankan citizenship. We, as a moral nation, have RESPONSIBILITIES!
Palitha Kohona (right) attends President at State reception, note flag!
A nation that prides itself on an egalitarian ideal and the ‘fair go’ cannot afford to tolerate brazen injustices and crimes from our leaders or close neighbours. It is high time we confronted ourselves and applied legal remedies where necessary, beginning with the KNOWN brazen criminals in our midst regardless of their station in society. Who the hell do they think they are flouting Laws that apply to ALL of us!
Laying blame on Corporate controlled USA and its military – the ‘satellite assisted’ Sri Lankan planned blitzkrieg of the LTTE, support for the Indonesian Suharto dictatorship and leading the civilian holocaust in Iraq/Central Asia – is not a solution, though US involvement in most of the world’s major war crimes is a given these days. Australia remains a sovereign nation and has very clear obligations and responsibilities to its citizens and the international community.
The current Labor government, known to be shamelessly servile to Wall St, Big Business and Washington seems to have forgotten that the resource wealth of this nation belongs to the public – that is the PEOPLE -- NOT the private Transnational Corporate sector; a proposal to inflict a 40% tax on all mining corporations, currently engaged in the wholesale rape of the nation’s wealth, is currently being discussed. Our view is that an imposed tax rate should not fall below 70% -- whose wealth? A larger percentage of the trillions in profits could then be returned to the nation instead of disappearing in offshore coffers.
The world has experimented with unregulated laissez-faire capitalism and now faces the catastrophic results of that failed experiment. It is clearly time to re-instate the role of the judiciary and civilised Law, especially crimes relating to Commerce, Trade, Finance and Sovereignty/Treason; the criminals in our midst must be dealt with.
We can thank failed free market capitalism for one thing only, it flushed the criminal class from its former shadow realms into plain view – further action is required to restore our representative democracy and hold former criminal leaders to account.
The Oz Rudd government has recently closed the door on Tamil Asylum Seekers
har, har! -- you reprehensible, supercilious, black lackey prick! It is very unwise to tempt fate.
Does limited [or lackey] government mean allowing one man to take $4 billion from the economy in one year? Hedge fund manager David Tepper did this in 2009, making enough money to pay the salaries of every police officer, firefighter, and public school teacher in Chicago.
To anyone who cries socialism at the first hint of taxes, do you want to accept a system that says a person making a clever bet on the market is 50,000 times more valuable than the person who comes rushing to your house in an emergency?
Free market defenders claim that the rich deserve what they earn because of hard work and initiative, and that any redistribution of such compensation is socialism. But did Tepper 'earn' his $4 billion? Is that fair compensation for a savvy guess about the upturn of financial instruments? Isn't the financial system partly responsible for his success? The long history of market structuring and government deregulation fashioned by countless free-market advocates and supported by voters had something to do with it. Instead, a paycheck of $4 billion redistributes much of America's assets to one well-positioned man.
But, some would ask, don't the very rich give it back through taxes? Not really. They pay less than 23% of their incomes in federal income tax. If state and local taxes, social security tax, and excise taxes are included, the lowest-earning half of America pays 24% of their incomes in taxes.
But doesn't the great wealth of the rich stimulate the economy? Not necessarily. Low-income earners have a higher "Marginal Propensity to Consume," which means that they spend a greater percentage of their overall income on consumption. High-income earners, on the other hand, will save more. The very rich in our country have put much of their money into mansions, yachts, jewels, and art.
But haven't the very rich lost massive parts of their fortunes in the recession? They've lost money, but no more, percentage-wise, than average mid-level earners. Wealth data from the Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve show that the richest households have INCREASED their median incomes relative to other earners since 2006.
But won't we all be rich someday, if we leave the markets alone? Just as we'll all be pro athletes someday. 90% of us have a common enemy. Based on Internal Revenue Service figures, if we had all participated in an American economy that quintupled in value since 1980, the average middle-income family would be making $45,000 a year instead of $35,000.
Twenty-five years of shrewd financial strategies, government deregulation, and tax cuts have allowed the richest 1% to TRIPLE their incomes, AFTER TAXES, while the bottom 90% has seen their share drop over 20%. According to IRS figures, the richest 1% took in about 6.5% of America's total income in 1980. In 2006 it was about 19.5%. That's a TRILLION dollars a year, one-seventh of America's total income.
The result of this reverse flow of money is that the United States has the highest level of economic inequality in the developed world. It has greater inequality than at any time since the Gilded Age of rich industrialists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
To you libertarians and Tea Partiers and anti-government free-market advocates: MOST OF US ARE ON THE SAME SIDE! Most of us should not pay any new taxes. Our hard-earned money has flowed to a small percentage of Americans who love to hear the old socialist argument.
Yes, the government should have a minimal role in a capitalist society, but even the greatest free-market economists have recognized the dangers associated with unregulated greed. A progressive federal income tax provides needed regulation. We had this between the 1950s and 1970s, when society had a healthy degree of economic equality.
Instead, essential police and firefighting forces are being reduced. Teacher layoffs are increasing classroom sizes, weakening an educational system that should be the heart and soul of our country. Low-income people traveling to their jobs on off-hours take the brunt of transit cutbacks. We're seeing cutbacks in after-school programs in low-income areas and reductions in library hours and park services. Plus, of course, increases in state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, cigarette taxes, utility costs, license fees, parking meter rates.
We're hurting ourselves in a more personal way, too. In 'The Impact of Inequality,' Richard Wilkinson documents the numerous studies that correlate inequality with shorter life expectancies, increased disease and health problems, and even higher murder rates. Most analysts attribute these effects to the stress of 'relative deprivation' -- trying to survive in a community where economic, educational, and health care disadvantages persist in an otherwise prosperous environment.
Several states have implemented more progressive tax systems. And they have apparently not caused wealthy people to transfer their fortunes out-of-state. A 2008 study by Princeton University determined that "the 'half-millionaire tax,' at least in New Jersey, appears to be an effective and efficient revenue-generation mechanism, having little impact on migration patterns among half-millionaire households." Similarly, little adverse effect of higher taxes was found in Maryland or Oregon. A study by the California Budget Project revealed that the number of high-income households actually grew during periods of higher income tax rates for top earners. Oregon recently passed Measures 66 and 67, which impose modest income tax increases on the wealthiest residents and raise the corporate minimum tax for the first time in 80 years.
Progressive taxes in these states have helped to preserve public services and repair infrastructure. The same should be done at the national level. The rich people won't move away. They know they've got it good.
Ethan McCord, a former US soldier, has shown great courage and integrity by exposing and condemning US war crimes in Iraq.
McCord’s courage and integrity has nothing to do with his US army training. In fact, his virtue and trenchant humanity is in spite of his US army training which, he says, systematically tried to turn him into a cold-blooded killing machine bereft of any morals or conscience. (1)
What his testimony shows beyond any shadow of a doubt is that US involvement in Iraq has got nothing – nothing – to do with a “war on terror”. It is in fact a war of terror perpetrated on civilians: a war crime involving daily crimes against humanity. The kind of war crime that Nazi leaders were prosecuted for at Nuremburg. It is far from hyperbole for the international community to insist that political and military leaders, from Bush and Blair, to Obama and Brown, should be likewise prosecuted as war criminals.
In July 2007, McCord was on patrol with his platoon in Baghdad when they came under fire from insurgents. A US helicopter gunship soon arrived, but instead of combating the insurgents it proceeded to deliberately and methodically mow down civilians, including children. The carnage, he says, was sickening.
Against his commander’s orders, McCord rescued two badly injured children from the pile of corpses. Unfortunately, for the US military top brass, a video of this mass murder of innocents recorded from the helicopter has since been “leaked” into the public domain and is now accessible via the internet, thanks to the campaigning work of human rights group WikiLeaks (http://www.collateralmurder.com/).
McCord makes some insightful comments about the true nature of US military involvement in Iraq (Afghanistan and Pakistan). He says that the above incident was far from an isolated erroneous event. Such massacre is “an everyday occurrence”. That is, when the US military apologises for “accidently” killing civilians in Iraq (Afghanistan and Pakistan), this is just a cynical ploy to disguise the fact that it is doing such killing deliberately and on a daily basis.
Also, McCord says he initially served in Iraq with pride, thinking that he was fighting for freedom and democracy. What he learnt through his experience though was that he and his fellow soldiers are deliberately dehumanised by their commanders to become mass murderers. Tragically, when they leave the army many of these soldiers take their own lives from the trauma and crimes they are induced to commit. McCord shows that ultimately it is ordinary Americans who are paying the heavy human, moral, psychological, social and financial price for the war crimes of their country – while the architects of such crimes are cosseted by wealth and privilege.
As he puts it: “The people who are driving the system don’t have to deal with the repercussions. It’s the American people who have to deal with them. They’re the ones who have to deal with all of these soldiers who come back from war, have no outlets and blow up.
“I still live with this every day. When I close my eyes I see what happened that day and many other days like a slide show in my head. The smells come back to me. The cries of the children come back to me. The people driving this big war machine, they don’t have to deal with this. They live in their $36 million mansions and sleep well at night.”