Perhaps the most controversial development in America’s housing “recovery” is the role played by large private equity firms. In recent years, they have bought up more than 200,000 mostly foreclosed houses nationwide and turned them into rental empires. In the finance and real estate worlds, this development has won praise for helping to raise home values and creating a new financial product known as a “rental-backed security.” Many economists and housing advocates, however, have blasted this new model as a way for Wall Street to capitalize on an economic crisis by essentially pushing families out of their homes, then turning around and renting those houses back to them.
Caught in the crosshairs are tens of thousands of families now living in these private equity-owned homes. For them, it’s not a question of economic debate, but of daily safety and stability. Among them are the Cedillos of Chandler, Arizona, a tight-knit family in which the men work in construction and the oil fields, while the strong-willed women balance their studies with work and children, and toddlers learn to dance as early as they learn to walk. Their story of a private equity firm, a missing pool fence, and the death of a two-year-old child raises troubling questions about how, as a nation, we define security in housing and why, in the midst of what’s regularly termed a “recovery,” many neighborhoods may actually be growing increasingly vulnerable.
Happy Solstice to all! Here in Canada, the Summer Solstice coincides with National Aboriginal Day, an event meant to promote respect and foster awareness of the many disparate First Nations' people residing within the colonial entity's claimed territory.
This year is an especially poignant one for many of those people and their Nations, as they find the promises of the federal government proven again to be so much lip service; especially where it comes to Canada's sworn responsibility to protect First Nation's ability to practice traditional hunting, gathering, and fishing on their lands and waters.
This government promised to consult the First Nations regarding mega-projects such as pipelines, where their lands may be effected, but it appears, as reflected in the Harper government's blessing of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, it is not prepared to do that in a meaningful way.
What this failure means here in Canada's westernmost province is the beginning of what could be a protracted stand-off, pitting First Nations and environmental groups against the federal government and its allies in the transglobal corporate energy sector; what one First Nations elder described as a "declaration of war."
June 17th, I went down to what may be regarded as the opening salvo of this new reality, Victoria's No to Enbridge Rally, one of the many held across the country.
No to Enbridge in the first half.
And; the drums of war tempo increased last week as US president Obama announced he would send 300 special forces troops to Iraq, ostensibly to "train Iraqi soldiers". This is on top of the 275 troops ordered into the war torn country last week to bolster security at the US embassy in Baghdad, and the undisclosed numbers of troops destined for Jordan. It all spells expanded warfare in Iraq and Syria, and perhaps in other parts of the region too. As the sound of military jets overhead grows here in Victoria, it's time today to take a look back to - if not the beginning, then the more recent history of the Anglo-American Axis Powers' military invasions of Western Asia.
The Fire This Time in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus, and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us newz from our city's streets and beyond too. But first, No means No to Enbridge's pipe dream.
Washington Escalates Intervention in Region-wide Middle East War
by Bill Van Auken - WSWS With nearly 600 Green Beret “advisors” and other US troops in or set to be sent to Iraq over the coming days, the Pentagon announced Friday that it is negotiating rules of engagement that the regime in Baghdad rejected two-and-a-half years ago, before the final pullout of the American military.
Key among these provisions, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, is blanket immunity from Iraqi or international law relating to the slaying of Iraqi civilians or other war crimes.
It was the refusal of the government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to accept such provisions in 2011 that scuttled negotiations on a status of forces agreement that would have kept some 10,000 US troops indefinitely deployed at a number of strategic Iraqi bases.
The Pentagon spokesman attempted to deflect suggestions that the Obama administration is exploiting the debacle in Iraq to blackmail the teetering regime headed by Maliki into submitting to US terms, thus paving the way for the permanent bases that Washington initially sought.
“What we were talking post-2011 was a fairly sizable force of American troops that would remain in Iraq for a long period of time,” Kirby said.
“What we are talking about here is a very small number, up to 300, whose mission will be of a limited duration.”
by Dave Lindorff - CounterPunch The rat, among mammals, is one of the most successful animals on the planet. Cunning, ruthless, competitive and above all adaptable — it is able to change its habits quickly as needed to accommodate the situation it finds itself in.
When it comes to foreign policy, the US government is swarming with rats.
Just look at the situation in Iraq. The US invaded the country in 2003, claiming it was a rogue nation that had, or was trying to develop, “weapons of mass destruction.” When it became clear that this was a lie, or at best, simply not true, the stated motive for the invasion was changed to “regime change,” and the goal became “bringing democracy to Iraq.”
“It is no longer plausible to argue that ISIS was a result of unintentional screw ups by the US. It is a clear part of a US strategy to break up the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Now that strategy may prove to be a total failure and end up backfiring, but make no mistake, ISIS IS the strategy.” - Lysander, Comments line, Moon of Alabama
“US imperialism has been the principal instigator of sectarianism in the region, from its divide-and-conquer strategy in the war and occupation in Iraq, to the fomenting of sectarian civil war to topple Assad in Syria. Its cynical support for Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria, while backing a Shiite sectarian regime across the border in Iraq to suppress these very same forces, has brought the entire Middle East to what a United Nations panel on Syria warned Tuesday was the “cusp of a regional war.” - Bill Van Auken, Obama orders nearly 300 US troops to Iraq, World Socialist Web Site
Barack Obama is blackmailing Nouri al-Maliki by withholding military support until the Iraqi Prime Minister agrees to step down. In other words, we are mid-stream in another regime change operation authored by Washington. What’s different about this operation, is the fact that Obama is using a small army of jihadi terrorists –who have swept to within 50 miles of Baghdad–to hold the gun to Mr. al Maliki’s head. Not surprisingly, al Maliki has refused to cooperate which means the increasingly-tense situation could explode into a civil war. Here’s the scoop from the Guardian in an article aptly titled “Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants”:
“A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.
Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes, but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki… to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency…
Obviously, the White House can’t tell al Maliki to leave point-blank or it would affect their credibility as proponents of democracy. But the fix is definitely in and the administration’s plan to oust al Maliki is well underway.
Will ISIS Create al-Sham Caliphate & Liberate Palestine?
by Franklin Lamb - CounterPunch Ein el Helwe Palestine camp - One need not be prescient to understand the unfolding “Jihadi Spring” is fueling the plans and perhaps destiny of ascendant Islamists in this region with the increasing help of in-country nationalists, including remnants of the Iraqi Baath Party.
This, according to more than a dozen ardent supporters of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), known locally as DAASH whose representatives allowed this observer over the past six months to interview some of its supporters to discuss what they found inaccurate in a piece I wrote about DAASH actions in Raqqa, Syria. In that article I claimed that DAASH was selling Syria’s archeological treasures, just as they are selling Syria’s oil and in some instances, food warehouse contents, to the highest foreign bidder. There is no paucity of the latter.
The final “S” in the acronym “ISIS” relates to the Arabic word “al-Sham” which itself is variously used to refer to the Levant, Syria or even Damascus. But DAASH (ISIS) means the Levant or Eastern Mediterranean including Cyprus, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and southern Turkey. ISIS has just announced that Raqqa, the only one of 14 Governorates it controls in Syria, is now the “Capital” of their emerging “Caliphate” which so far is a swathe of territory encompassing much of eastern and northern Syria and western and northern Iraq.
The Emir is to be their military strategist and leader and successor of Abu Mus‘ab Zarqawi, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
China Might Be Winning The Race To Reduce Solar Costs
by Martin Tillier - Oilprice.com Many people, even fanatical advocates of solar power, are unaware quite how close we are to reaching a critical milestone in the industry. Within a fairly short space of time, solar generated electricity will be fully cost competitive with coal-powered electricity -- at least if the governments of the world's two largest energy consuming nations have their way.
Both the U.S. and China have a stated goal of reducing the cost of solar generated electricity to that level, and quickly. How they are going about it says a lot about how each economic system works.
In the U.S., despite the complaints of some that a drift toward government control is taking place, private initiative and free markets still rule.
Answering Monbiot's Ounce of Hope Worth a Ton of Despair
by Michael Major
The 18th century american revolution harnessed citizenship, personal freedom, can-do community empowerment, humane aspirations, open debate and a deep appreciation for the pervasive shared wonderment and democratizing influence of accessible and compulsory public education. But it also gave free rein to resourcism, environmental exploitation, capitalism and colonialism.
Environmentalism rightly finds its source and inspiration in appreciation of nature, the appreciation of complex natural systems and in the revolutionary values which animated our best characteristics in the last 200 years of search for a way to live in peace and comfort with the world, its species, its nations and peoples and in genuine shared stewardship of our environment, our lives and our scarcest resources.
But according to Monbiot in order to gain political traction with the aristocrats, plutocrats, patriarchs, financiers, generals, industrialists, pragmatists and other would be rulers of the universe, our culture embraced the jargon of industrial efficiency, class entitlement and financial necessity and then we manufactured elite consent for a little green window-dressing on the expansionary fabrication of illusory fossil fueled progress.
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque Sami Ramadani, an Iraqi writer who fled persecution by Saddam’s regime but who was also a powerful voice against the Anglo-American aggression against his country in 2003, exposes one of the many lies about Iraq that have infected both sides of the interventionist argument: that it is a land seething with ancient, irrepressible sectarian hatreds that can only be put right by separation.
Regardless of what you may have heard, the Enbridge pipeline is doomed. Coastal First Nations say no, the people of BC say no, and we plan to make it stick. Join us tonight in Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George.
Victoria, 7 pm at CTV News,
corner of Pandora & Broad
- Victoria: We'll be meeting at the CTV News Building, on the corner of Pandora and Broad street, at 7pm. (Meeting at the media station allows us to amplify our voice.)
- Vancouver: 5:30 at Georgia & Hamilton.
- Prince George: 5:30 WED at the Civic Centre.
- Bring drums and noisemakers to demonstrate how loud our opposition is. Now is the time to make sure they can't ignore us. - Come prepared to brainstorm and organize to stop this pipeline. We support the decisions of dozens of frontline and First Nations communities.
Sectarian Monster Reawakened: Redrawing the Map of Iraq, Again
by Ramzy Baroud - Middle East Eye “Labeiki ya Zaynab,” chanted Iraqi Shia fighters as they swayed, dancing with their rifles before TV news cameras in Baghdad on June 13. They were apparently getting ready for a difficult fight ahead.
For them, it seemed that a suitable war chant would be answering the call of Zaynab, the daughter of Imam Ali, the great Muslim Caliph who lived in Medina 14 centuries ago. That was the period through which the Shia sect slowly emerged, based on a political dispute whose consequences are still felt until this day.
That chant alone is enough to demonstrate the ugly sectarian nature of the war in Iraq, which has reached an unprecedented highpoint in recent days. Fewer than 1,000 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) advanced against Iraq's largest city of Mosul on June 10, sending two Iraqi army divisions (nearly 30,000 soldiers) to a chaotic retreat.