Bulletin N°509


2 December 2011
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
It was the British professor of communications, Anthony Wilden, who came up with the pithy definitions of strategy and tactics: "Strategy," he wrote,

is knowing what you want; tactics is knowing how to get it.

Wilden went on to observe that strategy without tactics is simply wishful thinking, while tactics without strategy in impossible.

Much of what we see around us is déjà vu; the relationships governing our lives, after all, have been reproduced over and over again for a very long time.  Recently I was speaking with undergraduate students about the origins of the First World War: the Fashoda Incident in 1898, the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905, the Second Moroccan Crisis of 1911, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 . . . . Events such as these were obvious signals for any one who wished to see that the context of capitalist production was entering a very dangerous period; global conflagrations were constantly threatening European societies.

We again live in such times; the brinksmanship of gunboat diplomacy has reappeared and it threatens all of us, whether we wish to see it or not.

The 7 items below may bring CEIMSA readers to a deeper understanding of what is at risk with the bourgeois control over military, police, and other institutions reproducing their monopoly over violent force. Those who control these institutions would control us, either by means of coercion or by our voluntary consent.

Item A., sent to us by Philip Whittick, is the London Review of Books report on NATO's war in Libya and the Grand Strategy of Europe today.

Item B. is a highly recommended article sent to us by University of Pennsylvania Professor Edward Herman, on creating new investment opportunities for capital, warning that there is "No Room for Smugness on Iran."

Item C. is an article by Wayne Madsen, a frequent contributor to Global Research, on "War Clouds Form over Iran [No doubt aided by Canada's criminal parliamentary Zionists]."

Item D. is an article sent to us by NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller on "Who's Making a Killing Off Student Loans?"

Item E. is a report sent to us by San Diego community organizer Byron Morton, on former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's "Solution to Income Inequality: A return to Child Labor."

Item F., sent to us by the Director of Nordic News Network Al Burke, is a report on censorship at the Swedish Public Television Network.

Item G., sent to us by Richard Greeman, author of the cautionary tale, Beware of Vegetarian Sharks,  in which he warns us that not everything is what it appears to be, but at the same time appearances always tell us something important about the real thing.

And finally, we offer CEIMSA readers access to the November 21 Democracy Now! broadcast on Iran, with commentary by

Seymour Hersh on "Propaganda Used Ahead of Iraq War Is Now Being Reused over Iran’s Nuke Program"

(See also, in The New Yorker magazine's 18 November article, "Iran and the IAEA," by Seymour Hersh)

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Philip Whittick :
Date: 19 November 2011
Subject: War on Libya: Who's Victory?

From Vol. 33 No. 22 · 17 November 2011

Who said Gaddafi had to go?
by Hugh Roberts


from Edward Herman :
Date: 18 November 2011.
Subject: The capitalists' "solution" : War with Iran?

There is so much good stuff flowing through in the media that few read!
ed herman

No Room for Smugness on Iran
by Elizabeth Murray*

[There’s a “Lucy-yanks-the-football-away-from-Charlie-Brown” quality to how Americans are handled each time a new war with a foreign “enemy” is being sold. There’s a slightly varied pitch and the public belatedly learns it’s been conned, as is now happening with Iran, notes ex-U.S. intelligence analyst Elizabeth Murray.]

I remember thinking smugly to myself in late 2002/early 2003: “Those neocons will never be able to launch their much-desired war in Iraq; their lies are so blatant; their allegations are nonsense; and the world is against them.”

I felt so confident that reason and logic would win out. What a hard lesson the past eight years have been!

And so, while I’m pleased to see many voices of reason countering the latest warmongering on Iran with excellent articles and effective rebuttals in the media (Gideon Levy’s recent piece<http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/what-israel-can-learn-from-iran-1.394701>in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz and the analysis
<http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/1109/Iran-nuclear-report-Why-it-may-not-be-a-game-changer-after-all>of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report by former IAEA inspector Robert Kelley, to name two), I know that warmongers never let facts – or public opinion – get in the way of their goals.

I have learned from bitter experience that they will create their own facts to paper over the truth as needed.

In the months leading up to the March 2003 attack on Iraq, I was the senior Iraq media analyst at the U.S. government’s Open Source Center (then run by CIA, but now under the aegis of the Director of National Intelligence). My branch received a large number of taskings from senior government officials with regard to the content and nature of Iraqi media reporting.

The office that inundated our branch with the greatest number of taskings was that of then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, which barraged us with repeated requests to scour Iraqi media for evidence of an operational relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al-Qa’ida. <http://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/paulwolfowitz.jpg>

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz Exercising due diligence, we leveraged our network of overseas resources, and checked and double-checked with our highly capable field staff, even seeking out obscure newspapers from remote Iraqi provinces ­ and each time came up empty-handed.

And yet, the same tasking would resurface from Wolfowitz’s office every few weeks, each time with greater urgency ­ the unspoken implication being that some evidence had to exist and we were simply not looking hard enough.

I have since learned that U.S. interrogators were subjected to the same shaming, and that the extreme pressure to come up with some link between Iraq and al-Qaeda was a key factor in the torture techniques approved for Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

(As for the all-source analysts at CIA headquarters, the CIA ombudsman testified to Congress that, in his 32 years as a substantive intelligence officer, he had never seen such severe “hammering” on analysts to come up with might be called “the missing link.”)

So I asked Wolfowitz’s office on more than one occasion to provide us with the original source of the allegation of an Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship as a means of helping us to corroborate it. We never received a response.

As it turned out, the countless hours that my office labored on this tasking ­ at great expense to U.S. taxpayers, I might add, were an utter waste of time, since the allegations proved to be false ­ yet another fabrication designed to drum up public support for a post-9/11 attack on Iraq.

By 2006 ­ three years into the war ­ the Bush administration finally admitted it had no evidence of an Iraqi role in the 9/11 attacks. But the U.S. continued its role in the destruction of that country, the facts notwithstanding.

A Nation With Alzheimer’s?*

So, returning to the current Iran campaign: When well-placed former intelligence experts began poking holes in the report about a supposed Iranian assassination attempt against the Saudi ambassador to Washington a few weeks ago, it faded from the headlines. Enter a much-hyped IAEA report alleging that Iran is moving, maybe, toward nuclear weaponization.

We are now learning from highly credible experts that the IAEA report actually contains little, if any, new evidence to substantiate allegations about ongoing Iranian progress toward nuclear weaponization. The report mostly rehashes old material.

Will it matter if there is no reliable evidence that Iran has an active program for nuclear weaponization? Or will the warmongers, with the indispensable help of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), simply march inexorably onward in their campaign to drum up support for a military attack against Iran?

Have we learned nothing over the past decade? Or will people and governments across the globe ­ invigorated and inspired, perhaps, by the positive force of the global “Occupy” movements ­ stand up, push back, and finally topple the world’s purveyors of myth-based military attacks?

We can begin by rejecting violence ­ the violence of war, the violence of poverty, the violence of racism and oppression ­ a cycle which produces nothing but future episodes of violence.

As the “Occupy” movements have ably shown, it is possible to ignite social, political and economic change ­ even forcing a shift in the daily discourse of the FCM ­ through nonviolent resistance to injustice.

People of principle everywhere, from all walks of life ­ from civil servants to members of the armed services; from shift workers to white-collar “suits” ensconced in the glass-and-steel towers of the corporatocracy ­ can choose to resist the forces of violence every day in quiet, principled and nonviolent ways.

These daily acts of conscience can bring about a force for good that will serve the long-term interests of people everywhere (please see dontattackiran.org and october2011.org for examples).

The choice to act is a highly personal one, but the repercussions of that choice will be felt collectively, for generations to come.

*Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

from Edward Herman :
Date: 10 November 2011
Subject: War Clouds Over Iran.
Strategic Culture Foundation

War Clouds Form over Iran
by Wayne Madsen

Strategic Culture Foundation

Israel’s all-powerful lobby in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an organization composed of Israeli collaborators, infiltrators, and outright traitors to the United States, is steamrolling through the House of Representatives H.R. 1905, which would prohibit the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, members of the U.S. Foreign Service, or any special envoy from engaging in any sort of diplomatic contact, official or unofficial, with any member or agent of the government of Iran. Only when the President informs the requisite committees may he proceed with engaging on diplomatic contact with Iran. Israel has de facto control over the foreign affairs committees of Congress, so any White House notification of the need to contact Iranian officials would be instantly transmitted to Binyamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem and Israel would then circumvent any U.S.-Iranian contact. AIPAC, with its resolution, is further making the United States a vassal of the Jewish state.

Israel’s strategy is to make certain that its plans to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and, perhaps other targets, meet no opposition from diplomatic circles in the United States… Israel has placed its own interests well beyond and in contravention of those of the United States.

Faced with the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran, backed by Saudi Arabia – Israel’s secret ally in the region – has had ripple effects across the Middle East and Asia.

Countries in Asia are scrambling to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as full members. Confronted by a belligerent United States, NATO, and Israel intent on toppling the governments of Syria and Iran, the economic, cultural, and de facto collective security pact that comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan announced after its prime ministers' summit in St. Petersburg that SCO would soon be opening its doors for full membership for Pakistan, Iran, and India. The Asian nations want to freeze the United States out of interference in Asia.

Ahead of the St. Petersburg summit, Russia and China strongly warned the West against any military attack on Iran. The words being used in international diplomacy are reminiscent of the Cold War era, however, it is the West that is playing to role of the aggressor, albeit an aggressor led around by Israel and its intelligence spies and assets embedded in the upper echelons of governments in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, and within the United Nations hierarchy.

Even America's vassal state of Afghanistan, eager to break free of the bonds of NATO and Washington, has attained observer status in SCO. Recent comments by the deputy commander of NATO training in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Major General Peter Fuller, that the Afghan government leadership is erratic, ungrateful, and isolated from reality because President Hamid Karzai said Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in an American war on Pakistan, resulted in Fuller’s firing. Fuller’s comments also resulted in Karzai asking for observer status in SCO as American aggression against the Muslim world and opposition to sovereignty for Palestine has seen Washington’s standing around the world plummet.

Another nation where the CIA, Pentagon, has their agents creeping and crawling, Mongolia, is also a SCO observer. There are also SCO "partners in dialogue" -- nations that could attain SCO observer or membership status in the future. Partners in dialogue nations include Belarus, Sri Lanka, and one that should worry Tel Aviv and Washington, Turkey, a NATO member. Moscow and Ankara agree that Turkey should eventually become a full SCO member. Turkey has close historical and cultural links with the Turkic nations of central Asia and with many of the autonomous Turkic republics of Russia, including Tuva, Bashkortostan, and Adygeya.

Turkey has grown tired of Israeli interference in its internal and external affairs, as witnessed by the vicious and bloody Israeli attack on the Turkish Gaza aid vessel, the Mavi Marmara; Mossad support for Kurdish PKK terrorist attacks in Turkey; and covert Israeli entanglement in the Ergenekon "deep state" network in Turkey.

Iran has now seen Israel's most-open secret ally, Saudi Arabia, appoint the former Egyptian intelligence chief and close Netanyahu friend, Omar Suleiman, as an adviser to Saudi heir apparent, Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, who is also the Interior Minister. The Jerusalem-Riyadh axis is being further cemented as the Obama administration is shifting 4,000 troops from Iraq to Kuwait and beefing up other U.S. military assets in Bahrain -- home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet – and Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. The CIA and Pentagon have set up Predator drone bases in Djibouti, Seychelles, Ethiopia, and, reportedly, Saudi Arabia.

The president-elect of Kyrgyzstan, Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev, has announced he wants the U.S. and NATO to leave the Manas Transit Center airbase in his country after the current lease expires in 2014. Already, Soros-funded non-governmental organization (NGO) agents in Kyrgyzstan are attempting to suggest that under the new Kyrgyz constitution, Atambaev does not have the authority to close the base. It is this type of U.S. interference in the affairs of the nations of Asia that has SCO readying an expansion of its membership to include two nations that have received direct U.S. military threats: Iran and Pakistan. Suspicion of U.S. intentions and military plans has also made Washington’s request to enter SCO as a partner in dialogue a dead issue. Washington’s interest in attending SCO summits as a “partner” says more about the CIA’s inability to crack into the inner workings of SCO, even through erstwhile “allies” like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mongolia, than in having any great desire to “dialogue” with SCO members and observers. After all, AIPAC and its minions have managed to jam through the U.S. House a law that prohibits any U.S. diplomatic contact with Tehran’s officials.

President Obama is under tremendous pressure from the Israel Lobby during an election year to support an Israeli military strike on Iran, action that will inevitably lead the United States military in the Gulf region into war against Iran on behalf of the Tel Aviv/west Jerusalem regime. At the G-20 summit in Cannes, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was overheard telling Obama, "I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar." To which Obama replied, "you're fed up, but I have to deal with him every day."

The Sarkozy-Obama interchange is instructive. Obama did not disagree that Netanyahu is a patent liar who will do anything or say anything to advance Israeli and global Zionist interests over all else, even to the point of lying about a bogus Iranian nuclear weapons threat to promote a military attack on Iran.

Israel, using its agents of influence in the UN delegations of the United States, Britain, Germany, Canada, Sweden, and the Netherlands, has ensured that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano has tainted his agency's report on Iranian nuclear developments in a manner that would have never been tolerated by his predecessor, Mohammed ElBaradei. Amano certainly took no interest in the fact that his own nation, Japan, was secretly producing nuclear weapons at the Fukushima nuclear complex in contravention of IAEA rules. The aftermath of the destructive earthquake in Japan laid open the secret work going on at Fukushima. Amano is perfectly willing to act as a cipher for Israel and the Israel Lobby in "discovering" IAEA violations by Iran.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientist's "Doomsday Clock," a measure of how close the world is to nuclear war, now stands at six minutes until midnight. With the machinations of Israel toward Iran, the internal meltdown of Obama's White House staff with the demotion of chief of staff Bill Daley, and the invitation by SCO to Iran to come under the protective security umbrella of Russia and China, the clock has just jumped ahead several minutes.
Wayne Madsen is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 30 November 2011
Subject: The 5 big lenders profiting the most off student debt.

Who's Making a Killing off Student Loans?

by Sarah Jaffe

We look at five lenders that are raking in serious cash from America's debt-ridden graduates

student debt 

Underneath the now-iconic red sculpture at Liberty Plaza, now cleared of tents and ringed by barricades plastic-cuffed together, several “students” stood draped in fake chains over their caps and gowns, brandishing debt bills instead of diplomas.

They might have been performing, as part of a press conference unveiling a national student debt refusal pledge, but the dramatization of what happens upon graduation to many of America’s students was spot-on. Despite a few moves by the Obama administration in past years and even recent months to lessen the burden of student loans, many graduates are still saddled with more debt than they can conceivably pay back and have little hope of finding a good job in the current economy.

Monday saw protests against tuition hikes on either end of the country; at New York’s Baruch College of the City University of New York, the Board of Trustees voted for another tuition hike and according to reports, a student kicked off the day’s actions by burning his Sallie Mae student loan bill. University of Californis, Davis, responding to the brutal pepper-spraying of students last week, also kept its focus on economic issues, chanting, “No cuts, no fees, education must be free,” and reportedly shutting down the financial aid building.

The talk of debt refusal or debt strikes, as I reported just recently, has ratcheted up along with the momentum of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as the occupiers made the connection between Wall Street bankers and student debt ­ right down to the bailouts, as student lenders received a bailout of their own from the federal government, which handed over billions in taxpayer dollars to the banks and lenders in exchange for loans that could no longer be sold on the secondary market.

Recent grads with mountains of debt know that without their tax dollars, these big lenders wouldn’t continue to exist. They want their loans forgiven or at least written down, and they think the lenders should pay. The principles laid out on the OccupyStudentDebtCampaign site call for free tuition at public universities, an end to interest on student loans, and for private and for-profit institutions to open their books so that students know how their money is being spent.

As of 2010, the government directly lends up to $31,000 to students for their undergraduate years. Yet that total isn’t even a year’s tuition at many schools, let alone enough to cover living expenses and textbooks for four full years. As the economic crisis continues to stifle the economy and strangle state budgets, even public universities are seeing tuition hikes ­ the students pepper-sprayed at U.C. Davis were protesting a proposed hike in their tuition a full 81 percent in four years. So many students turn to private lenders to fill the gap between what the government will provide and what they realistically need to pay for school. Though those private lenders no longer get direct government subsidies, many of them still have billions on the books in federally subsidized debt, and even the private loans (often at variable interest rates, vulnerable to hikes when borrowers can least afford them) still have protections unlike almost any other type of debt, as student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Jon Walker at FireDogLake described the now-defunct federally subsidized private lending system thus:

“The Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) was a classic lemon socialism program. It provided a nearly total government guarantee for  ’private’ student loans. If the loans did well, the large financial companies got the profit, if they didn’t preform, the government socialized the loses. These broken incentives spurred risky behavior from the companies.”

“Student loans are among the most lucrative you can make because the borrower has no protections and the creditor is afforded extraordinary powers,” noted Andrew Ross, New York University professor and labor expert, at the student debt press conference. Ross spoke, too, of the need for professors to work in solidarity with the students on this issue since their salaries are paid through the debt of their students.

“Our public universities, once the democratic gold standard worldwide, are increasingly and ruinously dependent on debt financing from the people they are supposed to serve,” he said.

So just who are the lenders profiting from the massive student debt load?

You already know some of the names: JPMorgan Chase, U.S Bank, Citi, Bank of America. Others are non-bank student lenders. What all of them have in common, though, is that their practices are shrouded in secrecy. A recent release from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of now-Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, called for an investigation into the industry:

“It has been operating in the shadows for too long,” Raj Date, the Treasury Department adviser who is running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a release. “Shedding light on this industry will benefit students, lenders, and the market as a whole.”

Here, we take a look at five of the lenders raking in the cash off the backs of the U.S.’s students.

1. Sallie Mae

The SLM Corp., better known as Sallie Mae (and originally called the Student Loan Marketing Association), is the largest student lender in the United States. It was created in 1972 as a government-sponsored enterprise, but fully privatized in 2004. It also services loans provided by the federal government, and holds, services and collects loans made under the now-discontinued Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), the federally subsidized private lending program that was recently replaced with direct federal loans. These loans were, up until the end of the program, Sallie Mae’s main source of income.

And just like in the mortgage market, Sallie Mae has been accused of making “subprime” loans to borrowers who will be attending for-profit or trade schools that have low graduation rates, making the loans a bad risk. Stephen Burd at the New America Foundation’s Higher Ed Watch wrote in 2008, “Still, Sallie Mae won’t overtly admit fault and poor management. Instead, the company and its promoters on Wall Street have been testing another explanation for its difficulties. An analyst with CreditSights Inc., in New York, recently tried it out when he told Bloomberg.com that the loan giant had been ‘blind-sided’ by the rising default and delinquency rates on the subprime private loans it had made to low-income and working-class students attending trade school of dubious quality.”

The last year that the FFELP existed, Sallie Mae held a frightening $154.1 billion in FFELP loans.

Like all of the student lenders, in 2008, Sallie Mae got what amounted to a sizable government bailout from the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA), which the Campaign for America’s Future described in a report as one that “allowed lenders like Sallie Mae to sell loans back to the Department of Education through a number of loan-purchase programs.” On the strength of that government bailout, the company’s profits surged to $324 million.

The CEO of Sallie Mae, Albert Lord, according to CAP “has reaped more than $225 million from the student loan business over the course of his career. In 2008, even as profits declined, Lord received $4.7 million in total compensation. He has used a portion of the proceeds to build himself a private golf course.”

Sallie Mae has spent millions lobbying against student loan reform, including lobbying the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which made recommendations on the cost savings of the government’s switch to direct lending. Over the last three campaign cycles (2012, 2010 and 2008) Sallie Mae’s PAC has spent $1,583,557, favoring Democrats in ’08 and ’10 but so far this year favoring the GOP.

In 2010, when Citigroup decided to get out of the student loan business, Sallie Mae paid $1.2 billion for the rights to collect payments and service $28 billion in federally backed loans.

2. Wells Fargo

Wachovia and Wells Fargo were the third- and fourth-largest originators of federally subsidized private loans under FFELP in 2009, with $5.54 billion and $5.14 billion, respectively. After their merger, the resultant behemoth is the country’s second-largest private student lender.

As we reported recently at AlterNet, Wells Fargo reported profits of $12.36 billion in 2010, and is No. 23 on the Fortune 500, just above Procter & Gamble. Headquartered in California, the bank has $1.26 trillion in assets and $93 billion in revenues. And, of course, it got $25 billion in TARP funds from the government and borrowed another $300 billion through the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis, which it helped create ­ Wells Fargo is the country’s largest consumer lender and is the only one of the nation’s big banks that offers payday advance loans, which it calls “Direct Deposit Advance” and has direct financial connections to six of the top seven payday lenders.

The company has faced allegations of racial bias in its mortgage lending processes, though there’s no information about similar allegations of its student lending. Salon reported:

“Wells Fargo has a history of targeting vulnerable communities for risky financial products. At the height of the subprime lending mania in 2006, the bank was more likely to loan subprime mortgages to Latinos and African-Americans than whites, according to a September 2009 report by the Center for American Progress, a process known as “reverse red-lining.” For financially stable borrowers, the targeting was even starker: Middle-class blacks were four times more likely than middle-class whites to get a dangerous mortgage. Middle-class Latinos were nearly three times more likely.”

Wells Fargo is now offering a new fixed-rate private student loan, which would allow borrowers to lock in one rate for the life of their loan; however, the rates can be high ­ up to 14 percent for those attending community colleges or trade schools, or in other words, for lower-income borrowers.

In Minnesota recently, a group of Occupy-affiliated activists “mic-checked” Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, calling him out for his bank’s foreclosure and student debt policies.

3. Discover

After buying the remains of Citi’s Student Loan Corp., Discover Financial Services became the third-largest provider of private student loans. Best known for the Discover Card, of course, the company’s website proclaims:

“The company operates the Discover card, America’s cash rewards pioneer, and offers personal and student loans, online savings products, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its Discover Bank subsidiary.”

According to Canadian Business magazine, of Discover’s $52.51 billion in total loans (as of May 31, 2011) $4.57 billion was student loans, up from $820 million the previous year ­ which reflects the buyout of Citi’s loans.

Harit Talwar, the company’s vice president for US Cards, said of student lending at a conference in May, “We really like this business. In the U.S., as you know, education costs are increasing much faster than income. And therefore, students need funding for tuition fees.”

Discover’s PAC has spent $2,221,136 over the last three election cycles on candidates, mostly to Republicans.

4. NelNet

Based in Lincoln, Neb., NelNet was founded in 1978 as the UNIPAC Loan Service Corp. and renamed NelNet in 1996. It reported net income of $165.5 million for three quarters of 2011, and has net student loan assets of $24.6 billion. Its press release states:

“In September 2009, Nelnet began servicing student loans for the Department of Education (Department) under a contract that will increase the company’s fee-based revenue as the servicing volume increases. At September 30, 2011, the company was servicing $44.6 billion of loans for 3 million borrowers on behalf of the Department, compared with $21.8 billion of loans for 2.5 million borrowers on September 30, 2010. Revenue from this contract increased to $12.8 million for the third quarter of 2011, up from $8.7 million for the same period a year ago.”

That’s $12.8 million in a quarter for servicing federal loans.

The lender has been riddled with controversy; in 2006, Inside Higher Ed reported that NelNet had overcharged the government about a billion dollars. (They settled in 2010 for $55 million to resolve a whistle-blower lawsuit ­ which also targeted Sallie Mae.) And Higher Ed Watch reported in 2007, in a piece called “NelNet’s Friend with Benefits”:

“Amidst revelations this spring of industry wide kickbacks, improper inducements, and gifts from student loan providers to colleges and universities, Nelnet quickly shut down a Nebraska investigation into its activities by agreeing to provide $1 million to the state in support of a national financial aid awareness campaign.
As we reported two weeks ago, seeking higher office in Nebraska with Nelnet’s support can be a lucrative endeavor. Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson received almost $65,000 in the 2005-2006 election cycle alone from Nelnet and Union Bank executives and officials. This June, Nelson co-sponsored an amendment that would have sent $4 billion in financial aid earmarked for students instead to for-profit student loan companies like Nelnet. Nelson’s amendment lost 61-36.”

NelNet’s PAC has spent $398,731 on campaign donations since 2008, and it’s spent $2,780,000 on lobbying since 2007; its lobbyists have included Clark Lytle Gelduldig & Cranford, the firm recently outed by Chris Hayes on MSNBC as doing opposition research on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan this year became the country’s largest bank by asset size, surpassing the troubled Bank of America, and its private student loan division came into shape when it purchased Collegiate Funding Services in 2006, creating Chase Student Loans.

In 2009, Chase held $11.1 billion in FFELP loans, not a huge amount when you consider its $2.29 trillion in current assets. Still, the giant has been accused of some shady lending practices.

Back in 2007, NPR reported:

“The House Education and Labor Committee says it has evidence that JPMorgan Chase paid five student aid officials to do work for the bank while they were still on their school’s payroll. JPMorgan Chase confirmed it did pay school officials to do work related to student loans, but the bank says it doesn’t do that kind of thing anymore.
The company says it has also stopped throwing lavish parties for university officials, like the $70,000 cruise in New York Harbor that student aid officers enjoyed in 2005.”

JPMorgan Chase spends lavishly on campaigns and lobbying as well, dropping $5.8 million in just the last year on lobbyists and having given $109,750 to Mitt Romney, $79,150 to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, $55,750 to Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, and $37,439 to Barack Obama.

And just recently, the bank was pushed to reinstate a deferment program for active duty military servicepeople, after NBC News reported on a family that “received a letter alerting them the bank decided to end the program and would no longer allow active-duty troops to delay paying their student loans, even if they were away at war.”

You received this message because you are subscribed to Mark Crispin Miller's "News From Underground" newsgroup. If you'd like to donate to News From Underground, please visit http://markcrispinmiller.com/donate - we appreciate your ongoing support.
Ways to unsubscribe, 1) send a blank email to newsfromunderground+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com. PLEASE NOTE: you must unsubscribe using the SAME email with which you subscribed; 2) go to http://groups.google.com/group/newsfromunderground and click on the "Unsubscribe or change membership" link in the yellow bar at the top of the page, then click the "Unsubscribe" button on the next page.
For more News From Underground, visit http://markcrispinmiller.com

from Byron Morton :
Date: 27 November 2011
Subject: Child labor revisited.
Hi Francis,
I know this is probably only political talk to shill for votes, but wow . . . !
Newt wants to fire the union janitors and hire the kids. Maybe he's unto something?
As Groucho Marx said,  "This would be a better world for children if the parents had to eat the spinach", or words to that effect. Groucho also said, "He may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot." Seriously, I support a good education and believe in offering a decent future for the young. There are educated young people out there, smarter than me in fact, some I met at Occupy. And they deserve a future. Let's give them hope and opportunities and not dopes!

Newt’s Solution on Income Inequality: Child Labor

Guest post by UFCW Assistant Director of Communications, Politics and Advocacy, Tim Schlittner:

One of the best things to come out of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been a growing public awareness about income inequality. The staggering gap between the super-rich and everyone else was highlighted in a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The report showed that since 1979 the richest one percent of households have seen their income rise by 300 percent. The rest of us, meanwhile, saw our incomes rise by an average of 19 percent.

So it is little wonder that former Speaker Newt Gingrich was asked about this important issue during a campaign appearance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. What did he propose in response? Higher wages for workers? Repealing tax breaks for big corporations? A plan to put people back to work? Nope. His answer was a head-scratcher­even for this Republican presidential field.

“The core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail, has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy,” he said.

So what is his plan to fix our broken schools? Fire the janitors and replace them with children. Really.

“It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws which are truly stupid,” Gingrich said. “I tried for years to have a very simple model. These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work; they’d have cash; they’d have pride in the schools. They’d begin the process of rising.”

There is something stupid here and it’s not the “child laws.” Forget for a second that Gingrich hates unions so much that he’d rather have child labor than organized labor. What about all the janitors that would be fired under his plan? Does he really want the hard-working men and women who clean our nation’s schools to collect unemployment checks instead of paychecks? What about their children? Will they replace their mother and father at work?

“You’re going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America,” Gingrich said. Clearly.

In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act which placed limits on many forms of child labor. This wasn’t to protect unionization or bureaucratization­it was to protect children from exploitation and injury. The low-income kids Newt Gingrich is claiming to care about should be learning in their schools, not cleaning them. Education is the key to their future in an economy where you earn what you learn.

But in Newt Gingrich’s world, child labor isn’t just a chapter in a history book. It’s a work-study program. And a plan to close the gap between the rich and the rest. Ladies and gentleman, this is your Republican presidential front-runner. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

from Al Burke :
Date: 29November 2011
Subject: Attempt to censor Swedish TV.
Nordic News Network

Response to attempted censorship of Swedish Pubic TV
by Al Burke
Recently, Swedish Public Television (SVT) broadcast a Norwegian documentary which raised serious questions about the conventional wisdom on the alleged "genocide" committed in the town of Srebrenica during the most recent Balkan wars.

Inevitably it caused an uproar among all those who have perpetrated and/or been influenced by the  relentless propaganda on the undeniably horrific events at Srebrenica. Now, an official of the  International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has reacted with a sharp letter of protest that is performing its intended task of putting heavy pressure on SVT via uncritical reporting in Swedish and other media. 

"No one who admires and upholds in practice the values of freedom of the press and of personal conscience could interpret Ms. Jelacic’s request as anything other than an attempt to intimidate SVT and to warn other media not to follow SVT’s example in the future," notes David Peterson, one of the United States' foremost authorities on the Balkan wars.

Mr. Peterson has drafted an open letter of protest and support, and invites interested parties to suggest improvements to and endorse it; see attached Word document.

Those who wish to do so may write to him at the following address, preferably with a copy to me: davidepet@comcast.net

A key episode in the Balkan wars propaganda campaign in Sweden is the subject of "All Quieted on the Word Front" at this web address:  http://www.nnn.se/n-model/foreign/ordfront.htm

from Richard Greeman :
Date: 19 November 2011
Subject: Danger! Capitalist sharks at play.

A Taxonomy of Capitalist Sharks
by Richard Greeman

Trying to reform Capitalism is a futile as preaching Vegetarianism to a Shark. And nearly as dangerous. Stay away from those gaping greedy Jaws if you don’t want to get eaten alive – the sorry Fate of many idealistic Liberals and Social Democrats!
The sorry History of five hundred years of capitalist ‘Progress’ points to the Conclusion that, by its very Nature, Capitalism cannot expand without devouring Workers’ Lives and chewing up the  Natural World -- no more than a Shark can survive without gorging on fresh Flesh and Blood.
The original Breeding Ground of Capitalist Sharks was Western Europe, where they set about devouring the Commons, knocking down the Peasants’ Cottages with the thrashing Tails, hanging the Homeless as ‘Vagabonds,’ driving free Yeomen Farmers off the Green Land into Dismal Factories, devaluing the Labor of Women, and persecuting them as Witches.
Capitalist Sharks were sighted off the American Shores as early as 1492, ravaging the Caribbean. In their savage Hunger for Silver and Gold, they nearly exterminated the Native Peoples. So the greedy Colonial sharks were obliged to replace dead Native Americans with ever fresh supplies of Black Africans, kidnapped  and sold to be worked to Death as Slaves. In their Home Waters, the voracious European White Sharks grew larger and hungrier, battening on Generations of toiling Men, Women and Children, sucking in and chewing up their Substance through fourteen daily hours of Dreary Labor in soot-darkened Satanic Mills or under the Lash on their American Plantations.
Naturally, as the Capitalist Sharks grew their Appetites increased, and by the end of the 19th Century ravenous full-grown Imperial sharks were swarming in a Feeding Frenzy, driven by a desperate Urge to devour the teeming Populations and fabulous natural Wealth of Africa and Asia.
As the 20th Century dawned, the Imperial Sharks began attacking each other (as sharks in a Feeding Frenzy will). The larger Capitalist Sharks naturally overcame the smaller, and the surviving Giants continued slashing and biting each other around the Globe, thrashing up blood-tinged Foam across both Oceans. Soon the various National Species were forming into great Schools for the purpose of Mutual Aggression. Political Ichthyology distinguishes at least four such Schools: the freemarketus omnovorus, the fascii viciocii, the stalinea rapacea, and the theocraticus ferocius.
After each Orgy of Mutual Destruction, the surviving Species enjoyed a few prosperous Years of fat Feeding until leaner Years drove them to new Hecatombs.
But by the 21st Century, the older Species of European White Sharks were being challenged in their former Feeding Grounds by younger breeds of fast-growing Chinese, Indian, Iranian, Russian and Brazilian capitalist Sharks, better adapted for preying on the local varieties of Fish and increasingly more competitive. Soon new Oceans were churning with Blood, but with so many Sharks competing, the supply of big Game-Fish was soon depleted, and  only the Masses of Little Fish were left to prey on.
The most successful Capitalist Sharks tempered their Ferocity with Guile. As the pickings got slimmer, these smarter Sharks adopted Protective Coloration to lurk in Shallow Shoals where they could sneak up on the Littler Fish (the only ones left) and devour them. Some clever Capitalist Sharks painted themselves Green. Others pretended to be Vegetarians the better to lull their Prey!
Political Ichthyologist Doktor Bertolt Brecht of Berlin predicted this development as early as 1930: ‘If sharks were men there would be an end to all little fish being equal, as is the case now. Some would be given important offices and be placed above the others. Those who were a little bigger would even be allowed to eat up the smaller ones. That would be altogether agreeable for the sharks, since they themselves would more often get bigger bites to eat. And the bigger little fish, occupying their posts, would ensure order among the little fish, become teachers, officers, engineers in box construction, etc.’
Following in Herr Dr. Brecht’s august Footsteps, your Humble Author has spent the past fifty Years patiently collecting Specimens of ‘vegetarian’ Shark behavior among both Left-finned and Right-finned Species from every corner of the Globe. These Anatomical Descriptions are designed to help the Reader recognize the different Species as they swim across the Aquarium of her TV Screen. This ‘Taxonomy of Capitalist Sharks’ is his modest scientific Contribution to the Cause of the Working People and other Small Fry in the Class Struggle (which the Rich have been waging against the Poor as a one-way affair for far too long!).
Recent studies in Political Ichthyology have identified seventeen new species of Vegetarian Sharks, including the Oxymoronic Clean-Coal Shark, the Great Green Oil-Derrick Shark, the Elusive Trickle-Down Economics Shark, the Philanthropic-Billionnaire Shark, the Humanitarian War Shark, The Compassionate Conservative Shark, the Safe Nuclear Power Shark, the Slippery Shared-Sacrifice Shark, and the Change-You-Can-Believe-In Shark. 
These Corporate Sharks pretend to be Vegetarians, but never forget they really are Man-eating Capitalist Sharks! No point in trying to get them to give up Human Flesh or even go on a Diet, as Liberal Reformers urge us to do. They can’t. It’s not in their Nature.
Today,  these ‘Vegetarian’ Species are flourishing, despite the increasing Mistrust of the Little Fish, some of whom even want to ban Sharks of any kind from entering the Shoals (!) Indeed, through Natural Selection the surviving Little Fish have become smarter, and today Little-Fish Scientists and Whistle-Blowing Blowfish have been trying to understand why so many Little Fish continue to be fooled by their Predators’ apparently transparent ‘Vegetarian’ Disguises. The reason is that the Corporate Sharks have evolved glowing, Multicolored Media Eyes with which they are able to hypnotize their Prey. Corporate Species also inject a poisonous green Substance called ‘Campaign Contributions’ into the Small Fish General Assembly -- effectively paralyzing its Members.
These same Corporate Sharks also fatten different Species of Judas Goatfish, bred to mislead the other Fish. For example, the Demagogic Goat-Fish divide the Little Fish by tricking different Species into fighting each other -- Whitefish against Black Bass, Smoked Herring against Smoked Salmon -- meanwhile blaming division on the crafty Hooked-Nose Gefiltefish. At the same time, VoteForMe Goatfish are bred to ‘represent’ the Little Fish by luring them into the waiting Jaws of Lurking Privatizer Sharks (who of course swallow up everything including the Schools where Fish Children learn to swim). There are also innocent-looking Do-Gooder Goatfish which lurk in NGOs, Think-Tanks, Universities, Trade-Union Bureaucracies and Left Parties.
The Irony of this situation is that the Billionaire Sharks and their pet Judas-Fish cry ‘Class War!’ every time some Liberal Little-Fish dares pronounce Forbidden Words like ‘Tax’ and ‘Spend.’ Nonetheless, many Little Fish secretly suspect that the Billionnaire Sharks don’t want to see their bloated Corporate Profits spent on Fish-Nursuries, Fish-Schools, Fish-Nests, Fish-Food and Clean Water. Meanwhile, Neo-Liberal Privatiser Sharks have nearly devoured the Undersea Commons in the so-called ‘Developing Oceans’, and now their Gaping Jaws are taking great Bites out of the Public Goods of the ‘Advanced’ Oceans.
Today, Capitalist Sharks, first sighted off South America in 1492, continue devouring the Planet, penetrating every remote Corner of the Earth, polluting the Seas, privatizing the Fresh Water, fouling the Air, cutting the Trees, killing off the Creatures and enslaving the People in their ever-increasing Hunger for more Profits. These Profits are deposited by the Capitalist Sharks in Fish-Banks and inflatable Underwater Bubbles, and in 2008 one of them exploded, plunging the world’s Oceans into Dark Depression.
Meanwhile, the Waters were growing warmer as a result of years of Frenzied Thrashing  by Capitalist Sharks, and heat destroys the Coral Reefs on which the Little Fish Feed. Soon there will be no more Little Fish for the Capitalist Sharks to feed on, but this does not stop their Frenzied Thrashing for Profits. From this Somber Observation, Political Ithyology draws that Inference that Capitalism is no more likely to reform itself than a Man-Eating Shark is likely to embrace Vegetarianism.  The Somber Inference points to an Unavidable Conclusion. To survive, we Billions of Small-Fry need to to turn the tables by uniting globally and waging Class War on the Billionnaire Loan Sharks who rule the World.
The name of the Game is ‘Billions vs. Billionaires.’ Numbers are the Small-Frys’ trump suit. “We are many, they are few” the Poet Shelley famously wrote (anticipating the ‘99 percent-ers’ by 200 years). As for Strategy, if there is one chance in a hundred of winning this Game, Planetary Self-Organization is the card for us to play. Not by fighting capitalist Terror with Terror, capitalist Violence with more Violence (in any case, they have all the guns) but through Solidarity and militant, united Resistance. *
Sound like a pipe-dream, Dear Reader? Just remember this: Thanks to the Internet, mass global Civil Disobedience can be organized in Real Time. The Day when all  us  Little  Creative-Working-Fish wake up and go on a Planetary General Strike will be the Day when the Power of the Bankers and Corporations dissolves into thin Air. That day could be Tomorrow.**

* Interested in joining a multi-player, online videogame called Billions vs. Billionaires (B&B) ? 
Visit http://billionairesandbillions.wikispaces.com/  a Wiki set up for people interested in translating ecotopian visions  and revolutionary class struggle tactics into entertaining popular foms designed to go viral and help save the world. Become part of phase one: ‘Collective Creation.’
** These lines were written in August 2010. Five months later, the‘Arab Spring’ – linked by Facebook, Twitter and  Aljazeera -- spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Syria and beyond, inspiring workers in Wisconsin (USA) to fight back against the Right-Wing capitalist offensive. Ironically, Arabs were ‘teaching democracy’ to Americans. The Fall brought Occupy Wall St., which then went viral around the world.  What will the next ‘tomorrow’ bring??? (For a glimpse of a possible future, visit: http://billionairesandbillions.wikispaces.com/A+Dream+of+Ecotopia )