Transcribed from the 18 April 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:
“It’s not a cabal, and there’s not some all-powerful, Machiavellian figure directing everything. It is rather a lot of institutional structures that promote an economic system which facilitates the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich world. It’s obscured and legitimated through massive amounts of ideology.”
Chuck Mertz: We are all scammed, duped, ripped off. The whole world. We’re all victims of the Racket. Here to reveal the Racket, how it works, and who’s running it, investigative journalist Matt Kennard returns to This is Hell! Good evening, Matt.
Matt Kennard: Good evening, how are you?
CM: Good! It’s great to have you back on the show. So this book, The Racket: A Rogue Reporter Versus the Masters of the Universe—this is going to be the question that everybody’s going to ask me: “Is this another one of those conspiracy theory books?” What makes this “racket” different from a conspiracy?
MK: Well, first of all this isn’t something that I’ve come across from a distance. I was part of the racket; I was a journalist with the Financial Times for two and a half years. I mean, I went to the Financial Times as a reporter with a critical mind; I wasn’t a neoliberal warmonger. But what I saw there confirmed many of the fears I had about who really runs our world.
On Monday, 20 July 2015, the ultra-reactionary movement Daesh (known as the self-proclaimed Islamic State) targeted a cultural center in Amara (in the district of Suruç, Turkey) which was hosting a meeting of 300 young Kurdish leftists, members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF). They were preparing to go to the nearby town of Kobanê in Syria, in order to participate in its reconstruction.
These young revolutionaries had left Istanbul the day before, to present themselves as “Children of Gezi”—children of the protest movement that began in Istanbul in June 2013. In a video for their campaign, a socialist youth of the SGDF said: “We will plant five hundred trees in the name of revolutionaries who were killed in the resistance against the Islamic State in Kobanê. We will also plant fruit trees in the name of Berkin Elvan [who was killed during the Gezi protests at the age of fifteen], reconstruct the war museum in Kobanê, rebuild the library and nursery at the cultural center, build a playground, and join the cleaning efforts in the city center of Kobanê.”
These young people were bringing books, toys, and clothes, as well as young trees to plant. The terrorist attack caused the death of more than thirty of them, and injured over one hundred.
Transcribed from the 6 June 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:
“What do you do with corruption? Do you just ‘shine a bright light?’ Or do we try to delegitimize these elites? The only real solution is to get rid of these guys.”
Chuck Mertz: The FIFA scandal story is about a lot more than soccer. It’s about global corruption; it’s about the power of the elites; it’s about the sleaziest way in which poverty and conflict are exported around the globe: in other words, it is about soccer. With a perspective live from Durban, South Africa, political economist Patrick Bond wrote the TeleSur article FIFA Fraud: Africa’s corruption and Elite Silence about the scandal rocking global soccer.
For those who don’t know, seven top officials of soccer’s international governing group, FIFA, including two vice presidents, were arrested last week. They were among fourteen charged in a 47-count US indictment which alleges five corporate executives and nine FIFA officials in total accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150 million over a 24 year period.
Patrick, you write, “The last week has provided extraordinary examples of how corruption erodes the resources and morals of an entire continent, in part because villains in South Africa made alliances with wicked brothers in Switzerland, Latin America, the Caribbean, and especially the United States. We now know more about off-shore centers of both reactionary finance and corrupt corporate soccer. It’s long overdue they are exposed to a spotlight—even though those pointing that light want to leave certain features in the shadows.”
AntiNote: The following article appeared on the outstanding People and Nature blog earlier this week, with link citations which we have not reproduced. Reprinted with permission.
Activists imprisoned in Azerbaijan, the house that BP built
by Gabriel Levy
7 June 2015
A protest against Azerbaijan’s crackdown on political dissent will be staged in London this Friday, 12 June, as the first European Games open in Baku.
At least 33 human rights defenders, youth movement activists, bloggers, journalists and others have been jailed in the last year in Azerbaijan, where the UK-based oil group BP is the largest foreign investor.
Campaign groups and media have been shut down, and dissidents forced to leave the country, just as economic problems have brought large numbers of Azeris out to protest.
There has been a “major escalation of government repression, pressure, and intimidation directed at NGOs, civil society activists, journalists and human rights defenders,” a resolution of the European Parliament said in September last year. Some lowlights:
Transcribed from the 9 May 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:
“We see abstract numbers in the news; we hear about thousands of people at our borders. We very rarely listen to their stories and understand what they’ve gone through, how they are thinking, what calculations they are making. Often they are very brave people. Always, actually.”
Chuck Mertz: Europe has created a living hell on the high seas of the Mediterranean that has claimed the lives of people who are desperately fleeing misery for the slim chance at a better life. That is, if they survive the trip. Here to tell us how we got to this hell, anthropologist Ruben Andersson is author of Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe.