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Archive for March 13th, 2012|Daily archive page

3 Articles on USA : Prison industry USA forgets Liberty, Trust the Cowboys to Fight the Suited Slicks, Remembering the REAL USA – reposted by @AgreeToDisagree –

In better judgments, better laws, misplaced adoration, Native Rights, neo-colonialism, Orwellian, political correctness, politics, separation of powers, social freedoms, USA on March 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm

ARTICLE 1

The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?

HUMAN rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP

According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:

• Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years’ imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years’ imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.

• The passage in 13 states of the “three strikes” laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.

• Longer sentences.

• The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.

• A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.

• More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.

HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES

Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972.

During the post-Civil War period, Jim Crow racial segregation laws were imposed on every state, with legal segregation in schools, housing, marriages and many other aspects of daily life. “Today, a new set of markedly racist laws is imposing slave labor and sweatshops on the criminal justice system, now known as the prison industry complex,” comments the Left Business Observer.

Who is investing? At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.

Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.

Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).”

PRIVATE PRISONS

The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s program for cutting the cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.

Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, “the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners.” The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.

IMPORTING AND EXPORTING INMATES

Profits are so good that now there is a new business: importing inmates with long sentences, meaning the worst criminals. When a federal judge ruled that overcrowding in Texas prisons was cruel and unusual punishment, the CCA signed contracts with sheriffs in poor counties to build and run new jails and share the profits. According to a December 1998 Atlantic Monthly magazine article, this program was backed by investors from Merrill-Lynch, Shearson-Lehman, American Express and Allstate, and the operation was scattered all over rural Texas. That state’s governor, Ann Richards, followed the example of Mario Cuomo in New York and built so many state prisons that the market became flooded, cutting into private prison profits.

After a law signed by Clinton in 1996 – ending court supervision and decisions – caused overcrowding and violent, unsafe conditions in federal prisons, private prison corporations in Texas began to contact other states whose prisons were overcrowded, offering “rent-a-cell” services in the CCA prisons located in small towns in Texas. The commission for a rent-a-cell salesman is $2.50 to $5.50 per day per bed. The county gets $1.50 for each prisoner.

STATISTICS

Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.

http://www.patrickcrusade.org/prison_industry_in_USA.html

[[[ *** RESPONSE *** ]]]

My guess is who has the biggest “chest” Lady Gaga or Madonna will win over this one because the average person, even those now on ATS for the most part don’t see that old train coming……………and it’s labeled “Slaughterhouse”.

They are putting people in prison for cheap labor that are selling small amounts of that green plant / drug we cannot name (When our government is linked to some of the drug trade itself)

Steal a loaf of bread or sell a couple ounces of that green plant we cannot name and you may find yourself in jail.

Steal someone’s pension or house and you may find yourself rich and promoted to head CEO or Bank Manager.

Reply posted on 8-3-2012 @ 05:52 PM by Ladysophiaofsandoz

Sadly in America it comes down to how much justice can you AFFORD. The poor get public defenders and well, you get what you pay for. They figure it keeps the poor off the streets and keeps them from rallying together in the parks. As a bonus once you convict them they loose the right to vote and thus loose the ability to change things. Just like cows in the corals at the slaughter house all rounded up and numbered for easy processing. I have heard that one in three American youths have been in the system by the age of 23. Wow American kids must be the most dangerous children in the world. [[[ Mention the contractor collusion that high prison populations enrich more . . . ]]]

reply posted on 8-3-2012 @ 06:22 PM by Witness2008
reply to post by ofhumandescent

This practice has been gaining momentum for a long time. Most county and municipal jails have been using private contractors to manage the population for a few years. It’s cheaper that way. Personally I think it has become a necessary evil as more and more states are loosing their tax base that helped support jails and prisons. D.A’s along with the various, federal agencies are all about being tough on crime, blindly so, while boosting their own careers and turning us all into criminals. Thanks to all the new and improved laws now on the books, we’ll be seeing farmers, anti-immunizing parents and kids with a bad attitude added to the growing number of prison inmates. It seems that we are attacking the wrong end of this problem.

reply posted on 8-3-2012 @ 07:28 PM by TKDRL

The whole justice system is a joke, and for profit. They speak their own convoluted languages, so as to force you to hire a liar. The judges are all ex liars, sitting on the bench after proving themselves really good liars. The judges keep the sham going for future liars. There should be few laws, in language even a fifth grader understands, get rid of all the ritual crap, and secret languages. A person should not have to pay 4 grand to a liar to fight a bogus speeding ticket…. Ever had to defend yourself against bogus charges in criminal court? The money liars make for defending you should be a crime!

edit on Thu, 08 Mar 2012 19:29:31 -0600 by TKDRL because: (no reason given)

Private prisons wants government to maintain a 90% occupancy rate., page 1

Yet again private business is looking for new way to take advantage of the crisis facing governments and to maximizing profits.

At a time when states are struggling to reduce bloated prison populations and tight budgets, a private prison management company is offering to buy prisons in exchange for various considerations, including a controversial guarantee that the governments maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years.

How can anyone guarantee how full a prison is going to be.are the courts going to have targets to hit to keep the prision population up so it wont drop below 90%. There are some in the local goverment who even think this is going to far.

Roger Werholtz, former Kansas secretary of corrections, said states may be tempted by the “quick infusion of cash,” but he would recommend against such a deal. “My concern would be that our state would be obligated to maintain these (occupancy) rates and subtle pressure would be applied to make sentencing laws more severe with a clear intent to drive up the population,” Werholtz said.

If you go to prision it should be because your guilty and nothing else.

[[[*** RESPONSE *** ]]]

Look here just drop the prison paradigm. Read the ‘better judgments‘  category on this blog. There really isn’t alot of need for prisons . . .

ARTICLE 2

Dean of Texas Senate rejects CCA prison purchase proposal

Yesterday, Frank wrote that the ACLU, Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network, and a broad coalition of civil rights and faith leaders were opposing CCA’s recent offer to buy state prisons in return for states maintaining 90% occupancy at these facilities.

Now, these groups are being joined by Texas State Senator John Whitmire, the Dean of the Senate and long-time chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Whitmire, speaking to USA Today (“Private purchasing of prisons locks in occupancy rates,” March 8th), had this to say:

“You don’t want a prison system operating with the goal of maximizing profits,” says Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and advocate for reducing prison populations through less costly diversion programs. “The only thing worse is that this seeks to take advantage of some states’ troubled financial position.”

Former Kansas Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz also warned against the temptation of a “quick infusion of cash” saying

“♣My♣ concern would be that our state would be obligated to maintain these (occupancy) rates and subtle pressure would be applied to make sentencing laws more severe with a clear intent to drive up the population.”

Im happy that someone in my state legislature is saying no to this.

[[[ *** RESPONSE *** ]]]

At least there are some voices of reason. Being Capitalism oriented is not very American, Human Rights and freedom of religion (not specifically freedom to be Protestant . . . ) is much more American. It would be best if the Five Civilised Tribes of Native Red Ameri-Indians had a Governor each out of USA’s 52 states and that a Native Red Ameri-Indian Chieftain’s post be created for the ceremonial Presidential role, with perhaps the current President’s powers be shifted partially to the Chieftain as well. Remember that Native America was the territory of the Native Red Ameri-Indians before the white colonists and their slave trading behaviour brought African Americans to America. USA looks like a Business outfit without a proper tradition and culture, which should be that of the Native Red Ameri-Indians’.

Long before the white man (or black) set foot on American soil . . . this is the red man's country, so how many NA governors is that again? Maybe they're a minority but USA is still their country . . .

ARTICLE 3

Congress ‘criminalizing’ First Amendment – ‘No longer need to be conspiracy theorist’ to worry about police state Published: 5 days ago – by Bob UnruhEmail

Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after spending nearly three decades writing on a wide range of issues for several Upper Midwest newspapers and the Associated Press. Sports, tornadoes, homicidal survivalists, and legislative battles all fell within his bailiwick. His scenic photography has been used commercially, and he sometimes plays in a church worship band.More ?

In a plan that started out as a knee-jerk reaction to a crazed assailant’s attack on U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords a year ago, Congress has approved and sent to President Obama legislation that critics say essentially guts the First Amendment.

“The bill’s language is so overly broad as to put an end to free speech, political protest and the right to peaceably assembly in all areas where government officials happen to be present,” wrote John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute about H.R. 347.

It was approved by Congress and awaits only Obama’s signature. While garnering significant enthusiasm in Congress, one member, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said he couldn’t support it.

“Current law makes it illegal to enter or remain in an area where certain government officials (more particularly, those with Secret Service protection) will be visiting temporarily if and only if the person knows it’s illegal to enter the restricted area but does so anyway,” he said. “The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it’s illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it’s illegal.

“Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity – even if that activity is annoying to those government officials – violates our rights,” he said.

The bill states, “Whoever knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished…”

What happens when the government itself refuses to follow the Constitution? Judge Andrew Napolitano explains in “A Nation of Sheep.”

Significantly, though, the definition of “restricted buildings” is anywhere where someone protected by the Secret Service “will be temporarily visiting.”

“A person eating in a diner while a presidential candidate is trying to score political points with the locals could be arrested if government agents determine that he is acting ‘disorderly.’ Mind you, depending on who’s making the assessment, anything can be considered disorderly, including someone exercising his right to free speech by muttering to himself about a government official. And if that person happens to have a pocketknife or nail clippers in his possession (or any other innocuous item that could be interpreted by the police as ‘dangerous’), he could face up to 10 years in prison,” Whitehead warned.

“Given that the Secret Service not only protects the president but all past sitting presidents, members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, presidential candidates, and anyone who the president determines needs protection, anywhere these officials happen to be becomes a zone where the First Amendment is effectively off-limits,” he said.

At the Examiner, Philadelphia columnist Tim McCown concluded: “Defenders and apologists for mainly Democrats and Obama supporters claim this act is completely innocent and all of us who believe differently have drunk Ron Paul’s Kool-Aid again. But a post on George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley’s blog page notes that the imprecise language, just as in the NDAA, creates risks and can most definitely be seen as a threat to our First Amendment right to Free Speech, Freedom of Assembly, and Freedom to Petition our government. None of that is very comforting in light of the Patriot Act and surveillance of and wire tapping of Americans.”

He continued, “Tonight you no longer need to be a conspiracy theorist to have real questions about whether we are becoming a police state.”

On Paul’s website was this: “Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.”

Whitehead noted that members of Congress, feeling the wrath of Americans pummeled by rising fuel prices, a tanking economy and unpopular war efforts, “Have been working hard to keep their unhappy constituents at a distance – avoiding town-hall meetings, making minimal public appearances while at home in their districts, only appearing at events in controlled settings where they’re the only ones talking, and if they must interact with constituents, doing so via telephone town meetings or impromptu visits to local businesses where the chances of being accosted by angry voters are greatly minimized.

“While the Trespass Bill may have started out with the best of intentions, it has ended up as the government’s declaration of zero tolerance for individuals exercising their First Amendment rights,” he said.

“If these types of laws had been in effect during the Civil Rights movement, there would have been no march on Washington. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow activists would have been rendered criminals. And King’s call for ‘militant nonviolent resistance’ would have been silenced by police in riot gear,” he said.

He also criticized so-called “First Amendment zones” or areas.

“Free speech zones have become commonplace at political rallies and the national conventions of both major political parties,” he said. “One of the most infamous free speech zones was erected at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Not so much a zone of free expression as a cage, it was a space enclosed by chain link fences, Jersey walls, and razor wire. Judge Douglas Woodlock, who toured the free speech cage before the convention, noted, ‘One cannot conceive of other elements put in place to make a space more of an affront to the idea of free expression than the designated demonstration zone.’

“Bubble zones and free speech zones, in essence, destroy the very purpose of the First Amendment, which assures us of the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances,” he said.

[[[ *** RESPONSE *** ]]]

That Orwellian streak surely comes from England, and unless the Blue Coat, Red Coat dichotomy (Donkey or Ass – which is why the nation specific/aware Continental Europeans look down the  mixed pedigree of Americans, and are in turn snubbed at by USA for being communal) though American has grown much due to the War of Independence and Bluecoats, Elephant – alluding to colonial India perhaps?) Obama shouldn’t play up the England link too much due to thes historical factors (how could Obama say USA shares a history with England?!?) which de-Americanises the sense of Liberty, rather Obama should in all fair treatment of the colonized peoples and his own cruelly ‘imported’ peoples hand the stage to the Red Native Ameri-Indians instead of the Orwellian Tory RED COAT, WHITE Monarch led England. Louisiana
(French) and the Confederate states (Spanish) might as well be mentioned instead making up 2/3rds of USA.

Corporatocracy as a colony of England is terrible and relegates America to a symbol of Commonwealth-Colonial vassalship rather than a super power. USA is at a weak point now, and with the abuses of England (few hundred years worth) still uncorrected, USA should distance itself from England (which is quite worthless militarily in terms of assets) but foster friendship on an equal basis with the EU instead. Guess why?

EU could almost crush England and has half a mind to all the time. USA should choose the guys who fetted the Blue Coats – Remember the Statue of Liberty? The cult trappings of the English Mason/Illuminist/NWO or what not stand for nothing against ‘real politic’ . . . and real politic as not often played up by the EU (who are unfortunately too gentrified and struggling internally with tha PC exceptionalism to make any impression) easily shows that USA is sliding back into colony mentality by the sheer pathos of jolly England. USA forgot, it was England who wanted to crush USA and France (i.e. Europe) who HELPED USA become independent.

Cameron and Obama praising their states’ unique partnership – ‎Oye! Times
http://www.oyetimes.com/news/103-england/19583-cameron-and-obama-praising-their-states-unique-partnership

Ole Massah at the US table, bring out the fine porcelain! Weren't the Tories thrown out of USA? Obama could have declined and sent the Tea Party Leader (now THAT would have been a stylish statement) to face the clique (Tory) that took 7 years to 'Teabag' that the English are half thinking about 'Tea bagging' as well . . .

Missed opportunity for a citizen’s arrest and a war crimes tribunal?

Half the stones in the Royal Jewels were taken in hostile military occupations, from Muslims (Abu Said’s Black Ruby), Indians (Eye of Brahma, Star of India during colonial era mining), African (Star of Africa, Cullinan Diamond), and Persian (some doubtless from the Peacock Throne), Chinese jewels and artifacts etc. etc.

China to study British Museum for looted artefacts
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/6374959/China-to-study-British-Museum-for-looted-artefacts.html

Now why would USA want to associate with a nation which tried to subjugate USA and trashed half the world and even turned on their own homeland Germany in WW2? The pathos of Royalty and perhaps secret societies has dazzled Pres.O . . . show us all Ole Massah has to pay for them flayings . . .

What was the War of Independence about again? Well hear this!

Who's a Red Coat?

Misplaced adoration by Pres. O . . . Too Damn Toff! Hey USA, while reconsidering what American means, crush a few strategically and politically negligible 3rd world minded countries with the Green Card meanwhile, just too cumbersome to get those from where some of us are! ( . . . Lol-American – can haz Grencard . . . seriously terrible in the 3rd world . . . )

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2 Articles on China and the Inequitable Wealth-Political Power Distribution Issue : reposted by @AgreeToDisagree – 14th March 2012

In 3rd Force, checks and balances, China, conflict of interest, critical discourse, Democracy, democratisation, Equality, Equitable Distribution, equitable political power distribution, equitable wealth distribution, Ethics, gentrification, if not contrived, intent, lack of focus, Law, misplaced adoration, Nepotism, one level up, Plutocracy, political correctness, Political Fat Cats, politics, self policing, separation of powers, social class distinct programmes, social freedoms, Socialism, specialisation, spirit of the law, subsistence, term limits, vested interest, voting methods, voting strategy, Wealth distribution on March 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

ARTICLE 1

Children of the Revolution – China’s ‘princelings,’ the offspring of the communist party elite, are embracing the trappings of wealth and privilege—raising uncomfortable questions for their elders. – By JEREMY PAGE

One evening early this year, a red Ferrari pulled up at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Beijing, and the son of one of China’s top leaders stepped out, dressed in a tuxedo.

Bo Xilai, with his son, at a memorial ceremony held for his father in Beijing, in 2007.

Grandfather, Bo Yibo — Helped lead Mao’s forces to victory, only to be purged in the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. Subsequently rehabilitated.

Son, Bo Guagua — Graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Father, Bo Xilai — Party secretary of Chongqing and Politburo member, likely to rise to the Politburo standing committee in 2012.

Bo Guagua, 23, was expected. He had a dinner appointment with a daughter of the then-ambassador, Jon Huntsman.

The car, though, was a surprise. The driver’s father, Bo Xilai, was in the midst of a controversial campaign to revive the spirit of Mao Zedong through mass renditions of old revolutionary anthems, known as “red singing.” He had ordered students and officials to work stints on farms to reconnect with the countryside. His son, meanwhile, was driving a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and as red as the Chinese flag, in a country where the average household income last year was about $3,300.

The episode, related by several people familiar with it, is symptomatic of a challenge facing the Chinese Communist Party as it tries to maintain its legitimacy in an increasingly diverse, well-informed and demanding society. The offspring of party leaders, often called “princelings,” are becoming more conspicuous, through both their expanding business interests and their evident appetite for luxury, at a time when public anger is rising over reports of official corruption and abuse of power.
A Family Affair

A look at China’s leaders, past and present, and their offspring, often known as ‘princelings.’

State-controlled media portray China’s leaders as living by the austere Communist values they publicly espouse. But as scions of the political aristocracy carve out lucrative roles in business and embrace the trappings of wealth, their increasingly high profile is raising uncomfortable questions for a party that justifies its monopoly on power by pointing to its origins as a movement of workers and peasants.

Their visibility has particular resonance as the country approaches a once-a-decade leadership change next year, when several older princelings are expected to take the Communist Party’s top positions. That prospect has led some in Chinese business and political circles to wonder whether the party will be dominated for the next decade by a group of elite families who already control large chunks of the world’s second-biggest economy and wield considerable influence in the military.

“There’s no ambiguity—the trend has become so clear,” said Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese elite politics at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Princelings were never popular, but now they’ve become so politically powerful, there’s some serious concern about the legitimacy of the ‘Red Nobility.’ The Chinese public is particularly resentful about the princelings’ control of both political power and economic wealth.”

The current leadership includes some princelings, but they are counterbalanced by a rival nonhereditary group that includes President Hu Jintao, also the party chief, and Premier Wen Jiabao. Mr. Hu’s successor, however, is expected to be Xi Jinping, the current vice president, who is the son of a revolutionary hero and would be the first princeling to take the country’s top jobs. Many experts on Chinese politics believe that he has forged an informal alliance with several other princelings who are candidates for promotion.

Among them is the senior Mr. Bo, who is also the son of a revolutionary leader. He often speaks of his close ties to the Xi family, according to two people who regularly meet him. Mr. Xi’s daughter is currently an undergraduate at Harvard, where Mr. Bo’s son is a graduate student at the Kennedy School of Government.

“Princelings were never popular, but now … there’s some serious concern about the legitimacy of the ‘Red Nobility.’ ”

Already in the 25-member Politburo, Bo Xilai is a front-runner for promotion to its top decision-making body, the Standing Committee. He didn’t respond to a request for comment through his office, and his son didn’t respond to requests via email and friends.

The antics of some officials’ children have become a hot topic on the Internet in China, especially among users of Twitter-like micro-blogs, which are harder for Web censors to monitor and block because they move so fast. In September, Internet users revealed that the 15-year-old son of a general was one of two young men who crashed a BMW into another car in Beijing and then beat up its occupants, warning onlookers not to call police.

An uproar ensued, and the general’s son has now been sent to a police correctional facility for a year, state media report.

Top Chinese leaders aren’t supposed to have either inherited wealth or business careers to supplement their modest salaries, thought to be around 140,000 yuan ($22,000) a year for a minister. Their relatives are allowed to conduct business as long as they don’t profit from their political connections. In practice, the origins of the families’ riches are often impossible to trace.

Last year, Chinese learned via the Internet that the son of a former vice president of the country—and the grandson of a former Red Army commander—had purchased a $32.4 million harbor-front mansion in Australia. He applied for a permit to tear down the century-old mansion and to build a new villa, featuring two swimming pools connected by a waterfall. (See related article.)

BO XILAI waves a Chinese flag during a concert with revolutionary songs in Chongqing on June 29.

Many princelings engage in legitimate business, but there is a widespread perception in China that they have an unfair advantage in an economic system that, despite the country’s embrace of capitalism, is still dominated by the state and allows no meaningful public scrutiny of decision making.

The state owns all urban land and strategic industries, as well as banks, which dole out loans overwhelmingly to state-run companies. The big spoils thus go to political insiders who can leverage personal connections and family prestige to secure resources, and then mobilize the same networks to protect them.

The People’s Daily, the party mouthpiece, acknowledged the issue last year, with a poll showing that 91% of respondents believed all rich families in China had political backgrounds. A former Chinese auditor general, Li Jinhua, wrote in an online forum that the wealth of officials’ family members “is what the public is most dissatisfied about.”

One princeling disputes the notion that she and her peers benefit from their “red” backgrounds. “Being from a famous government family doesn’t get me cheaper rent or special bank financing or any government contracts,” Ye Mingzi, a 32-year-old fashion designer and granddaughter of a Red Army founder, said in an email. “In reality,” she said, “the children of major government families get very high scrutiny. Most are very careful to avoid even the appearance of improper favoritism.”

For the first few decades after Mao’s 1949 revolution, the children of Communist chieftains were largely out of sight, growing up in walled compounds and attending elite schools such as the Beijing No. 4 Boys’ High School, where the elder Mr. Bo and several other current leaders studied.

In the 1980s and ’90s, many princelings went abroad for postgraduate studies, then often joined Chinese state companies, government bodies or foreign investment banks. But they mostly maintained a very low profile.

Now, families of China’s leaders send their offspring overseas ever younger, often to top private schools in the U.S., Britain and Switzerland, to make sure they can later enter the best Western universities. Princelings in their 20s, 30s and 40s increasingly take prominent positions in commerce, especially in private equity, which allows them to maximize their profits and also brings them into regular contact with the Chinese and international business elite.

In 2008, Bo Guagua invited Jackie Chan to lecture at Oxford—and sang with him on stage at one point.

Younger princelings are often seen among the models, actors and sports stars who gather at a strip of nightclubs by the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing to show off Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis. Others have been spotted talking business over cigars and vintage Chinese liquor in exclusive venues such as the Maotai Club, in a historic house near the Forbidden City.

On a recent afternoon at a new polo club on Beijing’s outskirts, opened by a grandson of a former vice premier, Argentine players on imported ponies put on an exhibition match for prospective members.

“We’re bringing polo to the public. Well, not exactly the public,” said one staff member. “That man over there is the son of an army general. That one’s grandfather was mayor of Beijing.” (New anti-nepotism laws should prevent more recurances of this sort of thing . . . )

Princelings also are becoming increasingly visible abroad. Ms. Ye, a fashion designer, was featured in a recent edition of Vogue magazine alongside Wan Baobao, a jewelry designer who is the granddaughter of a former vice premier.

But it is Bo Guagua who stands out among the younger princelings. No other child of a serving Politburo member has ever had such a high profile, both at home and abroad.

His family’s status dates back to Bo Yibo, who helped lead Mao’s forces to victory, only to be purged in the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. Bo Yibo was eventually rehabilitated, and his son, Bo Xilai, was a rising star in the party by 1987, when Bo Guagua was born.

The boy grew up in a rarefied environment—closeted in guarded compounds, ferried around in chauffeur-driven cars, schooled partly by tutors and partly at the prestigious Jingshan school in Beijing, according to friends.

In 2000, his father, by then mayor of the northeastern city of Dalian, sent his 12-year-old son to a British prep school called Papplewick, which according to its website currently charges £22,425 (about $35,000) a year.

About a year later, the boy became the first person from mainland China to attend Harrow, one of Britain’s most exclusive private schools, which according to its website currently charges £30,930 annually.

In 2006, by which time his father was China’s commerce minister, Mr. Bo went to Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics. The current cost of that is about £26,000 a year. His current studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School cost about $70,000 a year.

“’The children of major government families get very high scrutiny,’ says the granddaughter of a Red Army founder.”

A question raised by this prestigious overseas education, worth a total of almost $600,000 at today’s prices, is how it was paid for. Friends said that they didn’t know, though one suggested that Mr. Bo’s mother paid with the earnings of her legal career. Her law firm declined to comment.

Bo Guagua has been quoted in the Chinese media as saying that he won full scholarships from age 16 onward. Harrow, Oxford and the Kennedy School said that they couldn’t comment on an individual student.

The cost of education is a particularly hot topic among members of China’s middle class, many of whom are unhappy with the quality of schooling in China. But only the relatively rich can send their children abroad to study.

For others, it is Bo Guagua’s freewheeling lifestyle that is controversial. Photos of him at Oxford social events—in one case bare-chested, other times in a tuxedo or fancy dress—have been widely circulated online.

In 2008, Mr. Bo helped to organize something called the Silk Road Ball, which included a performance by martial-arts monks from China’s Shaolin temple, according to friends. He also invited Jackie Chan, the Chinese kung fu movie star, to lecture at Oxford, singing with him on stage at one point.

The following year, Mr. Bo was honored in London by a group called the British Chinese Youth Federation as one of “Ten Outstanding Young Chinese Persons.” He was also an adviser to Oxford Emerging Markets, a firm set up by Oxford undergraduates to explore “investment and career prospects in emerging markets,” according to its website.

This year, photos circulated online of Mr. Bo on a holiday in Tibet with another princeling, Chen Xiaodan, a young woman whose father heads the China Development Bank and whose grandfather was a renowned revolutionary. The result was a flurry of gossip, as well as criticism on the Internet of the two for evidently traveling with a police escort. Ms. Chen didn’t respond to requests for comment via email and Facebook.

A Home Fit for a Princeling : A $32.4 million harborside mansion in Sydney

Asked about his son’s apparent romance at a news conference during this year’s parliament meeting, Bo Xilai replied, enigmatically, “I think the business of the third generation—aren’t we talking about democracy now?”

Friends say that the younger Mr. Bo recently considered, but finally decided against, leaving Harvard to work on an Internet start-up called guagua.com. The domain is registered to an address in Beijing. Staff members there declined to reveal anything about the business. “It’s a secret,” said a young man who answered the door.

It is unclear what Mr. Bo will do after graduating and whether he will be able to maintain such a high profile if his father is promoted, according to friends. He said during a speech at Peking University in 2009 that he wanted to “serve the people” in culture and education, according to a Chinese newspaper, Southern Weekend.

He ruled out a political career but showed some of his father’s charisma and contradictions in answering students’ questions, according to the newspaper. Asked about the pictures of him partying at Oxford, he quoted Chairman Mao as saying “you should have a serious side and a lively side,” and went on to discuss what it meant to be one of China’s new nobility.

“Things like driving a sports car, I know British aristocrats are not that arrogant,” he said. “Real aristocrats absolutely don’t do that, but are relatively low-key.”
—Dinny McMahon contributed to this article.

[[[ *** RESPONSE *** ]]]

The article went, : “About a year later, the boy became the first person from mainland China to attend Harrow, one of Britain’s most exclusive private schools, which according to its website currently charges £30,930 annually.

This is extreme WASTE. The ‘Chinese Commie Way’ would be to LEARN the skills needed to open such a private school then OPEN (perhaps an Imperial themed?) AND with Chinese architectural characteristics) the same in China offering the courses a £224.25 or £309.30 annually (this is still 10,000 to 12,000 Yuan, no small sum . . . ) – THEN be among the first crop of students attending even if 5-10 years LATE/too old for class. As for the $32.4 million dollar home, lets say that so long as ANY Chinese COMRADE citizen is homeless or lives in a hovel or shack, NOT A SINGLE APPARATCHIK HAS THE RIGHT to live in, or own a home ON FOREIGN LAND that is worth a few apartment blocks capable of housing THOUSANDS. Where is the intrepid spirit of the Long March? Marxist law China going soft, corrupt and wasteful? A corridor of development in the Eastern Coastal states makes for no more than 10% of China’s landmass, and does not prevent 90% of China’s population being looked down upon by the rest of the world from terrible lives (not starvation bad but coarse-bad)  and living conditions while other so-called comrades live in luxury AND worse still, in foreign countries.

ARTICLE 2

Should China’s capital be renamed ‘Bling-jing’? – CNN Asia Business Analyst, Ramy Inocencio – March 12th, 2012 03:04 PM GMT

Hong Kong, China (CNN) – If you look at China’s annual National People’s Congress, now in session, you might think this country is one of the richest in the world.

The NPC’s 75 richest legislators – from a total of 3,000 – had a net worth of more than $90 billion in 2011. To put that in perspective, that’s more than half of Greece’s latest bailout of some $170 billion.

Zong Qinghou is the NPC’s richest member and China’s second-richest man, with a net worth of nearly $10.8 billion in cash and assets. If you’ve been to China, you’ve likely eaten or drunk something his company, Wahaha Group, manufactures.

The firm’s red-and-white distilled water bottles are ubiquitous – sold on the grounds of the Forbidden City in Beijing to the altitudes of the Chinese Himalayas in Tibet.

Along with food and drink, the five richest NPC legislators have shown that China’s automobile and real estate industries are the sectors in which to make billions.

For more perspective on their wealth, compare NPC’s six dozen richest members to U.S. politicians. This group earned more than the net worth of the six hundred top politicians and lawmakers of the United States.

That includes President Barack Obama, his Cabinet, the 535 members of Congress, along with nine members of the Supreme Court. Their average declared net worth in 2010 was just $4.8 billion – a pittance compared to the NPC’s $90 billion.

Even the richest person in the U.S. Congress looks a modest earner compared with the NPC’s wealth. Representative Darrell Issa of California has a maximum net worth estimated at $700 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. If he were in China’s NPC, his ranking would fall forty notches.

The NPC is not the only major political meet-up happening in Beijing right now. The CPPCC – the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – is also in full swing. The 70-odd richest legislators in this government advisory body, similar to the NPC, had a net worth of more than $100 billion in 2011.

And they’re apparently not afraid to flaunt the bling they can buy with those riches.

One legislator from an ethnic minority, often poorer than their Han Chinese counterparts, clutched an $800 Burberry handbag on the way to a CPPCC meeting this week. The Chairman of Evergrande, one of China’s biggest property companies, sported a $950 black Hermes belt – with a golden H. And another lady legislator cradled a Marc Jacobs bag on the way to this week’s work. Retail price? $10,000.

The annual per capita income for a Chinese citizen stands at about $2,400.

With images like those – which have gone viral on the web – many critics are wondering just how representative the “people’s” congress is of the people.

The answer? Perhaps not so much.

[[[ *** RESPONSE *** ]]]

Retire all plutocrats whatever their ages, they already are rich and have no need for power (a dangerous combination). And institute a Capitalism with Socialist Caps system at USD$20 million.

Utopia – Capitalism with Socialist Caps on Personal Wealth – US$20 Millionhttp://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36665503866

Nobility with whatever privileges or privileged access (but specifically not wealth) is fine for the endowment of values and the ethos in a sea of faceless, but when their wealth is at an extreme level, they are no longer leaders but glaring symbols of excess, especially in a country that is supposed to be RED, as in Marxist red. In Marxism, the extreme wealthy, even those worth 20 million would be unacceptable (much less 100s of millions or billions) and in the 1960s-1970s the entire crop of leaders worth as much as today or even those 20 million worth would be rounded up, their wealth confiscated and sent to be re-educated if not shot. I personally advocate confiscation to a limit of 20 million with no imprisonment and not any punishment, even letting them continue their businesses BUT any profit gained above 20 million in personal asset there on, should be directed to the various redistribution or aid schemes, or simply to fund any and ALL medical treatment/education/housing at a a quantum of anything more than 10% of yearly savings payable by the patient needing medical-treatment/education/housing, these plutocrat businesses. With owners and directors or stockholders etc.. still limited to 20 million per individual – the excess profits will pay for everything else in costs that everyone else who can’t save 10% of their salaries, 1 billion people maybe cannot afford . . .

A bureaucrat should not be worth more than SME level (2-10 million), the best form being that the Bureaucat’s job is the ONLY JOB they hold not with all kinds of businesses on the side that will occupy their time instead of them looking after the nations – thats what bureaucrats are for, not to look after their businesses.

Try the Capitalism with Socialist Caps system at USD$20 million, starting with the political structure in ENTIRETY and then later society again, though not by killings, but perhaps citizen option to redistribute wealth MARXISM style or self expulsions by giving up Chinese citizenship with 3 times the ceiling – as that wealth is China’s and not to be taken away to another country. Chairman Mao would approve.

Especially those who profit from monetised debt or other shadowy non-real-goods economic manipulations must be singled out. Real goods producers can be lower on the audit list, though Quality Control looks to be a serious problem in China for non-edible goods and for edible goods, potentially a disaster dependant on the producer’s sense of scruples (Chinese manufacturer’s agriculture industrialists’ scruples are not too bad, but as the ‘factory floor’ viability of China shifts to even poorer regions, cost cutting or short cuts could create VERY SERIOUS problems – try for 100% organic and stick to that, good thing that China has already prevented GMO rice, the Chinese could be the last ‘unmutated’ (from eating GMO rice or GMO foods, mutations are possible) human beings on the planet.

At the same time, consider the issue of soft power and perhaps even the formalisation of the Royal Institution which will further educate about wealth vs. civiliational and moral values. Just look at those other Royals traipsing around creating a buzz, Oman, England, Japan etc.. China needs this sort of pathos, much like the flesh (civilisational values) without poison (material wealth) of the Fugu Puffer fish via a state formalized Noble ethos (with privileged access or certain immunities to reasonable limits) as well once extreme plutocracy is disallowed, and by the above issues the poison of Capitalism has near destroyed Japan and now infects China and has subverted many of the leaders . . .

While China may have just introduced the toughest laws against nepotism worldwide, a new problem in the form of the plutocracy (specifically plutocracy that also is in politics and holding power to create loophole laws that can be taken advantage of – the regular plutocracy however, especially the type that produces REAL GOODS aren’t any major issue unless the Socialist Caps are refused, but the worst are the monetised debt or fiat/speculator types, as bad for China’s reputation as the plutocrat politicians, though not as dangerous . . . ) looks set to take over as the no.1. troublemaker and most ‘ethics subversive‘ danger for China’s internal political structure. The potential corruption that saw the China fall in the Opium Wars can occur again when a country with 1 billion below the poverty level, are headed by plutocrat politicians none can identify with (at least they are not nepotists as well thanks to new laws) and effectively out of touch with the reality away from the developed coastal areas.

This is already punctuated with occasional chengguan trouble or if the as West reports is true, dozens of unreported riots. If all thats needed is the dismantling of extreme wealth (leaving USD$20 million for any single family or extended family, is still an exceptional amount in China btw) to harmonise so many oppressed and impoverished in China, there will be no harm in going back to basics as in the Cultural Revolution Era (no prisons or beatings, just simple redistributions DIRECT to the worst off – I’m not talking about billionaires giving money to those upper middle class types very comfortable . . . so the outrage among billionaires themselves will not be as bad . . . ), the current state of affairs if as reported is disgraceful and Capitalist to a shameful level.

China needs to GET SERIOUS.