We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lapp√©, Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Israel mows the lawn

Click here to access article by Mouin Rabbani from the London Review of Books.
Its massive assaults on the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 (Operation Cast Lead) and 2012 (Operation Pillar of Defence), as well as countless individual attacks between and since, were in this context exercises in what the Israeli military called ‘mowing the lawn’: weakening Hamas and enhancing Israel’s powers of deterrence. As the 2009 Goldstone Report and other investigations have demonstrated, often in excruciating detail, the grass consists overwhelmingly of non-combatant Palestinian civilians, indiscriminately targeted by Israel’s precision weaponry.
Rabbani provides an excellent description of the run-up of events that preceded the latest Israeli invasion of Gaza, and explains a lot about Zionist policies to prevent any Palestinian state from being negotiated and their genocidal practices against Palestinians living in Gaza.
In 2004, a year before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Dov Weissglass, √©minence grise [a powerful advisor who operates "behind the scenes"] to Ariel Sharon, explained the initiative’s purpose to an interviewer from Haaretz:
The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process … And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with … a [US] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress … The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians. 
In 2006 Weissglass was just as frank about Israel’s policy towards Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants: ‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.’ He was not speaking metaphorically....

By brutalizing Palestinians, Israel dehumanizes itself

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution. 
When a small group of brave Israeli pro-peace activists staged a protest against the assault on Gaza in Tel Aviv this weekend, they were pelted with rocks, beaten with sticks, and chased down the street by a 2.000-strong mob of warmongering, flag-waving nationalists — some of them actually wearing neo-Nazi T-shirts. An exasperated Israeli friend described to me the “hatred in the eyes” of her fellow countrymen and relayed the ominous atmosphere inside Israel: “It’s crazy and scary here. All you see and hear is the far-right. 90% of the people in Israel are pro-war. The reasons vary but they are the majority.”

Did the banks have to commit fraud?

Click here to access article by Dean Baker from Real-World Economics Review Blog.  

The brief article provides an obvious explanation as to why they did: the rewards and punishments in a capitalist dominated society induced banksters to commit crimes--as they will continue to do in the future. 
Citigroup’s settlement will not change the tradeoffs from what Citigroup’s top management saw in 2006. As a result, in the future bankers are likely to make the same decisions that they did in 2006.

Amnesty International and the War in Ukraine

Click here to access article by Vladislav Gulevich at The Greanville Post. 

Gulevich, a Ukrainian journalist who covered the violent overthrow of the Ukrainian government and subsequently fled the country, has reviewed a report by Amnesty International and found it to be grossly biased, not based on the reality of his experience. My own reading of the report suggests to me that not only is the report biased, but it reads like a report from a Western propaganda agency. 

California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

Click here to access article by Abrahm Lustgarten from ProPublica. 

The misleading headline does not indicate that there is evidence that fracking has already contaminated aquifers. Such evidence must exist to motivate the regulatory agency to take such action, and it would be useful to know the details of the evidence from the 100 aquifers that were exempted by law from environmental protection. There are so many hedged statements in this report which suggests to me that there is an attempt at a coverup.
The problem is that at least 100 of the state's aquifers were presumed to be useless for drinking and farming because the water was either of poor quality, or too deep underground to easily access. Years ago, the state exempted them from environmental protection and allowed the oil and gas industry to intentionally pollute them. But not all aquifers are exempted, and the system amounts to a patchwork of protected and unprotected water resources deep underground. Now, according to the cease and desist orders issued by the state, it appears that at least seven injection wells are likely pumping waste into fresh water aquifers protected by the law, and not other aquifers sacrificed by the state long ago.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Evolution of US War Propaganda

Click here to access article by Caleb Maupin from New Eastern Outlook

This New York based political analyst and activist provides an excellent review of the varying uses and methods of US war propaganda since WWII. 
...the victims of US aggression all vary in their ideological outlook, religion, history, and circumstances. As has always been the case, regimes are targeted not for ideological reasons, but because they stand for independence from economic domination by Wall Street and London.
The US ruling class started seriously using propaganda, which they called "public relations, in the 1920s to serve their interests following their dramatic and surprising success in using propaganda to turn public opinion from strongly opposing to US entry into WWI to supporting it.

It was Putin's missile!

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.

Because we have all witnessed the immediate condemnation of Russia and "pro-Russian separatists" in Ukraine following the downing of the Malaysian passenger airplane, Escobar's ridicule of these absurd propaganda efforts is very welcome as an antidote to such ideological germ warfare. He also provides an additional piece of very interesting information:
And then there's the curiouser and curiouser story of Carlos, the Spanish air traffic controller working at Kiev's tower, who was following MH17 in real time. For some Carlos is legit - not a cipher; for others, he's never even worked in Ukraine. Anyway he tweeted like mad. His account - not accidentally - has been shut down, and he has disappeared; his friends are now desperately looking for him. I managed to read all his tweets in Spanish when the account was still online - and now copies and an English translation are available.  

38 Damn Good Reasons to Support the BDS Movement

Click here to access article from Muftah.
The Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is a peaceful, civil disobedience initiative started by Palestinian civil society in 2005, in response to a paralyzed peace process and continued Israeli violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Among other things, BDS includes academic and cultural boycotts, as well as divestment from companies supporting or profiting from the Occupation. Through BDS, regular individuals around the world have a concrete means to express opposition and outrage against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Now more than ever, supporting BDS is critical. 

Progressive extractivism: hope or dystopia?

Click here to access article by Don Fitz from Climate & Capitalism. 
The controversy over extractivism in Latin America has become a lot hotter.  Though social justice and environmental activists have sought a partnership for years, this could become a wedge issue.  The debate is core to our conceptualization of what type of society we are working to build and how we plan to get there. [my emphasis]
Fitz summarizes the contending arguments from pro-extractivism advocates and anti-extractivism advocates, following which he concludes:
The two sides often talk past each other while paying scant attention to fundamental issues of their opponents.  And there are multiple problems which are insufficiently addressed by either side.  Anti-extractivists often write of horrible effects of extractivism without delving deeply into the question “How can Latin America lift people out of poverty?”  This weakness is flaunted by virtually every one of their critics.
Pro-extractivists write well of the need to reduce poverty while paying little more than lip service to the objection that extraction is destroying humanity-of-the-future.  The “pro-” side also tends to downplay “externalities” such as destruction of community and damage to health.  Instead, authors imply that the quality of life would be better if people could buy more things, without taking into account increases in asthma, cancer and water-borne illnesses.

‘The Collapse of Western Civilization’ — A View From The Year 2393

Click here to access this book review by Joe Romm from Climate Progress. 
How would a historian in 2393 write about this century if we continue self-destructively ignoring climate science — and as a result modern civilization as we know it had collapsed 300 years earlier?
That’s the question answered by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their excellent and unique new entry in the emerging Climate-Fiction genre, “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From The Future.”
An ironic quote from the book:
To the historian studying this tragic period of human history, the most astounding fact is that the victims knew what was happening and why. Indeed, they chronicled it in detail precisely because they knew that fossil fuel combustion was to blame. Historical analysis also shows that Western civilization had the technological know-how and capability to effect an orderly transition to renewable energy, yet the available technologies were not implemented in time.
The reason for this developing tragedy is simply that capitalist ruling class's were thoroughly addicted to the power and wealth supplied to them by their system and their highly advanced technology that enabled this class to thoroughly colonize most minds of their subjects with their ideology and complete submission to their authority. With such power they have made the extinction of the human race nearly inevitable. Although in reality this history as yet to play out, it appears to me that the planet's 99 Percent will not be able to successfully challenge their rule before catastrophic climate destabilization sets in.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Israel’s incremental genocide in the Gaza ghetto

Click here to access article by Ilan Pappe from The Electronic Intifada.

The nation of Israel was established in the 20th century after many years of effort by international Zionists who fanatically sought support for their project wherever they could find it. In WWI Zionists appealed to both governments of England and Germany to support their cause of "homeland" (or "nation" depending to whom they were talking). England finally came through, with the aid of American Zionists, in the form of the 1917 Balfour Declaration in order to secure financial support from international Jewry. (See other excellent histories here and here.) Leading up to and during WWII the Nazi regime collaborated with Zionists to support the emigration of European Jews to Palestine (see this, this, and this), and at the end of WWII the victorious capitalist Anglo-American Empire failed to seriously oppose the establishment of the state of Israel because they began to see it as useful as an imperial outpost in the Middle East. And, as they say, the rest is (a) history of apartheid and genocide.
Israel’s present assault on Gaza alas indicates that this policy [incremental genocide] continues unabated. The term is important since it appropriately locates Israel’s barbaric action — then and now — within a wider historical context.
This context should be insisted upon, since the Israeli propaganda machine attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.

Capitalism’s Deeper Problem

Click here to access article by Richard Wolff from Moyers & Company.

Wolff provides us with a brief history of capitalism as another class system that took over from the earlier class system under feudalism, and shows how the recent phase of globalization under capitalism has only increased the disparity between a tiny class of the rich amidst huge populations of the poor. His analysis leads to an interesting question:
Everywhere, those extremes provoked revolutions against feudalism that eventually yielded that system’s demise. Today’s extremes produced by a globalizing capitalism  — Detroit versus San Francisco, Manhattan versus the Bronx, Germany versus Greece, China’s new billionaires versus many millions of poor workers and peasants —  where might they be leading us?
It appears to me that we activists and all humans will be spared the work of another major revolution because nature has had enough of our pollution. I am, of course, referring to the impending catastrophes awaiting us due to climate destabilization caused by our excessive burning of fossil fuels before we have a chance to turn things around.

New York Times Rewrites Gaza Headline: Was It Too Accurate?

Click here to access article by Peter Hart from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. 

This is only one more tiny illustration of how ruling class media carefully hones it news reporting so that their class interests are not harmed. Because the story has been widely reported by a number of independent sources, they have no choice but to cover the incident. Thus, the task then becomes to cover it in a way that reduces any damage that the coverage might cause to their ruling class, and their strategically important Zionist-Israeli section of the capitalist Empire. 

NBC news directors were so incensed over one of their reporter's coverage of this same event that they pulled him from the area. 

And now we are seeing the grossest forms of propaganda backing the Empire's actions in Ukraine.

The point I wish to stress is that all coverage by all the Empire's leading capitalist media corporations are presented from this class point of view. So then, if you understand that, it is not too much of a stretch to understand that all important institutions of society are likewise guided to serve the same ruling class. You will find the same bias shaping actions in legislation, court proceedings, education, entertainment, etc. 

You must understand that you live in a society that has a social-economic class structure which is shaped by a capitalist system, a system which gives overwhelming rights to "owners" of property, and permits property to be owned by individuals that is thoroughly social in nature. What is of major significance is that such rights also bring to these individuals vast amounts of wealth and power. That is precisely why they go to such extreme lengths to control everything in society and beyond that might threaten the extreme wealth and power they enjoy. That is precisely why they engage in all kinds of practices that ultimately destroy economies and whole nations, and wage wars against nations and peoples who interfere with their designs.

Big Brother To Get Bigger in Mexico

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Wolf Street. 

While opposition is gathering against net neutrality and electronic surveillance in the US portion of the Empire, it appears that a major effort to accomplish these objectives is well advanced in the Mexican section. Such nefarious measures have been carefully wrapped in propaganda material that appears to reign in monopolies. Thus, the public has been carefully prepared to view these measures as "reforms". (I think it is a truism that whenever ruling class media presents legislation as a "reform", what they really have in mind are measures that will harm the interests of ordinary people and benefit their class.)
...as El Confidencial warns, the anti-trust measures are effectively a carrot hiding a much larger stick within the large- and fine-print – a stick that could soon be wielded against political and social activists, investigative journalists, high-profile members of the political opposition or any other groups that threaten the status quo.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Planned Chaos in the Middle East—and Beyond

Click here to access article by Ismael Hossein-Zadeh from CounterPunch.

This is not exactly a new thesis, but it bears repeating.
The seeds of the chaos were planted some 25 years ago, when the Berlin Wall Collapsed. Since the rationale for the large and growing military apparatus during the Cold War years was the “threat of communism,” U.S. citizens celebrated the collapse of the Wall as the end of militarism and the dawn of “peace dividends”—a reference to the benefits that, it was hoped, many would enjoy in the United States as a result of a reorientation of part of the Pentagon’s budget toward non-military social needs.

But while the majority of the U.S. citizens celebrated the prospects of what appeared to be imminent “peace dividends,” the powerful interests vested in the expansion of military/security spending felt threatened. Not surprisingly, these influential forces moved swiftly to safeguard their interests in the face of the “threat of peace.”
The author continues on in the article to expertly develop the thesis of a voracious military-industrial complex and adds Israeli-Zionist territorial ambitions to the mix. I agree with all of his arguments, however they are not sufficient to explain the policies of the US-led Empire. 

The Empire's capitalist elite who determine those policies are also concerned about acquiring control of rapidly diminishing resources, particularly fossil fuels, needed to keep their giant wealth-sucking capitalist machinery fueled for more growth, or at least, to sustain it until some mythical new energy source is obtained. Thus, they have an imperial agenda to acquire as much control of these resources as they can, and they will attempt to subvert or attack any opposition, which includes the rapidly developing capitalist gang known as the BRICs, that stands in their way. This, in addition to the impending catastrophic climate destabilization which their system is causing, is what makes today's world so dangerous.

The Outrage This Time

Click here to access article by Andrew Levine from CounterPunch.

I always spend substantial time on Saturday mornings trying to find good satire of capitalists and their system, but I often fail. I've noticed that the right-wing does a much better job using satire to ridicule what they stupidly regard as a liberal government. I've even found myself laughing at some of their material. So with that apologia expressed, I offer this piece as the best I could find this morning in the way of satire.
Whenever my local NPR station has one of its frequent on-air fund-raisers, I am tempted to call in to tell them how Morning Edition is my source for conventional wisdom and pro-regime propaganda.
I could say the same, of course, about NPR’s weekend news programs and All Things Considered.  But Morning Edition is special; it starts the day.

The whistleblower speaks to Alan Rusbridger and Ewen MacAskill about life in Russia, the NSA culture, his time there and the future of communication

Click here if you wish to access the edited transcript of this 13:59m video of the interview conducted by The Guardian journalists.
He doesn’t drink, he’s reading Dostoevsky and, no, he doesn’t wear a disguise. A year after blowing the whistle on the NSA, America’s most wanted talks frankly about his life as a hero-pariah – and why the world remains ‘more dangerous than Orwell imagined’. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Senator Warren Lets Yellen Know She’s Had It With the Fed’s Charade About Too Big to Fail [revised]

Click here to access article by Pam Martens from Wall Street on Parade. 

There are few people besides Martens who has followed more carefully the shenanigans of Wall Street actors. People from Wall Street have long been identified as the real directors of the US government. In other words, actors from this sector, especially the financial part of Wall Street, constitute what many keen observers of power in the US as a "shadow government" or "deep state". Although major capitalist actors have exercised major influence over the US government for over 100 years, their control has become so consolidated that they now have a hidden directorate who function as a shadow government. 

Unbeknownst to most people, following WWII the ruling class directorate became very interested in establishing an empire, and gradually established another branch of their directorate in northern Virginia to manage the empire. This has been well described in a recent book entitled Imperial Suburbs by Andrew Friedman. A 55 minute interview with Friedman broadcast from KPFA in Berkeley provides a detailed description of this event.
In the early days of the CIA, Allen Dulles moved the agency from Washington, D.C. to the suburbs, spawning a complex of government and private entities in the service of US empire. Scholar Andrew Friedman unearths the significance of the national security state's base in Northern Virginia. He examines the imperial ties and intimate connections between agents....
With domestic affairs run by agents in Wall Street and Empire affairs run by their people in northern Virginia, what they left behind in Washington was merely a well-constructed facade of "constitutional government founded on democratic principles and the rule of law", an ongoing performance of a stage play called "Democrats versus Republicans", and the periodic extravaganzas of political campaigns and elections. It is the facade, the staged drama, and election campaigns that mainstream media report on, while the actions of those in the well-coordinated shadow government in Wall Street and northern Virginia go unreported.  However, the fake nature of the official government is becoming ever more apparent as Martens is discovering.

In this article she cites Fed Chair Yellen's semiannual report to the Senate Banking Committee as evidence that there is no serious planning by the Fed to exercise any discipline over reckless actions of "too big to fail" banking institutions as promised to the American people and as mandated in the Dodd-Frank bill following the most recent collapse of the economy. She also provides evidence of the collusion of major Wall Street actors with enforcement agencies, police and other legal authorities. 

Economists say solution to problems is more of the same

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder.

Few people explain capitalist economic concepts and analyses better than Dolack. In this piece he deconstructs a document entitled “Policy Challenges for the Next 50 Years,” issued by a major capitalist organization called the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 

It appears that key capitalist policy makers insist that they must continue with the same neoliberal austerity policies with plenty of assurances that everything will be fine, but admit that their beloved system must now accept slow growth for the foreseeable future. Of course, what they are really facing is stagnation as their system which demands high rates of growth comes up against the resource limits of a finite planet, especially cheaply available energy from fossil fuels.
The implications of that stagnation are a sputtering economy, more unemployment and more inequality because capitalism is a system that requires growth. A system based on endless growth can’t function without it — slow growth (all the more so no growth) means misery for working people as the recent years of “recovery” from the 2008 economic collapse has demonstrated.
However, as Dolack correctly concludes:
An economic system designed to meet human needs, rather than private profit, would have no need to grow. But as capitalism is designed for private profit, and requires continual growth to maintain itself, harsher austerity (and the force that will be necessary to implement it) is what is on offer by the world’s elites.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ukraine: Kiev’s Ticking Time Bomb

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from The Greanville Post
After a brief ceasefire, Kiev has resumed the bombardment of populated centers in the eastern breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, both bordering with neighboring Russia. Kiev and its Western backers face a confounding dilemma – continue military operations in eastern Ukraine and create a heavily militarized opposition while racking up a troubling human rights record, or commit to a ceasefire and for all intents and purposes forfeit Donetsk and Lugansk just as Kiev has done regarding Crimea.
 Cartalucci's analysis of the terrible situation in Ukraine suggests a positive outcome leading to a "multi-polar world".
With NATO’s brand of hegemonic expansion swept aside, the world will be tasked with describing a new order with which to replace it. The multipolar world preferred by nations like Russia, China, and other BRICS members is already poised to serve this role. With the devastation of the West’s unipolar model on full display in eastern Ukraine, the cause of establishing a multipolar world gives added impetus to those resisting Western advances both within Ukraine, and beyond.
First of all, I don't see a multi-polar world as anything like a panacea. At best, it only temporarily averts a dangerous nuclear war. Secondly, I question the ability of the crazy neo-con infested Empire directorate to settle for any kind of multi-polar world. This is what makes the situation in Ukraine so dangerous. They have worked on the subversion of Ukraine for the past 20 years and have seen their recent success as a major step toward their quest for world domination. Thus, I see a more likely scenario in which the Empire's directorate throws in all kinds of military aid into the conflict including, if necessary, private armies to overwhelm the opposition in eastern Ukraine. I, too, see the Ukraine mess as a "ticking time bomb", but one that could easily lead to a major conflagration.

Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”

Click here to access a current re-post on The 4th Media of a prophetic 2006 article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, a Canadian sociologist and geopolitical analyst. 
This article first published by GR in November 2006 is of particular relevance  to an understanding of the ongoing process of destabilization and political fragmentation of Iraq.
I've always been impressed by Nazemroaya's views on geopolitical events in the Middle East, but this piece represents the best of his work.

Has America’s Economy Entered the “Coffin Corner”?

Click here to access article by Fabius Maximus from Wolf Street. 

Maximus uses some very apt aerodynamic metaphors to illustrate the dilemmas confronting our capitalist masters ensconced in central banks as they desperately try to maintain their craft aloft.
In the absence of effective and comprehensible economic theory, economists often rely on analogies. Such as comparisons with aerodynamics. Flying complex vehicles at high speed under variable conditions, often with inadequate or old information — the role of pilot has similarities with that of central banker.
I particularly loved one comment by "Simon" following the article:
Just to riff [expand] a little more on the analogy….. we ought to add that the ‘central banker pilot’ is trying to keep the ‘plane’ aloft whilst strapping on his own parachute, making sure that his/her buddies have chutes also, whilst telling those in coach that everything is going swimmingly and we will all be ok!
 ...oh and those in coach are worrying about what movie they should watch! (ignorance is truly bliss).
"Altitude" in this analogy should be interpreted as the aircraft approaches the limits of the Earth's atmosphere--clearly a metaphorical referent to a capitalist economy which is running up against resource limits, especially cheap fossil fuels, to keep their giant wealth-sucking machinery fueled for more growth.

New Wave of Washington Consensus in Latin America

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Wolf Street. 

The author looks at economic trends in Latin America and sees some new moves by the neoliberal leadership of the US led ruling capitalist classes. (Neoliberal policies and operations that have been applied to Latin America are frequently identified as the "Washington Consensus".)
Something big is going down in Latin America: A slow-moving tectonic shift threatens to split the continent down the middle on ideological lines. On the Atlantic side are Mercosur nations such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela, whose governments are by and large statist and protectionist. On the opposite side are the four signatories of the recently signed Pacific Alliance, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile – countries that are, in the words of the Financial Times, more “reform” and “liberal” minded.
Meanwhile, another capitalist gang known as the BRIC nations is taking shape to counter the capitalist gang represented by the US led Empire. Further details on this are provided by Pepe Escobar in his recent article "BRICS against Washington Consensus: Death Sentence for the Neoliberalism?". Unfortunately, Escobar's article suggests that the movement of the BRICs to create a multi-polar world would be a positive development. This view seems to be a common delusion among many critics of the US Empire. If you believe that, then you should also believe that the competing capitalist empires of the 20th century, the Anglo-American empire and the two blocks led by Germany in both WWI and II, were good for world.

Waking Up To Our Broken Education Policies by Jeff Bryant

Click here to access article by Jeff Bryant from Education Opportunity Network

What I find particularly informative about this article is not that major media is only recently starting to cover the grassroots opposition to the broken education policies promoted by the ruling class directorate that has been behind both the Bush and Obama administrations, but the many informative links provided by the author to sources which report on the details of this grassroots opposition. 
For years, collectivist actions in protest of public school policy have been scaling up from isolated protests to a nationwide movement of unified resistance. The movement is widespread among teachers, students, and parents. From the beginning, the movement was been grassroots driven and demanding of changes in the way our schools are being run.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Citigroup: The Original Gangsta

Click here to access article by Robert Scheer from TruthDig. 
Barack Obama’s Justice Department on Monday announced that Citigroup would pay $7 billion in fines, a move that will avoid a humiliating trial dealing with the seamy financial products the bank had marketed to an unsuspecting public, causing vast damage to the economy. 
Obviously, Citigroup isn't the only "gangsta" that has wrecked so many lives of ordinary people, and we will get nowhere to solving these periodic crises and the dire future that lies ahead by casting blame on certain players. "It's the economy [system], stupid!" However, if the Justice Department were serious about pursuing justice, there would have been criminal charges brought against key players who knowingly perpetrated fraudulent deals. Instead Citigroup, like the other too-big-to-fail financial institutions have been rewarded by the Federal Reserve with trillions of dollars of near zero rate loans that Citigroup uses to provide credit for us at rates up to 21% interest.

For many more details on the deal worked out by the ruling class's "Justice" Department with Citigroup which provided cover for any criminal prosecutions, I highly recommend you read "$7 Billion Citigroup Settlement: About Those 25 Million Missing Documents" by Pam Martens.

NATO Hopes for Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook. 
For many reasons Russia will not benefit from invading Ukraine, and for many more reason, NATO and the EU would benefit from it – at least rhetorically. The Russians are therefore likely to resist provocations by Ukraine to cross the border and give NATO further excuses to meddle in Eastern Europe. Instead, Russia will allow Kiev to continue displaying its brutality and incompetence on the battlefield while eastern Ukrainians continue picking apart their forces. Meanwhile, economic pressure will continue undermining the regime in Kiev even amongst its supporters in western Ukraine.

New Map Shows Dramatic Time Lapse of Tar Sands Deforestation

Click here to access article by Kevin Grandia from DeSmog Canada.
The World Resources Institute and Global Forest Watch have been researching the world's boreal forests since 1990. According to their research, Canada holds the vast majority, 54 per cent, of the world's total boreal forest across a region of 500 million hectares or 14 times the size of California. Boreal forests hold twice as much carbon dioxide as tropical forests.