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 LappĂ©, Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, January 25, 2015

4 Ways American Corporations Supported Slavery and Horrific Racial Oppression

Click here to access article by Paul Buchheit from AlterNet. 
Many of the modern-day practices of our free-market capitalist system are at least partly responsible for the oppression of black people in America.
The fundamental purpose of capitalism is to create profit for private "owners", which essentially means to buy low and sell high. Another feature is transformation of all inputs of an economic operation into commodities that can be bought and sold. Since all economic value in industrial capitalism requires labor to transform nature into products that humans can use, labor also has also become a commodity, although a particular form of commodity known as wage labor or rented labor. However, in this article Buchheit explains how US corporations were to a large extent built on the earlier form of very cheap commodified labor known as slavery.

New Saudi King Was Major Supporter of Al Qaeda

Click here to access article by Wayne Madsen from Strategic Culture Foundation. (Note regarding Madsen: Although I dislike his practice of not furnishing any linking documentation, I regard Madsen as a very well informed and reliable source of information and analysis.)

"The king is dead, long live the king!" This means essentially that the monarchy is eternal, that nothing changes because a particular king dies. This seems to be the case--maybe even worse--for Saudi Arabia according to Madsen.
The new king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the half-brother of King Abdullah, who died in his early 90s from complications from pneumonia, is expected to rule with a more Wahhabist-oriented religious bent and concentrate on limiting cautious political reforms started by Abdullah. Salman is also expected to devote his energies to increasing Saudi national security.
Later in the article things look, indeed, worse for that Medieval country and close ally of the US Empire.
Drug money laundering in support of Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a strict interpretation of the Koran in the future governance of Saudi Arabia, the return of the feared religious police, the "mutaween", and a crackdown on legitimate internal dissent in Saudi Arabia: this is the legacy and governance style that King Salman brings to Saudi Arabia.

On the Supersonic Track to Extinction

Click here to access article by xraymike79 from Collapse of Industrial Civilization

The author provides a lot of content to show how energy and climate change are driving us to extinction under capitalism.
As far as scientists can tell, the current warming from industrial civilization is the most rapid in geologic time. Ice core and marine sediment data in the paleoclimatology archive have revealed brief periods of rapid warming and there is no reason to believe modern man is immune to such catastrophic and abrupt climate events. In fact, we know that the Arctic is already warming twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet. Earth sensitivity to climate change is now thought to be possibly double that of previous estimates. An entirely different planet can result from just a slight change in temperature....


Many are under the delusion that we’ll be able to turn this process around with “green energy” while ignoring that such technologies are derivatives of fossil fuel or that increased efficiencies will lower our carbon footprint while ignoring Jevons paradox. Countless other self-reinforcing feedbacks loops driving our socioeconomic system come into play as well such as rampant overpopulation (Overpopulation key driver of climate change, mass extinction), chemical pollution (“Every year, up to 400 million tonnes are produced and a thousand new substances concocted“), and capitalism’s inherent growth dynamics....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet— part 2 of 2

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed who is supported by crowdfunding--people like you and I. (Commentary updated at 6 PM Seattle time.)

In this series he explores the new field of information and surveillance policies and programs of this corporate-military nexus by focusing mainly on Google corporation and its government counterparts. Although not the focus of the series, there is occasional references to ruling class forces that lie in major banking institutions which sponsor these policies and programs. For example, this summary statement from Part 1:
...the investment firm [Goldman Sachs] responsible for creating the billion dollar fortunes of the tech sensations of the 21st century, from Google to Facebook, is intimately linked to the US military intelligence community; with Venables, Lee and Friedman [all top executives associated with Goldman Sachs] either directly connected to the Pentagon Highlands Forum, or to senior members of the Forum.
This lengthy article provides more information about the close linkage of the Pentagon with major corporations. By outsourcing questionable and nefarious policies and programs to corporations, this partnership provides cover from government regulations that require public access to what the ruling class's government is actually doing. Also, corporations employ vast numbers of highly skilled scientists and technicians needed by the ruling class's Pentagon to wage both covert and overt wars, to develop methods of subversion to topple unfriendly governments, and even to help organize terrorist armies in pursuit of Empire goals. To top this all off, they outsource the selling of these policies to private public relations firms.

This close collaboration between--one could argue integration of--government, corporations, and military is the very essence of what is referred to as a fascist form of rule. Thus, I differ with Pete Dolack who has argued that we don't have a fascist rule in the US because it doesn't look exactly like what existed in German and Italy in the 1930s.
Militarism, extreme nationalism, the creation of enemies and scapegoats, and, perhaps the most critical component, a rabid propaganda that intentionally raises panic and hate while disguising its true nature and intentions under the cover of a phony populism, are among the necessary elements. 
Aren't Muslims, usually depicted as terrorists, scapegoats? Don't we view daily TV news which is packed with incidents of crime which causes many to fear their fellow Americans? Don't we have rabid propaganda spewed daily from corporate media that evokes hatred, panic, and fear? Don't we have a militarized police force and a huge prison industry? We don't see many flagrant acts to suppress dissent--yet: the exceptions being that of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Julian Assange. But, our masters have a legal structure in place (the Patriot Acts) ready to be used when many citizens can no longer be bamboozled by the corporate propaganda apparatus.

Embarrassment as US and ISIS tributes to King Abdullah almost identical

Click here to access article from The Pan-Arabia Enquirer. (humorous satire)
There were red faces in both the corridors of the White House and across the Islamic State last night....

The Rich are funding GM research to protect their babies

Click here if you wish to access information about the cartoonist, Fearguth, from his blog. (humorous satire)

 


Believing that the womb is a dangerous place, the rich are "investing" in protection for their "unborn" children.

Friday, January 23, 2015

How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet— part 1

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed who is supported by crowdfunding--people like you and I. (I'll try to comment on Part 2 tomorrow.)

This lengthy article Ahmed, who refused to be censored by The Guardian, offers a bonanza of information about a section of our shadow government and ties together so many details of the relatively recent Total Information Awareness project (mostly focusing on Google corporation) that it might become overwhelming to the average informed reader. 

For me, it offers an excellent illustration of the current stage in the evolution of US capitalism that really took off around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries after the capitalist class in the US inflicted major defeats on worker and farmer movements, reversed most of the gains by African-Americans after the Civil War, made fake attempts to reign in monopolies, and co-opted other sections of society--essentially bringing under control all the working people of the US. At this time the capitalist class had obtained uncontested control of industry, finance, and money issuance (the Federal Reserve). In turn, this control enabled them to consolidate their control over every other institution: education, media, entertainment, etc.

The next significant stage in this evolution began after WWII when the US ruling class reigned supreme with their intact industrial establishment and a huge military. The capitalist democratic form of government that they had inherited from their earlier predecessors presented obstacles to the exploitative opportunities now abundant in this post-WWII world. 

They had always used some agencies such as the FBI, private agencies such as Pinkerton, various front organizations such as the American Legion, sub rosa groups like the Ku Klux Klan to enforce their will upon American society, but now there was a need to accelerate the construction of covert agencies of rule which would function out of sight and in control of the official agencies (Congress, Supreme Court and legal system, and the Executive branch). This task was undertaken most prominently by Wall Street lawyers such as Allan Dulles who built the CIA, but there were many others who participated in the construction of all the secret agencies

This brings us to where we are now in US society which is a society ruled by a covert "deep state" or "shadow government" that functions behind the scenes of official government. Along with this covert apparatus has seen the recent development of the Total Information Awareness project. This article focuses on mainly Google corporation as an illustration of the key role that corporations, which are an integral part of the ruling class, play in our current society and world. 
INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.

The origins of this ingenious strategy trace back to a secret Pentagon-sponsored group, that for the last two decades has functioned as a bridge between the US government and elites across the business, industry, finance, corporate, and media sectors. The group has allowed some of the most powerful special interests in corporate America to systematically circumvent democratic accountability and the rule of law to influence government policies, as well as public opinion in the US and around the world. The results have been catastrophic: NSA mass surveillance, a permanent state of global war, and a new initiative to transform the US military into Skynet.
 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our Renewable Future or What I’ve Learned in 12 Years Writing about Energy

Click here to access article by Richard Heinberg from Post Carbon Institute.

Ignore the current glut of oil on the market today. It's the long term, at least two decades ahead, that is of concern in this article about energy. 

Heinberg has been warning us of the diminishing supplies of economically extracted fossil fuels for many decades, while advocating more reliance on renewable energy. This lengthy article is a kind of summary of all that he has learned over these many years. What I think is really significant about this article, and many others like it especially among people who get published at this website, is the strange avoidance of pursuing a well-developed logic to its logical conclusion. Earlier in the article he made this prescient statement: 
What are the right questions? The first, already noted, is: What kind of society can up-to-date renewable energy sources power? The second, which is just as important: How do we go about becoming that sort of society?

As we’ll see, once we begin to frame the picture this way, it turns out to be anything but bleak.
Unfortunately, he eventually arrives at only a very timid answer to his very important questions:
...it’s fair to assume that this overall shift would constitute the end of consumerism (i.e., our current economic model that depends on ever-increasing consumption of consumer goods and services).  Here again, there are more than a few people who believe that advanced industrial nations consume excessively, and that some simplification of rich- and middle-class lifestyles would be a good thing.
This same, strange phenomenon is also found in another article posted on Resilience, an associated website, entitled "A New Theory of Energy and The Economy - Part 1 - Generating Economic Growth" authored by another long-tine expert on issues of energy--Gail Tverberg. This is another overly complicated essay exploring the relationship between energy and the economy in which the economic system is a given, sort of a natural fact of history, instead of a system created by a class of people who imposed it on others. She writes:
The economy is a self-organized system. In other words, it grew up gradually over time, one piece at a time. New businesses were added and old ones disappeared. New customers were added and others left. The products sold gradually changed. Governments gradually added new laws and removed old ones. As changes were made, the system automatically re-optimized for the changes.
This strange avoidance of recognizing the actual economic system by both authors suggests to me that they have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in capitalist controlled academia that they cannot see the obvious. In college sociology courses I learned that this was due to "trained incapacity". Herman Kahn gives a lengthier explanation of this phenomenon. Of course, there is another possible explanation--self censorship to protect their careers.

This does not bode well for social change that can lead to real solutions to the crises now facing all capitalist societies. Prof. Will Steffen of the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre put this well when he remarked:
It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive. History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.” [quoted in The Guardian]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PBS-TV’s Frontline Misrepresents Russia’s Vladimir Putin

Click here to access article by Eric Zuesse from RINF Alternative News. 

I watched the first part of this program and was shocked by the blatant Empire propaganda that the program used to attack Putin. In the past I have been impressed by the quality of Frontline's investigative reporting, but it seems that this program also has come under the direct control of Empire directors. If Joseph Goebbels were alive today, I'm sure he would be envious of this and many other propaganda efforts of the Empire that we are subject to today.  

I had my first experience with this type of propaganda when I witnessed the gross distortion of facts spewed by corporate media shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. I had a fair awareness of US-Cuban history from a friend I had in the Army from which I had just been discharged. During my Army service I had befriended a former Cuban citizen who had immigrated to the US with his parents earlier in the decade. From him I learned how Cuba had been used and abused as a whorehouse and a mafia-controlled gambling paradise, US corporate domination of the Cuban economy, and the record of US interventions in the government of Cuba to insure that it served US interests. Subsequently this awareness of corporate propaganda was further reinforced by my experiences in the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam War movement

However the decline in anything like objective reporting has astonished me since 9/11, and it seems that this deterioration is accelerating. Just when I think things couldn't get any worse, news reporting gets worse. Just this morning I witnessed CBS News using a former CIA director as a source of information on Yemen. Upon viewing this last program, Goebbels would be reminded of his use of former SS officers giving news reports over German radio about how German troops liberated France.

I'm sure that Putin is no paragon of virtue, but Zuesse points to many outright lies that were presented as facts in this program.

America Is Open for Business in Iraq (Psst… Wanna Buy an M1 Tank?)

Click here to access article by Peter Van Buren from Veterans News Now.
The current American war in Iraq is a struggle in search of a goal. It began in August as a humanitarian intervention, morphed into a campaign to protect Americans in-country, became a plan to defend the Kurds, followed by a full-on crusade to defeat the new Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS, aka ISIL), and then… well, something in Syria to be determined at a later date.
Although I think there is plenty of evidence that the Empire directorate has goals such as control over the oil-rich Middle East, still this author recognizes how the beast of corporate profits is being well fed in this region.

State of the Union Address: An Annual Monarchist Ritual To Acclaim U.S. Hypocrisy

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama.

Why Bernhard continues to attribute ownership of US policies to Obama is a mystery to me, especially when his argument, as in this article, shows plainly that Obama is not the agency of US policies. Like most US president, a major exception being H.W. Bush, Obama was appointed president because of his excellent public relations skills.
...Obama's foreign policy is not really different from the one Bush and Carter followed and the next president will likely try the same foolish hypocritical paths.

The self-delusion of U.S. allmightiness has deep roots and it will take some near catastrophic events to rip it apart. 
Yes, indeed, US policies have deep roots, and they lie embedded in a deep shadow state under the control of core members of the ruling capitalist class who are situated in major banking institutions, military, major corporations, key government agencies (especially the Treasury Department and secret services) and Wall Street.

An Idiot’s Guide to Quantitative Easing (Warning: Likely to Make You Laugh and Cry in Equal Measure)

Click here if you wish to access this post directly from Raging Bull-Shit.
As Europe readies itself for its first ever dose of quantitative easing, here’s probably the most honest and certainly funniest explanation you’ll ever find of the QE phenomenon, courtesy of the ever-irreverent Australian comic duo Clarke & Dawe.

 

Old ice in Arctic vanishingly rare

Click here if you wish to access the introductory article associated with this video from NOAA Climate.gov. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 
This animation tracks the relative amount of ice of different ages from 1987 through early November 2014. The first age class on the scale (1, darkest blue) means "first-year ice,” which formed in the most recent winter. (In other words, it’s in its first year of growth.) The oldest ice (>9, white) is ice that is more than nine years old. Dark gray areas indicate open water or coastal regions where the spatial resolution of the data is coarser than the land map.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Racism, Islamophobia and the Capitalist Crisis in Europe: Manipulation in Paris

Click here to access article by Horace Campbell from Libya 360°.
Prof. Campbell at Syracuse U.
...[Campbell joins] in the condemnation of the assault on Charlie Hebdo and the killing of journalists. It should be stated categorically here that this writer defends freedom of speech without endorsing the speech’s content. Thus, I am unequivocally denouncing the killings in France. The use of satire as camouflage for racist and offensive speech is unacceptable and should be equally denounced.

It is also urgent for progressive forces to work to ensure that the killings and mass mobilizations are not turned into vehicles for manipulating the working people to support racism, islamophobia and other forms of European jingoism and chauvinism. .... This spectre of fascism must be taken seriously because fascism emerges in the midst of a capitalist crisis when the ruling elements mobilize chauvinism and racism to divert the attention of the working people from mobilizing against the capitalist class. This was the concrete experience of fascism during the last major capitalist depression.


Campbell sees that the directors of the Empire are using this recent terrorist event to prepare Europeans for more austerity as their economy faces numerous serious problems.
The Euro is unravelling and the recent decision of the Swiss to abandon the Euro is one clear manifestation that the expedient of transferring the losses of the banks to Greek and Spanish workers cannot hold for long. France will either have to nationalize the banks and impose greater controls of the top one per cent or intensify the austerity measures of laying off government employees, cut pensions and cutting services in health, education, housing and sanitation. This path to save the risky banks will be to intensify repression. In this alternative, the present militarization and war on terrorists will be like a dress rehearsal for moving the military against students and workers.
.... The manipulation in Paris should be seen as a pre-emptive move for deepening militarization. Progressives must oppose the rising fascist forces in Europe and neo-conservatism in the Americas.

Paris Shootings: Maybe the Last Piece of a Horrible Puzzle

Click here to access article by Henry Kamens from New Eastern Outlook.

Kamens is referring to the puzzle of many mysterious, unconvincing assassinations and "terrorist" events in the past 50 plus years some of which he reviews and finds similar elements appearing in the Paris shootings. 
The United States has spent several years installing a bunch of Moslems, initially Chechens but now also from other countries, in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia. It trains them there in irregular warfare and forms them into a mobile “hit squad” which commits “terrorist atrocities” in different parts of the world when it suits US interests to intervene in those countries.

These atrocities are then blamed on “Islamic fundamentalists”, but are actually committed by these US-sponsored individuals, selected and trained for the purpose, who are not native to those countries but are sent to each place as needed.

Prison Dispatches from the War on Terror: Ex-CIA Officer John Kiriakou Speaks

Click here to access article by Andrew Jerell Jones from The Intercept.

Kiriakou speaks of his experience in the CIA with their torture programs and the harrowing experiences he endured after he leaked this information to a reporter. Meanwhile, the torturers are rewarded for their efforts.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists

Click here to access article by Oliver Milman from The Guardian.
Two major new studies by an international team of researchers have pinpointed the key factors that ensure a livable planet for humans, with stark results.
.... Steffen said the research showed the economic system was “fundamentally flawed” as it ignored critically important life support systems.

“It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive,” he said. “History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.” 

Don’t Worry: USDA Says Pesticide-Laden Food is Safe to Eat

Click here to access article by Mike Barrett from NaturalSociety. 
Despite the U.S. food supply already being riddled with copious amounts of pesticides, the United States Department of Agriculture continuously approves new pesticides to be used on U.S. crops. The most recent case of approval revolves around the sale and planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Even more concerning, though, is that the USDA recently claimed that current pesticides levels on food are mostly nothing to worry about, and that we should continue eating food coated with toxic chemicals.

How the People Can Outwit the Global Domination Plans of Agribusiness

Click here to access article by Jonathan Latham from Common Dreams.

What I found remarkable about this essay is that Latham provides establishment sources via links to back up his claims that the promotion of agribusiness is based on lies.
...what industry understands, and the food movement does not, is that what prevents total rejection of bland, industrialised, pesticide-laden, GMO food is the standard acceptance, especially in Western countries, of the overarching agribusiness argument that such food is necessary. It is necessary to feed the world.
Hence, the solution is:
...the food movement could show that famine is an empty threat then it would also have shown, by clear implication, that the chemical health risks and the ecological devastation that these technologies represent are what is unnecessary. The movement would have shown that pesticides and GMOs exist solely to extract profit from the food chain. They have no other purpose. Therefore, every project of the food movement should aim to spread the truth of oversupply, until mention of the Golden Fact invites ridicule and embarrassment in the population, rather than fear. [my emphasis]