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 Lappé, Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Russia Invades Ukraine. Again. And Again. And Yet Again … Using Saddam’s WMD!

Click here to access article by William Blum from Boiling Frogs Post. 
Since the February US-backed coup in Ukraine, the State Department has made one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s very unclear and wholly inconclusive, such as unmarked vehicles, or unsourced reports, or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation.
It appears from another post entitled " German Satire of Anti-Russian Propaganda Goes Viral" that ordinary Germans are experiencing even worse propaganda than we are, but not being taken in by it. Instead, they laugh at it.
It seems to have touched a nerve in Germany, where there is growing discontent due to a perception that their media is very biased and misleading regarding the Ukraine crisis.

Hard to believe, but the German media has been worse than the anglo-saxon media in this regard.

NED's Regime Change Tsar Eyes Czech Republic

Click here to access article by Daniel McAdams from Ron Paul Institute.

McAdams examines one of the US's most effective subversive organizations: the tax-supported National Endowment for Democracy and why the Czech Republic may be the next target of its machinations.
Gershman, a former Trotskyite, has been president-for-life of that organization [National Endowment for Democracy (NED)]. He overthrows elected governments overseas, but has never been elected to any office himself.

Perpetually flush with cash and ever on the lookout for a regime to change, when one catches the eye of Carl Gershman, trouble is sure to follow.

That is why the Czech Republic had better watch out.

Yesterday, Gershman took to the Washington Post to sound the alarm over Czech President Milos Zeman.

Depleting the water

Click here to access 13:55m TV segment from 60 Minutes TV program including a transcript from CBS.  

There is "...disturbing new evidence that our planet's groundwater is being pumped out much faster than it can be replenished."

Ecosocialism: Why greens must be red and reds must be green

Click here if you to access to access more details in relation to this 40:31m video in which Ian Angus addresses the necessity of an ecological and socialist revolution. Posted on Climate & Capitalism. The latter post also contains a second video of a question and answer session.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The One Party Planet: an analysis of the world today

Click here to access article by James Wan from Reflections on a Revolution. (At 1 PM and then at 5:15pm (Seattle time) I did some significant editing. I was unusually distracted today by personal affairs.)

This article is essentially an introduction to a 60 page pamphlet entitled "The One Party Planet" published by an activist organization called The Rules. The latter organization sponsoring it proclaim this as their mission: 
The Rules is a global movement to bring power back to people, and change the rules that create inequality and poverty around the world.
Wan's introduction whetted my radical appetite to read the pamphlet. He writes:
From American CEOs to Chinese party officials, and from African presidents to Russian oligarchs, there is an overwhelming consensus that unrestrained selfish competition is not only the best, but the only possible, way to organize society. This is not a conspiracy concocted in dark smoky rooms, and the individuals at the top don’t share some grand master plan. But the internal logic of their actions is one and the same, and this has contributed, the pamphlet argues, to a situation in which an unelected elite wield incredible influence over politics and inequality has reached outlandish levels.

In response to this, The One Party Planet culminates in a carefully argued call for a global uprising.
This "hook" grabbed my attention which motivated me to read the pamphlet.

I read and partly skimmed the pamphlet which purported to examine the system identified at various times as neoliberalism and capitalism. Unfortunately, the pamphlet is in a JPEG image format so I can't cut and paste various excerpts to illustrate my points. 

The reader is greeted with a huge smiley on the first page, and then it begins with remarks about the value of pamphlets,  how they have a glorious history having been used in many great revolutions. Following this, it launches into a discussion about some philosophical aspects of truth, some general observations about the immorality of neoliberalism, how the system rewards psychopathy, and lots of data about inequality of wealth and power. It also addresses the issue of climate change. They make clear that they are not proposing a conspiracy theory for all the problems in today's world, instead they argue that the problems are a result of the logic of the system. This appealed to me.

After reading this lengthy pitch, I was a bit disappointed that I didn't find much about the fundamental dynamics of capitalism, most especially the capitalist construct of economic property ownership by individuals and anything to do with the labor theory of value. It was all rather tame intellectually, while being heavy on the immorality of neoliberalism. I certainly wasn't aroused enough to go out and start a "global uprising". I began to think that I was being too cynical.

Then I perused The Rules website, and at the bottom of their Movement page I found the source of their funding: Purpose, the New Venture Fund, The Open Society Foundations, and crowdfunding. The Purpose Foundation looked very mainstream to me, the New Venture Fund was listed on Tides which is sort of a clearing house for numerous charities. Rich people and corporations give to Tides which in turn doles out money to various charities and non-profits. The Open Society Foundations is a creation of super-capitalist George Soros who is widely known to have been a sponsor of the "color revolutions".
As several former Soviet republics slowly 'opened' their societies, Western-funded NGOs and civil society organizations flooded in, with powerful financial backers. Over the course of years, funding, training, organizational support, technical and material support was provided for a number of organizations and political groups that helped overthrow regimes in Georgia (2003), the Ukraine (2004), and Kyrgyzstan (2005). Not only were there government funded NGOs involved, but also private foundations, such as billionaire George Soros' Open Society Institute.
While reading the pamphlet, I was experiencing the uncomfortable feeling that I was being seduced. Now, I don't mind being seduced if it leads to an exciting erotic experience, but I do object to being intellectually manipulated. This information about funding increased my suspicions that The Rules organization's main purpose is to guide radical students on US campuses toward "constructive" action projects that will not seriously interfere with capitalist rule, and possibly to keep an eye on such students. Could it be that Soros and establishment-funded people like Gene Sharp (see this, this, this, this, and this) are using their skills to contain effective radical political actions of US students? Am I being too cynical and suspicious? 

Since writing this commentary, I now find another article about this pamphlet posted on Common Dreams and re-posted on Raging Bull-Shit.

US, NATO lie about Russia military buildup in, near Ukraine: Analyst

Click here to access article and 5:11m video featuring an interview with NATO media specialist Rick Rozoff posted on PressTV (Iran).

This is an excellent antidote provided by an expert on NATO to the daily propaganda we are doused with eminating from the Empire's ministry of information (also called mainstream media) regarding many provocations by the Russians.

Capitalism’s Victims

Click here to access article by Sarah Waters from Jacobin.

The title of this article is probably too broad because it focuses on the experiences of workers in one French company. Still, the article provides an excellent illustration how privatization of a state company can, and often does, severely impact workers. 
The privatization of France Télécom began in 1996 when shares were placed on financial markets, although the state retained majority ownership until much later. Employees accepted this partial privatization on the grounds that they would retain their public service status as fonctionnaires, which meant they could keep certain benefits, including job security, and that they couldn’t be legally fired.
And then it was all down hill from there.

Propaganda? What Propaganda?

Click here to access article by Peter Lavelle from Sputnik.

Lavelle is, of course, RT's host of their TV program Crosstalk. As one who has become very skeptical of news reports in the form of propaganda, I find that the debates on Crosstalk are quite stimulating, and offer views which cannot be expressed in US mainstream media.
Up until recently, western media outlets enjoyed near monopoly in defining the news agenda. It also worked in lockstep with the powers that be. Reading the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times one will quickly notice they closely mirror the foreign policies of western governments. It has been a cozy arrangement too. A pliant media whitewashed foreign policy adventurism. In return, major media outlets were given a front row seat to cover wars to be packaged as the West saving the world. This model worked reasonably well until the power of the Internet made itself felt, and until the financial crisis hit, failed wars were exposed, and new and alternative media began to emerge.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Food Security A Hostage To Wall Street And US Global Hegemony

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from his blog East by Northwest. 

By using huge amount of pesticides and genetically modified seeds together with expensive agricultural machinery, global corporations are "making a killing" from large farming operations by shipping their products over long distances (using fossil fuel energy) to Western countries to serve the whims of richer consumers. In order to do this and fatten their corporate income statements, they must "by hook or by crook" move small farmers off their lands and into their hands.
...peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Big agritech corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritise commodities or export crops for profit and markets far away that cater for the needs of the affluent. This process impoverishes local communities and brings about food insecurity. The concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is therefore directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day and is undermining global food security.
Everything under a capitalist system insures that decisions about nearly everything is made on the basis of its profitability for individuals rather than how much it benefits society. In this advanced form of capitalism known as neoliberalism, the boundaries of nations no longer serve to protect societies from predatory actions of corporations. In this new world corporations are moving across boundaries, bribing and co-opting local officials to serve their corporate agenda instead of the local population. However, this phenomenon is also true within the richer capitalist countries where many live in, or near, poverty. So, you see, everywhere in the world the system pits small groups of individuals known as "owners" or investors against the needs of the overwhelming majority while undermining the ability of the planet to sustain a healthy human habitat.

Abundant Clean Renewables? Think Again!

Click here to access article by Almuth Ernsting from TruthOut.
We certainly need to swiftly end fossil fuel burning and the destruction of ecosystems and that will require us to rely on the least harmful energy sources such as wind and solar power. But the myth of plentiful "clean" energy stops us from focusing on the far deeper changes needed - a transformation toward a low-energy society.
If you read and fully understand this article, you will soon embrace the idea that a revolution to eliminate the scourge of growth-fueled capitalism from this planet is not only desirable, it is a necessity for human survival. 

QE isn’t dying, it’s morphing

Click here to access article by Naomi Prins from her blog.

I can't say that I fully understand the argument she is making because I, like most others, don't play in this world of high finance. Thus, our ruling class play these opaque games without much fear of the hoi polloi. I leave it to those more familiar with the subject to understand and interpret where the game is heading. Prins, Paul Roberts, and many others, think we are headed for another, and far worse, economic disaster. 

Maybe this is why our Empire directors are being so aggressive in asserting their power throughout the planet. In the end, I think its clear that the value of our over-printed dollar rests not on anything tangible, but on the threat of violence by the globe's biggest bully, NATO and associated allies. It is backed by the actual use, and the potential threat, of violence made possible by the Empire's 1000+ military bases scattered throughout the world.

‘Kiev, West’s political machinations point to continuation of war’

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from RT.
RT: What are the true aims and objectives of the Ukrainian authorities then?

ED: To expand the war, to continue their aggression against Donetsk and Lugansk and to try to achieve militarily what cannot be achieved politically and that is the re-integration of these territories into Ukraine. They are for all intents and purposes lost to Ukraine because of the actions taken by the extremist government in Kiev. Remember, this is a government that came to power illegally and is prosecuting an illegal war after having disenfranchised politically the entire eastern portion of the country. So to sit and say that somehow Kiev is a true partner for peace in this process is really farce in the face of the facts. 

Yes, They Really Are Proposing Trashing the Motherland For 50 Jobs

Click here to access article by Abby Zimet from Common Dreams.
...it's remarkable most media missed Sunday's stunning admission by TransCanada CEO Russ Girling that, yes, in fact, just like all those greenish naysayers have charged, Keystone will create just 50 permanent jobs. Of course he hastened to add there will be 9,000 temporary construction jobs and "42,000 'indirect' jobs (waitresses et al) for companies that will thrive during the two years of construction and then quietly, painfully die off, as will the surrounding landscape after the accompanying devastation followed by the inevitable leaks and spills and disasters. But still: 50 whole jobs, or as the GOP talking points would have it, "Jobs, jobs, jobs!" Call your senators. 
Yes, whenever our masters want to push some plan that will result in disasters for us but huge profits for them, they trot out the "jobs" deception. This reminds me of the BP ad that is now shown constantly on TV to counter BP's very tarnished reputation.

NASA Shows Stark Year in the Life of CO2

Click here to access article by Brian Kahn from Climate Central. 

Read the article to find out more about this subject.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What really happened in Beijing: Putin, Obama, Xi — and the back story the media won’t tell you

Click here to access article by Patrick L. Smith from Salon.

I highly recommend this major piece of geopolitical analysis in spite of his record of writing for mainstream and liberal media outlets
Patrick Smith is the author of “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century.” He was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications.
I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about this writer, but examining his record of articles posted on Salon, I am impressed with his astuteness and honesty in spite of what I identify as a liberal writing style. Such a style is characterized by a tendency to use misleading and bland words that provide cover for concepts which otherwise would serve to uncover the reality of ruling classes. However, if for no other reason, such a style is a necessary qualification in order to write for any mainstream or quasi-mainstream media company. I am referring to the use of a figurehead leader (Obama or Kerry) or nation (US or Russians) as a way to hide the reality of an action or policy decided by a particular ruling class; also "neoconservatives" or "neocons" which I regard as a cover for Zionist influence
Put this in the larger context: With the prospect of ending three and a half decades of pointless hostility within reach, this is the moment to be battering Russia as near to a pulp as possible with sanctions, market interventions to its disadvantage, and who can tell what on the military side in Ukraine? You start to think Washington simply cannot help itself....
Still, as Smith so well demonstrates in this analysis, he does look below the surface announcements of governments and media reporting, and with the help of his informed sources makes some very convincing arguments of what is really happening. In this piece he weaves together bits and pieces of evidence which, for me, ends up constructing a most dangerous scenario: one in which a dominant Empire, armed with nuclear weapons, refuses to accept the growing reality of a world in which it is being challenged by several competing capitalist-gangs, and gives every indication that it will not tolerate any rivals. However, in the end Smith, true to his liberal perspective, trivializes this nightmarish scenario by reducing it into a worry about who are going to be winners and losers:
This century’s winners and losers are not yet clearly marked — I have to preserve my optimism on this point — but with each passing event, each mistake, who is fated for which side becomes a little more evident. 

U.S. Companies Now Stashing $2 Trillion Overseas

Click here to access article by Jeff Cox from NBC News. (I added a paragraph and a sentence to my commentary at 7 PM Seattle time.)

As David Ruccio of Real-World Economics pointed out:
It is a portion of the surplus captured from workers in the the United States and around the world that could be used to create jobs and improve the infrastructure—and is currently not being used for that purpose. Instead, it’s being hoarded as cash for corporations to do with it what they will, when they will.
Not only do they stash away their wealth in foreign lands, but often it is hidden in tax havens which permits them to pay less taxes. Should anyone be surprised? That is the way the system is supposed to work: the accumulation of wealth and power by "owners" of the economy. I suppose you thought that this process would work to create jobs and ultimately benefit society. Didn't you know that jobs are an expense on their profit and loss statements? Didn't you know that "there is no such thing as society? ...there are only individuals and their families." (M. Thatcher) Thus, capitalists do everything they can to eliminate jobs, or failing that, to reduce these costs as low as possible.

If you don't like the system, organize and change it!

Cecily McMillan on Prisons, Profit, Protest, and Privilege

Click here to access article by Mickey Z. from World News Trust.

Recall that McMillan was an activist in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in which she was groped by a cop, fought back against the cop, and was subsequently arrested for assaulting a policeman, a felony for which she was facing a sentence of seven years. However, she was lucky.
Following an international leniency campaign, McMillan was sentenced to 90 days at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility. In July 2014, she was released on good behavior after serving 58 days.
In the interview she gives us a very moving and realistic picture of what it is like to be in prison, who ends up there, how the justice system really functions, the overwhelming stigma attached to prisoners, some of the real reasons why they are there, and other astute observations about ruling class prisons for those who cannot, or refuse, to adapt to a dog-eat-dog, racist capitalist society.

The NAFTA Connection: The Role of “Free” Trade in Mexico’s Tragic Travails

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

The author explains how NAFTA, which has been a boon to corporate profits, has also been a major root cause of the massacre of 43 Mexican students that has so shocked the Mexican people.
We are often told that freer trade is a panacea for all our economic ills. Yet if that were the case, Mexico, which has signed more trade agreements than just about any other nation on the planet, would be one of the world’s richest, strongest performing economies. Instead it’s on the verge of a vertiginous descent into social chaos, endemic lawlessness, and failed statehood, while its economy – at the exclusive service of transnational corporations, home-grown oligarchs, corrupt politicians and drug lords – continues to splutter in the slow lane. 

Sexual Violence, Women’s Bodies, and Israeli Settler Colonialism

Click here to access article by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Sarah Ihmoud and Suhad Dahir-Nashif from Jadaliyya.
Sexual violence is central to the larger structure of colonial power, its racialized machinery of domination, and its logic of elimination.  This is readily apparent in the history of settler colonial contexts, where the machinery of violence explicitly targets native women’s sexuality and bodily safety as biologized “internal enemies” since they are the producers of the next generation.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Obama's Mercenary Attacks On Syria Are Breaking The Law

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

The author digs up clear evidence of the Empire's illegal agenda for Syria, and that the directors of the Empire are trying surreptitiously to flout national and international laws while packaging their war crimes in humanitarian wrappings to avoid opposition by their own citizens. 

Climate : is the US-China announcement historic ? Not really

Click here to access article by Maxime Combes from Mediapart (France).

Combes looks at the details of this "historic" agreement, and finds rather meaningless commitments that look more like a public relations stunt than a serious agreement.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Class Interests as Economic Theory

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

The author describes the evolution of capitalism from its revolutionary roots when the teaching of economics was regarded as a helpful understanding of the class nature of capitalism and the labor theory of value compared to today's capitalism in which owners of economic property have so consolidated their wealth and power that the teaching of economics must be more obfuscatory by necessity.
...not surprisingly, an increasing number of students who take classes and/or major in economics are complaining about the abstract and irrelevant nature of the discipline. For example, a group of French graduate students in economics recently wrote an open letter, akin to a manifesto, critical of their academic education in economics as “autistic” and “pathologically distant from the problems of real markets and real people”.

NATO’s Achilles’s Heel: Secession

Click here to access article by Wayne Madsen from Strategic Culture Foundation. 

Madsen assembles evidence to prove his thesis that the recent drives for smaller segments of nations to move toward independence as a threat to NATO. I'm not sure how much of a threat these independence movements pose for global capitalists, but it is surely obvious that the latter much prefer the efficiency of dealing with larger nations. 

Also it bring to my mind what has been cited as "America's single greatest contribution to political theory" as quoted in historian Woody Holten's book Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution (chapter 16). He refers to "the notion that the republican form of government works best in a large area...." that the early ruling elite soon discovered along with other bulwarks against popular rule such as indirect voting for electors, division of government in three institutions, and a transfer of the power of states to a central government.

Our benevolent founding capitalist fathers, who saw the huge commercial potential of what they saw as a rich and empty continent, were eager to exploit these riches under the system of property ownership and rule by property owners. Thus, they regarded all the democratic rhetoric that they had espoused before and during the War of Independence from Britain, in order to enlist the support of workers, as being an impediment after the revolution. This early ruling class consisting of plantation owners (e.g., James Madison), slave holders (e.g., Thomas Jefferson), and land speculators (e.g., George Washington was one of the most active) feared the "unwashed masses" and their participation in political affairs. Thus, large voting districts along with many other anti-democratic methods served to give the wealthy considerable control over elections.

An illustration of what our ruling masters think of men and women before and after serving in their Empire:

Brazil: A Pyrric Victory and What Comes Afterwards

Click here to access article by Atilio Borón from teleSUR. (Note: this article suffers from a rather inadequate translation into English.)

This political sociologist from Argentina assesses the meaning of the re-election of Dilma Rousseff as Brazil's president. She is heir to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Workers' Party (PT) which was first elected in 2002 by quite a margin. However, in the elections since then the mildly social-democratic PT has been winning by ever decreasing numbers. In this recent election she barely won out over a neoliberal candidate. Borón sees the threat of a right-wing coup by the neoliberal elites.
Dilma runs the risk of being asphyxiated by her rivals whose extreme bellicosity was made apparent in the electoral campaign, and they do not seem willing to wait another four years in order to form the government. That is why the hypothesis of an “institutional coup” has emerged, even if it is unlikely, it should not be discarded aprioristically, same with the unleashing of ferocious destabilizing offensive aimed at ending the PT “dictatorship” that according to the caveman right that meets in the Military Club is “sovietizing” Brazil. What happened with Jose Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and Fernando Lugo in Paraguay should serve as evidence to prove to convince the skeptics of the impatience of local capitalists and their North American mentors to take power by force even if conditions are not favorable to such acts.  

12 Steps to Overcoming Addiction to Voting for the “Lesser” of 2 Evils

Click here to access article by Jeffrey Dean from Systemic Capital.

Here is the very first step to recovery:
1.  Admit you are in a self-destructive relationship with the Democratic Party.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Obama at APEC: US steps up economic offensive against China

Click here to access article by Australian Nick Beams from World Socialist Web Site.

Beams attempts to understand recent events related to the increasing competition between the new emerging economic giant of China with the decreasing post-WWII domination of the US both militarily and economically. To do this, he logically examines an article by US Trade Representative Michael Froman published in Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations and one of the most influential ruling class think tanks.
The principle underlying GATT was the so-called “most favoured nation” policy, according to which trade concessions offered by any country were not to be made selectively, but had to be extended to all. The aim was to prevent the formation of trade blocs, which had contributed to the conflicts of the 1930s that led to the outbreak of World War II. The post-war trading system was not to be a web with a particular economy at the centre, but rather a system grounded on the principle of multilateralism.

The TPP and the related Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), covering economic relations between the US and Europe, are based on an opposed perspective.

.... He
[Froman] writes: “As President Obama remarked earlier this year, ‘Just as the world has changed, this architecture must change as well.’”

This begs the question: why?

When Henry Kissinger Makes Sense

Click here to access article by Robert Parry from ConsortiumNews.

One among many of the most startling developments I've noticed in this post 9/11 world has been gradual the decline of US mainstream media into pure propaganda organs of the ruling capitalist class. Never have journalistic standards have been so low in the US. Parry has also noticed this, and he points to the irony of recent remarks made by Kissinger, one of the most aggressive figures in the Empire's quest for domination, which disputes some of the most outrageous lies spewed daily over mainstream media.
The American public is faced with an information crisis as the New York Times and other mainstream U.S. media outlets have become little more than propaganda organs on behalf of the neoconservative agenda and particularly the rush into a new Cold War with Russia – so much so that even ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has broken ranks.

Dual Citizens in Congress?

Click here to access article by L. Michael Hager from CounterPunch.
“You are not entitled to that information!” That’s what a staffer in Senator Markey’s office bluntly told me when I called to ask for help in identifying Members of Congress who hold dual citizenship.
Seems that’s a question [the one in the title] no one wants to hear.
Hager then goes on to describe all of his attempts to answer this question and why it is important.