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

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence From Empire… As Tears Go By

by Philip A. Farruggio from Dandelion Salad. The author is son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen. He is an activist leader and free lance columnist.

There are a few good, brave guys like him around, but he is worried about many others.
Another reason for crying is the apathy and or denial of so many working stiffs…… Where is their impassioned dissent? The Reagan gang succeeded ( with help from the Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2 ) in gutting most of the trade union movement in our country. Today, we are looking at perhaps 14% of all workers belonging to a union. Modern American corporate capitalism is on par with that of any Banana Republic. In my parent’s day, one bread winner was sufficient for many American families. Today, two jobs for one or both parents is the norm, because this brutal economic terrorism is so criminal and dastardly. Yet, few 9 to 5 Americans say or do anything. Many of us have just given up, succumbing to either too much alcohol, tobacco, narcotics, junk food, gadgets and games of chance…. Or all of the above.
However, don't turn away from this negative impression because he is a very concerned working stiff who has some good ideas about how to start to turn things around.

Sen. Al Franken Challenges Elena Kagan On Proposed NBC/Comcast Merger [6:05m video and article]

from Mediaite. 

Here is an interesting event at the US Senatorial hearings to determine the fitness of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. She has been portrayed in the media as a liberal and a suitable replacement for retiring Justice Stevens. It seems to me that she is clearly unfit if one's criteria is that a judge of this court must understand and support the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. But then, that is really not an important criteria for our ruling class. They support their corporations over and above all else.

In any case, I think it is much too late to worry any more over corporate control of the media. We, the people, lost this battle long ago, and this proposed merger would just put the last nail in the coffin. The only alternative we have at this time is to develop are own media. The internet is still a last bastion of some independent thought, but it is coming under increasing threats from corporations.

A Progressive Attack on the Poor

from the New Left Project. 

While the author appears to be well meaning in her analysis of the "Con-Dems" cutbacks and fake ameliorative measures, she seems to miss the elephant in the room--the capitalist Empire can no longer afford to spend on measures to help working people because they are running up against the limits of resource exhaustion. Therefore, the imperatives of their beloved, growth addicted capitalist system requires that their class put all efforts into securing the resources that are left, and the public be damned! Thus you can expect to see social crimes on an unprecedented scale.
In their “emergency budget”, the Con-Dem government has demonstrated that its economic policies are primarily determined by ideology and the delusion that private enterprise can and will provide sufficient growth to cover the needs of the whole population.
The "Con-Dems"--the ruling class--are not deluded. They are simply acting rationally given the dictates of the system that has rewarded them so splendidly with lavish lifestyles over the past two centuries.

Natural Gas Fracking: Ruining Your Lunch

from Civil Eats.
With the documentary movie Gasland making its national debut on HBO just last week, the nation is now more aware of the environmental issues natural gas fracking poses. What you might not have heard is that many farmers in upstate New York fear the impact that natural gas drilling will have on our grasslands and water, and ultimately our livelihoods. It is an issue that could threaten New York City’s food shed but many do not realize what is at stake.

Russian spy ring may be last straw for Obama nuclear arms treaty

from The Hill. I've been wondering about all the mainstream media coverage of this spy non-event, and it may take a while to uncover the truth. But I have a lot of suspicions, as do others. Read Alexander Cockburn's take on the subject:
...the assignments given the ring by their handlers in Moscow indicates that Russian espionage has been taken over by think-tank types and policy wonks ladling out softcore assignments like assessing “outlooks” and “moods”. According the FBI’s affidavit, “Heathfield”, in the Boston area, was told to report on "United States policy with regard to the use of the Internet by terrorists, United States policies in Central America, problems with United States military policy and 'Western estimation of (Russian) foreign policy.'''
But this article from The Hill I think nails it. This is such a typical strategy by the fascist wing of the Empire to shape political events to their demented liking.
A U.S.-Russia arms treaty is teetering in the Senate, lacking support from Republicans and set back by an alleged spy ring.

The White House was hoping that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed three months ago by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, would move quickly through the Senate. But now it may not get a vote on the floor until after the November elections. 

Time out

Keeping the War Far from Home

from Who What Why. This illustrates one way that mainstream media, the propaganda department of the Empire, manages consent--simply omit coverage of events that clashes with the Empire's version of reality.

50 Random Facts That Make You Wonder What In The World Has Happened To America

from The Economic Collapse. 
The "land of the free and the home of the brave" has been transformed into a socialized Big Brother nanny state....
Really! Well, the people at this website seem to be concerned and they do sometimes get things right. They also appear to be right wing populists or maybe "AstroTurf" populists. Such efforts are sometimes used by the ruling class to corral the minds of working people and steer them away from any substantive changes to the capitalist system.

Can Gates and Buffett Persuade Billionaires to Donate Half Their Fortunes?

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair. This is the weekly installment of life among the 1 per cent of Americans. It is always good for working people to keep in touch with our fellow Americans to learn about their concerns. ;-)
What I find especially interesting about The Pledge is that it forces rich people to consider a question that is virtually impossible to answer: How much is too much? Historically, affluent individuals have struggled to strike the right balance between comfort and excess. For Americans, finding the appropriate equilibrium within either extreme presents an added challenge. As a nation we subscribe to two central doctrines, capitalism and democracy, but these ideologies sometimes contradict each other.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Glittering Prizes: War Crime Continues to Pay

by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque.  The author shows that capitalist ruling classes reward their war criminals.  Ruling classes know that they can always find such morally weak people to do the dirty work of lying, breaking laws, spying and informing on activist organizations, and laying the groundwork for wars.
Blair will receive his Liberty Prize from one of his great mentors and partners in international war crime. No, not George W. Bush -- Bill Clinton, who is chairman of the National Constitution Center. After all, it was Clinton and Blair who pioneered the technique -- later perfected by Blair and Bush -- of bypassing the UN and unilaterally attacking a country, under false pretenses, that had not attacked them. And of course, after taking office in 1997, Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with Clinton in strangling the ordinary people of Iraq with a sanctions regime that killed -- at the barest minimum -- more than half a million innocent children. (Not to mention the innocent adults who died from the blockade.)

How Goldman Gambled on Starvation

from The Independent. 

This article provides a very good explanation of how the capitalist ruling class has devised exotic Wall Street gambling products that has resulted in people starving to death. Of course, the system is designed to make a few people rich and doesn't care how it does it.
This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world. 

The link between BP, geoengineering and GM

from the Ecologist. 

Like the banking industry, the article shows how BP is also engaged in high risk adventures that could cause other major environmental disasters. The article provides an illustration of how one feature of the ruling class political structure works--key people rotate in and out of the government, major corporations, and military. Hence what we have in the US is government of the ruling class, by the ruling class, and for the ruling capitalist class.
BP won't stop at dangerous deep water drilling: the company is bent on still more dangerous projects, including genetic modification and hacking the planet's atmosphere....

Deficits, Social Security, and the American Public

from New Deal 2.0.  A major effort to cut Social Security apparently has received a setback by the American people.
Deficit-hawk and investment banker Pete Peterson has devoted a substantial part of his $2.8 billion fortune to pushing for cuts in entitlements like Social Security, in the name of deficit reduction. His Foundation lavishly funded the AmericaSpeaks “town hall” forums held on Saturday, the results of which will be presented to the national Deficit Commission this week — purporting to tell what the American public thinks about various deficit-reduction options.

Congress' Oil Industry "Reforms" = Election-Year Greenwashing

from Mother Jones. 

This article provides a very good illustration of how a liberal, self-styled "progressive" US magazine treats the subject of government regulations, giveaways, and legislative reforms. It's long on condemnation and moral hand-wringing, but short on dissecting the real causes of government gone awry except to cite some deceptions. Hence the author reaches the very convenient (for the ruling class) conclusion that 
In sum, the citizens of the United States have given over the greatest natural resource wealth of our nation to private business interests—who naturally run it for their own profit, rather than for the public good. In return, we have demanded virtually nothing. And the little we have demanded—the most basic of safety precautions, the most modest of demands for fair pricing—have been ignored and derided by companies that regularly top the Global 500 list for profitability.
Briefly put, the author blames the victim.

Time out

The End of the Age of Credit

from The Automatic Earth. The author reports on the continuing ruling class strategy to bail out the banking industry's bad debts while appearing to legislate curbs on their reckless behavior and actually cutting public services and safety nets.
It truly is a matter of bail the banks and screw the people. What remains to be seen is how those people will react. All the more so when they find out that those same Wall Street banks will soon come calling again for more bailouts, which is now inevitable and guaranteed to happen. Our fine leaders may try to find a creative way to do it, one that won't attract too much attention, but you can bet there’ll be more taxpayer money flowing to Lower Manhattan, while for "ordinary" citizens services will be cut, taxes raised, and jobs disappeared.

Who is Kenneth Feinberg?

from World Socialist Web Site. The author delves into the background of the BP victims "claims czar", and it looks like the ruling class picked the right one to protect the interests of BP.

All Power to the Casinos! Death to the Social Safety Net! [4:03m video and transcript]

by Glen Ford from the Black Agenda Report.
Global capital is attempting to sound the death knell for European social democracy and its much weaker American cousin, the safety net. Bankers dictate the terms of social and economic policy on both sides of the Atlantic. “Barack Obama is showing his corporate teeth and running hard with the global banking wolf pack.”
For 4:03m video, click here.

'Surge'' smoke follows Petraeus to Afpak

by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. Escobar, once again, tells it like it is--this time Petraeus' new adventure in Afghanistan-Pakistan. He concludes by writing:
what's the point of all this upcoming carnage? Well, there are so many - the poppy trade, the "Saudi Arabia of lithium", the ultimate pipe dream known as Trans-Afghan Pipeline, those military bases spying both Russia and China ... So many rats scurrying around the sinking US flotilla in the sand, but what the hell, there's another successful "surge" to sell and the (war) show must go on.

Factory Jobs Return, but Employers Find Skills Shortage

from the NY Times. This does not surprise me because the history of US corporations off-shoring of manufacturing jobs to cheap labor, weak union and environmental law enforcement countries has not only created job losses for US workers, but over the long run has de-skilled US workers. The only solution is for taxpayers, already burdened by bank bailouts, to subsidize retraining of the US labor force.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Traditional Values: Obama Backs Oligarchic 'Continuity' Down South

by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque. Commentary on the one year anniversary of the military coup in Honduras.
"In [the country] right now there is a military-business regime, with a little bit of democratic makeup."

This sounds like an excellent -- indeed, near-perfect -- description of the true state of the United States in these degraded days of ours. While the sinister comic opera of factional in-fighting amongst the elite provides an increasingly thin and cracked patina of democracy, the militarist-corporatist machines continue their ravenous devouring of the fat of the land and the flesh of the weak.
For more background on the US supported military coup, read this.
 

Chemical Fertilizers Make Things Grow Really Well–Especially Tumors

from Politics of the Plate. 
“But the largest problem is irrigated agriculture,” Jean Moran, professor of earth and environmental science at California State University, told Julia Scott of the San Francisco Chronicle. In some cases, crops absorb only one half of the applied nitrogen, leaving residues to pollute rivers, lakes and oceans as runoff, or to seep into sources of drinking water. And yet, there are no regulations on how much chemical fertilizers farmers can apply to their fields.

Antibiotics and Agriculture

from the NY Times. 
...overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is also thought to be stimulating the emergence of resistant bacterial strains that can infect humans or pass their resistance to other germs that infect humans. 

A nation under post-traumatic stress

An essay from The Boston Globe. 

It is interesting to speculate on the effects of all the trauma that US citizens are enduring with endless wars, a collapsed economy, and now the Gulf filling up with oil. What I've seen is mostly the "deer in the headlights" effect--people so stunned that they have become immobilized. However, there seems to be a sizable minority who are in complete denial thinking that things will soon return to normal.
...we kid ourselves if we think we can be a people at war for a decade without suffering consequences precisely as a people. Mostly, prescriptions for American disorder cite public issues like health care, education, the environment, and the recession. Expressing disappointment in Barack Obama has become a universal therapy. In private, we might obsess about the retirement fund, the boss’s recent coolness, a child’s place in school, or the spouse’s depression. Troubles aplenty, and plenty mundane.

Gulf Spill Galvanises Activist Community

from IPS news service.
The Gulf Emergency Summit included about 100 activists from around the country, particularly the U.S. south, as well as many from New Orleans where the meeting was held. Organisations represented included public housing advocacy organisations like C3-Hands off Iberville, Survivors Village, World Can't Wait, the Lower Algiers Environmental Committee, Pax Christi, and Women United for Social Justice.

Time out

Who Will Pay, Wall Street or Main Street?

by Ellen Brown from her blog, Web of Debt. The author examines tax policies in the context of class war being waged against US workers.

Capitalism, the Absurd System A View from the United States

by Robert W. McChesney and John Bellamy Foster from Monthly Review. 

An outstanding review of the crisis of contemporary capitalism and the necessity, not merely the desirability, for change if the human race is to survive. 

The authors demonstrate what I have often argued--the propaganda organs (education and mass media) in the US have succeeded in raising an economic system to the status of a religion. Hence, the difficulties of getting people to examine capitalism and to consider alternatives are enormous. It's blasphemy to question it; and when one does, there are numerous punishments available by the enforcers of the system ranging from social ostracism to blacklisting and job threats. See also "The market : the new faith".
The question of how a socialist society would operate raised a horrible, dystopian image in this student’s mind. Such libertarian fears of a totalitarian state imposing socialism by force, even to the point of annihilation, on an unwilling people, who are presumed to be capitalist by nature, are all too common. This brings to mind Fredric Jameson’s comment: “Someone once said that it is easier [for most people in today’s society] to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”

I keep wondering how bad things have to become before people wake up. What I fear most is that there won't be enough time for this to happen before we pass several tipping points to catastrophe. 

Crises of Capitalism [11:10m video]

I highly recommend this delightful and informative animated video.
For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.  Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action.
In this RSA Animate, radical sociologist David Harvey asks if it is time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be responsible, just, and humane?

The People vs. the Banks

by Shamus Cooke from Workers Action. 

What ordinary people must understand is that the class war is now raging across the globe. They are now presented with a choice: they can simply roll over and surrender, or they can fight back.
The investors who control financial markets know that a day of reckoning is coming: the massive debt that was pushing forward the world economy for years needs to be paid back, and those who own the banks don’t want the responsibility. Better for millions of workers to sacrifice social services, pensions, wages, etc., than for thousands of rich investors to be taxed. 
More on the class war here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New study documents media's servitude to government

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.
We don't need a state-run media because our media outlets volunteer for the task:  once the U.S. Government decrees that a technique is no longer torture, U.S. media outlets dutifully cease using the term.  That compliant behavior makes overtly state-controlled media unnecessary.
Once one understands that the government and the media are just different departments of the Empire ruled by capitalist elites, then it becomes easy to understand the actions of mainstream media.

The Iranian Threat

by Noam Chomsky from Z Communications. 

This well-known author, long blacklisted by mainstream media, describes the ominous indications for an attack on Iran by the US. This, of course, has been on the Empire's agenda for several years, but recent developments look like it may be going into its operational phase. He attempts to get inside the imperial "head"of the Empire, and what he see does not bode well for the prospects for peace. 
Though the Iranian threat is not military, that does not mean that it might be tolerable to Washington. Iranian deterrent capacity is an illegitimate exercise of sovereignty that interferes with US global designs. Specifically, it threatens US control of Middle East energy resources, a high priority of planners since World War II, which yields “substantial control of the world,” one influential figure advised (A. A. Berle).

But Iran’s threat goes beyond deterrence. It is also seeking to expand its influence.

I can think of other reasons also for this dire outlook. What is always the solution for capitalist powers when domestic concerns become so worrisome that the citizens get edgy? War. The ruling class may see a quick victory in Iran as the necessary antidote to citizens' growing anger about public spending cutbacks, unemployment, and the Gulf oil disaster. 

Going Horizontal at the U.S. Social Forum

from Dissident Voice. 
If one political concept dominated the proceedings of the US Social Forum, it was horizontalism.  Organizers mentioned it in relation to media access, workshop panelists offered it as an alternative to top-down NGOs and political parties and participants already engaged in politics employed it as a measurement of their own groups’ internal functioning.  To some, horizontalism represented more of an abstract democratic sense informed by anarchist sentiments.  For others, it meant thinking through power relations that operate inside the new structures they sought to set up – frequently things like cooperatives, community supported agriculture or community gardens.  Kandace Vallejo an organizer with the Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA) offered a more concrete definition. 

Banks Financing Mexico Gangs Admitted in Wells Fargo Deal

from Bloomberg News. The banksters are partners in crime with the drug cartels as this article from a major capitalist mouthpiece illustrates.

BP in the Gulf - the Persian Gulf

from Asia Times Online. It is becoming all to easy, almost fashionable to attack BP. This author shows how sophisticated he is by showing off his knowledge of BP's history of crimes in Iran and that he has been boycotting BP for years. He writes:
...when you're filling up at a Shell or ExxonMobil station, it's hard to feel much sense of moral triumph. Nonetheless, I reserve my right to drive by BP stations. I started doing it long before this year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Thus he implies that other big oil companies are just as guilty of crimes, but quickly steers away from delving into that mine-ridden subject. Big Oil corporations have been the leading predatory actors in capitalist exploitation and political crimes and shenanigans in many countries of the so-called developing world, countries that were too weak to defend themselves. Read this, this, and this.

If such companies were nationalized and under the control of working people, such monstrous crimes would not have been committed.

Time out

Time to Investigate Blankfein and Paulson (More AIG Shenanigans Edition)

by Yves Smith from her blog, Naked Capitalism. 

The author who has had an extensive career in the financial services industry knows of what she writes, and she has been an excellent, honest detective by uncovering the many crimes of the banksters. I guess having been such an avid swimmer in the waters of capitalism all her life has made it very difficult for her to attack the system itself. The banksters, especially those in the Federal Reserve, are merely the conductors of this orchestra that is dedicated to control, exploitation, quick and easy profits--and the people be damned. It is the orchestra that needs to be shut down, not merely the conductors. 

Despite Gulf disaster deepwater oil is all we have left

from Peak Generation. 

Deep water oil drilling will continue as long as we, the people, put up with the system of capitalism that demands growth. So the question is, how much environmental destruction will we allow the governing elites to inflict upon the earth before we put a stop to it? Unfortunately, most people in the US haven't even gotten to the point of questioning the system.
Never mind the ongoing environmental and economic carnage in the Gulf of Mexico, rapidly reaching Biblical proportions – a poisoned sea allegedly spewing toxic rain across the US which, if whipped up by a hurricane, just might lead to a mass exodus from an entire seaboard – the industry is frantically promoting its right to continue with deepwater exploration.

Workers of the world, co-operate!

from Red Pepper (UK). The author provides his assessment of the benefits of worker cooperatives. Referring to the latter, he asks:
But are they microcosms of the democratic society that we crave? Or do they hinder political change by taking people away from social movements and trade unions and into self-contained, competing and self-exploitative economic units? Workers’ co-ops clearly have massive advantages over authoritarian systems of workplace organisation – but do they have the potential to change the world?
Read the rest of the article to find his answers to these questions. IMO worker cooperatives are not in themselves a way to change society. Yugoslavia used them extensively and found that they took on many characteristics of private enterprises because they competed against each other. 

Still when societies have to increasingly localize to cope with diminishing fossil fuels, they can then serve a critical function if they are organized to serve, and answerable to, the wider community.

New ACLU Report And Web Hub Reveal Rise In Political Spying Across United States

from the American Civil Liberties Website.
Unfortunately, law enforcement in our country seems to be reverting to certain old, bad behaviors when it comes to political surveillance. Our review of these practices has found that Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by the police just for deciding to organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints and engage in normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs in public.”
                                                          ***********
“We are determined to prevent the emergence of a domestic secret police apparatus in this country,” said German. “Yet, as the ACLU’s report shows, these activities continue to take place with a regularity that shows there are systemic problems at work that must be monitored closely.”
The system is a capitalist pseudo-democracy that has degenerated into a quasi-fascist state.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Backwardass Townies, Chicken Littles, and Learning New Tolerance

by Kathy McMahon from her blog, Peak Oil Blues. Some down-home, practical advice about connecting with others and building community.
It is my belief that whether we build our lives in a post-peak oil world in-place or move to another location, we are going to be faced with building closer relationships to the locals.

Acid rain is back, and thanks to farming, worse than ever

from The Grist. Factory farms not only spread disease such as swine flu, they are producing acid rain.
Policy makers, environmentalists -- even Republicans -- like to congratulate themselves on the "victory" over acid rain. As this American success story is usually told, acid rain's effects were addressed by a 1990 update to the Clean Air Act that created a cap-and-trade system focused on sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Since the system was implemented, sulfur dioxide emissions dropped 70 percent, and threatened forests and wildlife were saved. Hurrah!

There's only one problem with that version of history: It's not true.

Opposition grows to police repression in Toronto

from World Socialist Web Site. It is encouraging to see Canadians fighting back against police state methods.
Police provocations on the streets of Toronto continued Monday evening as thousands of city residents rallied in front of the municipal police headquarters to protest the martial law tactics let loose against the population over the weekend.

As crowds began to spill out into the road outside the headquarters, police cordoned off the area, preventing hundreds of others from joining in. Several individuals who attempted to cross the police cordon were summarily arrested. Already, by six in the evening some 2,000 people had gathered in the vicinity, outraged by police actions.

Greek protesters demonstrate against austerity measures (12 pictures)

from the Guardian. See the brave working people of Greece battling ruling class police to save their economy, their jobs, and their independence from financial elites.

Then from Al Jazeera, read in more detail there valiant struggle with this piece, "Clashes break out at Greek protest". 

Shale Gas — The Hydrofracking Wars

by Dave Cohen from his blog, Decline of the Empire. 

Here is another prime example of conventional thinking regarding the contradictions of capitalist fossil fuel policies and ecological imperatives. The author outlines the contradictions very well, but is unable to think beyond the requirements of the capitalist system. It's clear that he believes "there is no alternative". 
...we want to have our cake and eat it too. How do we break out of this vicious circle? One way we could have escaped would been to have a coherent, universally agreed upon energy policy in place over the last 3 decades after the energy dislocations of the 1970s and early 1980s. That policy could have been amended as circumstances changed. But it was way too much for us to expect such a wise policy in Cowboy America. No can do—we'll just make it up as we go along.
So, like most liberals, he makes cynical comments that merely distracts our attention away from the elephant in the room, the system of capitalism, which blocks all attempts at sound environmental policies. What we can't have is capitalism AND a healthy environment.

Live Dangerously: 10 Easy Steps

by Shannon Hayes from Yes! Magazine. 

The subtitle for this piece is an example of drama hyped journalism that is typical in the US where "radical" and "revolutionary" have been reduced to mere buzz words in order to break through the limited attention spans of most Americans: "When Shannon Hayes made a list of easy steps for becoming a radical homemaker, she didn't realize just how revolutionary they were."


Nevertheless, the article is interesting in that it illustrates how even such benign attempts to wean people away from a consumption oriented lifestyle clashes with capitalist culture.

Based out

from Red Pepper (UK). 
Foreign bases have been a mainstay of global US military domination for decades. But in Latin America they have been closing fast and a new deal to use seven Colombian military bases is, paradoxically, a sign of US weakness in the region....

Time out

Visioning the future...if we should be so lucky!

When Capitalism Meets Cannabis

from the NY Times. The most entertaining read of the day, maybe week, or even month! Here is just one gem:
If there is a historical precedent for what’s now happening in Colorado, it could be the 1920s and the era of Prohibition. During America’s dry age, the federal alcohol ban carved out an exemption for medicinal use, and doctors nationwide suddenly discovered they could bolster their incomes by writing liquor prescriptions. 

Fun and games with the "terrorism" label

by Glenn Greenwald. He illustrates how the Empire uses the term "terrorism" in hypocritically self-serving ways to justify its war criminal actions and to stifle dissent.

Toronto police violently suppress G20 protests, arrest over 600

from the World Socialist Web Site. A detailed description of the protests.
As always, police provocation may well have played a role in isolated acts of vandalism. The patrol car, torched by three or four individuals, was done in full view of a whole phalanx of riot policemen who stood idly by at the intersection. “Backup! Put your batons down”, shouted the attending police captain to the riot squad. No attempt was made to arrest the perpetrators. Fire extinguishers possessed by the police were not deployed. The Toronto Fire Department, which can respond to any downtown emergency within minutes, did not arrive for over an hour as camera teams gathered from all the networks.

Toronto G-20 - The Shape of Things to Come [7:54m video]

from The Real News Network. Paul Jay reviews a G-20 document that suggests the future that the capital elites have in store for us, and then sums up his observations regarding police tactics used against protesters.

No right for freedom of assembly says 500 arrests [12:40m video]

The Real News Network. Paul Jay interviews a lawyer who is a member of the Law Union of Ontario.
First, they discuss the police infiltration of the Black Bloc group that was involved in some property destruction while being unhampered in carrying out their acts. 

More importantly was the revelation of a regulation that was passed (by the Province of Ontario?) recently, not given any publicity through normal channels, and used against the demonstrators. The regulation was described as essentially instituting martial law. This, once again, illustrates that capitalist ruling classes use the veneer of democratic practices and a theory of civil rights, but when it really suits them, they can easily dispense with such niceties and out comes the mailed fist of fascism.

Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table

from the NY Times. 
The F.D.A. confirmed it was reviewing the salmon but, because of confidentiality rules, would not comment further.

Under a policy announced in 2008, the F.D.A. is regulating genetically engineered animals as if they were veterinary drugs and using the rules for those drugs. And applications for approval of new drugs must be kept confidential by the agency.

Critics say the drug evaluation process does not allow full assessment of the possible environmental impacts of genetically altered animals and also blocks public input. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Media Empire Strikes Back: Reviewing Reviews of South of the Border

from Dissident Voice. The author's concluding statement completely misses the function of corporate owned media: 
But the reviews aforementioned do little more than expose the ideological biases that dominate the U.S. media and the laziness that afflicts journalists today.
          These failures of the media are part of the reason why America is ailing."

The function of mainstream media is to serve the Empire and its ruling class. They are merely following orders to pan Oliver Stone's new film which is at odds with the Empire's propaganda.

The Powers-That-Be Are Terrified of the Mass Awakening Taking Place Worldwide

from Washington's Blog. 
Oligarchs are seizing more overt control in most countries in the world, the worldwide economy is on course for another - even bigger  - train wreck, countries are cracking down on freedom and becoming more tyrannical, we are in a permanent state of war..., and companies like BP are destroying our natural resources without any checks and balances.

BP’s Dumb Investors

by George Monbiot from his blog. 

I don't think that fund investors were "dumb", just greedy and aware that corporations rule. So why worry about risk? Governments, that is, working people will always pay for any damages the corporations cause, notwithstanding Obama's assurances that BP will pay for everything. While corporations like BP are too big to fail (see this), American workers are dispensable.
...whenever greens or ethical investors warned them about BP’s cavalier behaviour, instead of thanking them, the big fund managers reacted with hostility. On 15 April, five days before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a group of investors led by Co-operative Asset Management tabled a resolution at BP’s AGM requesting more disclosure of the risks it was running in its tar sands operations(12). It was one of the most successful ethical resolutions ever, but all that means is that funds holding 15% of the shares either supported it or abstained. The other 85% supported the company’s right to keep bamboozling them.

Time out

The Third Depression

by Paul Krugman from the NY Times. Even one of capitalism's high priests has this to say:
It is...the victory of an orthodoxy that has little to do with rational analysis, whose main tenet is that imposing suffering on other people is how you show leadership in tough times.

And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

Live from Planet Norte

by Joe Bageant from his blog. 

Joe returns to the US from his exile-haven in Mexico and experiences culture shock as his senses are assaulted by US culture. His farsighted vision enables him to see what is coming, and its not pretty. But he is able to accept it and, by doing so, finds some kind of peace.
...the truth is that the universe is busy enough hurling toward its destiny, and does not give a rat's ass what we do or do not like. Or whether a smear of biology on a speck of cosmic dust manages to poison itself to death.

So stay strong. Transcend. Find reasons to love.

Nobody ever gets out of this world alive, anyway.

Through the Wormhole: The Secret State's Mad Scheme to Control the Internet

by Tom Burghardt from his blog, Antifascist Calling. This fine investigative report is following the ruling class government's increasing efforts at controlling and monitoring the internet.
"The recent combination of those three elements--reading e-mail messages, asking companies to participate in the monitoring program, and getting the NSA in the loop--has set off alarm bells about future uses of Einstein 3," ....
Those bells have been ringing for decades, tolling the death of our democratic republic. As military-style command and control systems proliferate, supporting everything from "zero-tolerance" policing and urban surveillance, the deployment of packet-sniffing technologies will soon join CCTV cameras, license plate readers and "watchlists," thus setting the stage for the next phase of the secret state's securitization of daily life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Missing in the movement

from Now (Toronto). 
The impressive agenda of workshops, teach-ins and actions put on by civil society groups, students, unions and activists at last weekend’s (June 18-20) People’s Summit at Ryerson U was both an inspirational kick in the ass and a solid kick to the groin.

The Toronto G20 Riot Fraud: Undercover Police engaged in Purposeful Provocation At Tax Payers' Expense

from Global Research. Mainstream media, as usual, is covering this incident strictly from the police's point of view. 

From another Globe and Mail photo, notice this "protester" with "fucking immigrants" on his shirt and a Palestinian type face scarf--rather crude, politically naive and incompatible with left slogans and images. Also he's wearing some unusual protective arm sleeves.



For some links to eye witness reports that made it into the Guardian, see this, and this.

Also, in this video check out the people confronting police who serve to protect the ruling class.
G20 Protest, June 25 from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.