"In the midst of the meltdown, people throughout the U.S. were joining with their neighbors to weather the economic crisis. Last winter, more than 50 Common Security Clubs formed in communities around the country: a mini-movement of people coming together in religious congregations, community centers, and union halls to help each other understand and cope with the the collapsing economy. The clubs soon moved past the goal of simply weathering the crisis and began to work toward reforms—both nationally and in their communities—that would prevent a repeat of the devastation."I hope that such groups can move beyond trying to reform the system to designing a sustainable, people oriented system.
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, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, February 13, 2010
It's hard to imagine any mindset more impervious to reason and evidence than this, or any thought-process more blatantly tautological and self-negating. And yet, on a bipartisan basis, our entire system of Government, its core safeguard of checks and balances, and basic due process are being rapidly dismantled, all justified by this warped, faith-based reasoning.
The two-week Olympic spectacle will leave in its wake a legacy of financial debt, deepening impoverishment, violations of civil and social rights, and a significant reinforcement of the tools and weapons of the national security state. What’s more, five weeks before the games’ opening came news of yet another Olympic spending boondoggle in the making – Intrawest Corporation, the owner of the Whistler ski resort where most of the games’ downhill events will take place, located 100 kilometres north of Vancouver, is in financial default and may require hundreds of millions of dollars of emergency bailout.
...is a specialist in geopolitics and the Arab world. Born in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), he participated in the student movements of the 1974 socialist revolution in his country. He studied political science in Egypt before specializing in public administration in Brussels. A diplomat for his country of birth during the 1990s, he has worked in Washington, Beijing and Brussels. Co-author of Iraq under the occupation (EPO, 2003), he has also participated in producing works on Arab nationalism and the Islamic movements, and on Flemish nationalism. He is one of the greatest contemporary experts on the Arab and Muslim world.
Is that not odd? That an individual would try to take the lives of hundreds of people, including his own, primarily to "provoke an overreaction", or to "sow fear"? Was there not any kind of deep-seated grievance or resentment with anything or anyone American being expressed? No perceived wrong he wished to make right? Nothing he sought to obtain revenge for? Why is the United States the most common target of terrorists?
The crumbling of this legacy of infrastructure is one of the many day-to-day living problems that we face over the next fifty to a hundred years. Unlike our natural systems, which can regenerate themselves (if not destroyed completely), and which are self-perpetuating and self-healing, our built infrastructure requires regular maintenance and investment. Maintenance depends on a base of knowledgeable personnel with access to information about the systems, affordable materials and energy, factories that produce needed parts, and regular investment to fix what's broken or decaying.
So where does our nitrogen come from? Given our food system’s reliance on synthetic nitrogen, that’s another way of asking: Where does our food come from?
The situation is not only morally dubious; it could be literally unsustainable.
Friday, February 12, 2010
...it's more insidious than a conspiracy, it's what's built into the system,
The numbers may be shocking, but they shouldn’t be surprising. This is how the industry makes money, by charging people more and cutting the unprofitable people from their rolls. In fact, the one company who’s profit margin went down slightly this year – Aetna – was also the only company to add more customers to its rolls in 2009.
But the industry will go to any length to "justify" their profits and their policies of dropping their sick or expensive customers.
...what viewers weren't told was that since 2005, Ridge has pocketed $530,659 in executive compensation for serving on the board of Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power company. As of March 2009, he also held an estimated $248,299 in Exelon stock, according to SEC filings.
With the restoration of diplomatic relations and the resumption of aid and credits from the world’s major governments and financial institutions, Honduras is being welcomed back into the fold of “democratic” nations, even as the organizers of last year’s coup remain at their posts and death squad murders continue.
Refuse to Pay Government Debt Incurred for Unlawful and Oppressive Purposes ... It Is the Personal Debt of Those Who Ordered It to Be Incurred
...many Americans have tended to naively believe that our leaders are selfless folks. They forget, of course, that the Founding Fathers loudly warned against relying on the charitable intentions of leaders, expressly set up a government based on the rule of law instead of the rule of men, and warned that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance in holding the feet of the powerful to the fire.
The last thing the public should do now is turn down the heat on bankers. We have just been through the greatest looting of the public purse in history. We cannot relent until we understand how it happened and have put new rules in place to prevent its recurrence. People like Schwarzman need to understand that the populace is increasingly understanding that what has been depicted up as reform is mere industry serving pablum. Even if Schwarzman is incapable of seeing it, continued pressure will lead some of his colleagues to recognize that they need to embrace change or else wind up in the dustbin of history.
The root cause of this insecurity is the food system itself, which is controlled by a handful of global monopolies. In fact, the crisis comes at a time of record global profits for the world's agri-food corporations. Archer Daniel Midland, Cargill, Monsanto, General Foods, and Wal-Mart all posted profit increases in 2008 of 20% to 86%. For Mosaic, a fertilizer subsidy of Cargill, profits increased by a stunning 1200%.
The transition to a sustainable economy requires that we lock horns with the beasts that stalk the corporate jungle, if only to replace their world of testosterone and risk with one of stability and mutuality, argues green economist Molly Scott Cato. So what can we propose as our vision for the banking system?
Thursday, February 11, 2010
We’ve followed the story of the slow but increasing and badly needed pushback against Monsanto’s predatory business practices, which force farmers to buy Monsanto seed annually, rather than re-use it. Worse, Monsanto seed has been genetically engineered so as to require the use of Monsanto herbicides and fertilizers.
- The latest federal budget request includes a large increase in spending for nuclear weapons.
- Such an increase contradicts President Obama's speech in Prague last April, during which he seemed to signal a commitment to significant nuclear disarmament.
- Now it's a question of whether Congress will reject the Obama budget request--a strategy it used to keep President George W. Bush from pursuing new nuclear weapon programs.
"Many scientists are looking for the warning signs that herald sudden changes in natural systems, in hopes of forestalling those changes, or improving our preparations for them," said UC Davis theoretical ecologist Alan Hastings. "Our new study found, unfortunately, that regime shifts with potentially large consequences can happen without warning — systems can ‘tip’ precipitously.
"And although Western commentators have traditionally been fond of casting Ukrainian politics in very simple terms – ‘pro-Western’ vs. ‘pro-Russian’ – the real test of Ukrainian democracy lies in whether or not the people who are set to run this country are going to start acting pro-Ukrainian," said Natalia Antonova [who] is the editor of GlobalComment.com.
Politicians and the media blame the crisis on the supposedly generous Greek welfare state, which, they claim, must be slashed to bring the budget under control. In fact, the situation is the direct result of the neoliberal policies that were followed by the social democratic governments of the 1990s, and even more so by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, as the leader of the New Democracy (ND) party between 2004 and 2009.
The UK, because it is now a net and rising importer of oil, gas and coal, is becoming increasingly exposed to competition for supplies from other energy importers.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
O that the universe was not cold and indifferent, with no avenging furies to drive these bloodstained, sanctimonious wretches into soul-rending storms of madness and remorse. But there is not even an earthly venue where the scurrying servitors of power can receive even a modicum of justice. All we have are a few locked-down, buttoned-up, quasi-secret panels of worthies here and there now and then, to cause, at most, a moment or two of embarrassment before the servitors walk free to line their pockets and heap themselves with honors. Their only punishment, I suppose, must be to be what they are: the stunted, deadened husks of a full humanity that they have lost and will never recover.
All this may seem like no more than harmless self-deluded nonsense, but implicit political assumptions underlie the positive thinking creed. If your thoughts determine your fortunes, then it follows that those who find themselves in poverty are simply not trying hard enough. Positive people get jobs. Negative people get fired. In the words of one motivational speaker, “Negative People SUCK!” Positive thinking is an expression of the most strident individualism and wants no truck with the common good or collective endeavour. If bad things happen to you, too bad – it’s your own fault.
Scientists Request Meeting with American Farm Bureau President to Discuss Group’s ‘Inaccurate’ Stance on Climate Change
As you can see this liberal blog sees the failure of the Obama administration as being merely because of the "Rahm administration"--in other words, the staff around Obama are screwing up. These people are merely campaign experts and don't know how to govern in a way to carry out Obama's "pro-people policies." But then the author apologizes for them by writing, "most of them are just trying to be realistic, not malicious: they would prefer to stand up for the American people, but industry and Wall Street, who poured massive amounts of money into Obama's campaign, are simply more powerful and must be appeased."
...in ruling out those kinds of pro-people policies, the [Rahm] administration deactivated the American people. The massive grassroots organization that propelled Obama to victory seemed to evaporate into thin air in the months after the election. For the campaigners, separated by a both intellectual and bureaucratic walls from the policy, it was as though someone somewhere had flipped a switch that turned off the American people.Liberals like this, in my opinion, are more dangerous than the Neo-Cons because they pose as well meaning, but knowingly serve to obscure the political realities of a ruling class power in a capitalist society that must maintain the illusions of a democratic system. Rahm and company, Obama also, knowingly serve the interests of the "owners" of the economy. They are serving The Empire very well by continuing the same policies as Bush, Jr., but creating the appearance that they are hamstrung by Wall Street, and Rahm and company who are "separated by...both intellectual and bureaucratic walls."
A spokesperson for the Communal Council Colinas de la Dignidad (hills of dignity), Morelbis Aguiar, explained that a commune, which is made up of several communal councils, is local, community self-government, “where we, the people, we are the ones who decide what our community wants and what the improvements are that we want to work on in our area.”
Burning petroleum to drive pistons and turn wheels to move a big chunk of metal around the city is what you do when you haven't yet figured out how to make the normal needs of daily life readily findable and accessible: it's conquering space through BTUs, rather than data and design.
University of California, Berkeley. Prof. Hayes [who] worked as a consultant for Syngenta stated:
“People are starting to realize that it’s not just a frog issue and that it’s not just my data. I can stack up thirty, forty, one hundred papers showing adverse effects of atrazine. We’re looking at sexual problems and cancer problems in rats, and fish, and alligators, and now there is new data coming out about birth defects in humans. All these different effects are showing up independently.”
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The author concludes that one cannot conceive- much less build- an ecological society without there being a broad consensus that the current economic system, founded on never ending growth, cannot be part of a new society. We must understand that all economic growth is destructive and that therefore we cannot have both capitalism and a habitable planet, says Cox. He goes on to warn that if we do not achieve such an understanding, any proposal or solution to the ecological crisis will be a pretentious and futile exercise, with a high entertainment value but with absolutely no usefulness in the real world.
Looking at data from more than 40,000 mortgages throughout Chicago, San Francisco and Jacksonville, Fla., the researchers behind the Location Efficiency and Mortgage Default report found that the rate of mortgage foreclosure actually decreased in neighborhoods that were more compact, walkable and connected to public transportation....
How can politicians destroy these cherished social programs in the face of such popular resistance? By trickery, of course. And this is exactly what Obama has proposed with his “bi-partisan deficit-reduction commission.” This idea puts Democrats and Republicans together to create a plan to destroy social programs. This way both parties share the blame, so that no one is to blame.
While more than 1 billion people in poor countries aren't sure where their next meal is coming from, many chronically food-insecure countries are selling their land, as Raphael Grojnowski reports in the same issue of Food First News. Sudan, Ethiopia, and Cambodia, for example, have already sold nearly 40 million hectares of their best agricultural land to foreign investors, mainly from the Middle East, China, and South Korea. This is a classic imperialist land grab that, like those familiar from the past, leads to a steady deterioration of the condition of human beings, not to mention degradation of the environment.
At the most recent Kitchen Table Talks in San Francisco close to 100 City dwellers came out in the pouring rain to hear stories from local urban homesteaders, who shared their experiences and insights on ways to become more self-sufficient.
No-one ever assumed that industrial farming was going to be pretty, but few realise how ugly it has become. As Eric Schlosser says in the film, “the food industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating, because if you knew you might know (sic) [not] want to eat it”.
...the point is that the economic system is now objectively shown to be moribound. And it is impossible for so-called mainstream politicians to think of any other way of doing business. They are ideologically blind. Recall former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s arrogant assertion: “There is no alternative”. Likewise, US President Barack Obama insists on throwing billions more dollars at the banks and financiers on Wall Street. But that won’t kickstart an economy in which millions of workers are without jobs and homes or who are on crumby wages and up to their necks in debt. The profit system has hit an historic dead-end and this gridlock is a result of deep trends to do with the decline in capitalism as a mode of social production (falling wages and profits and the concomitant explosion in financial speculation and debts).
Although I could not find any explanation in the article as to why Harper tabled this parliamentary bill, it is clear that they are still working on getting it passed. If Tony Blair was Bush's poodle, then Harper can be seen as US's Chihuahua--he yaps a lot but few people pay any attention. The only reason he was elected was because of the widespread corruption in the Liberal party in the past decade. In Canada as in the US, the capitalist governing class does not permit much in the way of choices.
This article illustrates how closely Harper's administration works to support US foreign policy by this effort to establish an agency modeled after the US National Endowment for Democracy. NED is a propaganda organ of the US which collaborates closely with the CIA and used in US's arsenal of soft power to destabilize countries deemed by the US governing class as inimical to their interests. Here is a recent example of NED's work.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The problem is also that the U.S. has signed WTO agreements that have given the keys to the too big to fails, and have neutered their regulators. Even if some politicians tried to stand up to Wall Street - or even if we "throw out all of the bums" currently in political roles - the U.S. would still be locked into the WTO's scheme for helping the financial giants to grow ever bigger and to take ever-bigger and ever-riskier gambles.
The founder of the Virgin group, whose rail, airline and travel companies are sensitive to energy prices, will say that the coming crisis could be even more serious than the credit crunch.
Out of two million US soldiers who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, psychiatrists estimate that one in three may, at some point, develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It's clear that The Empire consistently makes use of the divide and conquer strategy favored by all hegemonic regimes throughout history. In the Balkans they managed to pit minorities against each other that resulted in the breakup of Yugoslavia. In Iraq they managed to pit Sunni against Shia, and now in Pakistan they are trying to buy off some of the Taliban who would no doubt be used against the rest of the Afghans to serve the needs of The Empire.
This article reveals the continuing efforts by Israel/US interests to pit Palestinians against each other which could result in civil war. In this case it is the growing power and influence of Hamas party in the Palestinian Territory that The Empire needs to counter. Thus they came up with plans to co-opt the Fatah Party to serve its interests in order to destroy the militant and popular Hamas.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
In my view few green people or transitioners recognise the huge distinction here between trying to reform consumer-capitalist society and trying to replace its major structures and systems. The Simpler Way contradicts the core systems of the present society and cannot be built unless we replace them. Consumer-capitalist society cannot be fixed; it cannot be reformed to not create the alarming global problems we face while still being about the pursuit of affluence and growth etc.
Dr. Stjepan Mestrovic [is] a professor of sociology at Texas A&M University. ...He has three degrees from Harvard University, including a Master’s degree in clinical psychology, and has been an expert witness in psychology and sociology at several Article 32 hearings, courts-martial, and clemency hearings involving US soldiers accused of committing crimes of war in Iraq, including the trials of prison guards involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Over the past four decades Israel has defrauded Palestinians working inside Israel of more than two billion US dollars by deducting from their salaries contributions for welfare benefits to which they were never entitled, Israeli economists have revealed.
The author's statement, "the British finally abandoned the last of their imperial pretensions and settled into rebuilding their own country, culture and spirit. By 1964 the world was sharing in the joy of life after empire." is simply wrong. The British ruling class merely recognized the US as the leader of this empire, deferred to it and joined it in dominating the world. Hence you find references made to British leaders like Blair as being "Bush's poodle".
On February 12, the corporate sporting behemoth known as the 21st Winter Olympic Games will open to great fanfare here. In a time of economic hardship and government cuts to social programs across Canada, huge sums of public money have been spent to stage this uber spectacle.
We should recall the lessons of the Nicaraguan and other revolutions. Multi-class alliances create contradictions once the honeymoon stage of easy redistributive reform and social programs reach their limit. Then multi-class alliances begin to collapse because there are fundamental contradictions between distinct class projects and interests.
At that point, a revolution must more clearly define its class project — not just in words or politics but actual structural transformation.
Dozens of peaceful resistance members have been killed by soldiers, police and government-funded paramilitaries since the armed coup against democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya in June 2009. Even more worrisome, local human rights groups report that clandestine death squads, reminiscent of groups that terrorized the country in the 1980s, are once again roaming the streets at night.