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©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Economic Trouble? Join the Club

from Yes! website. 
"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.


Religious faith in government accusations

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. 
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.

Vancouver Winter Olympics: A festival of corporate greed

posted on the International Journal of Socialist Renewal website.
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.

Yemen: USA are fighting against democracy, not against Al-Qaeda

from Voltaire website. An interview with Mohamed Hassan who
...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.

World Economic Forum that we can only dream of

from Yes! website. This is the altered website of the World Economic Forums website created by the pranksters called "The Yes Men". They inserted a "-" in the real website address and altered the speeches of the leading figures at the WEC. Check out the speeches on this altered website.

That Which Cannot Not be Spoken: Why Do Terrorists Keeping Picking on the United States?

by William Blum from Counterpunch. Re the "underware bomber":
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?

Baseball industry's generosity toward Haiti (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Working week should be 21 hours, says New Economic Foundation

from The Guardian. The people in this foundation appear to be completely out of touch with the imperatives of a capitalist system where labor is merely a cost of doing business to enhance the capitalist's wealth. With a people centered and planet sustainable system we could have a 21 hour work week. There is no question that this work schedule results in greater productivity, but it also results in higher employee costs in the form of payroll taxes which this state agency apparently didn't measure. Private employers are not stupid. The real issue is--do we want a system that serves the needs of everyone or just the few who "own" the economy?

Infrastructure: Priorities and painful decisions

from Peak Oil Hausfrau blog.
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.

Our other addiction: the tricky geopolitics of nitrogen fertilizer

by Tom Philpott from Grist. 
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

"In America you can say anything you want — as long as it doesn't have any effect." - Paul Goodman

by William Blum from his blog, Killing Hope
 ...it's more insidious than a conspiracy, it's what's built into the system,

[Medical] Insurers enjoy record-breaking profits as they cut 2.7 million people from their rolls

from Fire Dog Lake. 
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.

The Lobbying-Media Complex

from The Nation. 
...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.

Honduras: The making of a death squad “democracy”

from World Socialist Web Site.
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

from Washington's Blog. He makes a good legal case for this by citing legal precedents.

There are No Conspiracies Because Daddy Will Always Protect Us

from Washington's Blog. 
...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.

Welcome to boarded-up Britain: One in eight shops now stand empty as recession hits high streets Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250214/One-shops-stand-recession-hits-Britains-high-streets.html#ixzz0fLOjMWLw

from Mail Online.

Schwarzman Says Kowtow to Banks or They Will Strangle the Economy

from Naked Capitalism blog. This article written by an honest and moral financial blogger who has a career in the US finance industry provides us with an insider look at banksters. Of course, she believes that the beast of capitalism can still be tamed.
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.

How Agri-Food Corporations Make the World Hungry

from Food Freedom.  
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 latest hope and change (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Student detained at Philadelphia airport sues FBI, TSA, police

from First Amendment Center. This incident suggests that the agents of our growing police state are becoming rather hysterical.  Unlike most people as illustrated below, this guy is no sheep and is fighting back.

Big Food will do everything to stop you talking about this

from Ecologist. An interview with filmmaker Robert Kenner whose "documentary, Food Inc, has shocked audiences across the US with its stark portrayal of industrial agriculture."

Europe's Five "Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States"

from Global Research. With all the mass media organs of the capitalist class focused on Iran, I thought it desirable to provide a little wider perspective. 

Tales of the riverbank

from Red Pepper. 
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?

Agricultural Commodities in Light of Peak Oil

from Seeking Alpha, a website of influential stock analysts. "Seeking Alpha was named the Most Informative Website by Kiplinger's MagazineForbes' 'Best of the Web' Award."

 (click on illustration to enlarge it)

Iceland aims to become haven for investigative journalism

article and 10:00m video from The Guardian. People of Iceland going on the offensive against the legal restrictions on investigative journalists imposed on them by capitalist ruling classes all over the world.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ridicule of Conspiracy Theories Focuses On Diffusing Criticism of the Powerful

from Washington's Blog. I couldn't agree more with this post. Like shit, conspiracies happen!

India Defies Monsanto, Says No to GMO Crops

from Naked Capitalism.
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 Obama disarmament paradox

from Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. 

Article Highlights

  • 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.

All out for the March 20th March on Washington!

People from all over the country are organizing to converge on Washington, D.C., to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Printable version Climate 'Tipping Points' May Arrive Without Warning, Says Top Forecaster

from University of California, Davis. 
"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.

Vancouver Olympics: Public anger over security measures and free speech limits

from World Socialist Web Site. The article's report illustrates how local capitalists use athletics (Olympics) and patriotism to profit from while public services are cut back, and civil liberties are undermined. In spite of their media efforts to promote the Olympics, many Canadians see through the hype.

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Chile: Stop Treating Community Broadcasters as Criminals, Say Activists

from IPS news service. The CIA-Kissinger-International Telephone & Telegraph engineered coup in 1973 turned back the democratically elected government of socialist oriented Allende in order to restore full capitalist control under the Pinochet dictatorship. Now we see that the capitalist ruling class does not tolerate local control over media. This is in sharp contrast to the numerous community organized radio stations in Venezuela that are promoted by the Bolivarian administration of Hugo Chavez. I personally visited several of them. Control of the media by capitalist classes is always a top priority in every country under their rule.

Haiti: The politics of rebuilding (23:24m video)

Avi Lewis of Al Jazeera turns his discerning eye upon the continuing neo-liberal (the current practices of capitalism) political and economic forces shaping the reconstruction of Haiti.

McCain Campaign Advisors Help Yanukovych Win Ukraine Election

from Toward Freedom. The article reveals how US election engineering experts have been active in influencing elections in Ukraine, but with mixed results. Use of such experts is a part of the soft power arsenal of The Empire.
"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.

Disappearing options

from the Daily Climate. 
A new study quantifies for the first time what happens to long-term policy options [to prevent climate catastrophes] if mid-term emissions targets are not met.

European capitalism's weak link?

from Socialist Worker. An analysis of the growing conflicts between labor and capital in Greece.
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 Release of the Industry Taskforce Report on Peak Oil and Energy Security

 from The Oil Drum: Europe. Report shows that the North Sea Oil is drying up and the implications for the British economy.
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

The Carp of Truth: Jack Straw, Colin Powell and the Smoking Guns of War Crime

by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque. Floyd's final take on Britain's "Chilcot Inquiry" into the origins of the invasion of Iraq
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. 

Wishing it don’t make it so

 by George Miller from Le Monde Diplomatique, English edition. The author discusses Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book, Brightsided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America
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.

Black sites in the empire of bases

by Nick Turse from Asia Times Online. He lists several hundred bases in Afghanistan alone in addition to the official 710 world wide. Many bases are "black", i.e., unknown to people in the US outside of the Pentagon. The immense cost of those in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest that they intend to be a permanent presence for US/NATO forces.

The Plunder, Pillage and Destruction of the American Tax Base

by James Woolley from The Economic Populist. Quite a lengthy (6600 words) but comprehensive report on all the ways that the US ruling class has shifted the costs of The Empire from capitalists to working people. A good reference source on the subject to keep in your virtual library.

Scientists Request Meeting with American Farm Bureau President to Discuss Group’s ‘Inaccurate’ Stance on Climate Change

from Union of Concerned Scientists. The UCS confronts the lobby for agri-business over the latter's stand on climate change.

Rahm, His Critics, and the American People

from The Huffington Post. 

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."

Time out

Wall Street owners angry with their purchase

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. This author is about as far out on the left spectrum that the US ruling class will allow to be in the more established media. He often reports accurately on the political games that they play, but his treatment of the subject is merely cynical. He rarely goes beyond looking at these games as political theater, not as subterfuges that the capitalist system must engage in to maintain their fake democracy.

184 Communes Currently in Formation in Venezuela

from Upside Down World. 
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.”

De-Industrializing the City

from World Changing. 
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.

Chemical Warfare in the Cornfields as the EPA Reconsiders the Controversial Herbicide, Atrazine

 from Politics of the Plate.
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

Beyond Green Capitalism

from Counterpunch. A book review on the book entitled, Sick Planet, by Stan Cox.
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.

Walkable Neighborhoods Key to Stable Real Estate Says New NRDC Report

from World Changing.
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....

The Democrats are Coming After Social Security

from Counterpunch.
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.

How Agri-Food Corporations Make the World Hungry

from Toward Freedom.
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.

DIY Life: Urban Homesteaders at Kitchen Table Talks

from Civil Eats. 
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.

‘Climategate’ Overshadows Copenhagen: Media regress to the bad old days of false balance

from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. The article illustrates the bias of corporate media toward the issue of climate change and its effects.

Delusions of Finance: Where We are Headed

by Gail Tverberg from The Oil Drum. I suggest you not go to her link to her 2008 presentation, but stick with the article. I do recommend that you read the comments following the article.

Film Review: ‘Food Inc.’

from Transition Culture. 
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”.

Inside Cuba's dance factory

from The Guardian. Strange how the article fails to explain why "behind this apparent success story lies a harsher reality. Cuba has been stranded in a political, economic and cultural limbo for decades, imposing stifling constraints on its artists." Cuba is widely admired throughout the world for standing up to its belligerent neighbor while maintaining its independence.

Descent Into Barbarism: The US and NATO Wage War on the World

by Finian Cunningham from Global Research.
...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).

Canada: Foundation for "Political Warfare" Takes Cue from U.S. Strategy

from IPS news agency. 

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 US Fiscal Deficit: Scare Stories vs. Reality (9:58m video)

from The Real News Network. 

Wars sending U.S. into ruin

by Eric Margolis from the Toronto Sun. A good summary of how debt is being used to fund war.

The OTHER Reason that the U.S. is Not Regulating Wall Street

from Washington's blog. 
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.

Branson warns that oil crunch is coming within five years

from The Guardian. The article also contains some very interesting links such as the one entitled, Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower.
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.

The war within: PTSD in the military (21:32m video)

from Al Jazeera. An insightful look at the psychological suffering that American working men and women must endure to serve the interests of The Empire. Well, I guess they had a choice because they volunteered to serve in the military. They could have chosen the likelihood of unemployment. Of course, many thought they were volunteering to defend their country, and many thought of it as the only way to be able to pursue higher education opportunities through the incentives offered by the US military.
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).

'A prescription for civil war'

from Asia Times Online. 

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

The case for scarcity and a critique of the Transition Towns movement

from P2P.  Excerpts from a longer article. I think that this is very important because many transition people think that they and society can be saved by their methods, and totally ignore the pernicious effects on everyone caused by the larger capitalist system. For one egregious example of a reformist approach, see this.
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.

The US Military: A Mindset of Barbarism

by Dahr Jamail from is blog. This features a transcript of an interview with Dr. Mestrovic.
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.

Israel stole 2 billion dollars from Palestinian workers: 40-year deception exposed

by Jonathan Cook from Redress Information & Analysis. 
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.

How Not to Create Jobs

by Zoltan Zigedy from Marxism-Leninism Today. A good analysis of why the US administration's jobs program will not work. But the author seems to be willing to settle for an FDR New Deal type program. It is amazing to me to see how tame some Marxists have become. The New Deal programs, IMO, were a temporary measure to stabilize capitalism in the US. In the early 1930s there were virtually no safety nets in place so that people would have starved to death without those programs. Also the ruling class feared the attraction of socialist ideas to working people due to the rapid economic advances at that time made my the Soviet state bureaucratic system that ruled in the name of "socialism". 

Time out

Life After Empire

from Jon Taplin's blog. Great graphics which show clearly The Empire's dependence on military force to maintain itself. In my opinion, the relationship between the huge debt of the US and its huge expenditures on military weapons and their use are directly related. The US, as the leading country of the world capitalist class, must continue to assert it bullying power in order to protect that class. The exploiting and predatory class is simply protecting its interests by lending money to The Empire. Should The Empire fall they, too, might fall and social justice might reign everywhere. Hence, I would argue, that The Empire cannot stop its bullying ways until it is defeated or exhausted. 

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".

Vancouver Winter Olympics — A festival of corporate greed

from Green Left Online. 
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.

Venezuela: Challenges of 21st century socialism

condensed version from Green Left Online, original from Znet. This is an interview with William I. Robinson, from the Latin American and Iberian Studies Program at the University of California.
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.

Palestinians battle Israeli wall (3:05m video)

from Al Jazeera. More Israeli land grabbing from the Palestinians.

A Lobo in Sheep’s Clothing?

from In These Times website. Lobo was elected, wasn't he? Ain't [US sponsored] "democracy" wonderful? Meanwhile the purges begin.
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.