We can reinvent what prosperity means and how it works, and, in the process both reduce the ecological demands of that prosperity and improve the quality of our lives. In most cases, this is a smarter approach than simply improving efficiency.There is only one small problem--this cannot be done within the system of capitalism.
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 20, 2010
...the primary factor that drove the rise of industrial civilization, and made possible the lavish lifestyles of the recent past, was the recklessness with which the earth’s fossil fuel reserves have been extracted and burnt over the last few centuries. The explosion of technical knowledge was a consequence of that, not a cause.
...Snyder said a truly sustainable farmer wakes every morning with two thoughts in mind. The first is one of gratitude that the land we are privileged to own, rent or be paid to cultivate has been given to us, and we must give it back in better shape than we found it.
“Second,” Snyder said, “we as individual farmers are limited and essentially dependent on each other to figure out what’s best to do with this land in order to honor it, improve it and make a living from it and one day to deliver it back to the source from whence it came.”
If we're really going to vest virtually unlimited power in the Government to do anything it wants to people they call "Terrorists," we ought at least to have a common understanding of what the term means. But there is none. It's just become a malleable, all-justifying term to allow the U.S. Government carte blanche to do whatever it wants to Muslims it does not like or who do not like it (i.e., The Terrorists).
[Mardi Gras, for people] reinforces...their ongoing survival of capitalism and racism. Carnival also reinforces joy and ownership of public space and a kind of confidence in coexisting with a wide array of strangers.
Ever-sensitive about their reputation as a land of the fair-minded, Canada's Olympic planners [corporations and major developers] have gone to lengths to showcase the nation's respect for aboriginals. They made an Inuit design the official logo. They ran the torch-relay through scores of reservations. And they bought the support and participation of local First Nations with a few million in bonds, business ventures and gleaming buildings. An absolute bargain, if this aboriginal gilding can blind Canadians and the world to the country's secret shame: the true state of its Indigenous peoples.
...on Friday, February 19, 2010, the administration of President Barack Obama declared that not only will it not prosecute the avowed and boastful perpetrators and accomplices of the capital crime of torture, it will not impose even the mildest of administrative or professional reprimands upon them. For the foulest of tortures, reaching even to murder, the government of the United States will do nothing: no investigation, no prosecution, no penalty.
After several years of false starts, the universe of digital books seems at last poised to expand dramatically. Readers should view this expansion with both excitement and wariness. Excitement because digital books could revolutionize reading, making more books more findable and more accessible to more people in more ways than ever before. Wariness because the various entities that will help make this digital book revolution possible may not always respect the rights and expectations that readers, authors, booksellers and librarians have built up, and defended, over generations of experience with physical books.
"It is not Greece that is suffering but the Greek working people, the people who are always at the bottom of the pile," he told IPS. "If you want to have a reduction of the deficit, the first thing to do should not be to hit the most vulnerable parts of society, the low-paid civil servants and the working class. You should hit big capital, the people who profited out of the extreme neo- liberal organisation of the markets."
Friday, February 19, 2010
[W]e suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.
Nine Months Before Operation Northwoods, Government Leaders Suggested False Flag Terror in the Dominican Republic
This idolization of the German military was a telling manifestation of a growing militarism within an American society which remained remarkably oblivious to the slow strangulation of its citizen-soldier ideal. At the same time, the American military began to glorify a new generation of warrior-leaders by a selective reading of its past.
Report for the UN into the activities of the world's 3,000 biggest companies estimates one-third of profits would be lost if firms were forced to pay for use, loss and damage of environment.
If there is one thing that gets investors twitchy, it is the fear that China is losing its appetite for US government bonds.
securities thumbAs the biggest and most liquid pool of assets in the world, the US Treasury market lies at the heart of the global financial system and allows the American government to finance its trillion-dollar budget deficits. Until recently, China has been the largest foreign official holder of US debt.
Aristide was forced out of the country in a coup ten months later on Feb. 29, 2004 and flown to the former French colony of the Central African Republic. Although the main author of the coup is still seen as the administration of George W. Bush, Haitians have never forgotten the role that France played in supporting the opposition movement to Aristide and their demands that he resign.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
See also this report form Union of Concerned Scientists on Exxon-Mobil's efforts to discredit scientific findings.
Meanwhile scientific research keeps indicating that the situation is growing worse. See this, this, and this.
...the 4th annual Zapotec Feria of the Cornfield - Globalization and the Natural Resources - is not only concerned with the problems and struggles facing the Zapotec communities, but is also a celebration of their rich culture and food sovereignty. Day two of the feria brought a festive culinary demonstration of a myriad of corn dishes and locally produced food.
In insecure economic times, the legacy energy industries have another advantage: They play powerfully inside a global economic system built on the assumption of limitless economic growth, and which is in dire need of boost in the wake of the US mortgage crisis. The coal supply remains a commodity that needs to be mined, shipped, exported and traded — a BTU bonanza for the nations that have it in abundance like the U.S., Russia, China, India and Australia.
A "miracle" plant, once thought to be as the answer to producing renewable biofuels on a vast scale, is driving thousands of farmers in the developing world into food poverty, a damning report concludes today.
By enriching those who did the most plundering the most, we enabled them to fund lobbying and disinformation campaigns to convince substantial fractions of the public and media that there is no Ponzi scheme — that global warming is “too complicated for the public to understand” and nothing to worry about.
In 2009, the scientific literature caught up with what top climate scientists have been saying privately for a few years now:
- Many of the predicted impacts of human-caused climate change are occurring much faster than anybody expected — particularly ice melt, everywhere you look on the planet.
- If we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, we are facing incalculable catastrophes by century’s end, including rapid sea level rise, massive wildfires, widespread Dust-Bowlification, large oceanic dead zones, and 9°F warming — much of which could be all but irreversible for centuries. And that’s not the worst-case scenario!
- The consequences for human health and well being would be extreme.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
"The Central Insecticide Board was supposed to give these approvals based on the location and crop-specific data from India. But it simply accepted foreign data supplied by Monsanto. They did not even have a test tube to validate the data and, at times, the data itself was faked," Jagadisan said.
As part of its drive for punitive new sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programs, the Obama administration launched a major diplomatic offensive in the Middle East this week to enlist the support of its allies in the region. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Central Command head General David Petraeus and top State Department officials are taking part in the operation.
This essay will solely discuss government admissions to the use of false flag terror.
Although there is a considerable amount of well-warranted consternation about how Goldman sold swaps to Greece that allowed it to mask how bad its deteriorating finances were from the EU budget police, there has been perilous little discussion of why the fact that this was permissible says there is something very wrong with the rules in place.
It Looks Like We're Going To Have To Blow Up Another Continent To Realize The Effect Of Wall Street's Destructiveness
Surprise, surprise: Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece, Spain, Portugal, and undermined the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts.
In its eagerness to woo Republicans with nuclear-friendly policies, the Obama administration plans to hand out $54.5 billion in government-backed loans to kick-start a nuclear renaissance. On Tuesday, it announced the first beneficiary of this largesse—and apparently the best candidate it could find was a proposed plant that's been put on hold by federal regulators due to serious safety concerns.
But nothing is going wrong. When you read of children lying in a broken heap, their lifeblood draining away into dark, coagulated pools -- that means the system is functioning properly. That's what the system does. That is what it is there to do: to kill, destroy and dominate. That's why we have installed the system in Afghanistan.
[The financial crisis] is caused by replacing progressive taxation with regressive taxes, and above all by untaxing finance and real estate. Take the case ofIt would be very helpful to me and others who are not economists or financial types if the professor would explain or expand on the last sentence. Too often academic types who understand the details of how the system works, write about it in terms that mostly only other academics can understand. Otherwise a very good article.
California, where tears are being shed over the dismantling of the once elite Universityof California ’s real estate costs are just as high with its property taxes froze, but the rising rental value of land has been paid to the banks – forcing the state to slash its fiscal budget or else raise taxes on labor and consumers. system. Since American independence, education has been financed by the property tax. But Proposition 13 has “freed” property from taxation – so that its rental value can be borrowed against and turned into interest payments to banks. California
What is clear to me is that the "owning" class plays their capitalist game by rules that they have largely created; and as in the game of Monopoly where one person ends up owning everything, in the real world the game results in a relatively few people "owning" everything.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
"The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come."The picture the article paints is clearly one of social devastation for working people. Coming from a liberal slant it provides only safe expert views on the problem, and never calls into question the system itself which is at the root of the problem. Thus by implication it is warning its ruling class audience that this is a potentially explosive problem and may threaten them. Hence the author concludes with the need to ameliorate the problem by liberal employment and unemployment benefit programs.
There’s no doubt about it, three decades of unregulated ‘free market’ financialized capitalism in the UK has proved to be a total disaster, but not in the ‘classical marxist’ sense of a struggle between capital and labour being played out in the streets or in our (non-existent) factories let alone in our decrepid and corruption political institutions. Instead, ‘neo-liberalism’ has failed not only on an economic level but more importantly it’s been a cultural and ideological failure, hence all the talk about regaining the ‘trust’ of the populace and lots of hot air about ‘consultations’ and ‘town hall meetings’ and of course, the inevitable patriotic jingoism about our ‘glorious’ imperial past.
A new economic model is needed--one that focuses on human welfare as being separate from income, and one that focuses on the resiliency of society rather than the growth of society over the long term.
Despite President Barack Obama's pledge in his State of the Union address last month to "require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or Congress," the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says the Obama administration has been "fighting hard to stop the release of the names of these representatives."
Monday, February 15, 2010
"Empire" seems nowadays to mean simply dominion and control. Empire---for most of these late-coming critics--- is concerned almost exclusively with power and prestige. What is usually missing from the public discourse is the process of empire and its politico-economic content. In other words, while we hear a lot about empire, we hear very little about imperialism.
While the overall budget deficit will balloon to a staggering $1.6 trillion in 2011, the result of massive tax cuts for the rich, declining revenues, a by-product of capitalism’s economic meltdown, imperial adventures abroad and general corporate malfeasance (the old tax-dodge grift), the administration plans to cut $250 billion over three years from non-military “discretionary spending” on domestic social programs.
The fear of terrorism has, by now, been institutionalized in our society -- quite literally so -- even if the thing we’re afraid of has, on the scale of human problems, something of the will o’ the wisp about it.
The research project involved more than 370 scientists from 27 countries who collectively spent 15 months, starting in June 2007, aboard a research vessel above the Arctic Circle. It marked the first time a ship has stayed mobile in Canada's high Arctic for an entire winter.
These errors are endemic because –despite all remonstrance to the contrary- Americans are not consistently socialized, educated and rewarded to value thinking in terms of systems and complexity.Of course they're not socialized this way (the authors of the next article are an example)--they would be a danger to the interests of the ruling class if they were. However insights like the following suggest that the authors have a good understanding of their subject:
…modern capitalism has a number of the critical characteristics associated with sociopathology, for example, the commission of unethical acts intentionally designed to hoodwink the public; the glorification of unethical behavior, such as unrestrained greed; and little or no guilt associated with deceptive and unethical behavior.
Climate Stabilization Requires a Cultural and Political Revolution
There is still hope if we are willing to confront the hydra-headed monsters that block our path, and move ahead with a decisive plan of action. The inspirational message we need to deliver is that we're not just talking about drastically reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, but rebuilding society, creating in effect a New Woman and a New Man for the 21st Century.
What we are witnessing are the early stages of a mass grassroots consciousness-raising and taking back of power from out-of-control corporations, banks, corporate-controlled media, and politicians. This cultural and political revolution will empower us to to carry out a deep and profound retrofitting of industry, government, education, health care, housing, neighborhoods, transportation, food and farming systems, as well as our diets and lifestyles.
According to economists, the beauty of globalization [the current version of capitalism] is worldwide access to materials and cheap (or free) labor to bring the materials to powerful countries. We provide garbage, pollution, and low wages — or, in the “best” cases we enslave workers — and we obtain materials and finished goods. This is the rising economic tide that floats all boats.
Unlike the 1990s survivalists, preppers come from all backgrounds and live all over America. They are just as likely to be found in a suburb or downtown loft as a remote ranch in the mountains. Prepping networks, which have sprung up all over the country in the past few years, provide advice on how to prepare food reserves, how to grow crops in your garden, how to hunt and how to defend yourself. There are prepping books, online shops, radio shows, countless blogs, prepping courses and prepping conferences.
EU companies have taken millions of acres of land out of food production in Africa, central America and Asia to grow biofuels for transport, according to development campaigners. The consequences of European biofuel targets, said the report by ActionAid, could be up to 100 million more hungry people, increased food prices and landlessness.
Eight countries – Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Russia – have allowed their publicly-owned broadcasting stations to air the full spectrum of evidence challenging the truth of the official account of 9/11.
This more open approach taken in the international media – I could also have included the Japanese media – might be a sign that worldwide public and corporate media organizations are positioning themselves, and preparing their audiences, for a possible revelation of the truth of the claim that forces within the US government were complicit in the attacks – a revelation that would call into question the publicly given rationale for the military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
There is nothing controversial or angry about the new We Are The World, and that may be one off its problems because syrupy high profile celebrity events are now co-opted corporate-embraced commodities in our commercial culture. They are almost an expected Made in the USA genre, slick and all too often self-congratulatory commercials for compassion. They are effusively praised by the powers that be who pat all the high-profile artists on their heads, and then, in the end, ignore their passion. They also become one-shot stories and marketing vehicles.
A recent tally by the Vancouver Sun estimated that at least eight billion dollars will be spent on the Games, and there are an estimated 15,000 homeless people in British Columbia. According to a report released by University of British Columbia researchers last December, the number of homeless in Vancouver more than doubled in the years leading up to the Games.
Accordingly, the slogan "homes not games," was found on many placards, and was a popular chant both before and during the march.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The disconnect never fails to amaze me. Death on a personal level is a heart-wrenching, life-altering affair. The recovery is a long process, filled with grief. Losing a loved one stays with you until you finally join them. But being part of the machine that gives others the same grief on a spectacular level has little to no effect.
In addition to greater employment -- resulting in harmful economic growth -- there are many issues that liberal/left/progressive journalists and activists address, and rightly so. But overall the Dominant Critique does not question or reject the system or foresee its collapse.
The sweeping bill to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that moved through Congress over the last year received relatively scant media attention, taking a distant back seat to the healthcare reform bill and its attendant public uproar. And, much like the healthcare debate (Extra!, 10/09), coverage of climate-change legislation ended up obscuring the issues as much as it explained them, viewing a Democratic compromise bill through the lens of right-wing and corporate criticism, while marginalizing progressive critics who said the legislation was insufficient to the task at hand.
...in the run-up to these games, the hosts – or at least the Canadian Olympic Committee – seemed to have mislaid their manners. "Own the podium," it implored its athletes in an initiative aimed at ensuring the host nation finishes at the top of the medals table at these games. Money has been poured into training, while a hard-edged approach has been adopted in dealing with other teams, most noticeably in granting them only limited access to facilities such as the sliding track.
Attacks designed to force researchers to resign or get fired is nothing new - the denialist industry has been at it for years
Free-market, anti-climate change think-tanks such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in the US and the International Policy Network in the UK have received grants totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds from the multinational energy company ExxonMobil. Both organisations have funded international seminars pulling together climate change deniers from across the globe.