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 27, 2010

The Commons: Elinor Ostrom Wins Nobel for Common(s) Sense

from Yes! website. 
We have to think through how to choose a meaningful life where we’re helping one another in ways that really help the Earth.

From ocean to ozone: Earth's nine life-support systems

from New Scientist. 
The demands of nearly 7 billion humans are stretching Earth to breaking point. We know about climate change, but what about other threats? To what extent do pollution, acidifying oceans, mass extinctions, dead zones in the sea and other environmental problems really matter? We can't keep stressing these systems indefinitely, but at what point will they bite back? 

Rural Living May Be Hazardous To Your Health

from Civil Eats. What I found particularly useful in this article was a link accessing a study of healthy living by county for the US. The study was recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. So, check out how healthy your county is.
There are many threads you can pull from the data that contributed to the study’s rankings, including statistics about health behaviors (alcohol and tobacco use, obesity rates), social and economic factors (education, employment, income, community safety), health care access and quality, and environmental factors, including air quality and access to healthy foods.

Pig Business or Business Pigs? [and related videos]

from Civil Eats. Read the article which furnishes excellent background material, and then access the U-Tube videos that US agri-biz does not allow you to see via the links in the article.
Big Money’s influence, along with that of many other large and wealthy corporations, dictates the type and scope of laws throughout the US and the world.  My daddy used to call this the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.

Iran Captures a ‘Good’ Terrorist

from Anti-War. Didn't you know that there are good terrorists as well as bad terrorists?
In a July 7, 2008, article for The New Yorker magazine, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh quoted Robert Baer, a former CIA clandestine officer who worked in South Asia and the Middle East for nearly two decades, as saying that Jundullah was one of the militant groups in Iran benefiting from U.S. support. 

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

All in the Family--[US] Media Reporting on Israel

by Alison Weir from Counterpunch. 
For a great many of the reporters and editors determining what Americans learn about Israel-Palestine, Israel is family.

Greece: February 24 massive general strike – workers’ movement back in action!

from In Defense of Marxism. 
Yesterday Greece was shaken by a massive 24 hour general strike. In some sectors there was a total walk out, and in industry as a whole 70% of the workers came out. This is the answer of the Greek working class to the government’s severe austerity measures. The task now is to build on this and keep up the pressure to get the whole package withdrawn.

How to Stay Awake During Obama Speeches: Play Bullshit Bingo

from Naked Capitalism. Satire.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Obama to the Business Roundtable: Health Care Reform Will Be Good for Business

from ABC News. I am posting this article to emphasize who the real rulers are in the US. The Business Roundtable is the most important formal organization of the US ruling class. (For an excellent examination of ruling class organizations, see this.) They are Obama's bosses. They are the people who really rule this country. Forget about Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, the Constitution, etc--this is where most key decisions are really decided. That is why Obama went and spoke to them, because without their support nothing happens--and nothing much has been happening for the public benefit under Obama's Presidency, or any other administration for that matter.

Pallet Tim

from Washinton's Blog. This article provides some shady examples about how the ruling class uses your tax dollars--not theirs--theirs are safely stored in offshore banks.

Scientists Find First Physiological Evidence of Brain's Response to Inequality

from Science Daily. 
The human brain is a big believer in equality -- and a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, has become the first to gather the images to prove it.

Ron Paul wins! (So who appears on Meet the Press?)

dated 2-24-10 by an American blogger carried on RT (Russia Times) website. Let me be clear about one thing--I am no fan of Ron Paul, the Congressman from Texas. He is a libertarian capitalist who essentially wants a form of capitalism that existed in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus he is an old fashioned conservative and very different from the neo-conservatives. As such he wants as little government as possible (except on the issue of abortion which he thinks the government should prohibit), everything decided by the market, mostly anti-union and against minimum wage laws, against any government measures to extend health insurance coverage, against gun control laws, etc.  Lately he has been attacking the Federal Reserve, the mostly private consortium of big banking institutions that control our money supply and are at the core of the American ruling class.  This is an irritant to the ruling class which otherwise likes to have a few eccentrics like him around to give the illusion of choice, but they mostly ignore him. The author of this article provides a recent illustration of this latter point.

Mainstream Media Questions Inaccuracies in 9/11 Story

from Salem-News, Salem, Oregon, USA.
The mainstream press is showing interest in a taboo, however glaring subject; the inconsistencies in the Bush White House 9/11 account.

The Truth About 9/11

by Elizabeth Woodworth from Counter Currents. She provides a good update on the growing world wide skepticism regarding the official report on the 9/11 tragedy.

If Fossil Fuel Reserves Rise Carbon Should Be Left Where It Belongs: In The Ground

by George Monbiot from Counter Currents. 
Some people see the prospect of peak oil as good news for the environment, as it might be the only threat which could prompt governments to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But it is also likely to encourage them to stimulate investments in even dirtier sources of energy: tar sands, oil shales and turning coal into synthetic petroleum.
The author correctly spots major contradictions in the policies of British government officials, but fails to understand, or point out, that the ultimate contradiction informing all contradictions in capitalist societies is the capitalist system itself which demands unlimited growth.

Time out (click on image to enlarge)

Gypsies at the peak

from The Oil Drum: Europe. There is an important moral to this simple story.

White House healthcare summit

from the Guardian. Just in case you missed the live TV coverage yesterday, this is a somewhat cynical, but quite entertaining report on the health care summit which brought some leading figures from both capitalist parties together by Obama to try to move health care proposals forward. Yesterday's live stream coverage from Pro Publica was very useful in understanding why so little has been, and will in the future not be, accomplished to provide health care for all Americans. In that article they made reference to a study which also documented the political reality that "our" Congressional legislators serve at the behest of their sponsors.
... this study [4] (PDF) conducted by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington detailing information on health industry donations to the summit's participants in recent years. According to the report, over the past five years the 21 politicians at the summit have received nearly $47 million from the industry.

Dems Retreat, Senate Renews PATRIOT Act

from Anti-War.  In contrast to health care proposals to extend coverage to uninsured Americans, notice how easy it is to renew the so-called Patriot Act (like passing all the Pentagon funding bills), which essentially has shredded the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution. As portrayed in mainstream media (MSM) this was because of "blue dog democrats".  Seems like MSM, owned by and on behalf of the ruling capitalist class, likes to color code politics ("red States" and "blue States") as a way of explaining the US political process which, of course, explains nothing--which, of course, is the safest thing to do.

Giant Antarctic iceberg could affect global ocean circulation

from the Guardian.
Ice broken off from Mertz glacier is size of Luxembourg and may decrease oxygen supply for marine life in the area

Leading the Way to a Low-Energy Future

from Earth Watch.  She is writes about the conclusions of her survey given to people who read websites such as this about their lifestyle changes. I also responded to the survey. While encouraging, I don't think that one can characterize the respondents as "lifestyle leaders"--I certainly am not.
...my disappointment in government leaders in the U.S. and elsewhere is matched by my admiration for a new influential group of Americans, whom I call lifestyle leaders—for they are taking matters into their own hands, such as through building gardens, weatherizing their homes, getting rid of their cars, moving off-grid, bartering with neighbors and joining Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Global Sweatshop Wage Slavery

by Stephen Lendman from Dissident Voice.  
Transnational corporations (TNCs) now roam the world to find the cheapest and most vulnerable workers.” They’re mostly young women in poor countries like China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Haiti, and many others working up to 14 or more hours a day for sub-poverty wages under horrific conditions.

The Death and Life of American Journalism Pt.1 (8:30m video)

from Real News Network. Paul Jay interviews Robert McChesney and John Nichols re the demise of something like independent journalism.

Unplug the Signal: The Truth Will Not Be Televised

from Pupaganda.  TV--it's the way the ruling class rules our minds.
A flow of information is constantly streaming from the television set; a bombardment of words and pictures.  The speed at which this information is communicated makes it easy for the signal to take control, switching the viewer's brain to stand-by as information is absorbed without analysis or question. Today the television's constant signal shapes the conclusions of the masses and produces the collective norm.  The signal prescribes what is news and what is truth through the words of so-called experts and authorities, gelding the consciousness and independent thoughts of those subjected to it. Through television, the masses can be made to accept the most monstrous distortions of reality. The signal is a chill wind of continuous oppression over the minds of the masses. It controls the management of society and culture, creating uniformity across all subjects. 

College for $99 a Month

from Washington Monthly. Unfortunately, this is not a current article--I just discovered it--but I believe that it is important.
In combination, these two trends threaten to shake the foundation of the modern university, in much the same way that other seemingly impregnable institutions have been torn apart. In some ways, the upheaval will be a welcome one. Students will benefit enormously from radically lower prices—particularly people like Solvig who lack disposable income and need higher learning to compete in an ever-more treacherous economy. But these huge changes will also seriously threaten the ability of universities to provide all the things beyond teaching on which society depends: science, culture, the transmission of our civilization from one generation to the next.

Whether this transformation is a good or a bad thing is something of a moot point—it’s coming, and sooner than you think. 

Future Shock: A Better World Beyond the Imperium

by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque.  I recommend reading the online article. I did not have time to listen to the 38m radio interview linked in the article.
Dissidents and critics of the powers that be are often accused of being negative – tearing things down, undermining, never offering a positive alternative vision. Now, I happen to disagree with this. I believe that people who work in waste management – clearing away the garbage, the poisons, the crap – are just as important to the life and health of a community as, say, an architect who makes the community beautiful, or a teacher who educates the young, or doctors who heal the sick and so on.

Watch Politicians Debate Health Care—And Watch Their Donors

from Pro Publica.  The meeting must be in session for this to be activated. Once the latter occurs look for the donors on the right of the live video that features the person speaking. There is always a delay after a new speaker comes on until the website assembles the data.
As the president meets with congressional leaders today to debate health care reform, the Sunlight Foundation has come up with a very useful way of watching the event.  There's live video -- and when a politician starts speaking, Sunlight shows their top campaign contributors.

Globalization on the rocks

 from New Internationalist. "David Ransom argues that the shipwreck of the markets spells the end of one era, the start of another."
Huge transnational corporations promote international trade because they control most of it – local or ‘domestic’ trade is a riot of diversity by comparison. The ‘globalization’ of local economies enabled corporations to scour the world for the cheapest labour, the lowest costs, the most compliant governments.

Community and Popular Radio in Haiti Today

 from Toward Freedom.
"For us, community and popular radio isn't an end in itself. It's part of a global plan of social change, of transformation of the society. We're going to continue to do popular education to change the mentality and behavior of people, as well as to denounce what's being done against the people today. As we move forward, we want to help people understand how to organize themselves and also how to fight the projects now underway, which are going to reinforce their poverty."

The Robber Barons of Social Change

from Toward Freedom.  This is a review of the book,  "Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World by Michael Edwards". 
The Ben & Jerry’s story is but a small cautionary tale about the still-growing and already far-reaching field of “philanthrocapitalism.” This is the term that author Michael Edwards uses in his new book, Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World, to describe a wide range of activities. It includes Silicon Valley CEOs using “venture philanthropy” to fund new, business-minded nonprofits; stock market traders developing socially weighted investment funds; bankers extending microcredit loans to the poor; and “social entrepreneurs” aiming to simultaneously serve a “double bottom line” of positive public impact and shareholder return.

The Darfur Crisis: Blood, Hunger And Oil

an interview with Mohamed Hassan who is an expert on African affairs.  The article provides a rich background as well as important current information on the ongoing crises in Darfur and other African countries that is poorly covered in Western media.

The aid racket

from Socialist Worker. 
Ashley Smith documents how the NGOs in Haiti have provided the means for the U.S. government to circumvent the Haitian state and impose neoliberal polices.

Tim Kasser on Consumerism, Psychology, Transition and Resilience. Part Two

from Transition Culture. 
So, I think what we really need to be doing now from my perspective is developing and fleshing out and thinking through the multitude of options, not because we think we’re ultimately going to chose one of those things from the menu, but because we recognise that we’re actually going to have to chose the whole buffet, and implement them now, as soon as possible. Once we get one implemented people will be more open to the next one and the next one and then you can affect that kind of change reasonably quickly. And that’s what gives me hope.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Europe's workers pushing back

from Globe and Mail.
Strikes spread as workers fear for their hard-earned comforts as governments and companies tighten belts to stay solvent

Venezuela Creates Peasant Militias, Enacts Federal Government Council

from Venezuelanalysis. 
The peasant militia will be responsible for protecting poor farmers from mercenary groups organized and financed by ranchers and wealthy landowners, Chavez explained in his weekly column, “Chavez’s Lines” on Sunday. More than 300 peasant leaders and activists have been murdered since the government introduced the Law on Land and Agricultural Development in 2001 and launched a program of agrarian reform.

The Unemployed Now Have Their Own Union, and It's Catching on Quickly

from Alter Net.
It's been only a month that a union for the unemployed has come into existence through an ingenious grassroots organizing campaign. In case you haven't heard about it, the union's name is "UR Union of the Unemployed" or its nickname, "UCubed," because of its unique method of organizing.

'Death of American Capitalism:' The 10 final scenes

by Paul B. Farrell from Market Watch. Clearly many mainstream people are seriously worried about the system.
And yes, we are "fed up with Washington and convinced more than 3 to 1 that the nation is heading in the wrong direction," yet there's "confidence that there will be better times ahead, that the classic American dream endures and hasn't been extinguished. It's not even at its low ebb." Why? Because we're in denial!

Marjah: ‘This is not Fallujah’

by Eric Walberg from Creative-i. 
The new exit plan, so it goes, involves “clearing” all regions of Taliban — US Marines call it “mowing the grass”, acknowledging that as soon as they murder one group of resisters and leave, more pop up. The “new” strategy is to bring in ready-made Afghan administrators and police to create a prosperous, peaceful society once the “enemy” have been destroyed, “winning the hearts and minds” of the locals. “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,” said chief honcho General Stanley McChrystal.

How to Reach A Larger Audience

from Washington's Blog. The blogger is concerned about how to communicate with a large audience such as the American public, and delves into the research findings on public communications. It is clear to me that this research has been used mainly by the ruling class to manipulate the public, to engineer or "manage consensus". The blogger argues that such techniques must also be used by progressives to get their views across to larger audiences. (Yuck!) I think the basic problem is that public education, by design, has failed to teach critical thinking and have left the public so vulnerable to such techniques. But is he right? You decide.

Why We are Susceptible to Manipulation

from Washington's Blog. Good followup article to the one above.
Our brains assume that we can tell truth from fiction, because they evolved in very small groups where we knew everyone extremely well, and usually could see for ourselves what was true.

It is therefore much easier for a wolf in sheep's clothing to succeed than in a small group setting.

Indeed, sociopaths would have been discovered very quickly in a small group. But in huge societies like our's, they can rise to positions of power and influence.
Such findings support a radical decentralization of our society such as is described in Inclusive Democracy, The Simpler Way, libertarian socialism, etc.

Americas bloc excluding US and Canada agreed

from The Guardian. 
Latin American and Caribbean nations have agreed to set up a new regional body without the US and Canada.

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Venezuela’s revolution faces crucial battles

by Federico Fuentes from Green Left Online. 
[Chavez] said it was vital to combat the inefficiency and bureaucracy of the state structures inherited from previous governments that hold back and sabotage the process. “We have to finish off demolishing the old structures of the bourgeois state and create the new structures of the proletarian state.”

To help achieve this, the government has encouraged the creation of 184 communes across Venezuela. Communes are made up of a number of communal councils and other social organisations, bodies directly run and controlled by local communities.

Think tanks, oil money and black ops

from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company). 
...the funding continues, often through foundations that in effect launder oil and coal money to make it more difficult to trace to its sources. One of the more important conduits is the Washington-based Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Atlas supports financially a network of some 200 libertarian think tanks around the world, including (according to an investigation by US magazine Mother Jones) the Institute of Public Affairs and the Centre for Independent Studies in Australia. 

Part V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy — The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the USA

by David DeGraw from Amped Status. 
The mainstream media creates what is known in mass psychology as the “spectrum of thinkable thought.” By constantly discussing and debating surface issues, they limit the range of debate. Having the Republican vs. Democrat paradigm leads us to never debating the underlying Economic Elite who control both of the parties, not to mention their ownership of the media platform on which this debate is taking shape. The more important underlying issues are never discussed, and therefore never enter public consciousness.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joe Stack And Likely Coming Attractions

 by Carolyn Baker from Counter Currents. "when the excrement hits the circular air mechanism, it results for the unprepared in becoming unplugged...." Or, in other words, she writes:
The corporate capitalist system had forced on American families a lifestyle that left them too busy and too strapped with debt-and of course, too hypnotically entranced with the proverbial "American dream", to read the signals that were becoming more ominous by the day. Besides, in the pubescent ecstasy of the earning/spending/debt party, who wants to be annoyed with downers like becoming an adult and comprehending the facts and their consequences?

New Research Reveals Why Factory Farms Have Become Superbug Factories–and Why Worse is yet to Come

from Politics of the Plate. 
Along with their usual rations of grain and prepared feed, factory-farmed hogs and chickens in the United States also dine on a steady diet of antibiotics. The animals are given the drugs, not to prevent or cure illness, but simply because low-level doses of antibiotics stimulate them to grow faster than untreated animals. This may be good for agribusiness’s bottom lines, but an increasing body of research shows that it might be very bad for public health.

Part III: Exposing Our Enemy - Meet the Economic Elite

by David DeGraw from Amped Status. This is a very important series in order to understand the current nature of capitalism, especially as it functions in the US, but also includes powerful international organizations such as the IMF and together with the capitalist elites of other countries rule over, what I often refer to, as The Empire.  In this segment the author focuses on the people and the organizations which rule this Empire. I have read widely on this subject and can attest to the accuracy of his observations.

Time out

Part IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat — The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States of America

by David DeGraw from Amped Status. 
Although most of the Economic Elite live and operate inside the US, they are not concerned for our future. To them, the entire world is theirs and they work intimately with other elites throughout the world against the interests of the US public. Ever since the days of Henry Ford, the Economic Elite have needed a thriving US middle class to increase growth and profits, but now, in the global economy, they view the US middle class as obsolete. They increasingly look globally for profits and they would rather pay cheap labor in countries like China and India.

The Battle Of Ideas, Part 1; Private Property vs. The Commons

by Tom Stephens from Counter Currents. 
It’s the unjust power of the rich to set the terms of life and death for everybody else, starting with unmentionable agonies of the poor, and ending by driving even the sacred “middle class” from their homes and jobs. The vicious circle of private property destroying human rights and the commons is becoming clearer all the time, as their system collapses and fails to deliver.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Global Fight for Climate Justice

from Ecosocialism Canada. A book review by Derrick O'Keefe.
All those engaged in these vital efforts [the fight against global capitalism] will benefit greatly from the publication of The Global Fight for Climate Justice, a collection of essays, statements and declarations edited by Ian Angus. Bringing together 46 “anti-capitalist responses to global warming and environmental destruction,” this is not leisurely reading. Ideally, in fact, it should be read collectively, in discussion groups or as background reading for a series of classes or forums. Contributors include Joel Kovel (Enemy of Nature) and John Bellamy Foster (The Ecological Revolution), who have both written extensively about the ecologically destructive essence of capitalism.

Methane levels may see 'runaway' rise, scientists warn

from The Independent. 
Atmospheric levels of methane, the greenhouse gas which is much more powerful than carbon dioxide, have risen significantly for the last three years running, scientists will disclose today – leading to fears that a major global-warming "feedback" is beginning to kick in.

US States Slash Medicaid

from Global Research. The war on the American poor accelerates as war budgets expand.
US states are imposing major cuts to Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income Americans jointly funded with the federal government. The cuts are being enacted in response to huge budget deficits in states throughout the country and a sharp increase in enrollment fuelled by the unemployment crisis.

Media Distortions And “Real” Climate Scandals

originally from Media Lens, but because no permalink available on that site, I am making this available from Dissident Voice.
Since November last year, the public has been bombarded with the story of stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, revealing a supposed “scandal” of scientific malpractice, stupidly and lazily named “climategate”. Further media frenzy erupted over an erroneous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change statement that 80 per cent of Himalayan glacier area would very likely be gone by 2035. Other climate-related storms in a teacup have been appearing in the corporate media almost on a daily basis. This nonsense is distracting attention from a mountain of evidence that human-induced climate change is accelerating and poses a deadly threat to civilisation.

The war on the middle class

from The Economic Populist. 
Capitalism hasn't failed. What has failed is the economic system in place today.
No amount of government taxes, trade barriers, or regulation caused it to fail.
No investigative reporter, or congressional oversight committee, or regulatory watchdog, exposed the massive fraud and corruption in the financial system today. All of the safeguards put in place to protect the public, and the current system from itself, failed.
I find this kind of thinking totally amazing. People like this blogger have a religious-like faith in this system which puts private ownership of production, free markets, wage slavery, and profits at its very core. Capitalism promotes sociopathic and predatory behaviors which no significant amount of regulation or government oversight can curtail for very long. In advanced capitalism, the owners "own" all the significant units of the economy as well as the government.

However, in spite of this naiveté, the author does provide a lot of useful information regarding the devastating social and economic effects of the system.

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Campaigning for State-Owned Banks

by Ellen Brown from her Web of Debt website. 
In the quest to find ways to divorce the well-being of their states from the financial sector, a growing number of candidates are picking up on the public bank alternative. Florida, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, Idaho and California all have candidates whose platforms contain this proposed solution to the credit crisis.

Selling Out America to Wall Street

by Stephen Lendman from Mathaba news service.
Over the past decade, "$5 billion in political contributions bought Wall Street freedom from regulation, (and) restraint." From 1998 - 2008, "Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates (the FIRE sector)" spent over $1.7 billion in political contributions and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists....
Then Lendman goes on to list what the Banksters and Wallstreeters received in return for their "investments".

Only 21% Say U.S. Government Has Consent of the Governed

from Rasmussen Reports. 
The founding document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Today, however, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed.

China Circled by Chain of US Anti-Missile Systems

from Global Research. Business is booming for America's military-industrial complex.
Quite a few military experts have noted that Washington's latest proposed weapon deal with Taiwan is the key part of a US strategic encirclement of China in the East Asian region, and that the missiles could soon have a footprint that extends from Japan to the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.

The New McCarthyism in Israel: Human Rights Groups Face Crackdown

by Jonathan Cook from Global Research. 
The Israeli government and its right-wing supporters have been waging a “McCarthyite” campaign against human-rights groups by blaming them for the barrage of international criticism that has followed Israel’s attack on Gaza a year ago, critics say.

Opposition Grows Against Egypt-Gaza Barrier

from IPS news service. 
Activists and opposition groups are stepping up pressure on the Egyptian government to stop constructing a barrier along the border with the Gaza Strip. Officials say the barrier will prevent cross-border smuggling, but critics say it will seal the fate of the people on the Gaza Strip

Israel's smiling PR drive

from The Guardian. 
Israel's latest conscripts in the fight to improve the country's image have been unveiled: ordinary Israeli citizens. Armed only with a government-issued hasbara pamphlet and a winning smile, they will be sent to wage war with their detractors, in an effort to present Israel as a benign, democratic utopia whose only achilles heel is poor public relations.

No Games glamour in Vancouver's Tent City

There is another side of the city that hosts the Olympics that your corporate media ignores. These are capitalism's disposable people in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Many are First Nations people that the Olympics used as an emblem in their opening ceremonies. See also this 6:40m video.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tell Cable News: No More PR Pundits

from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. 
Scores of pundits appearing on cable news networks are paid corporate lobbyists and PR flaks--and the networks aren't disclosing their corporate ties.

Colored Revolutions: A New Form of Regime Change, Made in USA

from Venezuela Analysis.  This soft power strategy of The Empire is not all that new.  Seems like it has been going on since shortly after WWII when the US ruling class made tremendous efforts to crush any union militancy or left wing activities in post war Europe.
Through the creation of a series of quasi-private "foundations", such as Albert Einstein Institute (AEI), National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House and later the International Center for Non-Violent Conflict (ICNC), Washington began to filter funding and strategic aid to political parties and groups abroad that promoted US agenda in nations with insubordinate governments.

Time out

Envisioning sustainable communities

 from Energy Bulletin.  This is parts 1 and 2 of a 4 part series, zeros in on the concept of "community", and asks the important question:
What features need to be built into a community for it to be sustainable against the juggernaut of forces that would co-opt it back into in-egalitarian and exploitative economic and cultural patterns?

Hugo Chávez left in the dark as El Niño plays power politics

from The Guardian. 
The El Niño weather phenomenon appears to be taking sides as it parches leftist-ruled parts of South America and brings bounty to US farmers and corporations. One of the severest droughts in decades has given Venezuela's socialist president a political nightmare as hydro-electrical power dribbles to a standstill, unleashing blackouts, rationing and protests.