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, April 10, 2010

A Society Consumed by Locusts: Youth in the Age of Moral and Political Plagues

by Henry A. Giroux from Truthout.
What might it mean to oppose the institutions, reverse the values and challenge the power relations that created this theater of civic morbidity and culture of cruelty? Dare one not take account of the profound emotional appeal, let alone ideological hold, of neoliberalism on the American public? 

Revolution in Kyrgyzstan: nothing to do with tulips.

from New Left Project. 
The underlying issue is that Bakiyev embarked on exactly the same programme of privatizing and expropriating public goods as all the neoliberal rulers in central Asia have, and resorted to thuggery, nepotism and suppression of the media when his power base and popular support began to fragment.

Nonsanto: A Month Without Monsanto

from Civil Eats. 
When I first heard about April Davila’s quest to live without Monsanto for a month, I thought she was doing something noble in a public setting. But, would it really be that hard? As a locavore, I pride myself on purchasing my produce from farmer’s markets, so couldn’t she just do the same?  When we decided to meet, I soon realized that my arrogant assumptions had enough hot air to heat a compost bin.

How the CIA is Welcoming Itself Back Onto American University Campuses

by David Price from CounterPunch. 
The programs most significantly linking the CIA with university campuses are the “Intelligence Community Centers of Academic Excellence” (ICCAE, pro­nounced “Icky”) and the “Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity”. Both programs use universities to train intelligence personnel by piggybacking onto existing educational programs. Campuses that agree to see these outsourced programs as nonthreatening to their open educational and research missions are rewarded with funds and useful contacts with the intelligence agencies and other less tangible benefits.

U.K. Passes Internet Censorship and Disconnection Law

from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 
Late Thursday night the U.K. Parliament passed  the controversial Digital Economy Bill, which grants the U.K. government sweeping new powers to control access to the Internet. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Expanding the Meaning of the Commons

from On the Commons. This brief article illustrates how some people are beginning to re-envision the world. 

The Accomodationists: Memo to Liberals on the White House Death Warrants

by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque. 
Let us hear no more excuses for Barack Obama. Let us hear no more defenses, no more special pleading, no more extenuations. Let us have no more reciting of the "pressures" he is under, of the "many obstacles" that balk him in his quest to do us good, of the "bad advisors" who are swaying him to unworthy acts against his will. Let us be done at last with all these wretched lies, these complicitous self-deceptions that are facilitating atrocity and tyranny on a monstrous scale.
 Certainly it is time for all the good liberals, and past time for the American people, to awaken from their rosy dreams about the charming Obama. He probably was a reasonably decent person, but like many others, sold his soul to the governing class. The transition from Bush to Obama has been seamless--and why not? Obama is, like most US Presidents, an employee or, in the case of the Bushes, FDR, etc, members of the governing class. 

Citizens must awaken to the reality that a class of people, whose power is based on their claim to the ownership of all the significant components of the economy, rule the country and much of the world. This class is addicted to profits and it doesn't matter how they get them: through wars, theft, deception, destroying the environment, impoverishing people, etc. The capitalist system is the engine that is driving us off the cliffs of catastrophic climate change and exhaustion of energy and other resources.

The Perplexed Puppet Jerks on His Strings: Karzai Calls US Troops Invaders

from Common Dreams. This US puppet is either very shrewd, very stupid, or suicidal.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a former consultant for UNOCAL oil company was installed by the US as the President of Afghanistan after our invasion and occupation of that country. Now he complains that US and NATO troops are invaders of Afghanistan and this is drawing a furious reaction from the Obama administration and the mainstream media. His outburst deserves a closer look at what led up to this furor in Afghanistan as Karzai turns on his US puppeteer.

Shocking Censorship at Google News and the Future of Net Neutrality

by David DeGraw from Amped Status.
Under tight control by the most powerful corporations on the planet, U.S. mainstream media has become an omnipresent propaganda system designed to divide, distract, confuse and create apathy among the U.S. populace. In the process, mainstream corporate controlled media has obscured, isolated and suppressed dissent and understanding of our present ruling class. 
And now it appears that the governing class is coming after the internet via their internet related corporations.

Timeout (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Is Momentum Growing for Debt Repudiation?

from Washinton's Blog. 
The most cynical (but not necessarily inaccurate) view of debt I've seen is that banks loan out imaginary money they don't really have, which was "collateralized" by capital they did not really have, based upon central bank printing presses which create money out of thin air which they don't really have. But then when debtors have trouble repaying onerous loans, the bankers seize real assets. See this  and this.

Opium and the CIA: Can the US Triumph in the Drug-Addicted War in Afghanistan?

by Peter Dale Scott from Japan Focus. Scott, a Canadian and retired professor of English at UC Berkeley, has also made a career of investigations of many controversial topics starting with the assassination of John Kennedy, followed by the Vietnam War and the related drug trade, the Iran-Contra issues, 9/11, and others. Of course, because of his findings that are a source of embarrassment to the governing class in the US, he has always been blacklisted in US media in spite of the fact that his writings have always been extensively documented.
The Source of the Global Drug problem is not Kabul, but Washington

The Coming European Debt Wars: EU Countries Sinking into Depression

by Michael Hudson from Global Research. 
The battle lines are being drawn regarding how private and public debts are to be repaid. For nations that balk at repayment in euros, the creditor nations have their “muscle” waiting in the wings: the credit rating agencies. At the first sign a nation is balking in paying in hard currency, or even at the first hint of it questioning a foreign debt as improper, the agencies will move in to reduce a nation’s credit rating. This will increase the cost of borrowing and threaten to paralyze the economy by starving it for credit.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Global Economic Crisis: Riots, Rebellion and Revolution

by Andrew Gavin Marshall from Global Research. 
As the world has already experienced the greatest transfer of wealth in human history, the greatest social transformation in world history is soon to follow. The middle classes of the west, long the foundations upon which the consumer capitalist system was based, are about to be radically reorganized and integrated into the global labour class. As this process commences and accelerates, the middle classes will begin to protest, riot, rebel, and possibly revolt.

We must ask ourselves: Is this the right way forward?
He doesn't think so. Read why.

The Last Oyster Haul?

from Common Dreams. 
Thanks to greenhouse gas emissions, it's looking like my days as a commercial fisherman are numbered.

China maintains discriminatory measures against rural migrants

from World Socialist Web Site. Read how China's internal migrants provide the basis for capitalism in China to flourish, and how they defend this source of cheap labor. These internal migrants appear to be similar to, but more beneficial to capitalists than, "illegal immigrants" from Central America that provide so much cheap labor to US capitalists.
Without a major influx of new migrants, China’s advantage in cheap labour will erode in favour of its neighbours in southeast Asia.

Blasted in a West Virginia Mine: First by Explosion, Then by Lies

by Mike Ely from Dissident Voice.  Good exposition of how government officials and mainstream media provide cover for incidents like this.
The simple fact is that Massey’s Upper Big Branch...is governed by capitalism. And the rules and laws will be ignored over and over again. Those who report violations will be targeted and often fired.


Iraq War Vet: "WeWere Told to Just Shoot People, and the Officers Would Take Care of Us"

by Dahr Jamail from Truthout. 
As disturbing as the video is, this type of behavior by US soldiers in Iraq is not uncommon.

Truthout has spoken with several soldiers who shared equally horrific stories of the slaughtering of innocent Iraqis by US occupation forces.

Out of work in the US (23:29m video)

by Avi Lewis from Al Jazeera.
To be unemployed in the US – to lose your identity as a consumer in an economy where 70 per cent of all activity is consumption – is in some way to inhabit another country.

In fact, if you count all the unemployed, underemployed, and those who have given up looking for work in the US, you have a population of almost 30mn – a country about the size of Canada.

Banks for the people

from Red Pepper. 
The crisis of 2007-9 was a systemic upheaval rather than just the result of poor regulation, or of speculative excesses of finance. It was a crisis of financialised capitalism. Financialisation is a structural transformation of advanced capitalist economies, resulting in asymmetric growth of the circulation of money relative to production and allowing finance to penetrate even minor niches of social and personal life. Hence a systemic failure of private banking could become a global crisis.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Amid Nanotech's Dazzling Promise, Health Risks Grow

from AOL News. All three parts of this series at the above link.

Obama nominates cost-cutting advocate as Medicare and Medicaid chief

from World Socialist Web Site. The destruction of the public sector, pension funds, Medicare, etc is only just beginning. The Obama administration is preparing to launch the attacks behind the public relations shield of the recent health care bill. See also this, and this.

U.S. covering up reality in Honduras (11:10m video)

from The Real News Network. The US covers up the human rights horror of its Honduran section of the Empire as it celebrates its made-in-Washington regime. Meanwhile any reporting of the events in this tragic country have disappeared from US mainstream media.

The Commons (4:00m video)

 from The Nation website. All the earth and the economy we have constructed on it should be a part of the commons. This amusing, but thoughtful video sees our wealth in its various forms as a legacy to be shared by all.
In a perfect world, wealth--be it money, ideas or access to natural resources--belongs to all of us. But in our decidedly unjust and imperfect world, wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. There is be a better way. The notion of The Commons--shared land, resources, or the knowledge passed down through generations--is a common-sense way to allocate our natural, cultural and intellectual riches.

Court Drives FCC Towards Nuclear Option to Regulate Broadband

from Wired. The broadband providers can now restrict content or prioritize one type of traffic over another. So much for the often touted internet freedom we have in the US in contrast to China!
“Today’s court decision invalidated the prior Commission’s approach to preserving an open internet,” said FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard in a written statement.

Using Recess Appointment, Obama Sneaks Pro-GMO, Pro-Pesticide Lobbyist into Key Agricultural Post

from Politics of the Plate. 
Prior to his appointment, Siddiqui was a vice president and lobbyist for Croplife America, a trade organization representing major corporate players in the agricultural chemical industry. Croplife became known to the public when it berated Michelle Obama for putting in a (horrors!) organic kitchen garden at the Whitehouse.

The Muted Plain: Anticipating the Wake of the Wikileaks Revelation

by Chris Floyd from his blog. This article is awash in cynicism which I often try to avoid. But, he does it so well.

U.S. plan to train Indonesian elite army unit raises alarm

I am posting this from Daily Me (Indonesia) to avoid the necessity of registration at the LA Times.

The article illustrates several things about the US ruling class and its Empire: its hypocrisy re human rights, it ignores its own laws whenever it is necessary or even desirable, the subservience of the Indonesian government to the US Empire, and the Empire trains foreign militaries to serve the Empire--not the people of their home countries.
The Obama administration has begun negotiations with Indonesian military officials to establish a special training program for Kopassus troops despite legislation known as the Leahy Law.

Passed in 1997, the measure bars the U.S. from training foreign militaries facing accusations of human rights abuses unless officials attempt to bring all wrongdoers to justice.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations who wrote the Leahy Law, said Kopassus has committed some of Indonesia's worst human rights atrocities.

How The Corporations Broke Ralph Nader And America, Too

by Chris Hedges from Counter Currents. This ruling class will always destroy anybody who gets in their way of accumulating profits in spite of the fact that this pursuit is ultimately against the public's interest. Nader is only one of many who have recently been destroyed as political figures. If the ruling class can't co-opt them, they remove them one way or another. Nader was, and is, not against the capitalist system--he only wants it to function more honestly and somewhat more in the public interest. Since he could not be co-opted and wasn't a basic threat to the system, he was only marginalized. People like Martin Luther King were assassinated. The capitalist system is simply not designed to function for the public benefit, and Nader doesn't seem to understand that.  The ruling class has on occasion provided a few crumbs for workers, but only under the threat to their system as when, for example, the New Deal was brought out during the 1930s to stifle growing radical dissent.
Ralph Nader’s descent from being one of the most respected and powerful men in the country to being a pariah illustrates the totality of the corporate coup. Nader’s marginalization was not accidental. It was orchestrated to thwart the legislation that Nader and his allies—who once consisted of many in the Democratic Party—enacted to prevent corporate abuse, fraud and control. He was targeted to be destroyed. And by the time he was shut out of the political process with the election of Ronald Reagan, the government was in the hands of corporations. Nader’s fate mirrors our own.

When miners' lives come last

from Socialist Worker.
[The mine] is a nonunion mine--owned, via a subsidiary, by Massey Energy, a coal company giant notorious for its bitter and often violent clashes with organized labor and its unyielding opposition to government regulations to protect health and safety and the environment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Increasing Global Nonrenewable Natural Resource Scarcity—An Analysis

by Chris Clugston from The Oil Drum. The author provides extensive data on non-renewable resources based on solid research and posted on this website that is followed by highly trained people in science and technology. I also recommend reading the comments section of the article.
Given our vulnerability to an ever-increasing number of imminent and permanent global NNR supply shortfalls, the likelihood that the mix and volume of shortfalls will reach their “critical mass” is a question of “when”, not “if”.

China tilts resource balance

by Michael T Klare from Asia Times Online. This is especially interesting article to read after reading the article above this.
Think of it as a tale of two countries. When it comes to procuring the resources that make industrial societies run, China is now the shopaholic of planet Earth, while the United States is staying at home. Hard-hit by the global recession, the United States has experienced a marked decline in the consumption of oil and other key industrial materials. Not so China. With the recession's crippling effects expected to linger in the US for many years, analysts foresee a slow recovery when it comes to resource consumption. Not so China. 

World War II and the Battle of Britain: Operation Sea Lion: Looking Back

by Dr. Frederick Clairmonte from Global Research. This is an excellent antidote to the poison of disinformation and indoctrination re events surrounding WWII that most of us have received from various capitalist guided institutions such as education and media. This revised history is an exposé of the some of the worst characteristics of the system of capitalism and the people associated with it: exploitation, domination, plunder, racism, etc.

Communitarian Socialism in Bolivia

by Roger Burbach from Bolivia Rising. The article presents a balanced view of the development of Bolivian economy and society. Is "communitarian socialism" for real, or merely propaganda to cover for a state capitalism? You decide.
“We organize ourselves in the communities. In Bolivia there must be around ten thousand communities, and in each community there is a union of campesino workers. Each union has a base that is associated first on a provincial level, and then on a departmental and national level. The national level is the Sole Union Confederation of Campesino Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB). They are not naturally existing organizations, but organizations that helped allow us to assert our demands and participate in elections. There are several organized sectors with similar structures, such as the teachers, the miners, the indigenous groups, women, factory workers. And we have a mother organization, which is the Bolivian Workers Central (COB). These are the people’s organizations. President Evo Morales has called for strengthening them, since they are the agents driving this process of change.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

The greening of capitalism?

by Heather Rogers from International Socialist Review. The author travels the globe to get a closer look at the operations of "green capitalism" as practiced by major corporations and uncovers some startling contradictions in their claims. And given the present legal and economic constraints imposed upon local organic farmers under capitalist controlled governments, she uncovers evidence that questions their sustainability. Given that so much of the literature coming from ecological sources that either tout "green" capitalism or are reluctant to challenge their claims, this author's quest for truth is very refreshing.

Organic farming has sold out and lost its way

by Julian Rose, an early pioneer of organic farming, from Ecologist. This organic farmer offers his views on a "green" capitalism that has co-opted the organic food market.
What ‘organic food’ and its localised market was in those days bears little resemblance to ‘the industry’ that it is today: an industry that is heavily and centrally policed, has a compendium of regulations and is ‘big business’ on a global scale. In fact, much of the ‘organic’ produce shipped in from around the world and across the UK today carries no sense of connection with its geography or its farmers. It is as anonymous as the majority of conventional chemically produced foods, as dull in flavour and as lacking in nutritional vitality. What’s more it belongs in the category of ‘high food miles’ heavy ecological footprint produce, exceeding the 3,000 kilometre average shopping basket once identified as the UK norm. Due to the need to carry a lot of information, it is also responsible for an excessive level of packaging – most of which is non biodegradeable.

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism

by Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster. This is an 11,000 plus word document that provides the often missing argument and analysis from environmental discussions: that we must replace, not merely reform, the economic system of capitalism if the human race is going to survive. They examine the driving forces of this system that it is driving us to our own extinction.

The IMF Flag Reads: Economic Slavery

Here is the translation of the article in Greek daily newspaper “Eleftherotypia” on Friday, April 2, 2010.
...there is not a single example of its [IMF] having a limited involvement in any country in which it was called into operation. It...went in and imposed austerity measures which benefited the Wall Street banks. It will enslave you economically.

Big Government, Budget Deficits, Entitlements and the “Centrist” Ploy

by Edward S. Herman from Global Research (originally from ZNet Magazine). 
There were no Tea Party-like campaigns to protest this growth in government and attack on constitutional (and state’s) rights in the Bush years because the growing and encroaching government was in the right hands. It is only when it gets into the wrong hands and there is the threat that government will serve the undeserving poor, or even the middle class, and neglect the corporate community and National Security that business, the military-industrial complex (MIC), and right-wing protest cadres get agitated about Big Government. I refer back to my old definition of Conservatism: “An ideology whose central tenet is that The Government Is Too Big, except for the police and military establishment.”

How Washington Abetted the Bank Job

from the NY Times. The title of the article frames the issue as malpractice of government regulatory agencies. This tends to obscure the fact that such agencies function at the behest of the ruling class embedded in the financial institutions. As the authors admit:
Our bank regulators were not, as they would like us to believe, outside the disco, deaf and blind to the revelry going on within. They were bouncing to the same beat [as the banks].
 Nevertheless, the article does put the lie to the claims of Bernanke and others who deny any responsibility for what happened.
Well, the truth is this: The collapse of Enron back in 2001 revealed that the biggest financial institutions, here and abroad, were busy creating products whose sole purpose was to help companies magically transform their debt into capital or revenue.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Preparing for a Post Peak Life (videos and other material)

from Post Peak Living. An excellent website devoted to educating people on the post peak energy crisis and preparing for it. The first video lasts 20:30m, the second and third videos last 9:35m and 20:13m respectively. Then there is a lot of other information on the website. The subject is an enormously complicated one, but the site has a lot of information with which to begin and further our education. However it should be noted that the videos, and I suspect the other material on this site, do not deal with the other components of, what I and others see as, the multi-dimensional crisis--climate change and the collapse of capitalist economies. On the other hand, their (and our) solutions to the peak oil crisis can greatly contribute to the solution of the other crises.

The grand alliance for the commons: the task of 21 cy. politics

by Michel Bauwens from P2P Foundation. 
The peer to peer moment in history brings one more emerging social movement in this potential grand alliance: the movement for the free flow of knowledge, culture and innovation. This is the contribution of the free culture movement, of the open access movement, of computer hackers, and many other actors tackling artificial scarcity.

Words! Words! Words! The shackles that bind the US to Israel

by Sonja Karkar from Redress. 
As has happened innumerable times in the past, the reprimanding words of US emissaries and government officials are always quickly followed up with other words to reassure Israel of “the unbreakable bond” between the two countries, and more significantly, actions that belie the reprimands. In the midst of all the recent hoo-ha about chilling relations, a 210-million-dollar arms deal with Israel, paid for by US military aid, nevertheless went ahead with an estimated massive 3-billion-dollar F-35 warplane deal still in the offing.
Funny how, in contrast to any kind of health care legislation for the American people, there is never any debate about military and other billions of assistance to Israel. Such bills always sail through Congress without a murmur in the media.

The pagan roots of Easter

from the Observer. 
From Ishtar to Eostre, the roots of the resurrection story go deep. We should embrace the pagan symbolism of Easter.