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, June 12, 2010
This is an excellent synthesis of a number of reliable background sources of information in order to understand the recent violence in Jamaica. One again, you have the Empire's enforcers destabilizing a government that it does not like, and in the process creates social chaos for generations to come.
It is unlikely that the polls were constructed to serve a political agenda. The bias, if it exists, is probably more subtle. One possibility is that the pollsters are aware of their symbiotic relationship with the news media. The media disseminates their work. Two of the questions reported in the article straightforwardly framed the questions in terms of information received by the respondent from the media. They measured opinions of the reporting on the policy, not the policy itself. Perhaps inadvertently, the pollsters focused on the business of their media outlets rather than the pure policy question.Really!? It seems to me that the author goes out of his way to excuse mainstream media's way of dis-informing the rabble. Don't they always use subtle methods?? Clearly today's propagandists are more sophisticated than Goebbels.
We can wager that the new regional order that the great organisers of chaos intend to see emerge from the crisis itself will be a unified Europe, centralised and federal, placed under the direct influence of the US with the aid of the Federal Reserve of which the European Central Bank will be only a branch, and under the vigilant watch of the IMF, representative or product of an emergent global power, deterritorialised yet omnipresent.
“We have after all for the first time, that I ever perhaps in any democratic country, we have a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad, that he thinks is associated with terrorism,”
Financial Reform Conference Committee Offers Industry Lobbyists Chance to Reunite With Former Bosses
Perhaps the greatest victims of the economic nightmare that is unfolding right in front of our eyes are our children. The overall economic numbers are really bad, but when you examine the impact that this economy is having on children things get really horrifying.
There are quite a few U.S. cities that are complete and utter economic disaster zones in 2010 (Detroit for example), but there is something about the demise of Las Vegas that is absolutely stunning.You needn't worry about Steve Wynn--I hear that he's making bundles at his casino at that Portuguese playground for the rich off the coast of China called Macau.
Friday, June 11, 2010
For decades, federal policy—regardless of which Administration or party is in power—has facilitated the gutting of the nation’s farm structure and the destruction of its rural communities. The demise of family farms was greased by the cozy relationship between the Congress, successive Administrations, and federal agencies that eventually turned into the takeover of food production by the industrial agribusiness machine that now dominates rural America and the entire nation.
The message is none too subtle: you can’t be mean to those banks! They are part of our communities! We really really need them! Even a city in the heartlands like Louisville depends on them!
The worst thing that ever happened to the Jewish people is the Holocaust. The second worst thing that ever happened to the Jewish people is the state of Israel.
Also other subjects thrown in such as some details on Obama's background that suggest earlier ties with the CIA. This reminds me that his banker-grandmother, who largely raised him, worked for a number of years for the Ford Foundation in Indonesia. The Ford Foundation has often fronted for CIA agents in foreign countries.
Aspirations for relative equality, social justice and participation have been undermined by a sense of the immediacy and finality of our lives, a need to provide security and, not unlike the robber barons of the corporate world, a desire to take what we can and lock ourselves away from the scrutiny of our riches.
Hatoyama had no wish to break the alliance but affirmed his intention of normalising relations with the US and getting it to treat Japan like any other sovereign state. He also wanted to create an East Asian Community on EU lines. Did this indicate a slight shift away from the West? The idea was enough to cause panic in the business world....
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Our intrepid investigator of how the world is ruled puts his spotlight on one shadow figure in the ruling class. The real rulers of our society operate behind the scenes and it is always difficult to know who among them is doing what.
With long-term unemployment at its highest level since records began in the 1940s, the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders are abandoning even the wholly inadequate economic stimulus measures of last year and focusing instead on budget-cutting and austerity.
Tens of thousands protested against austerity cuts in Spain and Denmark Tuesday as Germany's powerful unions warned of mass action and Hungary became the latest debt-ridden nation to slash spending.
Tensions also mounted between European Union governments over how to reduce spending with Britain rejecting an EU plan for all national budgets to be seen by other countries before they are passed.
Teachers Without Jobs and Education Without Hope: Beyond Bailouts and the Fetish of the Measurement Trap (Part 2)
In the United States and Europe, thousands of demonstrators have organized to protest government cutbacks and austerity measures being enacted upon the most vulnerable members of society. In the United States, students have poured out into the streets of cities on both coasts. ...they are protesting massive cuts in educational funding for both public and higher education and the laying off of thousands of teachers. The cuts are serious.
"It's time for progressives to grow up!"--Frances Moore Lappé
Twenty-Seven to Go on Trial for Protesting the Obama Administration’s Failure to Close Guantanamo, Plan for Indefinite Detention, and Refusal to Prosecute Torture
On January 21, twenty-seven people dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading “Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives.” Inside the Capitol Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state, fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006. Initially reported as suicides, the deaths may have been — as recent evidence suggests — the result of the men being tortured to death....
Edward Lewis, of New Left Project, continues this interview with Colin Leys who is an honorary professor of politics at Goldsmiths College London, and former Professor of Politics at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada. The discussion centers on some of the themes from his recent books and their relationship to contemporary developments--mostly in the UK.
EL: ...it sounds like you’re essentially describing is a process whereby national democracy has dramatically been hollowed out and undermined.
CL: I agree completely with that and you're seeing it in the present election. It’s fascinating that these things aren’t being discussed. John Lanchester had a very good piece in the Guardian, saying that he was looking to the third television debate between the party leaders, which has to touch on the question of what they will actually do in the way of cuts. So far we’ve had a smoke and mirrors election, in which people are talking about fairness and change, and not discussing what they will actually do to reduce public expenditure. Already Britain is paying above the odds for borrowing, and this will get worse unless major cuts are made after the election, yet we’re having an election in which this can’t be discussed. It’s a very revealing moment of a general truth, which is that governments have to respond to the bond market, and yet democratically they’re supposed to be responding to voters. The interests of the two are at variance, and therefore during the election they don’t talk about it.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Chinese people had been constantly told that in China the “working class controls the state power” but nevertheless learned about the reality of capitalist exploitation. The fact that workers committed suicide and take other forms of desperate action demonstrated that for working people, becoming the masters of their own lives was only a “remote dream”.
Even the leading capitalist publication, Financial Times, is getting worried. Read this.
Then there are those of us who must hustle endlessly for the next month’s mortgage payment, or rent due, or the next meal, are constantly chided with the admonition that “…we must innovate our way out of this!”
“We” have innovated endlessly, only to find ourselves bereft of employment while the technology we developed has been transferred, along with our jobs, offshore!
This brilliant economist tells it like it is, and he sounds astonishingly like a flaming revolutionary! There are many insightful gems in this article, but I recommend skimming the article halfway down the first page to the paragraph entitled, "The crisis is government". From there to the end on page two is required reading. You will be tested on this material! (joke) Here are a sampling of the gems awaiting you:
When the gullable weak are convinced by the devious strong in society that government is the problem, not the solution, the weak are inadvertently trapped into a political climate that permits the destruction of their only institutional protector, since the existential function of government, regardless of political and economic color, is to protect the weak from the strong.
Government non-interference through deregulation and privatization of the public sector leads to the law of the jungle in free markets under which the economic function of the financially weak is to serve as the food supply for the financially strong. Historically, government evolves in civilization so that the weak masses can collectively resist the oppression of the strong elite. This is the reason why the strong in society always bash popular government.
I believe increased international attention has been drawn to Israel’s inhumane siege of Gaza and that there will be more pressure on Israel to ease the blockade. This is part of an overall snowball effect to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in general following campaigning by grassroots activists. This in turn has led to political involvement on an international and diplomatic level.
We need to restructure our culture to consume less and produce less. Just as we evolved from an agrarian society to an industrial society, we must now evolve to a design society. We need to spend more time figuring out how to do better with less stuff, understanding in doing so, we can all have better lives.
Crucially, we must maintain the overall pressure to discredit and break the U.S.-backed Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza - not simply "ease" the blockade for a few days or allow in a few more items. The massive press coverage of the Mavi Marmara massacre has helped break the blockade of ideas, and we must build on that momentum. Governments will never lead - but with sufficient pressure from social movements and civil society around the world, they can be made to follow. That is how we will win the "war of legitimacy" that Israel, with its continuing policies of occupation and apartheid, is already losing.
Here is more public relations damage control by BP in this article entitled, "BP Tries to Block Photos of Dead Wildlife"
M-M: Why don’t you think the West would be a good candidate for “local solidarity”?
JF: Strictly speaking, it’s not so much a problem of the West but of a particular lifestyle. When social glue and traditional lifestyles have eroded, they are not easily recovered. After several generations of individualism and affluence, Westerners will have a hard time accepting that they need to rely on communities and must revert to a sustainable lifestyle.
I like some sections of this article, particularly the "(Really) Basic techniques for Conflict work". Other sections seem much to abstract and rather fanciful for me to relate to--too much of a "New Age" flavor. I think that specialists in group dynamics are very much needed in grass roots organizations, but I worry that they may be relied upon too much, that people tend to accept advice from "experts" in an uncritical fashion. One must always be aware that people trained in our institutions of higher learning have been subject to a large measure of a dominant culture indoctrination that tends to reflect ruling class values and perspectives. (Read the book, Disciplined Minds, by Jeff Schmidt)
Hence, an alternative culture created by aware people at the grass roots of society needs to be created as a check on the dominant culture's distorting influence.
"The fundamental right to send and receive written material is basic for an informed society," added Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "[Prison] administrators too often act as if prisoners check their constitutional protections at the prison door, and the ACLU was pleased to assist PLN in challenging that view in this case."
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
...conventional measures of carbon emissions give consumers a free pass and ignore the greenhouse gas production resulting from global sourcing of consumer goods.
The author asks this and other questions regarding Israel's recent attack: "Why would Israel, in a deliberate and methodical operation planned over a week in advance - according to statements by senior Israeli military commanders made in Hebrew-language media days before the attack - target an unarmed ship on a humanitarian mission flying the flag of Comoros?" He comes up with some very interesting possible answers.
Big Brother Washington may be - forever - blind to it; but if you are a state and your strategy is to configure yourself as South Africa at the twilight of apartheid - by the way, at the time Israel was trying to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa - method is the last thing to be found in your madness.
Learn how Chinese workers make all the toys you play with. You will learn why so many US corporations that were built with American labor have moved to places like this, and why they subcontract much of their work to foreign companies like Foxconn.
Now there's a new media merger on the horizon. And it's a real doozy.
A few months ago, cable giant Comcast announced it would buy NBC. Comcast has agreed to pay billions of dollars to acquire the venerable broadcaster--but the cost to the public will be far greater.
US lawyers are drooling over the prospect of what one of them called "the largest tort we've had in this country". Some financial analysts are predicting the death of BP, as the fines and compensation it will have to pay outweigh its earnings. I don't believe a word of it.
ExxonMobil was initially fined $5bn for the Exxon Valdez disaster, in 1989. But its record-breaking profits allowed it to pay record-breaking legal fees: after 19 years of argument it got the fine reduced to $507m. That's equivalent to the profit it made every 10 days last year. Yesterday, after 25 years of deliberations, an Indian court triumphantly convicted Union Carbide India Ltd of causing death by negligence through the Bhopal catastrophe. There was just one catch: Union Carbide India Ltd ceased to exist many years ago. It wound itself up to avoid this outcome, and its liabilities vanished in a puff of poisoned gas.
A five month long mobilisation against BP in the Casanare region of Colombia has escalated after the Colombian army entered the BP installations with force this week and confronted workers who have been peacefully occupying BP installations since May 23 to protest BP´s failure to conclude negotiations with the workers and community.
Experts say younger factory workers, having grown up in a time of relative prosperity, will find it increasingly difficult to accept low pay and grueling work hours the way previous generations have. Salary concessions from two major companies suggest that labor's influence has already increased.
When natural resource industry giants get hit with worker safety and environmental violations, they open their checkbook, pay a fine and go on operating as per usual.Clearly, corporations rule "über alles". Keep this article in mind when you hear all the mainstream media reports about how BP is going to pay heavy fines.
The waters off Louisiana produce more oil than anywhere else in the nation. So why is it the second poorest state?
This weekend, thirty seconds of video surfaced in which veteran DC reporter Helen Thomas, in a snippet of an informal interview, is asked about her views on Israel. In the uproar that’s followed, the 89-year-old Thomas has announced her retirement, ending a career that spans back to President Eisenhower and opening a literal front-row seat to Fox News.I
...all of this just helpfully reveals what our nation's leading "journalists" really are: desperate worshipers of political power who are far more eager to be part of it and to serve it than to act as adversarial checks against it -- and who, in fact, are Royal Court Spokespeople regardless of which monarch is ruling.
That's why they're invited into the heart of Versailles to frolic with the King's most trusted aides: it's their reward for loyal service as Court courtiers.
I’m not surprised that a member of the executive branch would want us all to believe that a little thing like actual congressional authorization for the use of military force is a "technicality."
A yearlong effort by the National Institutes of Health to toughen its policies against financial conflicts of interest was led by an administrator who quietly helped one of the most prominent transgressors get hired by the University of Miami after a decade of undisclosed corporate payments led to his departure from Emory University, a Chronicle investigation has found.
Greenpeace says that officials knew about the contamination in early March, but that because of bureaucratic delays farmers are only now being warned.
"This is the biggest GM crop scandal in Germany to date," said a Greenpeace agriculture expert, Alexander Hissting.
What this string of disasters exposes is not a crisis of neo-liberalism or any other style of management but a crisis of the value form itself, of the commodification of life. Continuing to produce things for their exchange-value, for the profit they can yield, continuing to base human relations on the wage-labor/capital relation, while destroying all those relations that fall outside of it, guarantees far worse disasters ahead.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Major corporations such as Honda now depend heavily on the super-profits extracted from cheap, regimented labour in China. The reliance of international capital on China has been magnified by the global financial crisis that erupted in 2007-08. Any upsurge of the multi-millioned working class in China not only directly threatens corporate profits, but would inevitably reverberate throughout the world economy and financial system.
While the public disgust in the wake of the disaster has skyrocketed, it has not stalled the collusion between government and Big Oil. In fact, the opposite is true. Halliburton, the energy company involved in making the cement casings for the rig, which may have ultimately contributed to the explosion, last month ramped up its political spending to the highest levels since just before the 2008 elections.If this article doesn't convince you, then read this from the Associated Press.
More than half of the federal judges in districts where the bulk of Gulf oil spill-related lawsuits are pending have financial connections to the oil and gas industry, complicating the task of finding judges without conflicts to hear the cases, an Associated Press analysis of judicial financial disclosure reports shows.
We, in the other Western countries, can take lessons from the brave Greek workers who are fighting back.
...our highly intelligent and cool, pragmatic president is now vastly expanding the use of secret war, subversion, sabotage and murder into even more countries around the world, and giving America's secret, unaccountable death squads and covert operators even more power to carry out their lawless operations. As one Pentagon mandarin gushed, Obama is allowing "things that the previous administration did not."However, I think he gives to much credit to Obama for this rather surprising development (for most people) by giving credence to the way the Washington Post frames the story. In order to preserve the myths about "democracy", they must suggest that Obama is running the show.
That quote comes from a remarkably candid story in the Washington Post on Obama's "surge" in America's secret war on the world, which now encompasses no fewer than 75 countries.
The addiction metaphor is useful, but the author has it a bit wrong. It is not so much that we, the people, are addicted to oil, but that the ruling class is addicted to profits--environments be damned!--and that requires ever increasing amounts of cheaper energy.
The prudent course for the previously discussed cancer patient would be to attend smoking cessation classes and learn to live without. For us as a society when it comes to oil, there will be no going cold turkey; nor would it be advisable to do so. Too many critical functions would collapse. But as regulators and the U. S. Congress look for ways to avoid a similar calamity in the future, we can, as Wendell Berry suggests, begin to solve the problem of oil addiction without them. We can change our habits in ways so often listed across the Internet and in books, magazines and newspapers: walking, bicycling, riding public transportation, buying and growing food locally, keeping our bodies warm instead of the entire house, and so on.Some of us will change our habits, but most of us under the influence of the system's leaders and media will continue to consume to feed the profit monster.
It's the social-economic system, stupid!
Ageing Bilderberg sleuth, Jim Tucker, says the Bilderberg group always reimburses the host nation for costs incurred. But if that's the case, the police are simply an army for hire.All police forces under class rule are "an army for hire". They exist to protect the ruling class from the "riff-raff" who would institute social-economic justice if they could. This article that reports on the demonstration outside the Bilderberger meetings are simply another graphic proof of this.
Turon is keen to humanise the officers facing him: "Look at the eyes of the police," he says. "Look at the person who is there. They want to be with us."Dídac is a very wise man.
"Your position is hyper-naive," laughs his friend, one of the organisers of the Spanish protests, Dídac S.-Costa. "They are puppets. They are nothing. They are a distraction. They are the cashiers at the supermarket; we need to confront the supermarket itself. This is a systemic problem." Dídac is a sociologist.
"These men have been convicted of the equivalent offence of causing a road traffic accident. The government of India has shown it cares more about the corporations than the people."
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Not a current article, but an important one to build social power--a power that, I think, is more important than all the fossil fuels in the world. That latter energy source is killing us because of our misuse of it under the capitalist system that has kept us divided, while social power can save us and help us use the remaining energy resources wisely.
If anything, I think that this author's insights about the power of social cohesion are understated. Moreover, too many psychologist's in the US, while serving the interests of the Empire, have used insights like this to advance the profits of corporations or even to destroy people. It is up to us to use the insights, which are hardly the exclusive knowledge of professionals, to build resilience against the Empire and for healthy, sustainable communities and societies.
People who have diverse interests, skills, and resources and who can work together make it more likely the group as a whole can respond adaptively to unforeseen problems and challenges.
Here the lack of both hierarchy and self-motivated behavior, as well as the slower paced acceptance of daily life and of the entire world, is obvious -- although it is only the natural way of living that is being pursued. It is seemingly without ego or private gain. Rather it is the group and the land that come first, with an easy grace for one’s usual responsibilities and interactions.
Because it is hoped that fusion plants could one day supply the world with cheap, non-polluting power, the crisis facing Iter represents a substantial threat to plans to tackle the planet's energy and climate problems.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades.
A powerful lobbying organisation representing agribusiness interests helped draft a key government report that has been attacked by environmentalists for heavily favouring the arguments of the genetically modified food industry.
What is troubling about these pro-government students is not that they are pro-government, but the way they attack anyone who thinks differently from them, along with their total lack of self-criticism or restraint. If this is how students at Israel’s best universities respond, what can we expect from the rest of the population?