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

Jamaica's Shower Posse: How The CIA Created "The Most Notorious Criminal Organization"

from News One for Black America. 

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.

Are Faulty Polls Driving Policy on Climate Change?

from New Deal 2.0. The author finds discrepancies in US poll results regarding opinions on climate change. Looking at the questions asked by some pollsters, he finds that the questions were framed in such a way as to give results that mainstream media could use to support establishment views.
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.

€uro: the worst case scenario

from Voltaire. The author makes quite a dramatic assertion in this article--that the current European economic crisis was a deliberate attempt to curb European independence and to bring it more under the influence of what I refer to as the Empire, or an Anglo-American coalition of financial elites. Not sure that he makes a compelling case, but his arguments are very interesting.
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.

Daniel Ellsberg Says He Fears US Might Assassinate Wikileaks Founder (10:31m video and transcript)

from FireDogLake.  As a former target of a CIA hit squad for leaking secret government immoral and illegal acts , he knows whereof he speaks.
“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

from Open Secrets. A look at your government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists. Well, not really. It's actually for those who hire the lobbyists. Anyway, the point is, your government does not serve your interests. If you don't believe me, try this: the next time you write your Congressman, be sure to enclose a check for $10,000. Then compare the response you get with previous responses when you just asked him/her to do the right thing.

Time out

How to Build a Better Neighborhood

from Shareable. The article contains some good ideas about how to do this.

More Than 1 In 5 American Children Are Now Living Below The Poverty Line

from The Economic Collapse. 
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.

The Death Of Las Vegas

from Economic Collapse. 
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.

When the Wealthy Wed, the Guests Get Gossiping

from Vanity Fair.  This is my Saturday offering about the lives of the rich. Not sure how long I can get away with this, but you really should know all about how the 1% lives. I'm sure they are human and must worry about mortgage and credit card payments, having their children get a good education, and landing a decent paying job--you know, just regular people like us. Well, maybe not.

Friday, June 11, 2010

EPA Has AgBiz Giants Run Farm Advisory Table

from Food Freedom. 
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.

New York Times Runs Yet Another Banking Industry Propaganda Piece

by Yves Smith from her blog, Naked Capitalism.  This astute blogger spots spin immediately when she reads mainstream articles--this time it's spin on behalf of the banking industry.
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.

by William Blum from his blog, Killing Hope .  This is a good rant about the many manifestations of hypocrisy that emanate from the Empire, and what happens when some people tell the truth.

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. 

Pete Peterson Has Won: Americans Rate Federal Debt as Top Threat

from Naked Capitalism. The background information on Peterson is here. The author provides polling evidence to show that public opinion is being managed to create acceptance of cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

Time out

AIG's problems far greater than Bush officials told public (9:41m video and article)

from McClatchy news service and The Real News Network (embedded). An in-depth report on new details of the AIG bailout that suggest major crimes may have been committed and covered up.

Prisoners by choice: Gated communities and domesticated cells

from Le Monde Diplomatique. A very thoughtful article on worrisome trends in the US that suggests the disintegration of society into islands of affluence in walled-off communities surrounded by huge areas of poverty. Welcome to the Brave New World of late neo-liberalism.
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.

Sayonara, America?

from Le Monde Diplomatique.
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

Chairman of Goldman Sachs International Was - Until Last Year - Also Chairman of BP

from Washington's Blog. 

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.

Obama, Democrats abandon stimulus for austerity

from World Socialist Web Site. More promises by the Obama administration abandoned:
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.

Austerity Anger Grows in Europe

from Common Dreams, original source from Agence France-Presse. 
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)

by Henry A. Giroux from Truthout. 
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.

The Democratic Party and Blanche Lincoln

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. This is a must-read for all of those people who continue to think that the Democratic party in the US represents some kind of choice or alternative. His report illustrates that it is all political theater by the ruling class to maintain the illusion of choice or "democracy". 

"It's time for progressives to grow up!"--Frances Moore Lappé

Airlines Battle Workplace Democracy

by Jim Hightower from Common Dreams. Hightower describes the hysterical reaction of airline corporation executives to Obama's repeal of an anti-union statute governing union voting by workers.

Time out

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

from Common Dreams. The brave activists go on trial in the US for trying to hold our government to some reasonable standard of human rights.
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....

What Poisoned the Farmworkers of Apopka, FL, and Why is Nobody Doing a Thing to Help Them?

from Politics of the Plate. This is a report on the invisible workers who toil under dangerous conditions for agri-businesses. It gives "a firsthand look at one of the country’s most extreme examples what happens when agribusiness shows utter disregard for the environment and for the welfare of workers."

Best Management Talent

from the London Review of Books. Some thoughts of an ordinary worker in the UK regarding executive pay.

A Friendly Note to Many of Israel's Defenders

by Arthur Silber from his blog, Once Upon a Time.... With acerbic wit, the author responds to some Zionist justifications for the firing of Helen Thomas over her private remarks.

At Fort Bliss, Brain Injury Treatments Can Be as Elusive as Diagnosis

from Pro Publica. Rare articles like this demonstrate that the US government makes a mockery of it propaganda about "supporting our troops" that it uses to quash any dissent of its militaristic foreign policies. Mostly what I get from mainstream media in the US, especially from the "boob tube", is happy families greeting their returning soldiers from the field of combat.

The Dictatorship of the Market (Part 3?)

from Socialist Project. Although it doesn't indicate that it is a continuation of an interview, it clearly is. Last segment was posted here on 6-5-2010.

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

Internet discussion in China on the exploitation of workers

by John Chan from World Socialist Web Site. The author has been monitoring Chinese web sites and finds that working people are starting to become conscious of what kind of "workers paradise" they are living in.
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.

The Road to Predatory Capitalism

from The Economic Populist. The author chronicles the dismantling of the US government regulatory apparatus by the ruling class in their desperate search of more profits under globalization. 
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, Kimosabe????

“We” have innovated endlessly, only to find ourselves bereft of employment while the technology we developed has been transferred, along with our jobs, offshore!

The trillion-dollar failure

by Henry C.K. Liu from Asia Times Online. 

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. 

'We'll be back - with bigger flotillas'

from IPS news service. The article features an interview with the leader of the Free Gaza flotilla. She demonstrates how people power is powerful. We cannot rely on governments to bring peace and justice.
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.

The Continuing Collapse of Ponzi Finance and the Real Economy

from Archein. The blogger concludes his essay on the Ponzi economy with these wise words:
 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.

After the Massacre: The Global Impact of the Gaza Flotilla Crisis

from Foreign Policy in Focus.  The author covers the various attempts by the international Zionist press to exert damage control on Israel's latest human rights crimes.  It's clear that the people must lead, then maybe the governments will follow.

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.

Time out: Nature that is too beautiful to pass up

Thanks to Naked Capitalism blog.

BP Buys Search Terms to Redirect Users to Company Web Site

from the Center for Media and Democracy. This truly amazes me. It illustrates once again that in a capitalist system everything becomes a commodity. I just wasn't aware that one could buy priority on Google or other search sites--naive me! It appears that BP gives damage control a priority in public relations, not damage control to what they have done to the environment on the Gulf Coast.

Here is more public relations damage control by BP in this article entitled, "BP Tries to Block Photos of Dead Wildlife"

Peak oil and apocalypse then

from Miller-McCune. The author attempts to forecast the consequences of peak oil on societies. There is much "food for thought" in the article, but I have doubts about the author's observations regarding the Civil War and "Dixieland" in the US.
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. 

Notes from a Co-Creating Earth Based Communities Workshop

from Transition Culture, a blog by Rob Hopkins. 

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.

Corrections Corp. of America Pays Damages, Attorney Fees to Settle Censorship Lawsuit

from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A corporate prison enterprise felt it had the right to determine what its prisoners read. Sometimes our justice system works, thanks to the ACLU and grass roots organizations like Prison Legal News.
"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

“Green Consumerism” Largely a Myth

by Yves Smith from her blog, Naked Capitalism. She explores the many contraditions and deceptions regarding "green consumerism" that the capitalist system is trapped in.
...conventional measures of carbon emissions give consumers a free pass and ignore the greenhouse gas production resulting from global sourcing of consumer goods.

The method in Israel's madness

by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. 

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.

The Way the World Works

from The Economic Populist. 

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.

Comcast-NBC Merger Is a Bad Deal

from Other Words. Our US media marches on to more concentration, less substance in news coverage, and more pro-corporate and ruling class bias in the news they do cover.
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.

The Oil Firms' Profits Ignore the Real Costs

by George Monbiot from the Guardian. In spite of Obama's dramatic theatrical performance--cursing out BP--you can be sure that BP will continue on its merry, profitable way.
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.

Colombian Army Attacks Striking BP Workers

from Upside Down World. America's favorite ally in South America knows how to serve the Empire. I bet BP wishes that they could do business this way in North America.
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.

Younger workforce, new attitudes disrupt China's factories

from the Daily Me (original source at LA Times).
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.

Fines didn't deter the polluters

by Joshua Frank from Socialist Worker. The author provides the details behind this assertion:
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.

Time out

How BP, Big Oil and the Feds Screw Louisiana to Bring You Cheap Gas

from AlterNet. 
The waters off Louisiana produce more oil than anywhere else in the nation. So why is it the second poorest state? 

Rabbi Who Brought Down Helen Thomas Has Great ‘Mexican’ Impression

from Race Wire.
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

Our hard-core, adversarial press corps

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. The author contrasts the "embedded" US journalists with Helen Thomas who was recently forced to resign because of her private comments critical of Israel.
...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.

On Afghanistan, We Know a Distraction When We See It (4:01m video & article)

from FireDogLake. Richare Holebrook, the Empire's man in Afghanistan, inadvertently reveals how insignificant the military-industrial complex regards the US Congress. But, of course, unfortunately for us, he's right. The formal apparatus of government in the US is a facade behind which governs the informal rulers of the Empire. Many of these people just finished meeting in secret at the Bilderberg conference in Spain.
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."

As He Worked to Strengthen Ethics Rules, NIMH Director Aided a Leading Transgressor

from The Chronicle of Higher Education. This report reveals another case of profit seeking corporations infiltrating government agencies that were setup to protect the public interest.
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.

Banned GM maize sown in Germany

from BBC News. 
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. 

Internationalist Perspective Public Meeting in New York

from Internationalist Perspective. In addition to the invitation to a meeting in New York, the article provides a good analysis of the current contradictions of capitalism that are fueling the various economic crises throughout the world.
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

The Chinese working class emerges

from World Socialist Web Site. 
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.

Behind the Gulf oil crisis: Big Oil extends its political influence

from World Socialist Web Site. This is the way democracy works--capitalist style. The author fills in the details of how BP, and other such corporations, manage governments in the pursuit of profits.
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.

Economic Crisis, Greek Theater, Our Drama

by Rick Wolff from Monthly Review Zine. The author has an excellent understanding of how economic crises under capitalism are generated and how the ensuing social catastrophes are usually played out. Can we expect the same ending from the cradle of democracy? Stay tuned. 

We, in the other Western countries, can take lessons from the brave Greek workers who are fighting back.

War on the World: Obama's Surge in State Terror

by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque. One of my favorite bloggers. The fact that our ruling class has been so successful at expanding the war in Afghanistan-Pakistan clearly demonstrates to me that they could not have found a better fake leader than Obama to lull the American people to sleep.
...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."

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. 
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.

Time out

The addict's excuse

by Kurt Cobb from his blog, Resource Insights. 

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!

Bilderberg 2010: Between the sword and the wall

from the Guardian. There are some choice quotes here from observers on location:
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."

"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.
Dídac is a very wise man.

Bhopal campaigners condemn 'insulting' sentences for men convicted over disaster

from the Guardian. Once again, convicted corporate criminals face a different justice system than do ordinary people. I've noticed that justice for the ruling class criminals always uses the tactic of delay in the legal system. The crimes were committed over 25 years ago, and these criminals' lives have gone on as normal since then. The same tactic applies to violations of labor laws by corporations. The same tactic was used against Exxon-Mobile after its oil spill in Alaska waters. And I expect the same justice will be served against BP.
"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

Build Your Social Resilience

from Psychology Today. 

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. 

Discovering Human Closeness: Outside the U.S. (Part I)

by Jan Lundberg from Culture Change. His unintended extended stay in Bolivia rewards him with some gratifying experiences, and insights about the weaknesses of his own culture. 
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. 

Nuclear fusion dream hit by EU's cash dilemma

from The Observer (UK). 
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.

Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it

from The Observer (UK).
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.

Time out

GM lobby helped draw up crucial report on Britain's food supplies

from The Observer (UK). 
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.

Fascism in Israeli society

from Redress.
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?

International outrage against Israel, more unions back boycott

from Green Left.