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 LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On the Persistence of Hierarchy

by Kenneth Couesbouc from State of Nature (UK). 

I haven't had time to read this thoroughly, but it appears to offer some very unique and fascinating perspectives about the age-old struggle between the owners of property and workers and their governing systems which depended upon hierarchy to insure the dominance of the former.

He concludes with this statement with which I very much agree:

The historic coincidence of a tottering pyramid and a free web of words is a very rare opportunity that must not be squandered.

Only a socialist vision can defeat the cuts

by Andrew Fisher from New Left Project

Although the article is oriented toward an audience in the UK, it offers some constructive suggestions about coping with cutbacks and building a new society.

He concludes his essay with this excellent perspective:
We should not underestimate the scale of this task, but nor should we countenance the alternative. This is the most important struggle for at least a generation, and we must work openly, democratically and comradely to build an inclusive movement that can decisively resist the cuts, defeat this government and then build the socialist society we want.

Reviving Anarchy For The Sake Of Sustainability

by Antonio Roman-Alcalá from Civil Eats. This article is very much in line with my way of thinking and the proposals for social/economic systems at the top right hand side of this blog.

People (in the U.S. in particular but the world over as well) have lost control over government, which means a loss of control over the economy and its negative effects. In our “democracy” of corporately-funded elections, ubiquitous lobbyists, an impotent when not sycophantic mainstream media, and an (understandably and increasingly) cynical, jaded electorate, can we expect to regain control of the government, as it currently is structured? Perhaps the healthy function of government, like that of industry, is corrupted by aspects inherent to its top-heavy design. The ecological appropriateness of industry should be decided by the communities impacted by that industry, not by the industries themselves or a weak, distant, unaccountable government.

What collapsing empire looks like

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. Another gem from one of my favorite bloggers.

He concludes the article with this:

Does anyone doubt that once a society ceases to be able to afford schools, public transit, paved roads, libraries and street lights -- or once it chooses not to be able to afford those things in pursuit of imperial priorities and the maintenance of a vast Surveillance and National Security State  -- that a very serious problem has arisen, that things have gone seriously awry, that imperial collapse, by definition, is an imminent inevitability?

I don't see these cutbacks for public expenditures to be a sign of "imminent" or "imperial collapse". I think that it is an indication of the globalization of capitalism. Where before the capitalist center was located in the US, now it is dispersed across the globe. In the future I see islands of wealth and power lying surrounded by huge seas of poverty and neglect. It is the horrible future of global capitalism--a tiny first world and a huge third world will exist everywhere in the world.

Thus Americans will no longer be privileged by living at the center of the capitalist Empire. American workers can forget about the "American Dream", about a good education, about a comfortable retirement. 

The challenge for the local governing class will be to keep them distracted enough so that they remain well behaved and accepting of their fate. Their corporate media will have to work overtime to do this. One way that seems to be working is mainstream media's constant theme of reporting about the economy as only just another temporary downturn in the business cycle. 

Meanwhile the ruling classes will spare no expenses to build up their police and military forces to protect them from the "rabble".

Market greed or a planned economy for human need?

by Dave Holmes from Socialist Alliance (Australia). 

Although I don't agree with some of the details of this lecture, it does provide a good discussion of the flaws of capitalism and the virtue of a system that is based on democratic planning to meet social needs. You can see why the ruling classes of capitalism so aggressively attack any hint of ideas that suggest public ownership of the economy to serve the needs of all people in society. 

Broadly speaking, where I differ is related to what I perceive to be a weakness of those coming from the Marxist-Leninist tradition. They give far too much lip service to "democratic" features of socialism and neglect the real substance of inclusive democratic participation of ordinary people in all the social arrangements. Their ideas seem to me to be too stuck in the ideas of that tradition.

Time out

The “Summer Camp Of Destruction”: Israeli High Schoolers Assist The Razing Of A Bedouin Town

by Max Blumenthal from VoltaireNet

Read about the latest efforts of US's ally in the Middle East--some think of it as America's floating aircraft carrier--as it creates more terrorists for the Empire to fight. As long as Israel keep this up, no one needs to worry, especially the military-industrial complex, about the end of the "War on Terror".

A Tale of Two Economies

by David Korten from Yes! Magazine.
Have you ever wondered why the Wall Street speculators who brought down the economy are still being rewarded with vast fortunes? Or why teachers, nurses, factory workers, truck drivers, and all the people who do real work are struggling to put food on the table? The pundits talk about a jobless recovery. But how can it be a recovery when jobs remain so scarce and pay so little? And why do so many people find that the harder they work, the more they owe the bank?
Although the author has made many significant contributions toward understanding the negative role that corporations have played in our lives, his recommendations always seem overly simplistic and naive. It is quite possible that he chooses to discuss the issues in this style in order to reach a lot more people in the US who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the values and ideas of capitalism. 

Capitalism in the US has taken the form of a religion even though it is not recognized as a formal one. However if you stray too far outside of its doctrines, you will feel its wrath. Unlike earlier times when the formal religions were so powerful and when one transgressed, instead of undergoing an inquisition and being burnt at the stake, today one is more likely to suffer in terms of job and income loss and social ostracism.

Buffett, Gates, Rockefeller and the Conscience of the Very, Very Rich

by Carl Ginsburg from CounterPunch. Ah, the wonderful lives of charity-giving capitalists--icons of an unselfish ruling class! However, there do seem to be some contradictions.
Buffett’s profits are not tied exclusively to low wages stateside; his Wal-Mart earnings are a result of paying the lowest garment wages in the world, according to labor rights advocates.  Wal-Mart has started moving some of its garment factories out of China, where garment workers have been making the princely sum of $147 per month, to Bangladesh, where monthly earnings total $64, the lowest wage of its kind.  In this world of farce these wages are linked to Bangladesh’s low literacy rate—55 percent.  Had workers only acquired educations, the master thespians of farce would say, wages would be higher.

This Summer, the War of Old Money and New Fame Rages on

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair

It is always a good idea to keep in touch with all of our fellow Americans even if they are from the 1%. This is this week's offering of their lives and concerns. From the article you learn that one preoccupation they have is all the attention that celebrities get instead of them. Actually, I don't agree. From my albeit limited knowledge of the old rich, they really don't like a lot of attention drawn to themselves outside of their own immediate circles. 

But maybe what Johnson is addressing is only when celebrities invade their stomping grounds at such places as Aspen, The Hamptons, Nantucket, Monaco, etc, and receive so much attention. In any case, you can see how it would be annoying to them. And you can thank your lucky stars that you don't have to worry about that.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wall Street's Big Win

by Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone

This is all about the recent ballyhooed Financial Reform bill that passed into law. The author is an outstanding investigative journalist who has carefully looked into the details of the law and the process of crafting it. I haven't had a chance to read it all, but the article looks outstanding. Read all about how the government of the ruling class, by the ruling class, and for the ruling class really works.
Dodd-Frank was never going to be a meaningful reform unless these two fateful Clinton-era laws – commercial banks gambling with taxpayer money, and unregulated derivatives being traded in the dark – were reversed. The story of how the last real shot at reining in Wall Street got routed tells you everything you need to know about how, and on whose behalf, our government works. It was Congress at its most cowardly, deceptive best, with both parties teaming up to subject reform to death by a thousand paper cuts – with the worst cuts coming, literally, in the final moments before the bill's passage.

Telling Swiss secrets: A banker's betrayal, Part 1

by Michael Bronner from Global Post. This is Part 1 of 5, links to the rest are in this first article.

When the stories first broke in 2008 about the Swiss bank called UBS being under pressure by several Western governments to disclose information about tax evading billionaires, I was quite astonished. My understanding of the capitalist world is that those associated with finance capital represent the core of capitalist ruling classes. With UBS functioning as central bank for the Western countrie's central banks, I felt that they were untouchable. So, in 2008 reading reports (see this, and this) that this bank was under pressure from Western governments just did not make sense to me.

Well I've learned over the years that sometimes it takes years, sometimes many years, for the truth to finally come out. This news item, I think, goes a long way in explaining what really happened.

In a nutshell, the IRS while investigating a millionaire for tax evasion seized all of his records and computers. In spite of being advised to destroy these banking records by his UBS bank agent, he carelessly forgot or neglected to do so. The IRS discovered a lot in these records and ended up by questioning the UBS agent. The UBS agent, Birkenfeld, decided to turn whistle-blower by disclosing information about UBS operations that hid the money of the wealthy to evade taxes. 

Well, this presented quite an ugly problem for the ruling classes. To be brief, they went after the whistle-blower who divulged the information and is now serving jail time. Meanwhile,
...the investigations sent nearly 15,000 American tax offenders, the vast majority with undeclared UBS accounts, into the arms of a new IRS amnesty program, agreeing to pay billions in back taxes and fines to avoid prosecution themselves.
However, the article also disclosed that "the bank’s brokerage division serves more than two million U.S households. It is hard to believe that most of them banked at UBS because of their fondness of the Swiss.

And check this out:
Despite its long-running criminal conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, UBS, one of the banks hardest hit in the subprime mortgage crisis, received $5 billion in a backdoor bailout through AIG, which honored some of its policies.

Last August, just three days after Birkenfeld was sentenced and five days after the U.S. and Swiss governments agreed to a settlement, President Barack Obama played 18 holes at Martha’s Vineyard’s Farm Neck Golf Club with the UBS Group Americas chairman and CEO, Robert Wolf, one of the top donors to his campaign and a member of the president’s economic recovery advisory board. UBS officials insist the bank’s U.S. offices had no knowledge of the Swiss-based fraud, despite Birkenfeld’s sworn testimony that UBS Americas coordinated the lavish marketing events in the U.S. for Swiss private bankers and their U.S. clients.
I was right--the ruling classes and their banks ARE untouchable. So let that be a lesson to all whistle-blowers--you don't rat on the ruling classes.

When Agrochemical Corporations Invented Nature

by Julio Godoy from IPS.  The continuing offensive by corporations to "own" life forms--plant seeds amd animals that produce your food.
A civil society protest against a British agrochemical company that claims it has invented a particular sort of broccoli has again focused attention on the question who owns natural biodiversity, especially vegetables, seeds, and many forms of meat and animal food products.

Russian President Medvedev: What is happening now in our central regions is evidence of global climate change...

by Joe Romm from Climate Progress. The drought and wildfires in Russia are making the people there believers in climate change.
...what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.
Meanwhile in Pakistan,
About 12 million people have now been affected by Pakistan's worst floods in 80 years....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Obama Administration is Training Offshore Foreign Workers to Take your Job

from The Economic Populist

This occurs simply because the US government serves the needs of its owners, the capitalist class and their corporations, not the working people of America. 

"Mongrel”: Historically, and from Obama’s Mouth

by Glen Ford from Black Agenda Report

The author takes issue with Obama's way of describing himself, and rightfully so. As I see it, this incident says a lot about racism in America. 

If one has any African physical features at all, one is classified as Black or African-American. Obama had very little exposure, if any, to Black Africans. He was raised mostly by a successful, white, banker grandmother in Hawaii, an exceptional multi-racial place where racism is not a strong issue. So it is not surprising that he used a term based on a perspective that is widely held by Euro-Americans. Although he is publicly identified as African-American, there is very little of the latter sub-culture and perspectives in him. 

This phenomenon was exploited by the ruling class when they chose him to run for President. They took advantage of this racial identity to fool the public into thinking that, first of all, this was an "equal opportunity" country that had overcome racism, and secondly, that Obama represented a truly different perspective on things which informed his campaign theme about "change".

A Looming Oxygen Crisis and Its Impact on World’s Oceans

by Carl Zimmer from Environment 360. More scientific evidence of the destruction of marine habitat caused by human activities.

9/11 Truth Truth

by Joel S. Hirschhorn from Global Research

The author has been following the accumulating evidence of the 9/11 tragedy which does not support the official government reports of the incident. Therefore he points to this enigma:
...a fairly large number of people had a hand, probably as part of a black ops action, designing and executing many things, not the least of which was the controlled demolition of the three World Trade Center buildings. So why have none of these people leaked materials to a place like WikiLeaks?
He doesn't really have an answer to his question. I would like to offer an explanation.

I think that the public is all too willing to believe the government's official story because they cannot accept that their government, and all the mythology associated with it, is false. To believe that the US government is lying would be to admit that the government is, first of all, not "their government" and hence illegitimate; secondly, that it guilty of extremely serious criminal behavior; and thirdly, that they would feel a sense of responsibility to take down the government. All are unthinkable to most people. 

Especially since WWII the educational and media institutions run by the ruling class have accelerated their indoctrination programs to insure the loyalty and patriotism of it subjects--working people. This indoctrination was greatly aided by the fact of world dominance that the US Empire enjoyed after the war which made possible a standard of living in the US never before enjoyed by any people. This accumulation of wealth along with indoctrination made it possible for the ruling capitalist class to virtually destroy real labor unions, to roll back gains made by working people in the 1930s, and to launch aggressive campaigns against other countries of the world to secure markets, cheap labor, and access to raw materials.

As a result, we now have in the US a citizenry which is experiencing mass denial--it simply doesn't want to know the real facts of 9/11 or the many other crimes committed by sections of the ruling class such as the lies about the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the Kennedys and ML King. 

People who have witnessed the 9/11 events and who have information that is contrary to the official version are aware of this fundamental need for people to believe in "their" government, and that is why they are not coming forward. They feel that they would not be believed and that their lives would probably be destroyed one way or another.

It's the same phenomenon that was illustrated in the famous Han Christian Andersen's tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes".

Time out

When Truth is Unbelievable

by Megan Quinn Bachman from EcoWatch

This article, like the one above here, illustrates the effects of mass denial. However, the author of this piece implies that the fault lies with ordinary people, and I take issue with this.

The capitalist class sees environmentalism as a threat to their system--and it is. While they may sense that capitalism's need for growth and consumption is at odds with any sensible policy of preserving the environment, their addiction to profits and the wealth and power that the system creates for them over-rides any responsible attitude toward environmental concerns. Hence they have engaged in disinformation campaigns from about 1980 onwards to at least cast doubts on any scientific findings that impinge upon business as usual.

You simply must read the recently published, outstanding book on this subject entitled, Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Conway for all the astounding details of the aggressive campaigns waged by corporate interests to impugn the motives and the findings of scientists on all the environmental concerns beginning with the unhealthy effects of cigarette smoking, and continuing with acid rain, ozone depletion, peak oil and global warming.

Escaping the Sovereign Debt Trap: The Remarkable Model of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia

by Ellen Brown from Global Research

Ellen Brown is a very good source of information in order to clear up the contrived mysteries of banking and money perpetrated by private banking interests. For further information about this subject I recommend her book, Web of Debt. Although I don't agree with everything she writes in that book, I believe she is entirely accurate when she sticks to the topic of banking.
President John Adams is quoted as saying, “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation.  One is by the sword.  The other is by debt.”  The major conquests today are on the battlefield of debt, a war that is raging globally.  Debt forces individuals into financial slavery to the banks, and it forces governments to relinquish their sovereignty to their creditors, which in the end are also private banks, the originators of all non-cash money today.

Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds

by Jacques R. Pauwels from Global Research.

After so many years of research on this question, this author among others has, IMO, gotten to the essential truths about this controversial topic. His conclusions illustrate, once again, the lengths and depths that capitalist ruling classes are willing to go to pursue their aims in the world--profit and class domination.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Life After Capitalism, Part 3

from The End of Capitalism. The concluding segment of the interview with Alex Knight.  

Assuming his theory is correct about the demise of capitalism, he avoids being prescriptive about what life will be like after capitalism except to offer some broad features. For more specific descriptions of new societal organizations, I refer you to the models on the upper right hand side of my blog. [down from there now]

I especially like his metaphor of working people's relationship with the ruling capitalist classes as that of an abusive relationship with a spouse, and the similar recommendations about getting out of this relationship in order to heal.
I see capitalism as a system of abuse. The system grows by exploiting people and the planet as means to extract profit, and by refusing to be responsible for the ecological and social trauma caused by its abuse. Therefore I believe any real solutions to our problems must be aligned to both ecological justice and social justice. If we privilege one over the other, we will only cause more harm. The planet must be healed, and our communities must be healed as well. I would propose these two goals as a starting point to the discussion.

67% of Political Class Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction, 84% of Mainstream Disagrees

from Rasmussen Reports

The article reports on polling results which make US society look divided into haves and have-nots, the 1% and the rest of us, the ruling class and working class.

And in his new book, In Search of Self-Governance,  Scott Rasmussen makes a point that I have frequently made before:
In the clique that revolves around Washington, DC, and Wall Street, our treasured heritage has been diminished almost beyond recognition. In that world, some see self-governance as little more than allowing voters to choose which of two politicians will rule over them.

President Obama and the Teachers, Part 1 [8:18m video]

from The Real News Network

Paul Jay interviews Karen Lewis who is a school teacher in the South Side of Chicago and President of the Chicago Teachers Union. Listen to this if you want to know what is really happening to public education and the games that the ruling class is playing with the US educational system.

We’re Hot as Hell and We’re Not Going to Take It Any More

by Bill McKibben from Tom Dispatch

In the wake of Congress doing nothing about passing a climate bill, McKibben issues a call to action by the people. 
I wrote the first book for a general audience on global warming back in 1989, and I’ve spent the subsequent 21 years working on the issue. I’m a mild-mannered guy, a Methodist Sunday School teacher. Not quick to anger. So what I want to say is: this is fucked up. The time has come to get mad, and then to get busy.
I'm as much concerned as he is. Everyday I read reports of droughts, wildfires, severe rainstorms with flash-floods, and weather anomalies. 

Time out

Political Platform for Klimaforum10 by Mexico's Grassroots

by Miguel Valencia from Culture Change

See what a grass roots agenda on the issue of "climate change" looks like. We definitely need more grass roots organizations to save us from capitalism. 

The weather patterns of the world are undergoing a rapid and disturbing disruption, which is increasing in both force and catastrophic impact. This change could end up being life-threatening for many human communities in coming years, for the large majority of people in this century. Describing this process as “climate change,” amounts to distorting reality. 

Obama Drops 2009 Pledge to Withdraw Combat Troops from Iraq

by Gareth Porter from IPS

Obama's announcement was widely and uncritically reported by US mainstream media, and if you weren't listening closely you might have missed what Porter didn't miss.
...the news media were inclined to let the apparent Obama withdrawal pledge stand as the dominant narrative line, even though the evidence indicated it was a falsehood.

Who Are The Neoliberals And How Did They Take Over The World?

by Richard Lyon from Fire Dog Lake

This is an excellent, concise review of the history of capitalism. Also, it provides a very good explanation of economic terms widely used throughout the world to describe economic phenomena.

I especially liked this paragraph: 
The neoliberal program of kicking down the doors of the third world has been heavily focused on feeding the energy driven addiction of industrialized nations to fossil fuels. The multi-national corporations that have orchestrated this resource exploitation have often created ecological disasters in various parts of the world. However, outside of some environmentalist fringe groups, most Americans were only concerned about what it would cost them to fill up the SUV. Now the ecological chickens have come to roost and they are covered in oil.

Deepwater Horizon: it’s worse than you thought (again) – part 2

from The Great Beyond.

Contrast the reports from science oriented websites like this with official reports widely repeated by compliant corporate media. For example, see this from Bloomberg News. It appears to me that the official reports coming from the White House are designed to prepare the way for the lifting of the moratorium on deep-water drilling so that the oil industry can resume "business as usual".

See also this article from Mother Jones on recent media coverage.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Potlucks bite the dust: ‘Food safety’ shows its true colors

by Steve Green from Food Freedom. Read how corporations are taking control of what you eat.
Corporate “food safety” laws are attacking every kind of local and interpersonal food activity, though those activities allow families to pass skills, history and traditions to their children, though those activities encourage sharing and connection, though those activities are the very foundation of diverse cultures and religious groups, though those activities are the heart of all communities, though those activities offer the means to restore our local and nationals economies, though those activities are the most basic of all labor, though those activities provide local and personal control over food – a life and death issue.
What I personally fear most is eating corporate food contaminated by pesticides, bacteria and viruses from factory farms, and genetically modified organisms.

Wikileaks shows Washington dismayed with Afgan war [10:51m video]

from The Real News Network. Get the real news and analysis from this great source. 

Paul Jay interviews Eric S. Margolis, an award-winning journalist, regarding the Afgan war in light of the recent Wikileaks disclosures.

Do the Rich Need the Rest of America?

by Robert Frank from The Wall Street Journal

Have you been wondering why our government has lavishly given cash to criminal bankers and given so little to build the withering infrastructure in the US that would create jobs? Have you wondered why Obama, who promised so much change, has produced very little change? Well, if you had been following this blog, you wouldn't wonder at all--you would already know why. 

You would know that the globalization phase of capitalism pushed by that great Democratic champion of the working class, Bill Clinton, has made it even more possible for our rich ruling class to invest their money elsewhere--places where there is cheap labor and weak environmental laws. And there is the added bonus of forcing young Americans to enlist in the Armed Forces to enforce their policies on the rest of the world.  

But it is never too late to learn and this article--straight from capitalism's favorite mouthpiece--will give you some clues.
If the American rich increasingly do not depend for their wealth on American workers and American consumers or for their safety on American soldiers or police officers, then it is hardly surprising that so many of them should be so hostile to paying taxes to support the infrastructure and the social programs that help the majority of the American people. The rich don’t need the rest anymore.
Also, read this for further evidence that the US rich, and their Democratic/Republican governments, couldn't care less about American workers.

Have you noticed how the rich cut in line ahead of you at the airport security checkpoints?

Time out

Project Vigilant and the government/corporate destruction of privacy

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon

A must-read report of the collusion of private organizations with government agencies to spy on you. It appears that after the Bush administration failed to get two surveillance programs passed by Congress, they (the ruling class) creatively managed to set up, or encouraged the setup, of private agencies to do the work for them. Read all about it, and weep for your country. Then get mad and start to think about how to take your liberties back.
[Project Vigilant] what they essentially are is some sort of vigilante group that collects vast amount of private data about the Internet activities of millions of citizens, processes that data into usable form, and then literally turns it over to the U.S. Government, claiming its motive is to help the Government detect Terrorists and other criminals.
If you still need more convincing that the US is becoming a police state, read another fine piece by Greenwald entitled,  ACLU, CCR seek to have Obama enjoined from killing Awlaki without due process

How a Community-Based Co-op Economy Might Work

by Dave Pollard from How To Save the World.  

Coops will always find it difficult to compete with privately owned enterprises, especially those associated with large corporations. To succeed they would need a politically conscious local community that would be willing to support the coop even by paying higher prices. Private enterprises can always benefit by paying low wages and buying cheap products from foreign countries where environmental and labor laws are either non-existent or not enforced.

I think that their main benefit would be a training school for people to learn various business related skills and cooperative ethics and behaviors.

Check out the comments to this article for more ideas.

Monsanto: The world's poster child for corporate manipulation and deceit

by Jeffrey M. Smith from Natural News.

This is an excellent, comprehensive report on a criminal capitalist enterprise. But one should keep in mind that Monsanto is succeeding as a capitalist enterprise by increasing profits which it is mandated to do under this system. Monsanto is only arguably the worst example, but only an example of what occurs under a system that promotes sociopathic behavior.

Also, check this out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The New Superclass [46:29m video]

from Al Jazeera. Although I haven't had a chance yet to view the whole video, it appears to be a very interesting discussion about the Empire's ruling class, a subject that is rarely addressed. I may offer additional comments later.
A new breed has emerged; they set the global agenda, ride on Gulfstreams and manage the credit crunch in their spare time. They are anything but elected; they are entrepreneurs and entertainers, media moguls and former politicians - the self-made super rich who are using their money to lay down a new set of global rules. So where did this new global aristocracy come from and who is keeping them in check? Is the world suffering from a global governance gap?
3:15 PM update: The discussion ends with the question, "Who are they (the global elites) accountable to?" My answer is that they, like all ruling classes, are only accountable to their peers in their respective ruling classes.

Illegal Invasion or Economic Scapegoat? [7:48m video]

from The Real News Network.  Excellent photo-journalism through interviews with various people affected by the issue in Arizona, USA.

Fox News Receives Front-Row Seat in White House Briefing Room

from Fox News

This infamous, right-wing propaganda machine is getting Helen Thomas' old seat. Does that illustrate a right-wing political trend in the US under the Obama administration? Fox News is the "news" organization that recently broadcast the disinformation piece of video crafted by Andrew Breitbart that resulted in the firing of Shirley Sherrod from her government job. 

It mainly illustrates how the Empire rewards those who serve its interests--and Fox News is a devoted servant.
The White House Correspondents’ Association on Sunday announced that Fox News will get a coveted front-row seat in the White House briefing room.

Time out

Three years later and still nothing has been learned

from The Economic Populist.

It is clear to me that the managers of the capitalist system have no idea how to get the economy going again for working people--their focus is on preserving the system, protecting their assets, and fooling working people into thinking that we are only in a temporary cycle that will turn up soon.

A Police State You'd Better Believe In

by Jack Kenny from New American

Americans at some point must learn that the employees in the White House are just that, and Americans will never be allowed to vote for a real alternative. So forget about elections, at least at the national level. Start by becoming informed, thinking for yourselves, then organize for yourselves as working people.
...we should not let a smooth talking political leader like our current President talk us out of the civil liberties he seemed zealous to protect when the perpetrators of the coming police state were Republicans in the White House and the cabinet. We had a changing of the guard on January 20, 2009, but the goals of our national jailers remain the same. The bars and the barbed wire are still being put in place, but the names and the faces of the wardens have changed. That's the only real "change" we have gotten from the Obama administration. The rest is merely verbal sleight of hand and rhetorical windsong. It is "change" they can deceive with.

In Bed With the U.S. Army

by Ann Jones from Tom Dispatch. Excellent on-the-spot reporting of the US military scene in Afghanistan. You may want to skip the introduction and scroll down to the Jones' article, "Here Be Dragons".

Sunday, August 1, 2010

US faces water supply crisis: study

from Environmental Finance.
A new study says climate change will take a “serious toll” on American water supplies in the coming decades, with the group behind the report calling on Congress to pass “meaningful legislation” to reduce global warming pollution.

Fossil fuel subsidies 10x renewables support

by Jess McCabe from Environmental Finance. Some interesting data on fossil fuel subsidies.
Worldwide renewable power and biofuels received $43 billion-46 billion in subsidies last year, only a fraction of the government subsidies for fossil fuels, according to preliminary figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

By contrast, governments propped up fossil fuels with $557 billion of subsidies in 2008, according to figures published in June by the International Energy Agency.

BP Response Workers Report Low Morale, Lack of Pay, Sickness

by Dahr Jamail from Truthout.
BP oil disaster response workers are reporting endemic problems, such as not being paid on time, low morale, rampant sickness, equipment failures and being lied to regularly.

The Venezuelan economy: in transition towards socialism?

by Eric Toussaint from CADTM

The evidence that the author presents clearly indicates that the answer to the question posed by the title is negative. The argument that Chavez has always used to transform Venezuela from a capitalist nation to one that is described as "socialism for the 21st century" is that he would build popular economic institutions from the bottom up that would ultimately replace capitalist ownership of the economy. Thus the transition would be a peaceful, gradual one.

However, it appears that this lawyer's observation may be relevant:
...lawyer Luis Britto aptly summed up the situation: “We live in a dual society, and in a fable I wrote I explained that if one tries to set up a mixed system with hens and foxes in one single henhouse, then the following week, there will only be foxes left, and then they will eat the farmer.”
See also this article for a searing critique of the Bolivarian Revolution.

For remedies to the defects that Toussaint sees in the Bolivarian Revolution, read his next essay entitled, "Suggested paths to 21st century socialism in Venezuela".

Arctic Ocean full up with carbon dioxide

by Hannah Hoag from Nature News.
As climate scientists watched the Arctic's sea-ice cover shrink year after year, they thought there might be a silver lining: an ice-free Arctic Ocean could soak up large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, slowing down the accumulation of greenhouse gases and climate change.

Time out

Climate Bill Blame Game Begins

by Darren Samuelsohn from Politico
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Thursday that he did not have 60 votes for the climate bill, leaving the White House's biggest energy initiative in tatters.

Scientists warn of global warming threat to marine food chain

by Julliete Jowit from the Guardian.
Numbers of phytoplankton - the microscopic organisms that sustain the marine food chain - are plummeting as sea surface temperatures rise.

Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries

from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The 2009 State of the Climate report released today draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.

You wouldn't read about it: climate scientists right

by Rodney Tiffen from The Sydney Morning Herald
Chances are, you have not heard much about Climategate lately, but last November it dominated the media. Three weeks before the Copenhagen summit, thousands of emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were published on a Russian website.

Mounting Evidence of Man's Destruction of Nature?

by Ron Horn. 

While checking out Al Jazeera's website this morning, I was struck by the number of articles possibly related to man's impact on the environment and the adverse effects. As you may know if you follow my blog, I see an ominous future ahead as the capitalist system drives humanity into ever greater conflict with the ecological limits of the earth.  Because I always try to be on guard regarding any of my prejudices influencing my perceptions, I am wary of concluding that the numerous articles provide evidence to support my viewpoint.

Informing my perceptions are the high incidence again this summer of wildfires in my State of Washington and all up and down the west coast of the US, high temperatures in many parts of the country, and the seemingly high incidence of severe rainstorms causing flash floods in the eastern areas of the US.

Anyway, check out all of these links from this single website that disturbed me and see what you think:

Heatwave sweeps the globe [9 slides]

The floods came after what meteorologists described as an "unprecedented" 30 centimetres of rain fell in just 36 hours. Experts believe the worst of the rainfall is now over, but the extent of the damage is still being assessed.
Niger fights prolonged drought [2:46m video] 

Vietnam farmers turn to prawns
Farmers across southeast Asia have been forced to change centuries-old traditions, as changing weather patterns damage once-fertile lands in the region.
For years, Vietnam's Mekong Delta was the country's rice bowl but rising sea levels are now pushing salt waters ever further inland.
Fires extend grip in western Russia