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, November 5, 2011

Processed Food: Trick or Treat?

Click here to access article by Bruce Bradley from his blog.

Do you eat corporate manufactured food that's labeled "all natural"? Well, you might not want to continue doing so after reading this article by a former employee of food manufacturers who knows of what he writes. It seems that profit seeking corporations are once again playing deceptive games when they describe their concoctions as "all natural". Well, they might be natural, but would you really want to eat food made with some of the ingredients they put into them?
What’s so infuriating about these ingredients is how they can lurk in your food and you may not even know it. Whether they’re disguised as natural flavors, enzymes, glazes, or colors, you deserve to know if they’re in your food, right? Unfortunately big food companies disagree.

Casino Capitalism and Higher Education

Click here to access article by Henry Giroux from CounterPunch. (You will need to scroll down to the article.) 

This astute scholar explains why the ruling class is currently making savage cuts to all areas of education. Do you think it would be too rash to conclude that the ruling class wants only obedient, ignorant, and only a few highly trained wage/debt slaves to employ in their enterprises?
Ignorance is now the political and cultural currency of choice and provides the foundation for an ongoing neoliberal attack on the social state, workers, and unions, matched by a full-fledged assault on higher education. Such attacks are not happening just in the United States but in many other parts of the globe where neoliberalism is waging a savage battle to eliminate all of those public spheres that might offer a glimmer of critical thought and any viable form of opposition to market-driven policies, institutions, ideology, and values.

Oakland Police Strike Army Ranger...

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog. 
Police Lacerate Army Ranger’s Spleen and Cause Internal Bleeding … Then Deny Him Medical Treatment for 18 Hours

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Brief Analysis from a Wall Street Occupier [a must read]

Click here to access article by Yotam Marom from The Organization for a Free Society. 

This is one of the finest pieces I have seen coming out of the Occupying Wall Street movement. The writer, who is an OWS activist and well grounded in this movement, knows of what he writes. There are so many gems in this article that I have no idea which one to highlight--so, I won't highlight any. It seems to me that the OWS movement is incubating a revolutionary consciousness which appears to be unstoppable. 

Capitalists and their enforcers are shaking in their boots, their political operatives are in a quandary about how to stop it, political liberals are trying to find ways to co-opt or tame it so that only reforms to capitalism are made, and leftists are often confused by its messiness. It appears that this writer is the latter who has undergone the process of this new movement and reached new insights as to what it means. Read it and benefit from his experience. 

After reading it, you might also be interested in another "best post" that I posted on October 25th entitled, "They Don't Get It".

The Global Square: an online platform for our movement

Click here to access article from Reflections on a Revolution. 

More posts are showing up suggesting ways to make the OWS movement move forward. This one has some good suggestions...
...to perpetuate the creative and cooperative spirit of the occupations and transform them into lasting forms of social organization.

Stage One: Occupy Public Space. What Next?

Click here to access article from Ben Brucato blog. 

The blogger has some interesting suggestions as an answer to the question he poses.

The U.S. is Planning World War 3 [8:41m video interview]

Click here to access video interview with Michel Chossudovsky for Russia Today.

With the OWS movement flaring all over the US and in many parts of the globe, and the there-is-no-alternative-capitalism in disarray, ruling class political operatives may out of sheer desperation look to an old ploy: start another war to distract people. They have had their sights on Iran for some time and would love to add this oil rich country to their Empire. Now we are seeing Western officials making frequent references to Iran (and Syria) as a threat to security. See this, this, this, and this. Chossudovsky offers some interesting perspectives to support his thesis that although the planners have a more limited objective in mind, this attack on Iran would inevitably lead to WWIII.

Big profits, zero taxes for large U.S. companies

Click here to access article by Andrea Coombes from Market Watch. 
The official federal corporate income tax rate in the U.S. is 35%, but plenty of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies are paying no taxes — even getting money back from the government in some cases — in years when they reap big profits, according to a new report. 

Global carbon dioxide output soaring

Click here to access article from Al Jazeera. 

The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the US department of energy has calculated, in a sign of how weak the world's efforts have been at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thousands march in Oakland to defend Occupy movement

Click here to access article by Jerry White from World Socialist Web Site. This writer provides a good worker point of view on the events in Oakland during the general strike. However, he only mentions "general strike" in passing and puts it in quotes. I think this is largely due to the rather sectarian slant that this website has to any left events that it doesn't control.

Meanwhile, mainstream ruling class media focuses on the late night violence that occurred as in this report by Voice of America. In contrast, see this very good report regarding the late night violence.

Naked Capitalism's site provides a very interesting report more in sympathy with the protestors.
For minute by minute reports of the events, see this report from IndyBay.

The final blackmail of Baron Papandreou [updated]

Click here to access article by Costas Douzinas from Greek Left Review. (My commentary has been updated from November 1st.)
The unexpected announcement by Greek PM Papandreou yesterday that he is to call a referendum and ask people to vote about the October 24 agreement is the opening salvo in the endgame of the Greek tragedy. Is this extraordinary gambit a genuine request for a popular mandate or a desperate bluff of a gambler down on his chips?
From what I've seen this morning both from business sources (for example, this) and activists at various internet sites, everyone is quite stunned by the announcement of this Greek referendum. The referendum looks very much like a desperate gamble that may very well become a pivotal event. Because if the Greek government fails to gain support for the Oct. 24th agreement, it could precipitate a dramatic unfolding of world changing events in the near term. And that is precisely what worries the global capitalist leaders.

12:25 PM (Pacific Time) Update: the latest word is that the referendum has been cancelled! Clearly, the European ruling class vetoed it.

1:00 PM  Now we hear that the referendum will be held.

11-3-2011: It seems that the referendum is again cancelled, according to this report from the Guardian. After all, the ruling class of Europe can't have the Greek people making a decision about whether they will mortgage their lives for generations into the future. Why shouldn't the people approve this deal made by the elites? See this article.

US and Israeli Tech Teams Develop "Malworm" to Take Down Iran's Computer Software

Click here to access article by Richard Sale from Truthout.

This article is interesting not only for reporting on the Empire's application of cyber-war against Iran, but about all the recent efforts to launch a hot war against Iran spearheaded by Israeli leaders.
Several senior US intelligence officials confirmed large contingency planning drills for an intervention if Israel attacked Iran. Planning for such an intervention was seen as "pretty far advanced," a US official said in July.

These officials reported they were resisting such notions with all the force they could. But one cautioned, "This is no drill." 

Governments turn to hacking techniques for surveillance of citizens

Click here to access article by Ryan Gallagher from The Guardian. 

At the nerve center of the US Empire we see, thanks to this reporter, corporations specializing in surveillance equipment coming together in secret to display their wares to all the oppressive governments of the world. It seems that the facade of democratic institutions is no longer serving the purpose of fooling the people. Hence, the one percent is now preparing to rely on police state methods to control their citizens in order to save their beloved system of capitalism.
At this year’s Intelligence Support Systems (ISS) World Americas conference, the only consumers were the governments of great nations far and wide who came together in DC last month to go over the newest achievements in “lawful interception” methods, reveals an article published this week in the UK’s Guardian. According to their filing, international figureheads came together on American soil to find the freshest ways to carry out clandestine surveillance on their own citizens back home by hacking smart phones, laptops and anything else with a circuit.

Extreme Weather Is a Thing of the Future: So Says The IPCC, and We Should Believe Them

Click here to access article by Astrid Caldas from Huffington Post.
A new IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report obtained by the Associated Press emphasizes that extreme weather events are "a noticeable aspect of climate change" and states that there is a 2 in 3 probability that man-made greenhouse gases have exacerbated recent extreme weather events. The report also states that climate scientists are 99% certain that there will be more extreme heat than cold, and the main concern associated with that is increased precipitation in the form of heavy rainstorms, since evaporation increases in a warmer atmosphere, which will hold more moisture.
Our planet Earth is also rebelling against the capitalist system. The problem is that its rebellion will destroy us all regardless of whether we were on the right side of the capitalism-climate issue.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crowds gather, businesses shutter for Occupy Oakland general strike

Click here to access article by Cecily Burt, Kristin Bender, Sean Maher, Thomas Peele of the Oakland Tribune. (I normally cite the original sources, but can' t locate this at the Oakland Tribune site--may be due to the strike. The Mercury News is located in nearby San Jose, California.) 
Today's planned strike will be the first of its kind since in Oakland since 1946, and it could potentially turn out to be the biggest demonstration in the East Bay since the Vietnam War.
The demonstration aims to shut down the city by targeting banks, corporations and the Port of Oakland in solidarity with worldwide Occupy movement that decries the economic wealth of the very rich 1 percent while 99 percent of the population struggles to find jobs and pay the bills. 
For more current details of what is happening in Oakland, I recommend this link.

The Looming Occupy Foreclosures Movement

Click here to access article by David Dayen from FireDogLake.

This article suggests an action whose time may have come.
The Occupy Oakland general assembly, a day before a proposed general strike, ruled that they would encourage the occupation of foreclosed and abandoned properties across the city. This is a natural development, but also a useful one.

Move Your Money: Campaign Grows to Divest from "Too Big to Fail" Banks to Local Banks, Credit Unions

Access this 6:44m video and script segment here From Democracy Now. (You will need to scroll down to find the transcript.)

Celebrate "Bank Transfer Day" this Saturday, Nov. 5 by transfering your money out of the big banks.
As participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement continue protesting the record profits made by banks bailed out by taxpayer money, a group of grassroots activists are hitting America’s largest banks—including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo—where it hurts most: the wallet.

The Big Business of Inhumane Detention of Immigrants

Click here to access article from American Civil Liberties Union.
The inhumane and abusive system that is immigration detention in this country is good business for one particular special interest group — the private prison industry.
Also, an informative read is this article from the same source entitled, "Stop For-Profit Prisons".

UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears

Click here to access article by Nick Hopkins from The Guardian.

Now that the Libyan project has finished, there seems to be a continuing drumbeat from establishment sources for a war on Iran. How convenient during this period of austerity, global protests, and financial debt crisis. Nothing like a war to distract people and bring in the profits! This strategy was widely used in the 20th century, and resulted in more concentration of wealth and power into the hands of the one percent, and the dilution of anti-capitalist activism. 

Yes, folks--the Iranians are coming! And, they look scary!

New Libyan "PM" is Big-Oil Goon

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from Land Destroyer Report. 

Surprise, surprise! The latest puppet appointed by the Empire to rule Libya has a very solid US academic background and history of employment with the multinational oil corporations. 
And so begins the farce that is Western "democracy." One corporate-fascist puppet, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, steps down, another, Abdurrahim el-Keib, takes his place. In reality, it is NATO-states and their corporate sponsors that now determine Libya's fate.

Organ Gangs Force Poor to Sell Kidneys for Desperate Israelis

Click here to access article by Michael Smith, Daryna Krasnolutska and David Glovin from Bloomberg Markets Magazine. 
Investigators on five continents say they have uncovered intertwining criminal rings run by Israelis and eastern Europeans that move people across borders -- sometimes against their will -- to sell a kidney.

“The criminal here is the middleman who profits from the sick and the poor,” says Bahat, who investigated an organ- trafficking ring in Jerusalem. “It touches my heart that people will sell part of their body because they need money to live.”
This organ market is another result of a capitalist system that creates huge gaps between rich and poor, that converts everything into a commodity to be bought, sold, rented, or otherwise exploited to enrich the lives of the already rich. For an excellent dramatization of this practice, I recommend you see the film entitled, "Dirty Pretty Things".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Occupy Demands: Let's Radicalize Our Analysis of Empire, Economics, Ecology

Click here to access article by Robert Jensen from Jadaliyya. 

This writer summarizes in this one piece so many themes that I have emphasized in my selection of articles, and my comments on those articles, over the past two years of this blog. His call to "radicalize our analysis..." is, I believe, a fundamental requirement of the Occupy Movement if it is to succeed; indeed, if we as a human race are going to succeed. Hopefully, the educative element in these numerous gatherings across the globe will fulfill this requirement. We concerned people must all support this effort more than anything we have ever supported before.
This is a time for action, but there also is a need for analysis. Rallying around a common concern about economic injustice is a beginning; understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate authority is the next step. We need to recognize that the crises we face are not the result simply of greedy corporate executives or corrupt politicians, but rather of failed systems.

The Pentagon-Arab Spring love story

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from NYTimes eXaminer. 
Anyone who hoped the Arab Spring might eventually take over the Persian Gulf and those lands once known as Arabia Felix has enough reason to drown in sadness.

The Arab counter-revolution is stronger than ever – led by the House of Saud and its monarchy minions at the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), officially known as Gulf Cooperation Council. And their most precious ally is the Pentagon.
The author uses his exceptional analytical tools to dismantle NY Times propaganda and to construct a very different scenario--Middle East oil kingdoms as a NATO annex dedicated to serving the Empire and crushing dissent.

Read also Glenn Greenwald's article entitled, "Middle East propaganda 101", where he provides another very good counter-propaganda analysis. Clearly the Empire's media pieces are becoming ever more ludicrous and the butt of many jokes

Meanwhile, the Empire seems to be threatened from within with all the debt crises, economic destruction, and activist occupations. It makes me wonder when it will be that the US public reaches a critical mass of rejection of Empire propaganda. When that happens, we will see the disintegration of capitalist rule greatly accelerate.

Occupy sends a message about NYC schools

Click here to access article by Emily Giles from Socialist Worker. 
NEW YORK City school officials came face to face with the Occupy protest movement October 25 when 200 teachers, students, parents and community members descended on the first Panel for Education Policy (PEP) meeting of the school year. Within five minutes of the start of the meeting, the panel--largely consisting of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg's appointees--canceled most of its scheduled agenda.
This report on an activist project in New York illustrates a very constructive means of building people power. It is doing this by involving parents, teachers, and students in confronting puppet-administrators of the ruling class who want to turn the educational system into training schools for corporations and starving schools where students are less likely to achieve corporate training standards.  

The final blackmail of Baron Papandreou

Click here to access article by Costas Douzinas from Greek Left Review. 
The unexpected announcement by Greek PM Papandreou yesterday that he is to call a referendum and ask people to vote about the October 24 agreement is the opening salvo in the endgame of the Greek tragedy. Is this extraordinary gambit a genuine request for a popular mandate or a desperate bluff of a gambler down on his chips?
From what I've seen this morning both from business sources (for example, this) and activists at various internet sites, everyone is quite stunned by the announcement of this Greek referendum. The referendum looks very much like a desperate gamble that may very well become a pivotal event. Because if the Greek government fails to gain support for the Oct. 24th agreement, it could precipitate a dramatic unfolding of world changing events in the near term. 

12:25 PM (Pacific Time) Update: the latest word is that the referendum has been cancelled! Clearly, the European ruling class vetoed it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

False Solutions to Governance and Economic Crises

by Ron Horn.

In the midst of widespread political corruption, never-ending wars, and financial collapse, we will be presented with solutions that really do very little to solve these crises. Some are presented by well meaning people and some are likely to be presented by capitalist political operatives to ward off any real changes to their governing system. This morning I notice two postings on the internet offering such solutions which I firmly believe will do nothing to essentially change the system. They only seek to fix the existing system which I believe is inherently flawed. 

The first one is illustrated by the Story of Stuff cartoonist in their latest video, "The Story of Citizens United vs. FEC", which claims that we can fix things by passing a Constitutional amendment that reverses the legal status of corporations as citizens. 

The narrator in this video presents a very narrow view of the problem as being simply the passage of a recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to directly contribute to political candidates. This is total nonsense. Actually, one could argue that this Court decision was good in that it made transparent what has been opaque since the 1886 decision to recognize corporations as people, and before that, what was completely hidden by the role of big financiers and corporations that were key players in a new ruling capitalist class. 

The narrator misses the huge picture of a class of people that has inserted itself in all areas of society to further their interests: the Executive Branch with the secrecy of the CIA and strengthening of the office which can now engage in war operations without the consent of Congress, all sorts of police state operations set up under the Patriot Acts, the control of all major media, the insertion of key members of the ruling class in educational institutions, in NGOs, their control of the Federal Reserve, etc. The list is endless. This only illustrates what a ruling class is: a class of people who rule over society for their class interests. To do this, they must rule all important subsystems of societies.

The second posting from Positive Money (UK) advocates a fix to bank lending. At least they see their proposal as only fixing the debt crisis; but it seems to assume that there is no governance crisis, that the current systemic crisis occurring all over the world is due only to profligate loaning of money by the major banks who engage in fractional reserve lending. 

Such narrow proposals can detract activists and encourage them to go down blind alleys. They are based on very limited views of societies which, in their view, are essentially "democratic". Thus, all that is needed are more limitations and regulations on corporate power.

Euro crisis unresolved: the cycle of stupidity continues

Click here to access article by by Jérôme E. Roos from Reflections on a Revolution (RoarMag). 

I think that this piece provides a very good explanation of why the recent European agreement regarding the Greek debt crisis is not really a solution that has any staying power. It looks to me like members of the world capitalist class are fighting among each other as to who is willing to take a hit in their financial pockets; and being the grasping sociopaths that they are, this agreement will only stir up more intra-class fighting. 

Instead, we may very well see the global banking house of cards collapse from all the fraud that it is built upon. Witness today's bankruptcy of the investment firm of MF Global led by an alumnus of Goldman-Sachs and financial wizard, Jon Corzine.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Sanders Report on the GAO Audit on Major Conflicts of Interest at the Federal Reserve

Click here to access article from the office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) 

This report is not that lengthy (only slightly over four pages) and a must-read for anyone wanting more specific information on the banking bailout corruption that has people in the US occupying many bank related sites across the country. 

Audits of the Federal Reserve (the Fed) were authorized and undertaken following the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in July 2010. Both audits were performed by the US General Accounting Office. The first audit was released in July 2011 that focused on where the Fed's "loans" went. The second audit report was just released on October 20 and focused on the governance of the Fed. This article is a summary of this recent report from Senator Sanders' office.

It is difficult to get a handle on all the corruption we are seeing--this is a deliberate policy by the ruling class so that we don't understand and don't get too upset. Many people still think that all the money that was given away by the Fed was paid back. They are thinking of the TARP program which involved far less money than the amount banks all over the world have received (16 trillion dollars!).

I don't claim to fully understand the TARP program, but this article from Henry Liu provides a good explanation. Originally $700 billion was authorized to purchase all the worthless mortgages on the books of the banks at their book price (original evaluation), but far less was used. The stated purpose of the program was as stated by Liu:
The prime goal of TARP is to encourage banks to resume lending at levels seen before the crisis, both to each other and to consumers and businesses.
Clearly that never happened. The source of much of the money paid back under TARP was from the super-low interest rates on money that the big banks could borrow from the Fed which creates money out of thin air. The big banks, in turn, use these loans to buy government securities that pay much higher rates of interest. They simply pocket the difference. See this, this, and this.