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, December 10, 2011

Bobby's Story: Veteran Facing Foreclosure, Fighting Back

Click here to access article from Occupy Our Homes. 

The Occupy movement is beginning to take back people's homes and fighting back against foreclosures all across the US.

The Climate Change Revolution Will Not Be Funded

Click here to access article by Jared Sacks from The Indypendent.
After 17 years of meetings to address climate change, the lack of action from world leaders clearly shows that the biggest polluting nations not only lack the political will to address the issue, but also seem to be actively carrying out the anti-environmental agenda of the largest corporations on this planet.
The author suggests that the NGOs that organized the UN conference in Durban, South Africa, and who often support positive climate change measures got in the way of any real citizen involvement in the proceedings, and arrives at the conclusion that...
...NGOs have no structural accountability to their so-called beneficiaries. They are externally funded organizations that, like the World Bank, are accountable to outside forces through the power of the purse.
Clearly, the model of self-governance via direct democracy that is being created by the Occupy movements all over the world is a critical tool needed to repair the global social and environmental crises.

Arundhati Roy: 'The people who created the crisis will not be the ones that come up with a solution'

Click here to access article featuring an interview with Roy.

An example of one of her gems of wisdom:
I hope that that the people in the Occupy movement are politically aware enough to know that their being excluded from the obscene amassing of wealth of US corporations is part of the same system of the exclusion and war that is being waged by these corporations in places like India, Africa and the Middle East. Ever since the Great Depression, we know that one of the key ways in which the US economy has stimulated growth is by manufacturing weapons and exporting war to other countries. So, whether this movement is a movement for justice for the excluded in the United States, or whether it is a movement against an international system of global finance that is manufacturing levels of hunger and poverty on an unimaginable scale, remains to be seen. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

William M. Diefenderfer: The Financial Hit Man of Student Loans

Click here to access article by Catherine Austin Fitts from Solari. 

In recent times women have innocently and increasingly entered the traditional male realms of high finance only to experience disillusionment. I'm thinking of such courageous women as Elizabeth Warren, Yves Smith (pen name), and this author. (I certainly am not implying that gender are related to evildoers, but generally to innocence when it comes to high finance.) This rather lengthy but excellent article is in a sense a description of a journey of such a woman who ultimately comes face to face with people doing evil within a system that produces so many evil people (sociopaths). 
I have spent much of my professional career cleaning up mortgage fraud, trying to prevent mortgage fraud or protecting my subscribers and clients from the financial and economic ramifications of mortgage, federal credit and related securities fraud.  Before that, I spent my childhood watching mortgage fraud destroy the equity of my neighbors' homes. I have watched the cancer of mortgage fraud spread to thousands of communities and, eventually, the whole country. I thought I had seen the worst that financial fraud could do to America. I was wrong. What has happened in the student loan industry over the last fifteen years is worse than anything I have seen before.

Bahraini Protesters March Toward Pearl Square, Police Intervene

Click here to access article posted on Bahrain Center for Human Rights, original source--Project on Middle East Democracy. 

Because US mainstream media has "disappeared" coverage of the ongoing protests in Bahrain, I thought I'd post this today to remind you that they are still going on.

Guess who the Bahraini government has brought in to deal with the protestors?

So, who are these guys? 

Read the details here.

Organizing for the port shutdown

Click here to access article by Lee Sustar from Socialist Worker.

It's clear that there is a struggle going on between union leadership, that has been largely co-opted by the ruling class, and rank and file workers who support the Occupy movement. Ruling class political operatives are extremely concerned about the outcome of this contest and are putting a lot of effort into restraining union bosses from cooperating by engaging in a propaganda barrage in the media, and likely are putting other kinds of pressure on union bosses behind the scenes.
The potential of this new coalition--which was key to shutting down the Port of Oakland with a community picket of thousands on November 2--has clearly alarmed employers, who have launched an aggressive advertising campaign to denounce the December 12 effort. The Washington Post carried the same line, declaring that workers don't support the plan.
Read also this piece by Danny Lucia from the same source entitled, "Co-opt-upy Wall Street?", for more details on co-opting union leadership. 

American military sent hundreds of soldiers’ remains to garbage dump

Click here to access article by Tom Eley from World Socialist Web Site. 

Behind the facade of "support our troops", evidence is leaking out about the real regard that the masters of the Empire have for their "heroes":
The Pentagon’s disposal of soldiers’ remains in a garbage dump, and its systematic lying to surviving family members, exposes the real attitude of America’s military and ruling class toward the men and women who carry out imperialism’s bloody work in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Endlessly celebrated by politicians and the media as heroes, US soldiers are in reality nothing more than cannon fodder in neo-colonial wars waged against hostile populations. Once killed, in the estimation of the richest military in the world, these “heroes” are not even worthy of a dignified burial.

A Revolution Against Resistance?

Click here to access article by Ibrahim al-Amin from Al-Akhbar.

The covert Western sponsored resistance in Syria is starting to reveal its true identity with recent statements. The author contends that such statements reveal the true intentions of the insurgents and their masters:
...to take Syria out of the regional alliance of which it is an essential part – the alliance comprising the resistance and its supporters [against Israeli and Western dominance] – and into another alliance, the one currently striving to topple the current regime in Syria. The latter opposes the resistance, and defers to the US and Israel’s demands to deny support to the forces of resistance in Lebanon and Palestine.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Militarization of American Police – and Shredding of Our Constitutional Rights – Started At Least 30 Years Ago

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog. 

This blogger provides a good chronicle of the development of the US police state apparatus which has recently been strengthened by the Senate passage of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which permits the indefinite, without a trial, detention of American citizens. This trend has been greatly facilitated under the cover of the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and the 9/11 event. 

I think that the impetus for this road to a police state began with the massacre of protesting Kent State students during the Vietnam War. Following this incident activists across the country were so stunned that activism diminished markedly. Other activists went underground to organize paramilitary actions.

See also this 3:47m video from Russia Today entitled, "Occupation Nation".

U.S. arming Egyptian military crackdown

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. 
Data obtained by Amnesty International shows that the US has repeatedly transferred ammunition to Egypt despite security forces’ violent crackdown on protesters.

A shipment for the Egyptian Ministry of Interior arrived from the US on 26 November carrying at least seven tons of “ammunition smoke” – which includes chemical irritants and riot control agents such as tear gas.

It was one of at least three arms deliveries to Egypt by the US company Combined Systems, Inc. since the brutal crackdown on the “25 January Revolution” protesters.
Today, from Al Jazeera we learn this: Egypt's army asserts constitutional control

Training, military aid, travel junkets have all been key features of the Empire's strategy to build close ties with military elites of key countries in the world.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lost Verities and Dirty Hippies

Click here to access article by Phil Rockstroh from Dissident Voice. 

The author provides a convincing argument to support this thesis:
The run of neoliberal capitalism is about over. Don’t mourn: This late stage, rapacious, mutant economic strain has leveled destruction on community and the planet itself as well as the hearts and souls of too many of those imprisoned within its paradigm.
And, in addition, he sheds light on the resistance of many Americans to people who question the system: it's very threatening to people to acknowledge that everything they have believed all their lives to be true, is actually false!
...it would behoove me to make the painful admission that I have been conned…have co-signed the crimes committed against me. Worse, I would be compelled to question all my verities and beliefs–all the convictions I clutch, regarding, not only the notions that I possess about myself and the methods I’ve adopted in approaching life, but also, the social structure that influenced my character.

Iran and the Strategic Encirclement of Syria and Lebanon

Click here to access article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Stategic Culture Foundation.

This independent Canadian journalist assembles evidence that the Empire is actively and dangerously putting into operation its next project: the capture of Syria which is merely on the road to Iran, the biggest prize of all.
For half a decade Washington has been directing a military arm build-up in the Middle East aimed at Iran and the Resistance Bloc. It has sent massive arms shipments to Saudi Arabia. It has sent deliveries of bunker busters to the U.A.E. and Israel, amongst others, while it has upgraded its own deadly arsenal. U.S. officials have also started to openly discuss murdering Iranian leaders and military officials through covert operations. What the world is facing is a pathway towards possible military escalation that could go far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East and suck in Russia, China, and their allies. 
Although mainstream media has played up the removal of US troops from Iraq, they have downplayed the re-deployments of the same troops to neighboring Kuwait such as suggested by this report from AFP. There have been a few reports from US sources of only about 3500 being re-deployed there on a permanent basis, but I suspect that this is only a cover story for a vastly greater number.  I keep coming across articles about re-deployment of individual US units being moved to Kuwait. And then there is all the military equipment being moved to Kuwait which poses the question about whether it stays there. The analysis from World Socialist Web Site may have it right:
The formal US pullout from Iraq is part of a redeployment of US military assets in the wider region, as well as a shift in the focus of US foreign policy from southwest Asia to the Far East and the rising challenge of China. The US Central Command, which controls US operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, has more forces at its disposal today than during the heaviest days of fighting in Iraq under the Bush administration.

Occupy Goes Home on December 6

Click here to access article by Manny Jalonschi from The Indypendent. 

The Occupy movement is moving on to re-occupy foreclosed homes! 
The reclamation of foreclosed homes represents a new stage for the Occupy movement, one that comes in the wake of violent police dispersal of protest camps nationwide. With 1 in 4 mortgages currently in default and, a new Government Accounting Office report showing an increase in vacant residential properties from 7 million in 2007 to 10 million in 2010, it seems more than likely that the movement will continue to find ample support and opportunities to “Occupy our Homes.”
See also this report from The Guardian entitled, "Wall Street protesters to occupy foreclosed homes". 
As police crackdowns on Occupy sites continue, protesters enter 'new frontier.' 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What’s Next for the Occupy Movement?

Click here to access article by Brian Tokar from Institute for Social Ecology. 

As messy as it is, the Occupy movement is being seen by more and more people as offering real significance because it relates to concrete problems in their lives. This writer does not reveal as much about "what's next"as he does about the evidence that the movement is here to stay. I agree. Hence, we must all join in supporting it in any way we can to insure its success. We can both save ourselves and the planet which we all share. There is no other task that is as urgent.
Now, for the first time in decades, the terms of the conversation are shifting. People are fed up, and no longer too timid nor too defeated to speak out loudly against the status quo, and for a different kind of society. We have learned that we can challenge financial elites, defend labor rights, call to overturn capitalism, and our numbers continue to grow. In cities large and small, we experience the exhilaration of direct democracy, of reclaiming public spaces, and of reinventing our future. And we know that we are not going to disappear when elites respond with too many police, or even with small victories. 

System, not consumers, the big green problem

Click here to access article by Simon Butler from Green Left (Australia).

This essay appears to be a rebuttal to, and a critique of, Ted Trainer's comments from an earlier interview carried in Green Left in which he declared that “the main problem group is not the corporations or the capitalist class … The problem group, the key to transition, is people in general.”

300 economists give support for the Occupy Wall Street movement

Click here to access article from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

Happenings like this suggest that cracks are beginning to appear in the capitalist fortress that towers over everyone on Earth. Economists are typically well-indoctrinated technicians of global capitalism that keeps the machinery running while justifying its existence. I doubt they are opposed to capitalist markets as such even though the operations of the latter result in widespread harm to society, but more by the appalling actions of ruling class enforcers on protestors and the cutbacks that institutions of higher learning are now experiencing. "But wait, there's more!"

The very first sentence in their statement reveals an important fact that they know from first hand experience: that their profession is subject to ongoing and rigorous discipline from the ideological masters of the Empire.
We are economists who oppose ideological cleansing in the economics profession.

Europe’s theatrical puppetry before an audience of bankers

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

The author uses the metaphor of theater to describe the global elite's handling of the financial crisis. But then he sees what might be a more apt metaphor:
...the behavior of our elites is increasingly starting to resemble that of a cult of witch doctors, superstitiously carrying out complex rituals in honor of the Masters of the Universe, busily sacrificing the weaker members of the tribe at the altar of global capital, mysteriously deluded by the deities of high finance — the almighty Gods That Failed us yesteryear.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Obama's Payroll Tax Deception

Click here to access article by Frank Munley from OpEd News. 

The author is correct in the implication that this payroll "tax cut" is a stealth attack on the Social Security retirement system. And now they want to increase the attack by reducing the employer's contribution along with the employee's as is currently the case. So, you may look forward to working until you drop dead or living off, and with, your children after you retire.

Previously I have been extremely critical of this ploy and the framing of the Social Security retirement contribution as a "tax". But then I discovered this Supreme Court decision of 1960 in which the Court decided that the benefit program was not a right. This was obviously done in order to deny benefits to a member of the Communist Party. So, I guess legally speaking, according to the judges appointed by the one percent, it is not a contractual benefit like a private insurance policy would be.

Also, Professor Allen W. Smith explains how the money is handled by our government: just dumped into the general funds and marked "Special Issues of the Treasury" which is just a fancy phrase for IOUs. Hence, the funds apparently are not invested in anything that can earn interest income. That is why all these recent attacks on the SS Trust Fund: it is not generating much surplus money anymore and the ruling one percent don't want to pay back all the money it has used to fund their wars, etc.

International banks have aided Mexican drug gangs

Click here to access article by Tracy Wilkinson and Ken Ellingwood from Los Angeles Times. 

This is news? This is ancient history. For the past 50 years there have been so many books written about it and so much evidence uncovered about the collusion of drug traffickers with bankers and government agencies: In Banks We Trust by Penny Lernoux, Dark Alliance by Gary Webb, The Laundrymen by Jeffrey Robinson, The Blood Bankers by James S. Henry, The Washing Machine by Nick Kochan, to name a few. 

Nearly everyone involved gets something out of it: the ruling one percent funds their CIA operations (war crimes) in violation of US and international law, banks benefit with the huge cash infusions, drug traffickers get rich, people stuck in America's urban and rural ghettos could be drugged out to stifle dissent, the military-industrial complex likes selling numerous weapons to compliant dictators and local police agencies, and the "War on Terror" is used to justify invasions of other countries after the demise of the "Communist menace". Articles like this appear about once a year to reassure people that their government is doing something about the problem.
Wachovia paid the $160 million in what is called a deferred-prosecution agreement; no one went to prison, and the fines represented a tiny fraction of the money the bank had filtered. In court documents cited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Wachovia acknowledged serious lapses.

Call to action: alternative day of human rights on Dec. 10!

Click here to access article by Pedro Noel from Reflections on a Revolution. 

I'm not sure that Americans can get behind a focus on human rights because the word has been misused so often by our ruling one percent to smear countries that they don't like by accusing them of "human rights violations". 

But I became thoroughly caught up in their link called "Feedback" (last paragraph) and the opportunity to review the action ideas of others and to vote on them.
This is a call out to any person, assembly or independent humanitarian organization to participate in this creative process: tell us what you are organizing for #December10, send proposals and vote for the ones you think are good by clicking here: FEEDBACK. We will post them on the site and spread them across the Internet, so that others can join in or debate. A more general discussion is going on here: titanpad.com/humanrights.

Protesters Reflect Vast Majority on 99 Percent of Most Major Issues

Click here to access article by Mark Weisbrot from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

This writer makes a compelling case with supporting links to evidence about the undemocratic government we have. You probably don't need this, but possibly you could use this evidence with your more conservative friends.
That’s why Mayor Bloomberg of New York evicted the protestors who spearheaded this historic social movement. It had nothing to do with safety or other pretexts. This is clear because he had his thugs deliberately trash many of the protestors’ possessions, including laptops and many of the books from their library. ...The one percent has used violence and excessive force against protestors in other cities such as Oakland for the same reasons: they fear that democracy in the streets could lead to democracy in other arenas, such as government. 

Seattle WTO Shutdown ’99 to Occupy: Organizing to Win 12 Years Later

Click here to access article by David Solnit from The Indypendent. 

The author provides a very good review of successful mass action strategies developed by activists in the Northwest of the US to counter ruling class enforcers (police and media) who try to smear, subvert, and brutalize participants. 
As the occupy movement grows, wrestles with how to organize and looks forward, perhaps it’s of use to look back to what did and did not work in the space opened up 12 years ago — the global justice movement of movements that followed global South movements and spread across North America in the wake of the Seattle WTO mass occupation of downtown Seattle and nonviolent direct action shutdown of the WTO.

Tell Congress: Say NO to Indefinite Detention and Endless Worldwide War

An action alert from American Civil Liberties Union.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Capitalism is not in crisis: Capitalism Is the Crisis [film]

This 1 hr 40 minute film is from their website. I have viewed about two segments and find it very worthwhile in understanding our current economic crisis and considering proposals to get ourselves out of this crisis. One can also acquire the DVD by offering a donation of at least $20 at the film's website. The film...
...examines the ideological roots of the “austerity” agenda and proposes revolutionary paths out of the current crisis. The film features original interviews with Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen, Michael Hardt, Peter Gelderloos, Leo Panitch, David McNally, Richard JF Day, Imre Szeman, Wayne Price, and many more! The 2008 “financial crisis” in the United States was a systemic fraud in which the wealthy finance capitalists stole trillions of public dollars. No one was jailed for this crime, the largest theft of public money in history. Instead, the rich forced working people across the globe to pay for their “crisis” through punitive “austerity” programs that gutted public services and repealed workers’ rights. Austerity was named “Word of the Year” for 2010. This documentary explains the nature of capitalist crisis, visits the protests against austerity measures, and recommends revolutionary paths for the future. Special attention is devoted to the crisis in Greece, the 2010 G20 Summit protest in Toronto, Canada, and the remarkable surge of solidarity in Madison, Wisconsin. It may be their crisis, but it’s our problem.

Once Upon A Time....There was a Beautiful Planet

Mostly by Mitchell J. Rabin from Progressive Radio Network. I have taken the liberty to alter the last few paragraphs by substituting the final, un-italicized paragraph.
Yes...there was a big, beautiful planet called Earth. And running all around her, as well as swimming inside her, were all types of interestingly shaped, sized and colored beings, each making their own unique sounds, hums and noises while moving about in their own unique ways. Some walked, others crawled, some swam and yet others slithered. Despite the fact that some ate others for their sustenance, they all had a way of finding time to frolic, pro-create, rest, and those who were on land, bask in the warmth and rays of the sun. And in a strange, somewhat abstract way, all were somehow, more or less, co-existing on this beautiful, blue-green planet.

At a certain point along the way of the multi-billion-year history of this marvel of an Earth, a green gem of the solar system, appeared a being known initially as Neanderthal, and who later, much later, came to be known as a chimpanzee, oh wait, excuse me, as homo sapiens. Yes, in one of his now considered ancient languages, this meant "rational, or wise man" with a brain volume of a minimum of 1,350 cubic centimeters. What we have learned from biology and history, it is apparently not size that most matters.

He was a playful if mischievous creature, and due to his larger brain than that of his neighbors in the animal kingdom, in different ways, began to lord over them. He lived in accordance with the beauty and abundance of this amazing and extraordinarily rich, beautiful planet during which period, he was considered, according to another of his ancient languages from the other side of the Earth, living in the Tao, that is, the flow of life.

But one day, he began to plant seeds and grow crops. And then he realized that the more land he controlled, the more crops he could grow or animals he could herd and instead of just ingesting what he and his family or tribe needed at a given time, the herding turned into hoarding. Fights broke out in disputes as to who had control of what land, and before long, different belief systems developed, ideas of the Universe were cultivated, and alas, what we call human culture and civilization dawned, dominating Nature and all the kingdoms of Nature that came with Creation.

And even though more brain parts developed which allowed differing levels of consciousness, such as reflection, contemplation, imagination, self-awareness, a group of homo sapiens, not exercising the ‘sapiens’ part of the brain, kept acquiring and self-aggrandizing at the expense of the rest of the human flock.

So this is where we are today: less than one percent own and control nearly everything.
This one percent also developed a vast network of communication to provide us with their managed news and entertainment to dumb down our minds as to what has happened and is happening. The Occupy movement all over the world has recognized this development and is looking for ways to fight back, to take back all that has been lost to us, the more than ninety nine percent. They are calling on everyone who still knows how to exercise the 'sapien' part of their brain to join their struggle for emancipation.

Situations, Occupations, and Revolution: On Taking Steps Forward to Fight the End of the World

Click here to access article from InfoShop News. 

This article provides an excellent evaluation of the US Occupy movement at its present state with suggestions about where it should go from here to continue the momentum. This type of discussion is absolutely critical for all who support the Occupy movement, who want real change, and who want the human race to continue on into the future. It's hard work, but who thought that real change would be easy when the one percent have so much power in the form of weapons and ownership of nearly everything--both of which we created?

Occupy SF Housing Action Day

Click here to access article by Michael Steinberg from IndyBay.
...an African American woman, said, "I'm a homeowner facing forclosure. Chase is trying to chase me out of my home. By the end of 2012 we expect 10 million foreclosures in the US, with 2 million in California. When they attack our homes, they attack our health, and we're done with them attacking us. People across the country are saying, 'We need our homes more than you need one more.'"