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, February 11, 2012

Concerning the Violent Peace-Police: An Open Letter to Chris Hedges

Click here to access article by David Graeber from N+1.
This is why I feel compelled to respond to your statement “The Cancer in Occupy.” This statement is not only factually inaccurate, it is quite literally dangerous. This is the sort of misinformation that really can get people killed. In fact, it is far more likely to do so, in my estimation, than anything done by any black-clad teenager throwing rocks.
I don't understand why this response to Hedge's rather hysterical diatribe against the Black Bloc is not being carried, or being referred to, in more websites.

Pentagon plans US-backed war against Syria

Click here to access article by Chris Marsden from World Socialist Web Site. 

This source provides a more realistic evaluation of the recently disclosed Pentagon plan for Syria than what we find in other mainstream sources such as The Guardian which downplays its significance by referring to the plan as only one among "a range of US actions". 

I was sure that the Empire would not let the lack of UN support to deter them, just as they managed to make war on Iraq without UN approval.

I see the planned aggression against Syria as a desperate and dangerous gamble being played by the Empire's ruling class. By "winning" they expect to deflect attention away from serious domestic problems and a major step in destabilizing Iran in order to consolidate its control of the Mid-East and its resources. But the downside is that they would mobilize all people on the anti-Empire side who are very concerned about the Empire's growing domination of the world, their neo-liberal policies, and their police state style methods. I think we are approaching a major pivotal event that will to a great extent determine future events for humanity.

The big banks win again

Click here to access article by Matt Stoller from Salon. 
...this agreement is simply a continuation of the policy framework of both the Bush and the Obama administrations. So what, exactly, is that framework? It is, as Damon Silvers of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which monitored the bailouts, once put it, to preserve the capital structures of the largest banks.
Read also this article entitled, "Obama administration brokers pro-bank mortgage fraud settlement", from WSWS for more details.

This is just another piece of evidence that the One Percent rules the US with impunity. We live under a dictatorship of the One Percent. The only final solution is to take away their power, and to do that, we must take away their system of capitalism. And, how do we do that? Stay tuned, or better yet, stay active and informed.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chris Hedges and Kristof Lopaur of Occupy Oakland debate black bloc, militancy and tactics.

Click here to access original sourced link at KPFA, Berkeley, California.

On Monday, February 6th, Chris Hedges posted an article on the web entitled, "The Cancer in Occupy", in which he roundly criticized the Black Bloc as being a threat to the Occupy movement. His article has since stirred up a lot of discussion in the activist community, particularly in Oakland. 

In this KPFA program entitled, "Letters and Politics", the program host Mitch Jeserich has invited a discussion between Hedges and an activist from Occupy Oakland, Kristof Lopaur, to discuss the issues related to the Black Bloc. The discussion starts at about 5 minutes and continues until 56 minutes into the program. I also recommend that you read the comments following the progam.

Letters and Politics - February 8, 2012 at 10:00am

Click to listen (or download)

Spanish Judge Garzón Disbarred in Trial Seen as Retaliation for Trailblazing Human Rights Work

A 5:11m video from Democracy Now. 

Another example of retribution imposed on those who attempt to shed light on the crimes of the ruling classes.

Not Like Cigarettes?

Click here to access article by Michael Dawson from his blog, Death by Car: capitalism's drive to carmageddon.

He quotes a recent remake made by a Ford executive:
“I never wanted us to be like the tobacco [companies], where our employees would have to apologize to their family and friends for working there. If that happens, we are not going to get the best and brightest.”
Which prompts Dawson to respond:
If Ford’s products are freedom vehicles and wonder machines, why this apparent slip into cigarette talk?
This brief article serves as an introduction to a piece entitled, "Cars & Capitalism" by Yves Engler who last year wrote about how capitalism has resulted in lifestyles oriented around cars (also a book). Engler focuses on the auto industry, but it is probably only the worst example of how a private profit driven industry results in so many disastrous consequences for healthy societies.

The automobile has been heavily promoted by government subsidies to feed profits to capitalists. But then, why would we expect anything different from a ruling class that is made up of capitalists? It really doesn't matter to them if it causes urban sprawl, global warming, exhaustion of cost effective sources of energy, and numerous health problems. Worst of all are the devastating wars that have been and will be waged over access to fossil fuel resources. As long as they get their profit and power fixes, nothing else matters.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Low-wage lessons

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

My fellow citizens of the US: how is that hopey-changy thing workin' for ya? Are you a part of that 25% of US workers who earn low wages? Well, you may not be paid well, but you can be proud of your country because we are number one...in low wages!
As I write in a new CEPR briefing paper, the United States leads the wealthy world in the share of its workforce in low-wage jobs. According to the commonly used international definition of low-wage work –earning less than two-thirds of the median hourly wage– about one-fourth of US workers are low-wage.
It's clear with the latest attacks on all safely nets and all the austerity measures being implemented that this trend of a widening gap between the One Percent and the rest of us is only going to increase. And not only in the US. European workers are currently under attack.  

If we continue to allow the system of the One Percent, capitalism, to continue, we can only look forward to increasing numbers of people in poverty--oceans of people in poverty while well guarded islands of the One Percent live in luxury. This will be our future if we continue to mindlessly stare into the truth machines (TV) whose programs are owned and operated by the One Percent and their agents, and passively let them herd us around like sheep to the slaughterhouse.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

ALBA countries join chorus condemning "Contras" interference in Syria

Click here to access article from Voltaire Network.

The ALBA countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.) have had first hand experience with the destabilization actions of the Empire and fully understand what is now occurring in Syria.
While the cynicism underpinning the destabilization strategy underway may leave many Europeans incredulous, the same does not apply in the case of Latin America. There, the role of the "Contras" is still fresh people’s minds, and the parallel with the Syrian situation is made immediately.
In 1983 on a trip to Nicaragua I personally witnessed the destruction of Nicaraguan clinics and schools by US sponsored Contras based in Honduras. Because US activists in 1983 were able to put enough pressure on members of Congress to cut off funding for these operations under the Boland Amendment, the military-financial-industrial secret government (the government of, by, and for the One Percent) proceeded to fund their surrogate army called the Contras by collaborating with drug traffickers to import drugs to US inner cities in exchange for a cut of the profits to fund the Contras (read the book entitled, Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, by the journalist Gary Webb) and by illegally selling weapons to Iran.

For his outstanding work in exposing the secret drug operations of the US, Webb and the San Jose Mercury were attacked by the leading press agencies consisting of the Washington Post followed soon by the NY Times and then all other major media. Since then most of the facts he exposed have been found to be true and even admitted to by the CIA. However, his career was ruined, and he eventually committed suicide. (Read Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou.) This was a lesson not lost on many journalists and editors in the media: do not mess with the real government of the US! 

This action was no isolated incident, only one of the most dramatic examples of retribution against journalists for telling the truth and revealing the crimes of the real government. Other casualties in this war on truth among journalists and writers include Ray Bonner, Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Bill Maher, Ward Churchill, and Van Jones.

Greek hospital now under workers’ control

Click here to access article from Greek Left Review. 

Greek workers continue their heroic struggle against neo-liberal policies that are intent upon placing Greek society under perpetual indentured servitude. Here we see Greeks taking over a hospital to serve the health needs of the people. This is what they are saying:
“The government is not acquitted of its financial responsibilities, and if their [workers] demands are not met, they will turn to the local and wider community for support in every possible way to save the hospital, defend free public healthcare, to overthrow the government and every neo-liberal policy.”

From "Occupy" to ...

Click here to access article from Solidarity. 

A review of the brief history of the Occupy movement in a global context, an affirmation of its continued existence because of the unraveling of capitalist society, and speculation as to where it is headed. 
The movement quite rightly targets the system, particularly Wall Street and the banks, in full knowledge that the disastrous deregulation of the financial industry was a thoroughly bipartisan affair and that the Obama administration itself loyally represents the interests of banks and hedge funds. The powerful flow of the Occupy upsurge will not be easily channeled into the usual stagnant pool of Democratic electoral politics in 2012 and beyond.
Thanks to TW3 & fotografia la dolce vita.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prayer to the “Job Creator”

Click here to access article by William Manson from Dissident Voice. 

This is the perfect prayer for all those among the 99 Percent who have succumbed to a slave mentality. 

Truth, lies and Afghanistan

Click here to access article by Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis from Armed Forces Journal. 
I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.
This well-meaning US Army officer appears not to understand the people he works for: the One Percent ruling class, who in their megalomania must keep the 99 Percent ignorant of their huge blunders, not to mention war crimes, that have occurred in their invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

This has always been the case with these adventures particularly after WWII.  I remember all the rosy statements about war progress in Vietnam from General Westmoreland whenever he was quoted in the media. And what did the ruling class achieve in the Korean War? 

Such defeats or stalemates really don't matter to the military-industrial complex because they always win. Military equipment is destroyed and needs to be replaced through more government contracts. Military officers are provided with more opportunities for advancement particularly if they make things look good regardless of what reality looks like.

Bill Gates backs climate scientists lobbying for large-scale geoengineering

Click here to access article by John Vidal from The Guardian. 

There are some among the One Percent who know full well that their beloved system of capitalism is causing climate change which will lead to doomsday scenarios. The billionaire Bill Gates is one of the most prominent ones. Over the recent centuries the One Percent with their system of private ownership and abundant fossil fuels have achieved both overwhelming power and prosperity for their private club. In their mad pursuit of profit and power they have used widespread slavery and exploitation, invasions to take what they want, wars to produce more profits, polluted the lakes, rivers, ocean, and the atmosphere, etc. There was no obstacle or enemy that they could not defeat...up until now. But their twin addictions to power and profits does not allow them to acknowledge defeat. Now they imagine they can control the entire ecology of the planet. 
Concern is now growing that the small but influential group of scientists, and their backers, may have a disproportionate effect on major decisions about geoengineering research and policy.

Shouldn't this man and others like him be locked up in mental institutions?

The Escalator [Must see]

Click here to access article and graphics from Skeptical Science. 

There is no better representation of the difference in how climate scientists and climate change deniers view the issue of global warming differently than you will find here.

To learn more why the global warming deniers continue to be so well funded, read this piece entitled, "Why the Fossil Fuel Industry Fights So Hard", by Bill McKibben from Huffington Post.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Class Warfare in America: a Teach-in for Occupy San Jose

Click here to access article by Gil Villagrán from IndyBay. 

An excellent summary of facts and figures, always missing from school courses, about the ongoing class war in the US from its beginning in the original European settlements until today. 
Our nation’s class war began as early as 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, established by the Virginia Company of London—a charter corporation granted by King James. English, Scot, Irish, Dutch, Polish, German and other European immigrants were recruited as indentured servants, working up to five years to pay off their indenture. Children born to these servants themselves became servants along with their parents in exchange for room and board. Many of the indentured did not live long enough to complete their five years of servitude. But seeking to lower costs and increase profits to the colony owners and managers (the CEOs of the period) by 1619 the first African slaves were imported for heavy work, unpaid, of course.

European Forum in Rome: Minimum Income, Common Goods and Democracy

Click here to access article from European Alternatives. 
From Greece to Spain, from London to Rome, European people are increasingly aware of the need for a different model of globalisation. From those resisting the privatisation of resources (for example in Italy with the water referendum, and currently in Romania) to the recent occupations of public spaces against neoliberalism (for example in the UK and Spain), this is the moment to construct and alternative Europe which is not a product of neoliberal politics, but the political expression of European citizens.

The Syrian Powder Keg

by Ron Horn.

While citizens of the US were herded by the One Percent's media into the arena of the Superbowl, probably the most celebrated of many spectacles and amusements that the ruling class uses to distract attention, the political operatives of the Empire have been very busy preparing for another acquisition to the Empire and strengthening their hold on the Middle East and its abundant resources.

Either I am better informed now or the Orwellian quality of media propaganda in the US has worsened. The contrast in the way that the Empire has dealt with insurrections in Bahrain compared with Syria is mind-boggling. I continue to be amazed at how ruling classes are so easily able to manipulate the rest of us into collaborating with their crimes against humanity to serve their interests of profit and power. This will continue until we either destroy ourselves as a species or until we rid ourselves of class rule. I am not very optimistic, but I choose to keep fighting for social justice and egalitarian societies.

Currently the Syrian crisis seems like it could be a pivotal event in world affairs that may lead toward more catastrophes or toward a more peaceful world that will give us more time to create classless societies. Understanding this issue is of critical importance to all activists. Toward this end I am offering what I regard are the best articles I can find today on the Syrian crisis.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Most Important Resource for Our Future: Inexpensive Oil (but its not really available)

Click here to access article by Gail Tverberg from her blog, Our Finite World. 

This author is widely respected in energy circles and followed by many people with extensive training in energy related technologies. She clearly has a broad grasp, in addition to technical matters, as to the future with regard to the depletion of fossil fuels and increasing populations. However, she is so typical of trained scientists coming out of US universities: she has a huge blind spot with regard to the social-economic system of capitalism. 

Education in the US from the cradle to the grave is heavily stamped with pro-capitalist indoctrination. It results in perspectives that resemble the phenomenon of "trained incapacity". Capitalism has had huge effects on the development of human societies and human beings. Who can deny this? So, why is this system almost totally ignored by these people when examining the major issues of today? 

Clearly it is because those who benefit from the system, the One Percent, rule over this system, and the subsystem of education, and obsessively protect it from any serious examination. Then there are those who have adopted the more explicit ruling class thesis that "there is no alternative" to this system.

So, why have I posted the article? Primarily because I think that she provides an insight on another important factor that drives the capitalist imperative of grow or die. She raises the issue of debt which is currently plaguing many nations and individuals. 
One issue is of concern is the connection between economic growth and debt. If an economy is growing..., it makes financial sense to borrow money, even if it is necessary to pay it back with interest. Borrowing makes it possible to “pre-spend” a little of the economic growth that will be available in the future. This relationship is especially important for governmental borrowing, but it also plays a role for private borrowing.
The most powerful section of the ruling One Percent are the those who live off of their wealth by lending it out at interest (financiers). They are like parasites who feed off the productivity of working people who create wealth. As long as the host can continue growing wealth at least as fast as the parasites draw from this wealth, the host will survive. Because financiers live off this income, they are constantly striving to lend their wealth out regardless if there is any need for it or even if it is used for destructive purposes, even wars. They will cajole, force, bribe, and even threaten others to take loans. (Read, for example, the book entitled, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins.) One primary way the system has put so many people in debt is by employers paying low wages and offering easy credit so that people can maintain normal lifestyles.

It is now becoming clear to many that the tendency for capitalism to drive economies to produce and consume at expanding rates will inevitably cause humanity to reach the twin barriers of over population and resource exhaustion. Notice that the author and commentators see no solutions to these contradictions except highly tragic ones. They simply cannot see that changing the system is an option that must be pursued.

Get Ready for Super-Extreme Weather: “We Are Just Now Experiencing the Full Effect of CO2 Emitted [by] the Late 1980s”

Click here to access article by Dr. Jeff Masters from the Wunderblog via Climate Progress. 

This scientist explains something that most people unfortunately do not respond well to: the decades delay in the effects of atmospheric pollution. His metaphor about a car racing toward a wall is so perfect.

The climate deniers are well-funded by capitalists who realize that their system depends upon growth for its existence. Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal article is an example of this. Like a drug addict they are willing to risk future catastrophe in order to feed today their addiction to profits.
The history of science is littered with tens of thousands of discredited scientific papers that challenged the accepted scientific consensus and lost. If we rely on hopes that the next Einstein or Galileo will successfully overthrow the current scientific consensus on climate change, we are making a high-stakes, low-probability-of-success gamble on the future of civilization. The richest and most powerful corporations in world history, the oil companies, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to push us to take this gamble, and their efforts have been very successful. Advertising works, particularly when your competition has little money to spend to oppose you.

Capitalism is Working Just Fine… That’s the Problem [A book review]

Click here to access review by Aaron Leonard from Canadian Dimension.
 ...[the author] offers a provocation: “Capital is not a book about politics, and not even a book about labour: it is a book about unemployment.” This, he notes — because it is not a conventional Marxist interpretation — is “a scandalous assertion.”

US unemployment “progress”

Click here to access article by Cardiff Garcia from Financial Times (probably lies behind a registration wall.)

In mainstream media much has been made about the recent Department of Labor statistics regarding the improvement in unemployment. This graph and article corrects this false impression.

See also this excellent broader article from Veterans Today on the unemployment scene in the US entitled, "How’s That 'Change' Working Out For You?"

Mark Ames: Austerity & Fascism In Greece – The Real 1% Doctrine

Click here to access article by Mark Ames from Naked Capitalism.

My operating policy is to run only current articles, but this one run in November is just too great to be missed. It covers a lot of important issues: how debt-money in countries such as Greece are used to buy military equipment, the fascists who form an important component of the real One Percent in Europe and their policies. I haven't had time to read the whole article for the other gems.
That’s where we are today. Greece drowning in debt, its democracy broken, and despite fighting the Nazis in World War Two, and taking back democracy from a fascist junta in 1974–in the end, it was the EU and the Western banks that put a guy like Makis “Hammer” Voridis, the guy who patrolled his law school with a makeshift ax, in power, administering banker-pain.

The implications of the EU and bankers forcing Greece, the birthplace of democracy, to cancel a popular plebiscite as “irresponsible,” forcing instead an austerity regime composed partly of neo-Nazis fascists to administer more “pain”–is something that should frighten the shit out of everyone. Because like it or not, we’re all in the cross-hairs of the same banking interests, and we’re all going to face it again and again. Greece just happens to be the first in line.