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, March 17, 2012

This Investor Presentation For A Private Prison Is One Of The Creepiest Presentations We've Ever Seen

Click here to access article by Joe Weisenthal from Business Insider. 

Well, it might have been "creepy" for this investor, but there are a lot of sociopathic investors out there who clearly see an opportunity to become rich by investing in this growing industry. After all, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. With over 2.3 million men and women living behind bars, our imprisonment rate is also the highest it's ever been, and it is expected to grow once this latest recession is over.

For all you sociopathic investors who follow this blog (sarcasm), be sure to check out the slide presentation at the end of the article.

The losing bets

Click here to access article by Darwin BondGraham from San Francisco Bay Guardian Online. 

The financial wizards of the One Percent have so many opaque weapons they use to bilk the public without the public even suspecting what is happening. They are very much like highly skilled pickpockets. This article explores their use of one such weapon--interest rate swaps:
...while local and state governments have been forced to cut back on crucial services, wealthy banks and investment firms are being padded with enormous cash flows sucked directly from the already strained budgets of cities, counties, and public agencies.
Well, maybe it was all an unfortunate mistake. After all, the big banks made some bad bets, too, and nearly went bankrupt.  

However, because the big banks are owned by the One Percent, the political operatives of the One Percent went promptly to work and claimed that they were too big to fail, and used their control of the government to bail out the banks using tax money from the 99 Percent. Whereas local governments that serve the needs of the 99 Percent apparently are not regarded as too big to fail, therefore nothing is done to relieve them of debts resulting from their bad bets.

Honeybee Colony Collapse Linked to Corn Insecticide as Planting Season Approaches

Click here to access article by Melanie J. Martin from Earth Times.

Farmers have been using this insecticide for over a decade. See this abstract from scientific article
Experimental results show that the environmental release of particles containing neonicotinoids can produce high exposure levels for bees, with lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers.
I wonder why it took so long to determine this link, and if their is a significant testing of insecticides before being released to the market--I doubt it. Also, it makes one speculate as to other, but yet unknown, deleterious effects this insecticide might be having on the environment and humans.

Is news often just…(pardon us) bullshit? Watch this video and find out.

Click here to access this 2:02m video by James Huang from WhoWhatWhy. 

If you watch the boobtube (TV), you are well acquainted with this type of coverage.

Friday, March 16, 2012

James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change

17:52 video uploaded to You Tube by Ted Talks.

This is one of the clearest expositions about global warming and its consequences that I have ever heard.
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.

If you need more convincing, then explore the articles at this site.

Police Try To Intimidate Occupy

Click here to access article from Adbusters. 

There is mounting evidence that the ruling One Percent is feeling very threatened by the Occupy movement and is preparing to use any means necessary to contain it. This brief article illustrates some the police state type methods being used to intimidate activists as they make plans for upcoming projects. 

And this piece from a Canadian source provides additional evidence that police use of so-called non-lethal weapons are being applied in a much more brutal way to inflict injuries on activists.

The prescription drugs bubble

Click here to access article by Robin Pope and Reinhard Selten from Real-World Economics Blog. 

This posting is an excerpt from a longer paper entitled,  “Public debt tipping point studies ignore how exchange rate changes may create a financial meltdown”. Thus, it was written with this thesis in mind.

Nevertheless, it makes some very interesting points about the public contribution to the profits of privately owned pharmaceutical corporations and the latter's influence of government policies to serve the interests of the corporations. 

This subject desperately needs to be developed as a separate study. Possibly it has been--I am not very knowledgeable on this subject. One might find excellent exposés on this issue by referring to the reference sources in the larger document.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

An insider’s view of Wall Street criminality

Click here to access article by Andre Damon and Barry Grey from World Socialist Web Site. 
Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation Wednesday in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, denouncing the bank's “toxic” culture of avarice and fraud.
...The column describes an operation in which laws and regulations requiring financial institutions to deal honestly with their clients and protect their interests are routinely violated. The insider’s indictment of Goldman Sachs highlights a broader process—the criminalization of American capitalism as a whole.

The Seven Year Brouhaha over Gene Sharp

Click here to access article by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall from The Most Revolutionary Act. 
(This is the second of five posts about the American godfather of nonviolent resistance, Gene Sharp, and the role of CIA and Pentagon-funded foundations and think tanks in funding and promoting nonviolent resistance)
My interest in this subject has been aroused by a number of curious experiences I've had in various progressive organizations: the heavy emphasis placed on non-violence and non-violence training even when there were no street actions contemplated or in such non-politically activist organizations as I witnessed recently in a local Transition Towns group.

Be sure to read the comments section following the article for more insights.

Why the Government Funds the Peace Movement

Click here to access article by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall from her blog, The Most Revolutionary Act. 

(This is the third of five posts about the American godfather of nonviolent resistance, Gene Sharp, and the role of CIA and Pentagon-funded foundations and think tanks in funding and promoting nonviolent resistance.)

VIDEO: See What Armed Domestic Drones Look Like [updated]

Click here to access article by Josh Bell from American Civil Liberties Union. ( 2:02 minute video, photo, and brief article.)

Look at the latest weapon that the enforcers of the One Percent have ready to insure your compliance to their diktats.

The major US enforcer, the FBI, is fearing more domestic opposition and is preparing the public for more brutal police actions against protestors and activists by labeling them as terrorists. See this ABC announcement news report entitled, "FBI Warns of Homegrown Violence After Afghan Massacre".
High level federal officials have repeatedly warned that one of the greatest threats facing the American homeland comes from self-radicalized, homegrown terrorists who may be inspired by -- but have little to no contact with -- major terrorist groups.
Of course, the FBI regards property destruction such as breaking a window as "violence".
The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Consider the case of Marie Mason as an illustration of a "terrorist" that the FBI considers dangerous. From a support site we have this report on her "crime" and police state justice in our capitalist society:
Marie Mason is a loving mother of two and a long-time activist in the environmental and labor movements. In March 2008, she was arrested by federal authorities for charges related to two acts of property destruction that occurred in 1999 and 2000; no one was injured in either of them. She accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced on February 5, 2009 to just under 22 years. She is now serving the longest sentence of any "Green Scare" prisoner.
The “Green Scare” is the name given to the recent arrests of animal rights and environmental activists who have been charged with acts of economic sabotage. Federal authorities have sought outrageous sentences (often Life in prison) and have publicly and legally labeled the activists as “terrorists” – despite the fact that no one has been killed or injured in any of the acts.
Compare that with corporate crimes like Union Carbide's Bhopal disaster, Exxon's negligence causing the Valdez oil spill, and British Petroleum's negligence resulting in the recent Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

“toxic and destructive” Goldman Sachs and the Obama administration

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

This is an excerpt from an article that I included as a link within yesterday's article by Fullbrook. Because it highlights the incestuous relationship between a key financial institution and the US government, I am re-posting this section. This government relationship with key financial institutions is, of course, not limited to Goldman Sachs, but to all the major sectors of Wall Street and banking institutions. It simply illustrates what anyone familiar with a class view of society recognizes as the functioning of a ruling class in contemporary capitalist societies.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Plutonomy Reports

Click here to access article by Edward Fullbrook (UK) from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

We can thank the author for posting all the three leaked infamous documents from Citigroup. Up till now I was only aware of this document--“Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer”. We can especially thank the conscientious person who leaked the documents. 

For your convenience here are the three documents with their links as of this date. (Be aware that Citigroup has previously succeeded in removing these documents from various websites and may continue to do so.) 
(You can also access my postings on the second report by entering "plutonomy" in my search box.)

I would like to direct your attention to his report entitled "The Political Economy of Bubbles" (pdf), where he offers numerous charts and data and his analysis in relation to these three Citigroup documents.

The first graph tells the main story of what has occurred in the US under neoliberal policies that largely began under the Reagan administration with the result that ordinary incomes remained flat for the bottom 90% and skewed upward for the 1 %. This, of course, does not account for the other consequences for the 90% like loss of homes, jobs, and deepening indebtedness.


The difference between charts 1 and 2, that is, regarding the 1% including capital gains and the 1% excluding capital gains, can be a bit confusing if you ignore the difference in the income scales on the right sides of the graphs. If the same scale were used you would see a much greater income gain for the 1% when capital gains are included.

The next chart, Exhibit 3 could be clearer. I would have arranged the income brackets more logically starting with the green bracket, the top .1%, followed by the top 1% (blue), then the top 1-5% (amber), then the 5-10% (red).

This chart is interesting to me in that it appears to indicate that once one gets below the 1% the income from capital gains largely disappears. Hence, those below this income level in the 1-5% and especially those in the 5-10% bracket, people who might be considered "middle class" have not benefited much from stock ownership simply because they are less likely to own many stocks. Also it is likely that they have incurred more debts and taxes than the upper brackets. This might explain observations often made about the "disappearing middle class".

The author's commentary regarding the charts reflect a politically liberal point of view in that it frequently refers to "democratic process" as being contaminated by this new "plutonomy" or capitalist class. This is nonsense. Democracy, that is, a genuine participatory democracy has been an unfulfilled dream of working people since the rising class of capitalists who promised it during the American and French Revolutions. They made such promises when they needed the support of ordinary people in their struggle against the British and French aristocracy and monarchy. We have had class structured societies for the past 10,000 years where income has been skewed upwards. The rise of the industrial capitalist class has accentuated this trend, and now under neoliberalism we have financial capitalists where this trend has even accelerated. 

Nevertheless, his analysis of the charts and the Citigroup reports has much to offer in understanding current social-economic issues. For example, the evidence clearly indicates that there is little significant difference between the two parties in the US. They both serve the ruling One Percent and they both function to promote policies favoring the One Percent through secrecy and deception. 

But, unlike what the author implies, this has always been the case in the US. The difference now is that the skewed income distribution is more extreme than ever and it is having negative effects on the middle class (managerial, professional, highly trained scientists and technicians, small business owners) who constitute a very important sector of the population that has sustained the capitalist system, and disastrous effects on everyone below them. This is a decided threat to the ruling One Percent and their beloved system of capitalism. That is precisely why we see them creating a climate of fear (terrorism), instituting many police state type laws, and ignoring legal and Constitutional protections on civil rights.

Another disturbing development which the author points out is the tendency under financial capitalism to promote bubbles (dramatic expansion and contractions) in the economy. Financial capitalists like contractions (economic crashes) because then they have the opportunity to buy up assets cheaply. Hence, he suggests that we will likely be experiencing more booms and busts and related social-economic chaos. And I predict that we will continue to devolve into a fascist state--unless we in the 99% can stop them.

He concludes his report with this insightful statement:
For pro-democracy people the recent emergence of the Occupy or 99 Percent Movement is both a positive step and the sort of thing that the Citigroup reports cite as the ultimate danger to continued plutonomy rule. But that movement still exists only at the margins. It is much too early to tell if it will grow to have, directly or indirectly, an influence at the polls, nor even through what channels such influence might be realized. Furthermore there is not yet at the public level a narrative that identifies and focuses on the relevant political-economic structures, and explains how their policies have created and will in the future create financial bubbles which end with global crises and further upward redistributions of income. In short, regarding the political economy of today’s world, in key countries ignorance prevails.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

HR 347 'Trespass Bill' Criminalizes Protest [revised comments]

Click here to access article by Jeanine Molloff from Huffington Post.

The author provides the details contained in this bill that is awaiting Obama's signature.
H. R. 347 makes protest of any type potentially a federal offense with anywhere from a year to 10 years in federal prison, providing it occurs in the presence of elites brandishing Secret Service protection, or during an officially defined 'National Special Security Event' ....
The ruling One Percent is obviously very frightened of the 99 Percent: they continue to enact police state laws to control and punish dissent. This latest bill adds to a growing list including the Patriot Acts and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that is creating the framework for a police state.
In this age of ever increasing police militarization and shrinking civil liberties both here at home and worldwide; the U.S. government under President Obama has morphed into a third Bush term. No longer content to stonewall the public with empty slogans issuing from 'empty suits' -- the political class has degraded to writing obviously illegitimate 'laws' in a desperate attempt to crush any dissent.
To provide cover for their construction of a police state, the media of the One Percent like to run articles like this puff piece entitled, "Liberal Democrats will not abandon the cause of human rights and liberty".

Why the CIA Funds Nonviolence Training

Click here to access article by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall from Dissident Voice. 

The author, who is living in exile in New Zealand after years of harassment by the FBI, appears to have uncovered...
...mounting evidence of the role CIA and Pentagon-funded foundations and think tanks play in funding and promoting nonviolent resistance training.
I have long had suspicions about this and look forward to looking at the evidence she provides in this and the next four installments of the article. It appears that she may also focus attention on phony progressive type organizations that seem to support democratic and human rights concerns that are funded by right-wing groups with government funding.

We are seeing this today with the activities of the Invisible Children charity foundation. See this and this for more details.

‘Libya to see endless war of tribal feuds’

Click here to access article and 1:25m video interview with Pepe Escobar from RT. 

Escobar explains why news of events in Libya, which is not good, has dropped off of Western media reports: Western oil companies have secured their oil contracts. Meanwhile, tribal war and chaos has erupted all over Libya. Once again we see the results of the Empire's interventions spreading murder, mayhem, and social disasters in one country after another: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria--and they are only the most well-known and recent. 

The governments of the One Percent are international criminals committing the grossest of crimes against humanity to satisfy their addictions to profit and power. We of the 99 Percent everywhere are all victims in one way or another. 

There is so much at stake in this contest. It is for the very future of the human race: will it be a nightmarish dystopia or will humanity blossom to its full potential and live in harmony with each other and their planet's ecosystem? If we sit back, stare mindlessly at the Empire's boobtube (TV) and do nothing, the outcome will definitely be the former.

Al Jazeera exodus: Channel losing staff over ‘bias’

Click here to access article and 3:30m video from RT (Russia Today).

Al Jazeera once enjoyed an excellent reputation for objective reporting about Mid-East affairs, but no longer. Although details of this transition are not yet available, it is clear to me that Empire political operatives went to work on Qatari rulers who own this news service to insure that they served the needs of the Empire. Because of the very biased and selective coverage of recent events in the Mid-East, we are seeing key staff and journalists leaving this news agency.

A Tough-Oil World: Why Twenty-First Century Oil Will Break the Bank -- and the Planet

Click here to access article by Michael T. Klare from The American Empire Project.
Tough-oil reserves...will provide most of the world’s new oil in the years ahead. One thing is clear: even if they can replace easy oil in our lives, the cost of everything oil-related -- whether at the gas pump, in oil-based products, in fertilizers, in just about every nook and cranny of our lives -- is going to rise.  Get used to it.  If things proceed as presently planned, we will be in hock to big oil for decades to come.
The author explains that most developed countries will soon have to get their oil from very expensive sources while causing more damage to the environment. When he writes that this "will break the bank" the meaning of this is clear to all wide-awake people: this situation cannot sustain a capitalist system that requires growth. Because the ruling One Percent depend on the capitalist system for their wealth and power, they will--if we don't stop them--trash the planet to feed the system's addiction.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Fall of the Argentine Assembly Movement [must read]

Click here to access article from the New Compass collective (Norway). (Note: there are a few minor English usage and/or typographical errors in the article.)

This is a review of a BA Honors thesis written by a student at the U. of Oregon. As the authors of this article state:
 ...the lessons learned in Argentina may be valueable [sic] for the assembly movements emerging around the world. If we are going to succeed in our struggle for "real democracy," we have to learn from the success’ and failures of past movements with similar ambitions.
I thoroughly agree. Therefore, I think that it is extremely important for all Occupiers, activists, and especially those committed to what is most commonly known as "horizontal democracy" (see this and this) to study both this review and the thesis on which it is based.

The CADTM condemns the disinformation campaign on the Greek debt and the rescue plan by private creditors

Click here to access article from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM).
On Thursday night (8 March 2012) more than 85% of private creditors (banks, insurance companies, pension funds, etc.) agreed to take part in the restructuring of the Greek debt by cancelling EUR 107 billion. On paper it looks as though they are forfeiting 53.5% of their claims. Yet actually this is a sweet deal for Greek and European (mainly German and French) banks, though not for the Greek people, who will have to face further deterioration in their living conditions.
They explain what this "sweet deal" really means for the Greek people.

6 Ways to Get Ready for the May 1st GENERAL STRIKE

Click here to access article from Infoshop News. 
This winter, we refocused our energies on fostering ties with local communities, saving homes from corrupt banks and jobs from greedy corporations, and building and expanding our horizontal infrastructure. This #GlobalSpring, we will take the streets again. On May 1st, Occupy Wall Street has called for a General Strike. We are calling on everyone who supports the cause of economic justice and true democracy to take part: No Work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping, No Banking - and most importantly, TAKE THE STREETS!

Wall Street Protesters Complain of Police Surveillance

Click here to access article by Colin Moynihan from The NY Times.

Even the NY Times can no longer ignore the growing police state in the US. Still, they can always manage to find people to make naive statements like this in order to frame the event as an anomaly:
“The N.Y.P.D. surveillance does not appear to be limited to unlawful activity,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “We count on the police, of course, to be on the lookout for terrorists and terrorism, but to think you could be on that continuum just by going to a peaceful protest is nuts.”
Of course, the whole point of creating the terrorist climate of fear by engineering the 9/11 event and all the police/FBI designed entrapments of "terrorists" was to create the conditions for a police state. 

Here is another example, this time from the other leading publication (Washington Post) of the ruling One Percent admitting that police state methods have been and are used against environmentalists :
Even as environmental and animal rights extremism in the United States is on the wane, officials at the federal, state and local level are continuing to target groups they have labeled a threat to national security, according to interviews with numerous activists, internal FBI documents and a survey of legislative initiatives across the country.
However, the article frames environmental activists as "extremists" and presents the FBI's view that police state methods are successful against "extremists" by causing the decline in these "extremest" activities. Unfortunately, the writer can only cite a few vague examples of the most aggressive forms of actions taken by environmentalists.

German Finance Minister vs. PIIGS: ‘Europe is not for sale!’

Click here to access article by Collettivo Prezzemolo from Reflections on a Revolution.
...throughout their action, the protesters emphasized that the demonstration was not a personal attack against Schäuble. In its statement, the Collettivo Prezzemolo emphasized that “Schäuble is one of the main protagonists of the neoliberal right that is imposing the logic of austerity and cuts on the whole of Europe,” but the assault on Europe’s citizens is infinitely greater than the actions carried out by a single butcher. The problem, in the end, is structural.

Spain: Thousands in the streets against labor reforms

Click here to access article from EAgainst.
Massive protests against government’s plan for labour reform took place this Sunday in 60 Spanish cities. These are the first mobilizations after the announcement of  a general strike on Μarch 29  against the policies of the conservative ruling Popular Party under Mariano Rachoi.

The dirty war on WikiLeaks is now trial by media in Sweden

Click here to access article by John Pilger from his blog. 
War by media, says current military doctrine, is as important as the battlefield. This is because the real enemy is the public at home, whose manipulation and deception are essential for starting an unpopular colonial war. Like the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, attacks on Iran and Syria require a steady drip-effect on readers' and viewers' consciousness. This is the essence of a propaganda that rarely speaks its name.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New film on LRA courts controversy

Click here to access article by Tabu Butagira from Sunday Monitor (Uganda).

A film entitled "Kony 2012" has been inundating the internet with well over 32 million hits and social media comments. It is a film produced by the Invisible Child charity and features endorsements from numerous media celebrities. The film appears to be another Hollywood-Pentagon type film to promote more military intervention in Africa under the guise of "humanitarian" concerns. This seems to be how some Africans see it:
A sensational video released by Invisible Children, a US charity, chronicling LRA anarchy in northern Uganda, has raised suspicion after its maker exhorts immediate American military action at a time the rebel force poses no threat to the country.
For 15 more African reactions to the film, read this source.

In this video interview from RT Keith Harmon Snow, an expert independent journalist on African affairs, war correspondent, genocide investigator, and UN testifier, sees the film as another propaganda stunt to justify more military intervention in Africa to secure more resources for the Empire's corporations. In this interview he claims that the film was heavily financed by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and specifically mentions the Enough Project headed by John Pendergast who he suggests is an intelligence operative. I can't verify that, but then who could since intelligence operatives are never identified as such. However, I have followed Snow for a number of years and I absolutely trust what he says. Also, Wikipedia states this about Pendergast:
At the end of 1996, he joined the National Security Council as Director for African Affairs and thereafter served as a special adviser to Susan Rice at the United States Department of State.
These agencies are filled with CIA agents.

While films like this (another example: "Act of Valor" extolls the heroics of Navy Seals) get abundant funding from the Pentagon and the CIA--honest films like The Genocide of Politics have to beg for money from among the 99 Percent. We must support such efforts!