We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Who Is Corporate Philanthropy for? Arundhati Roy Says It’s Not Who You Think

Click here to access article by Rick Cohen from Nonprofit Quarterly. 

The author offers a brief synopsis of an excellent longer article entitled, "Capitalism: A Ghost Story", by Arundhati Roy in which, while focusing on India, she provides a critique of capitalism and a thorough look at how philanthropic organizations provide another means for capitalists to control societies (with the added benefit of tax exemptions). 

For example, she writes about the “rules of the Gush-Up Gospel" which means “the more you have, the more you can have.”
“As Gush-Up concentrates wealth on to the tip of a shining pin on which our billionaires pirouette, tidal waves of money crash through the institutions of democracy—the courts, Parliament as well as the media, seriously compromising their ability to function in the ways they are meant to. The noisier the carnival around elections, the less sure we are that democracy really exists.”

The Drug War Inside

Click here to access article by Jason Flores-Williams from The Brooklyn Rail. 

This piece offers a personal perspective and a powerful, searing indictment of the so-called War on Drugs. 
American citizens are being beaten down and oppressed every day in every corner of this country because every soul incarcerated means cash money to law enforcement. And more important, the war is a constant reminder that the United States government can jail your body and try to own your soul.

We Are All Luddites: Fighting Post-Modern Enclosure

Click here to access article by David Rosen from CounterPunch. 

The author accomplishes so much in this excellent essay. Among other contributions, he offers a broad historical perspective of the past 500 years which has seen the rise of a new class of people who claim "ownership" rights over technology and its applications. This has produced a dialectic between the social versus the private in societal development which is reflected in the history that has played out in various working class opposition movements over the past 500 years until the present day. He begins this story by telling the true history of the Luddites which he salvaged from the distorted history propagated by capitalist academics.
Those with power stamp a certain definition on historical reality, shaping popular consciousness and the meaning of the very words we use.  Such is the privilege of power.

Five Challengers of the Neoliberal Jackboot

Click here to access article by Vijay Prashad from CounterPunch.

The US Empire is increasingly feeling the presence of the "five challengers" or the BRIC countries who are flexing their economic muscles. Because these countries are ruled by capitalist classes, I doubt that there is anything progressive about this except that they act as a counter-force to the aggressive Empire that is on a rampage across much of the globe.

One thing that was brought to my attention in the article is how the Empire has organized non-UN economic organizations to pursue their neo-liberal policies just like they have used NATO to pursue military operations that the UN would not endorse. The political operatives of the Empire are willing to use the UN when they can control it; but when it poses obstacles for them, they ignore it and use alternative organizations such as NATO and "coalitions of the willing".

Friday, March 30, 2012

General strike marks another step forward for indignados

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

The author reports on Spain's general strike that occurred yesterday. He sees positive trends in the development of people's resistance to neoliberal governance through the application of a broad range of tactics. As expected, the ruling elite's media try to frame any property destruction as violence while ignoring the real violence perpetrated by their enforcers and collaborators against the activists. 

Roos anticipates the development of a radically new consciousness among the people:
As each day passes, breaking with the current regime and establishing an alternative are less the ideological desires of revolutionaries and more an issue of necessity for the average person in light of the dire circumstances they face daily. Those who wish to work will have to do it through cooperatives. Those who wish to learn will have to organize their own alternative universities. Those who wish to inform themselves will have to look to the alternative media. And those who wish to have cultural goods will have to share them. This is the politics of the common that we saw in action in our streets today, and which we will see in the alternative institutions of tomorrow.
As inspirational as this article is, it lacks sufficient details of the event. To make up for this lack, I refer you to a report from World Socialist Web Site.

The Rise And Fears Of The New Elite

Click here to access article by Kenneth Rapoza from Forbes.

The floating city of Stratus, populated by social elites on the fictional planet of Ardana in the Star Trek episode "The Cloud Minders". Today's elites are most concerned about political and social unrest impacting their wealth. 

After reading the article, I think it is easy to see how the magic of capitalism makes it so convenient for the One Percent to keep grabbing more wealth without doing anything of social value: they don't cook meals, tend crying children, empty bedpans, work on an assembly line, or even function as bosses. All they need do is hire brokers to advise and invest their wealth. I really didn't get the feeling that they are very worried about the 99 Percent interfering very significantly with their wonderful lifestyle--did you? What is more interesting is how the author sees the growth of a trans-national capitalist elite.

If you are wondering: what on Earth do these people do with their time? Jamie Johnson's fine films, Born Rich and The One Percent will give you some idea.

Occupy May Day: Not Your Usual General Strike

Click here to access article by Jeremy Brecher from Infoshop News.
May Day has been an international labor holiday for more than a century. But for millennia it has been a day for the celebration of nature. This May Day can be an opportunity to draw the two together to represent the common global interest in creating work for all reconstructing the global economy to protect rather than destroy the Earth.

On The Nature Of Self-Defeating Convictions

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

The author expresses his profound frustration about a friend's descent into right-wing attitudes and views. I share his feelings because there are teabaggers in my own family. Some days, it seems like I'm surrounded by such people. 
Sure, start a dialog with even the most obtuse teabagger sort…attempt to convince him that the views he clutches are self-defeating…try to disabuse him of his calcified bigotry — but don’t be optimistic about the outcome of your efforts. Trouble is depressingly large numbers of people have invested a great amount of time, energy and identity in the maintenance of their reality-defiant attitudes…There is just too much fragile self-esteem, bulwarked by brittle pride, at stake.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mainstream media self-censorship

Click here to access the transcript to this 4:37m video from Russia Today.


Student Photographer's Arrest: Snapshot of Systemic Abuse

Click here to access article by Linn Washington from OpEd News. (More material added on 3-31-2012)

There is widespread evidence of reactionary measures being taken by the enforcers of the One Percent against even the reporting and documenting by journalists or ordinary citizens of police brutality and other illegal activities. 
Police harassing citizens lawfully documenting police activities taking place in public is a "widespread and continuing" problem according to the ACLU.

"The right of citizens to record the police is a critical check and balance," an ACLU analyst noted during a September 2011 speech where he referenced six incidents in five cities of police arresting citizen photographers during just the spring of last year.

Yes, police attacking civilians for lawfully photographing public spaces, police routinely employing unlawful excessive force and prosecutors too frequently turning a blind eye to such police misconduct are all nationwide problems.
Also, see this audio report and transcript of a photojournalist from Santa Cruz, California, who is being charges with several felonies for simply covering a protest event in that city. See this regarding widespread arrests of journalists in New York during recent protests.

Why are Workers Striking Across Spain and Portugal?

Sourced from Real News Network (transcript available there), an interview with Francisco Louca who is a Professor of Economics at Lisbon's Higher Institute of Economics and Management". He provides some excellent insights on how the neo-liberal strategy is currently attacking Europe's social democracy in order to reduce labor costs to the benefit of the One Percent's ruling classes.

Europe's workers are fighting back. Read about the general strike going on today in Spain in this article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On the origins of green liberalism

Click here to access article by Ted Steinberg from Climate and Capitalism. 

This website has resurrected this article from behind a paywall in Radical History Review of 2010 that allows us to review the activities of the fashionable green environmental movement that served to distract activists from efforts to look at the capitalist system that is currently driving us toward environmental disasters. Because we now see very little coverage of this movement in mainstream media, it appears that it has reached a dead end. In recent years we witnessed attempts to deny climate change, but this, too, seems to have run its course. I wonder what is next.
The countercultural emphasis on individual responsibility mirrored the newly emerging neoliberal agenda with its vision of democracy rooted in an appeal to personal freedom, disingenuous as it may have been. Green liberalism, in other words, was shaped by changes in the larger political culture.

Are We Coming to the End of the Growth Era?

Click here to access article: a review of a Richard Heinberg's new book by this title posted in Canadian Dimension.

This is an excellent review in that it balances the insights offered by Heinberg regarding the hazards that lie ahead if our ruling classes try to continue with growth as usual with his optimistic view that capitalism can adapt to a no growth economy. The best that Heinberg can offer are moral imperatives for people of all classes to organize for a no growth economy. The reviewer, Cy Gonick, is critical of this view.

Afghan War Just Needs a Better Sales Pitch

Click here to access article by Peter Hart from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. 

The author's survey of opinion indoctrinators among the One Percent's mainstream media blames Obama for the poor public support of the war in Afghanistan. It appears they are getting desperate. After this longest war, which still continues, in US history, the political operatives of the One Percent refuse to admit that they are pursuing a war that their own citizens reject. Hence, it's all a matter of misunderstanding.

Barack Obama Prepares for War Footing

Click here to access article by Edwin Black from The Huffington Post. 

This article tries to address the significance of Obama's recent signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order. In the past such orders have been issued when war was imminent, but this one specifies that it can be executed in peacetime. This author suggests that it was formulated to deal with a crisis with Iran. Nowadays it seems they don't need an authorization from Congress to start a war. 
The timing of the Order -- with little fanfare -- could not be explained. Opinions among the very first bloggers on the purpose of the unexpected Executive Order run the gamut from the confused to the absurd. None focus on the obvious sudden need for such a pronouncement: oil and its potential for imminent interruption.

Pentagon says it has no records of bin Laden's death; CIA hasn't answered open records request

Click here to access article by Richard Lardner of Associated Press via Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Citing the law [Freedom of Information Act], The Associated Press asked for files about the raid in more than 20 separate requests, mostly submitted the day after bin Laden's death. The Pentagon told the AP this month it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden's body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden's body on the Navy aircraft carrier where the al-Qaida leader's body was taken.
Just like the 9/11 tragedy, the doubts about this event just keep piling up. And similar to inconsistencies of the official story about 9/11, we find the government of the One Percent hiding its information about the celebrated bin Laden event. I'm sure it's all a part of the project of managing the consent of the 99 Percent to conform to the interests of the One Percent, but it forces me to wonder what the motive was for this event--to enhance Obama's political stature?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

R2P: Imperial Conquest by Another Name

A 16:17m video from Global Research TV featuring an interview with Pepe Escobar on how the Empire has misused and corrupted the humanitarian Responsibility to Protect doctrine to serve the interests of the Empire's One Percent. To be sure, all ruling classes will always use some nice sounding pretext to justify the use of violence to protect their interests, but the Empire is now making the most hypocritical use of this doctrine to expand their control over the MENA region.
As the world recovers from one humanitarian peace bombing in Libya, and braces for another possible intervention in Syria, many are now asking how it is that the so-called liberal left have become cheerleaders for the very wars of aggression they once pretended to deride. As long-time investigate reporter Pepe Escobar explains, an obscure international doctrine called Responsibility To Protect or R2P has been the main tool for shaping this new paradigm for the continuation of NATO's imperial power grabs around the world.

NSA building massive surveillance facility, 'everybody with communication is a target'

Click here to access article by James Bamford  from Wired. 

It's clear that the political operatives of the One Percent are afraid of US citizens. It is also clear that we are seeing what has been hidden from us over the past several decades: the growth of a state within the US that ignores the official legal structure in order to serve the narrow interests of the One Percent. This inner state depends on total surveillance, police brutality and the threat of violence or incarceration to intimidate citizens into submission to its dictates. This is the 21st century's version of fascism.
Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.
Meanwhile, the liberal American Civil Liberties Union seems incredibly naive when they run reports like this: "FBI FOIA Docs Show Use of "Mosque Outreach" for Illegal Intel Gathering".

Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible

Click here to access article by Nina Chestney of Reuters via Scientific American. 
As emissions grow, scientists say the world is close to reaching thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests.

Spread Reckoning: U.S. Suburbs Face Twin Perils of Climate Change and Peak Oil [Excerpt]

Click here to access article by Maggie Koerth-Baker from Scientific American. 

This excellent article is an excerpt from a book by this name and author. It explores the impacts that the "twin perils of climate change and peak oil" can be expected to have on US citizens in the decades ahead. There is really nothing new here except that it is being published in a very respectable mainstream science publication that should get better circulation in other mainstream media outlets than is usually the case. However, it was inevitable that the ruling One Percent would have to "fess up" to these twin perils eventually; and now with fuel prices climbing and extreme weather happening, it seems that denial is no longer possible. 

The positives of this excerpt is that it is written in a very understandable style by using practical, concrete illustrations that anyone could understand. It tries not to be alarmist, but still gets the facts across. 
There are lots of reasons to care about energy, and lots of reasons to want to change the way we make and use energy in this country. For me, though, it boils down to a concern about climate change and about energy diversity. Those are the big reasons I think we need to seriously alter the way we make and use energy. Why do I think that? In a nutshell: that's what the majority of scientific studies tell me. When many different, unconnected scientists come to the same conclusions, after decades' worth of research, I listen. You should, too.
But while trying not to be alarmist, I think the author errors a bit on the side of optimism. By claiming that peak oil is 30 years off is, I think, a bit disingenuous and doesn't even correspond well with the information provided. It's clear to me that peak oil is 30 years off IF the economy can afford very expensive oil while handling all the economic devastation caused by extreme weather events--to say nothing about the money that will be needed to invest in new sustainable fuel alternatives and infrastructures, and to say nothing about the expense of funding never ending wars to gain control of sources of fossil fuels.

What is glaringly ignored is the fact that capitalism requires growth (the 800 pound gorilla in the room) and ignoring this fact will prevent any real solutions as it has since the 1970s when we first had good data about this dilemma. By continuing to ignore this root cause, we will be driven to extinction. We of the 99 Percent have a choice: continue to tolerate a system that feeds the addictions of the One Percent to power and profit or choose life by changing the system!

Top .01%, Top 1%, Bottom 99%

Article by David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog. (This is the complete article.)

For the arithmetically challenged, that’s a total of 93 percent of the growth in income in 2010 that went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers.
What these numbers indicate is that the wages and salaries of the bottom 99 percent barely changed but the surplus those same workers created during 2010 (a) increased, (b) was mostly captured by the top 1 percent, and (c) was sheltered from taxes.
In other words, the tiny minority at the top made out like bandits in 2010

Monday, March 26, 2012

Special Prosecutor in Martin Case Sends Red Flags Sky High

Click here to access article by Earl Ofari Hutchinson from OpEd News.

This looks at the shocking background of the special prosecutor who will be seeking justice in the Trayvon Martin case.
It would be hard to find a special prosecutor in a racially charged murder case that sends red flags flying sky higher than Florida's Fourth Judicial District's Angela "tough on Crime" Corey.
Already I've been seeing reports on mainstream media alleging that the killer Zimmerman, who weighs in at 250 lbs, was defending himself, like this report from a Orlando, Florida newspaper:
With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloody and battered, authorities have revealed to the Orlando Sentinel.
It appears that right-wing Americans are becoming mentally unstable with all the recent hate crimes resulting in murder such as this killing of an Iraqi woman near San Diego, California.
“A week ago they left a letter saying this is our country not yours you terrorist, and so my mom ignored that thinking it was just kids playing a prank,” Alawadi’s daughter, Fatima Al Himidi said. “But the day they hit her, they left another note again, and it said the same thing.”

The New Jim Crow How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste

Click here to access article by Michelle Alexander from TomDispatch. (You will need to scroll down to the article following Engelhardt's introduction.)
In the words of H.R. Haldeman, President Richard Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff: “[T]he whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” 
In my opinion, the impetus for this war on African-Americans, officially known as "War on Drugs", was the reaction of the One Percent's enforcers to black nationalism in the US after groups such as the Black Panthers in the late 1960s and early 1970s struck fear in the souls of the One Percent's thoroughly racist security services. 

If you have some doubts about my description of their security services being racist, please read the stories of two white women who were intimately involved with black nationalists: actress Jean Seberg (Played Out by David Richards) and Seattle area psychiatrist Stuart Jeanne Bramhall (The Most Revolutionary Act). The former allegedly committed suicide and the latter nearly did before she escaped to New Zealand where she is now living and working. Also read The Echo from Dealey Plaza by Abraham Bolden who was a black ex-Secret Service agent who was critical of the poor practices of the Secret Service in protecting JF Kennedy. For more background on CIA's drug running, Read Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou who wrote of journalist Gary Webb's attempt to uncover the CIA's importation of drugs in the 1980s and 90s. Gary Webb's journalism career was ruined and he later died from an alleged suicide.

We wear the hood but "hood" remains unchanged

Click here to access article by Sylvester Brown, Jr. from OpEd News.

The author is worried about instant, shallow activism that may substitute for long range strategic thinking that is necessary to really change the neighborhood and the world.
This old school journalist...is...leery of social media. Like the youth who drive it, there's a flighty, faddish feel to viral jornalism. It's a bittersweet sphere where tweets, pings and postings dictate the relevance of information. Its news in a hurry for hurried people conditioned to sound bites and under 500-word summaries. Social media can instantaneously motivate millions to action but that figurative moment also allows people to superficially adopt a cause or respond to a crisis without really understanding or addressing root causes or the bigger realities of societal issues.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

U.S. heat 'unprecedented,' 7,000 records set or tied

Click here to access article by Deborah Zabarenko from Reuters.
"This heat wave is essentially unprecedented," said Heidi Cullen of the nonprofit science and communication organization Climate Central. "It's hard to grasp how massive and significant this is."
See also this dramatic graphic display from NASA of global warming over the past 131 years:


Originally sourced from Climate Central whose site appended these notes:
Since we launched this video in late January, more than 125,000 people have watched it as it has bounced around the digital globe. The video, which comes to us from our friends at NASA, is an amazing 26-second animation depicting how temperatures around the globe have warmed since 1880. That year is what scientists call the beginning of the “modern record.” You’ll note an acceleration of those temperatures in the late 1970s as greenhouse gas emissions from energy production increased worldwide and clean air laws reduced emissions of pollutants that had a cooling effect on the climate, and thus were masking some of the global warming signal. The data comes from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures. As NASA notes, “in this animation, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.” 

Occupy’s Disrupt Dirty Power Earth Month

Click here to access article by Shepherd Bliss from Dissident Voice. 
From New York to St. Louis to Los Angeles, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) buzzes with the awakening of spring activities throughout the United States. One of its many pending actions is to join forces with the environmental movement to launch Earth Month on March 24.

Secret Service Failures on 9/11: A Call for Transparency

Click here to access article by Kevin Ryan, a guest post at Washington's Blog. The author is a...
...former Site Manager for Environmental Health Laboratories, a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Mr. Ryan, a Chemist and laboratory manager, was fired by UL in 2004 for publicly questioning the report being drafted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on their World Trade Center investigation. In the intervening period, Ryan has completed additional research while his original questions, which have become increasingly important over time, remain unanswered by UL or NIST. 
The author points out more discrepancies and anomalies between known facts and the official story by focusing on the Secret Service's lack of concern about protecting either the President or the Vice-President after knowing that air attacks had been launched. (Note: as you read the article, you may want to refer to a timeline of the 9/11 events.) 

The same author also wrote a report in December that was published in Foreign Policy Journal entitled, "Questions on Two Flights Out of Andrews AFB on 9/11", with similar discrepancies.

Trouble on the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline Front

Click here to access article by Jen Alic from Oil Price. 

Although this site serves the fossil fuel industry, it appears to me that their coverage of issues is quite objective and informed. This article lays out the various national ruling class interests being affected by this oil pipeline and suggests that this issue will likely have major impacts on political affairs in this vital Eurasian area.
The article does not provide a map, but here is one I found. Iran is on the far left hand side.