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, April 14, 2012

Revolution vs. Counterrevolution: Whatever Happened to the Arab Spring?

Click here to access article by Ismael Hossein-Zadehi from CounterPunch. 
Caught off-guard by the initial wave of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia, the US and its allies struck back with a vengeance. They employed a number of simultaneous tactics to sabotage the Arab Spring. 
This piece contains the very best assessment I've seen on the phenomenon of the "Arab Spring".

The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. 
In one of the most egregious violations of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech seen in quite some time, Tarek Mehanna, an American Muslim, was convicted this week in a federal court in Boston and then sentenced yesterday to 17 years in prison.
The author posts a most stirring speech by another persecuted US Muslim in response to his verdict, and other important links that give more background information on his legal case.

This is, indeed, shocking. It appears that US society is definitely sliding down a very slippery slope--and to our doom. The only force I see that can prevent this is the Occupy movement. We simply must support it with all the energy and resources we have. The government of, by, and for the One Percent is going after us, and they will succeed if we do nothing. It brings to mind the famous statement of Rev. Niemöller with regard to Nazi Germany:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
If one replaces "Jews:" with "Muslims", his statement appears to be quite literally prophetic for the present time. (Trade unions were long ago purged of leftists along with many other "commies" during the McCarthy period.)

Battle for the Soul of Occupy

Click here to access article from Adbusters.
First they silenced our uprising with a media blackout… then they smashed our encampments with midnight paramilitary raids… and now they’re threatening to neutralize our insurgency with an insidious campaign of donor money and co-optation. This counter-strategy worked to kill off the Tea Party’s outrage and turn it into a puppet of the Republican Party. Will the same happen with Occupy Wall Street? Will our insurgency turn into the Democrats’ Tea Party pet?
Guess who has the answers? 

And, could it be co-opted? Read "Yes, The 99% Spring Is A Fraud" from This Can't Be Happening website. 

World food prices rise further, raising fears of unrest

Click here to access article by Svetlana Kovalyova and Veronica Brown of Reuters via Yahoo News.
"We will be 7.2 billion people on earth in 2015, and more than one million have died from starvation in 2011. The situation will not improve, and in fact the contrary will happen," Pierre Reuland, Interpol's special representative to the European Union, told a meeting of European security officials in January. "For poor people the struggle for life will not be better than it is today."
So, this begs some questions about what the causes are for the accelerating food prices which the article doesn't address. Is the problem related to a shortage of food production in relation to population growth? Extreme weather causing poor crops?  Or what? Fortunately, Real News website comes to our rescue with two interviews that shed some light on this important issue. 

The first guest addresses the issue within the context of US politics in an 8:58m interview entitled "Speculation and Criminal Manipulation of Food and Commodities Prices" in which he suggests that the problem is, once again, those among the One Percent who play their capitalist games to win enormous wealth, and with this wealth they are able to keep their games going by sabotaging any efforts to inhibit or regulate these games. 

The second guest addresses the issue from a global perspective in a 17:25m interview entitled Global North VS South Over Financialization of Food in which he explains that there are some divisions within the capitalist world, especially among the BRIC countries that wish to serve more national interests. There are some meetings among these global players scheduled in the near future that should give some indication of how these conflicts will play out over the long run.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Playing Nice?

Click here to access article by Andrew McLemore from the Fort Worth Weekly [Texas].

The headline refers to FBI's aggressive questioning of environmental activists to make sure they were "playing nice". 
The FBI has labeled ecoterrorism as the top domestic terror threat since at least 2005. That puts “highly destructive ecoterrorists” above “hate-filled white supremacists,” “violence-prone anti-government extremists,” and “radical separatist groups” — descriptions from a 2009 FBI press release on the agency’s website.
The political operatives of US capitalists are indoctrinating their enforcers to believe that environmentalists are mostly "terrorists"--today's version of the old bogyman, "commies". Clearly, as many people realize that there are severe threats to the environment by the increasing use of fossil fuels and other hazardous practices, they are becoming activists who protest against these activities. However, since capitalism cannot survive without growth from the use of relatively cheap fossil fuels, such activists are a real threat to the system. Hence, the aggressive use of FBI agents to intimidate protestors.

Study Links Massive Oyster Die-offs in Northwest to Ocean Acidification

Click here to access article from Center for Biological Diversity.
Each day the oceans absorb 22 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution from cars and industry, setting off an unprecedented chemical reaction that, since the Industrial Revolution, has made the world’s oceans 30 percent more acidic.
This is just the latest and one more piece of evidence that humans are creating positive feedback loops that likely will accelerate global warming in the decades ahead leading to more extreme weather events. (See also this and this.) 

The ocean is the major carbon sink and there is a lot of evidence that it is unable to absorb as much carbon from the atmosphere as in earlier decades; we continue to burn more fossil fuels which results in more acidic oceans and further lessens its ability as a carbon sink which leaves more carbon in our atmosphere which promotes more global warming causing more extreme weather events and rising oceans, and all sorts of disasters that I don't even want to think about.

If we fail to replace the system of capitalism and its growth imperative with a sustainable system, we humans will surely perish from the Earth along with many other species.

System of Death: Uprooting the Iraqi State

Click here to access article by Serene Assir from Al Akhbar. 

The article shows how the Empire intentionally went about destroying the Iraqi nation. It seems to me that this is a human rights and war crime of the highest order. 
...men and women with qualifications including doctors, teachers, scientists, journalists, university professors, artists, and engineers were among the first victims of a system that seems to have been created in order to destroy Iraq’s institutions. They were the people with the qualifications and capacity to help rebuild a post-war country. Without them, no nation would survive.
Why would anyone commit such crimes? Surely, the control of oil wouldn't justify this level of violence. Given that Zionist inspired neoconservatives were hugely involved in the war against Iraq, the most plausible explanation is that these acts were performed to eliminate any future threat to the state of Israel.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson from his blog. 

This liberal academic, without ever mentioning the system that created it, captures the current major contradiction in today's capitalist world : vast armies of people, employed and unemployed, in impossible debt bondage to the capitalist class. It appears that he is unable to imagine any other kind of economy, much less on what needs to be done to change to another economy. On the other hand, he may just fear the wrath of the One Percent and repercussions to his career if he strayed too far from acceptable discourse. He hints at this with these statements:
...as economies have been financialized, creditors have gained political power – and also the power to disable realistic academic discussion of the debt problem. What they fear most of all are thoughts of how to avoid today’s arrangements that have given them a free lunch at the rest of the economy’s expense.
This class, through its successful oppression of working people, has been able to thwart all efforts by workers to increase their share of the wealth which they create through mental and physical labor. In order to keep their capitalist economies going, the One Percent's ruling classes have increasingly provided credit to working people to buy the things they produce. Another major contributing factor are privately owned central banks who are authorized to issue a nation's money as debt owed by governments and, it turn, their taxpayers, mostly working people. The end result is what we have now: a world of debtors and a tiny world of creditors who demand that debts be paid. 

We are just beginning to see how the directors of this dysfunctional system are coping with diminishing resources, particularly energy sources, with which to feed their addiction to growth: reckless mining and drilling activities that pollute the environment and wars for resources in order to keep feeding their addiction to power and profits. We are also witnessing how these ruling classes are dealing with global warming--they're not! They can't, given the existing system.

Global Collapse: MIT researchers predict the end of the world as we know it

Click here to access article by Nikola Solic, Reuters via RT. 

After reading this rather brief article on MIT's report, one ought to notice a glaring omission: there is no mention of the system that is driving most of the world's economy into "global collapse". Even the word "capitalism" is avoided in polite company in the US (they much prefer "market economy"), but one must never connect this economic system with disaster in a finite world even though no one disputes the fact that capitalism requires growth to exist.

What's goin' on at the Turkish-Syrian border?

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. 

He uses three sources for his description of Turkish border activity in support of the Free Syrian Army: two videos and a report produced by the Saban Center at Brookings Institute, a major think tank for political operatives of the One Percent.

I found the first video to be of rather poor quality and confusing, but the 2nd one from RT was much better and clarified what he described in the article.

The third source is a Saban Center document describing the policy alternatives of the US government in relation to Syria. I read it, and it's all about regime change. Mearsheimer and Walt described the Saban Center in their book entitled The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy as follows:
It is hard to imagine that a research institute funded by Saban and directed by Indyk is going to be anything but pro-Israel. To be sure, the Saban Centre occasionally hosts Arab scholars and exhibits some diversity of opinion. Saban Center fellows – like Indyk himself – often endorse the idea of a two-state settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. But Saban Center publications never question US support for Israel and rarely, if ever, offer significant criticism of key Israeli policies. Moreover, individuals who stray from the Center’s line do not remain for long, as former NSC official Flynt Leverett’s brief tenure there illustrates.
This is another illustration of the powerful influence Zionist figures ("Israeli firsters") have over US foreign policy.

The “NGOs” that spooked Egypt

Click here to access article by Steve Weissman and Frank Browning from Salon. 

After learning of the Egyptian government's allegations of US sponsored NGOs meddling in their political affairs, I was very curious to learn more. I knew that US political operatives were extremely concerned about the Egyptian popular uprising a year ago as hinted at in several reports I reviewed (see this and this). 

When the uprising broke, Frank Wisner Jr. was immediately dispatched to Egypt to get the situation under US control. Wisner Jr. is the son of the number two CIA man in the early days of the CIA, Frank Wisner Sr., and I have little doubt that he, Wisner Jr., is a major political operative in today's inner circle of political operatives--the people who really run things for the ruling One Percent, often referred to as the National Security State.

This article really doesn't shed much light on what the NGOs in Egypt were up to, but the authors do provide a very good historical outline of the use of false front NGOs in the past to further Empire objectives and were likely used in the same manner last year in Egypt. For more historical information on this subject of covert NGO and other CIA activities, I highly recommend that you read The Mighty Wurlitzer by H. Wilford, and The Fish is Red by Hinckle and Turner. 

Although Wilford provides a rather good historical review of many nefarious activities of the CIA, he erroneously implies that all such activities ceased in the 1970s following investigations by the Church and Pike Congressional committees which revealed widespread use of illegal covert operations in both foreign countries and within US society: media, academia, foundations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, spying on citizens, etc.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Men in Iran?

Click here to access article by Seymour M. Hersh from The New Yorker. 

This journalist supplies evidence that the US government has been training and supplying a group operating in Iran which its own State Department lists as a terrorist group. This appears to be an update of an article he wrote in 2008 when President G. Bush was in office regarding the same subject. 

Once again we see that a change in presidents doesn't make the slightest difference in changes to policies. That is simply because there exists a more or less permanent secret government within the US, often referred to as the National Security State that really runs the government. Presidents, if not completely aligned with the NSS such as both Bush presidents (some might well argue that Bush Jr really didn't function in an active executive capacity being too stupid to be taken seriously by the inner power circle), have been relegated to the role of public relations officers. (Read The Secret Team by retired Col. L. Fletcher Prouty,) President Kennedy was the last truly independent executive. He greatly feared this powerful inner circle--and you know what happened to him. (Read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass for the details.)

Obviously, terrorism is bad only when it is directed against the Empire. Maybe the political operatives of the Empire are only following in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt who once said, "They may be sons of bitches, but they are our sons of bitches".
The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.

Voting is still the least of our struggles

Click here to access article by Michael McGehee from his blog, Truth Addict. 

I would never discourage anyone from voting, but people need to be aware that it is the least effective means of political influence that ordinary citizens can exert. And, the ruling One Percent wants to keep it that way. They want to keep you thinking that by voting you have performed some really significant democratic act. McGehee explains why this is deluded thinking, and offers some brief remarks on what real, effective democratic action would look like.
As each election comes many of us foolishly believe that this time voting will matter. But it's a lot like a sign I saw in a bar: "Free Beer Tomorrow."

NYT Op-Ed Gets Central Africa Right

Click here to access article by Michael McGehee from his blog, Truth Addict. 

This blogger finds a rare gem hidden in the NY Times, the famous "newspaper of record" for the
The thing about the New York Times is that it is much like a broken clock: it can get it right at least twice a day. Though with the volume the "paper of record" puts out everyday it would be an interesting experiment to see which is more accurate. When it comes to challenging power, I would bet on the broken clock.

The dirty picture of neoliberalism: India’s New Economic Policy

Click here to access article by Raju J. Das from Links. [Raju J. Das is associate professor at the departments of geography and development studies, York University, Toronto, Canada. Das is on the editorial board of Science & Society and the editorial advisory board of Dialectical Anthropology.] 

The author describes how neoliberalism under the New Economic Policy (NEP) is currently being applied in India and its devastating social effects. 
The NEP is not merely economic. This is because it must ensure political and ideological conditions for capital accumulation. The political refers to state repression and judicial coercion.... The ideological refers to the promotion of market fetishism in all spheres of everyday life, including in our consciousness. Associated with market fetishism is the idea of getting rich quickly by any means and of the market as the dominant method of helping the poor....
And when these methods prove to be insufficient, the ruling capitalist class, as usual, takes their gloves off to reveal the hidden fist of fascist repression and violence.
The capitalist class has also directly engaged in struggle from above by undermining the power of workers striking against capital. Capital has done this by hiring goons to hurt striking workers, resorting to the bribing of union leaders and locking employees out. In many recent years, person days lost to lockouts are five times the number lost due to strikes. The courts also have ruled against the democratic right to strike.

An Arab War-Crimes Court for Syria?

Click here to access article by Eugene Schulman from NYTimes eXaminer. 

US is an equal opportunity employer--women can be war criminals, too.

Let us be honest, it was the U.S. and its NATO allies that instigated this revolution in Syria, just as they did in Libya. For all the authoritarianism of his regime, Assad is also defending his country from foreign backed insurrection.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Creating community: Lessons from Occupy

Click here to access article by Shepherd Bliss from Transition Voice. 

This piece provides a very candid look at some of the initial strains within the Occupy movement. This is not at all surprising to me given the many years of disinformation and capitalist indoctrination which has produced generations of people with a false consciousness based on materialist values and extreme individualism. The first stage in any type of recovery is to recognize the problem, and they are doing this and more: they are making a concerted effort to overcome these problems.

Clearly, as one would expect, there are real racial, age, gender, and class related differences among activists that can cause problems and conflicts. And, we can expect that the political operatives of the One Percent, in addition to censoring the movement in mainstream media, will do everything they can to exploit these differences.
Occupy has just begun. Whether it’s able to deal effectively with the substantial external threats and internal obstacles is yet to be determined. It will depend partly on the capacity for self-reflection and compassionate listening, as well as the success of channeling anger and frustration into powerful, constructive action.

Triggering permafrost meltdown is closer than we think

Click here to access article from Climate Code Red. 
  • Current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are probably sufficient to trigger large-scale permafrost carbon feedbacks and global warming that human effort would be unable to contain.
  • The time to slash emissions was a long time ago but now is still much, much better than later, which may, as new studies suggests, simply become too late.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses

Click here to access article by  Naomi Wolf from OpEd News. (My commentary updated as of 4-10-12 at 5:30 pm Seattle time.)

As the author puts it, the horror show of a growing police state continues in Washington.
In a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. This horror show ruling joins two recent horror show laws: the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the "trespass bill," which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection.
The One Percent's favorite puppet regime, the Obama administration, and their stacked court system, continue their relentless attack on any remaining civil liberties that get in their way of total domination. One might considered this strategy as a domestic version of the military's "full spectrum dominance" concept. 

They are also aggressively going after any government employee who has the audacity to relay information to the public about what crimes and shady practices they have witnessed while on government duty.

Bill Van Auken from World Socialist Web Site writes in his article entitled "Obama Justice Department indicts ex-CIA agent for exposing torture":
In all of these cases, the World War I-era Espionage Act is being used to punish not spying on behalf of a foreign government, but exposing the US government's own crimes to the American people. The utter lawlessness of US foreign policy goes hand-in-hand with the collapse of democracy at home.

These cases make clear that it is the American working people whom the government views as its most dangerous enemy. It is determined to keep them in the dark as it systematically erects the framework for a police-state dictatorship
Also, I read this morning about another government employee who is currently under attack for his book about his observations in Iraq while serving there as a Foreign Service Officer. He writes in his article entitled "Left Behind" (you will need to scroll down to the article):
I find myself a member of a new club I don’t even remember applying for: The Whistleblowers. I’ve now met with several of the whistleblowers I’ve written about with admiration: Tom Drake, Mo Davis, John Kiriakou, and Robert MacLean, among others.
Sibel Edmonds lost her government career as an FBI translator in Turkey, but is fighting back with her website and recently published book entitled Classified Woman. The blurb for the book states:
In this startling new memoir, Sibel Edmonds—the most classified woman in U.S. history—takes us on a surreal journey that begins with the secretive FBI and down the dark halls of a feckless Congress to a stonewalling judiciary and finally, to the national security whistleblowers movement she spearheaded. Having lived under Middle East dictatorships, Edmonds knows firsthand what can happen when government is allowed to operate in secret. Hers is a sobering perspective that combines painful experience with a rallying cry for the public’s right to know and to hold the lawbreakers accountable. With U.S. citizens increasingly stripped of their rights in a calibrated media blackout, Edmonds’ story is a wake-up call for all Americans who, willingly or unwillingly, traded liberty for illusive security in the wake of 9/11.
You may well wonder: why aren't the people in the US revolting, or at least, protesting. Well, some are, but far too many are not. You see, it isn't real to them. Most of them still limit their access to information from mainstream media which is full of trivia, celebrities, feel-good stores, misinformation, outright deceptions, and sensationalized crime reports. Important news coverage that serves the 99 Percent is simply omitted. I am approaching 76 years of age, and I have never seen such carefully managed mainstream news coverage designed solely to serve the interests of the governing One Percent: keep the 99% ignorant, distracted, misinformed, and afraid of each other.

Defend Günter Grass!

Click here to access article by Ulrich Rippert from World Socialist Web Site.

In today's Orwellian world to speak the truth is no longer permissible. Nobel literature prizewinner Günter Grass is the latest to discover this. He is receiving widespread criticism for stating two obvious, basic truths about Israel and its current regime.
  • Israel has developed numerous nuclear weapons and the capability of using them.
  • The current Israeli government has been advocating and preparing an attack on Iran.  
There can be no doubt that the war preparations against Iran by the Israeli government are in an advanced stage. In late January, the New York Times ran a lengthy article entitled, “Will Israel attack Iran?” The article confirms that Israeli preparations for military strikes against Iran are proceeding with great speed and intensity. The author—Ronen Bergman, a political analyst with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth—concluded: “Having spoken with several senior Israeli leaders and the heads of military and intelligence agencies, I am of the opinion that Israel will strike against Iran in 2012.”

To Undo the Folded Lie: Resisting Palliatives in an Age of Oligarchic Excess and Anthropocene Age Devastation

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

This highly skilled wordsmith uses some unusual metaphors and concepts which had me going to Answer.com and re-reading parts until I fully understood their profound messages. It was worth it. The author has some words of advice for those of us that are totally aware of living in the midst of societal disintegration caused by the death throes of capitalism--it is a time of peril and promise. He concludes the essay with this positive advice:
...construct within yourself an authentic inner structure, as outwardly you do your part to help imagine and to create new political and cultural models. In short, act as if the inevitable collapse has already occurred.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Age of Limits: Conversations on the Collapse of The Global Industrial Model

This is a reproduction of a brief article introducing a conference in May on this subject. I am reproducing it because it has no permalink.

The original “Limits to Growth Report” (1972 Meadows et al) did not include a time line for the global growth scenarios it examined. With the addition of statistical data for the following 40 years it is now possible “to fit to the curve” and make rough predictions based on observed resource production and consumption patterns, overlaid upon continued population growth. 

For 50 years serious thinkers have questioned the assumptions of our global industrial culture and its prospects over the longer term. In recent decades they have succeeded in bringing at least some of the core science into popular discussion, notably petroleum depletion and especially climate change. Through these years proposals have been made outlining the governmental policies that would be necessary to begin “solving” these problems. Sadly, we can now see through the course of events, or rather non-events, that the window of opportunity is closing, if not already closed. We are now confronted not by a problem, but by a predicament; one which has no solution, but only adaptations and mitigation's.

Does the U.S. Really Have More Oil than Saudi Arabia?

Click here to access article by Robert Rapier from The Oil Drum.

The issue that the author raises in this article is the semantic problem with the term "shale oil". He describes several types of shale oil that require very different amounts of water and energy to process, and insists that they should be referred to by different names. Regardless of the semantic issue, what is really important is that pronouncements about US having more oil than Saudi Arabia are grossly misleading.

How the Young Are Indoctrinated to Obey

Click here to access article by Noam Chomsky from AlterNet. 

Chomsky reviews the history of publicly funded education to illustrate how support, or lack of, is influenced by the needs of the ruling class of the One Percent. His review reinforces my belief that the recent attacks on state support of education, along with other neoconservative policies, is the One Percent's revenge on the 99 Percent for their opposition to the Vietnam War and the fact that widespread protests were based in college campuses.
Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience. Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline.

Recovered Economic History: “Everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious”

Click here to access article by Yasha Levine from The Exiled.

The author found some juicy quotes by the founding fathers of capitalism in a book entitled The Invention of Capitalism by an economic historian named Michael Perelmen. Nowadays, such rude remarks are carefully screened by public relations officers who manage the consent of the people.

Post-democracy: Press TV banned in Germany

Click here to access article from Voltaire Network.

The "democratic" republics of the Empire seem to have no difficulty in imposing Orwellian censorship to keep their subjects from being influenced with controversial news reporting not approved by the Ministry of Truth. 

Crises of Capitalism [11:11m video]

Video by David Harvey from RSA via You Tube. (I normally post current material, but his video from 2010 was just too good to pass over.