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, May 26, 2012

Dancing Shoes

Click here to access article by

In another prescient observation he writes about the inability of "we" (I think he means the governing One Percent and a large part of the still sleeping 99 Percent) to make any constructive changes to avert all the disasters awaiting us:
That future is all about contraction. We could navigate our way into it but we don't want to. We want to stay right where we are with all our stuff and no need to make new arrangements and we are trying every last trick to do that.
And, finally there is this very entertaining lampoon of the directors of Empire all getting together at the G-8 meeting:
What do you suppose Obama and the other feckless schmucks of the G-8 were telling each other this weekend at Camp David between weenie roasts and ping-pong round robins? It must have been the emptiest dumb show of mere protocol; an exchange of tie-tacks in the national colors, the playing of many anthems and flying of flags, issuance of bland assurances and platitudes. Nobody believes any of them anymore, even poor Mr. Hollandaise, who has been on the job a few days. Angela Merkel must be good and goddam sick of even showing up at the office.

Preying on the Poor

Click here to access article by Barbara Ehrenreich from TomDispatch. (Note: if you wish to skip Engelhardt's introduction, you will need to scroll down to the article.)
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

Nick Robinson: how (not) to report a planned war crime

Click here to access article by Hicham Yezza from Ceasefire (UK). 
A BBC news story has revealed UK politicians are planning to offer diplomatic, possibly military, support to an Israeli attack against Iran, despite the fact this would break international law, inflame the Middle East and endanger British citizens everywhere. 
Could this be because the One Percent ruling class and their obedient employees in the media have enjoyed so much success in the past decade in promoting their wars regardless of public opposition? Is the following statement really true?
But is political life in the UK so emaciated and numb that this fairly consequential news item has so far met with little more than indifference and some faint murmurings from the radical fringes? [my emphasis]
Are we already in a hideous dystopia where the ruling class, because of overwhelming power, no longer fear their subject populations and can rule with impunity?

A growing problem: Notes from the ‘superweed’ summit

Click here to access article by Genna Reed from Grist. 
Last week, the National Academy of Sciences hosted a summit to discuss “superweeds,” or the widespread problem of herbicide-resistant weeds currently afflicting millions of farm acres across the United States.
Notice the difficulty of the scientists, who have been taught to look at all available evidence, have in looking at the evidence of bio-engineering technology being pushed by agro-corporations to enhance private rather than the public interest. Could this be because they have been under the influence of capitalist indoctrination in schools of higher education, or could it be that they fear repercussions from powerful corporations affecting their careers and program funding?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Black Bloc Anarchists and State Terrorism

Click here to access article by Rob Urie from CounterPunch.

Liberal criticism of Black Bloc tactics has been lead by Chris Hedges and other middle class spokespeople because of possible adverse public relations via mainstream media. Hence, they assume that mainstream media is legitimate. The latter is simply another industry owned by the One Percent to serve their interests just as police forces are controlled by the One Percent and are used to intimidate activists by gassing, beatings, framed-up charges, and other assaults. 

The solution is for the 99 Percent to undermine the credibility of mainstream media by showing how they constantly use deceptions to further the interests of the One Percent. The gap between reality and their version of it is becoming so wide that many people are open to more sensible interpretations.

Why Building Community Wealth is a Key Challenge to Corporate Power

Click here to access article by Steve Dubb from Naked Capitalism. 

The article suggests that worker owned enterprises are the solution to life under capitalism, that we ordinary people can build micro-communities that are not only economically sustainable within a capitalist system, but can lead to building a larger system that can displace cut-throat capitalism. 
...a growing number of Occupy activists are looking to worker-owned cooperatives as a way to self-fund the movement, displace corporate economic space, and develop an economic base that can support alternative economic and political formations. The path to building a truly democratic economy may be long, but the growing base of community wealth building institutions provide some building blocks that, over time, suggests the quiet development, potentially, of the basis for a community-sustaining economy that serves the interest of all Americans, rather than our current system which disproportionately benefits the wealthiest at the expense of the 99 percent.
I think that this strategy is very misleading by encouraging activists that they can quietly build an alternative social-economic system within capitalism. Hence, they can forget about political activism, protests, and other militant actions to stop the capitalist assault on workers and the environment. 

I think that worker owned enterprises can contribute much to building an alternative system, but it is by no means a sufficient means of change. Worker coops are at best a defensive action to save jobs and maintain worker skills. They can also act as laboratories for workers to learn how to manage their own enterprises democratically. However, even the best run such enterprises must function within an economic system that treats them with actions ranging from benign neglect to hostility. The laws governing enterprises are founded on private enterprise models that emphasize hierarchical systems of authority. 

Coops will always find it difficult to compete with privately owned enterprises, especially those associated with large corporations. To succeed they would need a politically conscious local community that would be willing to support the coop even by paying higher prices. Private enterprises can always benefit by paying low wages and buying cheap products from foreign countries where environmental and labor laws are either non-existent or not enforced.

The ruling class of the One Percent can tolerate worker owned enterprises as long as they are limited to small niches in society and do not challenge the capitalist system or the enormous privileges of the One Percent. 

A couple of good sources on establishing worker owned enterprises are here and here.

Living in Two Cities: Tarif and Evelyn Warren

Click here to access article by Susie Day from MRZine. 

Read the powerful story of two attorneys and their encounter with NY police five years ago which began with this incident:
Early in the evening of June 21, 2007, the Warrens were driving in Brooklyn, when they saw police chasing a young man into a McDonald's parking lot.  The cops tackled the youth, handcuffed him, threw him to the ground, and began kicking him in the head.  The Warrens pulled over, got out of their car, and respectfully asked one Sergeant Steven Talvy of the NYPD Street Narcotic Enforcement Unit why he and his officers were battering someone who was obviously helpless.
Another brief article describes what it is like living in Black and Latino neighborhoods in New York City:
The heavy police presence in New York City communities of color with police bombarding the residents with summonses for petty offenses such as, jaywalking, urinating in public, noise pollution, opened alcohol beverage containers, tinted car windows, and the possession of small amounts of marijuana is creating a sense of distrust among many law abiding, tax-paying New York City residents.

Some elected officials predict an explosion.

When one visits predominately Black and Latino neighborhoods in New York City such as, Harlem, East New York, Bedford Stuyvesant, the South Bronx, and Jamaica Queens, you see military-style New York Police Department vehicles and swarms of foot patrol officers conducting illegal searches and issue summonses for the most petty offenses everyday.

...Many residents in communities of color feel imprisoned in their very own neighborhoods.

the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of today

Note: The following is an excerpt from a longer article by Los Expatriados, a group of writers with a website by this name, reporting on various workshops at the Left Forum held recently in NY City. This poignant excerpt is based on one speaker's views at a workshop called "After the Crisis, is a New New Deal Possible?"
One of the points that had the biggest impact on me during the workshop was made by Eric Pineault, the chairperson who teaches sociology in Montreal. In drawing a contrast between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of today, Pineault referred to the different forms that the attack on the working class took. In the 1930s, the problem was obviously massive unemployment but today working people are being crushed by debt much more than by joblessness. He used the term debt peonage to describe the problems faced by millions as they confront home foreclosure and collection agencies trying to get a worker to pay for a huge Visa or Mastercard bill.

In the 1930s, layoffs in a place like Detroit or Chicago would affect workers as a social layer. Since this was at a time when workers tended to live near the factory and even walk to work in many instances and when they hung out at the same saloons or parks, they tended to think in terms of joint action.

But today someone in debt will tend to see themselves as an individual whose adversary is another individual at a bank or a collection agency. Since going into debt often strikes people as a personal failing, they will also tend to blame themselves rather than larger social and economic forces. I was reminded of this the other day when I was speaking to a very old friend about my age who hasn’t worked in a couple of years. Not only is the job market poor, he has developed Parkinson’s, an ailment that will make getting hired as a salesman even harder. It doesn’t matter how good a salesman you are (and my friend was great at this) if your hands are trembling. That is the reality of a fucked-up system that places so much emphasis on appearances.

To keep a roof over his head and to pay for other basics, he has gone into debt—owing over $40,000 on various credit cards. He now pays $300 per month, the minimum required. At this rate he will be paying until he dies and have not made a sizable dent into a debt that mounts steadily as he continues to dip into Visa or Mastercard to pay for food or other necessities. This is the same treadmill that millions of other Americans are on, with no end in sight. We might be living under advanced capitalism, but the social relationship is not that different than the one described in B. Traven’s novels. Fortunately, there are no debtors’ prisons today—at least for the time being.

I was reminded of this at a panel discussion on Capitalism in India: Glitter, Commodities, and Blood presented by Sanhati, a network of academics and activists committed to social justice in India, and chaired by my friend and fellow Marxmailer Taki Manolakos.

Deepankar Basu, another good Marxist economist ensconced at U. of Mass., spoke on peasant suicides, a problem that Sanhati has devoted much attention to.  During the discussion period, with Eric Pineault’s comments on debt peonage fresh in my mind, I asked Deepankar if the epidemic of suicides might be related to the phenomenon noted earlier in the day. Was debt peonage in India leading to mass suicide rather than mass struggle for the same reason that debt-burdened workers in the USA were tending to seek individual solutions?

A bit of research this morning turns up some evidence that connects the two societies. From a blog post by Barbara Ehrenreich on July 28, 2008:

Suicide is becoming an increasingly popular response to debt. James Scurlock’s brilliant documentary, Maxed Out, features the families of two college students who killed themselves after being overwhelmed by credit card debt. “All the people we talked to had considered suicide at least once,” Scurlock told a gathering of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys in 2007. According to the Los Angeles Times, lawyers in the audience backed him up, “describing clients who showed up at their offices with cyanide, or threatened, ‘If you don’t help me, I’ve got a gun in my car.’”

India may be the trend-setter here, with an estimated 150,000 debt-ridden farmers succumbing to suicide since 1997. With guns in short supply in rural India, the desperate farmers have taken to drinking the pesticides meant for their crops.

Dry your eyes, already: Death is an effective remedy for debt, along with anything else that may be bothering you too. And try to think of it too from a lofty, corner-office, perspective: If you can’t pay your debts or afford to play your role as a consumer, and if, in addition – like an ever-rising number of Americans – you’re no longer needed at the workplace, then there’s no further point to your existence. I’m not saying that the creditors, the bankers and the mortgage companies actually want you dead, but in a culture where one’s credit rating is routinely held up as a three-digit measure of personal self-worth, the correct response to insoluble debt is in fact, “Just shoot me!”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Occupy Journalists Stopped, Searched, Handcuffed & Interrogated at Gunpoint

Click here to access article by Kevin Gosztola from Infoshop News. 

Maintaining illusions is the method of choice by political operatives of the One Percent to maintain their control of society; but when that fails, they don't hesitate to use force, violence, and incarceration. Hence, anyone who attempts to cover reality for the 99 Percent is perceived as, and treated like, an enemy.
There appears to have been a conscious targeting of bloggers and livestreamers. The Chicago police, possibly with help from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI or other federal agencies, appear to be working off a list of “suspected” people or spaces where they must go “check in” on what is happening simply to ensure all is safe. Of course, this is illegal. Without a warrant or probable cause, rights are being clearly violated.

War Pay: The Nearly $1 Trillion National Security Budget

Click here to access article by Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer from TomDispatch. (You may need to scroll down to the article to skip the introduction.)

Political operatives of the One Percent rule mostly by deception simply because much of what they do serves the interests of only the One Percent. With the constant media barrage about the threats to national security and our "democratic way of life", they maintain illusions of serving the interests of society in general.

This sort of deception certainly applies to how much they spend on killing machines, soldiers who operate them, the care and treatment of disabled and traumatized soldiers returning from battle or occupation, how much is spent by outsourcing to private armies, how much is spent on police forces and equipment here in the US to control people who protest government policies, etc. The authors' accounting does not appear to include the costs of people (one out of every 32 Americans) in prison or under parole supervision.

There are so many hidden costs all of which serve mostly the One Percent in order to continue their control of our country and much of the world. The two authors try to put all the costs of killing, maiming, and intimidating together.

This illustrates once again what is required for a small minority of people to rule over a vast majority: deception and the use of force. 

Blood red dawn in Kabul

Click here to access article by Manlio Dinucci from Voltaire Network. 

The recently concluded NATO conference in Chicago highlighted plans by the Empire to put the finishing touches on the reconstruction of Afghanistan to serve the needs of the Empire. Read this author's description of the Empire's real plans for the new Afghanistan under the recently signed "Strategic Partnership Agreement".

US War Veterans Toss Medals Back at NATO

Click here to access article from Voltaire Network.

Greece: here come the vulture funds

Click here to access article by Nick Dearden from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt.

When banks and other lending agencies give up on a sovereign debt, they sometimes sell these debts to private debt holders often referred to as vulture funds. 
Vultures "invest" in the sovereign debt of countries facing crisis – meaning they can buy debt cheap. They then "hold out" against any form of write-down on this debt. By doing this, they hope to get paid out in full. Given they paid a fraction of the value of the debt, getting full repayment represents an enormous profit.
Vulture fund companies have a variety of methods, not always successful, of forcing payment from countries. Read all about it here.

Educational Strike in Spain Brings Hundreds of Thousands Into the Streets

Click here to access transcript of the 7:01m video from Real News Network moderated by Noah Gimbel.

Quebec students aren't the only one engaging in massive strikes against cutbacks in education and rising tuition. 
NOAH GIMBEL: I’m here in Madrid, Spain, where over 50 groups have come together to call for an education strike from preschool to the university, teachers, students and parents. The participation rate has been estimated at 80%. Protestors are calling for an end to the austerity measures that have hit the public education system.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"We Didn't Know It Was Impossible, So We Did It": The Quebec Student Strike Celebrates Its 100th Day

Click here to access article by Malav Kanuga from Jadaliyya (An online magazine produced by the Arab Studies Institute based in Washington DC and Beirut, Lebanon.)
Students in Quebec are marking their hundredth day of an unlimited general strike on Tuesday, 22 May, the culmination of the most stunning mass protest movement of recent months and North America’s largest student movement in years. In fact, the mobilizations in Quebec might just be Canada's Arab Spring.

Local Governments Have the Power to Restrict Drone Surveillance in the US

Click here to access article by Trevor Timm from Electronic Frontier Foundation.

What I believe is really significant in this article are the revelations of secrecy employed by police departments to gain access to surveillance drones (who knows, maybe killer drones also!) No doubt this is being directed through the Department of Homeland Security. 

This is another illustration of how the US is managed by the One Percent. If they can't do things in their interest legally or if they anticipate adverse public reaction, they will do so surreptitiously. They are definitely afraid of the 99 Percent and are preparing to increase their means of controlling and containing their activities. To the One Percent it appears that we are all becoming Palestinians, Iraqis, and Taliban.

Chicago Police Face Accusations of Entrapment, Brutality in Crackdown on NATO Protesters

Click here to access to 7:08m video from Democracy Now. 
Dozens of anti-NATO protesters have been arrested in Chicago over the past several days, including five men who were jailed on domestic terrorism charges. Three of the men were accused of plotting to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and other targets. Their lawyers say they were entrapped by government informants. The Chicago police have also been criticized by activist groups for using violent force to break up protests and accused of targeting independent media activists who have been streaming the protests live over the internet. On Saturday night, three helping to livestream video of the protests were detained at gunpoint.
Perhaps the location of the NATO meeting in Chicago was motivated by the fact that Rahm Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff in the Obama administration, is the mayor. The aggressive anti-protester measures he used for the Chicago meeting reminds me a lot of the methods used by Israel against Palestinians to control and stifle their dissent.

Although he has always denied having Israeli citizenship, he has very strong ties to Israel where he was born. See this and this. For example, during the Gulf War in 1991 he supposedly volunteered with the Israeli Defense Forces to defend against an anticipated Iraqi attack. People wonder why he didn't volunteer in support of US forces. 

Are the police tracking your calls?

Click here to access article by Catherine Crump from CNN.
Do you know how long your cell phone company keeps records of whom you text, who calls you or what places you have traveled? Do you know how often cell phone companies turn over this information to the police and whether they first ask the police to get a warrant based on probable cause?
Not bad, coming from a major media source--even if they frame it as an opinion piece. The author is associated with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Myanmar learns the lesson of Libya

Click here to access article by Stephen Gowans from Voltaire Network. 

We here in the US have been treated to very positive mainstream media coverage of what they, their pundits, and government leaders describe as advances in "democracy" in Myanmar. Such positive media treatment of political events in more obscure countries always triggers alarm bells in my head. I've wondered what was really happening there. I regard Gowans as an extremely reputable analyst of political events, and this piece make absolute sense to me given the history of the Empire in relation to countries not under its direct influence.

Although the cost of integrating Libya into the neo-liberal Empire was high, it is widely regarded as worthwhile by Empire political operatives because of the lesson it gives to other countries that try to pursue independent paths. 
...the Libyan experience must have proven persuasive enough to make the Rangoon leaders step willfully into line. From an economy under government control, Myanmar today is eagerly genuflecting before an onslaught of foreign investors zeroing in to dispossess her. 

Zagreb-Sarajevo : Resistance in the Balkans as crisis grips the EU

Click here to access article by Eric Toussaint from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt.

People in the Balkans are comparing notes about the One Percent's debt weapon being applied against the 99 Percent in their region.
While 20 years have elapsed since the last European war was fought here, amid the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the restoration of a brutal capitalism, it is encouraging to observe the gradual rebirth of an anti-capitalist movement among Balkan youth and workers – a movement that cultivates internationalism, the refusal of all forms of oppression, the desire to develop different tools for a true democracy, etc. The large majority of organisers – men and women – of this important international meeting are aged between 25 and 40, which is a very good sign.

Post-Carbon Postcard#1: California, USA and British Columbia, Canada

Click here to access article by John Wiseman from Climate Code Red. 

Liberal scientists and economists are, once again, issuing very encouraging reports of current efforts to reduce carbon emissions and ways to improve on this. They have some very good ideas which is illustrated in item 8:
Far greater attention therefore needs to be paid to the actions needed to reduce aggregate demand for energy and resources.  When combined with a full understanding of the actions needed to reduce the risks of crossing other critical planetary environmental boundaries it becomes clear that effective climate change solutions will require significant rethinking of the ways in which we define and measure just and sustainable economic growth. One useful way to reframe the economic growth debate may be to prioritise ‘growth’ in health and wellbeing, education and access to information, social connectedness and time with friends and family over unconstrained consumption in goods and services.
Although the author recognizes that...
The primary barriers to the rapid acceleration of de-carbonization policies and programs are political rather than technological. 
...he grossly underestimates these barriers. I think that he has spent far too much time in academic institutions where liberal views compatible with capitalist values are encouraged. He apparently doesn't see how powerful the incentives of short term wealth and power are for the One Percent who will continue to oppose any real progress that might interfere with the system of capitalism that provides them with these rewards. And, it is well known that this system requires growth to exist. He and his colleagues appear to grossly underestimate the power of this class to thwart any rational efforts to implement the measures they advocate. (For example, see this latest report on opposition to the dirtiest of all oil mining.) Many rational policies to reduce carbon have been well known since the 1970s, and have always faced enormous opposition by political operatives of the One Percent.

I think that liberal academics like these people actually do more harm than good by encouraging unrealistic expectations of progress without changing the system that stands in the way of progress. It seems to me that only the Occupy movement has the potential for really challenging the One Percent and overturning their system in order to implement the changes needed to save a climate that can sustain human and other life forms.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CMD Releases New Report: "ALEC Exposed in Wisconsin: The Hijacking of a State"

Click here to access article from Center for Media and Democracy (Madison, Wisconsin). Updated at 7pm Seattle time.

News leaked out a year ago from various sources about this organized effort under ALEC by corporations to subvert state political institutions to serve the interests of corporations, to crush unions, to downsize and privatize public programs. To add insult to injury, they do all this under the guise of a tax exempt charitable non-profit organization while giving all kinds of generous "scholarships" and other expensive perks to state legislators. Researchers at CMD went to work to study the details of their nefarious operations, and have now released the results of this study. This illustrates capitalist "democracy" in action. 

The key findings are:
  • 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting ALEC model legislation were introduced in Wisconsin's 2011-2012 legislative session;
  • 21 of these bills or budget provisions have passed, and two were vetoed;
  • More than $276,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC legislators in Wisconsin from ALEC corporations since 2008;
  • More than $406,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC alumnus Governor Walker from ALEC corporations over the same time period for his state campaign account;
  • At least 49 current Wisconsin legislators are known ALEC members, including the leaders of both the House and Senate as well as other legislators holding key posts in the state. Additionally, the Governor, the Secretary of the Department of Administration, and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission are ALEC alumni; and
  • At least 17 current legislators have received thousands of dollars of gifts cumulatively from ALEC corporations in the past few years, in the form of flights and hotel rooms filtered through the ALEC "scholarship fund" (complete "scholarship" information is not available).

The details vary, but this is essentially the way the One Percent function the world over to promote their agenda of the private appropriation of socially produced wealth. (If this doesn't work, they have other well known methods.) To see how corporate "philanthropy" works internationally, read this article entitled "Foundations for Empire: corporate philanthropy and US foreign policy".

I also think that one can make the argument that ALEC is, in fact, derived from the neo-colonial model that has been employed throughout the Empire to co-opt leaders of targeted countries, most especially, members of military elites. Hence, what we are seeing is this colonial model brought home to subvert any remaining vestiges of civil and human rights that still exist in the "land of the free". 

Israel uses essentially the same model on US representatives, except that I don't believe that the latter are handed model laws to pass in Congress. But, they are wined and dined in junkets sponsored by the Israeli government probably from recycled US "foreign aid" amounting to billions of dollars. See this, this, and this.

NYT Admits Lockerbie Case Flaws

Click here to access article by Robert Parry from ConsortiumNews.

This illustrates two basic truths about mainstream media: 1) they serve the political objectives of the Empire by managing news coverage; 2) the truth about their stories usually leaks out after some period of time.

Of course, they serve the political objectives of the Empire precisely because they are an integral part of the Empire.

Because You're Worth It: The Indian Premier League, Sex, Lies And Capitalism

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from Countercurrents (India).

This author's piece illustrates how the values of capitalism--racism, extreme individualism, consumption of Western products, sex and celebrities--have penetrated and conquered even this ancient civilization 

Monday, May 21, 2012

How the US Press Lost Its Way

Click here to access article by Robert Parry from Consortium News. 

The author is no dedicated anti-capitalist, but he is a journalist with a reasonable level of commitment to truth. He looks back on his own journalistic experience and those of his colleagues in mainstream media and sees an increasing concentration of power and wealth that has grossly impacted the way news is reported. His perspective runs from a baseline of the 1970s to the present. This limited perspective misses the class based way that big media has always functioned--to serve the values and interests of the powerful, the One Percent. Thus, he refers to the 1970s as the "golden days of the 1970s". 

As they say, everything is relative, and this truism certainly applies to reporting in the 1970s when all mainstream media was, until the final years of that awful war, solidly behind the Pentagon-run war and branded protesters as essentially traitors. Pressure came from corporate boardrooms on down to journalists to report the Vietnam War favorably, and in the process the gap between reality and media lies eventually created a huge crack that could no longer be credibly hidden. Much credit can be given to anti-war protestors and underground newspapers, and even more to the brave Vietnamese people who defeated the most powerful military in the world. 

Hence, mainstream media sources were forced to report on some of these realities, but even much of this coverage was more in the nature of damage control and didn't reveal the whole truth. Their pro-government coverage of all the assassinations--John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcom X, and their coverup of government drug trafficking during this period are some of the most egregious illustrations of their catering to power. But, how could it be otherwise? Mainstream media is an integral part of the ruling class.

Therefore, I recommend this article as a review of the deterioration of mainstream journalism from the 1970s to the present day, but it must be kept in mind that this was a process of going from bad to worse. It has become worse simply because the concentration of power and wealth has increased, and there has been no organized opposition to this trend from any sector of our society until very recently with the Occupy movement.

War and cheeseburgers

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

Escobar uses his X-ray vision to see through the machinations of the Empire. With his usual sarcasm and wit he expresses what is revealed in terms of a fast-food menu.
The only thing that matters to Team Obama, above all else, is to guarantee victory on November 4. Will the cheeseburger diplomacy work? Or will Mitt Romney counter-attack promising a "No steak left behind" policy, with lots of Iranian ketchup?

Chicago police frame antiwar activists on “terrorism” chargesPosting Video of Police Harassment

Click here to access article by Patrick Martin from World Socialist Web Site.

The political operatives of the Empire and their enforcers are cracking down hard on protesters at the Chicago NATO meeting. It is vitally important that we get information out everywhere to help protect them. 

Besides planting evidence on protesters, political operatives and their enforcers are using their control of media to propagate the most outlandish lies. Just this morning on one TV network I saw an interview with a Chicago police officer who claimed that protesters were covering themselves with fake blood to simulate brutality and gain media sympathy!!!

For other coverage of the NATO protests, see this, this, and this

Why Keynes was Right, and Utterly Wrong

Click here to access article by Mat Little from New Compass.
Intelligent left-wing thought today is aware that people in Europe and the US live in immensely wealthy societies, but that more people do not see the benefits of that wealth: the ability, which Keynes envisaged, of devoting their energies to “non-economic purposes”. Because they are too busy making it for other people.
In the 1940s, the historian Karl Polanyi spoke of capitalism’s genius for creating “unheard of material welfare” but a simultaneous “catastrophic dislocation of the lives of the common people.” We are far closer today to Polanyi’s dystopia than Keynes’ utopia.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Big Fix: documentary exposes BP, U.S. Gov't on Gulf disaster

Click here to access article by Jan Lundberg from his blog Culture Change. 

The author reviews a recently released film "The Big Fix". With his background related to the oil industry, he is well qualified to review such a film:
...a national speaker, writer and publisher, is best known for running what was widely considered "the bible of the oil industry," Lundberg Survey Inc. In 1979 the firm predicted the Second Oil Shock. After 14 years there, he left for-profit work to found the nonprofit Sustainable Energy Institute, now Culture Change. For almost twenty years he has studied peak oil, energy alternatives, and conservation based primarily on grassroots change in lifestyle. 
This critic of crucial contemporary issues illustrates in this review a common trait of many such progressive people: they refer to the "system" but are unable to name it. Instead they prefer to make references to culture or lifestyle changes or doing away with Western Civilization, but what they are really referring to must be the capitalist system. This phenomenon demonstrates the power of the One Percent ruling class to control thought much like Orwell described in his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

On the other hand, if we interpret this author's review literally, then it exhibits very shallow thinking. It's as if one could change cultures, etc. just like one could change clothes, e.g., like changing from designer jeans to untailored peasant dress. Such a view sidesteps the very challenging task of dislodging a class that derives huge benefits from the existing system of capitalism, which is the fundamental driver of fossil fuel usage, so that a new sustainable system can be installed.

NYPD Stop And Frisks: 15 Shocking Facts About A Controversial Program

Click here to access article by Christopher Mathias from Huffington Post.

Recall the recent incident in Florida where a neighborhood watch volunteer acted on the basis of racial profiling which resulted in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin?. Well, that seems to be standard practice by New York City police in certain sections of the city. Apparently they repealed the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution in New York which states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Finally, after many years of this practice a class-action suit will be heard in a Federal District Court as reported here.

The age of extreme oil: ‘This used to be a forest?'

Click here to access article by Arno Kopecky from The Globe and Mail (Canada).

One grey Thursday at the end of April, a plane touched down in Fort McMurray, Alta., carrying four Achuar Indians from the Peruvian Amazon. They had flown 8,000 kilometres from the rain forest to beseech Talisman Energy Inc., the Calgary-based oil and gas conglomerate, to stop drilling in their territory.
...But first, they wanted to see a Canadian oil patch for themselves, and meet the aboriginal people who lived there.  

Report: Floods are growing trend

Click here to access article by William Petroski from Des Moines Register. 
Heavy rainfall is falling more often in the Midwest and severe flooding has doubled in the last half-century, according to a report by two environmental groups.
The study (which shows climate change is behind extreme Midwest weather was released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.