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, June 9, 2012

NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy to be reviewed by US department of justice

Click here to access article by Ryan Devereaux from The Guardian. 

This report supports my argument that police state methods consistent with fascist rule is already happening in the US, but only to selected populations: 
Last year the [NYC] police department stopped close to 700,000 people on the city's streets, more than ever before. As with every year over the past decade, the vast majority of those stopped were African American or Latino and nearly nine out of 10 had committed no crime. The department is on track to make 2012 another record-setting year.
Where you live makes a major difference:
Steve Kohut, born and raised in Manhattan's Lower East Side, says he's been stopped and frisked "more times than I can remember" since he was 12. "It was just life to me," Kohut said.
He only realized that it was not common to all areas of the city when he visited a friend's upscale neighborhood. It prompted him to question the practice. "Wait a minute, the cops don't stop you every time you go to the store over here? They don't do that to you? They don't search you? They don't push you up against a wall? They don't put your face on the hood of their car?"

Panetta’s Pacific Vision

Click here to access article by Gabriel Kolko from CounterPunch. 

Panetta playing nicey-nice with Vietnamese General
while exchanging letters of dead soldiers.

This specialist in big power politics and the current version of the Great Game--more accurately described as inter ruling class competition--is very critical of Panetta's excursions in the Far East with their obvious aim of securing more military bases to surround and intimidate China. (see this) But Sec. of Defense Panetta is just doing what his predecessors have always done--looking for opportunities to extend the Empire's domination over more of the world. It's like a reflex. It's second nature to war criminals of every ruling class.

All this indicates that the world’s diplomatic order is in great transition, save that the United States retains its traditional ambitions and still suffers from the illusions that it can get them.  There is a pathetic air about Panetta’s efforts—which President Obama endorses.  Were his goals not so dangerous one would almost feel sorry for him in his feeble attempts to find the means to attain them.

How heavy industry captured European climate policy

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

This article offers a review of schemes to reduce carbon emissions in Europe and illustrates once again how such efforts can never be effective under the private ownership of socially produced wealth--capitalism. 
A brief study of its history, however, reveals that the ETS [EU Emissions Trading Scheme] has not only failed dramatically in its stated objective of reducing overall emissions, but has in fact ended up providing billions of euros in indirect subsidies to some of Europe’s most carbon-intensive industries.

Suicides are surging among US troops

Click here to access article by Robert Burns from Associated Press.

This is one report that will not be on your six o'clock evening news TV broadcast.
The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan - about 50 percent more - according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.

Egypt Transition on Brink of Collapse

Click here to access article by Sharif Abdel Kouddous from Al Akhbar.
As Egypt enters the final days of its so-called “transition,” the entire political process is on the verge of collapse.
The essential foundations of a post-Mubarak government that were supposed to have been lain over the past 16 months - the legislature, the presidency, the constitution - each suffer a crisis of legitimacy, the result of a military-managed transitional process so deformed that it barely make sense anymore.
Clearly, Egyptian activists must find a way to complete their unfinished revolution. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s rising star, is a radical in name only

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution. 
Those who make revolutions halfway only dig their own graves.
This is the central thesis of his article.  The author argues that Alexis Tsipras and his party, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), although wrapped in radical rhetoric, is essentially a social-democratic scheme to rescue capitalism in Europe.

As history as shown time and again, whenever capitalism is wracked with extremes of wealth distribution to the extent that their very system is threatened, they will either resort to fascism or social-democratic methods to save their cherished system. The former method is obviously very odious, while the latter method offers only temporary relief for working people. Thus, temporary relief for so many suffering working people is often grasped in place of a permanent solution of system change.

The first method promises more of the same with a twist: bailing out banks that are owned by the One Percent, imposing more austerity on workers, but putting down resistance using police state measures. The second method also intends to protect the One Percent's banks by bailing them out with public debt, but then using their debt money to finance public services to provide more jobs, and making some adjustments to the existing sovereign debts.

Here in the US, these two choices represent the liberal and right-wing of the ruling class. Up till now it has been evident that the right-wing is very much in the ascendency. There are signs that financial elites are getting panicky (see this and this) over the continuing economic crisis, and the two camps are lining up to push their agendas to save the system. In Quebec, the ruling class has so far opted for method one. In France we see the second option being favored with the election of Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande.

Obama's speech this morning is arguing for the second method which he could have pursued after promising such policies during his campaign. However, after his election victory along with many congressional Democrats during the first two years of his administration, he quietly put these promises to rest. In the last congressional elections two years ago, people erroneously thought they could turn to the other party for more action--the old Tweedledee-Tweedledom phenomenon--and voted in reactionary Republicans.The real decision-makers of the ruling class obviously issued orders to Obama to pursue policies of austerity. Governor Walker's recent recall victory in Wisconsin aided by huge funds from the right-wing illustrates the power of those who currently favor the first solution. This will become a very dramatic contest as the two camps vie for leadership in the capitalist classes both in the US and Europe.

The Failure of Business Unionism

Click here to access article by Kim Scipes from Z Blogs.

It's back to the drawing board for Wisconsin activists.
Business unionism has prevailed for over 60 years in the US labor movement, since the CIO expelled 11 left-led unions in 1949.  By "business unionism," I'm referring to a form of unionism that only focuses on the wages, working conditions and benefits of their own members, regardless of impact on other workers.  (If benefits extended to non-members, that was ok, but that was never the intention or purpose.)  It is, quite frankly, collective individualism.  It doesn't care about others--it is the epitome of the "I've got mine, screw you, Jack" culture and society that predominate in the US today.

Egypt's Elections Under Military Rule: Join Our Resistance to the Counter-Revolution

Click here to access article by Comrades from Cairo from MR Zine. 
From the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, the powers that be have launched a vicious counter-revolution to contain our struggle and subsume it by drowning the people's voices in a process of meaningless, piecemeal political reforms.  This process [is] aimed at deflecting the path of revolution and the Egyptian people's demands for "bread, freedom and social justice." 

Earth Facing Imminent Environmental 'Tipping Point'

Click here to access article by Common Dreams staff from their website. 

The prestigious scientific journal Nature (behind a paywall) has just issued a report with this bad news, news which scientists have warned about about over the last 40 years, and warnings that corporate shills have poo-pooed ever since. 
The report, written by 22 scientists from three continents ahead of this year's Rio+20 summit, claims that the 'state shift' is likely; however, humans may have a small window to curb over-consumption, over-population growth and environmental destruction, with drastic efforts to change the way we live on planet earth through international cooperation.

An Anarchist Solution to Global Warming

Click here to access article by Peter Gelderloos from Libcom.
If the Green Capitalist response to climate change will only add more fuel to the fire, and if government at a global scale is incapable of solving the problem, as I argue in previous articles, how would anarchists suggest we reorganize society in order to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and to survive an already changed world?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated

Click here to access article by Doug Henwood from his blog LBO News.
...lingering too long on the money explanation is too easy. Several issues must be stared down. One is the horrible mistake of channelling a popular uprising into electoral politics.
And, check out his followup article dealing with critical comments to the first article.

All the loans accorded by the Troika are illegitimate

Click here to access the transcript of an interview conducted by Croatian journalist Ana Benačić with Eric Toussaint.  

Toussaint provides many gems of truth that both clarify sovereign debts problems as well as point to solutions. The latter consists of powerful political tools of debt audits together with the concept of illegitimate debts that can be very useful for populist movements to support.

It is difficult for Americans to understand all the confusing organizations that join European countries together. Look at the following chart (from Wikipedia) to see one representation of this:

Neo-Nazi spokesman assaults MPs on live Greek TV show

Click here to access article and video posted by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.
Increasingly, the fate of Greece appears to boil down to that famous line by Rosa Luxemburg: “socialism or barbarism”. With the EU and IMF driving the country’s population to the brink, right-wing extremists have found fertile soil for their violent and racist ideology. Unfortunately, however, when the polls open 10 days from now, socialism is not really an option. The choice is limited to radical social democracy — but it is a crucial choice nonetheless.

The people of the world confront the advance of capitalism: Rio +20 and beyond

Click here to access article from La Via Campesina. (Note: there are typos in the article.)

This organization that represents those closest to the earth is ringing the alarm bells that corporations are preparing to inflict more damage to our ecosystem, on which we all depend, in their continuing mad pursuit of profits. First, they review the results of agribusiness methods over the past 20 years, and the slick public relations themes they've used to sell these methods. It ain't pretty, folks.
Governments from all over the world will meet in Río de Janeiro, Brasil from June 20-22 2012, to supposedly commemorate 20 years since the “Earth Summit”, the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, that established for the first time a global agenda for “sustainable development”. During this summit, in 1992, three international conventions were adopted: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention to Fight Desertification. Each of these promised to initiate a series of actions destined to protect the planet and all of the life on it, and to allow all human beings to enjoy a life of dignity.

At that time , many social organizations congratulated and supported these new conventions with hope. Twenty years later, we see the real causes of environmental, economic, and social deterioration continuing without being attacked.
On another post on their website I found this 2:09m video testimonial:
...Nettie Wiebe, from Canada, talks about the corporate land grabs as part of the Rio+20 agenda. “With the dominance of corporate agriculture, we are seeing many landgrabs, watergra[b]s and seagra[b]s — grabs of all living materials — by the corporate sectors for their profitability, for their investment and their control,” says Wiebe.

U.S. Arms Exports Surge on Sales Push to India, BrazilArms Exports Surge on Sales Push to India, Brazil

Click here to access article by Tony Capaccio from Bloomberg News. 

Business is booming for the military-industrial complex:
The State Department approved a record number of export licenses last year for weapons and military parts and services sold overseas by U.S. companies, according to a report to Congress.
Well, they create jobs, don't they? What's wrong with this reasoning?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

For joint actions around the Greek elections, and for large Euro-Mediterranean’s mobilizations in autumn 2012!

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

This is a call to action organized by the International Citizen debt Audit Network (ICAN). We must meet the challenge of the international financial oligarchs for control of our societies everywhere in the world.
...the neoliberal steamroller has not yet been stopped, and it is high time for the populations and their organizations to develop mobilization on a more significant scale.

Dr. Judy Wood and the future of the earth: Part II

Click here to access article by Eric Larsen from Intrepid Report. 

As indicated, this is a second piece by Larsen inspired by Judy Wood's book entitled, Where Did the Towers Go?: Evidence Of Directed Free-Energy Technology On 9/11. He also wrote the introduction to her book. However, this is not a review of the book, and therefore I think that this essay is mis-titled. His essay stands alone in making the point that there are far too many "impotence-writers" upon whom he launches a scathing attack , and argues...
...how evasive, toothless, self-limiting, self-cancelling—paralyzing, diversionary, and self-imprisoning—impotence-thought really is.

For Shame, Penny Pritzker

First read the excellent introduction by Diane Ravitch to the following 6:17m video in which the speaker, Matt Farmer, essentially compares the education that the children of the One Percent receive to those of the 99 Percent.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Collapse At Hand

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from his website.

The author explains...
how the big banks can keep the interest rates on Treasuries low, below the rate of inflation, despite the constant increase in US debt as a percent of GDP–thus preserving the Treasury’s ability to service the debt.
And, he explains how the banks and our money-creators, the Federal Reserve, are all in this game together and desperately using all kinds of obscure financial instruments to keep US currency afloat.

Could this be the reason that Sec. of Defense, Leon Panetta, is in Hanoi right now exchanging war mementos with Vietnamese generals? Maybe he is buttering up the Vietnamese in order to secure military bases with which to attack China. A bit ironic, don't you think? But, this might help to eliminate a lot of our debt!

Pointblank Massacre: Massive Fallout from Houla Killings

Click here to access article from Voltaire Network. 

Slowly the facts are being uncovered about this atrocity, but, of course, ignored by US media.

See also this translated report from Russian sources. Russia has a large number of journalists in Syria.

This atrocity looks rather familiar to me. I have seen this happen in many Latin American countries, and still seeing it happening in Central American countries, especially recently in Honduras. Eventually the facts leak out in obscure publications that often reveal the existence of US political operatives operating behind these ghastly scenes. 

I've personally seen the results of the use of terrorism in a visit to Nicaragua in 1983 when US political operatives sponsored Honduran paramilitaries to engage in these practices. Their targets of choice always seemed to be medical clinics, schools, and the people who staffed these agencies which were the Sandinista's proudest accomplishments.

There are others who have made reference to the use of terrorism to destabilize countries. For example, Tony Cartalucci writes about terrorism in relation to the Mid-East in this article. Mark LeVine has written several articles on the use of chaos in destabilizing countries, but he always approaches this theme indirectly (see this, and this). One can also find references to the "Salvador option", referring to the infamous method used by US operatives in El Salvador, to illustrate the use of death squads to terrorize populations, to spread chaos, and to destabilize countries.

It’s not just about tuition anymore…

Click here to access article by Jane Gatensby from Ceasefire (UK). 

Living here in the US, one would think that Quebec was some obscure country in the middle of Africa unless, perchance, one stumbles upon a report like this which describes what has been happening directly across the border from the US. The political operatives of the One Percent in the US are dealing with this crisis by our border by simply imposing a total blackout of all reports of it in our highly controlled corporate media. Clearly they don't want students in the US to get any wrong ideas (sarcasm). Instead, they serve us ongoing, mind-numbing news reports about the Queen's celebration in London. 

Except for some coverage from The Occupied Wall Street Journal and Reflections on a Revolution, I don't even find much coverage elsewhere in more independent online left media sources, and no coverage from liberal websites. Thus, we have to go to this British source to find out what is happening.
In her latest dispatch from Montreal, Jane Gatensby reports on the powerful wave of mobilisation sweeping Quebec as the backlash grows against a far-reaching emergency law aimed at putting an end to the student strikes. What was once a fight over tuition fees, Gatensby writes, has evolved into a popular movement for the preservation of fundamental civil liberties.
The first video is not functioning from their website, so I am re-producing it here:

A new kind of barbarism: the ‘non-people’ of Patras

Click here to access article by Matt Carr from Ceasefire.

This article reveals how the brutal methods of fascism in this age are applied very selectively to certain populations who are deemed to be surplus labor or throwaway human beings that capitalist ruling classes no longer need to fuel their engines of wealth generation. The author illustrates these inhuman practices by focusing on...
the brutal persecution of undocumented migrants in the Greek port-city of Patras, a continuum of violence that spans militarised law enforcement, the policing of protest, immigration control and the battlefields of the "war on terror"'.
Although the globalization phase of capitalism has removed national barriers for the One Percents in their never ending quest for wealth, on the other end of the class structure we find all kinds of barriers being erected to control the movement of people who desperately search for a means of survival. 

See also an excellent 23:52m video from Al Jazeera about US immigration policies and practices.

Israeli Blood Diamonds: The Global Cover-Up

Click here to access article by Patrick Galey from Al Akhbar. 
Israel has become the world's largest diamond exporter, with revenues from the precious stones accounting for more than a third of its total annual exports.

The Rumbling of Distant Thunder

Click here to access article by John Michael Greer from World News Trust. 
What you won’t get [at peak oil events] is any serious discussion about what can be expected to happen on the downside of Hubbert’s curve, and how individuals, families and communities might be able to respond to that. At most, you might be lucky enough to find a late night discussion among three or four presenters and a dozen attendees at the hotel bar, sitting there with drinks in hand and talking about the uncomfortable and unfashionable realities that the event organizers have carefully excluded from the agenda. It was those late night discussions that provided part of the inspiration for The Age of Limits conference. What would happen, several of us wondered, if the themes central to those discussions were brought out of exile and put at the center of a collective conversation?

That’s more or less what The Age of Limits
set out to do. How did it work?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spain’s government and European authorities bent on dismantling welfare state

Click here to access article by Mark Weisbrot from Real-World Economics Review Blog. 
...the primary cause of the crisis and its prolongation is the political agenda of the European authorities – led by the European Central Bank and European Commission. These authorities — which if we included the IMF constitute the so-called “Troika” that runs economic policy in the eurozone — want to force political changes, and particularly in the weaker economies, that people in these countries would never vote for.
At the end of his article the author suggests that the Obama administration is also very much involved in the banking strategies to dismantle social safety nets and pro-labor laws. I think his focus on the Obama administration is much too narrow. The latter represents one powerful section of the ruling class. As I see it, the austerity policies been promoted throughout the Empire are carefully coordinated among banking elites (the "Troika"). National borders have been largely erased under globalization, and they are pursuing basically the same policies everywhere in the Empire. 

There will always be factions within this ruling class, in which financial elites are a major part, that want to pursue such policies in different ways, the most definite of which is the speed at which austerity and anti-labor policies are implemented: slowly or very aggressively. The camp that wants to continue Obama in office wants to slow things up a bit until after the election mostly because Obama has been very useful in co-opting progressives in the US.. The aggressive camp wants to move quickly and aggressively, and also want to install their regime at the head of the Empire.  

So much depends on the economy in the US up until the election in November; and it makes me wonder if the current slump in the Wall Street market in addition to the deepening crisis in Europe hasn't been engineered by the aggressive camp in order to install a more suitable regime in the US.

One test of the power of these two camps is being played out in Wisconsin's recall election taking place tomorrow in Wisconsin. Stephen Lendman explains how well the two camps are represented in the election.
Both candidates support monied, not popular interests. Wisconsin Democrats aren't much better choices than Republicans. Regardless of who wins on Tuesday, labor rights lose. Wisconsin reflects what's happening across America. It's bad and getting worse.

Wisconsin's Recall Election

Click here to access article by Stephen Lendman from War is a Crime.

It is dramatic evidence of the control that the ruling class has over vital issues in the US that they have been able to contain the volatile political conflict that has been raging in Wisconsin since the aggressive attacks on labor occurred last year under the right-wing administration of Governor Walker. By confining the conflict within their tightly controlled election system, the political operatives of the One Percent insure that whoever wins, they win.
Both candidates support monied, not popular interests. Wisconsin Democrats aren't much better choices than Republicans. Regardless of who wins on Tuesday, labor rights lose. Wisconsin reflects what's happening across America. It's bad and getting worse.
See also this introduction to a book from Monthly Review.

Annals of Imperialism: U.S. Military Takes on Honduras

Click here to access article by W. T. Whitney Jr. from MR Zine. 

This retired pediatrician provides some details on how the "war on drugs" works in Central America to promote chaos, destabilization, and opportunities for resource exploitation by US and Canadian corporations. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Harnessing People Power Continued: The 99% Spring and the "Professional Left"

Click here to access article by Edmund Berger from Swans Commentary. 

This is the best single author I know of that specializes in uncovering the role of big philanthropy in
1) containing, 2) co-opting, and 3) directly employing organizations which at least appear to be radical or progressive. Berger seems to put all of these target organizations into mostly one basket, but I think that this fails to capture the differences that exist across the spectrum of such organizations.

In category 1, I would place media such as Democracy Now! (see my commentary in this posting.) In category 2, I think I would place people like Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein because I think that fundamentally they believe that reforms can be made under capitalism to achieve their agendas of environmental sustainability and some reasonable measure of social justice. In category 3, the Tea Party fits very easily.

In any case, it is very important that, as activists, we are aware of the many ways that political operatives of the ruling class can subvert our efforts. With this knowledge we can expose them, and avoid being used by them. But we must also find ways to fund organized efforts to promote a genuine democracy grounded in the grass-roots of our societies.

For a very good discussion of this subject which is identified as the exercise of "soft power", be sure to read this article covering an interview Michael Barker recently had with Inderjeet Parmar. 

Ex-ECB chief: ‘If parliaments do not give us what we want, we will annul them’

Click here to access article by Leigh Phillips from Red Pepper (UK).
If there is anyone left doubting that the struggle against austerity is fundamentally a struggle for democracy, the chilling proposal of former European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet on how to solve the eurocrisis unveiled on Thursday, should quickly put paid to such overly microscopic focus. 
If I understand this correctly, the former European Central Bank chief is implying that sovereign governments are merely customers of essentially private banks; and if they cannot pay back their loans, the can be treated like any other debtor: put into receivership! Then a higher legal authority (than sovereign governments) will appoint an administrator to salvage the assets of this debtor nation to pay off the loan.

Incidentally, I notice that he made these proposals to the... 
...Peterson Institute of International Economics in Washington ahead of the G8 meeting this weekend and ahead of a make-or-break European Council meeting 23 May where EU leaders will discuss the fiscal, banking and political earthquake that is rumbling across southern Europe.
The Peterson Institute has been rated as the number one think tank in the world, which means that it is the most powerful--which means that it contains some of the most influential people in the capitalist world. It is in organizations such as this one where the real decision makers of the US Empire do their dirty work. (They also hide out in numerous other organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Rand Corporation, the American Enterprise Institute, etc.) Congressional representatives are merely paid to ratify the decisions that these people make.

This is the same outfit that sponsored Obama's deficit commission in 2010, and issued its recommendations in December of 2010:
The commission, chaired by former Republican Senator Allen Simpson and former Clinton administration official Erskine Bowles, was a sort of trial balloon to gauge ruling class support for the most far-reaching attack ever mounted on social programs that benefit workers. This included attacks on Social Security and Medicare—the old age entitlements for retirement and health care often called the “Third Rail” of American politics, because, the saying went, if you touch them you die.

The plan also includes new regressive taxes on consumer spending, a drastic reduction in the size of the federal workforce, cuts to Medicaid (the health insurance plan for the poor), the imposition of income taxes on employee health insurance plans, and, shamelessly, massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations.

The debt crisis and the fiscal treaty referendum in Ireland

Click here to access article by Andy Storey from Transnational Institute.
The fiscal treaty was voted on in a referendum in Ireland on 31st May and was approved by a margin of 60% to 40% (with a turnout of barely 50% of eligible voters). To understand the significance of the treaty and the referendum result, it is necessary to understand the origins of the Irish and European debt crises.

Harmony and Ecological Civilization

Click here to access article by Fred Magdoff from Monthly Review. 
...capitalism promotes the processes, relationships, and outcomes that are precisely the opposite of those needed for an ecologically sound, just, harmonious society.