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 16, 2012

Austerity Kills: How the EuroCrisis is Being Used to Break the Social Contract

Click here to access article by Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism.

Yves Smith's introduction to the Real News interview (access transcript here) with Rob Johnson of the liberal capitalist think tank, Roosevelt Institute, provides an excellent concrete description of how the machinations of capitalist elites are affecting the lives of real ordinary people. Johnson is only able to think and express himself in broad, abstract economic terms which Paul Jay occasionally translates into human terms. Nevertheless, Johnson does offer some illuminating insights such as this:
European adjustments are not the product of a mistake, but in fact they're the product of a vision or design among some, what you might call the elites in Europe, that a single market is needed to break down some of the leftover architecture of the Cold War, which [incompr.] might be called the insurance premium that was paid against conversion to communism.
The state structure that [incompr.] livelihood-supporting structure that was part of Southern European civilization, particularly in the Catholic nations, is now being destroyed. I don't think that's happening coincidentally or randomly. I think that is part of design that the single market was supposed to achieve. It's not happening slowly. It's happening on the grounds that we can't afford it, probably happening because Central Europe, former Eastern European countries, and Asia are all low-cost production centers, and the German manufacturer is no longer interested in foreign direct investment in Southern Europe with these social conditions when he can go into Asia or Central Europe and probably operate for two-thirds or half the cost.
I'd like to summarize this in my own terms. When capitalist ruling classes through their operations caused a severe economic collapse in the 1930s that ended up in the WWII conflagration together with the competition from a powerful Soviet Union which offered extensive social safety programs and an alternative economic arrangement, European elites were essentially forced to install elaborate social safety nets after WWII. This arrangement has been referred to as "social democracy". (Notice how the governing One Percents love to dress up their rule with the word "democracy".)

Today, of course, European elites no longer need these expensive programs to maintain social stability. They want to appropriate this wealth that is being "wasted" on their wage slaves. Also, there is all the cheap labor available elsewhere in the world to exploit.

In recent years we have seen how these elites through their dysfunctional capitalist operations have once again caused major dislocations in the economy characterized by a concentration of wealth at the top and widespread poverty below. However, this time I think that there is a major new factor that is complicating the picture.

Capitalist ruling elites have heretofore been able to maneuver around these crises by engaging in destructive wars or by growing their economies and trickling down sufficient benefits to their wage slaves to keep social order to keep the latter from inciting a revolution. The few attempts at revolution that resulted in the Soviet Union and China was enough to scare the pants off the capitalist elites. Fortunately, for the latter, these two experiments merely established new types of ruling classes--bureaucratic ones. They did not eliminate ruling classes as promised.

The new major factor? Briefly, the limits that this growth-required system is coming up against: the exhaustion of fossil fuels and other resources, and ecosystem limits. They are becoming aware that they can no longer grow their economies out of economic crises. One result is what we are witnessing today: the growing impoverishment of the 99 Percent and the formation of police forces to keep them under control. Another is a more unthinkable alternative--major wars--is also a frightening possibility which the Empire seems prepared to instigate.

National Archives: No new JFK docs

Click here to access article by Jefferson Morley from Salon. 

Obviously, this writer is no "conspiracy theorist". After all, conspiracies, unlike shit, never happens. (sarcasm) On the other hand, you might have some doubts about this in relation to the assassination of John Kennedy if you had read only one book in your life--JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglas. Kennedy was the last president to pursue a foreign policy that was different from that of the hidden national security state.

The CIA and the political operatives will never release key documents on this assassination simply because they were agents of this assassination. How naive can liberal writers be?

Trouble in the Heartland

Click here to access article by Theo Anderson from In These Times. 

"Free Marketeers" are for the One Percent what Mouseketeers were for the Mickey Mouse Club TV show--their anti-global warming chorus and cast. Despite their baloney science and adverse media exposés, they are loved by corporations, especially the fossil fuel industry, which showers them with funding. The success of this effort is evident everywhere in the US: the public remains largely ignorant and/or passive about global warming.
According to Heartland, climate “alarmism” is just the entering wedge for socialism.
... there is Heartland’s promise that future warming will be modest and warmer will be better. ....

The surreal thing about being at Heartland’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change was knowing that Heartland has been exposed as an extremist organization, and might be doomed—yet it’s winning. In the United States, at least, Heartland’s free-market fetish has trumped the science.

We’ve heard the warnings of impending catastrophe and have decided, basically, to do nothing. We’ve chosen to believe Heartland’s comforting “research and reason” rather than hard truths.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Greeks Face a Momentous Decision

Click here to access the source of this 14:01m video and script of Paul Jay's interview with Costas Lapavitsas who is a professor in economics at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies.
If Syriza wins coming elections and does not fulfill its promises, face up to leaving the Euro, it will open a path for far right.
I think that Greece can be seen as a microcosm for much of the world.  Will the One Percent continue with their efforts to place the 99 Percent in perpetual debt servitude, or will citizens fight back and start down the road to take control of their societies? How this modern Greek drama plays out is loaded with implications for what might happen in the rest of the Western world.

The Troubled Revolutionary Path in Egypt: A Return to the Basics.

Click here to access article by Hossam El-Hamalawy from Jadaliyya.
No revolution gets settled in 18 days or 18 months. If we all agree that this is a war with the regime that will last for several years, then why everyone is suddenly panicking and saying it’s over? Did anyone expect that the revolution would be one linear curve of victories? We are definitely going through a catastrophic period, when the counterrevolution is on the offense, but by no means should we expect the revolution to be finished. How many times did we hear or read over the past year and a half, “it’s over! the revolution is defeated,” only to be surprised with a resurgence of street protests, occupations, and labor strikes that force the junta to retreat?

Lebanon’s Beaches: Sand Castles for the Rich

Click here to access article by Rasha Abouzaki from Al Akhbar. 

I am posting this article to illustrate the kind of world we are descending into: a world where the best it has to offer is secured for the enjoyment of only the One Percent. 
Summer has arrived, and with it a rise in the entry fees to beach clubs. Lebanon’s coastline, which is publicly owned, is now the reserve of a wealthy few. Its patrons are increasingly restricted to those who can pay an exorbitant $30 just to park and enter.

Till Death Do Them Part: NATO, Imperialism And The Mainstream Media

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from CounterCurrents.

Of course, his comments applies to almost all Western mainstream media. What we now have are "ministries of truth" that feed their publics with carefully formulated messages to manage their consent to policies and actions that are steadily leading us down the slope to barbarism. At times these ministries offer up "news" about sex scandals, celebrities, Queen celebrations, phony elections and other mind-numbing infotainment to distract us; while at other times they package reports of their war crimes as "humanitarian missions".  I have over a half century perspective on mainstream media reporting, and I have seen it deteriorate decade after decade along with the growth of the Empire that is slowly wrecking devastation on many parts of the world.

What's to be done? We, the 99 Percent, simply must establish our own media, and we must support those who, like Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, take enormous risks to reveal the hidden crimes of the Empire. Most importantly, we must work to slowly--or maybe quickly--dismantle the system that feeds these warmongers, economy wreckers, and ecosystem destroyers.

Rio+20 Alternative Peoples’ Summit Opens Today: People of the World vs. The Green Economy Goliath and the Global Foreclosure

Click here to access article by Anne Petermann from Climate Connections. 
The [alternative] summit was organized in direct opposition to the official UN circus known as the Rio+20 Conference for Sustainable Development.  More aptly it would be called the Rio+20 Conference for the greenwashing of Business as Usual.
You can follow the activities of this alternative summit at this link.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Jamie Dimon's World, the Senate Banking Committee Just Lives in It

Click here to access article from American Banker. 

I watched brief segments of this two hour event yesterday on TV in which Jamie Dimon is questioned  by the Senate Banking committee, and my impression was very much the same as this report. In contrast to mainstream media this banking source offers a refreshingly honest description of what really happened. The fact that they are able to do this suggests that they are judging Dimon as a peer, or as an equal among equals. In contrast with the Senators, people at this banking site are clearly not intimidated by his powerful position among the ruling class. I've noticed that other members of Wall Street and mainstream media are beginning to refer to Dimon as "King Jamie".

See also this 3:42m video from the same website:

Compare this Dimon "grilling" from the Senators with the real grilling of auto execs in 2008 and the way media covered the event. 

Forty years ago one would not have seen such a disparity in treatment between a banking elite and industrial elites by Congress. Although banking elites have always been an important part of our ruling class, they now constitute nearly all of the real decision-makers.

You may also want to check out other reports that I found to be interesting. See this, this, this, this, and this.

Black is White, Hedges are Bets, and Your Money is Mine

Click here to access article by Zeus Yiamouyiannis from Charles Hugh Smith's blog, Of Two Minds.

Libertarian capitalists such as this writer are very good at examining the flaws of contemporary capitalism, and this piece is a worthy example. Unfortunately, they have a very naive streak running through their essays. It's as if a group of heroin addicts ended up in charge of the US Empire and these critics wrote essays arguing that this arrangement would be fine if only we could get these addicts to pass laws to control their addiction.
...we turn to frequent contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis for a sharp analysis of why our "profits are private, losses are public" crony-capitalism is self-destructing and what is needed to move forward to a sustainable, adaptable, wealth-generating capitalism.

U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa

Click here to access article by Craig Whitlock from The Washington Post. 

Slowly the capitalist leading media sources are reporting more US military involvements in Africa. Last month we learned from Al Jazeera that US had inserted combat troops in Africa for "training and exercises". Unfortunately, this source has continued to degenerate due to the influence of the  Emir of Qatar which is very much a part of the Empire. This is the way they covered this event:
Already US special forces have begun providing training and logistical support to Ugandan soldiers hunting Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army.
Military advisers are also in Uganda to draw lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan to help train African Union soldiers to fight Somalia's al-Shabab group.  
In this article from a primary ruling class source, it predictably frames the incursion this way to keep the American public in ignorance about their true intentions:
 In another effort to combat al-Qaeda militants in Africa, specifically in Somalia, the United States has been training troops from other African nations to be peacekeepers. 
It seems like more than a coincidence that the phony internet campaign featuring the film "Kony 2012" was launched earlier this year. One can easily imagine the Empire's political operatives deciding last year that the US public needed more preparation for stepped up military operations that they were planning for Africa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Biased? Damn Right I Am

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from The Occupied Wall Street Journal. 

Clearly Canadian researcher Marshall has been viciously attacked by spokespeople of the Canadian One Percent and their media sycophants for his online coverage of the ongoing student protests in Quebec which has been met by the full fury and arsenal of Quebec police forces. Clearly the Canadian ruling class is very worried about the prospects of the Quebec student rebellion spreading across Canada, and are doing everything they can to prevent it.

From 2002 to 2006 I spent considerable time in Vancouver BC and became aware of how concentrated the media was there. One family headed by Israel Asper, incorporated as Canwest, owned nearly every significant newspaper in the country and numerous TV stations. I was shocked to learn that they owned all three newspapers in Vancouver. All their newspapers exhibited a strong Zionist bias. A Wikipedia entry describes this:
Canwest was often cited as an example of how the ownership of Canadian media has become concentrated in the hands of a few individuals and large corporations. Canwest founder Izzy Asper was known as a strong supporter of both Canada's Liberal Party and Israel's right-wing Likud party, and of many laissez-faire policies in both countries. Observers have suggested that Asper's political views have had a significant impact on news coverage at CanWest media outlets. For example, in 2002, Ottawa Citizen publisher Russell Mills was fired by Canwest after the paper published a series of articles exposing a financial scandal involving then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
Following this article, I learned that in 2009 Canwest apparently succumbed to the influence of the internet and was broken up: most of the print media went to one corporation and their broadcast stations went to Shaw Communications, another very large broadcast corporation.

But more importantly, I also learned of an exciting new development among left media activists in Canada--the formation of the Media Co-op across Canada which was started in 2009 by the Dominion News Cooperative based in Halifax. I have always argued that it is of critical importance for anti-capitalist activists to establish their own media as a first step in establishing a solid counter-culture. Canadians are doing this! 

On Anarchy: An Interview

Click here to access article, a transcript of an interview with Andrew Gavin Marshall from What About Peace? Here is a link to a French translation of the interview.

This is the best article I have ever read on the subject of anarchism. It confirmed so much that I already knew, but it also shed new light on some subjects in which I was not well informed. Anarchism has always been much maligned and oppressed by capitalist authorities simply because it offers the most serious challenge to capitalist culture that emphasizes hierarchy, authority, class structure, indoctrination, and coercive police forces to enforce the demands of a ruling class. Therefore, I consider it a must-read article for all activists.

Gandhi Was Wrong – Nonviolence Doesn’t Work

Click here to access article by veresay from his blog, Village Filosopher, at LiveJournal website. 
It’s time to lead another liberal sacred cow to the killing floor. I’m talking about non-violence. I’ve never exactly been a fan of pacifism.
His article provides some compelling reasons to justify this statement. Of course, I take exception to his cheap shot at anarchism against which he offered no arguments or evidence.


Thanks to Sukant Chandan for posting this on The Sons of Malcolm blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Intimacy versus Capitalism, Montreal

Click here to access article by Cindy Milstein from her blog, Commons Not Capitalism. 

For readers in the US and elsewhere who have been unable to follow the events in Quebec because of a media news blackout, this is another report which I think captures the spirit of this youth led revolt in that Canadian province against austerity policies resulting in dramatic increases in university tuition. Let me explain some of the terms in her article that may be unfamiliar to you:
  • Grand Prix--see this, this, and this.
  • Bill 78 specifically targets the massive student assemblies and mobilizations in order to break the growing strike and destroy the power of the student union. One member of the Quebec political opposition used the term “Loi Fuck” to refer to the blunt and draconian tool that outlaws public assembly, imposes harsh fines for strike activity (even tacit support), and effectively makes organizing an arrestable offense. The bill also gives more power to the police in enforcing student protest. Indeed, during the last many weeks of escalating street demos, police have repeatedly preempted demonstrations with CS gas, sound grenades, “blast disperser” grenades, and rubber bullets. 
  • cassaroles--saucepans. See this for how they are used as an expression of opposition.
The author explains how intimacy can be, and is, powerful as illustrated in Montreal. She obviously is not referring to sexual intimacy, but the bonds that can be formed when the people have become so disturbed by the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" imposed by capitalist authorities that they are willing to "take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them".
So on this night 49, filled with the warm radiant heat of a summer night, made hotter still by so many people continuing to turn out illegally to march, and the warmth of the bonds we feel when we do so, I’m overcome by the actually existing fact that people can and do act along the lines of an “economy” of gifting and mutual aid and solidarity, backed by the intimacy and love created in our spring uprisings, despite all that capitalism does to beat the life out of us.
See also this, this, and this.

Thousands in Moscow march against Putin

Click here to access article and 2:11m video from Al Jazeera. 
Though the president today came out in a "conciliatory tone", saying the demonstrations were signs of a healthy democracy, and that he wanted to engage in dialogue with the nation's many political groups, our correspondent said for the masses gathered in the capital today, Putin's actions belie his words.
On Friday the president signed a law that increased fines for violations of public order at street demonstrations, ignoring warnings from his human rights council that it was unconstitutional. Opponents said the law was an attempt to silence dissent.
Unfortunately, this is more about opposition to a crackdown on dissent than it is about the core issues.

Russian Warning Shots

Click here to access article by Thierry Meyssan from Voltaire Network. 

Sometimes it appears that Meyssan is championing Russia and Putin as suggested by this piece. If so, this is a very misguided effort. I do not subscribe to the proverb that "an enemy of my enemy is my friend". It appears that, once again as seen in the 1930s, capitalist ruling classes are lining up in a contest for dominance. We, the people of the Earth, cannot permit this to happen or we will be the "last generation".
What is actually at stake in Syria is not whether Bashar al-Assad will be able to democratize the institutions he has inherited or whether the Wahhabist monarchies of the Gulf will succeed in destroying the last secular regime in the region and impose their sectarianism, but to determine the lines of separation between the emerging power blocs of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) 

British journalist “set up to be shot” by Syrian rebels

Click here to access article by Richard Tyler from World Socialist Web Site. 

The "Free Syrian Army" misses an opportunity to add further to the fire of Empire propaganda. Even though this involved the likely deaths of its own BBC crew, BBC editors don't seem to care.
Thomson’s account received barely any coverage in the British media, let alone internationally. Except for the blog, Channel 4 appears not to have run an item on the near-death experience of its own news crew.
Updated at 4pm Tuesday, Seattle time: NATO preparing vast disinformation campaign

Imperiled Life: Revolution Against Climate Catastrophe.

Click here to access the promotional posting by kate of AK Press from their associated website, Revolution by the Book.
In light of the problems posed by the threat of capital-induced climate destabilization, it remains clear that if humanity does not “determine itself,” it will “bring about terrestrial catastrophe.” The dark choice presently faced by humankind...is that of suicide or revolution.
This post offers blurbs about a new book focusing on the above theme from various people on the left and provides a PDF link to the author's introduction.

The Latest Generation Wages War On Terror

Click here to access article by Mickey Z. from World News Trust. 

The author examines the various meanings of terrorism and chooses to focus on this type of terrorism:
"Terror is what poor people worldwide feel when approached by uniformed, armed men; what animals feel in research laboratories; what people feel when their families are faced with starvation; what a child feels when an adult starts to hit; what millions of families feel when they hear planes overhead; what fish feel when hooked in the mouth; what people feel under threat of having loved ones tortured or killed; what forest dwellers feel when the loggers come in to clear-cut; what people feel when they are threatened with invasion; and what animals feel at slaughterhouses."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Western Banks 'Reaping Billions from Colombian Cocaine Trade'

Click here to access article by Ed Vulliamy from The Guardian. 

Notice the introduction to the article provided by the liberal British media source: 
While cocaine production ravages countries in Central America, consumers in the US and Europe are helping developed economies grow rich from the profits, a study claims
Even when capitalist media report some real news about elite crimes, they go out of their way to frame these reports in such a way as to distort their meaning. If you ignore this framing by a careful reading of the report, you will see that the study done by two Colombian economists clearly indicates that large US and British banks are the ones profiting from this drug trade while drug enforcement agencies largely look the other way. Clearly when major banks such as Wachovia are caught using drug money, nothing whatsoever happens to them. The banking drug profits do not benefit the developed economies to any great extent, they create huge problems for countries such as Columbia and Mexico, and they only help the banks that are owned and controlled by ruling elites.
The economists surveyed an entire range of economic, social and political facets of the drug wars that have ravaged Colombia. The conflict has now shifted, with deadly consequences, to Mexico and it is feared will spread imminently to central America.
Those who suffer are the poor and desperate customers who look for some escape from their misery and the low level drug pushers who are jailed. Enforcing drug laws only against the latter constitutes the widely ballyhooed "war on drugs" that has served to equip local police forces with military grade weapons and pass onerous laws permitting stop and frisk actions against minority populations and the poor. In the US these laws have greatly contributed to warehousing the largest prison population (on a per capita basis) in the world.

Of course, this is not news to people who follow alternative media and read books. Gary Webb (Dark Alliance), an outstanding journalist with the San Jose Mercury newspaper, was hot on the trail in the 1990s examining the involvement of the US government in drug running before his findings were trashed by ruling class media led by the Washington Post and the NY Times. He lost his job and career, and ultimately died under rather mysterious circumstances that was ruled a suicide. (Another excellent source of information is The Blood Bankers by James S. Henry.)

Electoral Campaigns - Proceed at your own Risk

Click here to access article by Luke Hiken from Indybay (San Francisco). 

This is another take on the Walker recall election and elections in general.

Who was it that said? "If elections could change anything, they would be illegal."

Catastroika: the disastrous wholesale of the Greek state

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

Roos reviews a new film. A link to this 1:27hr film is included.

When protector turned killer

Click here to access article by Vijay Prashad from The Hindu (India). 
The scandal here is that NATO, a military alliance, refuses any civilian oversight of its actions. It operated under a U.N. mandate and yet refuses to allow a U.N. evaluation of its actions. NATO, in other words, operates as a rogue military entity, outside the bounds of the prejudices of democratic society. The various human rights reports simply underlie the necessity of a formal and independent evaluation of NATO's actions in Libya. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How the Arab Spring was sapped dry

Click here to access article by Ismael Hossein-zadeh from International Movement for a Just World. 
Soon after being caught by surprise by the glorious uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the counterrevolutionary forces headed by the United States embarked on damage control. A major strategy in pursuit of this objective has been to foment civil war and regime change in "unfriendly" places, and then portray them as part of the Arab Spring.

US in Mali: Disintegration of a State

Click here to access article by Joe Penney from Al Akhbar. 

Although Africom, the Empire's military mission in Africa, tries to keep a low profile, their fingerprints are all over the place; and as usual, we find a nation torn by various warlords with questionable sponsors. Whether the disintegration of Mali is planned or a result of Western bungling, it appears that Mali is another state descending into chaos.