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 30, 2012

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Under Cover of Darkness, a Corporate Coup Is Underway

Click here to access article by Lori Wallach from AlterNet. 
...signatory countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to TPP’s rules, effecting a quiet corporate coup d’état. And, regardless of election outcomes or changes in public opinion, these extreme rules could not be altered without the consent of all signatory countries. Failure to conform to these rules would subject countries to indefinite trade sanctions.
Another illustration of the seamless transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration: the ongoing secret attempts to establish transnational corporate rule that surrenders all vestiges of bourgeois democracy to a new world order under the direct rule of the One Percent unhampered by their parliamentary and electoral procedures that have served this class so well in the past.

Did John Roberts Give Mitt Romney A Gift?

Click here to access article by Marcia Angell, MD from Huffington Post. 
Obamacare is simply incapable of doing what it is supposed to do -- provide nearly universal care at an affordable and sustainable cost. ...He made the private insurance companies the linchpin of the new system, and promised them millions of additional customers and billions of taxpayer dollars. He also did nothing to rein in the profit-oriented delivery system that rewards providers on a piecework basis for doing tests and procedures. So with all the new dollars flowing into the system and no restraints on the way medicine is practiced, the law is inherently inflationary.
The doctor makes a compelling argument that the right-wing Supreme Court Justice Roberts gave the One Percent right wing a gift. Ignore all the right-wing critical remarks on his decision--they are all for public consumption.  

This issue of health care illustrates the main difference between the two contending factions within the One Percent capitalist rule: the slow poison versus the meat ax method to kill safety nets for the 99 Percent.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Why Honest Journalism Matters and Can Make a Difference: Interview with Nick Ut 40 years after the ‘napalm girl’ picture

Click here to access article by Dominic Ponsford from Press Gazette (UK).

Well, yes, honest journalism matters. But as Nick Ut makes clear, it no longer can make a difference in capitalist controlled media simply because the latter no longer permits it.
“In the Vietnam war you could go anywhere you wanted. After the picture of napalm girl and other pictures you don’t have any freedom to cover war any more. They control the media a lot more now. They don’t want more pictures like napalm girl.
Thus, it is imperative that activists must create their own media to cover everyday reality so that people can understand the issues, organize, and formulate appropriate strategies to bring down the system that makes wars inevitable.

Must a Debt always be paid?

Click here to access article by Daniel Gómez-Olivé i Casas from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt. 

Debt has long been a method used by capitalists to extract wealth from working people. We see this today as never before with entire countries in debt to the world's transnational One Percents. There are a number of reasons for this development, but the primary ones form the foundation for the system of capitalism: the sanctity of contracts, debt based monetary systems created by private banking elites, and the private ownership of socially produced wealth. 

The author of this article questions the validity of the first pillar in relation only to sovereign debts. Thus, it is another limited liberal attempt to reform the system to make it less destabilizing. While this effort is laudable, we as activists must realize that the whole system is illegitimate and dangerous to the survival of humanity. Thus, our efforts must be focused on changing the system to one that is socially just and is capable of existing in harmony with nature.
Some would say that a debt must always be paid. Indeed, the payment of debt is also referred to as “honouring” of a debt. It is treated as more it seems than a simple return: it is treated above all as the keeping of ones word. However, in reality, the repayment of a debt (especially when dealing with a sovereign debt) should depend on the origin of that debt, to whom it was lent, under what terms and the potential benefit.

Philo- and Anti-Semitism in Germany: Interview with Gilbert Achcar

Click here to access article from Jadaliyya Ezine.

In this interview a very interesting perspective emerges on the relationship between antisemitism and German support of Israeli policies. The interview begins with this question:
As someone who was socialized and grew up in Lebanon, it is not immediately clear why you would write a book about The Arabs and the Holocaust. Is there something particular that made you aware that the history of anti-Semitism and the Middle East conflict are intertwined?
Yes, indeed, he answers, and then goes into the particulars.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rollback in the Empire's "Backyard"

by Ron Horn.

Empire operatives are busy all over the world destabilizing governments that do not cooperate fully with Empire interests. They do this by a variety of methods, the most useful has been by aligning the target countries' military with the US Army. This integration of the former with the latter is accomplished with lavish junket trips to the US and by equipping their military and police with weapons and training. In addition, Empire based NGOs provide similar kinds of support for compliant citizens engaged in ideological roles in the targeted countries: in media, academia, and professional organizations.  

Parallel with these efforts, we see the direct establishment of more US military bases in the region and direct US agency participation in phony anti-drug campaigns. In spite of declarations of attacking the drug trade, there continues to be considerable evidence indicating that military and political leaders in these targeted countries are also very much involved with drug trafficking with US complicity, even their participation. The latest new development is seen with the US promotion of the prison complex into Latin America.

Many of these methods have been honed over many decades in Latin America and extended throughout the world. In Latin America we have seen a bit of a backlash against US influence with the election of populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil. This backlash has been limited and contained, and now it appears that Empire operatives are aggressively pursuing policies to take back these gains. 

Below I am supplying links to what I regard as the best articles and videos that illustrate and offer insights on the latest developments.


What drives US policy in Central America?

Paraguay: Impeachment or political coup?

Democracy from Below in Bolivia: An Interview with Oscar Olivera 

U.S. Prison Industrial Complex Moves South of the Border

Court Ruling Does Not End Healthcare Crisis Or the Need to Continue the Campaign for Reform

Click here to access article from National Nurses United.
The Supreme Court decision should not be seen as the end of the efforts by health care activists for a permanent fix of our broken healthcare system, said the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses today.
To achieve that end, the 175,000-member National Nurses United pledged to step up a campaign for a reform that is not based on extending the grip of a failed private insurance system, but “on a universal program based on patient need, not on profits or ability to pay. That’s Medicare for all,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “It is not time to stop, but a reminder to begin that effort anew.” 

Nature's final frontiers fall to the corporations

Click here to access article by Penny Cole from A World to Win. 
The Rio+20 final document is so shocking and the risks it poses so great that it bears revisiting. "Ecosystem services", and other so-called “green economics” initiatives set out at Rio represent capitalism's final assault on wilderness, untamed habitat and the plants and animals (including humans) who live inter-connectedly in these spaces.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How the US Government, Banks, Prison-Industrial Complex, Corrupt Officials, Businesses, Law Enforcement, Racists and the CIA Profit From Illegal Drugs

Click here to access article by Mark Karlin from Truthout. 

This reporter puts together evidence from numerous sources to give us a big picture that reveals that every powerful sector of the One Percent's ruling class is exploiting and supporting drug trafficking.

I have little doubt that Attorney General Eric Holder is hiding government complicity in the drug trade as alleged by Republican party operatives during this election season which is pitting the 
far-right against right-wing faction of the ruling class. (There is no left-wing and liberals are insignificant in US politics.) However, it seems to me that they are playing with fire. The far-right's challenge will be to smear him, but limit the damage to him exclusively. If my hunch is correct, this ploy puts Eric Holder in a double-bind: if he releases some secret documents, the damage could hurt key decision-makers among the ruling class; but if refuses, this makes him look like he is hiding something--which he is.

New evidence of US operation against Julian Assange

Click here to access article by Richard Phillips from World Socialist Web Site. 
If this US-led operation were to succeed it would strike a deep blow against the most basic democratic rights, including to document and lay bare the criminal actions and machinations of Washington and its allies. Workers and youth internationally must mobilise to defend Assange and Manning, guided by the understanding that this requires a direct political struggle against the governments involved, and the capitalist profit system itself, which is the root source of the mounting assault on fundamental democratic rights.

Facts NEVER Heard on Mainstream Media

The following 4:52m video featuring comedian Lee Camp is sourced from YouTube

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

EU doom loop: bank bailouts reveal true roots of crisis

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

This is the first time that I've encounter the term "doom loop" which the author expands on in this article. It also contains several very interesting videos and links, and so far I haven't had time to read/view most of them. It appears to me that the material offers some valuable insights into the intractability of the present banking/sovereign debt crisis in Europe. 

Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low

Click here to access article by Henry Blodget from Business Insider. 
...our current system and philosophy is creating a country of a few million overlords and 300+ million serfs.
This piece is an excellent illustration of a carefully crafted piece of One Percent propaganda to get members of the 99 Percent to support political acts that will destroy major safety nets that are needed to sustain them, most vitally in the present crisis. The author uses a variety of tricks to induce the 99 Percent not only to act against their own interests, but to serve one of the long held objectives of the One Percent ruling class--destroy or privatize Social Security and Medicare, and definitely destroy Medicaid. I would like examine the details, but unfortunately I simply don't have the time this morning. Instead, I will just hit the high points of this propaganda piece and trust that you can critique the details.

What you see in the title and in the beginning phases of this article and related charts are the "hooks": a term used in the advertising industry to get your attention. The title got mine! Gary Dahl from Dummies.com provides a very adequate definition of this concept: "A creative hook is an emotional trigger in your advertising that attracts buyers; it appeals to their self-image and affirms that you provide what they’re looking for." 

Thus, the author plays on your emotions and furnishes related actual, although superficial, facts about the recent destruction of the economy and the effects on ordinary people. Because he wants to reach everyone, he uses folksy language and claims that it is "not about politics". He just wants to present the "facts" which he provides in 63 slides with captions to insure that you interpret them correctly.  

After he "hooks" you, he slowly reels you in over the course of the charts and their interpretations. Like all good propagandists, he uses a mixture of mostly legitimate facts laced with deceptions and distractions to slowly introduce what the One Percent operatives want you to do. Of course, what they want you to do is definitely political in every sense of the word. (See chart 63, the last one.)

Just one question: where do you think Social Security, funded by matching 50% worker and employer payroll taxes, would be now if the neo-conservatives starting back in the Reagan administration had had their way and privatized it, and furnished Wall Street gamblers with all this money? (In only one year, fiscal year 2009-2010 this amounted to $2.4 trillion, according to Eric Laursen in his book, The People's Pension.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Losing strength? An alternative vision of Spain’s indignados

Click here to access article by Marta Sánchez from Reflections on a Revolution. 

In the past I have argued that the most progressive forces of the 99 Percent are likely to be found in the European countries most profoundly affected by the recent economic collapse. Thus, it is no surprise to me to find that activists in Spain are making very significant progress in building a grass-roots framework for a new society. This author provides us with an update of this transformation of the 15-M Movement in Spain from street demonstrations to neighborhood organizations that are the vital next step in the revolution. 
The 15-M movement has gone beyond protest: it has succeeded in altering the collective imagination and the political atmosphere at its very roots. It has generated a process of re-politicization of society. The agenda of actions has expanded and been radicalized: now we do not only occupy the squares, but we are taking back the public spaces in our own neighborhoods.

Obama's Second Latin American Coup

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from CounterCurrents. 

This is the first I've heard of the latest attempt to overthrow a popular government in Latin America. As Cooke writes, the fingerprints of a US destabilization effort are all over this attempt to remove this populist president from power in Paraguay. 

It is likely that the same tried and true neo-imperialist formula has been used: the US operatives establish close ties with the military in the host country, supplies them with training, military equipment, and paid junkets to the US where they are wined and dined by US military generals. This method has been applied to governments of interest to US political operatives since at least the last sixty years. Some of the most notable are Indonesia, Chile, Argentina, Columbia, Honduras, Haiti, and Egypt.
Paraguay's elite has only the military for internal support, which for decades has been funded and trained by the United States.
...it is not remotely possible for Paraguay's elite to act without assurance from the United States that it would continue to receive U.S. political and financial support; the elite now needs a steady flow of guns and tanks to defend itself from the poor of Paraguay.
Unfortunately, after making this spot-on observation, he keeps referring to Obama and his administration which dilutes any real understanding of US power and methods used to subvert and control other countries.

Then the author's analysis is marred by the usual American ignorance of political systems by making this statement:
It's obvious that the President's real crimes are that he chose to ally himself more closely with Paraguay's left, which in reality means the working and poor masses of the country, who, like other Latin American countries, choose socialism as their form of political expression.
There is no socialism anywhere in Latin America. Although Chavez has talked a lot about it, his policies and those of many other Latin American leaders has promoted only what is known as "social democratic" policies to ameliorate the socially disastrous policies of their capitalist elites. Social democracy is merely capitalism dressed up in populist measures (social safely nets) and proponents frequently use "socialist" language to sell it to their citizens. 

Cuba is unique by having followed the model of the Soviet Union and establishing a bureaucratic class to organize and direct the economy and society. I think they can be forgiven due to the emergency situation they have been subject to due to the ongoing efforts of US operatives to destabilize their country.

This article from CADTM entitled "Paraguay: Lugo denounces “a coup against democracy”, although it suffers some translation problems, provides many more details on this event in Paraguay.

The Source of Barack Obama’s Power to Trick Us Comes from Our Willingness to Be Tricked

Click here to access article by Matt Stoller from Naked Capitalism. 

The author provides a valuable service to readers by deconstructing the mythology about President Obama as the chief executive officer of the United States. It's clear that he is more of an acting president in the theatrical sense. Or, to put it another way, he performs as any public relations officer in a corporation: to make the corporation look good. 

Unfortunately, the author focuses too exclusively on Obama; and by doing so tends to preserve the mythology about power and function of the president. This tends to obscure the real source of power in the US, contributes to the conventional mythology of political power, keeps the public in ignorance, produces cynicism and apathy. 

But this author is not unique in that respect. Just this morning I have run into a number of articles in which authors have complained about Obama policies as if they were his policies. The fact is that nearly all presidents have served as merely public relations officers. I say nearly all because occasionally a real member of the decision-making elite is elected to office such as George H. W. Bush. The last president who was determined to pursue a foreign policy at odds with the power elite was John Kennedy--and you know what happened to him!

The real power elite are the decision-makers well connected with the top banking and Wall Street institutions and their political operatives in the secret agencies such as the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the FBI. 

Fortunately, the author in the final two paragraphs makes an attempt to generalize a bit, but mostly in the context of a critique of American exceptionalism. Here is the way he begins:
This alternative narrative is a hard truth to hear, because it carries with it an implicit rejection of American exceptionalism.  Yes, American institutions are no better, and in many ways are more malignant, than those of many other countries.  Yes, our political leaders, our press, our military leadership, operate in service to sociopathic aims. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Australian and Canadian Activists are Building an Alternative Media

by Ron Horn.

I have long argued for an alternative media to be established in the US in order to provide a foundation for a serious revolutionary movement. Depending on corporate owned media only insures the continued management of consent/dissent by operatives of the One Percent. They have huge budgets and command the very best in resources, both human and material, to capture the minds of American citizens. 

In the anti-war movement of the 1960s there were a number of underground newspapers that sprung up, but once the war was finally concluded, they and the whole activist movement largely disappeared. 

I watched this development with profound dismay. It demonstrated the immature level of political consciousness that existed in that period. The movement was only about stopping the war--not about the system that made wars inevitable.

The Vietnam war, although it involved war crimes on a huge scale, was only one operation of the capitalist class that was determined to obtain control over every resource on the planet using methods ranging from political subversion to military invasion to accomplish this. Although the system also exploited US working people for the benefit of the One Percent, American workers had been enjoying substantial material rewards trickling down from the One Percent. However, it would only be a matter of time before they turned on their own workers. We are seeing that today under globalized capitalism in which trans-national elites vie for the exploitation of workers and resources throughout the world. 

The ruling One Percents have gotten away with this without significant opposition from their own labor forces. Even today with the rampant destruction of the economy and social safety nets, US working people are still slow to wake up. Many still think that this is only a temporary aberration and things will be back to normal soon. Their minds are dumbed down by corporate media and the One Percent's indirect control of education. Even the latter is under increasing pressures to be privatized; and to the extent that this happens, education will deteriorate even more. Working people are now subject to complete Orwellian indoctrination programs from corporate media and, to a lessor extent, in publicly funded schools. Never before has an independent, worker-centered alternative media been more vital to the 99 Percent and their liberation.

Fortunately, there is hope. Activists in Australia and Canada are showing the way. They have been establishing alternative media and showing signs of expanding. 

Since 1990 Australia activists have been publishing the Green Weekly. They have also produced a number of videos of political events. 

Green Left Weekly have recently expanded their operations to include online news broadcasts of news, a project called Green Left TV’s YouTube channel. The first program is Green Left Report. Here is their first program:

Canadian activists are also organizing their alternative media. Starting from a local alternative paper published in Halifax, Nova Scotia, they have established The Media Co-op and expanded operations to include centers in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. So far I believe they have only print media, but they are talking about online video programs. View this video in which they explain their operations:

Well, what about "Democracy Now!" TV program that is based in the US? A recent article (You may need to reload the page to get past the funding pitch.) by Dr. Stuart Bramhall has confirmed my long held suspicions.  She has uncovered well documented evidence that much of what passes for left media coverage, including "Democracy Now!", in the US is funded, at least in substantial part, by right-wing non-profit institutions such as the Ford Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, various liberal foundations, and other CIA front organizations.

Secret State

Click here to access article by David Malone from his blog, Golem XIV (UK).

He develops the argument, supported by evidence, that there is now a secret state that functions outside the reach of the fake version of bourgeois democracy to direct military operations anywhere in the world. It seems that the Empire's decision makers and their operatives find that functioning through any kind of a legal framework is a bit of a hassle--just like their corporations which have found that operating offshore eliminates a lot of public scrutiny. He begins his argument by exploring the corporate phenomenon:
...not only is it possible for corporate finances to be moved beyond the reach of national  oversight and regulation, but now corporate emails and other data can also be removed from national democratic and legal oversight. Corporation can now operate within any nation, making their profits there. but  without the elected government, the tax officials, financial regulators, courts or police having any power to see what the corporation is doing.
He then moves on to the secret state--the central command center for all the secret military services located in various parts of the Empire used to direct military operations out of view of a troublesome public. It is clear that all capitalist or class structured societies function only for the benefit of their ruling classes. The more secretly that ruling classes can operate, the better they can serve their interests.

The solution and challenge is to awaken the slumbering 99 Percent to this reality so that they can design and implement classless societies that provide conditions that support social and ecological harmony.

RIO+20 Talks Need to Consider Physical Limits

Click here to access article by Gail Tverberg from Our Finite World.
The term Sustainable Development seems to me to be almost a contradiction in terms. One dictionary gives the definition of “development” as “the act or process of developing; growth; progress”. In a finite world, how can growth be sustainable? Isn’t it possible that human population already passed the world’s carrying capacity, and world leaders should be talking about shrinking instead of growing?
This writer is no radical, but for many people the contradictions between a growth based system like capitalism and a finite planet are becoming too obvious to ignore.