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, July 28, 2012

Open Letter From Chomsky, Shiva, Pilger and more..

Click here to access article from New Left. 
The following is an open letter from IOPS  (the International Organisation for a Participatory Society) a potentially important new initiative in the struggle for a more just world...
I haven't had much time to look over this new organization's website, but it excites my interest. It has some very excellent people associated with it, visions which followers of this blog likely agree with, and some very interesting ideas on how to proceed with building the organization.

From American Drought to “Global Catastrophe”

Click here to access article by Thomas A. Lewis from the Daily Impact.

It is becoming clear that many in the world are facing dire food shortages due to severe weather disasters in the US and other parts of the world, due to corporate concentration of food production, and financial speculators looking for quick and easy big profits. This looks like a perfect storm that can have any number of serious consequences--food riots, political upheavals, mass starvation, booms and busts in agricultural markets, etc.

I have surveyed a number of related articles this morning and have concluded that this one offers the best introduction to the impending crisis. In addition, it offers an excellent gateway to other sources of information by providing numerous links.

Other sources I found useful in understanding this subject are here, here, and here.

How Quiet Environmental Uprisings are Spreading Across the Country

Click here to access article by Scott Parkin from CounterPunch. 

There is not much data here to support this activist's view, but he senses a significant increase in opposition to continued attacks on the ecosystem by ordinary people.

I'm seeing some local opposition to a proposed huge coal terminal here in northwest Washington state in the form of protests, a ballot initiative banning transport of coal trains through the city of Bellingham, and a city council effort, over the mayor's objection, to place a non-binding vote regarding the terminal on the ballot. As usual, I see the issue being played out with one side touting jobs and the other side promoting environmental values.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fifty Shades of Capitalism: Pain and Bondage in the American Workplace

Click here to access article by Douglas Smith from AlterNet. 
When harmful beliefs plague a population, you can bet that the 1% is benefiting. This article is part of a new AlterNet series, "Capitalism Unmasked," edited by Lynn Parramore and produced in partnership with author Douglas Smith and Econ4 to expose the myths and lies of unbridled capitalism and show the way to a better future. 
The author uses this best selling erotic novel by a British writer to illustrate and examine the central myths of the final stage of capitalism.
Drunk on the intoxicants of wealth and power, Fifty Shades of Grey hints at a sinister cultural shift that is unfolding in its pages before our eyes. The innocent Anastasias will no longer merely have their lifeblood slowly drained by capitalist predators. They’re going to be whipped, humiliated and forced to wear a butt-plug. The vampire in the night has given way to the dominating overlord of a hierarchical, sadomasochistic world in which everybody without money is a helpless submissive.

Welcome to late-stage capitalism.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Veterans For Peace/Veterans Peace Team Calls on Police to Cease Aggression Against Peaceful Protesters

Click here to access article from Veterans for Peace. 
From Seattle to Los Angeles to Minneapolis to New York, police are increasing their aggression towards peaceful Occupy protesters by their presence in large numbers dressed in riot gear, the use of weapons such as rubber bullets and pepper spray and escalating charges against those who are arrested.
For other coverage of US police intimidation see this, this, this, this, this, and this.

Counter-Terrorism Unit Keeps Files on Journalists, Reports that My Book Is “Compelling and Well Written”

Click here to access article by Will Potter from Green is the New Red. 
New documents reveal that the federal Counter-Terrorism Unit is creating reports and maintaining files about the writing, interviews, and lectures of journalists who are critical of the government’s repression of political activists.

Florida at the forefront as states plan fresh assault on voting rights

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

This is an indication of a rather desperate move by the militant right-wing faction of the One Percent to gain control of the official political agenda in Washington. The upcoming November elections is an internecine battle between the two right-wing parties in the US. The outcome will determine whether the One Percent through the Republican party goes after the 99 Percent with a meat ax by slashing all public spending programs--except, of course, military--or whether they do the job with slower-acting poison administered by the Democratic party. Either way, the One Percent wins and we lose, as usual.

You might also be interested in a followup piece by the same author regarding Floridians who have been purged from voter lists.

HSBC 'allowed drug cartels to launder money'

Click here to access article from Al Jazeera. (My comments modified at 3:00pm Seattle time.)
US senate probe has found that Europe's largest bank had lax controls that allowed money laundering for seven years.
When a US senate committee gets around to reporting findings like this, you can be sure that this is already so well known that it can no longer be hidden. But, notice the glaring omission: no US based banks are mentioned! Isn't it wonderful that US bankers are so ethical! (sarcasm) (See this and this.)

Putin’s Geopolitical Chess Game with Washington in Syria and Eurasia

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from Global Research (Canada). 
Since reassuming his post as Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has lost no minute in addressing the most urgent geopolitical threats to Russia internationally. Not surprisingly, at the center of his agenda is the explosive situation in the Middle East, above all Syria. Here Putin is engaging every imaginable means of preventing a further deterioration of the situation into what easily could become another “world war by miscalculation.” His activities in recent weeks involve active personal diplomacy with Syria’s government as well as the so-called opposition “Syrian National Council.”  It involves intense diplomacy with Erdogan’s Turkey regime. It involves closed door diplomacy with Obama. It involves direct diplomacy with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

Billionaires’ Superyachts Dock in Thames for Olympic Games

Click here to access article by Alex Morales from Bloomberg. 

See how the rich .01 of the One Percent visit the Olympics. 

These are people who benefit most from the capitalist system and will be the ones to defend it vigorously from changes that the rest of us want. They sponsor agents who create wars to enhance their power and profits, wipe out indigenous people to steal their resources, deny man-made climate change, bribe your governments, make money off drug trafficking, etc. These are the creditors to which all the debtors of the world are beholden to. Workers of entire nations are working a substantial part of their lives to pay off debts incurred by One Percent-controlled governments that have bailed out their banks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Global resources stock check

Click here to access startling graphic from BBC.

 The graph provides the estimated answers to this question:
If we fail to correct current consumption trends, then when will our most valuable natural resources run out?

On the Far Side of Denial

Click here to access article by John Michael Greer from his blog The Archdruid Report. 

The author explains how the ongoing methods of coping with limited resources on a finite planet-- especially by spokespeople in the fossil fuel industry, but also leaders of the One Percent throughout industry and finance--correspond very well with the grieving steps outlined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to describe how people cope with approaching death. 
The application of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief to the process of dealing with peak oil has become common enough in the peak oil scene that an offhand reference to one stage or another in a talk or blog post on the subject rarely needs an explanation. It’s not just peak oil: the sequence of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance has become part of the common currency of thought in the modern world. For all its drawbacks and critics -- and it has plenty of both -- the five stages do a tolerably good job of modeling the way many people go through the grieving process in most contexts, which is after all as much as any theoretical structure can be expected to do.
Whatever its more general applicability, furthermore, it very often fits the experience that people have when they start to wrestle with peak oil and everything that it implies.
Like many of his liberal colleagues from academia, he refuses to employ a class and system analysis to this issue--it's "society" that is engaged in denial. Thus, he and his fellow intellectuals can only wring their hands in despair while feeling very superior to those engaged in denial activities.
...industrial society is collectively entering the stage of denial.
Still, it is a very thoughtful study of the subject and has attracted a lot of interesting comments following the article. Many comments connect the issue of fossil fuel with the equally, if not more, threatening issue of climate change.

As Mining Conglomerates Target Haiti, Latin America Rises Against Them

Click here to access article by Roger Annis and Kim Ives from Global Research (Canada). 

While the One Percent's financial elites in the developed world are making sovereign governments bailout their banks and sticking them with the debts, the One Percent's industrial elites are frantically in search of resources in weaker countries--often corrupting, destabilizing, and overturning governments in the process.

Austerity, Adjustment, and Social Genocide: Political Language and the European Debt Crisis

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from his blog. 

This excerpt from Marshall's forthcoming book might also be entitled, "A Guide to Decoding Capitalist Ruling Class Language". 

Ruling classes are inherently illegitimate because human nature is inherently egalitarian. Humans are endowed with a profound sense of fairness, they require respect from their peers, and a sense of belonging to a social network that sustains all who reside there. Societies ruled over by one segment of the population pursuing their own interests necessarily violate all these principles. Hence, the need to hide their actions behind verbiage which distorts and obscures. 
As George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” But there remains intent and meaning behind the words that are used. When we translate the political language of the European debt crisis, it reveals a monstrous agenda of impoverishment and exploitation. Thus, we also see the necessity of political language for those who use it: one cannot argue openly for programs of impoverishment and exploitation for obvious reasons, so words like “fiscal consolidation” and “structural reform” are used, because they are vague and obscure.

Iraq: After the Americans

Click here to access 25:00m video from Al Jazeera's Frontline program. 
In a special two-part series, Fault Lines travels across Iraq to take the pulse of a country and its people after nine years of foreign occupation and nation-building.
Now that US troops have left, how are Iraqis overcoming the legacy of violence and toxic remains of the US-led occupation, and the sectarian war it ignited? Is the country on the brink of irreparable fragmentation?
This 25 minute video presentation provides an assessment of the US Empire's "nation building" program in Iraq by a journalist on a return visit to that country. It is a terribly disturbing and depressing experience for any decent American to view--it certainly was for me. It provides a condensed case study of the "Salvador Option" and divide and conquer strategy that are the methods of choice in bringing foreign countries under the control of the Empire. 

The Salvadore option is essentially a terrorist operation and was first systematically employed by US agents in Vietnam, then in El Salvador, and in many places in Latin America including Chile, Columbia, and Argentina. References to these terrorist operations are fast disappearing from the internet. Here are some that I've found: here (unfortunately this has been removed from their website), here, here, and here

In Iraq we see that Empire agents have combined this terrorist operation with divide and conquer strategies by appointing different agencies under the control of different religious sects. For example, the Ministry of the Interior which directed their police-terrorist operations were placed under Sunni control with close supervision by Empire agents. Other branches of government were placed under Shia control. Another way to divide Iraqis was to give the Kurds in the oil-rich Kurdistan Province of Iraq considerable independence from the central government.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quebec students seek to broaden strike, but CLASSE leaders capitulate to union opposition

Click here to access article by Keith Jones from World Socialist Web Site. 

It is very telling that this Detroit based Trotskyist website has been providing the best English coverage of the striking student movement in Quebec. Left Canadian English coverage is, as they say, "deafening by its silence". To be sure, Canadian corporate media is covering it, but from a ruling class perspective. 

I did a survey this morning of liberal/left websites in Canada: I have arranged them in an order from liberal to left: Straight (Vancouver), The Dominion, Tyee, The Media Co-op, and Rabble. I could not find any recent reports of events in Quebec from the first two, some scattered and tangential reports from The Media Co-op (even in their Montreal based co-op), and finally more substantive reporting from Rabble.

(Note: The recently passed Quebec Bill 78, that is referred to in the article, severely restricts protest demonstrations on or near universities in Quebec.)

Reporting from this website appears to me to offer the best left analysis of the political forces engaged in this struggle. However, they have their own bias which supports much more radical action and is harshly critical of CLASSE’s leadership (in order to boost their own leadership), which may not be justified given the lack of broader political support from unions and the English speaking parts of Canada. I found Rabble's reporting a bit too optimistic about the student's struggle while lacking in political analysis. 

One can be righteously militant and wrong if conditions do not support more radical action. Any left activist movement must carefully pick its battles like any guerrilla force: attack targets wherever conditions favor victory. Meanwhile, engage in more political work to raise consciousness necessary to bring final victory. Choosing the wrong battles can lead to cynicism, apathy, and despair.

Vijay Prashad: Arab Spring Libyan Winter - Part I

Click here to access the source of this posting from Newsclick (India).

Prashad has recently written a book Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (published by AK Press) in which he goes into much more detail about his assessment of the critically important events in North Africa and the Middle East. In this interview he clearly demonstrates his knowledge on the subject by providing many more details, nuances, and penetrating analysis than have heretofore been reported.
Vijay Prashad discusses with Newsclick how the US and its allies have struck back against the mas movements that overthrew Ben Ali and Mubarak. This is what he terms as the Libyan Winter. He analyses the forces that the US and its allies are putting together and the danger to the region from these forces.

A medieval present of austerity, a future of feudalism

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder.

The author provides an excellent survey of the financial damage caused by the reckless gambling habits and money policies of banking elites across Europe and sees a pattern unfold which suggests: 
We are to be servants of the richest, so say “markets” — more a resemblance to feudalism than to a democratic society.

Brain Surgery Excises Obama Ambivalence for Rads

Click here to access article by Susie Day from MR Zine. 

The author provides a hilarious spoof on efforts by liberal operatives in the Obama campaign to lure liberal-left supporters into the voting booths to support him in the November elections.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Can we talk? In a meaningful way, that is…

Click here to access article by Cecile Andrews from Seattle City Living via Energy Bulletin. 

In the fragmented, alienated societies we now live in, mainstream media owned by the One Percent has played a major role in substituting their communications for person-to-person communications that previously had been a main feature of community life. By describing an ordinary conversation she had with local workers, this author from my Seattle area explains that right-wing media has largely replaced these communal communications with communications crafted by corporations to separate and divide us. This has resulted in something like artificial communities under the control of corporations that has fractured organic communities across the country.

Roundtable on the Language of Revolution in Egypt

Click here to access posting from Jadaliyya featuring discussions about recent Egyptian political events by Paul Sedra, Robert Springborg, and Joshua Stacher. 

This posting provides a very intelligent discussion of what constitutes revolutionary change and the political uses of revolutionary rhetoric in the process of change. Although I think that Sedra fails to realize the dangers of confusing revolutionary rhetoric with real change, he does provide some very interesting insights on the electoral strategies that Egyptian militarists used with guidance from US political figures to contain the revolutionary impetus within the bounds of a coup. 

The Empire and its military collaborators all over the world are becoming expert at using the machinery of elections to contain genuine democratic aspirations for change. Ruling class operatives have inculcated the idea in many ordinary people throughout the world that elections equals "democracy". To the extent that they have succeeded, electioneering has become a fetish--all that the One Percent needs to do is hold elections which they have become expert at controlling and many people will be satisfied that the outcome results in a legitimate democratic process.  Thus, it is critically important to study and thoroughly understand these strategies and expose them in order to prepare ordinary people for real change rather than allowing them to be endlessly fooled into accepting cosmetic change.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

£13tn: hoard hidden from taxman by global elite

Click here to access article by Heather Stewart from The Guardian, The Observer section. 
A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.
 We are forced into debt because they don't pay us enough to maintain a decent lifestyle. We work mostly to pay off our debts to them, and they don't pay taxes on what they earn off our work and the interest payments they receive from us! If you are a member of the global elite of the One Percent--what's not to love about capitalism?

By the way, for every debt or debtor in the world, there is a credit or creditor(s)--someone who "owns" that debt. To put it into feudalistic words, for every debt peon--that's us--in the world, there are lords and masters--the elite One Percent.

Also, related Guardian coverage of this issue is here, hear, and here.

London prepares for the war games

Click here to access article by Tim Dobson from Green Left (Australia).

Like everything else subject to the rule of the One Percent, an event that was designed to celebrate the athletic prowess of youth has been turned into "the most corporatised, militarised and draconian Olympics of all time." The author provides all the disturbing details that he is presently witnessing in London regarding the subversion of Olympic values by the Empire's imposition of their values of profit and power.

Why WikiLeaks is a gift to history

Click here to access the transcript of a speech given by activist Gail Malone at a July 16 rally in Sydney, from Green Left (Australia). 
WikiLeaks is a gift to history. We now have, for the first time, the ability to write history not only through the eyes of the victors. WikiLeaks has become a leveler between people and government. They have ushered in an age where we, the people, have access to information once deemed for their eyes only.
Her speech concludes with this powerful affirmation:
As history is written by the victors, this is a battle we cannot afford to lose. Let truth be victorious.

Steven Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and the Western Culture of Destruction

Click here to access article by K. Wood from her blog Killing Mother.
Steven Covey died yesterday [7-16-2012]. His best-selling, self-help book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is a paragon of the Western, goal-oriented culture that conflates “effectiveness” with human value. In Covey’s seminal work, he promotes seven behaviors, which he contends will lead to self-mastery, interdependence and self-renewal. Nobody could argue with these goals. Self-mastery and knowledge, and intimate integration in a meaningful way with one’s natural and human communities, could be viewed as the ultimate goals in a human life.
Covey was a popular motivational author and speaker in the US and was very influential among people looking to get ahead in the capitalist system. Like the system itself "getting ahead" is a capitalist value that is never questioned. It is simply taken for granted. In this system getting ahead is almost always interpreted in materialist terms--wealth, status, possessions, etc. Hence his guides to effectiveness were themselves effective in supporting people within this system to function well without questioning the values underpinning the system, and most certainly to never question the system.

As an environmentalist K. Wood is well aware of the ongoing ecosystem destruction that is occurring, but in this otherwise insightful essay she safely confines the identification of the causes to "macho men [as if there weren't macho women], inept politicians, predatory economies, religious fanatics". No doubt because of the long years in academia and its ideological conditioning, she is unable to accurately identify the organizing system that is destroying the planet and degrading human lives. The closest she can come is Western culture.

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

Click here to access article by Bill McKibben from Rolling Stone.

The author uses three critical numerical measures to frame his well thought out argument that we are in deep doo-doo. Because he seems very pessimistic about the future, this is not uplifting reading. 
Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.
All the blame for this seems to be the fossil fuel industry. If only they would behave better! Thus, fundamentally this astute environmentalist and product of capitalist informed education can only see this as a moral issue.
Climate change operates on a geological scale and time frame, but it's not an impersonal force of nature; the more carefully you do the math, the more thoroughly you realize that this is, at bottom, a moral issue; we have met the enemy and they is Shell.

Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?

Click here to access article by Madhusree Mukerjee from Scientific American.

If Bill McKibben's article didn't bring you down, this one will--unless you are an incorrigible optimist.
Although there is an urban legend that the world will end this year based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, some researchers think a 40-year-old computer program that predicts a collapse of socioeconomic order and massive drop in human population in this century may be on target.