We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, August 4, 2012

From Penn State to JPMorgan Chase and Barclays: Destroying Higher Education, Savaging Children and Extinguishing Democracy

Click here to access article by Henry A Giroux from Truthout.

The author connects some dots linking the Penn State scandal with many recent crimes of the One Percent.
The Penn State scandal has to be understood within a broader political, economic, and cultural landscape. Not only is it symptomatic of a growing culture of cruelty, hyper-masculinity, big money, big sports empires, corporate power, academic illiteracy, and the unchecked power of the privileged elite, but also as part of a larger war on youth, public values, and the democratic mission of the university and any other non-commodified public sphere.

When Police Attack

Click here to access article by Ron Jacobs from Dissident Voice.

The incident that the author describes in Burlington, Vermont has quite amazed me. Because Burlington has probably the greatest proportion of progressive people in the US, police attacks occurring there provides additional evidence that local citizens have little control over their local police. The fact that their local force engaged in this attack is a very ominous warning for people across the US who still believe in the traditional methods of non-violent activism: the ruling class will inflict severe bodily harm on anyone who opposes their diktats. 
The newly elected Democratic mayor of Burlington is now calling for a conversation between the city, the police, and citizens. At the same time, some kind of investigation is supposedly being arranged. The likelihood is that little will change, and the police will be able to do what they please when situations like that which occurred the weekend of July 29th happen again. 

Israel’s Plan for Syria

Click here to access article by Israel Shamir from CounterPunch.
Israel retains its ability to control the Syrian ‘Islamist’ rebels. Netanyahu is not worried about Syria’s possible disintegration. Despite the received wisdom claiming that Israelis prefer a stable and familiar Assad to the great unknown of Islamic guerrillas, the new and sensational information we received points out to the opposite, namely: Israelis prefer the Somalisation of Syria, its break-up and the elimination of its army, as this will allow them to tackle Iran unopposed.
The leaked information reported in the article suggests a very different view of who is really pulling the strings in the Syrian crisis. Putin knows who is really in charge, and that is why he went to Tel Aviv. This thesis of a "Somalisation" plan--another name for the "Salvador option" (see this and this)--for Syria follows in line with actual facts that have been occurring in the Middle East for at least the last decade--the intentional weakening of states surrounding Israel. 

Beer, Vomit And Lipstick: Revolting Acts In An Age Of Crisis

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from London Progressive Journal. 

Okay, I know that this is a rant, but it is such a well articulated rant. And, it applies to conditions in the US as well. Sometimes, it is good therapy to get mad--like in the classic 1976 film "Network":

Friday, August 3, 2012

Between the Leninists and the Clowns: Avoiding recklessness and professionalism in revolutionary struggle

Click here to access article by Black Orchid Collective from Anarchist News. 

This quite lengthy article focuses on current issues within activist circles in the Seattle area. One might take issue with my framing it as "within activist circles" instead of anarchist circles, but I think that anarchists are the leading edge of current activist activity. I think that, in the interests of time, you can skip the initial three sections and start with section IV, "Challenges we face if we want to survive and grow". In this article they, the Collective, clearly delineate some of the most crucial issues that need to be addressed in order to create an effective revolutionary movement with mass participants. 

The West and the glorification of terrorism

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

There is much to recommend this, but I take issue with the author who seems to imply that the Russian ruling class under Putin are the good guys.
Washington is attempting to remodel the Greater Middle East and to change the regional military equation. Moscow challenges that authority and is attempting to usher in a new international order based on international law and on multilateralism. Syria is the line of demarcation between these new blocs.
To be sure multilateralism serves Russian ruling class interests for the time being, but class interests will change if Russia becomes a dominant power. Clearly the Russians have their own interests in maintaining Syria under an administration that is favorable to Russian interests. Also, I doubt that the Putin administration has substantial concerns about social-economic justice for the Syrian people. What is needed is for all societies to do away with class rule. What is needed is an organization design of societies in which certain classes are not given privileges over other classes, where no social-economic classes exist at all, and where there are only 100 percent societies.

Financial Predators v. Labor, Industry and Democracy

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson from his blog. 

This is a lengthy article which repeats and expands on concepts from many previous articles by this author. He writes mostly to other economists, but an ordinary person who has done some reading from alternative sources of information regarding money and finance can understand much of what he writes. The ruling One Percent poses formidable obstacles to understanding these issues.
When you find wrong-headed ideological economics promoted year after year as a litany, there always is a special interest at work. Today’s most powerful special interest is the financial sector. It is seeking to extract gains even at the cost of imposing austerity and ultimate bankruptcy on entire national economies. Pro-creditor lobbying has gained enough subsidy and power to strip the history of economic thought from the academic curriculum, to the point of suppressing memory of monetary debates going back two centuries.
Sources I have found useful to understand these issues are Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, The Web of Debt by Ellen Brown, The Lost Science of Money by Zarlenga, Money and Debt II (DVD) by Paul Grignon. But, there are many others.

Because we of the 99 Percent are fighting an uphill battle against powerful forces of capitalist propaganda and indoctrination, it is important that those of us who have the time understand these issues as best we can. It takes time and access to good information--two requirements that most ordinary people do not have. However, the 99 Percent have many educated people who are concerned about peace and social justice who do fulfill these two requirements and can act as trusted representatives who write about these issues in terms that ordinary people can understand. What is still needed are organized networks of alternative media in which to publish these views, media that people will turn to for understanding the critical financial issues of today. 

Where I part company with Hudson is where he seems to suggest that capitalism would be just fine if we returned to Keynesian economics or classical economics under industrial capitalism. The evolution of capitalism into predatory financial capitalism is a result of an inevitable process from exploitation of man and nature to where we are today: approaching ecological system destabilization and resource limits. Hence, another system is critically necessary as soon as possible for humans to survive in any imaginable decent condition. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Extremism normalized

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.

An excellent piece by a trained constitutional lawyer who essentially argues that a conversion of the US into a police state is becoming normalized--although he doesn't frame it quite like that. The argument is very convincing. As the concentration of power and wealth increases, we are seeing an all-out class war waged on the streets across North America and Europe. In the US we see militarized police being directed by the Department of Homeland Security and equipped with all kinds of short-of-lethal weapons attacking unarmed, peaceful protestors.

Did Mexican Official Blow Lid Off CIA-Managed Drug Trade?

Click here to access article by Eric Blair from Activist Post. 
For the last three decades several leaks have come out indicating that the CIA is directly involved in illegal drug trafficking.
From planes registered to the CIA caught with tons of cocaine, whistleblowers exposing the the phony police war on drugs or that cartels worked directly with US agencies, to the CIA/Pentagon protecting the poppy crop in Afghanistan whose opium trade exploded after the 2001 invasion; the evidence is mounting that the CIA is clearly involved in some manner.
Although the idea that the CIA is involved in illegal drug trafficking is still relegated to conspiracy theory, this week a Mexican official openly accused the CIA of "managing" the drug trade.

Can you spot the recovery?

Click here to access source--posted by Edward Fullbrook on Real-World Economics Review Blog. 

United States Employment-Population Ratio
Currently, and, to my exasperation for the past year, the One Percent are performing their election campaign dramas. Their media cover every phony promise, every nasty slur about opposing candidates, and every gaffe of the candidates--instead of real news coverage. But then, their news coverage--such as the Syrian war coverage--is never real anyway, so they might as well fill it up with junk politics. Anyway, during this campaign season One Percent candidates are making all kinds of promises to create jobs like they have been doing for the past five years. I keep wondering how long the American sheeple will swallow this crap.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The fiction of a free internet

Click here to access article by Musab Younis from Ceasefire (UK). 
Musab Younis argues that our perception of the "battle for the internet" is skewed by our acceptance of a hierarchical network run in the interests of advertisers, whose ability to codify, individuate and manipulate large populations is being increased by the spread of social media. 
The idea of an internet was first inspired by the concerns of US military regarding communication problems after a nuclear attack. It was quickly adapted by computer nerds into civilian use--but this was an unintended consequence of its development. Since then government and their ruling operatives have been concerned that its use might not always serve the interests of the One Percent. See this, this, and this. They now are using it to keep activists under surveillance. See this, this, and this. Also, commercial interests of the One Percent have gradually inserted profit oriented features into the internet in order to serve their needs. See this. The above article expands on this theme and focuses on commercial interests taking over social media.

Activists in Syria: Muffled by Violence

Click here to access article by Anas Zarzar from Al Akhbar. 
Many opposition activists are dismayed by the militarization of the uprising, which began as peaceful demonstrations, even though they blame the regime for initiating the violence. Opinions are divided as to whether a return to peace is even a possibility.
Although this piece is a little light on the role of outside forces, it appears to me to be the best well-balanced and accurate assessment of the tragic situation in Syria. 

The Empire saw the widespread protests in Syria as a situation that they could exploit to extend their control over the region. Once again, we see how class based elites (the One Percents) manipulate people to serve their interests which basically are their mad pursuit of power and profit. 

I think that this Syrian cartoonist is an example of the real indigenous protestors in Syria: 

Media Blackout As Militarized Police Deployed Against Civilians In Anaheim

Click here to access article posted by Alexander Higgins on his blog. 

The blogger puts together a variety of sources to document another example of the use of militarized police forces attacking peaceful citizens who protest police violence that is occurring across the nation. This is a subject that is being covered up by corporate owned and controlled media which much prefer to feature coverage of "anarchists" breaking windows.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Capitalism in Crisis?

Click here to access 23:57m video interview by Charlie Rose with guests David Harvey & economist Richard Wolff. (click on picture of Harvey to activate video)  

I haven't had time to listen to all of it yet, but it starts out by a discussion of the difficulties imposed by the One Percent enforcers on people who want to gather in public spaces to talk about the problems related to the economic collapse. Then they move on to a discussion of the constraints of universities to contain the study of subjects within certain limits, and the bank bailouts.

Dreams Deferred; Co-opting the Mideast Revolts

Click here to access article by Yousef K. Baker from Muftah. 

This is the best political analysis of the events related to the Arab Spring phenomenon that I have seen to date. It offers so many important insights on how political operatives of the Empire function to contain and co-opt resistance movements throughout the world to serve the interests of globalized capitalism.
As people march in the streets and occupy main squares, their dreams are in danger of being deferred once again. The form that many of the revolts took, combined with the interests and strategies of the U.S. and other Western powers, make the revolts susceptible to co-optation by elites. This assertion might be premature given that these struggles are currently unfolding; these processes are neither finished nor inevitable. This analysis is not an attempt to explain, describe in full, or in anyway fully represent the different movements. Rather it aims to sound a preliminary alarm given observations of common trends across the region.

FBI Agents Raid Homes in Search of “Anarchist Literature”

Click here to access article by Will Potter from Green is the New Red.

For many in the US a police state already exists. If you are a Muslim, anarchist, activist, immigrant, and a poor person living in certain sections of cities, you experience police state control over your daily lives. This article reports on the experience of those labeled as anarchists by the enforcers of the One Percent.
When FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents raided multiple activist homes in the Northwest last week, they were in search of “anti-government or anarchist literature.” 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Digging out of capitalism's hole with money from Social Security, etc.

By Ron Horn for this blog.

This morning I've noticed a barrage of mainstream media reporting and ads which appear to me to be another well orchestrated campaign to prepare Americans to go along with severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other social safety nets so that the we can continue paying off the gambling debts of the banksters and thereby solve the debt crisis. Yes, that's right, they want us to forgo the retirement funds that we've paid into throughout our entire lives so that this money can be used to pay off their debts!

Shortly after being awakened by my clock radio, I heard this NPR report:
As the federal debt balloons, reducing it would seem more and more pressing. Yet policymakers remain far apart. Debt, deficit and budget rhetoric is often accompanied by numbers cherry-picked to support a particular political view.

But a new book by Wall Street Journal economics writer David Wessel lays out the numbers that both political parties face.

"In the early 1980s, about 10 percent of the federal budget went to Medicare and Medicaid," Wessel tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "Now, it's about a quarter of all spending, and it's on the way to 33 percent of all spending unless something happens to change the trend."

The book is called Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget, and it breaks down the budget in stark terms: how the government spends its money, who pays what in taxes, and why politicians can't reduce a potentially catastrophic debt load.
Then on TV I saw this ad repeated several times:

Then I came across this editorial in The New York Times entitled, "The Entitled Generation" which smears the baby-boomer generation for being so spoiled and selfish while attacking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

After reading that editorial I nearly lost my breakfast. But, thanks to Michael Hudson, I managed to hold it down. In this 23:31m video he provides a good explanation for what is happening:

Johan Galtung in an article from Transcend Media Service has a quite a rant on the bankster engineered debt crisis. Although he frames his remarks as a grieving capitalist cursing the financial crooks for wrecking the economy and losing Western capitalist dominance to the "non-West", his piece provides a good summary of bankster crimes. What struck me most about all these media pieces was an ominous tone of desperation regarding the crisis.  It may be that, contrary to what most Americans think, the ruling class has run out of remedies to forestall a really profound collapse of the economy.

As I see it, capitalists realized that there were diminishing returns that were possible from investments in the real economy as their growth addicted system came up against the limits of a finite planet and as they realized that industrial growth threatened destruction of the ecosystem. Thus, bankers and financiers overturned laws which restricted their ability to gamble in the market, and then engaged in all kinds of financial shenanigans (created obscure derivative investments and used accounting tricks) to bet in the market. They lost their bets, and now they demand that we sacrifice our retirement pensions and medical care to cover their losses.

Ain't capitalism grand?! Stay tuned, better yet, stay active. 

Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono & Jimmy Fallon’s protest song: “Don’t Frack My Mother”

2:47m video sourced from YouTube via Climate Connections.

(Amazing how much Sean looks like his father, John Lennon!)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pity the financiers in the heart of darkness

Click here to access article by Nick Dearden from Pambazuka (South Africa). 

The author responds to a typical Western view that was recently expressed in The Guardian that African problems are largely due to their corrupt leaders who waste investor's money. One can see some similarities with Dearden's view of African governments by comparing them with current and recent Western governments whose leaders colluded with bankers and financiers to influence their governments into taking on too much debt, investing in shady derivatives, and bailing out banks. It's just that the corruption of African governments was far worse.

Secret Pentagon papers reveal pre-war plans to get Big Oil into Iraq

Click here to access article by Greg Mutitt from European Energy Review . (Note: free registration required; but if you don't want to register at this site, you can go to this posting on which this article is based. 

The release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act obtained by Mutitt shows that the Energy Infrastructure Planning Group (EIPG), which was established in 2002 by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith in the Bush Jr administration, was planning before the invasion in 2003 to transform the nationalized Iraqi oil industry to serve private oil corporations. Shocking, isn't it?! (sarcasm)
Fuel on the Fire author Muttitt commented: “These documents provide conclusive proof that control of Iraq oil was a critical consideration at the highest levels of the U.S. government while it was planning the Iraq War. There was little regard for the welfare of Iraqis, but the welfare of companies like ExxonMobil was central to the administration’s thinking. It is particularly troubling that the EIPG recommended the government mislead the public on its oil plans.”

Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds ‘Global Warming Is Real’, ‘On The High End’ And ‘Essentially All’ Due To Carbon Pollution

Click here to access article by Joe Romm from Climate Progress. 

Some people are deserting the sinking ship of global warming denial, but this is a long way from linking it to the compulsive pursuit of growth by capitalists. After all, there is no alternative. (sarcasm) So now the emphasis will likely be placed on mitigating the effects of global warming. My hunch is that corporate media will ignore the growing evidence as much as they can; and when they can't, then we will see positive, reassuring articles appearing in media such as this about how geo-engineering techniques can solve the crisis.