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, August 25, 2012

South Africa’s Unfinished Revolution and the Massacre at Marikana

Click here to access article by Glenn Ford from Black Agenda Report
The massacre of 34 miners at Marikana lays bare the central contradiction of the South African “arrangement.” Back in 1994, “the ‘revolution’ was put on indefinite hold, so that a new Black capitalist class could be created, largely from the ranks of well-connected members of the ruling party and even union leaders.” The regime now represses Black workers on behalf of capital.

Talking Wikileaks, Assange, Manning, Occupy, And More: My Conversation With Mark Hand

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

During the course of their conversation, many gems of observation and insight are expressed such as the following:
Today, despite the easier access to information -- or perhaps because of the information empowerment movement -- governments and corporations, along with their sycophants in the press, are mobilizing their resources to ensure the public knows its place in the hierarchy. As you point out, Western powers are extremely worried about real, grass roots democracy, exemplified by the knowledge-is-power work of Wikileaks. Just look at how all levels of governments in the United States have reacted so violently and in a coordinated fashion to the Occupy Wall Street movement over the past 11 months.

America’s Syria Obsession Explains Its Rendezvous With Al Qaeda

Click here to access article by Taj Hashmi from CounterCurrents

Today, I am once again posting an article from a website which draws from many independent sources of information regarding the conflict in Syria because there still seems to be so many in the US progressive movement that still rely on Al Jazeera for their information on subjects related to NATO interests. For example, I noticed this morning two articles posted from Al Jazeera posted on Occuworld (see this and this), a website which appears to support the Occupy movement. 

Al Jazeera, owned by the Qatar government, has in the past, and still does on many subjects, provide excellent independent coverage of events throughout much of the world. But, I, and many other observers, have noticed that whenever Qatari immediate interests are involved, their coverage of events in the Middle East is always consistent with Empire interests. This is to be expected since Qatar is ruled by an Emir who is closely associated with, and supportive of, NATO along with the other backward, semi-feudal states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf

Thus, Occuworld's sourcing of information from Al Jazeera regarding the Syrian conflict indicates one of two interpretations: they have been infiltrated by Empire agents or their grasp of international political events is very naïve.

Romney’s Blood Money

Click here to access article by Sandy Smith-Noninis from CounterPunch.
An off-shore tax haven in Panama provided Bain with the secrecy needed to attract the approximately $6.5 million from the Salvadoran families in what many human rights experts would call “blood money.”

While living in El Salvador in 1989, my family fell victim to rightwing terror, so I took the news like a punch in the gut.  But as a professor, I know that the generation of Americans born since 1980 has little awareness of the troubled U.S. history of  aiding Central American militarism. Perhaps that is why this story has not been more widely reported. Let me explain why I use such a rude term as blood money.
While all US leaders are involved in some form of blood money, usually indirectly, this report reveals how the Republican nominee for US President is directly linked.

An Unethical Record – Stratfor & the New York Times

Click here to access article by Chris Spannos from the NY Times eXaminer

This year old alternative newspaper that functions as "An antidote to the 'paper of record'" is providing with this article a major contribution to the examination of reporting of the NY Times and the increasing influence of Stratfor, a private intelligence agency, over its content. It reveals how Stratfor is wedded to powerful financial interests, therefore its influence on the NY Times is shaped accordingly.
Through NYT eXaminer’s (NYTX) participation in an investigative partnership organized by WikiLeaks we have had access to The Global Intelligence Files and found material that the Times should find significant. The material shows that Times journalists rely on Stratfor despite the company’s interests in advancing U.S. corporate and government dominance at home and abroad, enhancing government secrecy and eroding civil liberties. In addition, Stratfor maintains a perverse relationship with its informants, which is incongruent with the Times’ own standards for the treatment of sources. The Global Intelligence Files also highlight examples of Stratfor employees consciously manipulating journalists at the Times — some of whom seem all too willing to be led by the inauspicious Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company.
This development, in addition to their revelation of the fact that the NY Times regularly consults with government officials for clearance on sensitive issues, shows how much US journalism has degenerated into another facet of Empire control. It seems to me that Stratfor's relationship with the NY Times, and the latter's powerful influence over what is covered throughout US media, represents an increasing trend--the further deterioration of professional journalistic ethics in order to better serve powerful interests, particularly the interests of government and corporate secrecy.
In an era of reducing funds for investigative journalism, .... It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Times journalists also rely on intelligence organizations such as Stratfor to provide quick and easy access to information and analysis that can form the basis of new articles by journalists. However, blind reliance by Times journalists on organizations beholden to corporate interests and with little regard for international law or ethics on the treatment of informants or sources cannot go unquestioned.

BBC Censors Video Showing Syrian Rebels Forcing Prisoner to Become Suicide Bomber

Click here to access article by Paul Joseph Watson and BBC original video posted on InfoWars.

The article mostly summarizes a BBC video, which they re-post, and reports on it being taken down from the BBC website for obvious reasons: the video reveals how the "Free Syrian Army", a mostly mercenary army financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and directed by the CIA and the Mossad, have tricked a prisoner into becoming a suicide bomber. It makes one wonder how often the FSA have done this.

Who are the 1 percent in the USA and how much do they make? (2 charts)

Click here to access article from Real-World Economics Blog. 

The brief article just shows two self-explanatory charts to answer the headline questions. The second chart (reproduced below) is much more revealing than the first one. The first chart obscures the source of their income, and raises the question if the occupational incomes include investment income (capital gains). 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The U.S. of Terrorism

Click here to access podcast featuring Lew Rockwell's 30 minute interview with Sibel Edmonds. 

You may not be aware of Sibel (pronounced siBELL, accent on second syllable) Edmonds and her unusual fight against government coverups of key government officials trading in nuclear and military secrets, some events related to 9/11, and collusion with drug trafficking and money laundering. She discovered this corruption going on while working as an FBI Turkish translator after her recruitment following the 9/11 event. 

She followed all the rules in attempting to expose this high level corruption, but at every bend in the road she was turned away by FBI officials, Dept. of Justice officials, most congressional members, the courts up to, and including, the Supreme Court--always citing State Secrets Privilege. She was retaliated against, first by losing her job, then threats against her Turkish family, smears in the media, and finally, non-coverage by mainstream media. She courageously fought back with the support of her husband, the assistance of expensive law firms, the ACLU, Daniel Ellsberg and other whistleblowers. She continues her fight through her blog, Boiling Frogs Post, her recently publish memoir of this experience entitled Classified Woman, and participation with whistleblower organizations.

She is no radical in her political views, but simply a person who has a passionate belief in the necessity of speaking truth to power. Judging by her association with Lew Rockwell and The American Conservative magazine, it is likely that her political views fit into traditional American conservative views--views espoused by such people as Patrick Buchanan and U.S. Representative Ron Paul.

"Okay, so what else is new--our government is laced with corruption?", you may well be thinking. The importance of Edmonds' experience lies with the extreme extent of the coverups. Read her self-published book, Classified Woman, and see if you don't agree that, indeed, our secret shadow government was, and is, hiding crimes of a major scale.

Mission Accomplished for Big Oil?

Click here to access article by Greg Muttitt from TomDispatch. (Note: you may wish to skip the introduction by scrolling down to the article.)

The author provides a valuable review, including recent findings, of what has happened in the Empire's war on Iraq to secure their oil fields. 

In 2011, after nearly nine years of war and occupation, U.S. troops finally left Iraq. In their place, Big Oil is now present in force and the country’s oil output, crippled for decades, is growing again. Iraq recently reclaimed the number two position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), overtaking oil-sanctioned Iran. .... So is this finally mission accomplished?

Well, not exactly.

A Culture of Hatred in Israel

Click here to access article by Paul R. Pillar from The National Interest.

The author is a retired CIA officer.
Two incidents last week underscored how broadly and deeply in Israeli society runs a streak of hatred against Palestinian Arabs. In one, seven Israeli teenagers, including two girls—one thirteen years old—were arrested for what witnesses described as an attempted lynching in West Jerusalem of several Palestinian youths, one of whom was beaten unconscious and is still hospitalized. In the same hospital lies one of the victims of the other incident: the Palestinian driver of a taxi that was firebombed near a West Bank settlement.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Foundation Statesmen

Click here to access article by Daniel Immerwahr from "n+1". 

The author of this article uses a recently published book by Inderjeet Parmar entitled, Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power, as a basis for this essay. The book's author is a professor of government at Manchester University in Britain.

In this essay Immerwahr asks the following questions about the rather dramatic shift of US isolationist policies following WWI to what has developed today.
How such an underdeveloped government became a leader in world affairs is something of a mystery. Where did it gain the capacity and unity of vision to become, if not a global empire, then something very much like it? How did it formulate and then act on a grand geopolitical strategy that required massive aid deployments, substantial foreign expertise, and military interventions throughout the globe?
Immerwahr, with Parmar, traces this change by focusing on the role of foundations, starting from the big three philanthropic foundations--Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie--to hundreds of other non-profit think tanks. Their activities were crucial in shaping US foreign policy which, in turn, created today's US Empire.

Although this liberal writer's treatment of the subject is rather muted as to the human suffering caused by their activities, it offers another piece of the puzzle behind who actually exercises power in the US and the organizational forms they use. What he omits is that the people who sit on the boards of these foundations also sit on the boards of major US and transnational corporations to form a ruling class who pursue their interests of power and profit via their Empire. See also this, this, this, and this for other pieces of this puzzle.

The last paragraph is particularly revealing of the interest that this ruling class has in protecting  Wall Street, the nerve center of the Empire. New York City police department is another prime example of their readiness to use hard power when soft power doesn't prove sufficient.
The NYPD is able to draw on funds not only from the city but also from the New York City Police Foundation, a nonprofit that purchases special equipment and supplies counterterrorism training to the police. Its board is a collection of heavyweights in real estate, advertising, finance, publishing, health care, and energy that includes both a former homeland security advisor to George W. Bush and Ivanka Trump. Among its top donors are Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase, the last of which gave the New York City Police Foundation $4.6 million in money, patrol car laptops, and monitoring software just months before the protests began. “You have a police department that is beholden to a private entity and you end up with a situation where there is absolutely no oversight and no transparency about the funding of government operations,” the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union observed. Money, as Parmar argues, has its own trajectory.

Spreading Insolvency Around Does Not Create Solvency

Click here to access article by Charles Hugh Smith from his blog, "Of Two Minds". 

The author and friend take issue with the capitalist strategy of shoving their debts onto most of the world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No rights, no charge: Skilled Work, Without the Worker

Click here to access article by John Markoff from The New York Times. (If you don't have a free registration with them, you can access the same article here.)

While the many robots in auto factories typically perform only one function, in the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., a robot might do up to four: welding, riveting, bonding and installing a component.
If the economy were to be guided by principles of an inclusive democracy instead of capitalism, such marvelous technology would be there to support whole societies, not merely one small class of people who have claims of "ownership" over it. Think about it. This technology replaces arduous, repetitive, and mind-numbing work that could free people to pursue more stimulating, creative, and socially worthwhile projects without any loss of income. Instead, it frees people to stand in employment lines and practically beg for any work they can get.

Also, think about how these robots and the associated technology were created: by working people who worked and accumulated knowledge over the many centuries, especially since the Age of Enlightenment. So, I ask you: why should today's small class of people benefit from this to the detriment of all others? They will answer: because we bought the ownership rights. That is true, but only within the rules of a capitalist system. And, they would have you believe that "there is no alternative". I wonder how long most people will continue to believe their self-justifying lies?

Robert Fisk: 'They snipe at us then run and hide in sewers'

Click here to access article from The Independent. 

Robert Fisk is an extraordinary journalist, mostly retired these days, who is extremely knowledgeable about matters in the Middle East which he has covered so extensively over his career as a journalist. In this piece he reports on conversations he had with Syrian government officers and ordinary citizens of the besieged city of Aleppo, and other pertinent observations such as this:
At least a dozen civilians emerged from their homes, retirees in their 70s, shopkeepers and local businessmen with their families and, unaware that a foreign journalist was watching, put their arms round Syrian troops. One told me he had stayed in his home as "foreign" fighters used his courtyard to fire on government soldiers. "I speak Turkish and most were speaking Turkish but some of the men had long beards and short trousers like the Saudis wear, and had strange Arab accents."

'Do some research!' Christine Assange steamrolls Western journalism

Click here to access article from Russia Today. 

If only all activists had mothers like Julian has! And, she knows how to respond to capitalist media agents after they raised the issue of press restrictions in Ecuador. She insisted that they were wrong, and chided them about doing their homework before making such allegations. And, she said:
Media that is owned by big business is against governments that want sovereignty from foreign nations, against governments that share the country’s wealth with its populace, against countries that fight for environmental rights, and against countries that have constitutions which are underscored by human rights.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The way it ‘spozed to be – the sanitized version of U.S history

Click here to access article--posted on Cyrano's Journal Today, this is a critical review by Jim Miles of Democratization in the Arab World, a RAND Institute book. (My following commentary was modified at 6:25 pm Seattle time.)

The author provides some insights on the framing of history by a leading Empire think tank, insights which reveal a stark gap between reality and their Orwellian version of it. 

In my blogging comments on various various articles, I occasionally refer to a "Ministry of Truth" that guides US mainstream media and opinion shapers in all major institutions. The political operatives of the One Percent probably don't have one such organization, but there are an unknown number who are highly influential, with the RAND Corporation at, or near, the top of the list, that essentially function the same way. Remember that as a class structured society, everything of importance (to them) is controlled by the One Percent ruling class who, with their hierarchical authority system (both formal and informal), exert powerful influence over everything that happens below them--especially how people view the world.

Unfortunately, Miles' concluding remarks quoted below suggest to me that he really doesn't understand the function this think tank and others like it have: to guide and shape opinions and views in all US institutions and throughout society.
If this is the best that RAND has to offer, it is no wonder that U.S. foreign policy seems so willfully blind and systematically ignorant. To hear the U.S. preach about democracy and freedom is fine if one does not consider their actions around the world, currently or historically. If one wishes to have the sanitized version, this is the work for you.
Otherwise, this work adds nothing to a critical examination of U.S. foreign policy, or defense policy. It is a series of repetitive presentations providing vague common sense rules for establishing democracy, devoid of any U.S. contact.
Our One Percent masters are not stupid. What they publish from these powerful ruling class institutions is propaganda fed to a mostly gullible public to keep them obedient and compliant. Thus, when one examines major media themes and what is taught in US schools, you will find an almost perfect conformity with their published views. If one were to be a fly on the wall at their informal gatherings like at the Bohemian Grove gatherings, you would see a much more candid, and different, view of their US foreign policies, past and present. Such views would often resemble those of Nazis and other empire builders.

Media Turn A Blind Eye To Record Greenland Ice Melt

Click here to access article from Media Matters for America. 

It is clear to me that the Ministry of Truth thinks that bad news related to ecosystem collapse and never ending wars might adversely impact the stock market. Therefore they have issued instructions to all mainstream media corporations to omit coverage of such events and, instead, focus on issues that can divide and/or distract Americans such as abortion rights, gun laws, gay marriage, and a new comedy series on TV.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The United States Doesn’t Deserve Any Gold Medals These Days

Click here to access article by E.R. Bills from Dissident Voice. 

This article raised a question in my mind about the purpose of US Olympic athletes. In a nation where everything seems to be under the control of the One Percent, could it be that these athletes are used mostly for public relations purposes of our ruling class? Such a public relations project might serve to provide the rest of us with some moments of pride about our country, but while doing so distract us from all the failures of ordinary features of US society. After reading this article, you decide.
I had to stop myself when I began feeling pangs of pride as our Olympians excelled in London because I knew it was a pleasant mirage, an aberration. My country no longer believes in greatness or team work. The current levels of ignorance and close-mindedness that govern (and are encouraged by many of those who govern) this nation preclude it from golden accolades, particularly in terms of greatness and team work. And what our athletes did in London was just a dream—an Olympic dream.

US Secretary of State Clinton’s Africa tour raises tensions with China

Click here to access article by Eddie Haywood from World Socialist Web Site.

The author describes a recent tour of business leaders lead by Hillary Clinton who went through Africa, a tour that some describe as missionaries preaching, instead of Christianity, the benevolence of the US and the virtues of a partnership with US (corporations): 
Clinton advised the audience to seek partnerships with the United States, which “will stand up for democracy and universal human rights, even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way”. She added, “Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will.”
She said that the United States was committed to “a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it” from Africa. 
It was an appeal to counter Chinese extensive business involvement in Africa. The author rightfully contrasts this appeal with the actual facts--both current and historical of US involvement in Africa.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A word about banks and the laundering of drug money

Click here to access article by David Malone from his blog Golem IV. 

This piece is the best succinct description and analysis of drug trafficking that I have ever seen--  especially about who really benefits.
The reality is that drugs are a massive banking business. And it is also a fact that the bulk of that business is done in the industrial nations in their banks, NOT in the drug producing nations.  The Drugs business is mostly a western business. A banking busness. Not unlike global mining where the mines are in the third world but the mining companies are listed and work in London.

The Screwed Election: Wall Street Can’t Lose, and America Can’t Win

Click here to access article by Joel Kotkin from The Daily Beast. 

The author provides you with all the details regarding the capitalist election in which--surprise, surprise--the capitalists can't lose.
Americans are angry at the big-time bankers and brokers, and yet, far from a populist attack on crony capitalism, Wall Street is sitting pretty, looking ahead to a presidential election that it can’t possibly lose. They have bankrolled a nifty choice between President Obama, the largest beneficiary of financial-industry backing in history and Mitt Romney, one of their very own.
But, isn't that the nature of the "beast"? (pun intended)