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, September 1, 2012

Wall Street’s War on the Cities

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson from CounterPunch

This economics professor with a public conscience attempts in this piece to explain to the 99 Percent the stealth strategies that financial elites among the One Percent are using to subject us to perpetual servitude. These strategies are so clever that it is difficult for most of the 99 Percent to understand them. The latter must spend most of their time simply coping with their own problems such as meeting next month's mortgage payment or rent, finding a job, trying to manage a household budget with low pay, raising money to pay a medical bill, along with the usual problems of raising families.

This piece is probably the best effort on Hudson's part to shed light on the class war that is being waged. But, the problem as he sees it is only one part of the system--the financial system comprised of privately owned banks including central banks. The only solution he offers is writing off public debts to private banks and raising taxes on the rich. This is somewhat like putting a band-aid on cancerous skin lesion which is only a symptom of the underlying cancer (capitalism). What we are now witnessing is the final stage of that cancer.
The problem is that the financial system itself is rotten. This has turned today’s class war into a financial war, with the major tactic being to shape how voters perceive the problem. The trick is to make them think that cutting taxes will lower their living costs and make housing cheaper, rather than enabling banks to take what the tax collector used to take. That is the key perception that needs to be spread: cutting taxes leaves more “free lunch” income available for banks to lend against, loading the economy deeper into debt.
...So it’s time to default. Otherwise, Wall Street will turn us into Greece. That is the financial plan, to be sure. It is the strategy for today’s financial war against society at large.

Actual fascists in actual black shirts are waving swastikas and murdering ethnic minorities in Athens

Click here to access article by Laurie Penny from The Independent (Britain). 

To be sure, large immigrant populations, resulting from the chaos in nearby countries as a consequence of neo-liberal policies and Empire aggressions, are causing difficulties for the host countries. But capitalist elites always turn to fascists when they need to distract people or when they feel threatened by the people because of disasters caused by their actions. I keep wondering if what we see in Greece today is an ominous preview of what we will see in the US tomorrow.
As with many fascist groups, Golden Dawn claims to represent the marginalised working class. Like far-right groups across Europe – including the English Defence League and the new British Freedom Party – Golden Dawn declares itself the enemy of a bankrupt democratic system, exploiting for its own ends popular anger against neoliberal economic mismanagement. However, although it professes to stand against austerity, it has no economic project: its tactics are simply violent, divisive and nauseatingly racist. And the governments of Greece and Europe seem willing to tolerate this as the social cost of an ongoing austerity consensus.
Notice, however, that this liberal writer contributes to distracting people by her phrasing--"Like far-right groups across Europe...Golden Dawn declares itself the enemy of a bankrupt democratic [my emphasis] system...." (I wonder if this British writer was educated in the US where "democracy" and "capitalism" are regarded as synonymous.) Doesn't it follow that if a democratic system is "bankrupt", we should support authoritarian systems of rule?

Notice also that this young journalist has written another piece published in The Independent whereby she appears to know that Assange is guilty of rape! It's clear to me that she has a brilliant career ahead of her writing for liberal media. (sarcasm)

Germany Rethinks Path to Green Future

Click here to access article by Stefan Schultz from Spiegel Online. 

Germany is one of the leading capitalist countries to promote green power projects; but as this article reveals, there are are numerous problems making it difficult to achieve their ambitious goals in a self-seeking capitalist economy. Such projects require long term commitments, but capitalist enterprises think in terms of quarterly profits. In order to attract technology corporations to build green power plants, they must be promised big profits, subsidies, etc. This inevitably puts more burden on the less powerful poor and low income people.
...costs are rising at a faster-than-expected rate. The average household in Germany currently pays €144 ($181) a year for these subsidies, and that figure looks set to rise to more than €200 in 2013. In all, it has been estimated that the operators of green power plants have been promised more than €200 million.
Such numbers are big enough to exacerbate social inequalities in Germany. Recipients of "Hartz IV" welfare benefits for the long-term unemployed, for example, receive a fixed sum for electricity and can't afford energy-saving fridges or washing machines. At the other end of the scale, the owners of well-located houses install solar panels on their roofs and are paid for the privilege. Meanwhile, industrial companies that use a lot of electricity are being given more and more tax breaks. Indeed, the Federal Network Agency has calculated that the country's biggest electricity guzzlers account for 18 percent of overall consumption, but bear only 0.3 percent of the costs associated with the EEG.   

Friday, August 31, 2012

International Food Prices Again at Record Levels, World Bank Warns

Click here to access article by Carey L. Biron from Inter Press Service. 

We are now beginning to see another ominous consequence of our carbon-fueled capitalist economy which is causing extreme weather throughout the planet--widespread food shortages and high prices. So far it appears that among the One Percent only World Bank officials are worried about this. These are quite sophisticated people who know that this development can manifest itself in food riots which, in turn, can threaten their capitalist regimes around the world with revolution.

On another website devoted to informing their readers on how to make more money, there is a lengthy article trying to analyze the repercussions of the drought here in the US on prices and shortages. It seems oriented mostly to advising people on measures they can take to reduce the impact on their budgets. However, I suspect that part 2 of this report, which lies behind a paywall, likely advises the website's readers about how to profit from this impending disaster. Such is the outlook of capitalists among the ruling One Percent.

No CIA Prosecutions: the Cover-up Continues

Click here to access article by Daphne Eviatar from Huffington Post.

Once again we see the political operatives of the One Percent hiding their crimes behind secrecy classifications. Once again we see that Tweedle-Obama is interchangeable with Tweedle-Bush.

Manadel al-Jamadi’s beaten corpse, with a smiling US soldier

In a 2006 report, Human Rights First documented that up to 12 men had been tortured to death in U.S. custody since 2002. Reviewing documents we've received more recently through a Freedom of Information Act request to the government, it now appears that up to 19 of 247 deaths involved torture. In only six of those cases was anyone held criminally liable. According to military documents, many more detainees -- we've counted 72 so far -- are believed to have been murdered. While in some cases charges were brought, in many they were dropped or the perpetrators received only administrative sanctions. 

Ecuador Shields Assange from the Revengeful Empire

Click here to access article by Nil Nidandrov from Strategic Culture Foundation.

The author provides some details that I have never seen before regarding the women who brought charges against Assange for sexual misconduct. He alleges that Assange was set up for this legal debacle by the CIA. There is no way to check the accuracy of his information, but it seems logically plausible. I have had similar suspicions from the start of the campaign against Assange by the US government. In any case, he provides a lot of other interesting details about this subject.

Another excellent source of information that appears to be very credible is from the Australian Broadcasting Company. This is a 46:00m video presentation which reviews the entire case. After viewing this video, Nidandrov's allegations about a CIA setup seem less plausible given the sequence of events portrayed in the video.

People can still contribute to WikiLeaks in order to support transparency of information about government operations.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Selling War as ‘Smart Power’

Click here to access article by Coleen Rowley from ConsortiumNews via Women Against Military Madness. (Note: I usually refer only to the original site to designate the source, but in this case the article in ConsortiumNews is improved with added useful links to various phrases in the article.)
The latest selling point for American warfare is “smart power” humanitarianism, dispatching the U.S. military to eliminate foreign leaders designated by pundits as evildoers taking lives and resisting freedom. Ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley warns against this latest con.
However, not only are they selling war packaged in humanitarianism, but they are subverting humanitarian organizations to help sell this message! I was, indeed, sickened by the apparent ease at which some such organizations and their leaders can be subverted and/or co-opted into serving the Empire. Most astonishing example is that of Amnesty International that has an extensive history of serving the cause of human rights throughout the world. I'm sure that Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International-USA, will have a brilliant career ahead of her as a pimp for the Empire's war machine. 

In Amnesty's case I don't think that we should turn away from various chapters' humanitarian efforts because of the US parent organization. It is my impression that their member chapters function quite independently. I do think that we should raise protests against the International office wherever and whenever we can.

The author poses this rhetorical question:
If war is a lie generally, if institutional wars have historically been instigated, ratcheted up, waged, and later falsely ennobled through pretext and propaganda, if “Smart Power,” “Responsibility to Protect” and “humanitarian intervention” serve as little but better rhetoric and therefore an effective guise to sell military force to American citizens as a “last resort,” after having checked off diplomatic efforts (set up to fail) and harsh economic sanctions that starve civilians and kill children, doesn’t it make sense for human rights and peace and justice groups to renounce instead of embrace attempts of powerful governments to use them as “tools” of such policies?

Against the Cyborg Gaze: On Forward Intelligence Teams

Click here to access article by Theo Kindynis from Ceasefire (UK).

From the British section of the Empire we have this report that illustrates the advanced nature of the police state in Britain. The old seat of the British Empire is apparently a testing ground for the latest techniques for controlling a population. Methods that are found to be effective will no doubt be applied throughout the US Empire to crush dissent. In this report he describes the use of "Forward Intelligence Teams".
FITs are units comprising both uniformed police officers and (also uniformed) civilian photographers, tasked with conducting overt surveillance of the public during “public order events”. First introduced in the mid-90s in order to gather evidence against football hooligans, FITs’ scope has since been broadened to include political demonstrations and meetings, with their primary role now being to identify and obtain information about protesters.
Notice, however, that the British writer at this liberal website frames this ominous development as merely due to "today’s security-obsessed culture".  

The Eye of Sauron: Something New Under the Sun

Click here to access article by Fred Reed from World News Trust. 

I am posting this piece, not because it offers some helpful insights, but as a piece that illustrates a typical American's reactions when it finally dawns on them that they are living in a not-as-yet-fully-formed police state. Actually, this writer is obviously above average in education and in his awareness of a bad situation. But his reactions are very typical of ordinary Americans once they wake up. After expressing shock, he makes reference to a wonderful past under "democracy"and expresses other confused statements, then resorts to a simpleton's need to provide a simple explanation--it's all human nature.
At a higher level of generality, America is no longer a democracy. If you think this a rash assertion, ask yourself whether you have the slightest influence over policies that matter to you. ...National politics employs a sort of political price-fixing, in which you are permitted to choose among a number on indistinguishable candidates and told that you are having an election.
None of this is going to stop.
Why is it happening? Some suspect a vast conspiracy to Sovietize the country. I doubt it. Don’t look for a conspiracy when human nature is an adequate explanation. Presidents never want to suffer the restraints on constitutionality, the agonizing slowness of a congress that often has little understanding of the issues; if presidents can do things by fiat, or secretly, they will.
(He seems to be saying) Ho, hum. Just be cool and sophisticated like me. I'm sure we can adjust.

Big call: Cambridge prof. predicts Arctic summer sea ice “all gone by 2015”

Click here to access article by David Spratt from Climate Code Red. 
This is one of those moments when the pace of climate change and its consequences become simply extraordinary.
In the last two weeks, I’ve spent some time trying to unravel the Arctic’s big melt of 2012 and what is means for future global warming and the world we will live in. 
If one clicks on the article in the Scotsman where the prediction by this Scottish scientist is reported, one discovers once again that the only real solution now being considered are geo-engineering fantasies. It is now clear that past affirmations from our masters in the One Percent about reducing carbon output was all propaganda to calm resistance to their ongoing projects of wealth extraction for their class. Nothing, not even destruction of our planet, will deter our masters from pursuing their addictions to power and profits.

In my darker moments I sometimes think that I should re-name this blog as some sort of chronology of the human race's decent into barbarism as we experience one ecological catastrophe after another.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Caste And The Tyranny Of Capitalism In India

Click here to access article by Braj Ranjan Mani from The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) (International). 

The author argues that the legacy of India's caste system together with the dynamics of late capitalism have produced a society of huge differences in income and social privileges, and harsh oppression of the poor.
The story of the making of brand India—the subject of hundreds of academic as well as popular tomes mostly written by, or on behalf of the corporate houses—conveniently leaves aside the vital question of who has collared the benefits and in what proportion. That India is a great democracy and witnessing momentous changes is the trajectory of the fortunate few who have reaped the most from the neo-liberal policies, subverting democracy and reinforcing their privileges in the new power structures. For those who remain bereft of bare minimums of life and constitute 70 per cent of the population, India is a very limited, if not a sham, democracy.
Of course, whenever he mentions "democracy", as with other authors, you must take this to mean the fake form of "bourgeois democracy". I think the author understands this as indicated in the following statement:
Modern democracies have been around for long enough for neo-liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert them. They have mastered the technique of infiltrating the instruments of democracy—the “independent” judiciary, the “free” press, the parliament—and moulding them to their purpose. The project of corporate globalisation has cracked the code. Free elections, a free press, and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market has reduced them to commodities available on sale to the highest bidder.

Another Day, Another Shameful Ruling on Police State Spying

Click here to access article by Tom Burghardt from his blog Antifascist Calling
...in a collapsing Empire, where the indefinite detention or even the liquidation of "terrorism" suspects, alongside illegal warrantless spying, the trampling of First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly, the persecution of government whistleblowers who bring high state crimes to light, are now deemed unreviewable by any court by a quasi-fascist "Unitary Executive."
From my observations most Americans are blissfully unaware of this development. It is thoroughly covered up by the One Percent's media; and thus far their developing police state is carefully applying most of these measures against marginalized groups such as Muslims, activists, immigrants, and whistleblowers such as Sibel Edmonds. This, of course, brings to mind Martin Niemöller's famous admonition:
First they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

On Europe’s Failure

Click here to access article by Costas Panayotakis from NYT eXaminer

The author provides an excellent illustration of the method used by Empire's media to obscure issues related to capitalism's failures: re-frame the problems in terms of other conflicts regardless of whether the latter are causes or merely some indirect consequences of class based conflicts. Often such indirect consequences are promoted or induced by capitalist agents to distract attention away from real underlying class conflicts.
...the European crisis has revealed the contradictions of this neoliberal model, European capitalist elites have responded with austerity and an attempt to use the crisis as an opportunity to entrench the neoliberal model even further.  Far from representing a repudiation by the masses of the benign cosmopolitanism of the capitalist elites, the demonization of Greece and the European South imposes nationalist and culturalist frames on the crisis that are much more consistent with the interest of these elites than a frame that also includes consideration of class divisions.

Calling all Pessimistic Optimists

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

I often find it difficult to talk about political issues with my fellow Americans who have been subject to so many decades of indoctrination and propaganda. Mickey Z. seems to have mastered this task while staying committed to activism.
Throughout my time with Occupy Wall Street, I’ve encountered the FAQ (e.g. What are your demands? Who are your leaders? Why don’t you get a job?). However, enduring a predictable litany of questions is nothing new to anyone involved with radical activism. To follow are some of my favorites from over the years -- along with my answers.

Rachel Corrie: Israel’s Legal Black Hole

Click here to access article by Siham Nuseibeh from Muftah

I think I am posting this article because I feel rather close to this case due to the fact that Rachel Corrie was from my State of Washington (Olympia) here in the US. She was killed by Israelis while defending the homes of Palestinians. 

I was shocked by the scanty coverage of this incident especially by local media. But, of course, local TV coverage is not really local in that the TV stations are owned by large media corporations. Belo corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas controls probably most local TV coverage in our state.

On Tuesday morning, August 27, 2012, an Israeli court dismissed a civil suit filed against the government by the parents of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes in Gaza in 2003. Corrie was unarmed at the time of her death. 

For more background on this incident, I refer you to two excellent articles:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Commons: Alternatives to market and state

Click here to access article by Derek Wall from STIR: Anger Analysis Action (Britain).
Capitalism has failed.  Leaving the care of society to the market has led to massive inequality, climate chaos and financial crisis.  The system is indeed one of zombie economics, the doctrine is dead but the beast still walks amongst us.  It reminds me of the cartoons where Bugs Bunny runs over the edge of the cliff but, not noticing that he has done so, continues to march on air until realization strikes and the silly rabbit plummets to the ground. 

Tehran hosts Non-Aligned Movement summit with focus on Syria

Click here for source of 5:49m video featuring an interview with Pepe Escobar regarding the meeting in Iran, from RT (Russia Today).

Iranian Rhetoric and the History of the Cancer Analogy

Click here to access article by Nima Shirazi from his blog Wide Asleep in America

The author examines the use of rhetoric by Israeli and Iranian spokespeople, compares their respective usages in relation to reality, and provides an interesting review of the use of the cancer metaphor by various historical figures. This is a most perceptive analysis of how rhetoric can hide or reveal hideous truths.

America Preparing For A Post-Israel Middle East?

Click here to access article by Franklin Lamb from Al-Manar (Lebanon). 

Although I've never thought of this author as a comedian, while reading this fantastic article I kept waiting for a final punch line like "just kidding!", etc. Then I wondered if he was suffering from some type of mental illness or had just taken some type of hallucinatory drug. 

But, look at his resumé:
Franklin Lamb, former Assistant Counsel, US House Judiciary Committee and  Professor of International Law at Northwestern College of Law in Oregon, earned his Law Degree at Boston University and his LLM, M.Phil., and PhD degrees at the London School of Economics. Following three years at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Lamb was visiting fellow at the Harvard Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies Center.
It has been picked up by a variety of other websites, most notably Foreign Policy Journal. Anyway, read it and see if you believe it. 

U.S. Foreign Weapons Sales Triple, Setting Record

Click here to access article by Carey L. Biron from Inter Press Service. 

Guess what? We're number one! Yes, we should get a gold medal for the production and distribution of instruments of killing. And, we are far ahead of our closest competitor, Russia. ($66.3 billion vs $4.1 billion.)

Arms control advocates are frustrated by lack of progress on any international regulation of arms proliferation.
The Arms Control Association’s Kimball, who attended the New York negotiations, lay much of the blame for that failure on the U.S. hosts, particularly President Barack Obama.
“Although the U.S. delegation had succeeded in inserting all of its preferred formulations in the treaty text and avoided all ‘red lines’, President Obama should have – but did not – provide the leadership necessary to close the deal,” he said.
I'd like to pose what may sound like an obscure conspiracy theory. The military-industrial complex is a major dynamic component driving the policies of the home country, USA. Obama was selected to serve the Empire's ruling One Percent to promote its policies. He is serving it very well, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will be selected once again. 

Romney would also function well (for the One Percent), but Obama still has some magic with the 99 Percent, and some of the latter feel that Obama is the lessor of the two evils. As an employee of the One Percent, he will pursue basically the same policies as Romney, but will do it with much more charm. Moreover, because the domestic economy is in shambles for most working people, the latter will fight to keep their fairly well paying jobs producing weapons for their masters in order to keep up on their mortgage payments on their homes.

I wonder how many of these weapons are now in the hands of mercenary armies, oops, I mean "freedom fighters" in Syria.

(Sorry for all the cynicism--I couldn't help it.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Syria, sectarianism and the threat of wider war

Click here to access article by Chris Nineham from CounterFire (Britain).
There are clear signs that the strengthening of the sectarian dynamic in Syria is destabilising the region, argues Chris Nineham
Guess who is "strengthening the sectarian dynamic in Syria"?

Western imperialists are once again creating chaos in the Mid-East and risking a major conflagration.

For a deeper, class analysis of Empire intervention in the Mid-East, I recommend a lengthy piece by John Rees entitled "Empire and revolution - Syria and the critics of the anti-war movement" from the same source.

Exposed: Official Game Rules of American Politics (Satire)

Click here to access article by Carmen Yarrusso from Truthout

The author uses a metaphor of a professional baseball league consisting of two teams to explain the American election system. I'm not sure that this qualifies as "satire", because it is simply using a metaphor to explain how the system actually works. If he made fun of gullible Americans who believe the mythology about elections and their legitimacy, that would be satire.
The game of American Politics is played by skilled politicians (called players), but controlled by an elite ruling class of oligarchs (called owners). The game is comparable in many ways to pro baseball, except there are only two competing teams (called Republicans and Democrats). Like pro baseball, 1) the players work for the owners, not for the people who finance the game, 2) the players are well paid (especially highly skilled players), but the big profits go to the owners, and, 3) like baseball, the big profits in American Politics come from the pockets of the masses of people observing the game (called fans).

Fascists are the Tools of the State

Click here to access article by Peter Gelderloos from The Anarchist Library. (A re-posting of an article from The Anarchist Library in 2009.)

The author provides an excellent review of the many uses of fascism to serve capitalist class interests of preserving and supporting the system that provides them with so much power and wealth.  He concludes with some important considerations on how to defeat fascism.

Apparently, Liz Sly Can Conclude Without Supporting Facts

Click here to access article from Moon of Alabama.

This piece about coverage from the Washington Post on the conflict in Syria is an excellent illustration of US mainstream news reporting on any subject of vital interest to the One Percent ruling class. Is there any longer any doubt that US mainstream media has become a propaganda branch of the Empire, and should be referred to as the Empire's Ministry of Truth? 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nakedgate Update: Those AIPAC Trips, Scandal In the Making

Click here to access article by M.J. Rosenberg from his blog. 

The author provides more information on a most controversial subject--the influence of the Zionist-Israel lobby on US government and the junkets that help make their influence so effective.

Former Israeli soldiers disclose routine mistreatment of Palestinian children

Click here to access article and 5:08m video by Harriet Sherwood from The Guardian
More than 30 former Israeli soldiers have disclosed their experiences of the treatment of Palestinian children during military operations and arrests, pointing to a pattern of abuse.

Top 10 Lies Told by Monsanto on GMO Labeling in California

Click here to access article by Michele Simon from Reader Supported News. 
The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills.
...Even for a corporation not exactly known for its honesty and transparency, this brief [Monsanto's] webpage is riddled with deception and outright falsehoods about the initiative and its proponents.