The banks are choosing not to reduce mortgage rates further. One reason: By keeping the rates elevated, they are able to earn much larger profits when they sell the mortgages into the bond market.It is clear that the latest Fed action is to increase income for banks, most of which are carrying many toxic mortgage assets. It is another way to bailout banks at the expense of the public. But what this NY Times article does not mention, for obvious reasons, is that whenever the Federal Reserve, which is operated by private bankers with a thin covering of government participation, creates money from nothing to buy anything, it is more debt owed to the Fed by the American people. Since the recent economic collapse of 2007/2008 such Fed actions have only benefited the One Percent while putting the general population into more debt servitude to the One Percent in order to cover their bad bets in the capitalist casinos. Thus, banksters and Wall Streeters love it when they do this because in the short term the money usually benefits either bankers or stock market players; and in the long run, it eventually results in more transfers of wealth from ordinary citizens to the One Percent.
in the time remaining, to help us understand how the man-made system of capitalism will lead to the extinction of our human species, and so many others.
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 15, 2012
How Much Does the Fed’s Plan Really Help Main Street?
Police State Watch: NYPD to Install Checkpoints, Demand ID in Lower Manahttan on OWS Anniversary
From the article's brief introduction to the notice below, it appears that some New Yorkers are unaware that much more egregious police state methods are already in operation in certain parts of the city subject to their "stop and frisk [2nd meaning]" policies, and if you are part of certain dissident groups such as Occupy Wall Street or identified as anarchists. See this, this, and this. Apparently it is okay for such tactics to be used against the poor, minorities, and activists, but not against "upstanding" citizens.
The Real Reason for the Afghan War?
The author reports on the benefits derived from your tax dollars supporting just one of the Empire's never-ending wars--the one in Afghanistan, and concludes:
Imperial militaries exist in large part to grab and hold resources vital to the continuance of empires, while their paymasters back home reap benefits. That includes the rest of us, who must balance the security and creature comforts this approach provides against the death and destruction it inevitably entails. And we can’t begin to do the moral calculus until we acknowledge what’s being done in our name around the world, and why.However, I think the author puts too much of the onus of responsibility on the general public. The overwhelming portion of the immorality and the guilt of our nation's wars of aggression must be put squarely on the shoulders of those who run this country--the One Percent. We share in the guilt when we merely look the other way or gullibly accept the propaganda that the media of the One Percent feeds us.
A Map of Muslim Protests Around the World
This poster provides a larger map of protests in the article. Of course, this liberal publishing source follows the script of Empire operatives by attributing all the protests as stemming only from the anti-Islam film.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Ground Zero Redux
In this article the author revisits the site of 9/11 (virtually or literally?) and recalls some significant related history that explains much of the Empire's "war on terror", an excuse used to provide cover for far flung military campaigns abroad and the construction of many components of a police state here.
This is the world morphing into, or being gobbled up by, dematerialized ultra-capitalism; a world in a state of crisis, driven by violence, and with violence as the only possible horizon.
The author sneaks in under the guise of a pop quiz that US state sponsored violence used in so many areas of the globe to enforce the interests of our One Percent's empire builders is actually the "new normal"; and as such ordinary Americans don't notice it, or take it for granted. Of course, One Percent's media agents foster this complaisant attitude. Thus, when our embassies are attacked, everyone, including top political officials, are shocked. Could it be that this development was what the contrived 9/11 tragedy was all about--to provide cover for worldwide military campaigns?
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Free trade ain’t free
The author provides more information on the TPP in the ongoing effort by activists to reveal the latest secret efforts of the One Percent's neo-liberal agents to commodify and privatize everything on the planet that they can profit from at our expense.
Moving Past the Movie: Understanding the U.S. Embassy Attack in Egypt
Here is another useful article in which the author contributes some additional details, insights, inconsistencies of official and mainstream reports, and background in relation to the complex phenomenon of anti-American protests currently going on in the Mid-East.
Regarding context, events do not happen in a vacuum – the lead-up is almost as important as the event itself. In the case of Egypt, the protests unfolded amid an on-going revolution, the rise of a transitional government, a deepening economic crisis, a possible IMF loan to Egypt, and intensifying foreign direct investment and privatization of the country’s economy.
7 Groups the FBI and Corporations Have Classified as “Terrorists”
There are currently some groups in the US who are directly being subject to police state methods under the "war on terror". I don't think that these draconian methods against targeted domestic groups are being forgotten as he does. They, like the endless US military campaigns abroad, are also being regarded by the "good Germans" of the US as merely the "new normal".
Today you’ll hear the annual chorus of “we will never forget.” But we have forgotten. We have forgotten the uproar against the Patriot Act, which was passed in the middle of the night. We have forgotten that Guantanamo Bay was once treated as an aberration, which Obama promised to close. And we have forgotten what freedoms have been sacrificed in the name of an ever-growing threat.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Libyan Humiliation a Driving Force for Anti-Americanism
Once again this very astute observer of political events, especially in the Mid-East, provides a much larger political context to understand the recent attacks on the US embassies in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen, and other related protests in Arab states. The reason for these events, the Zionist sponsored film entitled, "The Innocence of Muslims", was quickly latched onto by US media and officials as the reason for the attacks and protests. Could it be that Empire agents need to distract attention from the bigger issue of US/NATO actions in the Middle East? Prashad argues that these events are rooted in the humiliation suffered by Arabs across the region due to widespread political interference by US/NATO agents and their Arab collaborators.
Do you have the right to remain silent? The plight of Leah-Lynn Plante
Anarchists has always been viewed by ruling classes as the greatest ideological threat to their rule--for quite obvious reasons. Class structured societies are organized to serve the interests of the ruling class. For the last 300 plus years the ruling class has been the capitalist class whose interests are the exploitation of workers and the environment to provide them with wealth and power. Thus, anarchists, who believe in a radical equality, consensus, and power based at the grass-roots of society, have always been hounded and persecuted to the fullest extent possible by capitalist agencies of enforcement and their legal system.
Like most Americans, I know little about the legal institution of grand juries. It was never covered in my rather extensive education. The subject is never delved into by mainstream media. This article reveals that they function in secret. Whenever secrecy is maintained to such a considerable extent, you can be sure that it serves an illegitimate purpose on behalf of the ruling class. Here is one source where you can discover much more about how this institution functions, its sordid history of political intimidation, and many other aspects.
This article reports on anarchists who, in my area of the northwestern US, are facing a grand jury and resisting. This is how it all started:
On July 25, the FBI raided Plante’s home which was one of several raids in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland in the last few months. Plante said that FBI agents smashed through her front door with a battering ram with assault rifles drawn, “looking paramilitary.” According to a copy of the warrant, agents were looking for black clothing, paint, sticks, flags, computers and cell phones, and anti-government or anarchist literature.
Freakonomics Author Steven Levitt: Enemy of Chicago School Teachers
The author examines some of the key figures leading the neo-liberal attack on education in Chicago. In this current battleground the teacher's union has gone on strike with widespread popular support.
Levitt is a dyed-in-the-wool Milton Friedman neoliberal from the same “Chicago Boys” network that brought you the “shock doctrine.” When he isn’t pursing research into borderline eugenicist policies or studying the benefits of privatized prison labor on GDP, he’s hard at work doing his part helping the oligarchy put unionized Chicago school teachers up against the wall.
Specifically, Levitt has worked with Chicago’s notorious union-buster Arne Duncan, who was the CEO of Chicago public schools until Obama tapped Duncan to be the U.S. Education Secretary in 2008. Duncan has been credited with doing more than anyone else to help bring the neoliberal nightmare to Chicago’s impoverished and mostly nonwhite public schools, funnelling public funds to dysfunctional private voucher schools, terrorizing unionized teachers, closing schools and turning public education into feeder tube for the prison-industrial complex. And Levitt, a tenured professor at the University of Chicago, was right there along with Duncan.
Cooperation is not only a good idea, it already works in practice
Cooperation is a fundamental human trait. You may find it bizarre to read a post that begins with such a sentence, but sometimes we do have to point out the obvious.
Competition, we are continually lectured, is the primary driving force animating human beings. It is rarely, if ever, put quite so explicitly, but the prevailing ideology does tell us exactly that. Competition is the fuel of economic growth and progress in a system based on never-ending life-and-death fights to gain dominance at pain of going out of business — so we are told. Competition, conveniently, can be won by only a few heroic figures, who must be given control over other peoples’ lives and rewarded with stratospheric pay.However, there is one group in capitalist society that does not like competition--capitalists! That is, they do not like it for themselves. They love it for workers and athletes. But for themselves, they do everything they can to eliminate it without being too obvious about it. They collude with others to maintain high prices, they eliminate competition by buying out competitors, as industries they bribe congress to pass laws favorable to them (low taxes, subsidies, cutting back on regulations, anti-union and labor organizing laws, etc.)
In U.S. Politics, Economic Class Speaks Loudest
For those of you who have been wide awake during the past several decades, this article probably should be entitled "Capitalist Democracy 101" or "Capitalist Democracy for Dummies". You probably would find it boring. However, it is my observation that many Americans have been asleep or so well indoctrinated that they haven't been able to recognize political fakery perpetrated by operatives of the One Percent. Likewise, these well-indoctrinated Harvard researchers seem surprised by their research findings. Because their research was not designed to ask very many penetrating questions, the findings only describe some superficial aspects of capitalist "democracy" in the US.
New research drawn from the past half-century offers one of the clearest pictures yet of the correlation between political involvement and socioeconomics in the United States, while underscoring the significant implications of recent legal and legislative changes for marginalised groups.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Incorporating the Rentier Sectors into a Financial Model
Hudson together with another economics professor tries to explain how debts issued by the financial sector is taking over economies. Although I can't follow all of what they are explaining, it appears to me to be essentially the same argument that Hudson has been expressing for several years.
As with past articles Hudson, and now Bezemer, refer to an earlier period in capitalism where the banking sector was very conservative and preferred to invest in already productive, and safer, assets rather than in development projects. Such financial capitalists were roundly criticized by industrial capitalists for this because money was desperately needed to develop resources which were widely becoming available in the New World and increasingly exploitable due to advances in technology. This constant reference to earlier conservative financiers suggests that the solution to the present economic destabilization is, once again, more investment in productive enterprises rather than existing assets; and that this remedy would save the economy. An unstated implication is that it would also save the capitalist system. Apparently, the liberal professors also think that "there is no alternative".
As Mark Twain expressed it, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." They don't bother to explain the two financial practices in their historical circumstances. Yes, the two periods have some parallels, but the circumstances are radically different. We are now facing a number of limits that adversely impact more productive growth: peak energy and resources and climatic destabilization due to fossil fuel based production. Bankers are not stupid. They know this and that is precisely why they are buying up assets...and, due to their key role in the ruling class of the One Percent, they are lowering taxes on capital gains and strengthening their military and police forces. They, as hard core capitalists, are merely pursuing their own interests which under the dogma of capitalism is supposed to benefit society in general.
The Life and Death of 9/11
They [US/NATO] have...been trying hard to hijack the Arab Awakening in order to create more client states throughout the Middle East.
Mixed in with the so-called US/NATO support for the populist uprisings, shockingly in coordination with elements of Al Qaeda (!), the international community is once again scratching their heads. Seeing the ongoing wars and carnage across the globe, they really want to know whether "the global war on terror" was just a fabrication designed to preserve America's global domination well into the 21st century? The US presidential candidates are not willing to talk about it. The American voters are equally not in the mood to care about the 9/11 anymore - when they have no jobs and no incomes.The writer makes some very astute observations.
Meet The Right-Wing Extremist Behind Anti-Muslim Film That Sparked Deadly Riots
The US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three US diplomats were killed in attacks and rioting provoked by an obscure, low-budget anti-Muslim film called “The Innocence of Muslims.” The producer of the film is a real estate developer supposedly named “Sam Bacile” who claims to be an Israeli Jew. Bacile told the AP the film was made with $5 million raised from “100 Jewish donors.” He said he was motivated to help his native country, Israel, by exposing the evils of Islam.I'm thinking how interesting this article is after listening this morning to NPR and TV coverage of the attacks on US diplomats. Strange (sarcasm) that they didn't mention anything about the film other than linking it to the cause of the riot and the attack. However, just now accessing NPR's website I notice that they ran an article about the film on their website. But, I still doubt that they will report this information in subsequent broadcasts.
But wait! Here are other views about this film that need to be considered.
Arctic warning: As the system changes, we must adjust our science
Clearly the IPPC 2007 report is no longer scientifically adequate on the Arctic – and much else – and Holmen’s call to “adjust our understanding of the system and… adjust our science” is timely. The nub of the problem is that climate policy-making in Australia, and internationally, is stuck in the IPCC 2007 frame and is thereby disconnected from what is occurring on the ground, in the seas and at the poles. For that reason it can only fail.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Interviewed: David Harvey on Rebel Cities
You may want to skip the introduction by the publisher of Shareable, Neal Gorenflo, by scrolling down to Chris Carlson's first question: "Who did you write Rebel Cities for?". In his introduction Gorenflo goes to great pains to explain why he is featuring Marxist views at his website and to reassure readers that it is okay to read such material ("Harvey stands for something as American as apple pie.") This is probably necessary for many US progressives who have been subject to so many decades of anti-Marxist thought control; however, for those of you immune to such indoctrination, this reassurance is unnecessary.
I don't agree with all of Harvey's views, but they do provide much food for thought. One place where I take exception is what I regard as an incorrect conception of the capitalist state (he approves of some elements of it) and that some coercive state organization needs to be maintained in his vision of the future: views which is revealed in this quote from his book and his answer to Carlsson's followup question:
[Harvey quote] "How can radical decentralization — surely a worthwhile objective — work without constituting some higher-order hierarchical authority? It is simply naïve to believe that polycentrism or any other form of decentralization can work without strong hierarchical constraints and active enforcement."
[Carlsson] Do you think the state, currently a wholly-owned project of “the existing democracy of money power,” can be made to serve other interests than capital accumulation and economic growth?There can be higher levels of coordination without a hierarchical system of enforcement. "Hierarchy" is by definition a centralized command structure that serves and answers to the highest level, to people who constitute a ruling class. That's the way the Soviet Union was constituted and its command structure served the interests of the nomenclatura. It appears that Harvey cannot imagine a command structure that is directed from the grassroots to the highest coordinating bodies.
The Chicago strike is typical of American politicians' war on teachers
Many see the Chicago strike as a pivotal political event in the US. Will the neo-liberal steamroller succeed in crushing a well organized popular movement in Chicago to support education?
In this article the author describes the One Percent's media campaign against teachers:
As you may have heard, these teachers are greedy, lazy bullies who are holding kids hostage in their mad lust for power. Their choice of profession is not at all motivated by an interest in child betterment, but entirely by the obscenely lavish salaries they receive – some even approaching those of skilled jobs that actually contribute to the public good, like sales managers and insurance underwriters. All this at – never forget – taxpayers' expense. Even liberal bloggers warn that this strike will leave children forever scarred and ruin their future earnings, or at least their test scores.One aspect that writers for the liberal Guardian dare not venture into to any significant extent is that such a campaign serves to distract people's attention away from the real conditions which impair a child's ability to learn: hunger, family tensions, broken families, homelessness, etc. (He barely touched on it with one single sentence: "Might poverty and unemployment not be to blame?") Such devastation, of course, is caused by the reckless operations of casino capitalism.
The Economic Religion of Finance Capital
The Virgin birth.
The Chosen people.
The Resurrection of the dead.
The Free Market.
Which of those is unsupported by material evidence but exists by virtue of practice based on fervent , coerced, or simply uncritical belief and is thus subject to failure at any moment when the belief is shaken to its roots by experienced reality?The metaphor of "finance capitalism" as religion is very apt because that is precisely what it has become, especially in the US. Unfortunately, the author allows readers to infer that there may be some other kind of capitalism that is acceptable. Finance capitalism is merely the final stage of capitalism.
The Unanswered Questions of 9/11
These and many, many questions like them have been asked by the victims’ family members, the first responders, members of the US military, American congressmen and women, intelligence agents, foreign dignitaries and heads of state, and concerned members of the public across America and around the globe. And still, 11 years after the events themselves, the American president has the gall to suggest that all questions have been answered and it is time for Americans to move on.
Chilean Protest Hits CIA Pinochet Coup of 9/11/1973
While the political operatives of the One Percent want make sure you know about their version of the 9/11 attack, their carefully controlled media will never cover another 9/11 event--the CIA engineered coup in Chile where 3000 people were killed or disappeared, others tortured. Once again, we must turn to the alternative media to learn about historical facts that the "Ministry of Information" doesn't want you to know or remember.
On September 11th, 1973 the Chilean military with the CIA carried out a coup against the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende. This coup was foreseen by those to the left of Allende. Trotskyists foresaw it and argued the need for certain steps, not least of which were arming the working class and getting rid of the capitalist state. At the heart of the capitalist state is included the military which overthrew Allende and then proceeded to rape, torture, and murder thousands of leftists and workers after it got rid of Allende. In addition to rape, torture, and murder, that U.S. imposed government burned books, jailed tens of thousands of political prisoners, and forced hundreds of thousands of people into exile.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Chicago Teachers Launch Strike for Better Pay, Benefits and Work Conditions
I am posting this announcement of the strike and the reasons for it by Chicago Teacher's Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis simply because mainstream media never covers the union's point of view on strikes. They only cover any negative aspects of strikes such as inconvenience to the public, some sensational incident related to the strike, and testimonies from people who are opposed to the strike. (See this and this for the two articles about the strike that I found this morning in the Chicago Tribune.) In this video the union president makes an impassioned plea to protect education for Chicago's children, but it will be a plea that will go unheard or unreported in Chicago media.
Another analysis of the strike and related larger issues is the coverage provided by a left-wing source, World Socialist Web Site, entitled "Teachers strike in Chicago". This report portrays the position of the union's hierarchy as willing to make numerous concessions in order to maintain harmonious ties to the Democratic party. This is a typical position of nearly all union leaders who over the past decades have been largely co-opted by the ruling class in the US.
Another source, the Occupied Chicago Tribune argues that under a new leadership this union is now rooted in the grass roots of Chicago, and as such is really fighting for education of its children.
Before CTU President Karen Lewis and members of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE) became the new union leadership in 2010, the CTU, like its national union, the American Federation of Teachers, was a willing pawn in the privatization game. CORE broke from the CTU leadership and won respect from the majority of union members by actively supporting parent- and student-led protests at schools across the city. After gaining office, they continued to organize against privatization with the already active education community, and to educate its own members about the importance of doing so.So, how is one to evaluate the Lewis' media presentation. Is she sincerely fighting for issues of vital concern for the education of children, or is she merely acting out the appearance of doing so to maintain some legitimacy with union members? In reality is she,and the union hierarchy, far more concerned with maintaining the union's favorable relationship with the liberal wing of the One Percent ruling class and willing to to give away much in the negotiations to satisfy them? You must decide, or wait for more information before deciding.
A Tale of Two Asylums: Assange, Palacio, and Media Hypocrisy
Occasionally I see references in US mainstream media that charge Ecuadorian President Correa with hypocrisy over his offer of asylum to Assange. This article sets the record straight. Guess who is really guilty of hypocrisy?
Palacio...is the author of an example of abject journalistic malfeasance. His 2011 El Universo op-ed falsely accused “the Dictator,” President Correa, of committing “crimes against humanity” by purportedly ordering troops to fire at a “hospital full of civilians and innocent people” during a coup attempt against him in 2010. Palacio didn’t provide a shred of evidence for his claims. But the U.S. media have scrubbed the baselessness of Palacio’s charges from their coverage of his asylum approval—Reuters said that Palacio simply “criticized [Correa’s] actions,” and NPR stations around the country aired a flattering interview with Palacio’s lawyer....Although my knowledge of Ecuadorian journalism is slight, I am very familiar with the right-wing newspapers' shameless lies in Venezuela in their ongoing attempt to destabilize the Chavez government. The US ruling class would never permit that type of journalism here.
See the latest bit of hypocrisy--the US refuses to extradite a Bolivian accused of crimes against humanity as reported by Glenn Greenwald.
In October 2003, the intensely pro-US president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, sent his security forces to suppress growing popular protests against the government’s energy and globalization policies. Using high-powered rifles and machine guns, his military forces killed 67 men, women and children, and injured 400 more, almost all of whom were poor and from the nation’s indigenous Aymara communities. Dozens of protesters had been killed by government forces in the prior months when troops were sent to suppress them.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Everything Won't Be Alright
Looking around at those... around me - family, friends, acquaintances and random faces in the crowd of apathy - the level of complacency is so concentrated I can taste it, yet I can't even describe how bad it tastes. I'm not really talking about the understanding people lack about the numerous predicaments we face as a species - that's definitely there too... but what I'm talking about is even worse. It's the assumption that we can just go about our day to day lives, doing our day to day work, having our day to day fun... and humanity will eventually heal itself, no matter how bad the injuries sustained.
This is a cultural phenomenon that has infested the Western world....The author then proceeds to examine contemporary popular cultural products that support this passivity. Of course, such products always go through the filtering process created by the directors of the One Percent. Those which are deemed problematic for this class get filtered out. Those cultural products that support their interests, or at least prevents any threats to their system of capitalism--the source of all their power and wealth--survive the filtering process and get rewarded.
When did addiction become a good thing?
This founder of a hi-tech company asks some disturbing questions about all the seemly wonderful electronic gadgets and related services that the tech industry has come up with especially in the past decade. He seems to be doing well for himself in the capitalist world, but is he asking the right questions to advance further? I seriously doubt it. His questions are downright subversive.
As members of the tech industry, we need to ask serious questions about the behaviors that we are promoting. Are we really helping people live better lives? Or, are we promoting suboptimal habits and aptitudes? At best, many of the products we’re building are time wasters. At worst, they’re the addictive equivalents of cigarettes — irresistible cheap thrills that feel good in the moment, but are destructive in the long run. “Addictive” products are rampant in our lives — Facebook, Farmville (or any Zynga game), Twitter, Pinterest. The list goes on and on.
Jihadists join Aleppo fight, eye Islamic state, surgeon says
Foreign Islamists intent on turning Syria into an autocratic theocracy have swollen the ranks of rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad and think they are waging a "holy war", a French surgeon who treated fighters in Aleppo has said.Thank God or Allah, etc, or the internet for information like this because the Empire's Ministry of Truth will never allow such reports to surface in Western mainstream media.
Iran’s Strategic Diplomatic Victory over the Washington-Israeli Axis
Any objective evaluation of the meeting, its venue, the attendance, resolutions and political impact leads to one paramount conclusion: the NAM meeting was a strategic diplomatic victory for Iran and a major defeat for the US, Israel and the European Union. The entire US-Israeli-EU diplomatic and propaganda effort to isolate and stigmatize Iran, especially over the past decade, was shredded.