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, November 10, 2012

The Meaning of Obama's Win

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson from CounterPunch.

Hudson explains how political operatives in the One Percent have cleverly used hopey, changey, African-American Obama to further the agendas of the One Percent.
Obama’s two presidential victories represent an object lesson about how the 1% managed to avoid rescuing the economy – and especially his own constituency – from today’s rush of wealth to the top. Future political annalists will see this delivery of his voters to his Wall Street campaign contributors control as his historical role. In the face of overwhelming voter opposition to the Bush-Cheney policies, the President has averted popular demands to save the economy from the 1%. Instead of sponsoring the hope and change he promised by confronting Wall Street, the pharmaceutical and health care monopolies, the military-industrial complex and big oil and gas, he has appeased them as if There is No Alternative.
He make reference to economist Bill Black who explains more of the details of how Obama is going to proceed in his second term under the guidance of Wall Street ideologues who have formulated their program under the benign sounding title of  "The Third Way". This path provides a way for mainstream media to portray the scalping of the American 99 Percent as a sensible bi-partisan compromise to avoid the draconian, automatic cuts across the board that are due to take effect. (See this as an immediate example of such phony coverage.) Of course, what this "grand deal" will really do is defend the military-industrial budget while slashing social safety nets and other public spending.

However, Hudson, as a dedicated capitalist economist, can see no alternative to this system and lamely calls for a third party to compete with the One Percent that already owns our government as well as the economy.

How to Rob Africa: A Look into How the West Facilitates Moving Dirty Money

Click here to access brief article posted at Naked Capitalism featuring a video from Al Jazeera.

The 25 minute video provides some insights on how various financial stratagems are used by capitalists to work around laws designed to control such corrupt practices that assist in the plunder of Africa and other places. Capitalist agents are adept at setting up laws and regulatory agencies to prohibit such activities, but in reality such laws are full of holes and enforcement agencies are unfunded. Thus, they serve only as a cover for corruption. 

One source mentioned in the video is a publication from the World Bank entitled, The Puppet Masters: How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures to Hide Stolen Assets and What to Do About It, which can be downloaded, or purchased on the website or from Amazon.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why Americans Must End America’s Self-Generating Wars

Click here to access article by Peter Dale Scott from Voltaire Network.

This author, who has done so much to uncover the truth behind the lies used by the current Empire builders, provides an historical review of Empires, focusing mostly on the former British Empire, to argue that it is an urgent imperative for Americans to prevent the continuance of the American Empire. The main lesson is that empires inevitably degenerate into disorder and conflict. I certainly agree. Many of his statements suggest that social injustice is at the root of these conflicts. And I also agree. But, he doesn't really develop this line of thought and settles merely for "a progressive return to a more stable and just international order".

Given the level of sophistication of weapons, the increasing scale of destruction of the environment, and the approaching limits of ecosystem tolerance of these threats, I think that he understates the urgency. I now think that the degeneration of this American Empire must be stopped if we as a human race are to survive.

It's clear that all class based societies produce this phenomenon of a downward spiral into conflict and disorder. However, one must understand that privileged classes necessarily separate themselves from the rest of humanity, endow themselves with special virtues and self-justifying ideologies, and become addicted to the wealth and power that their systems of exploitation give them. Like all addicts, they no longer care or look at the future. Their only concern is getting that next power and wealth fix from their system.

Thus, it not only is imperative for the rest of us to stop this self-destructive system, but to design a new system that is thoroughly egalitarian, that eliminates the possibility of any type of class rule.

Irregular Army: How the US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror

Click here to access article by Season Butler from CounterFire (UK).

Butler highlights the disturbing findings in a new book by Matt Kennard. Unfortunately, he doesn't evaluate the information or provide any information about the author so that we can decide whether to take the findings seriously. 

After perusing information about the book and the author on Amazon's website, I think that the findings are from a reliable and competent source. Kennard is an investigative journalist with the Financial Times and has worked for Salon and The Guardian. Here are the blurbs listed for this book:
“I have been following Matt Kennard’s work for years, with much appreciation. He is a fine journalist and political analyst, acute and perceptive, and his work is based on real insight and understanding over a broad range.” (Noam Chomsky )
“A startling new investigation that reveals the depths of the extremist and criminal elements that have infiltrated the US military over the past two decades. Irregular Army is a powerful investigation that exposes both the roots of defective military recruitment and its deadly aftershocks. Kennard’s book issues an urgent warning to the American public.” (Daryl Johnson, senior domestic terrorism analyst at the US Department of Homeland Security (2004–2010) )
“Matt Kennard is a fluent, powerful and authoritative writer whose debut book will surely establish him as one of Britain’s best-known investigative journalists.” (David Crouch - Financial Times )
“Matt Kennard’s new book expertly exposes the effect of the American colonial capitalist war machine on poor American soldiers as well as the stricken peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan living under them. I hope it is read by many people.” (Nawal El-Saadawi )
“An exceptional author. Matt Kennard never tries to paint a pig pretty. Thanks, Matt, for keeping it ugly.” (Hunter Glass, former gang investigator for the US military )
“Matt Kennard is a creative and dogged investigative reporter whose probe of hidden realities inside the US military promises to be a revelation.” (Esther Kaplan, editor of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute )
“Chilling … Illuminating … Kennard’s nonpartisan portrait of martial waywardness is foreboding.” (Publishers Weekly ) 

Flooding Syria with Foreign Arms: A View from Damascus

Click here to access article by Franklin Lamb from CounterCurrents

This Mid-East observer's research into arms shipments into Syria finds that most are from NATO countries. Business for arms suppliers in Syria appears to be booming. I wonder how many international laws are being violated by this enterprise and its sponsors in NATO. But, of course, this is different--it's in support of a "humanitarian" effort. (sarcasm) 

For a focus on arms production in Britain and their uses, you may want to read this article entitled, "British Arms Deals – Quick Death, Fast Profits" by Colin Todhunter from Global Research.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

After election, Obama moves to slash social spending

Click here to access article by Andre Damon from World Socialist Web Site.

This author presents the best, and most succinct summary that I have seen, of what this (mostly) meaningless election circus really means. It means four more years of the same. Like we see after every Democratic election victory, Obama "will reach across the aisle" and make a deal with Republicans to continue spending cuts for social programs while maintaining military spending with an apparent small tax increase for the rich thrown in as cover. 
In his victory speech, Obama made clear his priorities in the aftermath of the election, saying that “in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. 
Because Obama has served the ruling One Percent so well, I previously predicted that he would win this election. Now, feeling so self-confident, I will make another prediction. 

Under the onslaught of austerity policies in the years ahead, we will continue to see very poor economic prospects for the 99 Percent. In two years another election is scheduled for House members of Congress and some senators. In that election I predict that voters will finally give up on "hopey, changey" Obama, and once again exercise their "democratic" rights by "throwing the (existing) rascals out" and elect more conservatives to Congress. Then we will see an accelerated attack on social spending and civil rights, and even more aggressive imperialist adventures. Many will view this as a descent into overt fascism. This is our tragic future unless we of the 99 Percent get really active and organized.

For those of you that follow Wall Street happenings, you might be interested in this piece entitled, "Peter Orszag of Bank Welfare Queen Citigroup is Selling Catfood Futures Hard" from Naked Capitalism.

The Turning Point – Full Film

Click here to access 52:27m video from Press for Truth (Canada). (Note: actually the first 40 minutes is the best part.)

The filmmakers have just uploaded their excellent film on You-Tube so that everyone can access it online. (It is also available as a DVD from their website.) It uses the 60th Bilderberg conference held in Chantilly, Virginia from May 31 – June 3, 2012, as a starting point to investigate the Bilderberg Group as political phenomenon. Because this group is made up of so many powerful people and are highly secretive about their meetings, many activists and others have long wondered what they are really up to.

One important source the narrator in the film referred to was a transcript of a 1965 speech given by David Rockefeller, lifetime chairman of Bilderberg, to the International Industrial Conference in San Francisco. It really sets the tone of this elite group. Of course, it provides a glowing, self-serving justification for the organization, but his concluding statement really sums up their sense of megalomania:
What we are is God's gift to man;
What we become is man's gift to God.
Although I have no special knowledge about this organization, I have followed reports on it over the past 40 years. My impression is that they function more as a method to create a sense of capitalist elite identity and socialization than they do as deliberative body over any specific policies or strategies. This assertion is not to downplay their significance, for socialization is a primary way that global One Percents use to create solidarity and identification with Empire interests. 

This socialization method is often seen in junkets sponsored by Empire sources to fund social events in which foreign military and political leaders are brought to the US to mingle with their counterparts in the US. This creates bonds of trust, affiliation, and promotes loyalties with Empire figures. It fosters the informal integration of powerful figures in other countries with Empire's ruling figures, and, thus, encourages them to align their interests to those of the Empire. (See this for its use with Egyptian generals; see this for its use on US Congressional members by Israel; see this for its use on US state legislators by ALEC, a right-wing political organization; and see this for its general use throughout the world.)

Interview with Philosopher of Science Dr. James Henry Fetzer

Click here to access article in which Christof Lehmann interviews Dr. Jim Fetzer from Veterans Today.

Fetzer addresses a variety of hot topics such as the assassination of John Kennedy, 9/11 attack, anthrax attacks on US senators, etc, to support his thesis:
The control of information is cheaper and more effective than the use of standing armies, which makes it the preferred method of controlling a nation’s population. But other techniques are always available, as necessary and appropriate [such as instilling fear in the population]. ...The parallels with the rise of The Third Reich are both astounding and disturbing. I am sorry to say that we live in an Orwellian world where black is white, false is true, and the good are evil. We live in dangerous times.
The article contains related videos and lots of links to important supporting documentation.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Re-elected - The Fightback Begins

Click here to access article by Billy Wharton from CounterCurrents

The election results did make a difference for some of those who have close ties to any Fortune 500 corporation. I say "some" because most of the largest corporations contribute money to both parties to insure access and favors. But, in general, their huge, record-setting contributions will shape who can feed at the public revenue trough the most, whose influence will be taken most seriously when it comes to awarding contracts and writing legislation that favors certain well-positioned companies over others. 

But, for you and I, the 18 month long election circus has thankfully ended, and it means that we will no longer have to contend with its distractions from real issues that concern our lives. This author fills in the details on the necessity of continuing the fight back against the next wave of austerity policies. 
Not surprisingly, the challenge faced by regular people all over the country will be the same with a second Obama administration as it would be with a new Romney regime. We must build the capacity to fiercely resist the austerity policies that are sure to be imposed on us. No fiscal cliff, grand compromise or economic common sense should be allowed to be used as a justification for these cuts. Resist, resist, resist should be the clarion call of the next four years.

Corporate land grabs worsen global hunger

Click here to access article by Simon Butler from Green Left (Australia). 
In the past few years, private investors backed by global banks, financial firms, hedge funds and food giants have bought a huge amount of farmland across the global South. Critics say this “great land grab” is making the people most vulnerable to hunger even more vulnerable.

Climate Change: Hurricanes and Typhoons Kill Mainly the Poor

Click here to access article by Dady Chery from News Junkie Post.

In an impulsive, unthinking moment when learning that hurricane Sandy was expected to target the area between New York and Washington, I said to my sister that this was a well deserved target area: Wall Street and their political agents who have been vigorously engaged in global warming denial. This article shamed me by revealing that most people who suffer the ravages from these storms are the poor.
While Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Caribbean and the US eastern seaboard, Typhoon Son-Tinh tore through the Philippines, China and Vietnam, killing more than 35 people. As expected from climate change predictions, floods were responsible for most of the damage to life and property. It should be noted however, that these ravages of climate change were, for the most part, unmitigated by social justice. Those who perished from the mudslides, floods and violent waves were caught by surprise or lacked the wherewithal to move to higher ground. They were overwhelmingly poor.

Mankind Approaching ‘Carbon Cliff’, Report Warns

Click here to access article by Stephen Leahy from Inter Press Service.

Note the source of this report--not a tree-hugging, granola-eating liberal, but a major accounting firm!
“This isn’t about shock tactics, it’s simple maths,” said Leo Johnson, partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited (PwC), one of the world’s largest accounting firms, which wrote the report.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Capital flight and tax havens

Click here to access article by Sally Burch from América Latina en Movimiento.

This article provides a good summary of a 46 page report issued by the Tax Justice Network,
The study estimates -- an estimate that the authors consider conservative -- that for the year 2010 the funds from private wealth invested in more than eighty offshore jurisdictions – in accounts managed undercover and practically free from taxation – amount to at least 21 to 32 trillion dollars.

In U.S., Corporate Cash Pouring into State Campaigns

Click here to access article by Adrianne Appel from Inter Press Service
Local and state campaigns have become a moneyed battleground this year for corporations and special interest groups hoping to sway the results of elections for local and state offices on Nov. 6.

From California to Texas to Florida, global businesses as well as ideological organisations and extremely wealthy groups have helped channel more than 1.6 billion dollars through political action committees and non-profit groups and into local campaigns and issues this year....

Why natural disasters are good for capitalism

Click here to access article by Jim Stanford from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

This is a classic example of analysis by a left-liberal economist who, while appearing to offer a radical analysis, actually serves to keep people thinking within acceptable limits of capitalist ideology. Let's examine his basic argument:
How do we understand the potentially positive economic impact of a very negative, life-destroying event? The irony is rooted in a fundamental feature of capitalism: what is produced, depends on what somebody is willing to pay for. With very rare exceptions, in other words, output is limited by demand: not the inherent need for something, but by the ability and willingness to pay for it (Keynes called this “effective demand”). That’s why at any point in time (including right now), vast productive capacity sits around the economy un-used: because no agent is willing to pay for what those agents can produce.
But, doesn't his argument beg the question of why "no agent is willing to pay for what those agents can produce?" The careful wording of his argument serves to disguise the fact that under capitalism nothing gets produced, regardless of the need, if it can't produce profits for capitalists. He meekly ends up by making a vague argument that appears to be mostly moral in nature:
...it requires a fundamental change in the decision-making process that guides our economy. We would start doing things because they are useful and needed, not because someone decided to pay for them.
It seems to me that if one accepts the "economy", that is, the existing economic arrangements or system, then one must accept the "decision-making process" that logically follows. It appears to me that he is leading us down the path of Keynesian capitalist thought which states that government could step in to supply the "effective demand".  According to conventional thinking, of course it could. But, this rests on the false assumption that government in a capitalist society is an independent agent.

Building an environmental movement as radical as reality itself

Click here to access article by Peter Rugh from Waging Nonviolence.

The author argues that staying within liberal advocacy of reform and regulation of capitalism has not, and will not, prevent future climate-related catastrophes. Our only salvation is to attack the system that is driving us off a cliff and into the abyss of climate destabilization.
...these reforms simply won’t be enough to address the depth and scope of the climate crisis. They seek to curb and negotiate the excesses of Wall Street, rather than get rid of Wall Street all together. The pledges to regulate Wall Street we hear from politicians are like Anheuser-Busch telling people to “drink responsibly” — they run counter to the compulsion to profit at all cost that is grafted into the basic framework of the system.

An important Icelandic referendum and the media remains silent

Click here to access article by Mauro Santayana from Pravda.

According to this report, which was translated from Portuguese, the Icelanders recently voted for a referendum regarding a new constitution. (It still has to be approved by their parliament.) Funny, how we in the US heard nothing about this and other political developments in Iceland, another country which was plagued by banksters running amok. It seems that Icelanders who, unlike us, appear to be in control of their country, have committed the sin of blasphemy by rejecting the neo-liberal god of privatization.
The citizens of Iceland voted in a referendum, on Saturday (20th), with about 70% of the voters.  The basic text of its new constitution, drafted by 25 delegates, almost all ordinary men, chosen by direct vote of the people, included the nationalization of its natural resources.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A World in Which Truth is a Dying Species

Click here to access article by Gaither Stewart from Cyrano’s Journal Today.

After examining the latest euphemisms churned out by the Pentagon and other agents of the One Percent, he argues that the main target for the current military buildup is still Russia. Many others think that it is China, but I think there are multiple reasons. 

National class-based rivalries are always present regardless of the nature of the class system, whether capitalist (the US led Empire and Russia), bureaucratic (the former Soviet Union), or a combination of the two (china), a monarchy (Saudi Arabia), or a military junta (Myanmar). Then there is the need for class-ruled societies to assert dominance over, and access to, raw materials, cheap labor, and markets. 

The ultimate solution is to rid humanity from the plague of class rule by designing societies without them. There is no alternative! If the human race fails to solve this problem, they will go the way of the Dodo bird and the dinosaurs. Humans also must learn that they live within the web of nature. and how to live so as to preserve nature--not destroy the web as they are now doing.

This Will Be The Last Last Election With American Naiveté

Click here to access article by Kourosh Ziabari from CounterCurrents

The author who is an Iranian journalist attempts in this interview to learn about US "democracy" from Linh Dinh, a Vietnamese-American writer who has an international reputation mostly as a critic of US foreign policy. Dinh concludes the interview with this prediction:
As this country collapses economically and socially , the number of disillusioned and enraged Americans will swell, but the government is prepared to counter any unrest with a militarized police force, and laws that allow it to arrest and even kill anyone deemed an enemy of the state.
This election will be the last with American naiveté about the true state of their government still relatively intact. After November 6th, promises will be broken, bombs will be dropped, heads will be cracked, and scales will fall from the eyes of even the most thick-skulled among them.

From the “Lesser to the Greater Evil”. The Demise of Critical Liberalism

Click here to access article by James Petras from Global Research.

Although I generally agree with this introductory statement, I find that it contains some problems.
The U.S. electoral show is a shadowplay. The policies of Barack Obama did not mark a departure from those of his predecessor; they were simply fine-tuned to render them more effective. Be it domestically or at the international level, they reflect a seamless continuity, although packaged more attractively. In case of a Mitt Romney win, one should not expect a rightwing surge or the hardening of current policies, but just another swing of the rhetorical pendulum. For James Petras, it is futile to obstruct Romney or to support Obama. It is not the men, but the system that must change.
Unfortunately, nothing is mentioned about system change in the article. Framing the title as "the demise of critical liberalism" ignores the fact that critical liberalism has always assumed the role of limiting criticism of the system by assuming that there is no alternative and always focusing on reforms to the existing system. The demise should be celebrated because critical liberalism has functioned to preserve the system, not to challenge it. It is dying because the ravages of class rule is becoming so obvious to so many, and the ruling One Percent is relying more on its growing police state and control of the media to preserve the system.

Revealing the two New Yorks

Click here to access article by Gary Lapon from Socialist Worker
Hurricane Sandy, the most devastating storm to hit New York City in decades, has left the city divided between areas facing ongoing devastation and those where life is returning to normal.
I think that this climate disaster incident and recovery forecasts the future impacts on people from climate related disasters. The effects will vary greatly according to where people live and their socio-economic class.

Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy?

Click here to access article by Mark Fischetti from Scientific American
If you’ve followed the U.S. news and weather in the past 24 hours you have no doubt run across a journalist or blogger explaining why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Collaborator's Song

Click here to access article by Anne Applebaum from Foreign Policy.

The issue of collaboration is an important one, and I think that this article, although coming from a political liberal, does suggest some interesting insights. She examines the use of crude authoritarian methods of the former Soviet Union, and arrives at this conclusion:
By forcing people to collaborate they made them ashamed, resentful, and eventually rebellious.
From there her Western liberal bias reveals itself when she relates this phenomenon to contemporary authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, and Venezuela:
Since then, the most powerful and successful dictators of our era have learned some lessons from the Soviet collapse. Vladimir Putin's Russia, Hugo Chávez's Venezuela, and Communist China have all reduced the burden of collaboration imposed on the individual, so that the discomfort anyone feels is minimal. In these and other modern authoritarian societies you can travel, consume what you want, read or watch what you want and often even say what you want -- as long as you aren't too public about it and not too many people are listening. You aren't forced to attend party meetings and shout "long live Hu Jintao" or "long live Brezhnev." One element does remain similar, however: The legitimacy of all of these regimes still rests upon promises of economic growth and on arguments about the superiority of their systems which may not be sustainable in the long term. When the gap between ideology and reality begins to widen -- and when power has to be maintained by violence -- then cracks begin to open.
I can't see why the same analysis does not apply to Western capitalist countries. However, her observation about situations in which ideology clashes with reality, that collaboration can change very rapidly into resistance, is absolutely correct. And, I think it profoundly applies to Western capitalist ideologues who promise material abundance (if one works hard enough) as well as civil liberties. The realities of both of the latter are increasingly at odds with reality in our Western societies. So, why shouldn't we expect increasing defections by Western capitalist collaborators?

Also, it seems to me that she is a willing collaborator who sings the songs of Western capitalism.

In America, there will never be a real debate

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from his blog.

I am a little late in posting this, but still a good read.
God help them if Obama and Romney ever had to participate in a real debate about a real issue at the Oxford Union. They would be massacred.
The “debates” revealed that not only the candidates but also the entire country is completely tuned out to every real problem and dangerous development.