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 24, 2012

Lessons for Building a Co-operative Movement

Click here to access article by John Curl from Grassroots Economic Organizing

I certainly don't see cooperatives being constructed within a capitalist society as a viable long-term answer to the downward spiral of economic prospects for the 99 Percent. However, they can provide a near-term laboratory for learning how to run enterprises on a cooperative, social need basis while providing a means of survival until we can eliminate control of society by the One Percent and their sociopathic system of capitalism.
When large numbers of ordinary people refuse to accept the submissive role, societies change. But people need to believe that social change is possible. If they think their only option is to exchange one oppressor for another, they will usually choose to accept their victimization and try to make the best of it. That is why counter institutions are so important, because they are living demonstrations that better social relationships are possible and within our grasp. They are possible because, besides the seeds of the oppressor within us, we also have the seeds of mutual liberation within us, the instincts of cooperation, of sharing, democracy, equality, extended family.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Protests and clashes across Egypt as 'Pharaoh' Morsi seizes new powers

Click here to access article from Russia Today.

Protests, demonstrations, and riots are currently breaking out in many parts of Egypt in reaction to Egypt's President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood seizing more powers.
Morsi recently issued a declaration granting his office wide-ranging powers, effectively neutralizing Egypt’s judicial system and preventing it from challenging his authority. The declaration prompted Morsi's Coptic Christian assistant, Samir Morcos, to resign.
Opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei said that Morsi had become “a new pharaoh” with the powers he had granted himself, significantly violating democratic principles.

The Geopolitics of the Conflict in Gaza

Click here to access article by Dmitry Minin from Strategic Culture Foundation. (Note: I have linked to the 3rd of the series of three articles on this subject by the same author; however, I encourage you to read the series in order. This 3rd article provides links to the first two articles.)

What is one to make of this recent war crime against the Palestinian people? I recommend this series which I regard as sensible and well reasoned. The author's thesis is Israeli rulers are trying to force the US to strengthen its commitment to Israel as they see the growing affinity for US directors with Arab reactionary regimes.

From article 1:
...important is the fact that Netanyahu is almost forcing the U.S. to "stop flirting" with moderate Islamists in the Arab world and completely identify with Israel in accordance with their strategic commitments.


At the same time the head of Middle East Studies at the Brookings Institution, Daniel Byman believes, for example, that Israel may lose the gamble it has started in Gaza. A new factor compared to the time of the extremely tight Operation Cast Lead in 2008, which killed about 1,500 people in Gaza, is the "Arab Spring" and the ideological affinity of Hamas with neighboring Arab regimes. It will not be easy for Israel, if Hamas holds on for any length of time. Israelis are unlikely to want to reoccupy the entire sector, and they will not get the support of Washington, which does not want to further complicate its relations with Arab countries.
From article 2:
Israeli experts point out that as a result of the "Arab Spring" Hamas has significantly increased in military-technical and political terms. Moreover, in recognizing their responsibility for launching rockets at Israel, which it avoided until recently, Hamas has demonstrated that it no longer fears a direct confrontation with the Israeli military machine.

This increased confidence is based on a number of factors.
Having dealt with the finishing of its dependence on Damascus, Hamas has gained much more powerful patrons in the Islamic world.


Just as Israel, in unleashing the conflict and taking on full responsibility, forced Washington to clearly and plainly identify themselves with Tel Aviv, Hamas has made it clear also that Cairo and other Arab capitals take its side.
From article 3:
...the announcement of the newly elected president [Obama] that he remains committed to the strategic alliance with Tel Aviv is apparently true. But in the new reality Obama will have to solve a highly complex strategic problem - how to maintain a relationship with an existing ally and not damage, and if possible, even to strengthen the relationship with his recently acquired new friends from among the "moderate Islamists" as a result of the "Arab Spring". In attempting to sit on two chairs at the same time he will find it hard to stand up to his very first test in connection with the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

From the very beginning of the "revolutionary processes" in the Middle East, Israel was critical of the actions of the strong encouragement of the Americans, especially of Washington's attempt to get close to the Muslim Brotherhood, and one could only wait for the moment when Tel Aviv would start a counter play to thwart this "unholy alliance". And it came.

Notice that this thesis appears to dovetail well with James Petras' recent article in which he argued that the resignation of CIA director Petraeus and attacks on General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Afghanistan, were instigated by the Zionist faction in the US ruling class.

An alternative view presented in Land Destroyer, which I find too cynical and unbelievable, is that Israeli leadership is conniving with US Empire operatives to switch the latter's allegiance from Israel to reactionary Arab countries in pursuit of their goals of dominance in the Middle East.
The answer is simple - while the people of Israel have an invested interest in their own self-preservation, their leadership, though they play the role well of Israel's defenders, do not.

Israel's compromised corporate-financier driven leadership seems to be positioning the nation for a significant fall, to what degree is still not clear. It could range from a catastrophic defeat, to another humiliating ceasefire after an exercise in impotent, self-incriminating brutality. The purpose of this appears to be to grant their regional partners, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the necessary clout, legitimacy and unity needed to carry out the next stage of reordering the Middle East.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Corporate Coup, Why the Secrecy?

Click here to access article by Andrew G. Marshall from The Market Oracle
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the most secretive and “least transparent” trade negotiations in history.
Luckily for the populations and societies that will be affected by the agreement, there are public research organizations and alternative media outlets campaigning against it – and they’ve even released several leaks of draft agreement chapters. From these leaks, which are not covered by mainstream corporate-controlled news outlets, we are able to get a better understanding of what the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually encompasses.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

World Bank’s call for slowing global warming ignores own role

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder.

Apparently Hurricane Sandy has finally got the attention of the world's One Percents judging by their recently released "New Report Examines Risks of 4 Degree Hotter World by End of Century". 

Although they don't offer much in the way of new recommendations, at least they recognize that global warming is definitely man-made. 
The report states that the science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed. The global mean temperature has continued to increase and is now about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels.
However, as this perceptive author points out, there is a bit of a contradiction in the World Bank's actions:
Environmental laws are frequently the target of corporate assaults under free-trade rules, and the most frequent initiators of these assaults are energy and chemical corporations. Tribunals controlled by the World Bank or other institutions that promote corporate globalization ensure that environmental, labor and other legal protections are eviscerated, thereby accelerating the destructive activities that fuel global warming.  

California gets face scanners to spy on everyone at once

Click here to access article from Russia Today.

It seems like every week brings more bad news for citizens who wish to be free of government surveillance. Shortly after news about local police departments across the US--despite local opposition--acquiring surveillance drones, now we learn of this--advanced facial recognition technology. The developing police state in the US continues down the path of "full-spectrum dominance" over its own citizens.
In a single second, law enforcement agents can match a suspect against millions upon millions of profiles in vast detailed databases stored on the cloud. It’s all done using facial recognition, and in Southern California it’s already occurring.

Elite Intrigues and Military Purges: It’s Not About Sex, Stupid!

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

This retired sociologist and political affairs analyst looks at the latest preposterous media tale involving CIA director Petraeus and General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Afghanistan, and offers a more plausible explanation for these startling events. 
The purge of General Petraeus and humiliation of General Allen is a victory for the civilian militarists who are unconditional supporters of Israel and therefore oppose any opening to ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes. They want a long-term and expanded US military presence in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
This liberal professor also suggests that there is a profound crisis developing in our ruling class--although I don't think he would express it that way--reflected in these internecine power struggles.

Colonial Experiments in Gaza

Click here to access article by Samera Esmeir from Jadaliyya.

Although the article frames Israeli government actions toward Palestinians as colonial experiments--and it is useful to some extent--it doesn't really capture the fundamental crimes being committed against Palestinians. It doesn't capture the horrific racist nature of Zionist ideology which informs Israeli policies and actions. (See this, this, and this.) Judging by the way they treat Ethiopian Jews, one also has to be light skinned to be accepted as an equal in Israel.  
Once again Israel, still the occupying power of Gaza, has unleashed its war machinery on occupied Palestinians. Since the start of the second intifada in 2000, this ritual has become compulsive and repetitive. Israel initiated its new round of bloody violence by targeting Palestinian resistance fighters who, Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz explained, Israel will “hunt like beasts.”

Jewish [-American] teenager arrested for demonstrating against Gaza siege

Click here to access source of YouTube video posted on Eagainst.

Because US government gives over $3 billion dollars annually to support Israel, one might expect better treatment from Israeli authorities toward an American protesting their crimes against humanity.
Police violently arrested a a 19 year-old boy from Philadelphia, in Jerusalem, while he was protesting against Gaza bombings. The youth, who arrived in Israel as part of a trip arranged by a Jewish-Christian group, claims he was attacked by a policeman during the celebrations. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looking Back on Occupy

Click here to access article from Bureau of Public Secrets. It is an English version of an email interview with Ken Knabb by the French journal L’Échaudée

Knabb provides an excellent assessment of the recent activist phenomenon called the Occupy Movement in the US. I think after reading this, you will understand that the Occupy Movement has had an important impact on the consciousness of many people which will become manifest in many other modes of expression in the days to come. It also created new organizational forms which is likely to shape political organizing in the future:
Instead of relying on a few leaders or specialists, we could draw on an incomparably vaster pool of human knowledge and creativity that no one was in any position to dominate. For any problem, any number of people might come up with a workable solution. At its best this reflected a sort of “communism of ideas” in the sense that people were less concerned with who “originated” some idea, let alone who might “own” it, and more involved in the practical use of ideas, rapidly weeding out the ones that could not pass the test of experience and refining those that could. This collective process also reduced the traditional emphasis on “authors” and “texts.” ....

This manner of spreading also had the unforeseen effect of creating an unusual degree of autonomy among the different Occupies. ...“each of the new occupations and assemblies remains totally autonomous. Though inspired by the original Wall Street occupation, they have all been created by the people in their own communities. No outside person or group has the slightest control over any of these assemblies. Which is just as it should be.” .... Amid all the differences between the Occupies in different cities, no one ever dared to suggest that any Occupy should defer to any other. ...this had two great advantages: “the proliferation of autonomous groups and actions is safer and more fruitful than the top-down ‘unity’ for which bureaucrats are always appealing. Safer, because it counteracts repression: if the occupation in one city is crushed (or coopted), the movement will still be alive and well in a hundred others. More fruitful, because this diversity enables people to share and compare among a wider range of tactics and ideas.”

No Wonder China is Nervous as Obama Pivots

 Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from Global Research.

If you have been following my blog you would know that I do not subscribe to the superficial framing of political reality that is presented to us by the Empire's propaganda machine. Hence, I usually do not link policies to the temporarily hired front men (Obama) and women employed by the One Percent. There are very occasionally some exceptions to this rule: the Bush presidents, and Franklin Roosevelt in recent history. Otherwise, I would, and I do, look as much as possible at the key political operatives and their institutions to determine what the One Percent ruling class have decided in terms of police oppression, social spending cuts, exploitation, wars, and policies that result in further degradation of our ecosystem. 

The major problem is that these "key political operatives" and their nefarious activities stay well hidden behind the screens of discourse maintained by the One Percent's media and ideological managers to obscure and confuse how power is really exercised in our society and the world. Hence, our China policies have very little to do with the nominal head of the Empire than they have to do with people like Peter G. Peterson, David Rockefeller Jr, Wolfowitz, Perle, William Kristol, etc, and their associated membership organizations.

People of our capitalist ruling class (the One Percents) are very different from ordinary people. They see freedom as freedom from others, freedom to obtain wealth and power by any means. Jerry Fresia understands these people very well. In their view of the world...
...the community becomes a set of exchanges between producers and consumers, owners and workers. People are free individuals (free from traditional, moral, or community values) in a free market, freely pursuing self-interest. The social order is held together, not on the basis of tradition or a sense of mutual responsibility but by impersonal contracts.
He quotes Howard Zinn to explain that contracts work in favor of the rich and powerful:
To protect everyone's contracts seems like an act of fairness, of equal treatment, until one considers that contracts made between rich and poor, between employer and employee, landlord and tenant, creditor and debtor, generally favor the more powerful of the two parties. 
But, I am clearly digressing from Engdahl's article which describes the preparations by the Empire to prevent China or Russia from competing with them to exploit the Earth's resources and labor.
Clearly, for all its rhetoric about peace-keeping missions and “democracy” promotion, the Pentagon is pursuing what its planners refer to as “Full Spectrum Dominance,” the total control of all global air, land, ocean, space, outer-space and now cyberspace. It is clearly determined to use its military might to secure global domination or hegemony. No other interpretation is possible. 

Firenze 10+10 attempts to wake-up Europe’s activists: how much longer can we abandon Greece?

Click here to access article by Nick Dearden from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt.
Florence [Firenze] was planned as a wake-up call to activist organisations across Europe. They will need many more shots of espresso if we are to have a hope of breathing life into something we can genuinely call a European movement. Progress was made, but with the disintegration of Greece before our eyes, it is a race against time.

Greenhouse gas emissions hit record levels in 2011

Click here to access article by John Platt from Mother Nature Network

Sadly, it appears that nothing will stop the One Percenters and their addiction to power and profits, their drugs of choice, and their fanatic defense of the system that provides their drugs-- capitalism--from destroying our planet and home. Therefore, we can expect many more, and more powerful, Katrinas, Sandys, droughts, and record high temperatures in the future if we continue to let them lead us to our demise.
Carbon dioxide levels are now at 390.9 parts per million, well above what scientists consider the tipping point for the effects of climate change.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TheTrans-PacificPartnership:This is What Corporate Governance Looks Like

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from Occupy.com

The author uses the current efforts of US corporate-based negotiators to craft another international "trade" agreement to illustrate that 1) we are subject to corporate governance and 2) how it functions behind the facade of "democratic" process. Hint: they use lots of deception and secrecy.

These corporate-based negotiators are colluding to formulate international agreements that will nullify laws processed through national governments.
...TPP was intended to deal with “behind the border” issues, typically decided by domestic policy, and “which go beyond the normal scope of trade agreements” including issues of labor, environmental and intellectual property standards.

Naomi Klein on the Link Between Climate Change and Capitalism

Click here to access video of the 31:58m interview with Naomi Klein on the Bill Moyer's PBS program.

I only post this video featuring Klein's views to illustrate how some people can use radical rhetoric to disguise a liberal critique which then suggests only very limited and futile forms of activism. I think that it is an attempt to co-opt radical thinking and to steer it into safer, reformist channels of thought that do not threaten the system of capitalism. Hence, the headline. 

But, once one gets into the meat of her comments, clues start appearing that give away her liberal position. For example, at one point in the interview she said “one of the things about deregulated capitalism is that it is a crisis-creation machine." (my emphasis) Then, in the interview she goes on to target the "fossil fuel industry" as the problem. She continues to give her liberal position away when she explains that she wants to restore government regulation and control of capitalist operations. She ignores the fact that the government is sponsored by capitalists and must serve their interests. In other words, she expects the foxes to guard the hen-house of the economy in a sustainable way. And, her activist project of choice is to put pressure on universities to withdraw their investments in fossil fuel corporations.

It is precisely this liberal critical strategy that permits her to have access to the quasi-governmental TV program of PBS. 

While liberals such as Klein and Chris Hedges, online websites like TruthDig, publications like The Nation all perform a service by taking issue with the many crises of capitalism, they also perform a service to the One Percent beneficiaries of capitalism by steering all criticism away from a fundamental critique of the system, and by favoring solutions that do not threaten the system.

The Necessity of Facing the Truth about Palestine and Israel

Click here to access article by Christof Lehmann from nsnbc

The author makes a case for a one-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli issue. To accomplish that, he argues, it is necessary to recognize certain basic truths which he outlines in this article. 

The truth as I see it is that unless the Palestinian factions and the people of Palestine [and their international supporters] reach a consensus about these and related issues, the Zionist ambition of establishing a greater Israel will be fulfilled sooner as anyone dares to dread. The truth and acting on it will set you free.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is attacking Gaza really about Hamas rockets?

Click here to access article by Stuart Littlewood from Sabbah Report

After exposing the carefully managed news reports emanating from Western propaganda agencies, the author proposes another reason that may be behind the current attacks on Gaza. Also, he lists some probing questions that clearly indicate that Palestinians have no choice but to resist.
The bloody assault on Gaza therefore has much more to do with Israel’s ambition to expand racial dominance in the Holy Land, make their occupation permanent and seize Gaza’s offshore gas field than the paltry damage from crude and erratic rocket-fire. The Palestinians holed up in Gaza are simply in the way of the Grand Plan and have to be removed or totally subdued. This was the case 4 years ago when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead after staging the same sort of provocation as they did last week.

Israel’s deputy prime minister Eli Yishai let the cat out of the bag when he said of the latest military operation:
“The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.”

He is also reported as saying:

“We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages destroying all infrastructure including roads & water.” 

Utopia on the Horizon

Click here to access introduction. This is a 28:03m film by Jerome Roos, Leonidas Oikonomakis, Andres Cornejo from Reflections on a Revolution. (Note: Although the interviews are conducted in English, I strongly recommend that North American viewers use the version below which includes English subtitles.)

After more than a year of protests and continuing austerity crushing down on the Greek people, you may be wondering where they are in their political consciousness. In this film using the backdrop of the protests, riots, and police attacks, the filmmakers interview Greeks from various stations in life to offer their views on this subject. I think what they are saying to us is that they have been on a journey that has taken them from political innocence with all of its illusions about bourgeois democracy to a much more realistic consciousness of how their society is governed. As a result they are turning away from conventional political institutions and starting to create their own institutions. But, view it and see what it says to you.

"Little Revolution," Big Fracking Consequences

Click here to access article by Ellen Cantarow from TomDispatch. (Note: if you wish to skip Engelhardt's introduction, scroll down to the article.)
There’s a war going on that you know nothing about between a coalition of great powers and a small insurgent movement.  It’s a secret war being waged in the shadows while you go about your everyday life.
...a grassroots win in New York State could open the door to a nationwide anti-fracking surge. A loss might, in the long run, result in a cascade of environmental degradation beyond the planet’s ability to cope. As unlikely as it sounds, the fate of the Earth may rest with the residents of Middlefield, Caroline, Vestal, and scores of tiny villages and small towns you’ve never heard of.

“All eyes are on New York,” says Chris Burger, a former Broome County legislator and one of a small group who persuaded New York’s last governor, David Paterson, to pass the state’s moratorium on fracking. “This is the biggest environmental issue New York has ever faced [and not just] New York, the nation, and the world. If it’s going to be stopped, it will be stopped here.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Libya all in? Failed Nato mission exposes US generals [best post of the year]

Click here to access article by Horace G. Campbell from Pambazuka News (based in South Africa). 
Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is also a Special invited Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of the forthcoming book, ‘Global NATO and the catastrophic failure in Libya’.
With my deadline fast approaching I find it difficult to do this outstanding article justice with some kind of commentary. Let me say this: it is the best report of a current mainstream developing story that has wide-ranging and profound implications about the real and dangerous powers that operate largely behind the scenes at the center of the US Empire. 
The full back story relating to Petraeus and Libya is still unfolding, but for this week we want to focus on how structures, such as the US Africa command, sought to function in a world as if the Command was a parallel government with its own access to AID resources, financing, health providers, private military contractors, and access to aircraft carrier strike groups such as the John Stennis. This was a military and intelligence integration, independent of the executive that was out of control and establishing policy.
It is rather lengthy, but I urge you to read it. Might be a good idea to print it out so that it can be studied more conveniently.

How brands sell capitalism

Click here to access article by Phil Shannon from Green Left

The author cites four recent books which goes into the repulsive details of the success of corporate advertising to not only create brand loyalty, but to inculcate capitalist asocial values and to hide their many crimes against humanity and nature.
Capitalism, as each of these books shows, may portray itself as an attractive brand, but the ethical and environmental stink speaks of a quite different reality.

Capitalism, the legitimate racket of the ruling class

Click here to access article by Peter Boyle from Green Left
“The explosion of the rig was a disaster that resulted from BP’s culture of privileging profit over prudence,” said US federal assistant attorney general Lanny A. Breuer at a recent press conference. He was announcing that the company had agreed to pay $4.5 billion to settle criminal charges from the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The author argues the obvious (to you and me) that this theme, “culture of privileging profit”, is an integral part of capitalism, a system designed by, and for, the world's One Percents.