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, December 8, 2012

The Plutocrats and the Placeholder President

Click here to access article by Rob Urie from CounterPunch.

The author supplies a much needed different take on "entitlements" that is missing from mainstream media.
The ‘too-big-to-fail’ guarantee of the banks, which is the only reason why insolvent, predatory Wall Street remains in business, is an entitlement program for connected bankers—for which they pay nothing. The bloated, murderous, military industry that lobbies the U.S. into unnecessary wars for their own benefit and that of corporate welfare receiving multi-national corporations is an entitlement program.

I Accuse....

Click here to access article by Gabriel Donohoe from Fools Crow's Blog (Ireland).
In the spirit of Ēmile Zola, I accuse the international banksters of conspiring to wreck the global economy so that they can consolidate power and control. These banksters, though few in number, effectively run the world and are often referred to as "The Power Elite", "The Money Power", "The Illuminati", and various other names. This "Money Power" (a term coined by U.S. President Martin Van Buren) is nothing more than an evil cabal of gangsters. They are mass murderers, warmongers, tyrants, thieves, and inveterate liars and are utterly devoid of any human decency or compassion.

Silent Spring --- 50 Years On

Click here to access article by D. Raghunandan from Newsclick (India). 
50 years after Silent Spring, the question posed by the book remains relevant: “How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?”
Only under capitalism, dear author. And sadly, they who control our economies, and thus our societies, continue this practice.

Fracking Our Food Supply

Click here to access article by Elizabeth Royte from Food & Environment Reporting Network.

The author provides an comprehensive update on fracking in relation to food production on nearby farms. There continues to be a lot of adverse anecdotes, but a paucity of research into the effects of fracking on food produced in these areas. 
However, some institutions that specialize in risk have started to connect the dots. Nationwide Mutual Insurance, which sells agricultural insurance, recently announced that it would not cover damages related to fracking. Rabobank, the world’s largest agricultural bank, reportedly no longer sells mortgages to farmers with gas leases.

Christmas Shopping for the Elite

by Ron Horn exclusively for this blog.

I thought I should let all you working people know where to shop and what to buy for any relatives you might have among our rich ruling class. You certainly wouldn't want to shop at Walmart! Your rich relatives would be insulted and probably cut you out of their wills. Besides, there is nothing in that store that would distinguish them from us, and that is important to them.

So, peruse these websites for those special people and find the special items that would please them: here, here, and here

Who knows, they just might invite you to their villa on the Côte d'Azur!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Washington’s Iranian Future

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from TomDispatch via International Movement for a Just World. (My commentary was amended at 7pm PST.)

This Brazilian investigative journalist and political analyst seems to be everywhere in the world and in media--other than mainstream media. Obviously, this is because his political analyses are widely respected. Operating from strictly a realpolitik framework, he has a very sound grasp of geopolitical issues--except for suggestions that Obama has some significant influence. As I have always argued, based on a lifetime of study, that Presidents since Kennedy have been used largely for public relations purposes. One exception was George Bush Jr. who was installed as president in a highly manipulated fashion in order for secret services to carry out unimpeded the 9/11 project.

The real government is an amorphous group of powerful people located in the big financial centers and on boards of major corporations and elite universities. They have several homes located on various continents in places like The Hamptons on Long Island, Davos (Switzerland), Dubai, London, and Monaco. They think globally, form friendships and marriages with powerful people based in other countries (like the old monarchies and aristocracies), and see themselves largely as specially endowed (elite) global citizens. They hang-out at the secret Bilderberg meetings; probably have served on the Council on Foreign Relations, associated with various think tanks, and have been educated at Harvard, Yale, or elite foreign universities like Oxford. In contrast to most other government offices, in recent decades members of the power elite have usually been appointed as Treasury Secretary allowing them direct access to the national treasury. Thus, this arrangement greatly facilitated the recent bank bailouts. During these early years of the 21st century we have seen our masters adopt NATO's army to enforce their foreign policies. The people who carry out their policies are usually referred to as political operatives. They are mostly located in the Pentagon, the National Security Staff, and secret services like the NSA and CIA.  

In this piece he makes an excellent argument that there are very good reasons for a US accommodation with Iran, and that there are realistic ways of doing this. Yet, he doubts this will happen--also for very good reasons which he only hints at. 

The Empire's political operatives are infected with the delusion of world power. They have been since WWII, and despite costly wars in Korea, Indochina and the Middle East, they find it very hard to quit this addiction. Without an effective peace movement here in the US, it appears to me that they will bring us to an apocalyptic end or economic collapse or both. 
The ancient Silk Road was humanity’s first globalization highway centered on trade. Now, China in particular is pushing for its own ambitious version of a new Silk Road focused on tapping into energy -- oil and natural gas -- from Myanmar to Iran and Russia. It would, in the end, link no less than 17 countries via more than 8,000 kilometers of high-speed rail (on top of the 8,000 kilometers already built inside China). For Washington, this means one thing: an evolving Tehran-Beijing axis bent on ensuring that the U.S. strategic target of isolating Iran and forcing regime change on that country will be ever just out of reach.

WMDs Lies and More Lies

Click here to access source on YouTube, uploaded by AfriSynergy.

Yes, "we've heard all of this stuff before". I'm not sure we can blame all of this on Zionists as this commentator does.

Forbidden Planet

Click here to access article by George Monbiot from his personal blog.

First thing I noticed was that when this essay was published in the liberal Guardian, they omitted the subtitle--"We cannot restrain climate change without a political fight against plutocracy". 

After the recent climate related disasters, we are now seeing more people and institutions in the mainstream coming out of their secure woodworks to sound the alarm about the impending ominous climate changes that lie in our near future: scientists (see this and this), World Bank, a leading international accounting firm, etc. And, they are beginning to connect the crisis with our economic system--capitalism. Still they hedge by asserting or implying that it is only a certain kind of capitalism. 

In this article the author, a political liberal, targets "neoliberalism". Of course, neoliberalism is only an advanced stage of capitalism which is a developing system that has growth as its central dynamic. One can no more turn back the clock to an earlier stage of capitalism than one can turn back the clock on ourselves when we were younger and much more attractive. 
Neoliberalism, also known as market fundamentalism or laissez-faire economics, purports to liberate the market from political interference. The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call “the market” looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich. Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy.
Now I'm wonder how many more decades of climate disasters will have to occur before substantially more people recognize that capitalism is the malignant cancer that we must rid ourselves of. By then it will be too late, if it isn't already.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We Can No Longer Afford Vulture Capitalism

Click here to access article by Norman D. Livergood posted on hermes-press.

This reads like a revolutionary manifesto. It is an urgent call for changing the present system of "vulture capitalism" into a "commonwealth structure". 

Highly recommended.
We must first make all Americans aware of our present plight and then begin in all possible ways to overthrow the tyranny of cabal capitalism, producing material changes leading to political freedom and economic equality of opportunity. This will involve the public ownership of the means of production: companies, factories, businesses, institutions, etc. We can bring about these changes by joining with thinking citizens worldwide in specific initiatives such as boycotting, in citizen action groups available through progressive Internet sites, and through building cooperative commonwealth communities.

'Everyone in US under virtual surveillance' - NSA whistleblower

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of this 12:35m RT interview with William Binney. a former employee and whistleblower at the National Security Agency.  

What Washington can learn from Finland’s success in K-12 education

Click here to access article by Aaron Keating from Washington Policy Watch.
Finnish students are among the best in the world. Their success has come through a system that would seem unorthodox here in the United States: no standardized testing, no private schools, fewer hours in school, teacher autonomy, full national funding, and equality in education, among other things.

The trends in education and school policies in the US appear to be on trend directly opposite of what is found in Finland. Here in the US we have seen an ominous trend known as "schools-to-prison pipeline" where schools seem to be treating students as criminals. See this, this, this, and this

However, to put public education on the right path would not be a simple matter of transferring the Finnish system to the US. Public education is only one segment of US society that is undergoing all kinds of assaults from the One Percent. Societies are social systems and this means that they are composed of inter-connected subsystems. The entire US society is becoming dysfunctional for the 99 Percent. The One Percent who rule our society see the 99 Percent as merely another resource to be used to further their pursuit of profit. As such, they view us as a burden because we don't offer slave wages and tolerate slave working conditions. Romney's recent expression of contempt for ordinary Americans is very representative of this class view:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. .... These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. .... And so my job is not to worry about those people—I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Another expression of their contempt was seen by workers in 2009 as they commuted to work on a billboard along Highway 101 near Silicon Valley:
1,000,000 people overseas can do your job. What makes you so special?

Will the Pacific trade deal protect workers?

Click here to access article from Al Jazeera.

Although the article begins with an inane question--"We ask if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations have rendered democratic decision-making irrelevant."--it actually is fairly well balanced for a source owned mostly by the medieval monarch of Qatar and reliable US ally.

This ongoing, largely secret effort by global elites to extend free agreements will continue the downward trend in living standards of working people throughout the world and will increase the widening gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots". Such so-called "free trade" agreements force working people across the globe to compete over wages and working conditions which means a race to the bottom.  They also further alienate ordinary people by weakening what little influence they have over the corporate controlled, representative governments currently in place across the globe. 

This trend, of course, is the logical endgame of capitalism where the existing feeble versions of "democratic" government will be replaced by corporate imposed global treaties enforced by capitalist appointed judicial bodies, police, and armies. This trend will only accentuate the disintegration of societies, increase poverty, wars, and the destruction of our planet.

Washington floats chemical weapons charge as pretext for Syria buildup

Click here to access article by Bill Van Auken from World Socialist Web Site

The author sees the latest Empire propaganda regarding Syrian use of chemical weapons and NATO deployment of surface-to-air missiles on the Turkish border as preparations for a wider war in the Middle East.
In the offing is a war with potentially far more devastating consequences than the eight-year US intervention in Iraq or the more than decade-long war in Afghanistan. In attacking Syria, US imperialism is aiming to pave the way for an assault on Iran in a bid to reorganize the entire region in its own interests.
I can't express to you how depressing these developments are to me. Instead of the world wars we saw in the 20th century, in this century we are witnessing never ending mini-wars and widening split between the "haves" and the "have-nots" throughout much of the world. How right was Rosa Luxemburg who in 1915 asserted that it was either socialism or barbarism that was facing the human race?!

Although I started this blog as an effort to join with others to turn the tide against barbarism, it now appears to me that my blog is only offering a chronicle of our descent into barbarism.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rich nations balk at liability for climate change damages

Click here to access article from The Economic Times (India).

Let me remind you that the UN meeting on climate change is happening in Doha, Qatar--it's just that US mainstream media decided to ignore it. So, I thought I would report a little bit about what's happening by posting this.
Should the rich world pay for inevitable losses and damages caused by climate change? The question has rocked the ongoing Doha climate talks with the US making it clear that it does not believe in the notion of liability in this case.

...The issue has been raked up here again, with the small developing island nations and the least developing countries (LDCs) clamouring that discussions on the subject mature soon.

The push has got a stiff reaction from the developed world, which opposes liability being attached to them for inaction. Rich nations have also balked at the proposal of paying compensation.
Here is what US negotiator Jonathan Pershing said to the LDC delegates and other environmentalists behind closed doors.
[He] reminded the international green NGOs here that it [the US] pays to bring them to these global conferences.

He said so in a closed-door meeting with the NGO representatives suggesting that they should remember who pays for their presence. TOI
[Times of India] accessed the conversation [with] recordings done secretly.

"We are one of the funders to make it possible for you to be at the table. I hope you recognize that many of you who come to the meetings you do, the US fights for you at every chance to give you a chance to be in this room," he said. 

FCC Moves Towards More Media Consolidation

Click here to access transcript of Bill Moyer's interview with Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press
Loosening the cross-ownership rules could unleash a wave of mergers and acquisitions within the media industry, as companies seek to control newspapers, television stations, and radio stations. These combined enterprises would likely consolidate their news departments, reducing the already severely limited options for most people to get information about their communities.
It's hard to imagine that media in the US could get much worse, but it appears to be so. Quietly, behind closed doors, Obama's FCC appointee is reportedly working on a proposal to do just that. The immediate beneficiary appears to be Rupert Murdoch's media empire. 

Well, why do you think corporations finance candidates? Because they like their candidates' general views on political issues? Because they like to support the "democratic" process of elections? No, of course not. They expect their contributions to contribute to their corporations' profits. Unlike in many countries such as India where direct bribes is the method of choice, US corporations launder their bribes through a "legal" process known as campaign contributions. And US corporations by contributing to both ruling class candidates cannot lose. In this recent election Obama was the biggest beneficiary of Murdoch's money, so it stands to reason that he expects to be rewarded.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Not black-and-white: The chess game behind the recent Gaza-Israel war

Click here to access article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Russia Today

I have a great deal of respect for this sociologist and journalist who has specialized in the current politics of the Middle East. No one is omniscient, but he is exceptionally well informed, honest, and affirms the values of social justice. 

In this article he tries to untangle the complicated geopolitical strategies of various players in the region against the background of the Empire's general strategy of divide and conquer used to divide Sunnis from Shia Muslims. We have seen the latter strategy occasionally revealed in various reports during the occupation of Iraq dating back to 2005 when British soldiers were discovered dressed as Arabs
The divide in the Middle East is not a sectarian one between Shiites and Sunnis, but fundamentally political. The alliance of the predominately Sunni Muslim Palestinian resistance movements and the Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon’s largest Christian political party, with predominately Shiite Muslim Iran and Hezbollah should defuse such a perception that the US and its allies are trying to cultivate.

The infirmary of Social Solidarity Thessaloniki

Click here to access article which features an interview with Serafía Kalamítsou, 37, a paediatrician and an anarchist working in a self-organized medical project in Greece. It is from Anarkismo.net via Infoshop News.
We have not started the project to save our soul with charity work, but see ourselves as a political project with a clear objective. Our main goal as SKS is to show that solidarity work and structures can succeed by organizing solidarity to overcome the problems caused by the economic crisis. Solidarity means more than just a helping hand. Solidarity structures may then have a great effect, when solidarity is part of our consciousness, not only for our patients, but also for their families, and the neighborhoods in which they live. During such a process, it is made clear that supportive structures can be created not only in the health sector, but in all the other areas of our lives also. This process of awareness is very difficult to set in motion. If we are here to stay however, if we only create a functioning health centre, our work has been for nothing. We are successful when we manage to make the SKS part of a general movement with the goal of social self-management and solidarity not only in the city, but also throughout the country.

Why UN Climate Agreements Fail

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from Workers Action
Countless environmentalists have tried to solve the climate issue while keeping capitalism in place, since this is the only “practical” solution. But this approach has failed as the climate has dramatically worsened. It’s becoming increasingly obvious to a growing number of people that our economic system itself cannot be reformed to save our environment, regardless of the incentives or other schemes to make it so.

Crack Capitalism — “we want to break”

Click here to access article by John Holloway from Reflections on a Revolution.
We want to break. We want to create a different world. Now. Nothing more common, nothing more obvious. Nothing more simple. Nothing more difficult.
The author pays homage to all the "ordinary people" whom he describes in their daily heroic activities all across the globe as working to make a better world. His term "crack capitalism" refers to a theme he has developed in a book entitled Crack Capitalism in which he...
...argues that radical change can only come about through the creation, expansion and multiplication of 'cracks' in the capitalist system. These cracks are ordinary moments or spaces of rebellion in which we assert a different type of doing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

As Drug Industry’s Influence over Research Grows, So Does the Potential for Bias

Click here to access article by Peter Whoriskey from The Washington Post via Transcend Media Service.

I think the early Christians had it right about the threat that the god of mammon posed for the human race. Unfortunately this religion which created a revolutionary consciousness and a threat to the Roman Empire, was co-opted by Rome and degenerated under a succession of Pope's and a Catholic bureaucracy who modified this new religion into one where "God" sanctioned the power of rulers and the subordination of people to authorities. When the Empire fell, the latter simply allied themselves to the new ruling aristocracies and monarchies who continued to worship the same god.

Next we saw various people begin to use their marvelous human brains in new ways to discover truth. By gazing at the heavens with some new powerful telescopes they discovered that some of the central truths propounded by religious authorities were false. They, of course, were persecuted because they challenged the powerful. But, despite the persecution more and more individuals, driven by the need for truth about human existence and the world, began to develop and use more instruments to test new ideas about reality. These explorations gradually developed into the refined scientific method of truth seeking and the Age of Enlightenment.

Lo and behold, some individuals began to see how these new methods of truth seeking could make them rich and powerful. New tools and machines were developed using this knowledge. Likewise a new group of people arose who saw the huge potential for wealth and power that could be gained from the new instruments. They used their growing influence and their associations with more enlightened members of the existing members of the aristocracy to proclaim "ownership" of these new means of production. They, too, worshiped the same god of mammon.

Likewise the existing authorities of thought control for the masses known as the Catholic church saw that the arrangements of power was changing hands, and they decided to get on board with this new class of people who were called capitalists. Some early ones "jumped ship" and called themselves Protestants. They, of course, modified certain beliefs to conform with the ideas of the new class, the main one being that "God" welcomed the pursuit of wealth, that wealth was a sign of God's grace, and that much could be forgiven with the methods used for obtaining wealth.

Have you noticed in this story of humans, that while much progress has been made to obtain mastery over physical existence, religious authorities have been replaced by ruling class moralists and ideologues delivered to us through their media? Have you noticed that with every technological advance we see ruling classes hoarding the benefits for themselves?

Is not this report report addressing basically the same issue? Universities theoretically have been established as institutions to continue the search for truth using the scientific method. Yet, we see here that their purpose is being subordinated to the interests of the current ruling class whose god continues to be mammon.
The billions that the drug companies invest in such experiments help fund the world’s quest for cures. But their aim is not just public health. That money is also part of a high-risk quest for profits, and over the past decade corporate interference has repeatedly muddled the nation’s drug science, sometimes with potentially lethal consequences.
It appears to me that most of humanity no longer really accepts the belief propagated by ideological authorities that the material benefits that have accumulated through the ages because of the efforts of truth-seekers should be enjoyed by so few people. It seems that the powerful can no longer rely on their ideological allies, and must increasingly resort to shear violence and the threat of violence to keep their wealth and power. That is what we are facing today.

Mexico Rising: “Peña Nieto is not my President!”

Click here to access article by Leonidas Oikonomaki from Reflections on a Revolution.

It appears that the new consciousness, that has infected so many people across the world, has now come to Mexico following their recent managed elections. 
What we are witnessing in Spain, Greece, Mexico, and other parts of the globe, is the birth of a transnational movement-family that is mobilizing against the farce of representative democracy and the growing influence of business and banking interests on national governments, as well as the role of the mass media in manipulating public opinion. 

In Search of the Climate Front in the US

Click here to access article by David Kerans from Strategic Culture Foundation

The author provides a good framework for understanding what is happening in the US today with regard to global warming/climate issues.
Paradoxically, despite the obviousness of extraordinary weather patterns and the seriousness of the implications, the politics surrounding natural resources and climate in the US are deeply hidden from view… As we shall see below, struggles related to resources and climate change are proceeding on at least four fronts, three of which are not going well.
The four fronts are as follows:
  • Washington: The Phony Front
  • Natural Gas Statehouses
  • The Municipal Front
  • The Privatization Front: From Budget Crises to Environmental Despoliation 

Dispersant makes oil from spills 52 times more toxic

Click here to access article by Douglas Main from Climate Connections

The findings of this research suggests that the oil industries use of chemical dispersnants is motivated more by political reasons, and ultimately, protecting their profits rather than that of protecting the environment. As they say, "out of sight, out of mind."
For microscopic animals living in the Gulf of Mexico, even worse than the toxic oil released during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster may be the very oil dispersants used to clean it up, a new study finds.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Hypocrisy of US Defense of Israel's Gaza War

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of this interview with Vijay Prashad by Paul Jay on Real News Network.

Prashad describes the gross hypocrisy of Empire agents as they defend their client states--Israel and Rwanda. 

The Rise of a New, Revived Form of Liberal Interventionism

Click here if you wish to access the source - by Seumas Milne from MRZine.

In this 17:35m video Milne, a Guardian columnist and editor, at a recent conference in London reviews the history and provides an assessment of the War on Terror. Included are all the myths used to justify it and all the horrors that it created. Because this "war" has been so discredited, the political operatives of the Empire are creating new forms of intervention which we are now seeing.
Seumas Milne: We've seen the rise of a new, revived form of liberal interventionism, or humanitarian interventionism, in the last couple of years, and the key to it is the idea that there mustn't be too many boots on the ground because that was the problem with Iraq and Afghanistan.  You've got to be seen to be targeting the bad guys.  You've got to be seen to be saving civilians and in the fight for freedom again.  It's a bit of a sort of a rewind to the Kosovo war and the story that was told at the time. . . .  The new, rebranded war on terror has to be seen to be arm's length, proxy wars.  And, of course, the Arab uprisings have provided the mechanism and opening for new forms of war on terror to be pushed forward.  First of all we saw it happen in Libya.  Now, the intervention, the NATO intervention in Libya, which is the first step in the new war on terror, was -- we were told -- a war, an intervention, to protect civilians.  As a result of that intervention, the death toll in Libya increased by a factor of between ten and twenty times.  The result of the intervention in Libya, the NATO bombing and bombardment in support of rebel forces in the civil war in Libya, has been 8,000 political prisoners, torture across the country, mass ethnic cleansing, the creation of a warlord and militia regime which is unable to run the country and manage the election process, which, if you look behind the curtain, was not a genuine election process at all.  Now, we have a growing, creeping intervention in the horrific civil war in Syria and the threat of an increased intervention through the channeling of weapons by the United States, Britain, and France, in alliance with the Saudis and the Gulf dictatorships . . . , to particular factions in the opposition, increasing the bloodshed all the time.

Illustrate! Educate! Organize!

Click here to access article by Sean Carleton from Canadian Dimension.

Being out of touch with youth culture, I have no idea as to the significance of "graphic novels" to recover and spread knowledge about working class history and current issues. However, with the censorship and distortion of these vital subjects in capitalist controlled institutions, whatever form of media that can contribute to an enlightened working class consciousness is urgently needed, and such efforts need to be encouraged.
In our attempts to revive and reenergize revolutionary organizing in the 21st century, then, it is important for activists to be aware of and to engage with the many graphic novels being published with leftist content today.
The author cites some of what he regards as the best examples of this new popular medium.