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, February 2, 2013

The Good Intentions That Pave the Road to War

Click here to access article by Diana Johnstone from CounterPunch.

The author makes this startling claim:
Opposing genocide has become a sort of cottage industry in the United States.
Why do you think this could be true?

(Hint: "...[The Empire has] transformed [war] into a chivalrous action to rescue whole populations from 'genocide'.")

There’s coal hiding in the tar sands, and the emissions are not being counted

Click here to access article by Lorne Stockman from The Price of Oil.

More bad news about the booming source of oil from tar sands, news that you probably don't want to hear (or read about).
The Canadian tar sands have been called the “most environmentally destructive project on earth”, with good reason.
But what if we told you that a significant proportion of the climate impact from exploiting the tar sands has been overlooked?

Where the elites like to socialize and hang out, Part 2 of 2

by Ron Horn.

This is the conclusion of our visits to "gentlemen's clubs" where the elite of the Empire like to hang out. If you haven't read Part 1, please do so as it provides an explanation as to why we even bother we these people.

Originally I planned to visit a number of such places, but I find that most of their websites, if they exist at all, and unlike the friendly Home House club in London, offer very limited information. The one we are "visiting" today, the Alibi Club in Washington, DC fits this description.

The Alibi Club is both very exclusive and secretive, and they don't have a website to visit. They limit their numbers to 50.  What really drew my attention from perusing the Wikipedia website was the list of former and existing members. The list reads like a Who's Who of the Empire, that is, past and present members who have worked so hard to establish the current Anglo-American Empire after their defeat of the German Empire, the Third Reich, in WWII.

This online article entitled "My Alibi? They Wouldn't Answer Answer Man" is the best information I could find about this club. It appears to be a compilation of pictures and articles from several sources. Here is the response a journalist received when he dared to inquire at their door:
Answer Man paid a visit to the Alibi Club on Friday. He walked up the metal steps and, finding the outer door open, ascended to a small vestibule and confronted a locked green door. What, he wondered, was behind the green door?
Answer Man buzzed the intercom, introduced himself and said: "I wondered if I could talk to someone about the Alibi Club."
"Sorry, no," came the answer.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Recession, Depression or Jobless Recovery? Long-Term Unemployment under “Neoliberal Capitalism”

Click here to access article by Alan Nasser from Global Research.

I regard this as a very important article to understand the unemployment trends that from a long-term perspective are appearing at an accelerating rate in capitalist economies: a growing and permanent high levels of unemployment creating a large class of human beings who are increasingly regarded by the ruling classes as dispensable. The implications of this for our future is mind-boggling. 
...the “jobs are not coming back”, there will be workers, lots of workers, whose only recourse will be long-term unemployment or low-skill, low-pay work. There you have it – neoliberal austerity for the masses. That’s the long-run prospect.
Although very important, and I regard it as a "must-read", the article could have been enhanced with graphs illustrating his main points, and generally edited for repetitive arguments.

The Surprising Connection Between Food and Fracking

Click here to access article by Tom Philpott from Mother Jones.

It seems to me that this very interesting examination of the use of synthetic nitrogen should have been more aptly entitled "The troubling consequences of Big Ag's use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers". Here is one troubling consequence:
If Big Ag becomes hooked on cheap fracked gas to meet its fertilizer needs, then the fossil fuel industry will have gained a powerful ally in its effort to steamroll regulation and fight back opposition to fracking projects.
The evidence and arguments he provides confirms that Big Ag is, indeed, "hooked on cheap fracked gas". However, what is much worse are the consequences for climate destabilization and soil degradation. And, the latter depend on the relationship of the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers with soil degradation. This, it turn, depends to a great extent on supporting documentation that is only provided by links. People who hastily read online reports such as this may simply skip over these links, and conclude that his thesis is only rather interesting rather than disturbing.

The most insightful and substantive link supporting the relationship was the one posted on The Grist in 2010 by the same author entitled "New research: synthetic nitrogen destroys soil carbon, undermines soil health". If you do not have the time to read this, I offer the following quotes from the article which explains this relationship.
...nitrogen fertilizer stimulates soil microbes, which feast on organic matter.
As organic matter dissipates, soil’s ability to store organic nitrogen declines. A large amount of nitrogen then leaches away, fouling ground water in the form of nitrates, and entering the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas with some 300 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. In turn, with its ability to store organic nitrogen compromised, only one thing can help heavily fertilized farmland keep cranking out monster yields: more additions of synthetic N.

...the loss of organic matter depleted the soil’s ability to store nitrogen. The practice of year-after-year fertilization
[pushes soils] onto the chemical treadmill: unable to efficiently store nitrogen, they became reliant on the next fix.

The loss of organic matter has other ill effects, the researchers say. Injured soil becomes prone to compaction, which makes it vulnerable to runoff and erosion and limits the growth of stabilizing plant roots. Worse yet, soil has a harder time holding water, making it ever more reliant on irrigation. As water becomes scarcer, this consequence of widespread synthetic N use will become more and more challenging.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mali and AFRICOM’s Africa Agenda: Target China

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from Boiling Frogs.

As always, this astute geo-political analyst provides a comprehensive and powerful antidote to cure us of mainstream media's poisonous coverage of the latest Empire adventure in Mali which he amusingly describes as follows:
We are being told repeatedly in recent months that something supposedly calling itself Al Qaeda—the organization officially charged by the US Government as responsible for pulverizing three towers of the World Trade Center and blowing a gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001—has regrouped
According to the popular media account and statements of various NATO member country government officials, the original group of the late Osama bin Laden, holed up we are supposed to believe somewhere in the caves of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, has apparently adopted a modern business model and is handing out Al Qaeda official franchises in a style something like a ‘McDonalds of Terrorism,’ from Al Qaeda in Iraq to Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in Libya and now Al-Qaeda-in-the Islamic-Maghreb.
Guess what? Many of the key actors in this contrived war were educated or trained in the US, and others put in place by French political agents. Once again, we see Empire operatives destabilizing a small country and creating choas, but a carefully managed chaos ultimately designed to serve Empire interests. Engdahl describes this type of operation:
The method is sometimes referred to as “Gang/Counter-Gang.” The essence is that the orchestrating intelligence agency or military occupying force, whether the British Army in Kenya or the CIA in Afghanistan, de facto controls the actions of both sides in an internal conflict, creating small civil wars or gang wars to the aim of dividing the overall legitimate movement and creating the pretext for outside military force in what the US now has deceptively renamed as “Peace-Keeping Operations” or PKO.
Following this, Engdahl writes about the Empire's general plan to counter the successful strategies of the Chinese government in their efforts to gain influence in Africa and access to African resources.

Under capitalism the world always tends to be seen by capitalist actors as functioning according to the Law of the Jungle. In advanced capitalism this tendency degenerates into an almost exclusive reliance on the use of force to maintain dominance. 

Congressional Research Service Finds Evidence of Massive Tax Avoidance by U.S. Corporations Using Tax Havens

Click here to access article from Citizens for Tax Justice.\
A new report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) finds that U.S. corporations report a huge share of their profits as officially earned in small, low-tax countries where they have very little investment and workforce while reporting a much smaller percentage of their profits in larger, industrial countries where they actually have massive investments and workforces. The report confirms that U.S. corporations are artificially inflating the proportion of their global profits that are generated in small, low-tax countries — in other words, shifting their profits to tax havens.
You can be sure that this report will never be referred to in the One Percent's media.

Timothy Geithner saved Wall Street, not the economy

Click here to access article by Dean Baker from Real-World Economics Review

 For me the article suggests a very different conclusion than is reached in this paragraph:
...the economy has already lost more than $7 trillion in output ($20,000 per person) compared with what the Congressional Budget Office projected in January of 2008. We will probably lose at least another $4 trillion before the economy gets back to anything resembling full employment. And, millions of people have seen their lives turned upside down by their inability to get jobs, being thrown out of their homes, or their parents’ inability to get a job. And this is all because of the folks in Washington’s inability to manage the economy. [my emphasis]
The ruling class, which usually installs its own members as Treasury Secretary as in the example of Geithner, manages the economy very well for the economy of their class. Banksters have done exceptionally well since the crash of the general economy.

Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research

Click here to access article by Laura McKenna from The Atlantic.

As has often been observed, under the system of capitalism everything, including knowledge, tends to become a commodity from which capitalists derive their profits, with major capitalists benefiting from added influence over governments. This author while writing for this capitalist media source only alludes to this characteristic. The headline suggests that JSTOR is the bad guy. However, the substance of the article points the finger at publishers.
The publisher is key, because he needs money to print and distribute the journal for its tiny community of readers. To make that money, the publisher sells the rights to an academic search engine company, like JSTOR. For the publisher, this venture is highly profitable because, unlike traditional publishing, the publisher does not have to pay the writer or editor. It only has to cover the costs of typesetting, printing, and distribution.
There has recently been a slight improvement in this situation. This article from Tadween Publishing reports:
After years of restricted access, JSTOR announced on January 9 that it will make the archives of more than 1,200 journals available to the public for free, giving those who sign up for an account with JSTOR the ability to read up to three articles every two weeks. 

Welcome to the Network of Global Corporate Control - Part 1 of 3

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

The author provides us with more information about the international cartels that rule our world. Once again, we see an inner core of the most powerful consisting of major financial institutions.
The top 50 companies on the list of the “super-entity” included (as of 2007): Barclays Plc (1), Capital Group Companies Inc (2), FMR Corporation (3), AXA (4), State Street Corporation (5), JP Morgan Chase & Co. (6), UBS AG (9), Merrill Lynch & Co Inc (10), Deutsche Bank (12), Credit Suisse Group (14), Bank of New York Mellon Corp (16), Goldman Sachs Group (18), Morgan Stanley (21), Société Générale (24), Bank of America Corporation (25), Lloyds TSB Group (26), Lehman Brothers Holdings (34), Sun Life Financial (35), ING Groep (41), BNP Paribas (46), and several others.
In December of 2011, Roger Altman, the former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under the Clinton administration, wrote an article for the Financial Times in which he explained that financial markets were “acting like a global supra-government,” ....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Egypt: Revolutionaries Are Not Born. They Are Made.

Click here to access article by Sara Salem from Muftah.
In the face of what looks to be a losing battle, thousands of Egyptians take to the streets on a daily basis, facing tear gas, arrests, and live ammunition. They know they may lose their lives. They know their families and friends will not rest until they return. But they also know that the revolution isn’t over, and that the thousands who died did not lose their lives for yet another Western-backed Egyptian dictatorship.

The author provides an excellent description of a revolutionary. Meet Ahmed Harara, an Egyptian revolutionary. 

To End Extreme Poverty, End Extreme Wealth

Click here to access article by Sam Pizzigati from Inequality.
...in these days of deep global economic uncertainty, the power suits that frequent Davos have lost their mojo — and even feel pressured to address the global economic inequality they’ve so long tried to sweep under the rug.
Pressured! Really? The concerns expressed by liberals regarding the unequal distribution of wealth is met by a yawn from various members of the Davos class.

Corporate power: exposing the global 1%

Click here to access article posted by ROAR Collective.

ROAR authors have posted the graphics from the Transnational Institute's (TNI) online article that is based on their publication "State of Power 2013" without including TNI's political analysis with which I was not particularly impressed. So, I suggest that you stick with this posting. The graphics included here are the most important to get a quick visual glimpse of our global masters, i.e., the global One Percent, also known as the Davos class, the ruling elite, etc.

The basis for this class is the "ownership" of huge global private enterprises that are concentrated in the hands of a tiny global elite, and interconnected through overlapping boards of directors. I have frequently used the metaphor of an onion to describe the global elite, and the charts illustrate this by showing that the financial institutions and fossil fuel industries are at the most powerful inner core of global capitalist rule.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Escobar: Shadow wars & no interventions - US plan for MidEast & Asia

6:39m video from RT.

Escobar offers some very interesting observations about Empire interventions in the Middle East and North Africa. It's about blow-back, shadow wars, and spreading chaos; and unfortunately, there appears to be more to come.

I have been watching RT programs in the early morning for several months now. I highly recommend it as a TV source of information about the world beyond Russia. Being based in Russia, I would take news about Russia with a grain of salt. 

For fairly obvious reasons, news agency coverage of news in foreign lands are often much more reliable than news agency coverage of the agency's home country. I discovered this when spending extensive time in Canada and watching their TV news coverage, political analysis, and commentaries of US events. It was much more critical and covered subjects which would not be covered in US based media. I also, to my surprise, discovered in my travels to other countries that even in the foreign editions of Time and Newsweek magazines that coverage was much better than the domestic editions. Can you imagine Escobar ever appearing on US TV network programming?

Thus, I highly recommend, if you do not already watch RT TV, that you try to locate it in your area's TV cable listings, and watch it regularly.

In Egypt, anarchists carry the revolution forward

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution
Now that the Muslim Brotherhood has effectively halted the revolution’s “long march through the institutions”, and now that opposition parties have amply demonstrated their woeful inability to pose a credible counterweight to the forces of fundamentalism, many young Egyptians have simply lost their faith in the ability of representative institutions to realize the revolution’s demands for bread, freedom and social justice. In this era of shattered illusions, many of these young revolutionaries find that anarchism – with its radical emphasis on direct democracy, horizontal self-organization and mutual aid – provides the only hopeful alternative to further tyranny.
This is another excellent posting from Roos. His analysis is well supported by links to very interesting sources.  The video entitled "The Rise of the 'Golden Dawn" in Greece" did not work on my computer, so I clicked on the video's "YouTube" insignia to watch it directly on YouTube. I highly recommend this 12:54m video to give you a flavor for what life is like when the One Percent ruling class becomes desperate by employing fascist hoodlums to terrorize people.

The Financialization of Food and the Profitability of Poverty

Click here to access article by

As stated in his preface to the article, this is an excerpt from a book he is currently working on. It reads like a book in that it contains well-developed themes with excellent documentation, and there were times when I thought about printing it out to read it. There are some typographical errors which are usually easily surmounted.

I have only one criticism and that relates to the opening paragraph:
When it comes to environmental issues, the primary focus is placed upon the issue of climate change, and while this is indeed an important issue, it could be said that this focus almost misses the forest for the trees. Climatic change is here to stay, it is an inevitability, and it is a requirement for humanity to begin the process of adaptation. However, climate change is not “the problem,” it is a symptom of the problems associated with the environment.
I think he is much too dismissive of what many see as the situation we are now facing--"runaway climate change" bringing numerous catastrophic consequences for our future, so serious that many are doubting that the human race can survive them. For example, Britain’s Prof. Kevin Anderson predicted that global warming will likely wipe out 90% of the world’s population by 2060. I think that conceptualizing climatic change as a symptom tends to trivialize it and puts it in the background when it needs to be in the foreground. And, most definitely it is not something we should see as an annoyance like an increase of mosquitoes that we will just have to adapt to. Of course, it is an effect of the operation of capitalism; therefore, revolution is not merely desirable, but an absolute necessity.

The rest of the piece patiently develops the following important thesis:
Instead of acknowledging global markets as inherently and structurally (not to mention ideologically) immoral and wrong, we talk about “reforming” and “regulating” these markets as if minor changes would rectify the fundamental problems. The truth – as hard as it may be for many to accept – is that global markets are fundamentally wrong and immoral.
However, this also is understating the problem with "global markets", a polite term for capitalism--the system is leading us to extinction!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Together We Build Egypt

Click here to access article by Thalia Beaty from Muftah.

This is a brief article that makes a big point about the Egypt of today.
Two years ago, on Police Day, a national holiday, citizens rose up to say, “No more.” They will continue to do so until a new government is formed that can safeguard Egypt’s many natural resources and unleash the human potential so evident in its people.
On this anniversary of the "days of rage" that ignited across Egypt two years ago, I think it is fitting that we look at what is happening today in that troubled country. Below are three additional articles that I recommend. 

I recommend this piece entitled "Egypt’s Cultural Revolution Is Here" from Muftah by Sarah Zakzouk, a London-based academic publisher, who on her recent visit to Egypt was very impressed by what she saw as a cultural as well as a political revolution.

Second, this piece from Jadaliyya by their editors entitled "Another Year of Rage".

Finally, this piece from World Socialist Web Site entitled "Mursi declares state of emergency as protests escalate in Egypt" gives the latest update on the current scene.

Who’s Faking It? Pentagon “Cyber-Warriors” Planting “False Information on Facebook”

Click here to access article by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich from Global Research (Canada).
On November 22, 2012, the Los Angeles Times published an alarming piece of news entitled “Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age”. The “cyber-warriors” who are headed for organizations such as the CIA, NSC, FBI, the Pentagon and so on, are trained to stalk, “rifle through trash, sneak a tracking device on cars and plant false information on Facebook [emphasis added]. They also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cellphones and flash drives.”
Because the misuse of information is such a powerful weapon in the Empire's arsenal, and recognizing the increasing sophistication of communication technology, it is more important than ever to examine all electronic communications with a critical eye.

The Great Dismal: "What we speak becomes the house we live in."

Click here to access article by Phil Rockstroh posted on Uncommon Thought Journal.

Because his writing is loaded with metaphors and obscure references, I always find his writing challenging. However, I always come away with gems of insight poignantly expressed. I was especially moved by this paragraph: 
...the fate of the earth's biosphere and its capacity to sustain human life is being subjected to an unfolding, desperate campaign -- craven as it is noxious -- in its intentions, scope, and side affects, by the elite of an arrogant order to maintain their grip on privilege and power. By propaganda and coercion, they proceed, with cult-like conviction, on a course of catastrophic folly involving a race to secure and exploit the remaining resources of our ecologically taxed planet (the only planet available to us). If their agendas remain unchecked, the biosphere will be rendered unviable to our species.

Syria: Subversion Stalls while Government Succeeds with Reconciliation and Reforms

Click here to access article by Christof Lehmann from nsnbc

I haven't had enough experience with him to ascertain how reliable he is as a source of information, however what he argues seems to correspond well with other information provided by independent sources.
The Syrian strategy of inclusiveness and amnesty on one hand, while combating terrorism and armed subversion on the other, continues to pay peace dividends. The question now is, how long time will it take and how many people have to be murdered and maimed on both sides, before international diplomacy begins constructive negotiations about the core issues that caused the crisis.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tahrir and the undying spirit of revolt

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.
The future of humanity is at stake. This is the time to fight. If there is any message the revolutionaries at Tahrir have to tell us, therefore, it is this: burn your books, buy a gas mask, and learn to dance with fire. The forces of the counter-revolution are formidable — supported as they are by military might, Islamic mythology and the seemingly inexhaustible resources of the United States — but the flames of popular outrage will not be doused until the demands of the revolution are met. Bread. Freedom. Social Justice. There is no time to waste. Two years down the line, Tahrir — with its undying spirit of revolt — still leads the way.
This is a wonderful recognition of the vibrant revolutionary spirit alive, well, and fighting against overwhelming forces in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria. This is the human spirit that is conscious that this is a war to the end. Time is running out. Egyptians as today's revolutionary vanguard insist on justice and are prepared to fight until the bitter end simply because they are fully conscious of their humanity whose nature cannot accept the indignity of conditions similar to slavery, or even worse--being regarded as disposable human beings because capitalist economies have no use for them. They may not win, but they can never surrender to expedience, safety, and comforts that too many in the West are willing to accept.

The ideologues and subversive agents of the Empire have long sold their souls for a bit of power and wealth, and they cannot understand this deep affirmation of human nature because they have lost theirs at Wall Street and at the alter of superior weaponry.

Revolution at the armchair: on books and barricades

Click here to access article by Matan Kaminer and response from Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.  

Matan Kaminer criticizes ROAR founder Jerome Roos for some of the conclusions he draws in his latest piece on the Egyptian revolution, relating especially to the importance of Marxist theory in the revolutionary process.

Currency Wars – their Imperial aspect

Click here to access article by David Malone from his blog Golem XIV.

The blogger brings up an issue about currency that, I think, few people understand. Issuing currency leaks out across borders and can have very deleterious effects on ordinary people in other lands--food and energy inflation, and wars. With the US dollar as the dominate world's currency, and with the controllers of this currency issuing ever greater quantities trying to prop up banks, what has been largely missing from political analysis are the links between this and all such deleterious effects on the world's 99 Percents.

Malone introduces his thesis with this scathing attack on the world's One Percents:
G20 meeting have become even more farcical and resemble ever more uncannily the gatherings of powdered, wig-wearing elites, so far removed from the people they rule over that they simply can not imagine why the commoners don’t just work harder, earn less and consume more like the plan says. Let them eat cake has become let them borrow. Why won’t the ungrateful wretches understand that there are no free hand-outs – at least not for them. Money can only be handed to those who know how to use it profitably, not waste it on pointless things like health services and pensions. The common people must realize they have brought this upon themselves and must now accept their medicine and work longer for less so they can get back to shopping, consuming and above all borrowing.