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 23, 2013

Power Grab at the Fed

Click here to access article by Mike Whitney from CounterPunch.
Are you ready for a good laugh?
The head of the New York Fed wants Congress to grant the Central Bank extraordinary new powers to deal with future financial system emergencies like the bank run that followed Lehman Brothers collapse in September 2008. 
This piece is highly representative of an American liberal's view of the ongoing theft of wealth by the One Percent ruling class. Liberals continue their cynical whining about banksters who refuse to play by the rules of regulation. Meanwhile, most One Percenters couldn't care less. They have the power--and why not use it to enrich themselves? Which is exactly what most of them are doing.

Now that the One Percent ruling class is in complete control of all institutions, they make the rules which, of course, don't apply to them. All evidence suggests this: the handover of taxpayer money to bailout the bad bets of the banksters, no prosecutions of banksters who broke the rules, the ongoing pursuit of world domination by their corporate underlings mostly in the military-industrial complex, their overwhelming ideological control of media and educational institutions so that they can shape citizen awareness and interpretation of their crimes both foreign and domestic to seem like petty misdemeanors, and their increasingly centralized control of police agencies under the Department of Homeland Security to intimidate any individuals who are immune to this indoctrination.

The underlying problem is, of course, the system that has made all of this possible, indeed, inevitable--capitalism which gives ownership of socially produced wealth to private parties. Any system that gives a certain class advantages over others will inevitably over time result in that class of people absorbing overwhelming power for themselves. This has been the disastrous history of the human race for the past 10,000 years when class structured societies started appearing.

The Baluchistan Belt. US-Saudi Funded Terrorists Sowing Chaos in Pakistan

Click here to access article from Land Destroyer Report.

The article brings together numerous reports and documents suggesting that the Empire and associates are deliberately promoting the destabilization of countries in the MENA region through support of terrorist organizations. It highlights the funding of terrorist groups in Baluchistan province of Pakistan and in Mali; and, to a lessor extent, it provides information on the use of soft power strategies applied through the operations of Empire-friendly NGOs.

Others (see this, and this) have seen this strategy as the Salvador Option which was developed by US operatives beginning in the 1980s with the successful destabilization of Nicaraguan's Sandinista government and prevention of the takeover of El Salvador by Nicaraguan inspired revolutionaries. From there, indications of this strategy has been seen surfacing throughout the Middle East and North Africa to further the interests of the Empire.

Pictures Speak Volumes In Oscar-Nominated Israeli Films

Click here to access article by Jonathan Cook from his blog the view from Nazareth

The Zionist section of the Empire is fighting to keep Israeli-connected films about the ongoing Israeli oppression of Palestinians from being seen and celebrated. Israeli filmmakers are bravely trying to tell an honest story about Israeli human rights crimes.
Israelis have been revelling in the prospect of an Oscar night triumph next week, with two Israeli-financed films among the five in the running for Best Documentary. But the country’s right-wing government is reported to be quietly fuming that the films, both of which portray Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in a critical light, have garnered so much attention following their nominations.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Showdown Fatigue

Click here to access article by Robert Reich from Huffington Post
3-1-2013 update: this morning I have read articles which state that Social Security benefits will be affected!

The following commentary was corrected on February 25 with regard to Social Security which is unaffected by the sequestration feature of the current budget battle. I had originally suggest that it would be affected. However, Republicans are insisting on cuts to Social Security and Medicare before they will agree to a budget. Medicare will be affected in that payments to medical providers will be cut under sequestration.

One should ignore most of the article which frames everything as a battle between Republicans and Democrats--this is total nonsense.

Earlier this morning while watching Bloomberg News, a premier Wall Street TV program, I heard some spokesman cite numerous polls indicating that Americans want the budget crisis to end more than anything else. So Reich may be right in his warning that the political operatives employed by the One Percent are ready to slash these major programs and other social services (of course, he wouldn't put it that way). 

You can be certain of one thing--military expenditures will always find a way to be authorized.

Biofuel rush wiping out America’s grasslands at fastest pace since the 1930s

Click here to access article by Brad Plumer from The Washington Post and republished on Climate Connections.

I posted this article from the secondary source, Climate Connections, because of the latter's introductory criticism that the author did not go far enough to identify the true cause of the "social and ecological devastation":
Note: Rather than algae or cellulosic biofuels, as the author suggests, which will create just another grab for land to produce cellulose for bioenergy, we must challenge and ultimately dismantle the systems which give rise to the exorbitant consumption of energy.  Without addressing the drivers of energy and resource consumption, social and ecological devastation will only continue to accelerate.
–The GJEP Team
While the Post's article accurately cites numerous problems with the growing of current crops to produce biofuels and the GJEP Team (Global Justice Ecology Project) makes a correct critical observation about its conclusion, the GJEP Team for some strange reason, stops short of identifying what the "drivers of energy and resource consumption" are. To be succinct, there is one driver and that is the system of capitalism! Why is that so hard to write?

Hubris Isn't the Half of It

Click here to access article by David Swanson from World News Trust.

Swanson provides an assessment of the recent MSNBC's special program entitled Hubris. After providing evidence that the word hubris is incorrect, that it was really about "greed, lust for power, and sadistic vengeance", he concludes by welcoming such programs because they...
...prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq are the best hope Iran has right now. MSNBC should be contacted and applauded for airing this and urged to follow up on it.
I simply cannot go along with him on that. MSNBC is doing its job as a major propaganda outlet for the Empire's directors. They are doing damage control for the Empire's lies. Everyone knows that the US government's information that led up to the destruction of Iraq was incorrect, but how should the public interpret that? Was it incompetence? Was it due to arrogance? Or, was it a gross war crime of the highest magnitude? It was NSNBC'S task to insure that the public interpreted these war crimes as simply hubris. According to the dictionary that word means:
1. pride or arrogance
2. an excess of ambition, pride, etc, ultimately causing the transgressor's ruin
By framing the Empire's war crimes this way, the public is encouraged to see the lying as excusable human errors due to human weaknesses. We should applaud that?

It's only on obscure US radio stations that you might hear a candid interpretation of the Empire's actions as war crimes. See this.

GMO Agribusiness and the Destructive Nature of Global Capitalism

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from Global Research.
Privately owned agribusiness, as is the way with capitalism in general, is based on short-termism. Its predator corporations in India are merely engaged in managing and thus profiting from the crises they themselves have conspired to produce with their destruction of traditional agriculture and local economies and their chemical inputs and genetic engineering.

Scientists Confirm: Arctic Sea Ice 'Collapse' at Our Door

Click here to access article by Jacob Chamberlain from Common Dreams.

If you were hoping that previous scientific reports of the disappearing North Pole ice cap were erroneous, think again and you likely won't be able to prolong your unrealistic hopes. This latest report confirms those earlier findings. What the journalist doesn't mention--probably he expected you to know this--when the ice cap disappears, global warming will accelerate because ice and snow reflects a lot of the sun's heat back into space.

It seems that the fossil-fuel-devouring and growth-obsessed creature of capitalism is such a sacred cow to our ruling One Percents that they are perfectly willing to sacrifice the human race and other species on its alter.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Drone ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Now Has A Name: ARGUS

Click here to access article by Jay Stanley from American Civil Liberties Union.
The PBS series NOVA, “Rise of the Drones,” recently aired a segment detailing the capabilities of a powerful aerial surveillance system known as ARGUS-IS, which is basically a super-high, 1.8 gigapixel resolution camera that can be mounted on a drone. As demonstrated in this clip, the system is capable of high-resolution monitoring and recording of an entire city.
What bothers me is that the author seems so grateful that the authorities gave limited exposure of this technology over PBS.
...it is good that the Air Force allowed NOVA to see its capabilities. I’d like to think it’s because as Americans, Air Force officials have respect for our country’s values and democratic processes and don’t want to let such powerful and potentially privacy-invasive tools to be created in secret. It could also be, however, because the Air Force needs private-sector help in figuring out how to analyze the oceans of data the device can collect (5,000 hours of high-def video per day).
Either way, it’s important for the public to be aware of the kinds of technologies that are out there so that it can better decide how drones should be regulated. 

The Migration and Labor Question Today: Imperialism, Unequal Development, and Forced Migration

Click here to access article by Raúl Delgado Wise from Monthly Review

The author explains, unfortunately in academese, that one of the deleterious effects of neo-liberalism is the prevalence of highly vulnerable populations forced to move in a desperate search for a means of support both within countries and across national borders. While always seeking profitable opportunities, capitalist agents have, for themselves, to a considerable extent succeeded in the elimination of national barriers to better exploit the cheapest labor available throughout the world. On the other hand, workers removed from the social supports provided by their original communities and governments are placed in extremely precarious life circumstances, and thus, easily preyed upon by global corporations. Likewise, in their migrations workers are subject to rigorous control under border policies of governments who serve neoliberal interests. 
The conditions under which forced migrations develop involve multiple risks and dangers, particularly in the case of the most vulnerable groups. These involve permanent exposure to conditions of labor insecurity and instability, and social exclusion in host societies. Furthermore, as has been mentioned, international migration is increasingly subjected to criminalization policies and practices, racialization, and race- and gender-based discrimination, which not only increases vulnerabilities and risk, but also often endangers life itself.

One Thousand Days When One is Too Many

Click here to access article by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers from Dissident Voice.
Think of that, count it off . . . 1,000 days; that is how long Bradley Manning has been incarcerated without a trial.
US Empire agents violate laws whenever it suits the interests of the One Percent ruling class. Laws and the legal system only apply to us. They are only another weapon to oppress us and to keep us as labor commodities to feed their profit machine.
In more than 55 cities this weekend and around the world, people will rally, hold forums, protest – take whatever action they can to lift the veil and expose the truth.  Join them or create your own.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Defending Howard Zinn

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

Dolack finds much to criticize in an attack on Howard Zinn's popular history book A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present. The author of the attack is Professor Wineburg writing for the magazine of the American Federation of Teachers, American Educator

Being published in an education journal is particularly significant. Wineburg's attack is an illustration of what is known as "gatekeeping" with Wineburg functioning as a gatekeeper. This occurs frequently in education circles by One Percent ideologues to insure that everyone is indoctrinated properly in values, information, and understanding of issues vital to our masters in the One Percent.

Zinn's history was written for ordinary people, and its purpose was to survey much of the history that is omitted or distorted in US schools. As an introductory general history text for this purpose, it is excellent. However, one should not stop there as many on the left do, but seek out other more primary sources of history such as listed in my books section.

W.E.B. Du Bois vs Booker T. Washington - Then and Now

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of the interview with Anthony Monteiro provided by The Real News. He's a professor of African-American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.

It's important to recover much of the history that has been removed from education by censors of the One Percent. My own experience of African-American history was very limited. I learned a lot about Booker T. Washington, but only a few references to W.E.B. Dubois in my education that included university history courses. This video and subsequent ones in the series should help me and you recover some of what our masters in the One Percent decided was not good for us to know. Monteiro makes us aware that attitudes expressed by Booker T. Washington are still evident today.

Deranging America

Click here to access article by Linh Dinh from Dissident Voice.

This is not pleasant reading, but the author accurately observes that there has been a change in the behavior of Americans. Nowadays we too often see Americans acting out with violence against others, regarding their fellow citizens with suspicion, behaving toward others with callousness, and uncritically accepting views from media authorities. I noticed this also after returning in 2006 from living four years mostly outside the US.
Violence, always violence. From infancy, Americans are conditioned to enjoy violence, then lured or pressured to support it at every stage of life.

Thawing Permafrost May Be “Huge Factor” in Global Warming

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

Thawing permafrost is emitting more climate-heating carbon faster than previously realised. Scientists have now learned that when the ancient carbon locked in the ice thaws and is exposed to sunlight, it turns into carbon dioxide 40 percent faster.
“This really changes the trajectory of the debate”....

Open-Source Education and the People’s Book Project

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from his blog. 

This young Canadian writer is working overtime to make the world a better place. It is thanks to young people like him that we have any hope to live in a just and sustainable world. We simply must support Marshall and The People’s Book Project all of whom are working so hard for these ends.
The People’s Book Project is a crowd-funded initiative to support the research and writing of a series of books studying ideas, institutions, and individuals of power… and resistance. The Project has been going for roughly a year and a half, and has yielded an immense amount of research and writing, all thanks to the generous donations of supporters, as well as readers who have shared and promoted the Project and articles.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Climate Change: The Folly of "Demanding" Action

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from LocalOrg.

The author provides another assessment of the protest action on Sunday at the National Mall in Washington DC. While he makes some great points about the corporate-financial control of government and their connections with the environmental organizations which were the main sponsors of the event, he fails to take issue with the system (capitalism) that has created the corporate-financial parasites who in their mad pursuit of profits are destabilizing our planet's ecosystem.

Also, I do not like his framing of climate change in such a huge geologic time-frame in which he correctly indicates that the Earth's climate has change dramatically at various times. He follows this by suggesting that we can adapt to such dramatic changes through the proper application of technology. This is an incorrect view of things. Human life is geologic time-frame dependent. We can only exist within certain ecosystem conditions. We should not be looking at the longest term geologic time-frame, but at a human-centric time frame within which humans can survive if we cease destabilizing our planet's ecosystem.

Twenty-First Century Imperialism: Militarism, Collaborators And Popular Resistance

Click here to access article by James Petras from his blog.

The author surveys capitalist operations throughout the world to provide insights on the current stage of capitalism. In this process he updates "Marx and Lenin to take account of the systematic criminalization of capital as a central element in the process of capital reproduction.  He writes: "As capital becomes criminal, criminals become capitalists – on a world-historic scale." However, he concludes his essay with hopeful signs of the decay and collapse of capitalism.

Note: there appears to be a typographical error in this overly long and complex sentence: 
The collaboration of the governing political class and their local financial elites was essential in facilitating the long term, large scale plunder of the local economy, taxpayers, employees, negotiating the terms and time frame for paying tribute to the imperial states: Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal because [became] the site of the biggest suction pump for imperial enrichment in modern history: entire working populations are impoverished to transfer wealth for at least the next generation and beyond.

The Other Bradley Manning

Click here to access article by Nozomi Hayase from CounterPunch.

Ruling class authorities are targeting hackers, those who expose ruling class secrets, for cruel and unusual punishment. The only way we, the people, can protect our heroes is to insure that they are not forgotten.
Once they are behind bars, they become incognito, losing connection to the outside world. Inside the cage is a twilight zone where laws and conventions can be bent by those who are powerful, with little oversight or accountability.

Meddling Australian Senator Deported from Malaysia

Click here to access article from Alternative Thai News Network, a website maintained by Tony Cartalucci based in Bangkok, Thailand. Note: I was unable to enlarge two images that needed enlarging in the article satisfactorily to post on my website, but located them on their NGOs' websites. The first from NDI is located here, and you will need to scroll slightly down to "NDI Programs", and the second from NED is here, but you need to scroll down to page 9.

Because much of the world see elections as an indication of democracy, and Empire propagandists work hard to propagate and reinforce that notion, the shaping and management of elections are vitally important to secure Empire interests--the global interests of capitalist One Percents. Hence, the need for NGOs to do precisely that.

Cartalucci has been very good at tracking the influence of Empire funded NGO's working in countries that Empire policy directors regard as important strategically to maintain their interests. I think much more exposure of this form of imperialism is critically needed to gain a more complete understanding of the behind-the-scenes forces shaping political events such as the Arab Spring and the colour revolutions. Politically oriented Empire-serving NGOs are a major weapon, often referred to as soft power operations, in the arsenal of operatives in their pursuit of world domination for the US led Empire. 

I also came across this page from NED's website that was interesting regarding organizations in Malaysia and amounts NED provided to them in 2007. Notice that these activities are always justified with Newspeak statements such as promoting "human rights", "participatory democracy", and "citizen awareness of electoral processes and voting rights".

I have yet to understand why so many countries allow Western funded NGOs and other front political organizations to function within their countries. This piece doesn't add much to that understanding, but at least it raises the issue once again and shows that some countries are starting to counter such efforts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

US-Saudi Funded Terrorists Sowing Chaos in Pakistan

Click here to access article from Land Destroyer Report.

Once again we see an illustration of the Empire's funding of terrorists throughout the Middle East and north Africa since 9/11 to destabilize countries that get in the way of Empire interests. This article provides well-documented evidence to support its thesis that US-Saudi and other associated Arab kingdoms are the sources of funding used to promote sectarian conflicts and general chaos in Baluchistan province of Pakistan. The Empire's targeting of Baluchistan province appears to be motivated by concerns over China's efforts to construct a major oil pipeline through the province. Also, note the use of both hard and soft power (using NGOs) strategies to support destabilization.

Most Terrorist Plots in the US Aren't Invented by Al Qaeda -- They're Manufactured by the FBI

Click here to access article by Trevor Aaronson from AlterNet

While US agencies and their medieval Arab allies sponsor terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa for political purposes, US agencies promote terrorist acts within the US. Can you imagine why? 

However, there were some statements in the article that troubled me. Generally, the author accepts the government's story about 9/11. Specifically, this statement jumped out at me because it was in sharp contrast to many other reports I've read:
The men responsible for downing the World Trade Center were disciplined and patient....
For example, in Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-up in Florida, the author, Daniel Hopsicker, through his investigations found that Atta and companions were living it up in their Florida hangouts, doing cocaine and downing more booze than an eighties rock band. They partied hard at strip clubs and Atta even kept one of the strippers for a girlfriend. This description hardly fits that of a "disciplined and patient" group of terrorist plotters.

Then the author accepts the government's assertion that Al Qaeda launched a new program described by the FBI as follows:
Al Qaeda’s leaders moved to what FBI officials describe as a “franchise model.” If you can’t run Al Qaeda as a hierarchical, centrally organized outfit, the theory went, run it as a franchise. In other words, export ideas—not terrorists. Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations went online, setting up websites and forums dedicated to instilling their beliefs in disenfranchised Muslims already living in Western nations.
This article looks to me like a piece designed in the mode of damage control to contain the public's reaction to reports of entrapment of unstable individuals by government agencies. The author never questions government's statements, which he often quotes, regarding so-called Al Qaeda operations; but merely suggests that some of their tactics in luring lone malcontents into terrorist activities are misguided. Referring to such entrapment operations as "sting operations", the author accepts other government justifications:
...it has been an effective tool for decades. It’s also the direct predecessor to today’s terrorism sting. Instead of empty briefcases, the FBI today uses inert bombs and disabled assault rifles, and now that counter-terrorism is the Bureau’s top priority, the investigation of major drug crimes has largely fallen back to the DEA. Just as no-dope busts resulted in the arrest and prosecution of those in the drug trade in the twentieth century, terrorism sting operations are resulting in the arrest and prosecution of would-be terrorists in this century.
Such is journalism from liberal media in the US. They often, like AlterNet pretend to offer alternative and critical analysis of current issues like this article with its dramatic anti-government headline, but its content actually stays within limits acceptable to the ruling class.

Pseudo-Protests And Serious Climate Crisis

Click here to access article by David Swanson from War is a Crime.

The author provides a review of Sunday's protest of the Keystone pipeline at the National Mall in Washington DC. If this is the best that North American climate change activists can offer as opposition to the pipeline, then God, or Allah, (insert your favorite deity here) help us!

From Cheerleader to Enemy of the State

Click here to access article by William T. Hathaway from Dissident Voice.

The author interviews a public school teacher who was fired because she strayed a little too far from acceptable government propaganda. I wish I had had a teacher like her when I went to school--except that she probably would have been fired also. In the US they don't kill you for telling the truth, they just take away your means of support.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

71 Years After Executive Order 9066 (What We’re Up Against)

Click here to access article by Mickey Z. from World News Trust.

The author points out a lot of the contradictions in the propagandists' myths regarding WWII, but appears to be rather confused about "what we're up against". It is a tribute to the Empire's propagandists that Americans on the left still don't know, more than 65 years later, what WWII was really about. His emphasis on racism throughout the article is only slightly offset near the end by including  Zinn's question which only vaguely suggests another reason for the war. 
"Was it a 'mistake' or was it an action to be expected from a nation with a long history of racism and which was fighting a war, not to end racism, but to retain the fundamentals of the American system?"
Zinn's feeble question implying something about the American system is not very helpful. The "fundamentals of the American system" that Zinn refers to here is not American at all. It is largely a product of Western civilization. In this statement he is timidly referring to capitalism.

With regard to racism, ruling classes learned a long time ago that if one divides enemies into warring camps, it is so much easier to maintain their rule. This "divide and conquer or rule" strategy has been used with great success by ruling classes throughout history, and it continues to be used today.  Racism in 1930s Germany was also a very useful way to deflect all resentments about an oppressive capitalist economy onto Jews and gypsies along with other groups such as communists who were often equated with Jews. Today's Empire propagandists prefer to target "terrorists" and equate them with Muslims. 

American leftists really need to be de-programmed in order to rid themselves of so many false and misleading ideas implanted in their heads by American institutions. The only way to do that is to read books from independent sources. Only reading books by Zinn will not suffice. Zinn's material is only for beginners. Regarding WWII and American capitalism I suggest reading such books as Facts and Fascism by George Seldes, Trading with the Enemy by Charles Higham, Triumphant Plutocracy by R.F. Pettigrew, and others listed on the books section of this blog. (Pettigrew wrote his book in 1921 after serving two terms in the US Senate and other government posts. That's right! In 1921 he already knew that the US was a plutocracy--something which many American leftists today, nearly 100 years later, are just discovering.)

Basically what WWII--and this was only "part 2" of WWI--was about was a contest between Anglo-American and German-lead capitalist empires for world dominance. See this for more on my views about WWII and this recent article by Dr. Jacques R. Pauwels.

This Week in Energy - Billionaires Secretly Funding Climate Denial Think Tanks

Click here to access article by James Stafford from OilPrice.  
The shocking news this week (at least to the Guardian) is that secret funding helped build a vast network of climate denial think tanks. 

Historic Case to Challenge BBC’s 9/11 Coverage

Click here to access article by Peter Drew from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth
Over the last 16 months, BBC has been challenged strongly by individuals in the UK over two documentaries that they showed in September 2011 as part of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, namely ‘9/11: Conspiracy Road Trip’ and ‘The Conspiracy Files: 9/11 Ten Years On’. Formal complaints were lodged with BBC over the inaccuracy and bias of these documentaries, which, according to 9/11 activists, was in breach of the operating requirements of BBC through their ‘Royal Charter and Agreement’ with the British public. This document requires BBC to show information that is both accurate and impartial.

Anger and uncertainty about the 1%

Click here to access book review by Peter Hogarth from socialist.ca.

I have read this book and agree with most of Hogarth's review of a recently published book entitled Plutocrats. It should be kept in mind that the book's author,  Christia Freeland, has worked as a journalist for important financial media and has had extensive contacts with top capitalists. As I see the book, its main contribution is not Freeland's views--she understandably would not bite the hands that have fed her career, but  the inside views expressed by Wall Street major players about many of the current issues regarding the economy and capitalism.
Plutocrats expresses both this anger at the super-rich for their profit at the expense of the rest of us, but it is also unsure about what can be done about it. Freeland attacks the “philanthro-capitalists” for their charitable solutions to inequality, but she also identifies aspiring billionaires as the social force motivating protests in Egypt and Russia. Clear ways forward are hard to come by, but Freeland seems to be making the case that the bankers and lack-of-regulation have put us in this mess in what could otherwise be a healthy capitalism. She suggests that by regulating and mitigating the effects of the profit-motive, a more equal and just capitalism can be obtained.