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, April 6, 2013

Heading for a lost decade? Latin lessons for Europe

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution

The author looks at various debt crises from the 1930s until today in order to understand why different solutions have been used by governing elites to deal with the crises. He especially is interested in teasing out the answer to this question:
...if default was still considered a legitimate policy response in the 1930s, and proved to be such a fiscal catharsis in Argentina in 2001, then why did Latin America not default en masse in the 1980s — and why does Southern Europe not default en masse today?
His arguments and evidence he offers provide some illuminating insights that, for me, are very convincing given my background knowledge of the effects of the greater concentration of wealth and power in recent times. Furthermore, having read many of Roos's articles over the past two years, I have been impressed with his very credible analyses of political-economic events in Europe.

The war against Iraq and the peoples of Africa

Click here to access article by Horace G. Campbell from Pambazuka News (Africa).

This American professor who specializes in African affairs provides his review of the Iraq war and argues that the same project, promulgated by the same people, is being initiated in Africa.
...many of the private military contractors that enjoyed lucrative contracts in Iraq are stoking the fires of instability in Africa to provide the employment opportunities for US private military contractors. The non-governmental organizations from the USA who now work in tandem with the US Africa Command have remained silent in the face of the reorganized military thrust in Africa under the banner of defense, development and diplomacy. It is from the network of those same forces that have been discredited in Iraq where the US counter-terror experts are planning for the expansion of US military activities in Africa.

The USA vs. Leslie James Pickering

Click here to access article by Geoff Kelly from ArtVoice.
Last August, Leslie James Pickering received unsettling news from an old acquaintance he’d known in Portland, Oregon, where both had lived in the 1990s. Pickering’s friend, now living in the Southwest, had received a phone call from two men who identified themselves as agents in the FBI’s Buffalo field office.
The author's report illustrates how one who protests against destructive environmental policies, especially those that inhibit corporations' self-proclaimed right to plunder, and engages in other activist campaigns become targets of US police state agents.

Heroes All Around US!

Click here if you wish to access the Aloe Blacc website on which this 6:38m video was posted.
Heroes all around us! What’s in your garden? I was visiting the Community Coalition one morning in “South Los Angeles” couldn’t find a decent grocery store or restaurant for breakfast. Plenty of vacant lots full of trash but no vegetables.
For those of my readers in foreign lands, you need to know that South Central Los Angeles is one of many urban deserts in the US where people try to live, people who elites regard as throw-away or disposable people.

Leaked News From Government Insider: Ireland To Opt Out Of IMF/World Bank And Join New BRICS Bank

Click here to access article by Gabriel Donohoe from his blog Fools Crow's Blog (Ireland).

I don't how valid this leaked piece of news is; but if it is true, it could be the start of something big. Worth keeping an eye on.
A leaked memo between the Taoiseach’s Office and the Irish Central Bank reveals that plans are well advanced for Ireland to leave the European Monetary Union and join the new monolithic international banking system set up by the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The news is setting off alarm bells within the IMF and their controllers in Wall Street.  

Bill Gates Funding New Condom Design

Click here to access article by K.C. Bell from The Spoof!

Since Bill lives just down the road a piece and being neighbors, I thought I would re-post this bit of fun at his expense. I hope he doesn't mind.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Conspiracy to Kill Martin Luther King: Not a Theory But a Fact

Click here to access article by Prof. Ira Chernus from Information Clearing House

The professor is referring to the verdict of the only trial by jury that reviewed the extensive evidence about the assassination of ML King. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary (April 4, 1968) of this despicable crime committed by secret agencies of the US as declared unanimously by a jury in Tennessee in 1999 after an extensive review of all the evidence. 

A criminal trial of the official guilty party, James Earl Ray, was never held because he initially "confessed" to the killing. Later he recanted this confession, but the government blocked all attempts to bring him to trial. Ray eventually died in prison. 

In 1999 the King Family pursued a civil trial in Memphis, Tennessee. They were not going after monetary gain, only justice and truth which the King family felt strongly that they, and the government's patsy James Earl Ray, had been denied. The civil suit was brought against a man, Loyd Jowers, who was terminally ill and confessed to a role in the crime, and "others, including governmental agencies." They were essentially putting the CIA on trial. The jury found that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy involving government agencies. (Read An Act of State by William Pepper for all the details. See also this article explaining why the shadow government needed to be rid of King.)

The trial received scant coverage by the ever compliant media under the control of the One Percent. After the verdict one of their main "newspapers of record", The Washington Post, immediately discredited the verdict with this statement:
Memphis prosecutors interviewed the two sisters whom Pepper claimed had worked in Jowers's restaurant and had corroborated his story. Both recanted. Moreover, in a telephone conversation between the sisters, taped by authorities, the main witness for Jowers admitted that the entire story was false.
This was an extremely violent period in US history that witnessed numerous killings of key political actors who actively opposed, or inhibited, foreign and domestic policies that the shadow government of the US wanted to pursue--mainly the war in Vietnam and other imperial adventures abroad and racist and anti-labor policies within the US.

By the time of his assassination (April 4, 1968) the political operatives of the One Percent (CIA/FBI and affiliated underworld criminals) had become very skilled at assassinations. They had practiced for years on various attempts (some have estimated over 200 attempts) on Fidel Castro but without success.

They had decided that John Kennedy was to be eliminated because he was refusing to follow their agenda of rollback in Vietnam and was pursuing secret talks with Khrushchev on disarmament. With the successful assassination of John Kennedy in November of 1963, they had perfected the art of assassination within the US by adding designated patsies and devising coverups. (Read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass). 

Filled with arrogance from this triumph, they proceeded to kill others who posed threats to their rule--Malcolm X in 1965, Martin Luther King in April, 1968 followed by Robert Kennedy in June. (Of course, there were many others of less stature who were murdered, for example, Black Panther leaders.)

A public criminal trial was never allowed in any of these cases because of the government's "sovereign immunity". In our land of the free where the government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, the people cannot put a U.S. intelligence agency on trial. 

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Corporate Power-Tool of The 1%

Click here to access article by Nile Bowie from Boiling Frogs
The level of secrecy surrounding the agreements is unparalleled – paramilitary teams scatter outside the premise of each round of discussions while helicopters loom overhead – media outlets impose a near-total blackout of reportage on the subject and US Senator Ron Wyden, the Chair of the Congressional Committee with jurisdiction over TPP, was denied access to the negotiation texts. “The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations — like Halliburton, Chevron, PhaRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America — are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Wyden, in a floor statement to Congress.
The author provides many horrendous details that he has uncovered in the proposed TTP regulations that would be enforced by supra-national bodies under the control of multinational corporations.

It appears to me that what fascism offered as an answer to capitalist elites in the 1930s, these so-called "free trade" agreements are their strategy of choice in the 21st century. Whereas fascism crushed democratic forms of government in the earlier period, these supra-national bodies will simply make democratic forms, as weak as they are, irrelevant.

Why Was Atlanta's Beverly Hall Indicted For Racketeering While Michelle Rhee Won't Be?

Click here to access article by Bruce A. Dixon from Black Agenda Report

The author provides an excellent report on the differences in the way that one superintendent of schools is being attacked for colluding with teachers under her to revise test scores with another former superintendent of schools in Washington DC. The main difference is clear: the latter was a strong advocate of privatization of schools while the former was mostly trying to secure her and her teachers jobs from being eliminated.
Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of DC's public schools enjoyed a reign of terror over a couple years in which she fired hundreds of teachers, and a number of principals, and handed over public school properties to her favorite charter schools, and ceaselessly berated parents and educators. There are widespread allegations that she too fostered a “climate of fear” under which teachers and administrators knew that if scores on expensive, irrelevant tests did not rise, their schools would be closed.
And, there was considerable evidence that many Washington DC's teachers and administrators also revised test scores to secure their jobs. If you have time, I recommend that you watch PBS Frontline's 53:40m report on Michelle Rhee's experience as superintendent of schools in Washington DC.

Libya Intervention More Questionable in Rear View Mirror

Click here to access article by Jim Lobe from Inter Press Service
...the central government has proved unable to reassert its control over much of the nation, leaving a huge security vacuum filled by a multitude of militias – including radical Islamists who may have been responsible for the killing of the U.S. ambassador and two of his staff in Benghazi last September.

“Libya has gone from being a tyrannical state to being barely a state at all,” according to Robert Kaplan, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in an article published Thursday “…(A) descent into worse chaos cannot be ruled out.”

That vacuum also permitted the wholesale looting of Gaddafi’s massive arsenals. “The weapons proliferation that we saw coming out of the Libyan conflict was of a scale greater than any previous conflict...." 
It seems to me that this is the intention of the Empire: to destabilize nations that cannot be absorbed into the Empire, to allow them to descend into states of chaos so that they are effectively neutralized.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The new propaganda is liberal. The new slavery is digital

Click here to access article by John Pilger from New Statesman (Britain).

The author provides a much needed, updated understanding of ruling class propaganda from when it was systematically used in the Nazi era.
Whereas a generation ago, dissent and biting satire were allowed in the “mainstream”, today their counterfeits are acceptable and a fake moral zeitgeist rules. “Identity” is all, mutating feminism and declaring class obsolete. Just as collateral damage covers for mass murder, “austerity” has become an acceptable lie. Beneath the veneer of consumerism, a quarter of Greater Manchester is reported to be living in “extreme poverty”.

The Obama Administration pays for CNN content

Click here to access article from The Obama Hustle

It is very unusual to get testimony from a journalist about the management of news reporting. This is very understandable given that media ownership is so highly concentrated, and straying from the "party line" can be hazardous for a journalist's career. But, this is what we see reported here first from a prominent news website in Slovakia (re-posted on a Syrian news website) and confirmed by her, ex-CNN reporter Amber Lyon, in an Alex Jones interview. Such reports, of course, will never see the light of day in US media.

The author at The Obama Hustle seems shocked by such news, like he is uncovering a scandal about Obama, which seems to be the limited focus of his website. The author seems blithely unaware that this is a major function of mainstream media in any class structured society, however it is even more pronounced in the highly concentrated media of the Empire. (See this for an article which supplies some excellent links to other documents detailing the use of journalists to shape US public opinion. Note that the material on Anderson Cooper is very thin.) Nevertheless, we owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing this rare exposé by a former mainstream media journalist and related events about news management in the Empire.

However, in checking out the links in this article, I kept running into dead links. (One can only speculate why this has occurred.) Still, with persistence I managed to track down and verify the essential material, the main one being the interview of Lyon by Alex Jones. I thought the author's comments about Jones was spot-on:
He is wound up tighter than piano wire, and unfortunately much of his truth is diminished because of the hype he places upon it. Alex Jones is easy to disregard as a “conspiracy theorist”, not because of what he says, but because of how he says it. Everything is desperate and dangerous with him.
That said, the words and explanations of Ms. Lyon in the discussion/interview are poignant and vastly informative. So I share the video with you so you can hear from Amber herself exactly what is being described and articulated.

U.S., NATO Expand Into Asia-Pacific With North Korea As Pretext.

Click here to access audio interview and transcript of remarks by Rick Rozoff posted on The Voice of Russia. Note: This geopolitical analyst has long followed NATO related events and his reports are widely posted on a number of reliable websites.

Rozoff's assessment of US's current hostile relations with North Korea makes a lot of sense given the US administration's recent focus on the Pacific region. Every year US and South Korean forces like to intimidate North Korea by holding military exercises near their border, but this year a new element was introduced which understandably has rattled the leadership of North Korea:
What is most alarming about this year’s however, is the fact that in recent days the United States deployed two B-2 Strategic Long-Range Nuclear Bombers, they flew non-stop from the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to South Korea to fly over the Korean peninsula. These are nuclear capable bombers, that is they are capable of dropping nuclear payloads.
Rozoff goes on to explain why this was done as a part of an overall Empire strategy to contain China and Russia. Although both countries transformed their economic systems to capitalism and thus ended the Cold War, that does not indicate more peaceful relations as we are witnessing. Capitalist circles are always seeking dominance over others in their competition to secure access and control of key resources, markets, and cheap labor. After all, wasn't that what two devastating world wars were fought over? (See my commentary posted here.) China and Russia for the most part refuse to follow the diktats of the NATO led Empire, and therefore must be intimidated and contained.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Inequality Crisis

Click here if you wish to access the source of the 19:27m video on RSA (Britain). 

The British economist Lansley is no radical, but here he is pointing out graphically the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us, and the contradiction this poses for a capitalist economy that depends on growth. 
Economist and author Stewart Lansley argues that the surging income gap of recent decades has not only been socially corrosive, but is also at the roots of our national and global economic crises.

Regardless of the social injustice the system is creating, what is even a greater, and more dangerous, contradiction is a growth-addicted system on a finite planet! So how do you think our masters in the One Percent will deal with this dilemma? They must be fully aware of these contradictions, but there are absolutely no indications that they see the necessity, much less the will, to opt for another system. 

So far, all indications suggest that they will rely of the use of force and surveillance to keep us from revolting. As the planet's systems that support human life deteriorate, the One Percent are prepared to allow huge numbers of populations to die off in various climate-related catastrophes. Meanwhile, indications suggest that they are preparing for these calamities by securing themselves behind well-guarded, gated communities, and using the latest technology to sustain their lives. See this, this, and this.

Hence, it is clear that it us up to us to save ourselves. Are we up to the task?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rise of the Global Corporatocracy: An Interview with John Perkins

Click here to access the transcript of this interview from Monthly Review.

John Perkins, the author of the famous book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, provides an update of his observations found in his book and on various issues related to the economic crisis experienced in many countries of the world. For example, he was asked this question:
The degree of monopolization has reached an unprecedented level today. Oligarchy is established not just in Russia but throughout the rich capitalist countries. So is the industry of the EHMs growing and adapting to meet the new needs of global capital?
However, I think his understanding of capitalism is rather limited as expressed in his answer to this question:
We are confronted daily with so many crises that are global in nature yet appear separate and unrelated. Isn’t the crisis now—including all its political, economic, environmental, and other aspects—a crisis of the global capitalist system itself as opposed to merely a financial crisis or a sum of multiple systemic crises?
His problem with capitalism is limited to the recent development of capitalism which he identifies as "predatory capitalism":
I think it is a mutant viral form of capitalism that really took hold in the 1970s and has been spreading ever since. As expressed by famous economist Milton Friedman, it is based on a single premise, a single goal, and that goal is to maximize profits, without taking into account social and environmental cost.
This has always been true of capitalism--that is the core nature of the beast. What is new about it is that it has gone global, it increasingly is directed by transnational elites ensconced in the major financial institutions and the Empire's military in the form of NATO. And, sovereign debts is increasingly being used, as he points out, to put entire nations under the control of the financial elites and to enable this class to strip entire nations of their assets.

Obama's Peace Antics in Israel - Four More Years of This?

Click here to access article by Ramzy Baroud from Uncommon Thought Journal.

At the precise moment US President Barack Obama's Air Force One touched down at Ben Gurion Airport on March 20, persisting illusions quickly began to shatter. And as he walked on the red carpet, showered with accolades and warm embraces of top Israeli government and military officials, a new/old reality began to sink in: Obama was no different than his predecessors. He never had been.

Photo from May 2009 meeting

Baroud reports on Obama's recent visit to Israel, and concludes that he performed is task very well. This means, of course, that he performed well as evaluated by his ruling class handlers in the One Percent. Given the past displays of Obama's body language while conferring with Netanyahu, it is clear that Obama despises him. According the Daily Censored, that feeling is mutual.

'Assange chances very good in Australian senate election'

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of RT's interview with Assange's campaign manager.
Julian Assange’s chances to snatch a seat in the Australian Senate are pretty high, his campaign manager Greg Barns told RT, adding that the WikiLeaks founder would force the country’s government run their policies more honestly if that happens.
I find this a very interesting development, and one we should continue to keep an eye on.

Obama's Korean Game Strategy

Click here to access article by Murray Hunter from Asia Sentinel
This can be seen as a replay of the old strategy of building up a caricature of evil, someone the US loves to hate. With Muammar Gaddafi, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein all gone, someone is desperately needed with all the abilities required to "wage war on the United States". With the US moving their homeland policy towards domestic terrorism, a new international threat is needed. And Kim Jong-un fits the profile perfectly. Don't worry that the North doesn't have the capacity to make a first strike on US soil. Just as in Iraq, the details can be glossed over. The 'evil empire' brand was created by Reagan, carried on by Bush is now ready to be utilized by this administration.
The only problem I have with this geo-political analysis of the latest military crisis is the framing of US actions as "Obama's strategy". This is so common among political commentators that I suppose I should just ignore it, however such framing serves the Empire by hiding the true decision-makers. (It is quite possible that the editors of this publication selected the title, and not the author.) To be sure, it is difficult to determine who is really making the decisions, but those who are, are definitely not those nominally selected for official offices. We must be aware of that as a part of our understanding of the real nature of capitalist class rule so that we can grow out of childish notions of living in any kind of democracy.

Think about it. The last real policy change came in with the election of Reagan in 1980. He was sponsored and managed by those who have been described as neo-conservatives. Since then it hasn't made any significant difference who the characters were who occupied formal offices--whether Bush Sr, Bill Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry--foreign policies (and most domestic policies) have remained essentially the same: an aggressive pursuit of military and financial dominance over the rest of the world. The only change that I can see is that the real decision-makers are taking on a more international capitalist class nature.

Other than this criticism, I highly recommend this analysis. (Also, see Finian Cunningham's take on the Korean crisis.)

Tunis: A tale of two World Social Forums

Click here to access article by Nick Dearden from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt

The author reports on some interesting developments in the recent WSF as well as a critical evaluation of these meetings.

Monday, April 1, 2013

No hierarchy, equal access

Click here to access article by Sylvia Kay from The Broker

Whenever I read or hear certain words, I mentally run the other way. I'm referring to words or phrases such as "public private partnership", "reform", and "re-structuring". They all seem like such neutral, even benign sounding words. The ruling One Percent excels at creating such words as one tool in their vast arsenal of indoctrination techniques designed to obtain public consent for policies that usually work against the public's interests and for the private interests of the ruling One Percent.

The author explores the details of PPP programs by examining their operations in Africa under the direction of neoliberal agents. She follows this with a description of a "different type of partnership" as a positive contrast.
...PPPs [public private partnership] are a key vehicle for the advancement of private sector interests and corporatized technology, even while evoking the language of smallholder agriculture.  Key to AGRA’s vision, for instance, is the building of ‘partnerships’ across the ‘value chain’. What this means in practice is the conversion of African smallholder farming to a form of high external input agriculture, reliant on the patented seeds and technologies of Monsanto and other transnational corporations.

The drive to dismantle Medicare

Click here to access article by Andre Damon from World Socialist Web Site
Following the imposition of “sequestration” budget cuts that will amount to $1.2 trillion over the next decade, Obama and the Republicans are quickly turning their attention to slashing and ultimately dismantling Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly in the United States.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Twilight of Justice

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

The author begins his article with a review of all the Congressional hearings and Justice department statements regarding the "to big to fail banks" and concludes:
I think  we have not yet thought through the immense consequences of the decision that has been made for us, that G-SIFIs [Globally, Systemically Important Financial Institutions] are above the law.  But I think we need to make a start.
And, that is what he proceeds to do. It is mind boggling, but his effort is only a beginning.

Surprised? Monsanto Openly Wrote Own Monsanto Protection Act

Click here to access article by Anthony Gucciardi from Nation of Change.

The only thing that surprises me about this article is that the author failed to mention ALEC which has streamlined the process for corporations. (See this, this, and this.) 
The passing of this bill into law means that Monsanto is now immune from federal courts regarding any suspension or action on their crops that have been deemed to be dangerous to the people (or the environment).
This omission may be because he likes to be "non-partisan" or above politics. 
As you probably know I do not play the political clown game of left versus right, and instead highlight corruption and wrongdoing wherever it is found — regardless of party affiliation. 
To be "political" in the US is to engage in foolishness. I was reminded of this the other day when an acquaintance of mine posed the following comment very sarcastically in the context of planning to get together: "What will we talk about--politics?"

On the other hand, the author clearly explains what he means by engaging in "the political clown game of left versus right" when he presents the range of what he regards as acceptable political views by adding the phrase "regardless of party affiliation". Such engagement within this very limited range is obviously foolish. This attitude is very common among my fellow Americans. But, why should one be so limited? This illustrates the profound impact of indoctrination agencies (mainstream media, education, Hollywood films, etc.) in the US to control the minds of its citizens.

Dying Iraq War Veteran Writes Parting Letter to Bush and Cheney

Click here to access article by Livia Bergmeijer from Muftah.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Obama's New SEC 'Sheriff.' No Conflict of Interest When it Comes to Shielding Wall Street's Pin Striped Mafia

Click here to access article by Tom Burghardt from Antifascist Calling

Corporate foxes guarding the public chicken coop

The author takes off from a Reuters' announcement to explore the whole topic of government regulators who answer to the One Percent.
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country....
Of course, such data could be useful in tracking rich tax evaders, but that is not what our masters in the One Percent have in mind.

From the World Social Forum to the Arab Revolts

Click here to access article by Esther Vivas from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt
Currently the axis of mobilisation is no longer in Latin America, where the WSF was born. It is now in the Arab world and in an old Europe boiling with protest and “third worldised” as it is struck by crisis. the challenge now is to learn from these struggles which in the not so distant past have emerged against debt, evictions and privatisation in the countries of the South. And to advance towards the indispensable coordination of resistance which can face up to the implacable organisation of capital.
See also this declaration issued by the staff of the official website of the World Social Forum,  Climate Space, that just concluded in Tunisia.

Through the WSF process, the Social Movements Assembly is the place where we come together through our diversity, in order to forge common struggles and a collective agenda to fight against capitalism, patriarchy, racism and all forms of discrimination and oppression. We have built a common history of work which led to some progress, particularly in Latin America, where we have been able to intervene in neoliberal alliances and to create several alternatives for just development that truly honors nature.