In a chilling 16-page dossier known simply as the White Paper, one of Obama’s statutory brains at the Justice Department cites the 1969 secret bombing of Cambodia as a legal rationale justifying drone strikes, deep inside nations, against which the United States is not officially at war.This is another illustration of how a ruling class can use its power over any legal institutions in society to justify what its government does. Thus, contrary to the author's view, to informed and politically aware citizens there is nothing "startling" about this disclosure. It's long past time that people on the left grew up!
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, May 4, 2013
Judging by his optimistic conclusion, the author clearly doesn't understand the power of money in the system of capitalism. He doesn't understand why the capitalist class could insert sections in constitutions promising "freedom of speech" and other such freedoms, and proclaim that they were running a "democracy" when this power of money could easily determine which speech is read or heard, or any other such freedom could be exercised.
Fitts is a former Assistant Secretary of Housing under the Bush (Jr) administration, presently an investment banker, and investment adviser with Solari Investment Services. She exemplifies an old-fashioned conservative who fervently believes in the capitalist system, from which she secures her fortune; but at the same time she recognizes that the system is destroying our society. She maintains her belief system by criticizing the way it functions even though she hints at the conclusion of this video that such criticism is futile.
She uses the metaphor of a body to explain her understanding of the economy. However, what she seems to miss in this metaphor is that the system of capitalism functions like any parasite, once it destroys one molecule or one body, it simply moves on to feed off another until it also dies. If you think about it, this functioning of capitalism was clearly expressed by Margaret Thatcher when she declared "there is no such thing as society [body]. There are individual men and women, and there are families [capitalists]."
The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.
Drawing direct parallels to the irresponsible, inadequate, inaccurate and dangerously ideological media malpractice during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the CISSM report concludes that press coverage on the Iranian nuclear program has been – and continues to be – similarly distorted and dishonest, confusing, and contradictory.What is really surprising about this study is that it was allowed to be published at all even in an obscure journal.
The author misses the real significance of the study which is that there is no longer any kind of independent media of any scale in the US. The concentration of the media into a few hands wedded to the military-financial-industrial complex essentially means that major media have become merely a public relations department of the Pentagon.
What was the wet-dream of the nuclear industry advocates in the 1950s has resurfaced in this century as environmentalism. In reality this new effort is fundamentally driven by the needs of capitalists for cheap energy to keep their system's machinery going regardless of the health risks to the public. It is a recognition that the remaining fossil fuels are likely to become prohibitively expense.
Nuclear power stations were supposed to produce electricity which was ‘too cheap to meter’, as Lewis Strauss, chair of the Atomic Energy Commission pronounced in 1954, as part of a vision of a futuristic ‘age of peace’, in which people would also ‘travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and with great speeds’ (p.15). The reality however did not live up to the science fiction: building and operating nuclear reactors turned out to take much longer, cost much more, and be more risky than had originally been anticipated.Besides being dangerous, nuclear power is prohibitively expensive, but corporate advocates in their mad search of profits have managed to outsource most of the risk and expense to the 99 Percent.
Friday, May 3, 2013
There is a lot of important information in this posting which includes a major 48:10m video interview with Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator and whistle-blower; a 25:17m video excerpt on the James Corbett show also featuring Edmonds; and the article by the blogger to summarize the highlights of the two interviews. Edmonds is a very courageous and knowledgeable observer, who has inside knowledge she gained as an FBI translator, of political events in her native region, Turkey, and nearby areas.
She describes Operation Gladio, a CIA operation which was used in various European countries where strong working class movements existed following WWII in order to secure pro-capitalist governments. However, she explains that this model, which uses terrorism as a main tool, has become a primary weapon of Empire policy ever since and describes how it has been used in various countries. She also describes how fanatic Muslim sects have been recruited, trained, and supplied to carry out many of these project in the Middle East. She shows how the terrorist label have shifted over time on various groups depending on the political interests of the Empire. Finally, and probably of most interest currently, she explains how the Boston bombing incident fits so neatly into this geopolitical operation, and likely has implications for forthcoming US policies in relation to Syria and Iran.
I haven't had time as of this writing to listen to much of the excerpt of her interview on the James Corbett show, but it appears that she goes on to describe how Bin Laden and the whole Al Qaeda network fits into this Gladio type model.
The author, who as a highly trained specialist in images (iconography), is quite concerned about legal aspects of the growing police state in the US after viewing numerous pictures submitted by civilians of events related to the Boston bombing.
The author, of course, is a product of the US educational system which indoctrinates people to believe that our society is governed by laws that are processed through a legitimate system of government. As such the author exhibits a very naive point of view and is threatened by the images he viewed. The article essentially attempts to reconcile the images he viewed with his indoctrination.
If one somehow has escaped this indoctrination which has been carefully crafted by a capitalist ruling class to provide cover and legitimacy for their rule, one can see and understand the realities of what happens to such a society when, for whatever reason, this class feels it necessary to dispense with the cover and reveals the hidden, brutal fist of fascism. We've seen this before in Spain, Italy, Germany, and Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, and in many other areas of the world since.
After weeks of watching mainstream TV coverage of "news" related to the Boston bombing incident, I have arrived at a worrying conclusion: we have entered a new phase in the development of a police state. Watching TV news coverage is precisely like what you would have if the "news" was being broadcast from the Pentagon or the Office of Homeland Security, or any other such government enforcement agency.
There is never any mention of inconsistencies or discrepancies in the official version of what happened, and it appears that corporate TV directors are attempting to elaborate and support any official versions. This 11:24m video offers a plausible real scenario to what actually occurred, and an antidote to the non-stop propaganda-like coverage that is pouring into the living rooms of Americans across the US.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The author examines the phenomenon of center-left and center-right governments in Europe trying to deal with their economic problems. The right, of course, is dedicated in its service to the rich ruling class, but what is puzzling is that the left merely tries to tinker with the system in the hopes of making capitalism functional once again. Referring to the latter, he writes:
These political formations are trapped by their fervent wishes to stabilize an unstable capitalist system.
They wish to discover the magic reforms that will make it all work again. They do have criticisms, even if they are afraid of saying them too loud, but are hamstrung by their belief in the capitalist system, which means, today, a belief in neoliberalism and austerity, no matter what nice speeches they may make.
World Bank Whistle-blower. Confidence in the Dollar as an International Currency Is Waning. The End of Bretton Woods ?
In my hurried preparations for a long-planned outing today, I do have the time to study this thoroughly. But, I believe this report suggests some critically important political features of American capitalism that are rarely reported in mainstream media. The constant refusal by executives of the leading financial institutions to cooperate with Congressional in their attempts to obtain information about banking operations.
Later in the article I noted that the latter was explained with the author, who worked as an attorney for the World Bank, alleged that the concentrated media is owned and controlled by the same people who own and control the major banking institutions. They accomplish this by a common feature of our major economic institutions: through interlocking directorships.
Anyway, having ascertained its importance to our understanding of where real power lies in our society and the world, I leave it to you to fully examine her report.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Prashad reports on the background of the fellow who built the garment factory in Bangladesh that recently collapsed killing around 400 people, and how all associated parties have scrambled to disown him. It seems that sociopathic persons everywhere find lucrative opportunities to exploit workers to serve the profit interests of capitalists, but when things go wrong they, like old clothes, are easily discarded .
The day before the collapse of the building...Rana was informed about cracks in the walls. Three thousand two hundred people worked in five factories in this building. “The building has minor damages,” he told the press. “Nothing serious.” Local inspectors, an anaemic bunch in the face of such institutionalised thuggery, had warned that something terrible might happen. Such people are not taken seriously in neo-liberal times. They are the ones who warn of calamities and are said to misjudge the dynamic of history. When the “accident” occurs, as it did the next day, it is these soothsayers who are ignored in the flurry of reportage that wants to suggest that this could not have been foretold, or of establishment voices that would like to point to this Rana as the main culprit and not the system of which he is essentially a minor pillar.
This reminds me of reports several years ago about pallets of US dollars being shipped into Iraq, although in that case the money seemed to just disappear. This appears to be the method of choice for agents of the Empire to recruit and keep local puppets in loyal service to the Empire. The puppet this time is Karzai whose country now leads the world in opium production. The Empire's enemy in Afghanistan, the Taliban, had successfully outlawed its production before we invaded that country. The "War on Drugs" is like the "War on Terror"--a public relations gimmick to justify more expenditures for weapons, wars, police forces, and surveillance on citizens.
As the revelations about suitcases stuffed with American dollars make clear, the US has invested heavily in “human capital to lead the country’s institutions” and without a doubt has created an “enabling environment” for a collection of CIA stooges, warlords, drug traffickers and murderers to pillage Afghanistan and terrorize its people, while filling their bank accounts with money from Washington.
This piece provides a very good background on the prisoner who wrote the memoir and other information about the series. At the time of this writing, I have only read some of it and I find it tough reading. However, it is a necessary read for all Americans to see what the enforcers employed by the One Percent are doing to other human beings in our name and paid for by our tax dollars.
I really must have acted like a child all day long before the guards pried me from the population block later that day. You don’t know how terrorizing it is for a human being to be threatened with torture. One becomes literally a child. An Arabic proverb says, “Waiting on torture is worse than torture itself.” I can only confirm this proverb.
The escort team showed up at my cell: “You got to move.”
The Canadian author, who is living in Mexico, reports on the deleterious effects of NAFTA and neoliberalism in general on Mexican life, especially on their diets, their health, and their work.
The fact that workers all over the world are paying the price for the capitalist crisis clearly indicates that unions and the working classes are still on the defensive. The discontent with neoliberalism, and capitalism more generally, however, is spreading. Resistance continues to pop up in new, unexpected locations almost weekly. Alternatives to austerity are in high demand and, indeed, alternatives to capitalism in any number of forms are gaining attention. And workers, increasing numbers of them unemployed and with precarious livelihoods, are willing to fight for them.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I think the value of this article lies in its illustration of an old-fashioned conservative who was a dedicated anti-Soviet ideologue and now is someone who has discovered some truths about the political nature of the US.
Old fashioned conservatives usually had a moderate respect for truth and decency, but they were even more influenced by their dedication to the capitalist system that brought them so many rewards in terms of wealth and power. Well, it seems that their power has been eclipsed by the new capitalists who operate currently under the banner of neoliberalism (literally "new capitalism" because liberalism, the original ideology of capitalism, is often used as a synonym for capitalism), and are logically referred to as neo-conservatives. The latter are a breed married to Israel-firsters that have ensconced themselves in the center of all our major institutions to influence our foreign policies in the direction of imperial domination over the rest of the world. This domination is led by their major international credit institutions, IMF and the World Bank, aided by the imposition of the US dollar in world trade, and enforced by the violent arm of NATO should all else fail.
This development has had some positive results for old-fashioned conservatives, because having lost most of their influence, many of them like this author are now able to be more objective about some of the realities of media coverage and the electoral system. It seems that in this post-Cold War era he is no longer blinded by hysterical anti-Soviet propaganda, and thus is able to see more clearly how today's ruling class functions.
As global carbon dioxide, emissions teetered on the threshold of 400 parts per million (PPM) for the first time in three million years, delegates from countries all over the world yesterday started another round of talks on how to tackle climate change.The unfortunate fact is that nothing will prevent a continuing increase of this climate-heating gas as long as we are plagued with the system of capitalism. Fossil fuels drives the system's engine which spews out carbon dioxide. We cannot prevent climate catastrophes unless we change the system, and meetings without this on the agenda are totally futile.
Monday, April 29, 2013
The title refers to the stripping of any sense of citizenship in the New World Order.
In all these cases whatever happens to social life - suspension, dissolution, balkanization, implosion, a state of emergency - what happens to normal citizens is that citizenship (bios) evaporates. But ruling elites - political, economic, financial - don't care about citizenship. They're only interested in passive consumers.Escobar demonstrates in this piece that he is not only the world's premier journalist, but also a highly educated profound thinker. If you are like me, you will find yourself scrambling for an (online) dictionary and googling strange authors to find out what they've written. In other words, you will have your mind stretched to follow along with his attempt to make sense out of our current world.
After taking us on an intellectual tour through a tunnel of neoliberal horrors, he ends this deep essay ironically where he began in his satire of Burt Bacharach's famous pop song.
How cozy it would be to summon the retro-spirit of Burt Bacharach to define our geopolitical future and start singing, "What the world needs now / is love, sweet love".Maybe that is all we have left to fall back on in our struggle for survival.
If Escobar's article didn't get you thinking, this one might do the trick by jabbing your mind with insights like this:
The events that followed in the wake of the bombs set off at the Boston Marathon have served as an object lesson in how the police state/militarist madness of authoritarian excess becomes normalized.
Under the tedium, angst, and ennui of corporate state rule, people get high on the adrenal rush induced by the mass media feedback loop. Also, there is the illusion of breaking the spell of alienation and becoming part of a larger order.
May Day as a day of celebrating workers and expressing opposition to the One Percent who "own" our economy, an arrangement that makes wage slaves out of us, is a prime example of their suppression of our history for ideological reasons. They managed to suppress it here in the US by substituting the first Monday in September as Labor Day in which some union bosses and Democratic party leaders gave us smarmy speeches and parades to help us forget the massacres, low pay, and dangerous and poor working conditions. Nowadays, it has largely degenerated into just another meaningless day for shopping.
In was on May 1st, 1886 when workers in Chicago nearly shut the city down with a general strike to promote an 8 hour working day. During the mass protests in support of the strike a bomb was thrown by some mysterious person causing one death and numerous wounded. With very little evidence the authorities immediately arrested labor activists, mostly anarchists, for this crime. Seven were sentenced to death, six were hanged and one committed suicide before hanging.
Does this remind you of other strange incidents that have been used to target groups that the ruling class doesn't like? To promote aggression against these groups, or other such nefarious self-serving reasons? Or even to start wars?
Sunday, April 28, 2013
This was for me a very revealing exposé of the recent development of neoliberal extra-national bodies having jurisdiction over disputes between sovereign countries and corporations. They are international trade panels that are privately run, meet in private, and operated by people who have allegiances to capitalist enterprises who make decisions on these disputes. However, I don't really think that their private nature matters much. Witness the powerful private influence over our government presently and the whole electoral system.
The guest on this interview is Chakravarthi Raghavan, an international trade and investment expert, who explains that the history of this development is rooted in old-fashioned colonialism. I have strongly suspected that what we saw happening in old-fashioned colonialism in earlier periods used against less developed countries is now being applied to all countries. We of the 99 Percent are all on the way to be colonial subjects of major international financial and industrial corporations regardless of where we live! Raghavan confirms this suspicion.
You can access the first segment of the interview here.
From the Department of Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste comes word that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thinks that now is a great time to install even more surveillance cameras hither and yon around the Big Apple.
The author provides an interesting take on the Syrian crisis. However, he doesn't deal with what appears to be the latest US propaganda preparations (allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government) for another Libyan style attack on Syria. What could be the motive for such a declaration if they weren't intending to go ahead with an attack--a temporary incentive for their mercenaries in Syria to keep fighting? In any case, let us hope he is right.