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 25, 2013

Socialism for the 21st century. Interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

Click here to access the transcript of an interview with Michael A. Lebowitz by Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović from LeftEast. This interview took place in Serbia and was originally published in a Serbian publication. 

The Marxist-oriented, retired Canadian professor of economics explores several topics of concern to people who see the necessity of fundamental change to the way our societies are organized. He explains important Marxist concepts that account for the many economic crises of capitalism, the function of capitalism's latest phase of neoliberalism to create a race to the bottom for all societies, the reasons why past socialist experiments in the Soviet Union (vangardism) and Yugoslavia (competing worker enterprises) ultimately failed, the lack of relevance that Keynesian solutions have in our current globalized capitalism, and makes brief reference to the virtues of Venezuelan communal councils and cooperatives.

Because Lebowitz makes only brief reference to Chavez's "socialism for the 21st century", I don't think this is an appropriate title for the article, and this part of the interview doesn't really offer anything of substance. He has spent quite a lot of time in Venezuela and has written very favorably in other articles about their communal councils. 

I don't share this enthusiasm based on my own readings and a two week visit to Venezuela in late 2005. While such experiments have produced the germ of grassroots decision-making in that country, these communal councils and other cooperatives have too often been used by Chavez, and now his successor, to secure political support for their party which remains a top-down organized party. Meanwhile, little was done by the Chavez administrations to interfere substantially with the private sector which remains largely in control of the Venezuelan economy.

The Lunacy of Gene Patenting & Angelina Jolie's Mastectomy

Click here to access article by Prabir Purkayastha from NewsClick (India).
Jolie is an icon and her body is an important element of her appeal; therefore her decision and its consequences are clearly of great public interest. While commentaries and TV programmes have focussed on breast cancer detection and what kind of medical intervention should or should not be done, what has slipped the world's attention is that one particular company – Myriad Genetics – completely controls not only all diagnostic tests but also all research for this particular form of breast cancer.
The author reveals that the genes were originally discovered by the "University of Utah with public funds", which then sold the patents to Myriad Genetics. Ain't capitalism wonderful?

She also explores the many implications of having corporations owning the building blocks of our bodies.

Female Garment Workers in Cambodia Fighting For The Right Not To Die At Work

Click here to access article by Joel Preston from The Multicultural Politic

The exploitation that provides us with cheap clothes and retailers like Wallmart, The Gap, etc with huge profits usually goes unreported in corporate media. This report from a grass-roots media collective shows that exploitation in Dhaka, Bangladesh is not confined to that location.
Since 2010, the Cambodian garment industry has been gripped by an epidemic of mass fainting. There were no recorded fatalities but in the last three years more than 4,000 garment workers have lost consciousness en masse during work. As the gap between wage and living expenses has risen with inflation, so have the reported incidents of mass fainting. In 2011 the ILO commissioned a report into specific incidents. The report found that “workers initially suffered from illnesses such as low-blood sugar (due to lack or caloric intake), heat strain, or exhaustion causing them to lose consciousness.” 
Also, see this, this, and this.

Be My Slave: Aamna Aqeel’s Fashionable Satire Against Slavery in the Modern World

Click here to access article by Jason John Horn from Literary Ramblings.

When a person of conscience tries to point out the rude facts about what supports the fashion industry and the clothing industry in general, they get accused of racism. When huge tragedies like the recent one in Bangladesh cannot be covered up, they must be managed by corporate media so that we don't get wrong ideas about consuming such products, or worse, subversive ideas.

Clearly this is another illustration of "the Emperor has no clothes!” phenomenon in which exploitation and power relations that adversely affects all workers in one way or another in capitalist societies must be denied; otherwise we would be faced with questioning a cornerstone of all hierarchical societies--governmental authority. I often think that this phenomenon is so much like codependency for members in a dysfunctional family.

While clinicians easily recognize the symptoms of codependency in families, they rarely recognize the same dynamics in the relationship of many citizens with ruling class authorities in government, media, and education. I think the dynamics are very much the same as one finds in family members in their relationship to an abusive and domineering parent. Look at the clinical indications of codependency in this article and see if you agree that there are similar patterns of behavior among a number of citizens in the US in relation to authority figures in the broader society.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Worshipping the One and Only "Profit"

Click here if you wish to access source of this 4:19m video posting by Don Quijones from Raging Bull-Shit.

The scene features a great monologue by the CEO of UBS broadcasting laying out in the boldest terms the real role of the media in a globalized corporate-owned world that worships one thing only: profit!
I would take issue with the above description of this scene from the classic film Network (1976) . The major message conveyed here was the coming advanced stage of capitalism known today as globalization. Corporations and business has always been about profits. However, the corporations that have grown up in the bellies of societies have like a cancer largely consumed the host societies. As the protagonist in the film states: "there is no America, there is no democracy. There is only IBM, AT&T, Dupont, Union Carbide, Exxon, [etc]". 

Global elites no longer think of themselves as Americans, Russians, Englishmen, etc. Their country is the globe. They have homes in places like New York, London, Davos, Palm Beach, Aspen, Toronto, on the Riviera, etc. And they travel to and fro by private jet to their various homes and to meet their fellow elites at conferences all over the world. At such annual meetings as the Bohemian Grove, they form friendships and bonds with global capitalist elites. 

Nations nowadays only exist to control the movement of workers for the benefit of these corporations. Increasingly we are seeing supra-national laws such as NAFTA and governing bodies run by unelected elites such as the European Commission, and banking cartels such as the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank that control the supply of credit and money. Now the global One Percents are in the process of establishing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to include a much larger areas of the globe. These, like NAFTA, are corporate treaties where major corporations write their own international trade rules that supersede national laws. 

Eventually, these networks of capitalists will merge and/or consume each other until there is only one corporate entity, World Inc, with global enforcers ruling over a nightmarish police state in a world of climate extremes, polluted rivers, ocean, and air:  This will happen if we just all sit back, watch the boob tube, and mind our own business.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Sleaze Allegations Tarnish JPMorgan Chase's 'Teflon Don'

Click here to access article by Tom Burghardt from Antifascist Calling.

Burghardt loves to dig up sleaze stories about bankers and industrial corporate players, and he is good at it. There is a lot of such material in this piece, especially connected with Jamie Dimon, CEO and Chairman of JP Morgan Chase bank. There are three sections of the article that I found of particular interest. First, the secret meeting of bank heads with Obama and what appeared to have resulted from it to the benefit of the banks.
...[Jamie Dimon] and Brian Moynihan, the CEO of the Bank of America, and other members of the Financial Services Forum, a benighted cabal chaired by Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and comprised of serial financial predators such as Deutsche Bank, AIG, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, UBS, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, met with Obama at the White House for April discussions, the press was barred.
I think that this illustrates once again that Obama is really an employee of this financial section of the ruling class; and they went there to tell him what they wanted, and they got it: non-interference with their operations.

The second was that Congress earlier in March gave them added insurance against any risky bets they might make. This illustrates, once again, how the Congress also serves the master controllers of the One Percent.
One particularly filthy piece of legislative detritus which passed out on the House Agriculture and Financial Services Committees in March, HR 992, would allow banks to hold any kind of derivative in the same account as depositor funds, i.e., checking and savings accounts which enjoy FDIC insurance protection against bank losses.
He explained that a possible result of this might be what happened in the Cyprus banking crisis:
...should one of these corrupt banks go belly up, since derivatives are senior in terms of bankruptcy pay-outs, hedge fund pirates sitting on the other side of trades with the bank would get paid back first with depositors potentially left holding the bag! 
And the third was the continued use of complex derivative financial instruments to screw the public by manipulating energy prices.

The Growing Global Challenge to Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed

Click here to access article by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers from Truthout

Liberal media in the US love to target leading global corporations like Monsanto, but they refuse to recognize that targeting them is only attacking a symptom of the disease, not the disease itself which is the system of capitalism. Thus, it doesn't matter who the capitalist player is: you can substitute Monsanto with Nestle or Cargill or XYZ Inc, and you get the same result--public interests sacrificed for the benefit of private interests. This is what corporations were designed to do!

While it can be useful to point out problems caused by corporations, by not linking the issues to the system, liberal media sources like Truthout serve an important function for the ruling class by diverting attention and energies away from the real problem--the system itself.

Drop in U.S. underground water levels has accelerated -USGS

Click here to access article by Deborah Zabarenko from Reuters.  
Water levels in U.S. aquifers, the vast underground storage areas tapped for agriculture, energy and human consumption, between 2000 and 2008 dropped at a rate that was almost three times as great as any time during the 20th century, U.S. officials said on Monday.
No doubt, as the research hydrologist stated, most of the decrease is accounted for by population growth over the 20th century; however, I think it more likely that this long period masks the increase from fracking operations during the past 10 years. If I am correct, in the next decades we can expect to find that water levels in the aquifers will decrease at an accelerating rate due to the increasing reliance on this new fuel source by the growth-dependent system of capitalism. See this as an illustration.

Of course, the issue of declining fresh water supplies is not limited to the US; it is world wide. And the world wide problem is that the supply of fresh water is largely under the control of private interests in the world's One Percent. For example, this is what is happening across Asia where we see banking institutions directing and controlling the use of water supplies. As is typical of this ruling class, they use their control of media to shape public opinion to lull citizens into thinking that they are serving public needs, while their actual policies are serving private interests.
Does a sane and beneficial ADB [Asian Development Bank] policy exist for all? No. Several ADB funded projects in the areas of irrigation, flood control, watershed management, water supply and sanitation, and water management has shown that they are beneficial to a certain section of the society. These are large companies and their local agents who seek a fortune in water-trade. On the other hand, for a large section of people it has meant ecological destruction (damaging the environment and the ecosystem), displacement (loss of livelihood, loss of access to water and displacement from communities), non-achievement of project objectives (unfinished, damaged and costly infrastructure), and disregard for public benefit as ADB continues to impose a top-down planning approach that discounts people’s alternatives. Water policy of the Bank is fundamentally and structurally erroneous that facilitates big capital in the ‘field’ of water.

Washington's Agenda: Make War For Peace in Syria; Hold Millions of Economic Refugees Hostage to "Reform,"; Subsidize HMO "Disease Care"; Keep Torturing POW's

Click here to access article by Michael Smith from legalienate.

Okay, this is a satirical rant, but sometimes rants can function like an enema to help purge the soul of so much shit coming from corporate media. I felt ten pound lighter after reading this.
Is ours a great two-party democracy or what?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Graham Fuller, Uncle Ruslan, the CIA and the Boston Bombings (Part 1)

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from Voltaire

This brilliant geopolitical analyst looks at the many well documented facts that are starting to appear that conflict with the official version regarding the Boston bombing, and concludes that there is a deep "can of worms" here that needs further investigation. And he, like others, intends to do more investigation.
Are there too many coincidences in the Boston Bombings official narrative to call them coincidences? Behind each one lurks the shadow of Graham Fuller—a top CIA strategist who famously advocated co-opting Islamic extremists to further advance the US agenda in Central Asia—and his cozy ties with the accused brothers’ uncle. William Engdahl delves into the ramifications of the Fuller-Tsarni connection, the most compelling of the Boston smoking guns, and the threatening can of worms it has opened up.
With people like Engdahl, Sibel Edmonds, and others, on the trail of this subject, I think that the prospects are good that this time the machinations of CIA and other ruling class operatives will have a much harder time keeping the lid on this "terrorist" event. Having fooled the American people with so many staged or false-flag incidents ranging from Kennedy's assassination to the Gulf of Tonkin incident to 9-11 and now with the Boston bombing, they may have with their over-bloated arrogance overreached themselves this time. Stay tuned, stay alert, and stay active!

In Bolivia, Morales faces a challenge from below

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

The author outlines the inherent contradictions behind the so-called "Andean and Amazonian capitalism" as played out in Bolivia. The pretense of socialism under the regimes in both Bolivia and Venezuela reflect a more nationalist oriented capitalist class willing to compromise with, and use, a more populist figure to hide behind. This draws on the historical phenomenon of caudillismo in South America.
...the increasingly confrontational stance of workers, lowlands peasants and other grassroots movements highlights the inherent contradiction of the state-power road pursued by the MAS [Morales’ ruling party, the Movimiento al Socialismo], where the latter increasingly finds itself reproducing the pattern of repressive, pro-capitalist policies that defined previous governments of the right.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why Was a Sunday Times Report on US Government Ties to al-Qaeda Chief Spiked?

Click here to access article by Dr Nafeez Ahmed from Information Clearing House

The article discloses the many links between terrorist organization and US government figures, drug running, illegal weapons and technology sales, US agents pressuring the Sunday Times to stop running a series of related reports, other coverups, and many attempts to stop people from revealing government involvement in these activities, especially Sibel Edmonds, by using the "state secrets privilege".
...according to Edmonds...the last two articles in the series were spiked under U.S. State Department pressure. She recalled being told at the time by journalists leading the Sunday Times investigation that the newspaper’s editor had decided to squash the story after receiving calls from officials at the U.S. embassy in London.

A journalist with the Sunday Times‘ investigative unit told this author he had interviewed former Special Agent in Charge, Dennis Saccher, who had moved to the FBI’s Colorado office. Saccher reportedly confirmed the veracity of Edmonds’ allegations of espionage, telling him that Edmonds’ story “should have been front page news” because it was “a scandal bigger than Watergate.” 

New revelations of US government spying on the press

Click here to access article by Ed Hightower from World Socialist Web Site.

The elaborate, "full spectrum dominance" of government surveillance of US citizens, especially over journalists, is now paying big dividends for the shadow government run by banking and corporate elites. In spite of the use of "state secrets"and "national security" to suppress information, it seems that there have been far too many honest people known as "whistle-blowers" who have been risking their careers and lives to report on illegal activities of the One Percent's government. Hence, going after journalists is a winner--for them!
The subpoenas and the investigation have already had a “chilling” effect on the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and the freedom of the press. Pruitt said that the AP has already encountered a situation where “officials that would normally talk to us, and people we talk to in the normal course of newsgathering, are already saying they’re a little reluctant to talk to us; they fear that they will be monitored by the government.”

Why small-scale alternatives won’t change the world

Click here to access a book review by Michael Ware of Greg Sharzer's No Local posted on Climate & Capitalism.
Against a backdrop of global climate disasters, financial panics, and inequality, localism — the creation of small-scale local systems of production and distribution — seems to make sense. Start small and stay close to home; forge community ties, grow your own food locally, and create alternatives that can eventually replace the current system of global capitalism with a sane, sustainable way of life. By providing this alternative, the local will overwhelm global capitalism. Death by a thousand cuts. But can the power of global capitalism be undone through establishing bike paths, cooperatives, bartering, alternative local currencies, community gardens, and small businesses?

Hope from the Margins

Click here to access article by Gustavo Esteva from The Wealth of the Commons.
These notes offer a quick glance to ways, in the south of Mexico, in which people are regenerating the society from the bottom up. It is a new kind of revolution without leaders or vanguards, which goes beyond development and globalization. It is about displacing the economy from the center of social life, reclaiming a communal way of being, encouraging radical pluralism, and advancing towards real democracy.
There are some writing flaws in this article and the author tends to over-idealize his commons theme; in spite of this he offers some promising examples of people who, drawing from their cultural roots, are creating islands of people-centered societies in the midst of a hostile capitalist world that serves only a small fraction of people bent on "owning" everything of value.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Astoundingly Disturbing": Obama Administration Claims Power to Wage Endless War Across the Globe

Click here to access 26:00m video program from Democracy Now including comments from Jeremy Scahill of Nation magazine.

As illustrated by the remarks of Senator Angus King of Maine, this is a liberal take (in the common American sense) on the ruling class's assertion of executive branch authority to deploy the Armed Forces of the US anywhere in the world, from Boston to Yemen, to wage war against "terrorism" for the indefinite future. Liberals also want the executive branch to have this authority, but they merely want to have Congress pass specific authorization for this power to prosecute the "war on terrorism" anywhere at anytime. This would maintain the myth that the US is governed by laws based on legitimate democratic principles.

However, if you understand that 9/11 and all the other contrived "terrorist" attacks as well as real ones have been used by the ruling class precisely to eliminate most of the hassles of constitutional procedures, then you can understand why Pentagon figures can with confidence make such statements as in this video.

Notice also in King's statements their nature: appealing , beseeching, almost begging. If the Congress had any real independent power left, they would hold these generals in contempt of Congress and punish them accordingly.

Jeremy Scahill does little better in this piece by attributing this Pentagon coup to the Obama administration. However, he did do better in an earlier interview on Democracy Now when he reviewed the history after 9/11 to include the Bush administration and earlier administrations in this development. Scahill and his employer The Nation, Democracy Now, and other sources in liberal-left US media are constrained by their funding sources to limit such attributions to presidential administrations rather than from anything resembling a shadow government which I believe considerable evidence points to. 

In a 2011 article Dr. Stuart Bramhall has confirmed my long held suspicions about these sources.  She has uncovered well documented evidence that much of what passes for left media coverage, including "Democracy Now!", in the US is funded, at least in substantial part, by right-wing non-profit institutions such as the Ford Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, other CIA front organizations, and various liberal foundations. Such funding acts as a constraint on how far they will go to reveal the dirtiest secrets of our ruling class.

A more radical and accurate interpretation of this development can be had from the World Socialist Web Site that ran an editorial with this key statement:
The Pentagon’s assertion of the power for the indefinite future to unilaterally deploy the US killing machine wherever the president sees fit—including within the US and without any oversight or “checks and balances”—amounts to an announcement of a semi-dictatorship in the US.
And, even more importantly, the editorial provides real insights on this development by offering a class based analysis--instead of framing it as a product of the Obama administration. 

However, I would take issue with what appears to me in this editorial to be an implication that "American democracy" was ever much of a genuine democracy. The realities of our system are now being revealed for what it always was--a system supervised by a class of major owners of productive property and banks with some superficial, and managed, system of laws, courts, and legislative bodies. The difference now from previous periods is that our masters have acquired so much power that they no longer fear us very much. Thus, they feel that they can dispense with many of the niceties of legal processes, and rely more on their overwhelming control of media, education, and the Hollywood film industry to shape how we think and what we think. And, if that doesn't work, then they will deploy the troops to take over our cities.

The Criminal Case Against the Tea Party Cabal and Why the Justice Department Won’t Pursue It

Click here to access article by Pam Martens from Wall Street on Parade.
The nonprofits are funded through a growing roster of Koch foundations: the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. The Charles Koch family also controls  the Knowledge and Progress Fund which has infused at least $8 million since 2005 into a super secretive black hole known as Donors Trust. Each year, Donors Trust and its sister organization, Donors Capital, provide tens of millions of dollars to the same nonprofits long supported by the Koch brothers. When the money is distributed, the names of the actual donors remain a deep, dark secret.
The author sheds light on all the ties, which is missing from corporate media coverage, among the Koch brothers, Justice Department officials, Koch organized and sponsored non-profit organizations, and the "Tea Party".

Money & Resistance: How “Moderate” Arab States Sold Out the Palestinian Cause

Click here to access article by Yazan al-Saadi from Muftah.
Today, Israel is experiencing a level of peace it has not witnessed in all its existence. Despite fearing the Arab uprisings, and the potential change in political dynamics they would bring, Israel’s hold over Palestine is at its zenith. With little to no active military resistance against the Israeli government, ‘moderate’ Arab states have played an important role in ensuring this state of affairs. [my emphasis]

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The New Great Game

Click here to access article by Christoph Germann from The New Great Game.

Click on map to enlarge

This author draws on a lot of information from Russia sources. Russians, of course, have had a lot of problems with Chechin rebels who engaged in a prolonged and bloody separatist movement after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Chechnya is in the oil rich Caucasus region. In recent years Western agents have been very active in stirring up trouble for the Russians in nearby areas. See this, this, and this. Hence, I am inclined to give credibility to reports from these sources.

Thus, the Boston bombing event becomes curiouser and curiouser. I'm betting on the following scenario: the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was recruited to a Chechen project by the CIA. He earned a lot of easy money participating in their "training sessions". Then he recruited his younger brother to participate in some projects to also earn money, and eventually they were set up as patsies in the Boston bombing event.

Pentagon Engaging in a Power Grab Against the Civilian Leadership

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog.
The stated purpose of the updated rule is “support in Accordance With the Posse Comitatus Act,” but in reality it undermines the Insurrection Act and PCA in significant and alarming ways. The most substantial change is the notion of “civil disturbance” as one of the few “domestic emergencies” that would allow for the deployment of military assets on American soil.
The piece contains an interesting interview by this blogger with a constitutional lawyer to get his views on this latest Pentagon directive.

Zionist Extremists at Canada’s National Gallery – Passing the Hat for Israeli Imperialism

Click here to access article by Morgan Duchesney from The Media Co-op (Canada).

Although this grass-roots Canadian media source concentrates mostly on local issues in Canada, occasionally it demonstrates its success as an independent, people-powered source of information and news analysis for more global issues. This piece offers such an example. 

In this piece you will learn about the strong Zionist influence in Canada as illustrated by this report on a fundraising dinner hosted by the Jewish National Fund held at this celebrated national treasure--the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. You will also learn about the strong European colonial roots and outlook of Zionism, the use of "anti-Semitism" to smear critics of Zionist policies and practices, what the term "Semites" actually means, etc.