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 LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Obama’s Syrian Press Pass

Click here to access article by Margaret Kimberley from Black Agenda Report.

The corporate media are the megaphones of humanitarian death

The corporate media are the megaphones of humanitarian death, as dispensed by the U.S. and its allies. If Obama says “Assad must go,” the high-paid press do all in their power to make the public crave his blood. “The media are loyal to the system, not to their profession, their readers, or their listeners.” [my emphasis]


The only problem I have with this piece and most of what is posted at this website is the overwhelmingly emphasis on racism to the exclusion of "the system". Here the author mentions "the system" twice, but fails to identify it. It has a name...capitalism. Racism has always been a convenient way for the ruling capitalist class to exploit people who superficially exhibit different characteristics than the dominant European derived populations. It has also been a very useful way to divide and control working people in general. 

There is no reason for capitalism to be inherently racist, and capitalists drop this method of dividing working people whenever it suits them as we have seen to a significant extant in many capitalist countries. Witness what we have today in the US: an African-American man for President. In the vernacular of street-Blacks, Obama is an "Oreo-cookie": black on the outside, and white on the inside. More accurately, he is a thoroughly indoctrinated man in capitalist ideology who is identified as Black because of his superficial appearance, (He was mostly raised by his grandmother who was a white banker in Hawaii.) This ploy has been exceptionally useful to the ruling class by co-opting people on the liberal-left to support their policies and actions which they would otherwise oppose. Consequently, the transition from Bush Jr to Obama has been seamless.

"The system" is always about a dominant class of major property holders who have enormous advantages due to the artifact of property rights under the capitalist system over socially produced wealth. Over time this class has accumulated ownership and power in ever greater concentrations while their numbers as a percent of the total population has declined. They now exercise overwhelming control in every facet of our lives, and the author correctly describes how this control is reflected in the critical function of reporting news and information.

PRISM and the Rise of a New Fascism

Click here to access article by John Pilger from CounterPunch.
The power of truth-tellers such as Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden is that they dispel a whole mythology carefully constructed by the corporate cinema and the corporate media.
I'm not as confident as Pilger is that the three whistle-blowers have dispelled corporate mythologies among the majority of the US population. I've noticed that whenever Edward Snowden is mentioned in mainstream media, he is always referred to as a "high school drop-out". This readily translates in the minds of many Americans as a "loser", or someone not to be taken seriously.

Shhh! Let's have an international trade meeting and not tell anyone

Click here to access article by Curt Petrovich from Canadian Broadcasting Company.  

Even this mainstream Canadian TV and radio broadcasting company has qualms about the secrecy surrounding Trans-Pacific Partnership meetings. Their recent meetings held in Vancouver, British Columbia were so secret that activists were unable to find the location to hold a teach-in nearby.
...the three-day negotiating session of the TPP that was held in Vancouver recently. And which the federal government had no intention of even mentioning until it was leaked, after the fact, by news media in Peru.
Well, at least that is better coverage than what you find in the US where such meetings are rarely, if ever, mentioned in mainstream media.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Assemblies emerging in Turkey: a lesson in democracy

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.
Something quite amazing is happening in Istanbul. In addition to the silent “standing man” actions around the country, people’s assemblies are slowly starting to emerge in different neighborhoods across the city. As in Spain, Greece and the Occupy encampments before, the protesters in Turkey are starting to counter-pose their own form of direct democracy to the sham of a democracy proposed by Erdogan’s authoritarian neoliberal state. If there was ever any doubt, this shows how deeply intertwined the global struggles truly are.

Brazil explodes in a furious feast of democracy

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.
Throughout Brazil, millions are now expressing their outrage over the country’s crumbling infrastructure, rising inflation, poor public services, vast inequality, violent crime, widespread police brutality, rampant political corruption — and a government that seems more concerned about pleasing private investors and pumping billions worth in taxpayer money into useless World Cup stadiums than meeting the needs of its own people. As most protesters see it, the ruling Workers’ Party has long since sold out to the dictatorship of the markets.
The author has illustrated his article with very impressive pictures of the mass demonstrations.

Spain Breaks Up Al-Qaeda Cell Recruiting for Syria. EU Split over Illegal Syria War

Click here to access article by Christof Lehmann from nsnbc.

The author uncovers considerable evidence of the recruitment of European nationals and refugees of Arab ethnic origins to fight in various jihadi groups in Syria. Many recruiters have ties to Al Qaeda and Western intelligence agencies.
In an early morning raid on Friday, Spanish security forces have broken up an al-Qaeda linked terrorist network, based in northern Africa. The terrorist cell was under suspicion of sending fighters, including minors to Syria. 

Amusement park case shows Israel’s growing racism

Click here to access article by Jonathan Cook from The National (United Arab Emirates).

The issue of racism and its people as being the victims of racism were used by Zionists to establish their nation on mostly Arab land with the collaboration of Western governments. We now see the inherent racist nature of Zionism surfacing in the form of public incidents of racist behaviors by Israeli citizens causing severe embarrassment to the ruling regime. But their embarrassment does not inhibit them from continuing to promote racist policies.
While Mr Netanyahu and his allies on the far right were castigating Superland for racism, they were busy backing a grossly discriminatory piece of legislation the newspaper Haaretz called “one of the most dangerous” measures ever to come before the parliament.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Global Power Project, Part 2: Identifying the Institutions of Control

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

In the first of this series, Marshall focused more on the individual players, their relationships to important industrial and financial corporations, and their enormous possession and control of wealth. Because they wield so much influence over affairs in society, they constitute a ruling class which is rapidly taking on a transnational character. Here he focuses on the institutions where these players come together to pursue their influence more collectively. 

It is important to read this material to understand the realities of political control that you likely never received in your education. These actors and their institutions account for the real government which operates behind and controls what most people think as the government: those official government institutions such as congress/parliaments, courts, and executives. The latter is the "democratic" facade necessary for the people to imagine that they have significant influence over their government, and that these official institutions function strictly according to law.

However, the powerful influence of this class does not end with their control over governing matters. In this article Marshall provides an introduction to a study of the more pervasive influence of this class: the ruling class institutions function in every sphere of activity to shape all of society according to their class interests. In the US it all began with the emergence of industrial and financial giants in the 19th century, and it has evolved from there to what we see today that Marshall will be exploring in future installments.
The large industrial foundations have played a truly profound – and largely overlooked – role in the shaping of modern society. The ‘Robber Baron’ industrial fortunes of the late 19th century – those of Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harriman, Vanderbilt, etc. – sought to shape a new order in which they would maintain a dominant influence throughout society.  

Masters of War and the destruction of peace

Click here to access article by Ahmed E. Souaiaia from Islamic Societies Review.
After convening his national security team to discuss the crisis in Syria, President Obama decided to officially authorize the transfer of weapons to the Syrian rebels. The decision is a gamble with U.S. credibility. Moreover, the release of information, via anonymous sources, shows the fragility of the U.S. administration’s position and suggests the existence of a troubling disagreement among top administration officials. That is hardly the tone needed before committing the country to a military conflict that has thus far killed 93,000 people in Syria. .... This mission is more complicated than the 2003 war in Iraq, for many reasons.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Edward Snowden — the Globalisation of Whistleblowing

Click here to access article by Annie Machon from her blog Using Our Intelligence (British).

This former whistle-blower and M15 intelligence officer offers her views on Snowden's revelations and The Guardian's role. 

However, if you really want to know in depth about whistle-blowing in general and observations about Snowden's experience with The Guardian in particular, it is absolutely necessary for you to listen to a fascinating one hour audio interview with two experts on whistle-blowers--Sibel Edmonds and John Young (via telephone connections) arranged by Peter Collins and posted on his website.

What the NSA Revelations Tell Us about America's Police State

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

The author provides an excellent, up-to-date summary of the evidence from many whistle-blowers about government-corporate spying on US citizens.
The FISA court order signed in April by Judge Roger Vinson directs Verizon to hand over to the NSA ... all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls."....

While the order specifies that "telephony metadata" does not include the "substantive content of any communication" or "the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer," that information, should an individual come in for "special handling" by the secret state, call and internet content is fully-retrievable, courtesy of US high-tech firms, under the MARINA, PINWALE and PRISM programs.

[my emphasis]
As the heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden told The Guardian last Sunday: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards."

"What they're doing," Snowden said, poses "an existential threat to democracy." 
If what the Bush and now, Obama regimes are doing is not Orwellian blanket surveillance of the American people, then words fail.

The mask of our democracy is falling:” A letter from Brazil

Click here to access the letter by Franco A., a Brazilian student posted on Truth is Beaver (France), following which is an interview with another Brazilian student in France.

You may have recently noticed news about civil protests in Brazil--that Wall Street-celebrated rising capitalist country. In this article, which is actually a letter to this French group who maintain the website, the Brazilian writer gives his version of what is happening. It seems very similar, although with Brazilian characteristics, to what is happening in many other parts of the globe where citizens are infuriated by their local capitalist elites whose policies and actions are clearly revealing the appearance of class war. 

This is happening precisely because capitalist ruling classes all over the world are being confronted by planetary limits to exploitation, and now see the necessity of stealing from the poor, and even the middle class. Running out of opportunities to exploit nature's gifts, the parasite of capitalism is now feeding more aggressively on its host--society.

The Limits of Ethnocracy: Racism, Zionism, and the Future of Israel

Click here to access article by Adam Simpson from Muftah.

What this "progressive" writer overlooks is that the other underlying commitment of the Zionist ruler besides to European Jewry, is their commitment to the Empire and the latter's capitalist ideology. Although Zionist propagandists like to use "democratic" rhetoric to legitimatize their rule, the history of Israel, like the history of all capitalist nations, demonstrates that they have few problems with adopting racist and police-state methods whenever such policies and practices serve their basic commitments.

The reason that "progressive" writers so frequently overlook this underlying factor is because it is never questioned by them. It is a given; it is a fact of life; it is like the water that fish swim in. Thus, it is never questioned or posed as a subject. Such writers have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in the values and principles of capitalism, it rarely surfaces in their consciousness. 

Or else, they are ideological operatives of the One Percent's ruling class whose job it is to divert attention away from the subject.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Resisting Tear Gas Together

Click here to access article by Ian Alan Paul from Jadaliyya

The author provides a very thought-provoking take on the use of tear gas in protests by authorities, and the responses by the protestors as we have recently witnessed in Turkey. The former try to infect the air with poisonous chemicals where protestors come together, and the latter to sustain their protests must draw on the most basic of human qualities: caring for each other and protecting their space. Is it too dramatic to frame this as a battle between the forces of death versus the forces of human life? In any case, the author also provides some very useful information about this new field of battle that seems to be characterizing the class war that is raging across various parts of the globe. (See this and this for other war fronts.) 
The global uprisings of the last decade, from the US to Spain to Egypt and now Turkey, all have taken this form of organizing against the conditions of vulnerability and precarity. These were not movements shaped by marches or speeches, but rather centered themselves on the construction of occupations and encampments, producing the contexts in which new relationalities and ways of being-together in the world could unfold. The people’s uprising that is currently taking place across Turkey is expressive of this collective desire, and perhaps need, to be together and care for one another in the shared space of the common that Gezi Park came to be for so many in Turkey. This collective practice amounted to a refusal to simply “care or fight for ourselves,” but rather to fundamentally begin “caring and fighting for each other.”

Fracking puts squeeze on drought-stricken farmers

Click here to access article by Lauren McCauley from Common Dreams
Through an examination of industry-compiled fracking data and the US Department of Agriculture's official drought designations, AP reveals that by driving up the price of water and burdening already depleted aquifers and rivers, the high-polluting and water-intensive shale oil and gas removal process is placing an increasing threat on states currently suffering from ongoing drought.
The symptoms that illustrate humanity's approach to ecological limits are surfacing almost daily. And, the symptoms are starting to interact in the Earth's ecology. Here we see that the new energy technology of shale fracking impacting the ability of farmers to grow food economically due to conditions of drought brought on by global warming.

Of course, what is driving all of these threatening factors is the underlying system of capitalism which requires cancerous like growth, and growth in turn requires the burning of more fossil fuels causing more climate destabilization. If humanity cannot better adapt to the ecological system on which it depends, humanity will disappear from the Earth. To live in harmony with our Earth, the message is clear: we simply must eliminate the social-economic system of capitalism and construct another that can support human life without destroying the conditions that support human life. 

Friends of the Earth Europe have run a series of articles regarding the use of GMO crops that require pesticides, and they serve to illustrate the same maladaptive human-Earth interactive processes. In this series we see pesticide components showing up in our bodies and likely having dangerous health effects. See if you can identify the underlying capitalist forces that are driving these effects. 

Poland does away with the 8-hour day

Click here to access article from libcom.org.

When I first saw this headline, I was delighted that Poland had trimmed the workday even further. I thought that it was about time since the eight hour day has been in effect most places for well over 50 years! But, I found that they didn't lower the work day. Prepare yourself for the latest neoliberal victory in the class war.
On June 13, the Polish government eliminated the 8-hour working day, a right which was won in 1919. The government supposedly is trying to make Poland even more "competitive" for capitalists who want to earn more through exploiting the poor worker protection in the country and the scandalously low wages.

Military Sexual Violence: From Frontline to Fenceline

Click here to access article by Annie Isabel Fukushima and Gwyn Kirk from Foreign Policy in Focus.
To locate the root of the problem means looking beyond the assaults on U.S. military women—appalling as they are—to the routine incidents of military violence against civilians in combat situations and outside the fences surrounding U.S. bases overseas. Given their mission, soldiers are trained to kill. This means seeing “others” as foreign or less-than-human. Gender and masculinity are at play; so too are racism and national chauvinism.
Military training is perfect preparation, and enhancement of previous civilian indoctrination, to view women as mere objects of sexual gratification which is a form of dehumanization. One cannot kill, or rape, another human being without dehumanizing that human being. Hence, words like gooks, ragheads, cunts, etc reflect this process.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed from The Guardian.  

This excellent article provides considerable documented evidence--if you need any--to support a leftist thesis that the US now possesses all the core characteristics of fascism: the seamless integration of corporations, military, and government under the management of the ruling capitalist class. The people, the 99 Percent, are now viewed as the potential enemy; and the One Percent governors are not only using widespread methods of surveillance on them, but have been preparing to use all necessary violence against them to preserve their rule. 

Of course, this liberal publication doesn't express it that way. Although the author (and The Guardian editors) doesn't really challenge the carefully sanitized, public relations-shaped statements of the ruling class directors, he and The Guardian editors, are non-the-less disturbed by this phenomenon because they still believe in the old version of capitalism that contained a thin veneer of civil rights, rule of law, and social supports.
The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA's global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state. 
Here is more evidence in an article posted on Salon entitled " The irony of joint FBI/private sector OWS policing".

JPMorgan calls for authoritarian regimes in Europe

Click here to access article by Stefan Steinberg from World Socialist Web Site.

As of the time of this commentary I have been unable to locate the document that the author refers to. Although I consider this web site reliable, I am always irritated by their frequent practice of not providing any links to documents.

The author's interpretation of this report and its historical context is in sync with my own views as to the reasons behind the aggressive austerity policies being imposed on European governments. The Empire's directorate want to fully integrate Europe into the Empire; but in order to do this, they need to eliminate the strong social supports and left-wing inspired laws, the origins of which, are rooted in the European post-war political conditions as accurately described by the author.
...Europe’s discredited ruling classes were well aware that the Russian Revolution remained a political beacon for many workers. They felt compelled to make a series of concessions to the working class to prevent revolution—in the form of precisely the social and constitutional protections, including the right to protest, that JPMorgan would now like to see abolished.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The National Security Agency: A Global Superpower

Click here to access article by Wayne Madsen from Strategic Culture Foundation.

This investigative journalist with extensive experience with intelligence agencies along with many others has been reporting on the growing surveillance police state for quite some time. As a followup to the recent dramatic revelations by former NSA employee Edward Snowden, he provides us with an excellent overview of the far-reaching tentacles of the NSA.
Recent revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency is conducting massive meta-data vacuuming of the phone calls and Internet transactions of tens of millions of Americans and, perhaps, billions of people around the world, with little or no effective oversight by President Obama, the U.S. Congress, or the federal court system means that the intelligence agency has become, in its own right, a global superpower.

What We DO Know About Chemical Weapons In Syria

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama

The author provides a good summary of evidence gathered from a variety of independent and/or reliable sources that puts the lie to the latest Empire propaganda justifying their latest military escalation in Syria. 

Clarity in Wealth

Click here to access article by Michael Barker from his blog Thoughts of a Leicester Socialist

The author describes how the British self-help gurus are doing a booming business serving Britain's rich in order to help them cope with their conflicted and empty lives.
With the ongoing crisis of capitalism, corporate and political elites are now flocking to self-help consultants (like Smart and his friends) in a desperate bid to bring meaning to their otherwise predatory and destructive lives. In turn, in exchange for thousands of pounds, Smart and his congenial colleagues then help the ruling class feel good (or better) about leaching off the rest of society: while the corporate media preach confusion to the rest of us, misinforming us that the solutions to our very real problems actually lie within ourselves, and not within anything silly like socialism.
These practitioners also seem to be doing well in the US judging by all the many programs in which they are featured on PBS--the US government mandated TV network devoted to information and cultural programs designed by and for the One Percent. And, for all those working wage slaves and unemployed, there is an abundance of TV programs on corporate media that provides them with religious gurus that essentially function the same way: keeping the masses thinking that the many problems they experience living in a capitalist society lie only within themselves, and the solutions likewise.

How the Correa government is neoliberalizing Ecuador’s mining legislation

Click here to access article by Carlos Zorrilla from Upside Down World

I was very surprised to learn this about Ecuador.
The consequences of the World Bank’s neoliberal policies here and elsewhere, were not surprising:  large-scale social conflicts, violence, social unrest. Luckily, in Ecuador communities were able to stop large-scale mines from opening, otherwise the country would also be burdened by enduring environmental problems. As it stands right now, Ecuador is the only Andean Nation without any large-scale metal mines (such as copper and gold).  But that is about to change with the reforms to the mining legislation being debated in the National Assembly as I write this.