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, August 10, 2013

Beyond the fanning of US militarism in Africa

Click here to access article by Horace Campbell from Pambazuka.

Professor Campbell exposes another liberal commentator as one who advances the imperialist agenda in Africa along with Jeremy Scahill and other liberals.
Why is it the case that many Western analysts and critics would oppose global militarism but directly or indirectly fan the flame of U.S. militarism in Africa? It is well known among the U.S. forward planners that one of the many roles of the offshoots of the Western military-financial-information complex is to reproduce information conducive to supporting the Pentagon and its chokehold over the population of the United States. .... Many journalists and commentators writing about U.S. Africa Command, U.S. War on Terror in Africa, and the broad U.S. military engagement with Africa adopt a tone that reinforces the flimsy justification of U.S. militarism in Africa. Commentator and writer Nick Turse of TomDispatch committed this very error in his article, ‘The Terror Diaspora: The U.S. Military and the Unraveling of Africa.’ 
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.

Graeme MacQueen for ReThink911

Click here to access the source of this 3:12m video from ReThink911.

If you are one of the few critical thinkers among US citizens, you know that there was incredible discrepancies between the evidence uncovered in relation to 9/11 and the official version, and along with this were massive coverups of these discrepancies perpetrated by high level government officials and ruling class media. This brief video is another effort to get you to look at the information that has been uncovered by victims families, by architects and engineers, and by other concerned, thinking citizens.

If you have the time, you may also be interested in the latest effort to review what is known, this time by 9/11 families of victims who recently came together in Toronto to share their information. This is a one hour audio recording, the second of five, that highlights their research findings posted at Global Research.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Confronting the latest attack on our privacy and freedom

Click here to access article by Alfredo Lopez from This Can't Be Happening!

An email encryption service in Texas recently announced that it is shutting down, but they can't explain why. However, internet security sleuths have pretty well figured out their dilemma. It appears that they might go to jail if they explained why. All the circumstances clearly suggest that they received a letter, a very nasty letter from the ruling class's government. See if you agree.
...if you get one, you can't tell anyone about it. Nobody, not even family or friends let alone the people you work with (even if they are affected by the letter's demands) can ever be told you received a National Security Letter. If you do tell anyone, you go to jail. That prohibition--an astonishing violation of your First Amendment right of free speech, particularly considering that the letter is from a law enforcement agency, not a court--lasts forever unless you go to court and manage to get it lifted--something which rarely happens. But these letters are hardly rare. From 2003 to 2006 alone the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued 192,499 national security letter requests (and the frequency of their use has almost certainly increased since then.)

Fracking the Commons: Why Your Public Lands Are Under Assault by Oil and Gas Drilling

Click here to access article by Gloria Flora posted on AlterNet.

Written within the acceptable guidelines of capitalist media which implicitly recognizes the sanctity of private ownership over socially produced wealth, the author cries foul over energy corporations' onslaught of environmentally destructive shale-oil fracking on supposedly public lands. 

While his concern about this practice is well-meaning, and his clear explanations about its damage to aquifers in particular are valuable, I think he offers the same old delusions about the promise of working through capitalist legal processes and institutions to save our environment. Reinforcing such delusions detracts from real solutions that we now desperately need: replacing the system, and the class whose power is derived from this system, with another sustainable system powered by the people and serving the needs of all people. 

But, of course, this is the usual liberal take on all the dire contemporary threats to our well being. This is not to say that such efforts are worthless, but at best they are only stalling measures that can provide us with more time to do the real political work that is mandatory--revolutionary work.

Austerity Measures and Ecological Destruction

Click here if you wish to access the source of this posting from New Compass (Norway).
The latest investigation by the UK Ecologist magazine probes the impact Greece's economic crisis is having on the nation's environment, examining a controversial mining project.

One of the persons being interviewed is Giannis Stathoris, a local cheese producer in Chalkidiki. He has been involved in the movement of producers-consumers, and now Stathoris—together with three other family men from the region—has been sent to prison, accused of terrorism against the gold mine.
Gold mining is probably the most environmentally destructive mining practices of all, and probably the least useful because much (most?) of the gold ends up back below ground stored in banking vaults because capitalists have a mystical belief that it constitutes wealth. Of course, their system is all about the private accumulation of wealth regardless, if while accumulating it, such operations destroy the environment on which we depend for all our needs: food, clothing, shelter, etc.

The video makes the salient point that international (in this case a Canadian mining company and likely banking institutions) corporations have invaded Greece under the current reign of neoliberalism and using the economic crisis there to divide Greek people by offering a few jobs to those desperate in need of work. Corporations have successfully used this tactic, which is usually complemented with bribes to local government officials, throughout the world.


Japan says Fukushima leak worse than thought, government joins clean-up

Click here to access article by Mari Saito and Antoni Slodkowski from Reuters
Highly radioactive water from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is pouring out at a rate of 300 tons a day, officials said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up.
The revelation amounted to an acknowledgement that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has yet to come to grips with the scale of the catastrophe, 2 1/2 years after the plant was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami. Tepco only recently admitted water had leaked at all.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wall Street plunders Detroit while pensioners take blame

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder

Unlike most other commentaries on Detroit's bankruptcy, this blogger explains how municipal officers were duped by bankers into buying their slick, new financial instruments. Sounds familiar?
Wall Street wanted higher profits from this once staid market, so an ever more dizzying assortment of exotic instruments were conjured, allowing the financial institutions that handle these bond sales to skim off ever more money.

NSA, DEA and Local Cops Share Information Concealed From Judges & Defendants, But No Liberal Outrage

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

While local police agencies have been militarized by the Department of Homeland Security, the author has collected evidence that the ruling class has integrated all police agencies into their total surveillance program. Keep in mind that the centralization of police forces was one of the first actions of the Nazis after they took over the German government in 1933 with the support of major industrialists.
A Monday morning Reuters news story confirms that the NSA shares unknown quantities of its vacuum cleaner surveillance of every American's electronic communications and whereabouts with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which duly passes it on to thousands of state and local police agencies in every jurisdiction.

State Of The Climate Report Reveals A World On The Brink

Click here to access article from CounterCurrents.
Worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record according to the 2012 State of the Climate report, which has been compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries. The peer-reviewed report, with scientists from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville , N.C. , serving as lead editors, has been released on August 6, 2013 by the American Meteorological Society.
The report continues by providing a summary of the findings. Although quite disturbing, I don't think this summary supports the dramatic headline. If you are perplexed as I was by the data which indicated that Antarctic sea ice is growing, see this.

A Nation On Fire: Climate Change And The Burning Of America

Click here to access article by Tom Kenworthy from ThinkProgress
Scientists and fire experts speaking on a recent conference call organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists say the nation is moving into an era when massive and destructive wildfires of the kind that occurred only sporadically over the last century will now be a regular occurrence.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Egypt Under Empire, Part 4: Dancing Between Dictatorship and Democracy

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall posted on The Hampton Institute.

This brilliant young Canadian scholar continues his examination of the all-important struggle in Egypt between the interests of the people (the vast majority) and the Empire's puppets. As he stated in the first segment as an introduction, it is extremely important that we understand recent events in Egypt because:
...any and every empire that has sought to exert control over the Middle East, Asia or Africa, control over Egypt has been a pre-requisite. Its strategic location has only become more important with each subsequent empire. 
Not only that. It is important to study these developments because it will give us insights on how the current US Empire's directors think and act to preserve ruling class interests. Once again in this piece we have another outstanding example of the author's application of the very best methods of social science: solid documentation, excellent analysis of the evidence, and in addition, translations of "Newspeak" that Empire directors use to rationalize their policies. The series as a whole provides a goldmine of information, and this segment might be the mother-lode of the goldmine by revealing the strategies of these directors and what operational policies follow from such strategies.
When powerful Western states seek to influence or manage 'transitions to democracy,' they generally support whatever elite most closely resembles themselves, usually a variation of liberal democratic state-capitalist groups. But whatever dominant institutions pre-exist in that society have to be integrated with the new 'method' of governance (political parties, elections, etc.), though the pre-existing oligarchy generally remains in charge. Transitions to 'democracy' are promoted by the American Empire as if the United States had some sort of 'God complex,' seeking to remake the world in its own image... or delusion, rather.
By reading this we learn that although US Empire directors were surprised by the massive demonstrations occurring in Egypt in early 2011, they were fully aware of the tensions that were building up under their puppet dictator Mubarak and were making earnest attempts to head off anything resembling a true revolution.

Counterrevolution in an Egyptian Comedy

Click here to access a review of a recent Egyptian film by Meir Walters from Mufta.

The detailed description of this film and the author's review of it provides some insights on the views of ordinary Egyptians in the midst of the turmoil that they are now experiencing.
...Haz Saeed [the film] represents the divisions and ambiguities of revolutionary movements themselves.

The film not only depicts latent tensions between various factions temporarily united in the revolutionary moment, but also the potentially ambiguous relationship between revolution and counterrevolution, and the authoritarian undertones of much revolutionary discourse.

In the wake of June 30, these tensions are coming dramatically to the surface as violence becomes more widespread. As I write, the military is using mass protests to justify violent crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood. While Haz Saeed does not predict the outcome of ongoing mass mobilization in Egypt, its satire is significant in expressing tensions that were always just beneath the surface.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Are Police in America Now a Military, Occupying Force?

Click here to access article by John W. Whitehead from The Rutherford Institute.
Despite the steady hue and cry by government agencies about the need for more police, more sophisticated weaponry, and the difficulties of preserving the peace and maintaining security in our modern age, the reality is far different. Indeed, violent crime in America has been on a steady decline, and if current trends continue, Americans will finish the year 2013 experiencing the lowest murder rate in over a century.
The author provides a good overview of the militarizing of local police forces by providing details on the history of furnishing military equipment to local police forces, and the incentives of local police forces to use SWAT teams and SWAT-style tactics in ordinary policing operations which has led to many abusive police actions.

US auditor finds taxpayer money flowing to Taliban, Al Qaeda - but Army refuses to act

Click here to access article by Dan Murphy from The Christian Science Monitor
The US military has been ignoring warnings that its spending in Afghanistan is funding Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), appears to have had enough.

He issued a blistering cover letter with SIGAR's quarterly report to Congress today that called into question what "appears to be a growing gap between the policy objectives of Washington and the reality of achieving them in Afghanistan."
This report should raise so many questions, but unfortunately it will never be reported to Americans in mainstream media. The referred to gap between official policies and actual practices indicates much more than simple incompetence. Empire practices in Afghanistan suggest that Empire directors are applying a destabilization strategy, a close relative of the Salvador Option, to maintain chaos in that tragic country with an added benefit to US war and construction contractors. Chaos serves the overall strategy of Empire dominance over the MENA region and Afghanistan to insure access to their resources.

Banks Threaten to Punish Cities that Use Eminent Domain to Help Underwater Homeowners

Click here to access article by Ken Broder from AllGov

This contest over foreclosures in Richmond, California illustrates where real power lies in a capitalist society--it's definitely not in your elected officials if they propose anything that interferes with the interests of banks and other corporations.
Banks—which make money by selling the homes to lenders in the secondary market, who then make money by foreclosing on the homes and reselling them—have promised to block the city with lawsuits. They promise an end to lending in the city if it persists in its plan.

Stop Congress From Taking the Fast Track to One-Sided Copyright Laws

Click here to access article by Maira Sutton from Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The author brings us up-to-date on the latest developments in relation to three "free trade" agreements being negotiated mostly in secret. All of the arrangements surrounding the negotiations provide full access to the details by large corporate players, but limited access by Congressional members, and other provisions designed to favor corporate interests and limit public influence. Welcome to the privatized New Corporate World Order.
The core of the problem is that corporate advisors, like the copyright industries, have easy and ongoing access to negotiations. In the case of TPP, they can log-in from any computer and see and comment on draft text. Meanwhile, Congress members have to go to a special room at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where they can only view the text on a “read and retain” basis. That means they can’t take notes, make no copies, and bring no supporting staff—even those who have proper security clearance and have the expertise to make sense of the language in trade agreements.
While this foundation urges everyone to put pressure on Congress by signing petitions, the only action that might give you some chance at real influence is to enclose a check for least $10,000.00 to your local Senator or Representative.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Al-Qaeda to the rescue

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.

The author satirizes the Empire's latest media blitz about terrorism as comic book drama which it richly deserves.
Imagine a rushed crisis meeting at the highest levels of the Orwellian/Panopticon complex: "Gentlemen, we have a golden opportunity here. We are under siege by defector spy Edward Snowden - liberated by the Soviets - and that terrorist hack Greenwald. Snowden may be winning: even among US public opinion, there's a growing perception we may be more of a threat than al-Qaeda.

So we must show we are vigilantly protecting our freedoms. Yes; we're gonna scream Terra, Terra, Terra!"

Framing the Wall Street Commodity Investigation for Carl Levin

Click here to access article by Pam Martens from Wall Street on Parade.

In this article the author reviews the economy-crushing acts committed by key banking institutions to override laws controlling their activities in order to provide a framework for the upcoming investigation by Sen. Levin's subcommittee into the latest scam perpetrated by banksters. This review of recent history demonstrates the overwhelming power of these key players in the US ruling class.

However, the author is naïve to think that anything substantial will come from this investigation. The banking scandals and the continuing banking schemes are the natural development of the concentration of power derived from the concentration of wealth that is inherent in the system of capitalism. To stop these crimes against society, it will take nothing less that the power of the people energized to defeat the entire system.

This American Life Whitewashes U.S. Crimes in Central America, Wins Peabody Award

Click here to access article by Keane Bhatt from North American Congress on Latin America. (Updated at 7:30pm PST)

I get reports continuously from human rights workers in Central America about human right atrocities committed by the Honduran and Guatemalan governments with close collaboration with US Armed Forces. The atrocities are usually related to indigenous opposition to North American mining operations, and as such they get almost zero coverage in US mainstream media. Here we see an example of a program that was aired on the subject and now celebrated as excellence in journalism by being given this prestigious journalism award

In this lengthy article the author exposes the program broadcast by NPR (National Public Radio) as propaganda designed to control the damage done to Central Americans by US involvement in numerous human rights crimes.
But in his hour-long treatment of a savage period of Guatemalan history, Glass and his producers edited out essential lines of inquiry and concealed a key aspect of the bloodshed and its import for U.S. listeners: Washington’s continuous support of Guatemalan security forces—including the Kaibiles at Dos Erres—as they killed tens of thousands of largely indigenous civilians­ in 1982 alone. Moreover, by distorting the historical record, Glass performed an impressive feat of propaganda—he sensitively related Guatemalan victims’ harrowing personal stories while implying that the only fault of the United States was that it had simply not done enough to help them. 
NPR is widely referred to among US activists as "National Pentagon Radio" because of its history of frequently featuring guest spokespeople from the US Dept. of Defense and other programs that often parrot Pentagon propaganda. NPR's presence on the radio spectrum is widespread throughout the US, and appears to be growing even though donations by ordinary people are declining as indicated by their decision to add advertising to their programming. (Unfortunately, I can't locate sufficient data to verify this statement.) 

A blogger who has recently examined NPR's finances has provided a lot of data on his/her website to indicate the overwhelming influence of ruling class figures and corporations on the programming of the radio network.
NPR says, “On average, public radio stations (including NPR Member stations) receive the largest percentage of their annual operating revenue (31%) from listener support.”. If you look at that statement another way, it says that the largest (69%) of their funding does not come from listener support, 36% of which is from business and government, outweighing the 31% from listeners.
Also, see this article entitled "Why Some Public Radio Supporters Won't Be Donating to NPR This Year".

There is no doubt in my mind that this tax-supported radio network is a major propaganda organ of the ruling class, and thus is designed to carefully manage the views of ordinary Americans.

A Story About Michelle Rhee That No One Will Print

Click here to access article by John Merrow from Taking Notes: Thoughts on education.
Michelle Rhee lobbies across the country for greater test-based accountability and changes in teacher tenure rules.  She often appears on television and in newspapers, commenting on a great range of education issues.  Easily America’s best-known education activist, she is always introduced as the former Chancellor of the public schools in Washington, DC, the woman who took on a corrupt and failing system and shook it up. The rest of the story is rarely mentioned.
It was clear to me last April in my post that there was considerable evidence that many Washington DC's teachers and administrators 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.

Be sure to read the many comments following the article, and there are many interesting links to other material that they contain. 

On a related matter, you may find this scientific report entitled "Science and Social Control: Political Paralysis and the Genetics Agenda" very interesting,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Bradley Manning Trial in the context of capitalism

Click here to access link to a 15:28m audio recording of comments made by Starr Bowie posted on Montreal's Co-op Media

The long-time activist provides us with a very accurate perspective constructed out of her concise review of history in order to understand the full meaning of the Empire's persecution of Bradley Manning and their vendetta against Edward Snowden.

Crying Wolf, Wolf, Wolf

Click here to access article by by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama.

Due to Snowden's revelations about government spying on its own citizens, government officials are having to compound their denials by lies, with more lies to cover the latter lies. The most recent likely fabrication is the closing of many embassies due to threats from Al Qaeda. Because they are sinking ever deeper into the quicksand of lying, to be credible Empire directors may be forced to concoct another terrorist event in order to salvage some credibility.
So it would be even better if now, as a warning has been given, something would happen to some U.S. embassy in the Middle East. That then would justify the warning and of course also justify the intelligence services NSA's limitless spying on people everywhere that made the warning possible.

Hmm - how much does it cost, let's say in Yemen, to have some guys on a motorcycle fire a few shots at an embassy guard?

North Korea Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Victory

Click here to access article by Andre Vltchek from Dissident Voice

This independent journalist gives us a rather personal account of his 8-day visit to North Korea's celebration. 
...I did not come here to march. I came here to film and to photograph, to see the faces of local people, to read what was written on those faces, to feel, to sense, and to try to understand.
He finds that the formal celebrations hamper his efforts to provide a more graphic account of the lives of ordinary North Koreans, but still he manages to provide some valuable descriptive portraits of their lives, their history, and US war crimes they suffered in the Korean War. This kind of propaganda-free account is a rarity in Western media which always describes life in North Korea as starving people living in a huge gulag.

Living in America will drive you insane — literally

Click here to access article by Bruce E. Levine from Salon.

The first half of this article is devoted to research data from the medical-pharmaceutical complex which seems devoted to providing cover for their monetary and professional interests. So, I suggest, especially if you are short of time, that you skip down to the section entitled "Mental Illness as Rebellion Against Society" where you are provided with polling data from ordinary people. Here you likely will arrive at very different interpretations.
Once it was routine for many respected social critics such as Lewis Mumford and Erich Fromm to express concern about the impact of modern civilization on our mental health. But today the idea that the mental illness epidemic is also being caused by a peculiar rebellion against a dehumanizing society has been, for the most part, removed from the mainstream map. When a societal problem grows to become all encompassing, we often no longer even notice it.

Oil Limits Reduce GDP Growth; Unwinding QE a Problem

Click here to access article by Gail Sverberg form her blog Finite World

Although I can't always agree with her reasoning from the data she presents, still I believe that she is making a very good effort to understand what I believe are insoluble issues facing the system of capitalism as it comes up against resource, especially energy, limits. She is no anti-capitalist in her political outlook, but she is thoroughly dedicated to examining reality using scientific methods. This is very unusual among people well-connected to capitalist institutions.

She begins her examination of evidence with the following statement (note: her use of "model" actually refers to the capitalist system):
This model “works” fairly well, as long as the economy is growing fast enough–population continues to grow and resource extraction continues to grow as planned. In a finite world, we know that this model cannot work forever. At some point, we can expect to start reaching limits.