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, November 16, 2013

On Why Struggles over Urban Space Matter: An Interview with David Harvey

Click here to access the interview conducted by Hiba Bou Akar and Nada Moumtaz with David Harvey; from Jadaliyya.

David Harvey claims that Marxist activists must place greater importance on the realization of surplus values which occurs mostly in urban areas. Also, he offers his observations on the recent urban uprisings in Turkey, Egypt, and the US.

Paid Friends: Weary of Genuine Relationships, Rich New Yorkers Hire Stand-Ins

Click here to access article by Richard Kirshenbaum from The New York Observer

After last Saturday's posting of an article about the rich, I am now determined to restart a practice I had a couple of years ago to examine the lives of the rich each Saturday. The purpose is to create better understanding of the trials and tribulations of the rich with whom we share this nation and planet. Because we live in a highly class structured society, it is easy to lose touch with others who live differently than we do, especially those among the 99 Percent who often live separate lives in guarded gated communities, travel by private jet, and hang out in places that we could never afford.

In this visit to the world of the rich, we learn that they often have unusual friends whom the writer refers to as "friends for hire", and sometimes these friendships can be problematic.
[They are the] innately personable service providers who are sought out to fulfill social obligations, provide companionship and offer court-like flattery masquerading as friendship to those who can afford it. Heartache, though, sometimes occurs when relationship demands and financial arrangements are at odds.
Also, when you are finished reading this article, you might be interested in a review from Maclean's (Canada) of a newly-published book entitled This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me) by Bruce McCall and David Letterman.

Friday, November 15, 2013

On Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Centennial of the Federal Reserve

Click here to access article by Valentin Katasonov from Strategic Culture Foundation (Russia).

The author offers a most interesting argument about a major factor that is informing the actions of Empire directors as they maneuver among various obstacles to secure a major weapon of economic domination in the world.
Recently there has been much discussion in the media about the apparent diplomatic rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran and the simultaneous worsening of relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. And increasingly frequent mention is being made of the 1913 creation of the U.S. Federal Reserve System.... 
.... Without examining the full range of causes of the nascent thaw in relations between Washington and Tehran, I will attempt to explain the financial and monetary side of these events.

Bankruptcy of Mondragon company demonstrates limits of cooperation under capitalism

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder.
The announcement that one of Mondragon’s companies is filing for bankruptcy isn’t a commentary on cooperatives, but it is a reminder that even the world’s largest cooperative enterprise is not immune to capitalist competition.
I occasionally meet people who almost fanatically think and argue that cooperatives are the answer to capitalism's global economic instability which has disastrous consequences for working people. Dolack explains that while cooperatives offer a better alternative to working in strictly profit-making enterprises, they can never enjoy complete security competing within a capitalist system against such enterprises.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Defender of the Constitution

Click here to access article by Andrew Cohen from The Atlantic.
Even if you have little sympathy for Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, you ought to support his lawyers' efforts to curtail the government's sprawling use of so-called "Special Administrative Measures" in his case. Whatever you think of him, and the capital crimes of which he stands accused, he has a right to counsel, a right to counsel who can privately and effectively communicate with him, and the Justice Department's efforts to undermine that right in this instance are unfair and perhaps even unconstitutional. 
After the Empire's enforcers failed to kill Dzhokhar while hiding in a boat, their legal authorities are now trying to limit any access he has to the outside world. This treatment after the killing of a knowledgeable witness in May to the Boston Marathon bombings lends more credence to suspicions that the government is engaging in another coverup.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

U.S. Occupation Leads to All-Time High Afghan Opium Production

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog.

The blogger includes many tell-tale pictures of US soldiers patrolling through the poppy fields of Afghanistan. 

Consider these well-documented facts. Before the US invasion the Taliban had successfully banned poppy production for the heroin market. The promotion of hard-core drugs by the US military and other agencies has a well-formed history dating back to CIA covert funding of the Kuomintang's fight against Mao Zedong forces in the Chinese civil war following WWII, then during the Vietnam War, funding the US-backed contra rebels and their terrorism (Iran-Contra affair) against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, and even facilitating the importation of drugs to the Black ghettos of the US. It seems that the Empire's directors are fond of using methods that destabilize societies by sponsoring terrorist groups, false flag operations, and drug production and distribution.

“Final Fantasy,” capitalism, and the environment

Click here to access article by Jon Hochschartner from People's World
Early next year, Square Enix will release a new game for current generation systems in its popular "Final Fantasy" series. With this ahead, it's worthwhile to revisit the most critically acclaimed title in the franchise, "Final Fantasy VII," released in 1997 for the original PlayStation, which is often cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. Compared to the medium's typical fare, the title holds a progressive perspective on capitalism, the environment, and the relationship between the two.

Philippines: ‘Let our people live! Climate justice now!’

Click here to access article by the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM, a Filipino socialist party) posted on Climate and Capitalism.
The still-rising greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate crisis are disproportionately emitted by the rich and developed countries, from the US, Europe to Australia.
For centuries, these rich, developed countries have polluted and plundered our societies, emitting too much greenhouse gases to satisfy their greed for profit.
And what are the directors of the rich nations worried about? Read this piece entitled "US fears climate talks will focus on compensation for extreme weather" from The Guardian.

The Empire of Poverty

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from his blog.

This is a pitch for money from someone who has contributed so much to us in his writings, and has shed light on so many vital subjects that are left largely ignored in schools and media--for obvious reasons. In this article he reminds us of his many efforts to inform us and to increase our understanding of important issues. I have been very impressed by the volume and the quality of work he has done for his readers. Now it is our turn to support him!

Let’s talk about a publicly funded climate change response

Click here to access article by Simon Butler from Green Left

At first I thought Butler was arguing the same liberal crap about pressuring the government to do something serious about the impending climate destabilization. But, stay with it as he leads inevitably toward the only real solution.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

JFK + 50: Why It Still Matters

Click here to access the preview of the Eye Opener Report by James Corbett posted on Boiling Frogs.

Having watched thus far two major TV programs on Kennedy's political career and assassination, I wish to god that this entire 16:14m video report could be available to non-subscribers. I am a subscriber and I urge others to support the Boiling Frogs website by signing up. They need financial support to continue their invaluable work of telling the true stories that mainstream media cover up or distort.

I feel so strongly about the importance of viewing this complete video that I am offering to cover the costs of subscriptions to five people who otherwise cannot afford to subscribe. I only need to be convinced that the applicants are genuine. Contact me through the email address in the "About Me" section. This offer will only last until the end of the month (11-30-2013).

The two programs I am referring to were National Geographic's program entitled "Killing Kennedy" and PBS's entitled "JFK". Both were presented in two segments, each last two hours over two days. The former programs will be rebroadcast on Nov. 15th and probably the 16th. I don't know about PBS's "JFK", but I assume it will be rebroadcast or made available online. PBS will also be presenting more such programs for the balance of the month.

Both programs misrepresent the real facts about Kennedy. National Geographic's simply re-hashed the official line about his assassination that formed very quickly after the event. PBS's program focused more on his political career and his two years eleven months as president which I found to be extremely misleading. This Corbett report presents a radically different point of view of Kennedy's time in office based on information from little known documents that are never reported in mainstream media. I also highly recommend the book entitled JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass who is featured in Corbett's video.

What the "unspeakable" is as alluded to in the film and dealt with at length in Douglass's book is
that Kennedy's assassination was a coup d'etat by the national security establishment that I prefer to refer to as the "shadow government" that now has an iron-grip on our society and much of the world. No president since Kennedy has been able to function in any kind of independent fashion except George H. W. Bush who was an integral part of the shadow government. Increasingly, especially beginning with Ronald Reagan, the office has been turned into a public relations function. The real office of the executive lies hidden behind the facade of the presidency.

If He Can’t Lie, It’s Not His Revolution: Chris Hedges vs. Emma Goldman

Click here to access article by L. Raymond from Affect
Most people I know who actively work for social justice make an effort to ignore Chris Hedges.  When he puked up a nasty little screed demonizing militancy in the Occupy movement last year, Hedges –  in the words of Occupy Wall Street organizer Amin Husain – “almost derailed us” (Sadly, Amin was wrong about the “almost” part).  But it’s hard to look the other way when Hedges drags the name of several generations of anarchists through the dirt, as he did in a recent column; and it is perilous to ignore the fact that he represents a powerful network of liberal recuperators who have been undermining resistance in this country for years while claiming to promote it.
I think that undermining resistance is what Hedges is all about. That is a role he either has adopted as a liberal or more subversively as a counter-revolutionary in service to the ruling class. His writings always come wrapped in moralistic tones that preach non-violence. 

You see, the ruling class understand violence thoroughly. They know how effective it can be to demoralize any group that threatens their hegemony over society and the world. It is no accident that the US spends half of its tax money on instruments of violence. They fear that one day the worker wage-slaves of the earth will use violence against them. Hence, the need to corral any talk of militant tactics by oppositional groups. Hedges does this by pretending to be one of them, anarchists or people using Black Bloc tactics, by using their language and exhibiting knowledge of anarchist-revolutionary history that he re-invents to fit his theme of non-violent resistance which the ruling class does not fear.

See also my recent commentaries on Hedges' influence: here and here..

Why France is playing 'stupid' on Iran

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

Escobar offers his take on the recent collapse of the Geneva 2 negotiations over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Slavery By Another Name: The Convict Lease System

Click here to access article by Devon Douglas-Bowers from The Hampton Institute

The author provides another piece of American history which likely was not covered in your schools. 
After the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Constitutional amendments were passed with the intention of establishing equality under the law for newly freed slaves, or so the story goes. The fact of the matter is that slavery was - and still is - completely legal in the United States, only in a much different form.
There is also an excellent PBS 1:24:56m video by the same title based on a book by this title authored by Douglas A. Blackmon who Douglas-Bowers also references.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Super Rich Reinvent U.S. Capitalism

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from Workers Action

The author describes another capitalist tax avoidance scam to secure the wealth for the ruling One Percent. There seems to be no end to these scams.

I find his framing of tax avoidance issues quite problematic. "US Capitalism" has not been reinvented, it has only reached a higher plateau of sucking wealth out of society. In other words, the system of capitalism has evolved by gradually creating ever more effective methods to exploit their control over society and to extract its wealth. 

Originally, the capitalists came to power with the aid of working people by promising a "social contract" and the "rule of law" (see my remarks at this post). The latter two components make up the "liberal" part of what is referred to as "liberal capitalism", or sometimes simply "liberalism" used in the classic sense. What has occurred over time is that the system has created greater concentrations of wealth (which it was designed to do), thus overwhelming power, in the hands of a ruling capitalist class who are becoming global in their outlook. 

Now that they command so much power, they are steadily abandoning the "liberal" part of capitalism and devising ever more effective ways of escaping taxation. To replace this lost tax money, the government has to borrow ever more money from them and other governments. We, of course, are stuck with the debt. Meanwhile, we are seeing severe cutbacks to all government programs that serve the needs of working people. Government expenditures that serve the interests of the ruling class such as CIA, NSA, military, equipping militarized local police forces, etc are protected from any significant cuts. 

Like the noted capitalist Warren Buffet declared, "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." So, the question remains: although we clearly have lost many battles in this war, can we still win the war?

By framing the issue as a reinvention of capitalism suggests that we need to re-gain some measure of control merely by eliminating these new inventions instead of constructing a totally new socioeconomic system that can co-exist with a stable, healthy environment. Once again we see a social critique implying that our problems can be solved by reforming the system. This sort of thinking is symptomatic of much of the current left who fail to realize that time is running out on the human race.

Coming Soon: Corporate Tools To Hollow Out National Sovereignty

Click here to access article by Wolff Richter from his blog Testosterone Pit.
Most corporations don’t care about things like changing the name of a high school that honored a Confederate General. On topics like these, they allow democracy to do its job in its messy manner that is so dear to us. But when it comes to regulations, taxes, subsidies, and other goodies, they try to control the agenda.
I've got news for Richter--they already do control the agenda. Corporations have been gradually securing their control over society for the past 150 years. It's like the frog in boiling water parable, and it has been happening rather slowly so that most people haven't noticed. And, of course, it was never reported in mainstream press--the better to keep people ignorant of what was happening. Now that the end game is appearing and can no longer be denied, it's obvious that capitalism has been the biggest con game in human history. Some people think that it is now too late to do anything about it, which is a good excuse to do nothing.

President Obama Taps Another Wall Street Law Firm Partner to Head a Regulator

Click here to access article by Pam Martens from Wall Street on Parade
President Obama is about to do it again – appoint one of those revolving door Wall Street lawyers to head a critical top post at one of Wall Street’s key regulators. This time it’s the Chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 
She acts like this is unusual. And, of course, it has little to do with Obama. From my readings and observations over many years, I'd say that this is practice as usual especially in any government agencies that oversee corporate operations. 

You have people on the Food and Drug Commission that come from major food and drug corporations, likewise you find people previously from major polluting industries on the Environmental Protection Agency, etc. However, this practice doesn't merely occur in regulatory agencies, the financial/corporate ruling class inserts their representatives, or people they can trust, to serve their interests in all important areas of society. 

Focusing on the issue as an Obama policy is extremely myopic, and thus avoids looking at the broader power dynamics of a class structured society.

NIST to Review Standards After Cryptographers Cry Foul Over NSA Meddling

Click here to access article by Jeff Larson from ProPublica
The federal institute that sets national standards for how government, private citizens and business guard the privacy of their files and communications is reviewing all of its previous recommendations.

The move comes after ProPublica, The Guardian and The New York Times disclosed that the National Security Agency had worked to secretly weaken standards to make it easier for the government to eavesdrop.
This is an excellent example of how one agency that was set up to serve the public interest gets undermined and overwhelmed by another highly secretive agency that serves the vital interests of a shadow government representing the ruling class. Notice the differences in resources between the two agencies, and how one collaborates with the other.
But as the investigation by ProPublica, The Guardian and The New York Times in September revealed, the National Security Agency spends $250 million a year on a project called "SIGINT Enabling" to secretly undermine encryption. One of the key goals, documents said, was to use the agency's influence to weaken the encryption standards that NIST and other standards bodies publish.

....The NSA is no stranger to NIST's standards-development process. Under current law, the institute is required to consult with the NSA when drafting standards. NIST also relies on the NSA for help with public standards because the institute doesn't have as many cryptographers as the agency, which is reported to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the country.

"Unlike NSA, NIST doesn't have a huge cryptography staff," said Thomas Ptacek, the founder of Matasano Security....

The Pacific Ocean is now warming 15 times faster than it used to

Click here to access article by Ben Adler from Grist.  

The link between ocean temperatures and hurricanes is very convincing, hence the results of the study reported in this article is another indicator (among many others) that we are heading for more extreme weather events if dramatic changes in the way humans live continue to be put off until some distant future. Asians have been experiencing the worst effects and are clamoring for change. However, we still see reports like this that suggests that we still don't know, the implication being that we need more studies before taking any action.

Notice the way the author frames the issue--"conservatives" are the evil-doers. If we just vote in liberal capitalists everything will be fine. (sarcasm) Gee, I thought that Obama was one of these liberals--he promised "change" didn't he?

Worlds apart: Indigenous leaders abandon faith in UN to find climate solution

Click here to access article by Douglas Fischer from The Daily Climate
Organized by the Bozeman, Mont.- based American Indian Institute, the gathering drew about 65 people from across North America.

Here amid the hills and mesas that painter Georgia O'Keeffe made famous, these elders presented a different palette with which to look at environmental woes. They placed little faith in the weighty United Nations process that opened Monday
[COP19] and will draw thousands of people to Warsaw over the next two weeks to try to find a way to stem emissions of greenhouse gases.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bankocracy: from the Venetian Republic to Mario Draghi and Goldman Sachs

Click here to access article by Eric Toussaint from the Committee for the Cancellation of the Third World Debt

The author examines the historical roots of the concentration of financial power in the hands of early bankers and their current manifestation as a powerful core of capitalist ruling classes who have taken over governments to serve their interests while wrecking havoc on entire societies.

Toussaint also offers what might be regarded as a strategy that could pave the way to create a different kind of society:
The banking profession is too essential to the economy to be left in private sector hands. Banks must be socialised (this implies expropriating them) and put under citizen control (of bank workers, clients, associations and representatives of local public stakeholders), as it must be subject to public service guidelines and the income its activity generates must be used for the common good.

Public debt contracted to save banks is definitely illegitimate and must be renounced. A citizen audit must determine the other illegitimate and/or illegal debts and play a part in mobilisation so an anticapitalist alternative can take shape.

Greek police raid occupied and worker-run TV station

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.
As one ERT veteran described the experiment after spending a month at the occupied station, the worker-run ERT “was not professional but it was a good effort. Many people thought that it was for the first time a free voice, an anti-government voice from the state TV, from the public TV that used to be controlled by the government.”

It is precisely for this reason that Samaras’ government decided to shut it down.
The control of media is a vital method of any ruling class to control what information their subjects receive about issues that affect them. They will never allow even independent voices access to media if they in any way interfere with the interests of the ruling class.
The Greek media are an ideological keystone in the crumbling edifice of the transnational class coalition that is now sucking Greek society dry with its insistence on full debt repayment.

...[after they were forcibly removed]  journalists took out their gear and continued broadcasting outside of the headquarters in front of the lines of riot police who have cordoned off the building. According to its workers, 1.2 million people watched the 9pm broadcast tonight.

Genetically modified mosquitoes set off uproar in Florida Keys

Click here to access article by Patricia Sagastume from Al Jazeera

The author provides a very well-balanced report on the introduction of GMO mosquitoes to control dengue fever. 
...a...controversial potential solution is splitting communities in the Sunshine State.

Michael Doyle is director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD). His job is to keep the 44 inhabited islands of the total 1,200 that spread across the Florida Straits free from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. He wants to release genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes, specifically designed to pass down a suicide gene that kills their own offspring, into the wild in hopes of bringing down the dangerous dengue-carrying mosquito population and preventing new outbreaks.
It's clear that the public, understandably, does not in many places trust private companies to engage in radical experiments with their environment. The basic problem is trusting corporations whose legal purpose is to serve the economic interests of their shareholders, or even trusting regulatory agencies, who are often staffed by people who serve corporate interests, to do the right thing for the public interest. 

Thus, it is private interests versus public interests which is the core problem with capitalism. It wasn't so much of a problem in the early stages of capitalism when you had many small enterprises competing with each other, but it is today with these huge trans-national corporations whose command of a broad range of resources can thoroughly corrupt and intimidate governments. (For a current illustration here in Washington state, read here and here about the intimidation of Boeing threats to move operations elsewhere on state government and unions.)

It seems that many people can see the problem when it involves food or mosquitoes, but they can't see private interests working against vital public interests when it comes to education, media, health care, employment, and government. This sort of pervasive corruption of societal interests to serve private interests is much more indirect and hidden.

Washington State's GMO Labeling Initiative

Click here if you wish to access the source of this 3:54m video from Colbert Nation.

This video helped overcome my depression over the refusal by my neighbors in Washington state to know what is in their food. Enjoy!

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Disillusioned in Dismayland

Click here to access article by "xraymike79" from Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

For a very hard-hitting dystopic view of the current world, one could never top this guy's efforts. Nevertheless, he provides some penetrating insights on the downward path that humanity is now following. If such dark visions can shake people up enough so that they become aware of what is at stake, maybe, just maybe they will take action to create a better world.

France Blocks U.S. Pivot To Persia

Click here to access article by Bernhard from his blog Moon of Alabama

The author reports on the breakdown of the negotiations with Iran over their nuclear energy program (see this and this). French officials played a key role in the breakdown. Were the negotiations another use of the "good cop, bad cop" strategy used by the directorate of the Empire as suggested by RT in order to squeeze major concessions from Iran? Has France merely followed orders in destroying the talks? Is the US Empire trying to pivot toward Iran, but is hampered by Zionist forces in Israel and France? Is the directorate divided on these issues? This blogger is more optimistic about the Empire's rapprochement to Iran than I am, but it's really hard to know at this point in time what is going on in the minds of the Empire's directorate. The article's comments section provides many opinions and more information on these questions.

US and Israel`s UNESCO Vote Suspended after 2 Years Economic Blackmail

Click here to access article from nsnbc.

The article points out the hypocrisy of the US with its role of sponsoring negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
The suspension of the United States and Israel´s voting rights at the UNESCO comes against the backdrop of the ongoing, US-sponsored, direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government.

Political analyst, and Middle East affairs expert Christof Lehmann, said to nsnbc International, that the suspension of the two nation’s voting rights comes at an appropriate time and a reminder of the fact that the United States cannot, under any circumstance, be perceived as an honest broker.
I am posting this piece partly because reports like this never make it into mainstream media in the US.

Syria has Changed

Click here to access article by Thierry Meyssan from VoltaireNet
The media coverage of the war in Syria examines only military, diplomatic and humanitarian action. It ignores profound transformation. However, one does not survive a sea of ​​violence without changing profoundly. From Damascus, where he has lived for two years, Thierry Meyssan describes this evolution.
It appears from this report that real democracy is developing in war-torn Syria; and it is developing because of the war and partly assisted by the withdrawal of US support for the jihadi terrorist groups sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The war has seriously weakened the Assad's regime who, in order to survive, had to appeal to the support of the people by reducing their class oppression. 

It's a sad commentary on human nature that it takes such calamities for real power of the people to emerge. Whereas before the war, people were pursuing their own interests through the class structure which favored certain classes over others, now under the stress of outside forces they have united against a common foe. 

Does it follow that if peace is completely restored in Syria, then this flowering of democracy will once again degenerate into class war? I think the answer is yes. So long as ordinary people allow some members to establish themselves as privileged members of society through any institutional arrangements (the current popular one being private "ownership" of social-economic property), we will see societies degenerate into authoritarianism and torn apart by class war.

Typhoon Hiayan “Demonstrating How Global South Pays Price for Emissions Historically from North”

Click here to access article by Anne Petermann from Climate Connections.
During the last major climate conference in 2012 in Doha, Tetet Lauron, a delegate from the Philippines, spoke of the devastating effects of Typhoon Bopha that hit the Philippines during that conference, killing hundreds.
The author posts some brief remarks made last year by a climate activist about the injustice of extreme weather events caused by some nations who have contributed so much to damaging the Earth's climate. Now with this current horrendous hurricane she is missing.