In today’s world of unlimited credit, consumers become modern-day slaves to their creditors. What is the difference between slavery in 18th century America with imported African slaves and the America of 2013? There is no difference besides the physical abuse of the African slaves by their owners.Actually, a good argument could be made for classic slavery as better than this modern form of debt slavery. When a person is the property of an owner, he/she will likely be taken care of to insure that he/she remains productive as a laborer for the owner's enterprise. Such a tendency would never enter the minds of a bank executive toward one of its debtors.
in the time remaining, to help us understand how the man-made system of capitalism will lead to the extinction of our human species, and so many others.
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, December 7, 2013
The Debt Matrix: Consumption and Modern-Day Slavery
Did Iran Have to Give Up So Much to Get So Little?
The underlying logic for the Iran nuclear negotiations was (and continues to be) altogether preposterous: on one side of the negotiating table sat major nuclear powers who are all in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires them to have either dismantled or drastically reduced their nuclear arsenal; on the other side, an NPT–compliant country (Iran) that neither possesses nor pursues nuclear weapons—a fact that is testified to both by the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies. Yet, in an ironically perverse way, the culprits have assumed the role of the police, the prosecutor and the judge, shamelessly persecuting and prosecuting the innocent for no other reason than trying to exercise its NPT-granted right to peaceful nuclear technology.For a sane approach to nuclear weapons in the Middle East, I recommend this article from Al Akhbar entitled "Former Knesset Member: We Possess Nuclear and Chemical Weapons" to learn what a Knesset member reportedly said in an interview with an Israeli newspaper: "It is time to exit the nuclear closet, (putting an end to the ambiguity shrouding Israel's nuclear program.) ..."either nuclear [capabilities] for all or for none."
The Corporate Invasion
It’s easy to see why the US negotiators are keen to keep the TTIP/TAFTA negotiations secret. They are in no hurry to explain the impact the agreement would have at every level of government: federal, state and local authorities would be obliged to revise their policies from top to bottom so as to satisfy the appetite of the private sector in those sectors over which it does not yet have complete control.
Freedom Ship: $10bn Floating City for World’s Super Rich
Could this be the "next big thing" for our and other uber-classes to isolate themselves from the rabble (us)? And, no it will not be used as a tax haven "since American citizens are taxed on their worldwide income." (ha ha)
Friday, December 6, 2013
GMOs, Science And Nonsense: Retracting Seralini's Study
The implications of this piece and others like it are profound: the contamination of scientific work by the private interests of global corporations. Since the Age of Enlightenment science and its rigorous methods for the testing of knowledge has raised humans out of the swamps of superstition and ignorance. Scientists struggled during centuries of persecution by religious authorities who served various ruling classes, and now it is faced with history's most formidable foe--global corporations and their transnational ruling class of capitalists. Hunter reports on many of the recent battles, most of which have been lost.
An iPad on Every Desk: A Trojan Horse, Teachers Say
Teachers in Los Angeles, according to this author, are very aware of the push to get rid of teachers and replace them with software and computer gadgets provided by industry giants like Microsoft. As one teacher put it:
...the district is rushing the technology in a frantic attempt to get Race to the Top federal funds, which Los Angeles missed out on in 2012 and 2013, and other education grants. Race to the Top money is tied to implementing technology and “Common Core” standards, which are developed into software with support from pro-corporate education reform interests like the Gates Foundation.
Nelson Mandela: A Dissenting Opinion
Yesterday I was hit by massive corporate media coverage of Nelson Mandela portraying him as a hero for the ages. Although I have been aware of international capital's approval of Mandela before, such coverage immediately set off alarm bells in my head.
Memories flooded in about other mainstream institutional reactions to events that in hindsight revealed a major component of ruling class interest in the events and subsequent bias in their treatment: extensive media coverage of the Egyptian protests in early 2011 when US NGOs were discovered operating (little coverage since then of all the subsequent anti-regime protests), the massive promotion of the NY Time's version of The Pentagon Papers in bookstores (compared to a much superior book in Sen. Gravel's version), the massive promotion of Robert Fisk's book mis-titled as The Great War for Civilisation which reported in extensive detail the corruption and human rights abuses in various Arab countries, the steady and overwhelming barrage of Jewish victimization themes starting with the 1960 propaganda film "Exodus" and followed up in all media since then--to name just a few.
Thankfully, Cook's piece immediately alerts us to a similar treatment of the legacy of Nelson Mandel now occupying so much space in ruling class media. He provides a much more accurate picture in this brief summary of the historical contributions as well as the character weaknesses of this human being. Finally, Cook warns us of the dangers of being taken in by this type of propaganda:
For too long we have slumbered through the theft and pillage of our planet and the erosion of our democratic rights, preferring to wake only for the release of the next iPad or smart phone.If you need another antidote to mainstream coverage, I suggest you read a piece by Jerome Roos entitled "Nelson Mandela passes away — his struggle continues" in which he develops the following theme:
The very outpouring of grief from our leaders for Mandela’s loss helps to feed our slumber. Our willingness to suspend our anger this week, to listen respectfully to those watery-eyed leaders who forced Mandela to reform from a fighter into a notable, keeps us in our slumber. Next week there will be another reason not to struggle for our rights and our grandchildren’s rights to a decent life and a sustainable planet. There will always be a reason to worship at the feet of those who have no real power but are there to distract us from what truly matters.
Today’s liberation movements are here to remind us that the only appropriate way to honor Nelson Mandela’s legacy is not to beatify the man but to take his struggle to its logical conclusion.Still another even better antidote from The Daily Beast by Peter Beinart entitled "Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then" which reveals the history that our ruling masters would like to forget--or like you to forget.
A bunch of sexy, badass patriots
This Brazilian journalist, who specializes in uncovering the lies of the Empire, reviews a book by Eric Prince entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror, and fills in the wider truth that Prince leaves out.
Escobar finds that one thing is for certain in the neoliberal world of today: the outsourcing of military campaigns to private armies. Prince has reaped a bonanza of profits in this growth industry.
And the revolving door is not going away - with so many aspiring Princes of War leaving the sprawling Pentagon-centric system to launch their own start-ups and sell stuff to their former buddies on the inside, not to mention ensuring that the militarized assembly line keeps churning "unsung heroes". So many wars on myriad global terrors to prosecute, so precious few surrogate armies.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Noam Chomsky: Modern universities designed to ‘deprive you of your freedom’
The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) released an interview with Noam Chomsky recently in which the noted linguist discussed, among other things, how high student tuition indoctrinates students into corporate culture.
Global Power Project (part 1): The Group of Thirty and the "Good Discussion" They're Still Having
In sharp contrast to liberal critics and political analysts, this researcher is busy uncovering the real centers of power that govern and shape our capitalist societies. In this part 1 he provides a "brief introduction to the Group of Thirty, its members, and its influence". He is able to do this because we of the 99 Percent have so far provided him with the funds necessary to do this vital work.
I was initially surprised that I had never heard of the "Group of Thirty" before. Being retired, I try to use my time to be informed about the realities of life in a capitalist society whose ruling class does everything it can to hide the real decision-makers. It is mostly because there are a few independent researchers like Marshall that we learn of them and their organizations, and their critical role in shaping events in today's world.
This organization is a bit different from all the other such named groups (G-7, G-8, G-20) named in mainstream media: they are mostly formal political or financial office holders who often merely represent the real capitalist decision-makers. The people in this group are decision-makers in key financial and investment organizations who function mostly behind political events to control those events, and directly or indirectly appoint formal governing office holders. The fact that this group's website provides no information on how one becomes a member suggests that members are selected by existing members, or maybe by a select inner group within the organization.
To be sure, the G-30 are one among many such groups as Marshall indicates in this report. They constitute a network of leading policy organizations whose members frequently serve in many of these groups, and as such constitute a growing international capitalist ruling class. For example:
...Trichet holds a number of other highly influential positions. Apart from being Chairman of the G-30, he sits on the board of directors of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, he is on the board of the European military contractor EADS, and he is chairman of the board for the influential European think tank BRUEGEL. Trichet is also, importantly, a member of the Group of Trustees in the global bank industry lobby known as the Institute of International Finance (IIF). He is additionally the European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Meetings.
Under the Global Shadow of Big Brother, Journalism Must Light Up the Political Sky
Solomon is a long time media specialist and advocate for unrestricted journalism. As a liberal critic he always attacks the surface problems faced by honest journalist who must work within a social-economic system (capitalism) that requires deception and self-censorship in their reporting of important events. In this brief, rather pathetic appeal for "real journalism" he alludes to the deeper problems in our society in which the major institutions promote an ideology of freedom and civil liberties and lay claim to having some kind of genuine "democracy". Missing is any reference to the system itself which makes such problems inevitable.
From incessant war and arming the world, to climate change and coddling fossil fuel industries, to anti-democratic governance and enabling vast NSA surveillance, the U.S. power structure -- with epicenters along Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue -- continues to dominate. That power structure is a clear, present and horrendous threat to human survival, the natural world of this planet and the possibilities for authentic democracy.In another piece by Pam Martens entitled "Obama and the Pope Versus the Ayn Rand Corporate Front Groups", we see her attacking the problems in higher education in the same limited way while pretending that Obama and the Pope are serious dissidents. Liberal critics all over the US are fighting and losing a desperate defensive battle against the devolution of US society into a hideous dystopia.
ALEC calls for penalties on 'freerider' homeowners in assault on clean energy
The article provides another report on how capitalist agents are using corporate funded ALEC to prevent any restrictions on their ongoing pursuit of profits. In this example we see them working directly with state legislators using bribes funded by donations from major corporations. They know that clean energy cannot deliver the energy they require to expand their production of goods and services, and they refuse to be deterred by a public who want a safer environment.
The group sponsored at least 77 energy bills in 34 states last year. The measures were aimed at opposing renewable energy standards, pushing through the Keystone XL pipeline project, and barring oversight on fracking, according to an analysis by the Centre for Media and Democracy.Of course, the capitalist fake version of "democracy" has essentially always worked this way. The power of this ruling class is derived from a system that concentrates wealth in the hands of "owners" of the economy. This wealth provides the power to insure that their version of democracy always selects representatives to represent their interests and not the interests of the public.
What we now see is that these "owners" over the past several hundred years of rule have now extended and concentrated their private ownership of the economy on such a huge scale that they are impatient with the legislative processes of their fake "democracy". They now are engaged in aggressive campaigns to head off any public ideas about restricting their access to cheap energy which they need to feed their addictions to ever more wealth and power. ALEC is the weapon they are using against state governments.
Regarding the sub-headline "ALEC facing funding crisis after exodus of big donors" which was reported in an earlier article, I think that The Guardian grossly exaggerates. Their own data shows that ALEC has enormous assets--more than twice that of their liabilities. The only negative data are the net income loss for a six months period ending in June 30 of this year and loss of some corporate memberships. I think you can be certain that this is only a temporary setback that they will soon remedy one way or another.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Education for Social Change
We face an unprecedented crisis of global dimensions, an interlinked social and ecological crisis. The survival of life on earth as we know it requires new thinking and creative solutions. Those solutions will only grow out of an educational process – and it has to be education of a particular type.The first half of the article goes into great detail about how the educational system serves to prepare students to function in a capitalist society. It offers valuable information on how the ruling capitalist class shapes educational policies to perform this function and to limit any thoughts about the system itself other than those which support it. Then, he makes this statement:
Certainly there are oases around the world; there is a free-school here or a free-school there. But in general these noble experiments are isolated and the number of children that they reach is extremely limited.Hence, I was looking forward to ideas about how an education for social change could be established within such a society to serve a large number of students. It turns out that this otherwise excellent examination of class determined education in the US was merely a warmup for a pitch to sell the Institute's school. So, I think you can probably ignore the last half of the essay.
Detroit bankruptcy ruling paves way for nationwide attack on pensions
While the author shows in some detail how the capitalist legal process is being used to settle Detroit's debts in a socially unjust way, but for some strange reason--given that this piece is posted on a "socialist" website--he overlooks a fundamental reason why Detroit's unpayable debts exist at all.
Missing in this examination, which focuses on the trees instead of the forest, is the fact of private ownership of Detroit's economy whose private "owners" as constructed under a capitalist system allowed them to simply move their industry, built by Detroit workers, to other places all over the globe wherever they could find cheaper labor to rent.
It also ignores that capitalists are a ruling class, and as such have constructed all important institutions in the society over which they rule, the most important of which are the legal and governmental institutions. Therefore, it is no surprise that the bankruptcy proceedings for Detroit and the attack on worker's pensions are playing out as they are.
Honduras: Huge political crisis as right steals elections
News about the ongoing corruption, human rights crimes, and collusion of local oligarchies with US agencies receives close to zero media coverage in the US. This piece offers only the most recent scandal.
There is no doubt in the minds of any independent observer that LIBRE won the vote. There is also no doubt that the ruling National Party and its presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, the self-proclaimed winner, engaged in huge electoral fraud. This took place in the run-up to the vote, as well as on election day.
This judgement comes from a wide array of political forces in Honduras, as well as a slew of international observers.
Those who have pointed to fraud range from Salvador Nasralla, a right-wing media millionaire and presidential candidate of the Anti-Corruption Party (PAC), through international observer Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who indicted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and the Mission Sindical, a large group of trade union observers from throughout Latin America.See also "Why the world should care about Honduras' recent election" by Mark Weisbrot posted at The Guardian.
Citigroup and JPMorgan Settle With EU Commission for Rigging Libor; U.S. Justice Department Stays Mum
About all I understand about the Libor scandal is that the banks were caught lying about the rates they charge each other, that this was done mostly to increase their profits, and resulted in increased costs for consumers in the form of higher interest they pay on loans.
In contrast to European banking regulating agencies, the US Justice Department has yet to file any charges against US banks for their participation in this scandal. She asks, why? I think this fact is only one more indication of who really rules the US and its Empire. The key players in US major banking institutions are also the key players in what I often refer to as a "shadow government".
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
At The Point of No Return
This piece is a desperate plea for action calling for the non-ruling inhabitants of the earth to stop "planetary ecocide". Like many short-sighted critics, especially liberal critics, he makes vague reference to "post industrial 'civilisation'" as having something to do with crisis. The author more specifically targets people as responsible: those who are addicted to wealth and power and they seem to be "generals, headmasters, corporate executives, CEO's of banks, media moguls, ministers or prime ministers or just about any big bosses". However, his plea is totally lacking in awareness that these culprits or sociopaths are merely the logical products as well as maintainers of a system called capitalism.
Such critics are in elementary school of their political education; whereas we need college graduates right now. To be sure, these critics are far ahead of the great mass of people who gullibly believe what mainstream pundits tell them: that a technology is being developed to capture carbon from the atmosphere, that we can geo-engineer a safer climate, and we can develop alternative sources of clean unlimited energy such as fusion energy that our capitalist economy requires, and we can do this in time to prevent climate destabilization. Until people move to an understanding that the system of capitalism is totally incompatible with a finite planet, nothing will stop these profit and power addicts from destroying a planetary habitat that can support human life regardless of which individuals occupy positions of power within it.
Anyway, to the author's credit, he passionately expresses a growing awareness that something must be done to stop "the systematic degradation of planet Earth." This we agree on, but what is the system that is doing this? Post industrial civilization? Bosses and other people in positions of power? Such answers are ridiculous and have nothing to do with a system. Such people are like fish who are totally unaware of the sea.
Meet Lee Harvey Oswald, Sheep-Dipped Patsy
Because this stunning report was only recently released from behind a paywall that supports his work, I am only now posting it on my website. I don't know how James Corbett finds all the time to devote to such excellent projects as this, but we all owe him a debt of gratitude and financial support for the results.
Devastation is upon us
I think that this moving essay represents a cry of anguish emanating from deep in the throat of progressive Egyptians. They have seen their 2011 revolution crash upon the tidal waves of a militarized police state. These disillusioned activists and many ordinary Egyptians were so full of hope nourished by dreams of a better life.
Of course, these noble sentiments were manipulated by Western NGOs acting opportunistically in an organized fashion to bring about some moderate political changes in Egypt to better serve the Empire. But, revolutions or coups can never be engineered with any kind of precision as events in Egypt have demonstrated. The brutal naked fist of the Egyptian military, another hideous creation of the Empire, is now slamming down on the faces of these activists. Can you hear their cry of desperation in his words?
His cry of anguish reminds me of the famous soliloquy from Shakespeare's Hamlet which begins:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:It is the classic cry of those who throughout the ages of class oppression have posed the most fundamental question: should one actively fight back against oppression and risk near certain death which "makes cowards of us all", or submit to the class authorities and continue to suffer the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune". It is the ultimate question which we will all be confronting at different times as the juggernaut of capitalist exploitation increasingly wrecks havoc on societies and nature.
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.
Monday, December 2, 2013
A Tale of Two Protests: Ukraine & Thailand
When is a protest good, just, progressive, and defensible? One might think there was a single answer to this question based on an objective set of metrics. But in reality, according to the West, protests are only good so long as they serve their interests.Well, of course, this is true of all activities of the 99 Percent all over the world in relation to Empire authorities and their agents in media, education, and entertainment.
The author provides alternative information in relation to these protests that are never found in the Empire's media to contrast with the information produced by the latter's media.
While the Ukraine protesters represent hooligans, racists, bigots, and literally entire parties promoting neo-Nazismsuch as Svoboda mentioned in this BBC article (Nazi background here), who cannot be guaranteed to not eventually resort to escalating levels of violence, the Thai protesters must remain peaceful. Police that are overwhelmed should be treated with dignity and reminded that they are fellow countrymen and not the true targets of the protesters nor their goal - but rather the goal of us all - the removal of corporate-financier interests dictated from afar.For more information about the protests in Ukraine over economic integration with the European Union, I also recommend reading this short piece entitled "EU’s bid for Ukraine is really Washington acting through ‘cat’s paw of Brussels’" by noted geopolitical analyst F. William Engdahl.
Challenging Harper's Imperialist Agenda
Having spent several years in Canada, I have been sensitized to the radical integration of Canadian political policies to conform to the interests of the Empire's evolving transnational capitalist class. This was most poignantly impressed upon me over time with my cross border travels in which I observed a gradual shift from a pre-9/11 warm welcoming of US visitors to a Canadian border police operation that mirrors the police state mentality of US border policies. But, during this period I've also been aware of the increasing use of Canada's military to carry out Empire imperialist policies in many parts of the world.
A massive restructuring of the Canadian state followed 2001. This was to secure the economic integration of NAFTA, on the one hand; and to expand military and diplomatic capacities for direct foreign intervention in defence of the neoliberal world order, on the other.
Syria dispatch: from band of brothers to princes of war
The Free Syrian Army began as a simple group of fighters battling Assad. But Ruth Sherlock, in Antakya, finds their mission is now making millions from bribery and extortion.While observing a commander of the Free Syrian Army, an Empire and GCC sponsored terrorist organization, the author notes:
Feeling the smooth wedge of American bank notes he had just been given in exchange, he was suddenly proud of everything he had become.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
China ADIZ: You Furnish the Hysterics, We’ll Furnish the Heightened Tensions
...Western outlets have unanimously spun the Chinese ADIZ as some reckless stunt to challenge Japan over the Senkaku airspace.My profound thanks to this blogger and others who have shed light on the latest lies broadcast over the Empire's megaphones. See, for example, this US report.
Living Life Out of Balance
Our personal lives and that of the human race is, indeed, out of balance. This is the thesis the author constructs with a mind-blowing view of human "life out of balance". He does this by examining the effects of new technology on our lives. But, is technology to blame?
Of course not! It is the capitalist system which is designed to use advancements in technology not to serve social needs, but to serve the addictions of a tiny segment to more wealth and power. I think that Mickey Z. understands this, but the majority of social critics do not. The latter have a naive and limited view of technology that separates technology from the society in which it has developed. This view is popular among capitalist economists who are trained not to look at social systems; therefore they must come up with some explanation to account for the developing dysfunctional role that technology and/or the economic system is having on society.
Notice that Dean Baker, a noted liberal economist, debunks this popular view by substituting another cause for the dysfunction which is just as ridiculous: public policy! Since when did the public have a choice about economic systems or public policies? For many of them, not for 10,000 years or more. "Public policy" since then has always been the prerogative of tiny ruling classes based ultimately on their control of the means of violence to dominate all other members of society.
In this brief, rather too comforting piece, Graeber questions how effective the Empire's propaganda is on our fellow Americans. While I agree that much of the indoctrination is viewed with cynicism by many people (to express cynicism seems to give one the appearance of sophistication in the US), still it largely succeeds. How else can one explain the proliferation of misinformation, slanted news coverage, and infotainment? One would have to believe that the directors of the Empire's media and educational system are also stupid.