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 14, 2013

Do we have enough time to fix global warming?

Click here to access article by Gary Engler from New Commune-ist Manifesto (Canada).

This is a very inspirational piece in a time when we need all the inspiration we can get.

Does the Pentagon Really Need Another $20 Billion?

Click here to access article by William D. Hartung from CounterPunch.

It was no surprise that the liberal writer introduced his topic with an expression of relief that the government shutdowns were apparently over due to the recent budget deal worked out between the great political adversaries (sarcasm) in our government--Republicans and Democrats. The government shutdowns, of course, were planned precisely to harass us sufficiently so that we would tolerate the draconian cuts to our welfare. 

On the other hand, I seriously would like to thank him for pointing out the increase (!) in military spending that all other reports till now have omitted. And unlike many critics, he has discovered how military spending shows up not only in the Department of Defense, but in the budgets of other departments...well, according to him, in at least one other department.

He seems thoroughly puzzled by this increase, and like a young boy baffled by seeing his parents wrestling in bed in the middle of the night, looks for explanations when it's obvious what is going on.

This morning I noticed another bizarre bit of bad news related to the budget bill in an article entitled "Budget Deal Opens up Parts of Gulf of Mexico for Drilling" from OilPrice.com. I wonder how many other bad deals were stuck onto this bill--we'll probably slowly learn about them over the coming weeks as they leak out.

How TV Uses NLP To Brainwash You [Video]

Click here to access 29:39m video posted by Gabriel Donohoe from his blog Fools Crow Blog

The video provides a very interesting examination of techniques used to discredit and/or manipulate the audience's interpretation of comments from interviewees on Fox programs. The narrator identifies these techniques as neuro-linguistic programming. Such interviewers must undergo training to master these techniques, and begs the question as to where they get this training.

A $335,000 Tiara? You Shouldn’t Have!

Click here to access article by Simon Doonan from Slate.

This is another contribution to my practice on Saturdays to run stories about our fellow citizens of the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%, or one out of every 10,000 of us) hoping that by doing this that we don't lose touch with their world and their concerns--you know, to promote understanding.  

It is important that we become better acquainted so that we can serve them better and make it easier for them to carry out the daily burden of making important decisions, decisions which affect whether we go off to war in foreign lands to kill their enemies, if we have jobs, if we live in a home or under a bridge, if we can afford their health care services, education, etc. 

Unfortunately, for some reason they tend to hide their lives from the rest of us behind walls of secrecy, literal walls of guarded gated communities, private clubs, esoteric publications, by traveling with private jets, etc. We should not let that deter us. 

This author reports on the difficulties our rich masters have around Christmas time: deciding what presents to give to their important others. One characteristic of these people is their competitiveness. In this piece we see how this trait poses serious issues for them in preparing for Christmas.
Around the holiday season I always start feeling really bad for the 1 percent. Every year they come under increasing pressure to astonish each other with insanely lavish gifts, and every year the stakes get higher. If you bought your hedge-fund pal a mink-lined submarine last year, how on earth are you supposed to top that? The potential for hissy fits is huge.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The US budget deal and the political conspiracy against the working class

Click here to access article by Andre Damon from World Socialist Web Site

Now that the public has been sufficient harassed and softened up with the"dog and pony shows" of government shutdowns, our ruling masters have decided to go ahead with the drastic cuts to social programs that they have planned all along. The author generally summarizes these cuts and explains the various aspects of the fake drama.
The outcome of the budget talks was predictable. Against those who promoted the official narrative of the October government shutdown—peddled by both the mainstream press and various fake “left” organizations—that the main characteristic of US politics is the vast ideological chasm between the Democratic and Republican parties, the World Socialist Web Site wrote: “Behind the façade of partisan ‘gridlock,’ there has never been greater consensus between the two parties on substantive matters of social policy. They completely agree on making the broad mass of the population pay for the crisis of American and world capitalism.”

Who Should You Believe When it Comes to the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods?

Click here to access article by Jill Richardson from AlterNet.

The author points out the difficulties in deciding whether one should consume genetically engineered foods by focusing on corporate influences over the design of research that has been done on GE foods, the bias of scientists who have ties to GE corporations, and the difficulties in getting studies published that shed doubt on GE foods. The common thread here is the control of funding for research and scientific publications by private interests who stand to reap huge profits from GE foods. She provides us with an excellent exposé of the influence of private money interests over the production of food and public health.

However, this raises another, and even more disturbing question: cannot the same influences illustrated in this one sub-sector of society not apply to all major sectors? Take any other sector such as education, media, or government and you find the same pernicious influences at work. The concentration of wealth in private hands has become so pronounced that we in the 99 Percent, who do not "own" any significant amounts of economic property, are now at the mercy of our corporate/financial/capitalist masters in nearly all areas of our lives. Have we in the 99 Percent not returned to the extreme subordination to a ruling class which is very much like serfdom of the Middle Ages? Is this period in which we are now living the 21st century's neoliberal equivalent of the Middle Ages?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Street Politics 101: the story behind the ‘maple spring’

Click here to access article by the ROAR Collective from Reflections on a Revolution.

This brief article introduces a must-view 33:39m video which tells the story of militant tactics used against Quebec authorities by students and their supporters to win victories against tuition hikes and onerous legal actions taken by those authorities against activists. Militant tactics included fighting back against police, attacking police property, attacking corporate property, taking possession of public buildings and streets, all of which were illegal. 

This report needs to be circulated all over the US to reach activists who have been cowed by liberals like Chris Hedges who, while using radical rhetoric, want you to limit your actions to completely non-threatening actions like candlelight marches. Isn't it a bit strange, don't you think, that such critics have not addressed the victories of the Quebec students who used precisely the militant tactics that such liberal critics condemn ("The cancer in Occupy")?

Radical GHG emissions policies need radical social movements to back them

Click here to access article by Gabriel Levy from People and Nature

The author reports on some of the comments made by scientists and environmental activists attending the recent (this Tuesday and yesterday) conference in London called "Radical [greenhouse gas] Emissions Reduction conference". It's clear from what some of them are saying is that 1) we must immediately radically reduce the use of high carbon energy, 2) this will give us the time needed (2-3 decades) to build the infrastructure to supply low-carbon forms of energy, and 3) this will require a Marshall Plan scale of effort. 

This is what I heard Professor Kevin Anderson and others say is needed to prevent the problem of runaway climate change--and he is not sure if it isn't already too late. Listen to Prof. Anderson of Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the following interview to see if you agree.

So, assuming the above three actions are needed to prevent runaway, disastrous climate change, what do you think are the chances they will be implemented in societies thoroughly under the control of capitalists whose mindset is on next quarter's financial statements?

The EyeOpener Report- Who Decides Who’s Crazy? – Big Pharma & the DSM

Click here to access a revealing 10:40m video produced by James Corbett posted on Boiling Frogs. (I urge you to support this website.)

The video report illustrates once again the pervasive, corrosive influence of capitalism in another vital sector of our society--health care. 
Commonly referred to as the psychiatric diagnostic “bible,” the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has always generated controversy. How are disorders diagnosed? What criteria are used to establish disorders in the first place? Are the categories subjective? Do they reflect cultural biases?
Find out about the DSM and big pharma influence over the modern psychiatric profession in this week’s edition of the Boiling Frogs Post EyeOpener report with James Corbett. 

Hope in the Age of Looming Authoritarianism

Click here to access article by Henry A. Giroux from Uncommon Thought Journal

If you like your culture criticism in the form of sophisticated liberal rants, then you can't do much better than those written by Giroux. Here he argues that the problem is "authoritarianism" which is merely a symptom, usually referred to as "fascism", of a capitalist regime that feels threatened. He does mention capitalism, but it is only a specific form that bothers him--"casino capitalism". Such critiques divert attention (and actions) away from the primary agent, the private ownership of a socially constructed economy, onto merely a particular form of capitalism. Hence, according to this view, only reforms to the system are needed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review: "The Victory of Capital" by Ulrike Herrmann

Click here to access article by Wolfgang Lieb from some unknown German publication and translated and posted on IndyBay (San Francisco, California).
Ulrike Herrmann’s new book “The Victory of Capital – How Wealth Came into the World” is a very interesting and readable book that is not only for the economically trained. Ulrike Herrmann bursts many widespread political-economic myths and current economic platitudes and opens up perspectives for economic connections that were blocked in the course of the last decades by the dominant dogma of so-called “neoliberalism.” ...Ulrike Herrmann’s theses...offer important food for thought and bring to light buried alternatives to the alleged lack of alternatives.
(Note: The author of the book is referred to by the reviewer as an "economic correspondent of taz"--taz being a popular reference to Die Tageszeitung which is a daily newspaper in German catering to the intellectual left.)

The WTO pushes through bad deal in the final hours; Developed countries and TNCs are the big winners

Click here to access article by mabini from Alliance of Progressive Labor (Philippines).
The WTO has once again shown that it is an organization for the developed countries and the TNCs, pushing free trade rules that only benefit the rich and concentrate even more wealth in the hands of a few. It has not and never will deliver development for the people.

Ethiopian-born Israeli MP rejected by blood bank, told she has "special blood"

Click here to access article from Al Akhbar.

I couldn't pass on posting this piece which with astounding clarity illustrates the deep racist nature of this Zionist nation which so often tries to paint itself as a victim of racism.

The Volcker Rule That Isn’t: The Velvet Rope Approach to Criminal Behavior

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

Although I am often critical of mainstream critics like Martens for their reformist oriented perspectives on current capitalist crimes and misdemeanors, I also credit her (and them) with pointing out the latter which mainstream media are so skilled at hiding. It seems to me that this new form of capitalism on steroids, better know as neoliberalism, has left in its wake many capitalist oriented critics who cry foul at the excesses of this global juggernaut. Many of them also realize that this new stage of capitalism and its agents are creating many disasters, the worst of all to these critics is the destruction of the system itself, the goose which has laid so many golden eggs for its owners, and for them in their careers. 

You see, our current capitalist masters are now engaged in a kind of feeding frenzy. I think that they instinctively know that what they are doing is destroying the planet and wrecking havoc on the great majority of humans; but they are very much like the corrupt French aristocracy before the revolution, who lived according to the theme "apres moi deluge" (very loosely translated means "I will steal as much as I can and I don't care what happens later to my class").

(For a good info-graphic representing this new "turbo capitalism", see this.)   

If you like your culture criticism in the form of sophisticated liberal rants, then you can't do much better than those written by Henry Giroux. Here is a recent article in which he argues that the problem is "authoritarianism" which is merely a symptom, more honestly referred to as "fascism", of a capitalism regime that feels threatened. He does mention capitalism, but it is only a specific form that bothers him--"casino capitalism". Such critiques divert attention (and actions) away from the primary agent, the private ownership of a socially constructed economy, onto merely a particular form of capitalism. Hence, only reforms to the system are needed. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Climate politics must be as radical as the climate crisis

Click here to access article by Simon Butler from Climate & Capitalism.

This article is not recommended for any faint of heart environmental activists who are concerned about the prospects of climate disasters that lie in our future. To be bluntly honest, I think that the evidence is mounting that leads to an inescapable conclusion that we are now in a runaway climate catastrophe. It looks to me like the monster system of capitalism created by humans is now on an irreversible course to destroy a habitat that can sustain human life. 
From the standpoint of humanity having a safe future on this planet, this race to wreck and poison the Earth for profit is insane, even suicidal. Yet for the powerful companies that stand to profit, and from the standpoint of the capitalist system as a whole, it’s an entirely predictable response. The methodical destruction of the life-giving properties of our planet is the visible product of “the invisible hand.”
This is an inescapable reality precisely because the system provides the ruling One Percent with enormous amounts of the short-term benefits of wealth and power, while knowledgeable liberals compromise their criticisms of the system because they fear the loss of their comforts by attacking the system too much, and the vast majority of humans are mired in ignorance and disinformation about the future because they spend all their time and efforts merely trying to survive.

Geoengineering The Sky is Not 'Normal'

Click here to access article by Rachel Smolker from Huffington Post.

This author who is a co-director of Biofuelwatch, a Britain based group whose mission is "to raise awareness of the negative impacts of industrial biofuels and bioenergy", was somehow invited to a conference at John Hopkins university behind close doors. Here is how she described the attendees at the meeting:
Nobody in attendance was a shade darker than a bowl of oatmeal, all were dressed in drab, illuminated by glowing computers, tablets and smartphones. Represented were staff from Johns Hopkins and American University, as well as the conservative American Enterprise Institute (Lee Lane), Bipartisan Policy Center, NASA (Mike McCracken), the renowned blogger, Joe Romm, and long time (but now retired) Friends of the Earth director, Brent Blackwelder. There were representatives from U.S. Climate Action Network, Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch and various others. Certainly more diverse than some meetings, but even I could not avoid the sensation of being sort of a token.
It appears to her and many others that capitalist leaders, especially those in the Empire, have given up on their campaign to discredit scientific evidence of global warming and have entered a new stage in which the main objective is to normalize the discussions about saving the planet by tinkering with the global ecosystem. Yes, these people in their desperate struggle to save capitalism, the goose that lays their golden eggs, are now preparing to run experiments on the planet's ecosystem in order to save it for more consumption of car-cars, cosmetics, and Coca-Cola; and they want to instill the idea in everyone that to embark on this megalomaniac project is perfectly normal. To induce cooperation, there will be prizes for many highly educated scientists.
What is clear is that climate geoengineering is opening new doors for many career seekers. From scientists with superman complexes, eager to be seen as doing "cutting edge" work with big important global consequence, to various environmental and other NGO careerists seeking grant support, status and a place at the table. 

U.S. “Bullying” TPP Negotiators Amid Failure to Agree

Click here to access article by Carey L. Biron from Inter Press Service.
“[T]he U.S. is exerting great pressure to close as many issues as possible … However the Chapters that were reviewed by the [chief negotiators] did not record much progress,” the memo, reportedly written within the past two weeks by one of the governments party to the TPP negotiations and published on Monday by WikiLeaks, stated. 

Chomsky: It Is All Working Quite Well for the Rich, Powerful

Click here to access the abridged interview that CJ Polychroniou and Anastasia Giamali had with Noam Chomsky posted on Truthout.
In a capitalist economy, if you lend me money and I can't pay you back, it's your problem: You cannot demand that my neighbors pay the debt. But since the rich and powerful protect themselves from market discipline, matters work differently when a big bank lends money to risky borrowers, hence at high interest and profit, and at some point they cannot pay. Then the "the credit community's enforcer" rides to the rescue, ensuring that the debt is paid, with liability transferred to the general public by structural adjustment programs, austerity and the like. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

How Wall Street Bankrupted Detroit

Click here if you wish to access the source of this interview with Richard Wolff originally from RT via YouTube

New Documents Show How Power Moved to Wall Street, Via the New York Fed

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

This pro-capitalist blogger is concerned about the concentration of power in the Federal Reserve in the New York branch which, in turn, is dominated by New York Banks. In other words, she criticizes this arrangement because it appears to represent in an undemocratic fashion only one section of capitalists. She seems to ignore the tendency for any form of power, based on institutional arrangements favoring certain sections of a society, to concentrate.

This reflects what members of the One Percent think about "democracy" and it is not unlike the views of the original founders of the US government, usually reverently referred to as the "Founding Fathers". The latter believed that only property holders were entitled to participate in elections and hold office. (Overtime this ruling class gradually allowed citizens, who had only their labor to rent in the capitalist labor market, to participate in elections and hold office only because the former had obtained so much control over the political system that produced candidates for office.) Today's ruling class believe that "democracy" means that capitalists make all major decisions. This is what One Percenters mean when they make numerous references to "democracy" in all their speeches and writings. 

This author is upset because only Wall Street bankers are allowed to participate in decision-making at the Fed regarding the money supply.

Global Power Project [part 2 of ?]: The Group of Thirty and Its Methods of Financial Governance

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

In this series Marshall has identified a Group of Thirty which plans, implements, and coordinates the global capitalist project. In this article he provides translations of their official language in order to shed light on how top level global capitalists direct global practices in their pursuit of more wealth and power for themselves which result in more unemployment, debts, and poverty for us. 

It suddenly occurred to me this morning a question about the global makeup of the membership of this group, specifically how the individual membership corresponded to national membership in NATO. Thus, I had to refer back to a link from part 1. I found that there was only one member from each of the following non-NATO countries: China, Brazil, Argentina, Israel, and Singapore. There were two from Japan and Mexico. There was no member from Russia. It's clear to me that this is a top level group of capitalists who overwhelmingly represent the interests of capitalists in the Anglo-American Empire.

'Europe' in Ukraine: many things to lots of people

Click here to access article by Peter Storm from libcom

This anarchist blogger from the Netherlands adds his perspective and knowledge to sort through the complexities of the militant clashes between demonstrators and the authorities in Ukraine.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ukraine and the Bigger Picture of US and European Assault on Russia’s Sphere of Influence

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham from Strategic Culture Foundation.

This Irish author and political analyst whose views on the current dispute in Ukraine regarding the country's economic integration with Europe versus integration with Russia might suggest to some people that the Cold War never really ended. Actually it did end.

The history of Western capital elites relationship with Russia began in the modern era with the Soviet revolution which created a country in which capital could not function. As such, it was an abomination, a dangerous heresy inflicted upon the earth which capitalist elites could not tolerate. They did everything they could to destroy the Soviet Union immediately after the revolution by invading the country with their armies. Having failed that, the Nazis looked like a promising project to rid this scourge from the earth. But the Nazis were defeated at Stalingrad. Then the budding Anglo-American Empire stepped in to help defeat the Third Reich which represented a threat to their dominance. With the advent of nuclear weapons, world wars became too dangerous for even capitalists to contemplate in their opposition to the Soviet Union. Hence, the Cold War and numerous indirect small wars by proxy.

With the collapse of the hierarchically organized Russian version of socialism (which served a bureaucratic class) in 1989, many thought that peace and disarmament would now reign in a glorious new era. Quite the opposite has happened. Why?

Capitalists always compete for dominance in the race to capture ever more markets, cheap labor, and access to resources. Russia and China refuse to subordinate their proud countries to the diktats of the Empire. Hence, we are in a new period of more insurrections and wars. We will see national disputes like what is happening in Ukraine, and new wars as we've seen and are seeing in the Middle East, Eurasia, and in many other parts of the globe. There will be no peace until capitalism is dismantled and replaced with classless, egalitarian societies. 
Given the destabilizing, predatory role played by the EU towards Russia’s neighbouring countries – aided and abetted by Washington – and given the steady encirclement by the NATO military alliance around Russia’s borders, one has to understand the recent turmoil in the Ukraine as part of a bigger geopolitical picture. That picture is a long historical process of Western-dominated capitalism trying to expand and subjugate new markets, and in particular to bring the vast hinterland of Russia within its orbit.

NSA Will Allow Citizens to Buy Back Personal Data

Click here to access article from The Daily Current, a website whose "...mission is to ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence - which presses forward."

A little dark humor to lighten your day.
"The most American thing you could do is purchase your data back from the NSA. With your help we can keep the country safe and secure, plus manage the debt," said President Obama at his weekly luncheon with major media outlets.

My Home is a Dystopia

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

from The Atlantic: current air pollution in China

In the geological blink of an eye — 20, 40, 60, or 80 years from now, ghostly ruins will be all that remains of the most technologically advanced civilization that once spanned the globe. I don’t believe there will appear any sort of Hail Mary invention to solve the gauntlet of problems facing mankind — peak fossil fuels, climate change, ocean acidification, keystone species extinction, water scarcity, peak antibiotics, chemical pollution, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation, capitalism, and the complexity trap.

The media, internet and free speech in the Arab world is under attack!

Click here to access article by Rana Sabbagh from Mediapart (France).
The latest annual conference organised by Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) opens in Amman, Jordan, on December 6th, bringing together hundreds of media professionals and academics to debate the state of the Arab media. Here, ARIJ Executive Director Rana Sabbagh sounds the alarm over increasing attacks on free speech in the Arab world, “the one gain that protesters believed they had secured at the start of upheavals that erupted in much of the region in 2011”.
My own general view on the "Arab Spring" protests and insurrections is that in Egypt they were in part engineered by Western regime change operatives who merely wanted to create a more Western model of benign governing: a neoliberal oligarchy with a "democratic" facade, but that commands all sources of information and indoctrination to keep the masses in ignorance, and loyal to the regime. 

However, somewhere along the way, their allies in the Medieval kingdoms of the Gulf Cooperation Council would have none of it. They had their own ideas about government, and they are now imposing them everywhere they can in their area of influence. This, of course, complicates the rule of the Empire and has resulted recently in confusing twists and turns of Empire policies and actions. But, that is what happens when you crawl in bed with strange bedfellows.

The author ends the article with an extremely naïve question:
...why do the Arab media prefer to sit on the warm laps of the powerful instead of serving their society as the watchdogs they should be?
This can only happen when people are able to rid their societies of ruling classes.

Whose sarin?

Click here to access article by Seymour Hersh from London Review of Books.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." This French aphorism is once again manifested in the Obama administration's position regarding the manipulation of intelligence in Syria. This recent incident, of course, follows most recently the pattern established under Bush Sr. to justify the attack on Iraq during the first Gulf War (1990-1991). But, of course, it follows the pattern of all imperialist regimes who feel the need to rally their populations behind their war crimes while pursuing their aims of plunder, conquest, and even world domination.

Hersh enjoys access to many former and current intelligence figures and others inside the governing establishment, and brings us up to date--this time not in the New Yorker, but in a British publication--on what he has learned about what happened to Obama administration's plans to attack Syria over the chemical weapons allegations.
... in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence.  
You might also be interested in the keen observations of Bernhard at his blog Moon of Alabama in relation to this important article.

A Tribute to One of History’s Unsung Heroes

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Raging Bull-Shit.
...there are countless other people whose endeavors to make this world a better place are, for whatever reason, left by the wayside of collective human memory. This is the story of one of them, a man who until his death in 1995, at the ripe age of 102, went by the name of Gilberto Bosques Saldívar.
This blogger posts a biography of a man that should be an inspiration to all who refuse to submit to authorities--those willing, well paid agents of the ruling class who keep society functioning for the benefit of the ruling class.