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, February 8, 2014

Nuland’s F** the EU scandal proves illegal Ukraine Regime Change Plans

Click here to access article by Christof Lehmann from nsnbc international.

Lehmann gives his take on the leaked candid conversation between the Assistant Secretary of State and the Ambassador to Ukraine in which they discuss plans to interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine.
The publication US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland’s “F** the EU exclamation to US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pratt, has caused several diplomatic scandals – none of them for the most important reason. 

How NAFTA Unleashed the Violence in Mexico

Click here to access article by Victor M. Quintana from Americas Program. 
The Mexican countryside is not the same twenty years after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Rural Mexico is on fire, and not just because of the “bad guys”–the drug cartels and groups of hit men and thugs.

Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?

Click here to access article by Tom Perkins from The Wall Street Journal.

This is another contribution to my practice on Saturdays to run articles 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.

In this letter to The Wall Street Journal by billionaire Tom Perkins we learn that the rich are feeling persecuted. Some people would instantly dismiss such criticisms, but they are real to the rich. Think how you would feel if you were occasionally berated in the media for your extravagant homes, vacations, your lifestyle, the low tax rates you enjoy, even presents you give to your children

I'm sure they work hard to get all the wealth they have and they feel they should not be despised for being successful. They are firm believers in capitalism and the "trickle-down" theory of economics. I'm sure that they feel that they have played by the rules (even though they made them) and are successful. So, put your envy away and realize that the fabulously rich need love, too!

Climate Changes, Washington Freezes

Click here to access article by Dave Lindorff from WhoWhatWhy.

There are indications that our ruling class is accepting the reality of climate change, but they seem to be focusing on the wrong implications if the discussions at a recent conference are representative.
Organizer and panel moderator Heather Conley...acknowledged in an interview...the absence of any discussion at the event about what was causing the polar region to heat up so dramatically, or what might be done to slow the pace of melting, which is likely to render the Arctic Ocean ice-free in summer months as soon as 2016.
So what did they talk about?

The Embattled Climate Scientist Who Fought Back

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of this interview with scientist Michael Mann from Real News Network.
 On the one hand, you have the fossil fuel industry, or at least some fossil fuel interests who are going to fight tooth-and-nail against any regulations of carbon emissions. But you have the rest of the business community that increasingly sees that we need to do something about this problem.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What about apologizing to Ukraine, Mrs. Nuland? [A must-read/view]

Click here to access article from Oriental Review. (Note: if you are not informed about recent US involvement in Ukraine, to fully understand this article I recommend you read this, this, and this.)

This is a major exposé featuring an intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State and the US Ambassador to Ukraine. I have no idea how this was intercepted or by whom, but I am convinced it is real. Here you get a rare, actual conversation of US officials who are conspiring to meddle in the affairs of another country.
Yesterday’s leak of the flagrant telephone talk between the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt has already hit the international media headlines. In short, it turned out that the US officials were coordinating their actions on how to install a puppet government in Ukraine.
Update 1 at 5:30 PM: I just watched ABC news coverage of this event. They covered it only by mentioning the "f--- the EU" phrase which was attributed only to a "well-known diplomat". However, they went on to frame this as Obama selling ambassadorships, many of whom were completely unqualified. They ended the coverage by admitting all presidents do this, but Obama did it more. Of course, the coverage totally misconstrued who said the forbidden "fuck" world--it was the Assistant Secretary of State not the Ambassador--and far worse, the total context was missing! This is news coverage American corporate style! See for yourself at this link.  

Update 2 at 6:40 PM: However, the newscast did mention that they covered this incident last night. Here is that coverage last night from 8:33-9:05 where she was clearly identified.  Here also the context was distorted: the conversation was merely referred to as a phone call in which "she was asked about including our allies in Europe in the conversation...." Then her recorded voice came on to say, "That would be great, I think, to have them help glue this thing, and to have the UN help glue this thing and, you know, ---k Europe." ABC followed this report by an ABC talking head who reported that she immediately apologized implying that the apology was for using the naughty word in relation to Europe, and went on to explain that it was a private conversation which likely was intercepted by the Russians and circled throughout Twitter. The talking head left it as just another spy story. Wink, wink, chuckle, chuckle.

Two key articles suggesting a radical turn of events in the Middle East

by Ron Horn.

I was astonished to read the two articles from Al Akhbar that I am citing here which seem to suggest major shifts in Middle East policies by the directors of the Empire and a key regional satrap, the Saudi Arabian monarchy. The more I have delved into the information addressed in the two articles, the more impressed I am that their analyses are accurate. 

I will leave to you and others to make interpretations about the long term implications of these recent developments. I will make only this brief comment: these developments suggest to me that the directors of the Empire want to bring stability to this chaotic region in order to focus more on the Far East and curbing China's power (Obama's "pivot to Asia").

The key news event which started all the speculation was a decree issued by the Saudi king, which occurred to the best of my knowledge, on February 3rd. Then the following two experts on Middle East matters have now provided their initial analyses of this event in Al Akbar. As you can see the first article, by ending with quotes from the second author, flows nicely into the second.

Insights into the Power of Corporations

Click here to access a transcript of a speech by Brid Brennan at the Public Eye Awards Press Conference, Davos, Switzerland January 23, 2014 (shortly before the meetings of the World Economic Forum) posted on Transnational Institute.
On 23 January, the Berne Declaration (BD) and Greenpeace Switzerland gave away the 2014 Public Eye Awards. The press conference, at which the winners were announced, turned into a lively debate about the downside of economic growth, the sheer unlimited power of multinational corporations and their lack of responsibility for people and the environment.
At the press conference, held at the Protestant Church Community Center in Davos, .... Brid Brennan from the Transnational Institute of Policy Studies...presented the institute’s new report “State of Corporate Power” which demonstrates just how powerful transnational corporations have become, and how much they continue to benefit from the ongoing economic and financial crisis.
(Incidentally, there were two Hall of Shame awards: the first was by popular vote awarded to Gazprom, the second was awarded by a panel of experts which gave it to Gap corporation.)

Isn't it strange that you didn't see this event reported in your local media? (sarcasm) Either the news wire services did not distribute a report of it, or media corporations refused to provide coverage.

Film of the Week: Memory of a Plunder

Click here to access an introduction to this film by Don Quijones posted on Raging Bull-Shit. (Note: I usually do not post material that I haven't read or watched, but this film looks very interesting.)
For a clearer understanding of the events leading up to the Argentinian collapse and the devastating impact they continue to have on the country’s economy and society, I recommend watching the following documentary. Filmed by Fernando Solanas, an Argentinian film maker who took six bullets in the leg for opposing the Menem government’s privatisation of Argentina’s public oil company, YPF, Memory of a Plunder is is one of the best audiovisual accounts of economic collapse ever made. 
2/9/14 Update:  I watched this film last night and experienced a horror show of neoliberalism and extreme individualism in Argentina which occurred from about 1985 on. It appeared that nearly every person (international and local banksters, politicians, bureaucrats, court justices, labor leaders, etc) who was in a position where they could steal the legacy of state owned properties did so regardless of the devastating consequences to their society. 

Now I know what former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher meant when she essentially said, "There is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families." If you want to see a live laboratory where the ideology of neoliberalism was fully applied, then this film provides an excellent documented record of its effects in one country.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Corporation polluters make ‘sustainable’ a dirty word

Click here to access article by Simon Butler from Climate & Capitalism. 
If you want evidence that the corporate rich are turning “sustainable” into a dirty word then consider the recent award won by Australian bank Westpac. At last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the bank was named the most sustainable company in the world.
However, if that isn't enough to prove his point, then there is this:
A list of the world’s 100 ‘most sustainable companies’ is packed with firms that profit from trashing the planet and are driving us toward climate disaster.
The ongoing clash between their beloved system of capitalism and a sustainable climate is posing severe problems for the global ruling classes. There is no end to the lies they tell themselves and us that they are working for a sustainable planet while trashing it.

The Cinema of Containerism

Click here to access article by Kim Nicolini from The Greanville Post. 

Nicolini in this article reviews two films in which containerization plays a key role. It is the first film, Captain Phillips, that interests me the most because it offers an illustration of the propaganda functions of the entertainment industry. 

The Hollywood film studio (Columbia Pictures) in this reportedly true story makes some mention of some realities related to containerization facing working people like high levels of unemployment, however such serious issues are very much in the background. Instead, it plays up the hero theme of the central character of Captain Phillips.
...the whole point of containerization is to move products of global capitalism in invisible form. Oceans are the delivery system for commodities made in countries too poor to fight for unions or a deserving living wage. Dolls, TVs, cell phones and sneakers are packed into anonymous orange and blue containers, loaded onto ships and then sent to the United States where consumers miraculously find these goods lining the shelves of Best Buy and Walmart.
Any film that is widely distributed in the United States must have large amounts of money behind it. First, it must have a large Hollywood corporation who have access to production facilities and talent, it must have corporate distributors to see to it that the film is played in corporate owned cinemas throughout the country. It requires corporate owned news media to give it good reviews so that it attracts large audiences. Many other rich sources of money must back the film's production such as insurance companies and investors.

As you can see, every element in this industry requires large concentrations of money which are controlled by private interests. The system of capitalism makes such concentrations possible, indeed, probable; and people with money love the system not only for the material rewards that money brings, but also the influence or power that accompanies the control and concentration of money. 

Hence, it follows naturally as night follows day that capitalist production of films would not want to look seriously at the huge problems of unemployment and de-industrialization in the US, the exploitation of cheap labor in foreign lands, and definitely not the system that promotes such activities and effects. What capitalists much prefer to do is to divert our attention to heroes which is a favorite theme throughout the entertainment industry.  Heroes overcome the obstacles in their lives and we are invited to do likewise, or to look to others for our salvation.

2013 was the second-hottest year without an El Niño since before 1850

Click here to access article by John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli from The Guardian. 
Over the past decade, we've seen less warming at the surface and more warming in the oceans. This has been in large part due to a change in Pacific Ocean cycles. We're currently in a cycle that tends to produce more La Niña than El Niño events, which has resulted in the oceans accumulating more heat, leaving less energy than normal to warm the atmosphere. This in turn has led to the widespread myth that the slowed rate of increase of global surface temperatures means we no longer have to worry about global warming, or that its consequences won't be as bad as expected.
The article has several links to supporting evidence, for example, see this (Global warming continues and won't be stopped by wishful thinking) which also contain interesting links.

See also this and this.

However, such scientific evidence will not stop our global capitalist classes from using more carbon spewing fossil fuels. Now that Obama has gotten the expected approval of the Keystone pipeline from the ruling class's State Department, he will be expected to clear the way for construction. According to the news release in the Washington Post, the State Department's approval contained this key statement:
Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.
As a Forbes columnist confirmed, the approval was based mostly on a narrow context: there was an assumption that the oil sands would be mined anyway--without a pipeline the oil will continue to be shipped by rail car. Thus, the environmental impact would likely be less with a pipeline than without. You can't really argue with that type of capitalist logic! Besides, it would create lots of jobs! (sarcasm)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

US Senate votes to slash $8.7 billion in food assistance

Click here to access article by Andre Damon from Rebellious Independent News and Film (RINF).
With the support of the Obama administration, tens of billions of dollars are handed to the banks every month through the money-printing operations of the Federal Reserve. The annual cuts in food stamps, which will have such devastating consequences for the most vulnerable sections of the population, amount to only 0.04 percent of the total wealth of the richest 400 individuals in the country. 

The Workers' Scorecard on NAFTA

Click here to access article by David Bacon from TruthOut.
In 1986, a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act created a commission to investigate the causes of Mexican migration to the United States. .... The commission argued that opening the border to the flow of goods and capital (but not people) would, in the long run, produce jobs and rising income in Mexico, even if, in the short run, it led to some job loss and displacement.


During the debate, executives of companies belonging to USA-NAFTA, the agreement's corporate lobbyist, walked the halls of Congress wearing red, white and blue neckties. They made extravagant claims that US exports to Mexico would account for 100,000 jobs in the agreement's first year alone.

...a parallel labor side agreement would establish a mechanism for protecting workers' rights.

Twenty years later, workers have a scorecard.
[NAFTA went into force on January 1, 1994.] 

Free public transit in Tallinn is a hit with riders but yields unexpected results

Click here to access article by Sulev Vedler from Citiscope. 
TALLINN, Estonia — Last January, Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, did something that no other city its size had done before: It made all public transit in the city free for residents.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Political Corruption and Capitalism

Click here to access article by Richard D Wolff from TruthOut.
Corruption is endemic to the capitalist system and has not been successfully regulated away. Perhaps a system change is warranted?
Of course capitalist corruption is endemic in a government that pretends to be "democratic", that is, run by and for the people. Capitalism, by permitting one segment of the population to "own" the economy, gives capitalists enormous power over the rest of society--so much so that they constitute a ruling class. A ruling class is one, by definition, rules society. Thus, they must rule by corrupting government operations that pretend to serve the public. What is arguably even worse, is that they have thoroughly corrupted all the ideological centers of our society--education, media including the internet, and even entertainment. This ruling class essentially "own" the thoughts and opinions of the vast majority.

Wolff ends this essay with some interesting ideas about how a legitimate government serving all of the people could be organized.

"Safe Passage..., with a Big If: A Review of Paul Craig Roberts' The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism"

Click here to access a review by Gary Coseri of a new book by Roberts posted on Uncommon Thought Journal.

I hesitated posting this article because Roberts already gets too much exposure on the web. His rants can be accessed everywhere: rants about the abuses of capitalism and abuses of power. But his criticisms of capitalism are always carefully limited and that is precisely why he is everywhere on the web: he functions as an ideological gatekeeper to confine criticisms to superficial issues in relation to capitalism while carefully avoiding core issues about the system and completely preventing discussion of alternative systems. Hence, Corseri is dead wrong when he states:
You can't tie Roberts to one ideology. What's clear is his commitment to understanding the mess we've made of our world, and re-visioning, rebuilding it.
Robert's view are strictly of a liberal sort in that in his numerous rants he always comes back to the need for capitalism to be regulated. He wants to "re-vision" and "rebuild" capitalism. He never questions the basic concept of private ownership of an economy. Hence, the title of his book which makes clear his ideological position. This leads people down a political dead end simply because today's capitalists are much too powerful to accept any substantial regulation of their activities. And leading people down a dead end is very useful for the ruling class whether it is done consciously or not.

Turkey’s Real Corruption Scandal

Click here to access article by William Engdahl from Boiling Frogs Post.

The directors of the Empire occasionally have problems keeping their vassals in line and following orders. This has become apparent with some independent actions by members of Saudi Arabia's medieval gang called the Gulf Cooperation Council. The latter's actions in Egypt and Syria have not always been approved of by the Empire's directorate. However, Turkey's dictator Erdogan has been especially rebellious which Engdahl outlines in this essay, and the latter sees possible major geopolitical effects if he succeeds in his various foreign policy adventures.
Erdogan, a scrappy political infighter for all his eccentricities, has fought back and accused “foreign powers” of standing behind his now-arch enemy, former Imam Fethullah Gülen, considered by the US Embassy in Ankara to be the most powerful man in Turkey. What is unfolding across Turkey is far more interesting than your ordinary politician graft scandal.
One also finds many articles currently run in Turkish media regarding Gülen. See this and other articles regarding Gülen from the same website, and this.

Monday, February 3, 2014

American propaganda stokes the fire of Ukrainian disintegration

Click here to access article by Patrice Greanville from The Greanville Post.

The author describes the US ruling class's propaganda efforts, directed mostly against its own citizens, to promote the separation of Ukraine from Russia's orbit and to bring it under the control of their Empire.

This is just the latest chapter of empire building that the US capitalist class and their international cronies have been engaging in since WWII, after which the US, under the control of the capitalist class, was left as the most powerful nation on earth. There is no end to the appetite of these empire builders. Thus, we will see no end to the mini-wars (for a long list, see this), the carefully managed uprisings, the hiring of terrorist armies, the corruption of government leaders, all in the service of expanding the Empire (the Fourth Reich?). 

We will see no end of these events until we stop being deceived by the Empire's nefarious schemes and take away capitalist control of our society--because it should be, it must be, our society. We must declare our independence from them. We must stop working to fund their wars. We must stop believing their lies. We must stop joining their armies and going off to kill their enemies in foreign lands. We must stop their exploitation of, and their attack on, our biosphere--because if we fail to do so, all of humanity will perish. The only way we can accomplish all this is by taking away their system of exploitation--capitalism--that provides them with the wealth and power to ravage our lives and the planet.

From Egypt, Ukraine, the Turkish-Syrian Border, Cuba and Thailand: West Manufactures “Opposition Movements”

Click here to access article by Andre Vltchek from Transcend Media Service
Government buildings are being trashed, ransacked. It is happening in Kiev and Bangkok, and in both cities, the governments appear to be toothless, too scared to intervene.

What is going on? Are popularly elected administrations all over the world becoming irrelevant as the Western regime creates and then supports thuggish ‘opposition movements’ designed to destabilize any state that stands in the way of its desire to fully control the planet?
His answers to these questions which he attempts to do in the balance of the article seems to attribute this to evil-doers in the West. I regard this "evil-doer" concept of what's wrong with the world is an "infantile disorder" that we must get over. It prevents us from identifying the primary causes of our problems which are systemic, and identifying effective solutions. If the US and its capitalist allies in the rest of the NATO countries (the "West") suddenly disappeared, we would see basically the same dynamics happening which would then be under the control of Russian and Chinese capitalists.

No Matter How You Count Them, Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are As High As Ever

Click here to access article by Ben Jervey from DeSmogBlog.

After figuring in all the costs of fossil fuels, it becomes clear that carbon tax arrangements are largely designed to keep the public fooled into thinking that the ruling class, which lives off of the bonanza furnished by the fossil fuel industry, are doing something substantial to reduce the threat of climate change. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How to Overthrow the Illuminati

Click here to access article by revolutionaries in Seattle and New York posted on the Black Orchid Collective website.

I have only had time to read about three quarters of this rather lengthy article, but I am very impressed with it. It examines the history of the Illuminati theory and related conspiracy theories and finds that they tend to reinforce acceptance of the status quo by diverting attention away from the real forms of oppression by offering simple explanations involving evil-doers of one sort or another. After refuting such theories, the authors examine the real forms of oppression caused by the system of capitalism which features the separation of workers from the fruits of their labor for the benefit of a capitalist class.
As long as these class relations of exploitation keep running, day after day, the bourgeoisie will keep gaining more wealth and power by using the alienated labor of the proletariat, and keep strengthening the system that keeps this relationship in place. To end this situation, we will have to do more than attack individual members of the bourgeoisie. We will have to attack the system of capitalist social relations as a whole. 

Blood on the Maidan

Click here to access article by Mark Hackard from The Soul of the East.

The US educated author is a highly trained specialist on Russian affairs and a political analyst who brings his expertise to offer an interpretation of the current unrest in Ukraine.
The story behind the scenes concerns a drive by the United States to short-circuit Russia’s resurgence where it truly matters: in Ukraine.
And we all thought that the Cold War was over. You see, it wasn't only the fact that the Soviet Union had a system that did not permit capitalist penetration, it was also independent of the Empire. The latter does not tolerate any country whose policies and actions are not informed by pro-Empire interests, that is, major capitalist interests located in NATO countries. Both Russia and China (specifically, the ruling capitalist classes of these countries) refuse to take orders from Washington and thus they are targeted by the Empire. And, of course, Iran is even more vigorously targeted because of their history of resistance to Western rule, their potential ability to acquire nuclear weapons, and they are a much smaller nation.

We saw the same dynamics played out in the 20th century when the Anglo-American capitalists and Axis capitalists fought for control of the world, and the effects were devastating mostly for working people who fought these wars. In this age of nuclear weapons major powers resist going directly to war because such wars are no longer seen as profitable opportunities. However, wars by other means are pursued, and that is what we have been seeing all across Eurasia, the Middle East, and Africa. The author explains how this kind of warfare is currently being played out in Ukraine.

See also "Ukraine: "West" Playing With Fire - Intentions?" from Moon of Alabama.

We often see independent actions taken by organized groups and leaders of other countries, and these too must be contained and controlled. Examples of these were movements involved in the Arab Spring uprising; and to a more limited extent with the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups that the Empire uses occasionally, the actions of Saudi Arabia and associated Arab countries and Turkey whose independent activities are currently causing minor problems for the Empire.