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, March 15, 2014

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed from The Guardian.

I don't know the politics of the author, but I do know those of The Guardian which serves the capitalist system by offering a liberal slant that limits critiques of the system. Of course, I am referring to the system of capitalism which controls the economy and offers fabulous rewards only for a few winners much like one sees in the popular capitalist game of Monopoly. 

Notice while reading this piece which offers some very serious warnings from solid scientific sources about our future and its direct relationship with the extremely unequal distribution of wealth, the author is unable to name the system which makes such a distribution inevitable. It seems that because leading ruling class agents such as Obama are permitted to express concerns about this development, it appears that this obvious problem is now permissible to discuss in ruling class media. However, if you want access to their media, you must never tie this problem to the name of the system that is responsible. Ahmed, and the quotes he provides, can only use vague terms like "the system" or "business and usual", and the recommendations that follow use terms like "structural changes".

See another illustration of this liberal sort of critique in The Guardian in an article entitled "London, a city in thrall to money and greed" which can only point to a moral problem.

No fracking way: How the EU-US trade agreement risks expanding fracking

Click here to access article by Pietje Vervest, Timothé Feodoroff, et al from Transnational Institute. (Note: it is rare that I post articles without reading the entire contents, but I have so much respect for this research institute that I will make an exception for this post which contains a link to an eight page PDF document available in three languages.)
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) covers a huge range of issues and sectors, including food safety, genetically modified products, toxic chemicals, highly polluting fuels and data protection. The talks threaten to weaken or roll-back democratically agreed safeguards put in place to protect the environment and citizens – for the sake of corporate profits.

The talks are likely to favour safeguards for corporate investments over safeguards for citizens and the environment, allowing companies to seek compensation when government decisions affect their profits. This could benefit companies seeking to exploit natural resources through hazardous technologies whose activities may be affected by environmental or health regulations.

14 things we learned – and the Abbott government didn’t

Click here to access article by Giles Parkinson from RenewEconomy (Australia). (Note: the term "furphy" in the article is Australian slang for "rumor".)
Climate change is real, and it [is] man-made, Australia’s policies are a joke, renewable energy investment is leaving Australia, wind and solar do not add costs to the grid, they don’t need new back-up, and they have been reducing prices. And the world is changing while Australia stands still.
I doubt that there is any place on earth where people are experiencing worse extreme weather events as they are in Australia. I am reminded of this every year when I watch tennis players competing in temperatures over 100 degrees at the Australian Open in January. Tournament tennis officials were forced to put a roof on top of some of their stadiums to handle this, but I think they will soon need air conditioning if they want to continue to hold the Australian Open.

This piece reports on all the deceptions and games the Australian capitalist government plays to continue with business as usual. Also, as an antidote to this discouraging news, the author has placed at the end of the article a parody of their ruling establishment performed by two outstanding Australian comedians (Clarke and Dawe).

Kerry gives Russia until Monday to withdraw from Crimea, agree to the Victoria Nuland plan, and give up cabbage soup

Click here to access article by Joseph K. Winter from The Spoof (satire).
Ms. Nuland and Mr. Pyatt agreed that the right kind of minister for Ukraine to serve western interests was Mr. Arseniy "Rats" Yatsenyuk while vigorously rejecting the EU choice for the position.
Instead of my usual practice on Saturdays to post an article about our fellow citizens of the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%, or one out of every 10,000 of us) to promote better understanding, I am posting this article which reports on one of them, John Kerry, who is directing our nation's policies with respect to Ukraine. It is important that we understand what he is doing on behalf of freedom and democracy so that we can wholeheartedly support him and, if necessary, stop what we are doing, enlist in the army, and go overseas to kill Russians who, it seems, are planning to do nasty things to Ukraine, or maybe just Crimea. Besides those Russians are probably commies, and we all know what they are like. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Behind the Lies About Venezuela’s Protests

Click here to access article by Garry Leech from Rebellious Independent News & Film.

US Empire directors seem to be on a roll with regard to "regime change", a polite term these directors prefer to describe their efforts at overturning governments that they don't like to new ones that will serve their mission of world dominance. An important component of this effort is always to prepare the home audience with a barrage of propaganda in support of these projects. In recent history we've seen this pattern played out with our war against Iraq, our undeclared war with Iran, the overturning of the governments in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and now we see propaganda campaigns against the popular government in Venezuela. Leech fills us in on the details of this campaign and what is really happening in that country.

His description of the current happenings there are convincing to me based especially on my knowledge of Caracas gained from my two week trip to that country in late 2005. There are sections of Caracas that resemble rich neighborhoods of Western countries. I remember well a visit I made to a shopping mall located in one of these districts. I was amazed by the opulence of this mall which compared well with the most lavish that I had seen in North America. Not far from this mall were numerous people living in shacks stacked on the steep mountainsides surrounding the city. I was appalled and angry at the contrast, and slowly became aware of how rudely I was treating the sales clerks in a bookstore located there. I read some of the most malicious propaganda I'd ever seen against the government printed in their leading newspapers. Generally, I was left with the strong impression of two cities: a European colony intent upon asserting their dominance over the mixed race majority that surrounded them. It is on the streets of these European Venezuelans where these current demonstrations are occurring.

A Response to Robin Hahnel's Open Letter to the Movement

Click here to access article by Nicholas Davenport from New Politics.

It seems that many people like Hahnel in the climate justice movement continue to be fooled by proposals coming from capitalist agents that pretend to deal with the threat of climate catastrophe. Such people are apparently incapable of grasping the inescapable fact that capitalism and a sustainable planet are totally incompatible. Referring to the "cap and trade policies" offered by these agents, Davenport writes:
Their purpose is to provide the appearance of doing something while, in fact, fending off a challenge to capitalism by permitting a fossil-fuel-based economy to continue for as long as possible, and, to the extent that transition from fossil fuels does occur, placing as much of the cost as possible on the working class and the developing world. 

Ukraine: How to Hide a Nazi Army

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook.

I don't think he directly explains "how to hide a Nazi army". However, he uses reports in European media to discredit US's massive propaganda about the virtues of their puppet government in Kiev and their tirade against Russian reactions. Cartalucci supplies us with a variety of such reports which describe the Empire's puppets and their supporters as consisting of substantial elements of neo-Nazis, racists, and homophobes. 

So, who among the US Empire directorate really cares as long as these elements serve their mission of world domination? And, who cares as long as the American people can be constantly fed outrageous lies that are mostly believed? A direct answer to the headline would be a massive propaganda campaign. However, it seems that they lack the same overwhelming control of European media as they have at their command in the US.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Let Me Tell You About Thailand's Rice Farmers

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from AltThaiNews. 

There is a lot of valuable information in this post, and thus it should not be read carelessly. First of all, Cartalucci brings us up-to-date on one of the fundamental causes of the deep political conflicts raging in Thailand. A second section is devoted to some very interesting ideas about self-sufficiency using high technology that empowers people. It's clear to me that such applications of technology are not possible within capitalist systems of exploitation. And, finally, some political recommendations about how to deal with the current crisis.
The problems faced by rice farmers have only been compounded, however astronomically, by the current regime's ill-conceived, failed vote-buying scheme. Farmers are facing increasing hardships that began long before this latest national disaster - and hope of rectifying any of them seems remote at best.

Another grave and growing concern is the increasing monopolies held by foreign big agricultural corporations who have set about miring Thailand's farmers in a web of debt and perpetual servitude toward chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMO).

The cycle of chemicals and industrial scale monoculture (the dependence on only a single crop) leave farmers entirely dependent on both large agricultural corporations to grow their crops, and big-retail to sell them.

The 9/11 Attacks, “Keeping the Lid on the Lie”: Media Response to the Growing Influence of the 9/11 Truth Movement

Click here to access article by Elizabeth Woodworth from Global Research.

As peer-reviewed scientific evidence accumulates, mainstream media is having a harder and harder time ignoring the discrepancies between the evidence and the official story of 9/11.
...it is important to consider that the survival of truth in a democracy [any society] rests on the outcome of an information war that is based largely on psychological operations and propaganda.
With regard to the truth about 911, the history of corporate media reporting is reminiscent of Gandhi’s famous statement:  ”First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” 
The author goes on to explain how this theme is reflected in media coverage of the 9/11 research.

Also, you might be interested in this 12:59m video from RT via YouTube. The term "Strategy of tension" is used in the video and, I think, it might be very useful in understanding a lot of mysterious events that have occurred in the world and are still occurring.

The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld

Click here to access article by Peter Dale Scott from The Asia-Pacific Journal.

This former Canadian diplomat and retired professor from UC Berkeley has scored another hit by uncovering so much documented evidence that supports the insight that official government in the US along with political parties and well managed elections are facades to dupe people into believing all the lies and pretensions about democratic rule, the rule of law, and the very legitimacy of the existing US political institutions. 

Any class-structured society is immediately upon its founding embarked on a course where that society is bifurcated into the powerful and the powerless, and in capitalist societies, also into the super-rich and the poor. Hence, the seeds for this monstrous societal plant were sown at the very beginning in 1781 by establishing concepts and institutions to promote the private ownership of the economy--something that is inherently social. This arrangement immediately divided society into essentially two populations--a few landowning-slave owning rich like Washington and Hamilton and many who were indentured workers, slaves, and poor farmers. The dynamics of capitalism which by its nature promotes the concentration of private wealth has inevitably created the world we have today. 

Scott's history of this shadow government mostly goes back to the post-WWII period when the many of the world's nations lay in ruin and, thus so vulnerable. The American people were not sufficiently predisposed to empire building so that our masters in the ruling class had to construct an alternative, secret government in order to construct their US based capitalist Empire which would, in turn, make them overwhelmingly powerful and rich.  The Dulles brothers starred in this effort.

The only criticism I have of this report is that it is unnecessarily long. You can easily skip the first part and start with the second section entitled "The Deep State, The Shadow Government and the Wall Street Overworld". It seems to me that the term "The deep state" is really only a more polite term for "shadow government" which is much more disturbing.
In this essay I shall use “deep state” in the larger sense, to include both the second level of secret government inside Washington and those outsiders powerful enough, in either the underworld or overworld, to give it direction. In short I shall equate the term “deep state” with what in 1993 I termed a “deep political system:” “ one which habitually resorts to decision-making and enforcement procedures outside as well as inside those publicly sanctioned by law and society.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Senate Intelligence head [Diane Feinstein] accuses CIA of undermining US “constitutional framework”

Click here to access article by Barry Grey from World Socialist Web Site. 

I think that there is more to this conflict between the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA than merely a show of hypocrisy by Feinstein as many in liberal and left media are seeing it. (Diane Feinstein last summer remarked that "what he [Snowden] did was an act of treason"). As a Senate liberal, Feinstein has supported nearly all Empire aggressions. The fact that she has gone public with this conflict with the CIA indicates to me that even liberals are becoming concerned with the level of the arrogance displayed by members of the shadow government. Notice also that the CIA director went before one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes ruling class organizations to issue what many regard as a thinly veiled threat:
"I would just encourage members of the Senate to take their time to make sure that they don’t overstate what they claim and what they probably believe to be the truth. These are some complicated matters.”
I have no doubt that the conflict will be quietly handled in favor of an aggressive shadow government and its secret agencies, and aided by their media executives who will make sure that their talking heads on TV handle the issue appropriately so that the public goes back to sleep. I see this incident as one more indication that our ruling class is intent on moving further toward fascist rule.

Crimea: Democracy Is Not Democracy…Unless Obama Says It Is…

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from New Eastern Outlook.
As Crimea prepares to vote on Saturday March 16th in a crucial referendum on its future, the rhetoric coming from the West and its propaganda machine has hit a new and ridiculous low. Not only has US President Barack Obama and his administration done everything to undermine democracy in Ukraine, they have now resorted to the most naked forms of hypocrisy in an attempt to delegitimize the democratic process. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Edward Snowden, Tattletale

Click here to access article by Arthur Silber from Once Upon a Time... 

After examining the unfolding story of Edward Snowden's revelations about extensive NSA surveillance of the communications of citizens, Silber argues that Snowden should be described as a "tattletale" rather than a "whistleblower". His exposition of this distinction makes some very important points about the significance of the leaks. As we know, less than 1% of the leaked documents have been released to the media and many of those are highly redacted. 
Be sure to appreciate the meaning of the...phrase: a tattletale is someone who reports "something bad or wrong" to an authority. And that is precisely what Snowden has done. He has entrusted the documents to "responsible journalists," who have adopted the rationales and methods of the States themselves. Moreover, these "responsible journalists" work together with "government stakeholders" to determine which documents may be "safely disclosed" on the basis of factors that are explained in only the vaguest and most vacuous of terms. We haven't escaped the oppression and abuses of authority: we have only added to the authorities who decide what we will be allowed to know. 
In other words, Snowden "told" on the NSA to the state who, of course, have little concern other than protecting those secrets from the public which all parties are effectively doing. This framing of the events, once again illustrates how the state does not serve the people: it is not, as it pretends to be, "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Well, then, for all the naïve or slumbering citizens out there, this begs the question: who does it serve?

Ukraine: The Sovereignty Argument, and the Real Problem of Fascism

Click here to access article by Gary Leupp from CounterPunch

His essay focuses on two question:
1. How (relatively) important is Kiev’s claim on sovereignty over the Crimea, transferred from Russia to Ukraine by the stroke of Nikita Khrushchev’s pen in 1954?
2. How (relatively) important is it that neo-fascist groups, in particular the Svoboda Party, played a significant if not decisive role in the toppling of the elected President Viktor Yanukovich, installing Arseniy Yatsenyuk (who has announced in advance an “unpopular” austerity regime); and now hold major cabinet posts, including minister of defense, and control the National Security Agency?
Because of the extensive collaboration with the Nazis by Svoboda during WWII and the abundant evidence of anti-Jewish attitudes among Svoboda party leaders, it occurred to me that I've seen little concern coming from Zionist sources over their key role in the coup and the new government of Ukraine. I looked at Zionist sources such as JINSA's website where I only found criticism of Obama for not being sufficiently aggressive with Russia in the Ukrainian events. I also looked at the online edition of Haaretz, a major liberal publication in Israel, and found only the mildest sort of concern expressed along with a considerable amount of anti-Russian propaganda. So, I ask myself: are Zionists more concerned about promoting the capitalist empire than protecting Jews?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Profiting from crisis - How corporations and lawyers are scavenging profits from Europe’s crisis countries

Click here to access introduction to a study done by Cecilia Olivet & Pia Eberhardt from Corporate Europe Observatory.

This study reveals the details of a global story which many of us have already seen indications of in nation after nation. Under the new banner of neoliberalism, capitalist vultures are now on a global quest to place entire populations in debt to major banks and, in turn, to them as the banks' investors. Of course, they have been doing this for decades as revealed by such people as John Perkins who wrote about it in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. This is now accelerating using so-called "free trade agreements". The neoliberal vultures have thoroughly infiltrated governments and are now in the process of formulating laws in support of these agreements which make entire nations vulnerable to their capitalist class's predations.
The legal bases of these lawsuits are the over 3000 international investment treaties in existence to date. They contain far-reaching protections of private property enshrined in catch-all clauses such as “fair and equitable treatment” and “protection from indirect expropriation”. The trouble is that these clauses have been interpreted so broadly that they gave a carte blanche to corporations to sue states for any regulations that could be deemed to affect current or future profits. Moreover, investment treaties grant corporations rights to protection, without giving equivalent rights to states to protect their own citizens.
So far they have succeeded so well that the debts of nations owed to them, according to Bloomberg News, is now estimated at over $100 trillion! (I can't even comprehend how much money that is.) This new age of neoliberalism is looking more and more like old-fashioned feudalism. These new lords of the global manor can now merely sit back and live off the interest we pay them by cutting back on expenses that go to our health, education, recreation, retirement pensions, transportation, and general welfare. 

Are we humans and our natures so defective that we will continue to allow this tiny class of people put us into never-ending virtual slavery? Stay tuned, better yet, stay active and informed.

Julian Assange “We Are Headed Towards a Transnational Dystopian Total Surveillance Society”

Click here if you wish to access the source of this posting from Transcend Media Service.

To bring people up to date on the circumstances and views of our hero Julian Assange, I am posting this 15:15m video of a recent interview broadcast on MSNBC.

In the video reference is made to a "conversation session" put on by South by Southwest that took place today in Austin, Texas featuring Assange and others. This one hour session can be accessed at the ACLU website here.

William Engdahl on the Ukraine

Click here to access this nearly one hour interview with Engdahl posted on Bildungskanal, originating from TPV (The People's Voice) which appears to be located in Britain. 

Engdahl, who I judge to be one of the world's best geopolitical analysts, covers in depth the historical background on Ukraine along with the coup d´etat, snipers, and lies in the mainstream media.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Murky Politics of the $15 Minimum Wage

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from Workers Action. 

The politics of this campaign are murky, but I think murkier than what Cooke is aware of. 

Living in the Seattle area I am a bit disturbed by the popular $15 minimum wage campaign. Unfortunately, Cooke joins the effort by uncritically regarding it as a major achievement by worker-advocates as suggested in this article. 
Seattle has proved this demand is not only possible, but is a key demand to re-spark the labor movement. If labor and community groups around the country united behind implementing this demand across the country, city by city, the workers’ movement would be revitalized, as it is in Seattle.
Campaigns such as this could be used to educate people on the complexities of working for gains within the existing capitalist system, but I doubt that much effort will be expended to do this. Instead, I think it is more likely that advocates will not go further than their existing narrow focus on raising the minimum wage. This article is an example of that narrow focus.

Thus, we are led to believe that all we need to do is pass laws in support of working people; and to do this we need to support candidates and political parties that will work for such laws. This has gotten a lot of workers excited about, and spending a lot of time, working on this campaign. Meanwhile, the ruling capitalist class has hardly blinked at this supposed threat to their profits. I've also noticed that the campaign has gotten a lot of attention in mainstream media. (See this and this in major capitalist media.) Why?

Because it is essentially a wedge issue to split the 99 Percent. Proponents immediately discovered that small businesses and non-profits would be impaired and thus they have exempted small businesses (this is usually limited by number of employees--not sure what this is in existing proposals), and then there will be non-profits threatened with extinction if this measure passes in Seattle. Then there are other problems. Are part-time workers covered? Otherwise businesses will simply cut back on employee hours as many have done to avoid being affected by Obamacare, and some will cut employees by introducing more automation in the workplace such as self-check out counters at retail stores. Many large retail outfits are already closing stores, some of which plan to switch to online sales only. Others will relocate to other states with lower minimum wage laws. The city of Sea-Tac passed a $15/hr minimum wage and it was immediately ruled by a judge that it could not apply to airport employees because the airport was under a different legal jurisdiction (Port of Seattle). The measure if passed would have a big impact on city employees, and city government like all state and local governments in the US are revenue starved and cutting back services. 

The point is this: the law if passed will be a very mixed blessing for workers and it doesn't deserve the time and effort put in to pass it unless it is part of a larger effort to educate workers. But, I don't see this happening. For example, "Socialist" City Council Member Kshama Sawant appears to subscribe to the liberal view that laws can be passed within a capitalist system that can solve worker problems.

One campaign that is vital for the benefit of all working people is control of our own media, but do you see many people inspired by that? No. Such efforts don't get TV coverage. It seems that dangling $15/hour in front of our noses and plenty of coverage in mainstream media will get people activated. As long as we allow ourselves to be led like sheep by the sheepherders of corporate media to engage in such time-consuming political campaigns, we will never achieve any real progress. It is discouraging to see labor advocates like Shamus Cooke playing along.

Be Careful What You Fight For

Click here to access article by John Spritzler from New Democracy World.

This piece focuses on a major method of opposition that has been, and is used, by the "haves" against  the "have-nots" to achieve social justice. Elsewhere these two groups have been expressed as ruling classes versus their subjects, monarchs and aristocrats versus serfs, capitalists versus workers etc. Ruling classes have been the norm in human society since we settled down in agricultural communities instead of hunting and foraging for wild foods. Although this phase only consists of less than 2% of human existence, still it has comprised the last 2%. Many people have dreamed of egalitarian societies which existed in the earlier 98% of human existence. 

What this author writes about is the use of one favorite method that ruling classes have used to maintain their rule against such dreamers--divide and conquer.

A Nation Is Not a Person: Now Let's Talk About Ukraine

Click here to access article by John Spritzler from New Democracy World. 

Spritzler argues against the way most articles frame the events happening in Ukraine.
When these articles, as they so often do, tell their readers that one of the nations is imperialist and the other anti-imperialist, they are telling their readers to support a government (the "anti-imperialist" one) that oppresses its own people. No good can come from this!

What these articles fail to grasp is that when two nations (by which I mean two ruling classes) are in conflict, there is no need to support one in order to oppose the other. Doing so means taking the side of the oppressor against the oppressed in the so-called "good" nation.
However, I think there are ruling classes that are worse than others--in fact, much worse with regard to peaceful relations between ruling classes.

"We Need Ambedkar--Now, Urgently..." — an interview with Arundhati Roy

Click here to access the interview posted on Outlook India.

This article is an excellent antidote to all the mythology about Gandhi that capitalist indoctrination has so completely filled the minds of people particularly here in the US. I am referring to the propaganda of non-violence as epitomized by the supposed teachings of Gandhi. Ruling class media and educational institutions have instilled in Americans an almost religious belief in "non-violent" tactics of resistance to discourage them from using any form of physical resistance which includes property, especially their property. If there is one thing that our ruling class respects and uses it is the infliction of violence. You see, they are worried about its use on them. Hence, the need to fill us with such nonsense about Gandhi who is portrayed as almost a god-like figure. Our resource is Roy who has made an extensive research on Gandhi and found the real human being behind the myths.
I wasn’t really researching Gandhi’s views on diet or natural cures, I was following the caste trail, and in the process I stumbled on the race trail, and eventually, through all the turbulence and mayhem, I found coherence. It all made sense.It was consistent, and consistently disturbing. The fact is that whatever else he said and did, and however beautiful some of it was, he did say and write and do some very disturbing things.