We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Top 10 ways we can build a better economic system

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

Engler gives us some ideas on how to construct an economic system to promote social justice.

Why is our Pay Flatlined, and our Workweek Stuck at 40?

Click here to access article by John Pennington from his blog Class War in America.

Pennington observes the tremendous increase in productivity of American workers since the 40 hour workday was established (mostly in the 1930s), but workers are still working the same 40 hour week. This doesn't seem right to him--and, of course, it isn't right. He concludes that the reason is the "capitalist imperative to maximize profit". I think that this explanation could be misleading by attributing motives of selfishness to individual capitalists. Hence, it suggests a moral problem instead of a system problem.

Capitalism gives the "owner(s)" of an enterprise control over the value that is produced by workers and the equipment they use. Of course, the equipment they use was produced by other workers, and their owners took control of the value of these machines. Worker's labor is, like most everything under capitalism, a commodity to be purchased as hourly wages in the labor market much like capitalists pay rent to occupy a facility in an industrial property market. It just another cost of doing business. 

If owners/corporations fail to reduce costs to a minimum, they likely will fail in their market by competition from other enterprises. And in regard to corporations, they are legally required to maximize profit or else they can be sued by their shareholders. Thus, it is the system, not the moral qualities of owners of enterprises that is the issue. To be sure, such a system encourages owners and their managers to function with a lack of moral/ethical principles.

What We Can Learn About Corporations From the Man Who Sold Shares in Himself

Click here to access article by Nick Bentley from Reclaim Democracy!

Bentley writes about some important insights about our society when reading an amusing piece about Mike Merrill who sold shares in himself, and thus giving "owners" power to rule over himself. There were many problems in this arrangement for Merrill's more intimate relationships as there are, of course, with corporations in relation to their employees, customers, and in the communities where their operations are located. Bentley was struck with the following insight while most people were only amused by Merrill's experience:
The only difference between public corporations and Mike Merrill is that we’ve come to accept the consequences of absentee ownership as “normal” in the context of publicly traded companies, so we’re blind to their pathologies. When the same thing happens in an unusual context, it’s easy to see what’s wrong with it.
Any dysfunction can seem perfectly normal if we’re sufficiently used to it. But that doesn’t mean the world wouldn’t be a much better place if we woke up to the problem and fixed it.

Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters, Updated 2014 Edition

Click here to access article by Eva Galperin and Parker Higgins from Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The authors provide some practical advice to activists in their use of cell phones.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Propaganda and the lack thereof

Click here to access article by Dmitry Orlov from his blog ClubOrlof.

This morning after reading/watching my usual news sources including Western media regarding the situation in Ukraine, I felt really bewildered about the military situation in that war. Although I do not usually focus on specific events like this, but look at issues from more of a systems point of view, I decided to do the best I could to find out what was currently going on there. So I offer this piece by Orlov, an author and blogger, who, according to his publisher, immigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1970s to the United States. I followed his blog several years ago, and as I recall, he has traveled a lot to the Soviet Union and Russia since then. I regard him as an informed and reliable source of information on the situation in Ukraine.

I also highly recommend a report entitled "Ukraine Lost A Battle - West Escalates With More Russia Sanctions" from a blog entitled Moon of Alabama authored by Bernhard who I also regard as a very reliable and informed source of information.  

Contrast these reports with the latest one from Western oriented Reuters.

Income Inequality Costs The Middle Class $18,000 A Year

Click here to access article by Bryce Covert from ThinkProgress. 

This article provides jargon-free analysis and charts to reveal the increasing class income differences from roughly 1980 till now between high income earners and the rest of us. 

It must be understood that there are essentially two types of people in a capitalist society from an economic point of view: those who "own" capital (factories, machinery, equipment, patents, intellectual property, etc--essentially anything that is regarded as having monetary value) and are referred to as "capitalists" and those whose work creates capital but without "ownership" or control over it--workers. Capitalists live off of their "ownership" of things: dividends, interest, capital gains, etc; while workers receive income from the work they perform for the owners (capitalists). The analysis in this article focuses only on income earners or workers.  

It should also be understood that workers are also divided: the closer that workers are to capitalists the more privileges they enjoy and are usually paid with salaries for their work whereas lower income people are paid wages based on the time (hours) they perform work. Thus, those with the highest incomes are people who work directly for capitalists as managers, top accountants, and highly skilled technical people.

The economics of American racism (9 charts, 1960 to 2014)

Click here to access article by David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

It appears to me that the US ruling class (aka the One Percent), like most ruling classes, likes to foment division among its potential adversaries (the Ninety-Nine Percent). These nine graphs attest to their success in doing this via racial discrimination in favor of European-Americans in spite of occasional rhetoric to the contrary, laws prohibiting such discrimination, and the election of a president who is widely seen as an African-American in racist-ridden US society in spite of the fact that he was mostly raised by a white grandmother who was a banker and educated at elite schools (see my commentary here). 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Petro-dollar era is officially over as Gazprom begins sales in Yuan and Rouble

Click here to access article by Kenneth Schortgen Jr from Examiner.com. 
Beginning today with an 80000 ton oil shipment from their Arctic fields, Gazprom Neft agreed to new terms on the sale and transfer of oil through the Eastern Siberian-Pacific Ocean pipeline to China, and facilitating the future sale of oil and gas to both Europe and China through a currency other than the dollar. And although this is not the first real transaction for oil done outside the petro-dollar, as this occurred covertly by Iran for gold during the days of economic sanctions, it is the first official global offering by a major oil producer and will likely bring an end to the solitary system of nations being forced to buy dollars first before buying oil from producers such as OPEC and Russia.
I think this development portends a major threat to the US dollar which is one of two major pillars that support the US Empire. This represents another step in the increasingly dangerous conflict between mainly Russian and Chinese capitalist gangs on one side and the US-led capitalist gang on the other. (The other pillar supporting the US Empire is its huge military establishment including its control of NATO.)

Controlling a money supply has always meant controlling how money is spent and for what. Thus, major Empire controlled financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank usually loan US dollars based on restrictions as to what it is spent for. These conditions typically require nations to buy from US or allied corporations, to open up countries for Western investments, and to generally promote neoliberal policies.

Thus, the times we are living in are more dangerous than ever, and we can only expect worse things to come if we prove to be unable to rid the world of the predatory system of capitalism and governments controlled by capitalists.

Carrots and sticks: New Iraq crisis is part of US agenda to target Syria and Iran

Click here to access article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya posted on RT. 

This independent Canadian sociologist and geopolitical analyst has been focusing his attention on the Middle East and North Africa for quite some time. Now he offers his interpretation of the strange events currently occurring in Iraq and nearby areas. One things is certain: the biggest capitalist gang of all, known widely as the Empire, loves to promote conflicts and hostile divisions as a part of its divide and conquer strategy to control the fossil fuel rich Middle East. 
The anti-government forces ravaging Iraq and Syria are mostly the same overzealous or gung-ho head choppers, rapists, extortionists, thugs, and cannibals that were pillaging and senselessly devastating the Syrian countryside with the aim of occupying Damascus in 2011. These ever morphing and constantly name changing groups are not new at all. They have just been rebranded.

From Minsk to Wales, Germany is the key

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar posted on RT.

Brazilian independent journalist Escobar sees Germany as playing a pivotal role in future events in Europe which will have major consequences in the conflict heating up between Russia and the American-led Empire. The headline of this article is about two key meetings in Europe (Minsk, Belarus and in Wales) with the one in Minsk just concluded and the other in Wales scheduled next week. He also mentions an important energy conference in Moscow tomorrow. All of these meetings should have a major influence on which way Germany and Europe will pivot. Based on the just concluded meeting in Minsk, Escobar writes:
Germany is growing only 1.5 percent in 2014. Why? Because the Washington-propelled sanction hysteria is hurting German business. Merkel finally got the message. Or at least seems to have. 
The Empire wants to punish Russia, which has opposed NATO expansion and NATO adventures in the Middle East, with more NATO bases right on its border. The Empire and its NATO army also want to keep Europe separate from Russia and dependent on the Empire, and thus opposes Europe's economic integration with Russia. The current wave of economic sanctions imposed by the Empire is not only trying to punish Russia, but appears to be an attempt to unravel the strong economic ties between NATO-dominated Europe and Russia that have been established over many decades.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We Are All Criminals

Click here to access this 55 minute audio interview with attorney and former public defender Emily Baxter recorded at the studios of KPFA Berkeley, California.

We have seen the recent attempt to criminalize Michael Brown who was executed by a Ferguson, Missouri policeman. In this interview we learn that at least one out of four Americans have been recorded as having a criminal record even if based on only unsubstantiated charges. To get around government restrictions on confidential records, the One Percenters, as always when it is in their interest to evade their own system of laws, get around these restrictions by giving out these records to private companies who in turn make them public. You will learn this and much more in this interview.

If you don't have time to listen to all of it, I recommend listening from 3:24m to 8:45m on the recording.

Michael Brown, According to the New York Times

Click here to access article by Peter Hart from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.

The ruling One Percent's media directors are already at work managing the minds of the Ninety-Nine Percent regarding the execution of Michael Brown by their enforcers. Actually this started within days of the execution when video footage was conveniently "leaked" to their media showing someone looking like Brown shoplifting. In the days ahead we can only expect a heighten effort to portray Brown as deserving what he got. 

Meanwhile, it appears that efforts are now being made by corporate media directors to make white Americans comfortable with the way things are, that is, with well-indoctrinated police forces who are trained to treat citizens differently according to racial and ethnic profiling.

The Bright Side of a Beheading

Click here to access article by Ben Schreiner from The Greanville Post.

Schreiner's post is loaded with sarcasm, but sarcasm can be both appropriate and satisfying when one is feeling overwhelmed with corporate media's disinformation "news" dispatches.
A mere year after having run into both popular and military resistance in their drive to bomb Syria, Washington’s political elite is once again busily prepping a hesitant American public for a plunge further into the Middle East.
Unlike a year ago however, when the pretext of choice was a chemical attack of suspicious origins within Syria, this time around the ruling elite are cynically capitalizing on the brutal execution of American journalist James Foley....

'Severe... Pervasive... Irreversible": IPCC's Devastating Climate Change Conclusions

Click here to access article by Jon Queally from Common Dreams.
Climate change is here. Climate change is now. Climate change will be significantly more dangerous, deadly, and expensive if nothing is done to correct humanity's course, but aspects of future shifts are probably already irreversible. [my emphasis]

That's the assessment of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Obama Buggers Europe: Sanctions Deepen the Recession

Click here to access article by James Petras from Boiling Frogs Post.

Petras surveys the effects of the Empire's strategy to separate Russia from the rest of Europe with the use of economic sanctions, and it doesn't look good for the people of Europe. I wonder how long it will take for the Ninety-Nine Percent in Europe to wake up and resist their masters in the One Percent.
The sanctions policies occur at a time when Europe’s economies are in deep economic crisis, exacerbating long-term stagnation and chronic recession. This paper will identify and analyze the crisis and how US-led sanctions policy is fracturing the European Union. Secondly, we will analyze how Washington’s militarist imperial policies undermine Europe economically and destabilize the rest of the world militarily. Thirdly, we will discuss how the European leaders are prodded by Washington, to put it crudely, through an aggressive ‘buggering process’, to surrender their economic sovereignty and how capitulation to the US project in the Ukraine will lead to their long-term decline and decay. Finally, we will discuss the long-term perspectives for a re-aligned world economy where military conflicts can result in large-scale changes.
The only criticism I have of this article is that, once again, we see agency ascribed to Obama, who really functions only as the chief public relations officer of the ruling One Percent. This plays into the hands of the whole shadow ruling directorate of the One Percent who are intent on disguising all their machinations behind "democratic" myths of a representative government, that is, a government that represents the people. Serious critics of US policy must grow up and recognize these myths for what they are if we in the Ninety-Nine Percent will ever have a chance to gain control over society.

The Time for Burning Coal Has Passed

Click here to access article by Claudia Ciobanu and Silvia Giannelli from Inter Press Service.
In Europe as a whole, coal has seen a minor resurgence over the past 2-3 years, despite the European Union having the stated goal to decarbonise by 2050 (out of all fossil fuels, lignite produces the most CO2 per unit of energy produced).

Access to cheap coal exports from the United States, relatively high gas prices, plus a low carbon price on the EU’s internal emissions trading market (caused in turn by a decrease in industrial output following the economic crisis) led to a temporary hike in coal usage. Yet experts are certain that coal in Europe is dying a slow death.
It's clear that these "experts" are either capitalist ruling class propaganda experts who want to give us false assurances or they are naive environmentalists whose views are informed only by a narrow logic without taking into consideration the enormous political-economic factors preventing any change from "business as usual". The latter people have the simple-minded belief that we can have the 800 pound gorilla (capitalism) with its unlimited appetite for energy and a planet that can sustain human life.
“In the longer term the prospects for coal-fired power generation are negative,” according to a July report by the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Air-quality regulations (in the European Union) will force plant closures, and renewable energy will continue to surge, while in general European energy demand will be weak. The recent mini-boom in coal-burning will prove an aberration.”

“Additional coal mines would not only be catastrophic for people, nature and climate – it would also be highly tragic, as beyond 2030, when existing coal mines will be exhausted, renewable energies will have made coal redundant,” says Anike Peters, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Germany.
Meanwhile, here in the Northwest region of the US, we are fighting against coal export terminals; but as a recent report out of Vancouver illustrates, it is a losing battle. Capitalism cannot function without relatively cheap fossil fuels to run its huge growth machine. Because capitalists reap so many benefits from their system, they are fanatically opposed to any changes in spite of all their rhetoric about "green energy" and promises of a future technological fix. Only working people, who suffer the most in other ways from this system, together with conscientious and informed people can save the planet for a future that can sustain human and many other life forms.

The Historical Perspective of the 2014 Gaza Massacre

Click here to access article by Ilan Pappe posted on Information Clearing House.

This Israeli historian and author has examined his country's actions from the very beginning of its founding until today; and the evidence he has uncovered, and described in detail in his 2007 book entitled The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, has convinced him that the underlying objective for all Israel government actions toward Palsestinians constitutes a plan of genocide.
The Israeli strategy of branding its brutal policies as an ad hoc response to this or that Palestinian action is as old as the Zionist presence in Palestine itself. It was used repeatedly as a justification for implementing the Zionist vision of a future Palestine that has in it very few, if any, native Palestinians. The means for achieving this goal changed with the years, but the formula has remained the same: whatever the Zionist vision of a Jewish State might be, it can only materialize without any significant number of Palestinians in it. And nowadays the vision is of an Israel stretching over almost the whole of historic Palestine where millions of Palestinians still live. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Pentagon’s Strategy for World Domination: Full Spectrum Dominance, from Asia to Africa

Click here to access article by Bruce K. Gagnon from The Plymouth Institute for Peace Research.

The lead sentence is well supported by the rest of the article:
Current US military space policy is primarily geared toward two countries, China and Russia.
I am thoroughly convinced that this is true based on my many years of examining US policies, but especially the accelerated use of psychological operations directed against the public to gain their support for such an insane imperial policy. When I occasionally watch mainstream media "news" reports of domestic and world events, I am now seeing an overwhelming content of lies.

The implication of these truths is that we are living in a very dangerous world. Here from my vantage point in the US, I witness my fellow Americans being manipulated this way and that, but mostly dumbed-down to the specter that is haunting humanity--a global conflagration.

Oil, Blood, Confusion and Fear: Fuelling the Public’s “Appetite for War”

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from Global Research.

There are many important truths revealed in this piece supported by sound reasoning and evidence. Here is only one:
...we should not be fooled by made-for-media outpourings of fake concern for our safety or fake morality about good and evil that are designed to create fear, outrage and support for militarism. The result will be more war and slaughter for pipelines and power. The result will be further repression under the guise of preventing terror at home.

The Gates Foundation Education Reform Hype Machine and Bizarre Inequality Theory

Click here to access a series of cartoons posted as graphic journalism by Adam Bessie and Dan Carino from Truthout.

Cartoons can be useful to focus on certain truths even though they present a very simplified version of reality. In this post we are led to focus on the absurdity of Gates' influence on education policies which are attempting to lead us down the path of corporate takeover of education. So far, so good. But, this focus leaves out a more important and radical insight which liberal websites like Truthout tend to avoid.

Although he has used the wonderful gift of truth-seeking procedures of science (systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses) given to mankind by the early seekers of truth during the Enlightenment period of human history to advance computer technology, Bill Gates is first, and foremost, a capitalist. This means that he was much more thoroughly indoctrinated in beliefs about "ownership" of other people's labor. He learned that (under capitalism) labor is a commodity and can be purchased like any other commodity. He also learned a lot about how capitalist laws can be used to acquire ownership over knowledge (another commodity) which are really a legacy of human activity over many centuries. He astutely purchased the knowledge of corporate lawyers to construct his computer empire. And then, of course, he benefited from a lot of pure luck. Anyway, as you can see, all of the above brought him piles and piles of money, and under capitalism money is power. He is merely playing the capitalist game for all its literal worth.

Meanwhile, liberal sites like Truthout will avoid these deeper insights, because they too are a part of the capitalist universe. They, too, subscribe to capitalist assumptions about an economy which inhibit their analyses of issues like education. Thus their focus on Bill Gates, and his bizarre and unscientific theories that justify corporate takeover of education, refuses to acknowledge the 800 pound gorilla room: capitalist principles that reduce every human activity to a marketable commodity to support a tiny class of capitalists and their mad pursuit of wealth and power regardless of the effects on the rest of humanity. 

Gates is only doing what he was taught to do: make more money/power for himself and Microsoft. He gets away with his bizarre theories on education because he can--he has overwhelming power to do so. That should offer a clue about how a sustainable society should be designed (hint: think egalitarian).

Why aren't college presidents writing letters of concern about Salaita?

Click here to access article by David Palumbo-Liu from Al Jazeera.

American Zionists are not satisfied with painting those critical of Israeli policies with the brush of "anti-Semitism", they also like to go after their jobs. This piece reports on the latest academic firing, and actions opposed to it.
One wonders why it is that critics of Israel are particularly vulnerable to attack, and not only undefended by people like those in UIUC's administration, but even subject to their whims. And furthermore, one has to mention this - if such arbitrary actions, prompted by outside influence and trumping faculty governance, can be undertaken with impunity in this case, there is absolutely no reason to believe that it could not happen again, to any other faculty hire in the country for any other reason, Israel-related or not.

The Political Spectrum

Click here to access a schematic from LUV News.

This featured post has an excellent simple graphic that explains so much about the narrow political spectrum that is permitted by Empire media directors.   

Thus far I am impressed with this online news service that highlights important articles that corporate media ignores in favor of their propaganda pieces. Although one must forever guard against trusting any one source of information, some of you might consider joining this news service as another antidote to the virus of ruling class's Orwellian propaganda that like a cancer can metastasize and consume your soul. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

5 Crucial Lessons for the Left From Naomi Klein’s New Book

Click here to access article by Ethan Corey and Jessica Corbett from In These Times.
...in her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (due in stores September 16), Klein casts her gaze toward the future, arguing that the dangers of climate change demand radical action now to ward off catastrophe. She certainly isn’t alone in pointing out the urgency of the threat, but what sets Klein apart is her argument that it is capitalism—not carbon—that is at the root of climate change, inexorably driving us toward an environmental Armageddon in the pursuit of profit. This Changes Everything is well worth a read (or two) in full, but we’ve distilled some of its key points here.

Alternatives to Capitalism -- a book review

Click here to access the article in which Errol Sharpe from The Media Co-op (Canada) offers his review of a new book by Richard Swift. (Note: The Media Co-op is Canada's premier independent source of news and analysis offering a radical alternative to their capitalist media.)
Swift’s book is a much needed antidote to the myriad of political clap trap that spouts from our daily newspapers and much of our “left” journalism which suggests that capitalism can be reformed and regulated in such a way that an ecological and economic disaster can be avoided.

The Fishy James Foley Video

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama.

Are Empire directors once again manipulating world opinion by another staged operation? There are several reasons for regarding the Foley video as faked. And as Escobar observes, the timing is perfect to prepare domestic opinion in support of air strikes in Syria.

Ferguson Versus the Counter-Insurgency State

Click here to access article by Glen Ford from Black Agenda Report.

Ford explains that what we are now witnessing in the US is a counter-insurgency state, and it has been created over many decades starting in the 1960s when the ruling class felt threatened by the Black Power Movement. This is very true, but an incomplete analysis as far as it goes.

Ford should be congratulated for recognizing the police state that we now live in by identifying it as a "counter-insurgency state". Counter-insurgency as a concept has been employed by ruling class media to describe Empire operations in many parts of the world since the Vietnam War. It has been used to overturn governments that did not comply sufficiently with Empire demands to open their nations (Ukraine is the latest victim) to corporations based in the Empire, or to protect their existing dictator friends, who have been complying with neoliberal policies, from their own populations. But I've previously never heard the term used to describe their use of military-grade weapons technology to control active dissent within the US. Empire elites are globalists. They have no more regard for Americans than they do for Mongolians, Nigerians, etc. The application of this concept to Americans is a major step forward in understanding the world we live in. However, it is not sufficient.

First, of all domestic counter-insurgency operations are not merely targeting African-Americans, they are targeting anyone or any group that engage in physical resistance against their policies. The mostly white Occupy Movement experienced the same kind of response even though they engaged in mostly peaceful protests. Surely I don't need to review the long history of ruling class actions to brutally crush worker strikes and the massacres of mostly white workers. By exclusively framing their current operations as racist only serves to divide workers which the ruling class loves to do.

Second of all, by framing these operations in exclusively racial terms diverts attention away from the underlying dynamics of capitalism which, of course, likewise serves ruling class interests. 

Dangerous climate change: Myths and reality - Part 3

Click here to access article by David Spratt from Climate Code Red.

In part 3 Spratt addresses two myths propagated by ruling class propaganda organs:
* Long-term feedbacks are not materially relevant for carbon budgeting
* There is time for an orderly, non-disruptive reduction in emissions within the current political-economic paradigm [capitalism]