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, October 11, 2014

Getting to Mars will ensure the survival of our species, says Nasa chief - and he claims humanity needs to ‘get a grip’ when it comes to climate change

Click here to access article by Jonathan O'Callaghan from MailOnline.

The author reports on a recent speech by visiting NASA Administrator Charles Bolden who revealed his views on a number of issues including Mars, climate change, China, etc. However, the emphasis in the article is on the human settlement of Mars as urged by Bolden. 
Getting to Mars is important because it is the only planet in the solar system [other than Earth] that we believe might have born life in some form at some time,’ Mr Bolden said.
It may be able to sustain life right now, and it definitely can sustain human life if we put humans there.
That’s important for the preservation of the species, and I want to make sure that my grand-daughters, and great-great-grandaughters, have the opportunity to go there.
Although Bolden admits that there are many "detractors" who disagree with him and that getting there and establishing colonies there will be "hard, just to put it bluntly. Mars is really, really, really hard."

I am posting this as an example of one major fantasy that members of the capitalist ruling classes have as they wake up to capitalism's greatest dilemma: the fact that capitalism with its growth imperative cannot exist within finite limits of the Earth. (There are two other major fantasies: fusion power to replace fossil fuels and climate engineering.) Thus, when we completely trash our planet Earth and make it uninhabitable for humans (and other species), we will be able to migrate to Mars. I presume that the same method can then be used when we are finished trashing Mars. Therefore, humans can go on forever trashing the universe while preserving their cherished system of exploitative capitalism.

Somehow I wonder if he really believes this fantasy, or if he is simply engaging in self-promotion: bigger budgets to play with and promoting his career at NASA. This ethos is, of course, so typical of capitalists and their followers, and so well expressed by Margaret Thatcher who said:
...there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves.... 

TTIP: covert attacks on democracy and regulation

Click here to access article from the Corporate Europe Observatory.

This is an introduction to a beginners guide to the kind of  "regulatory cooperation" that the European Commission and corporation-serving negotiators of the US have in mind to subvert national control over environmental, health and safety regulations. To be sure, national control usually mean local elites control to a considerable extent. Yet nation-based regulations usually have far more ordinary citizen input than what we will have under these multi-national trade agreements. We have seen the future with NAFTA.

Israel and the G-Word

Click here to access article by Jonathan Cook from CounterPunch.
Those guarding the critical lexicon strip us of a terminology to convey the appalling reality faced by Palestinians, not just as individuals but as a national group. In truth, Israel’s strategy incorporates variants of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and genocide.
And those guards are in all NATO ruling classes, and they serve to hide the role that the pariah state of Israel provides the Empire: a permanent military outpost to insure control of the resources in the Middle East. However, there are people who argue that the tail wags the dog.

The Koch Brothers Performed By The Motch Brothers

Thanks to Lisa and her website "All Hat No Cattle" for bringing my attention to this satirical video. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Think Tank Memories

Click here to access the transcript and 37:35m audio recording of an Australian podcast featuring an interview with economist Michael Hudson.

In this free-flowing conversational style interview, I found Hudson at his best by being both very informative and entertaining. After explaining how think tanks function to promote self-serving policies while selling these policies to the public in the language of public relations, he frequently cracked me up with his sardonic humor expressed in anecdotes about the various shenanigans played by banksters and assorted (or sordid) capitalists. The interview sometimes reminded of a comedy routine featuring a comic and a straight guy. Although I only read the transcript, listening to the interview might be even more entertaining.

James Hansen: 'I Thought There Would Be a Rational Response'

Click here to access article by Brendan Montague from Desmog UK.

Montague uses extensive quotes from Hansen to explain why he was surprised by the lack of a rational response to the evidence forecasting global warming and associated disasters. This distinguished climatologist apparently didn't understand that evidence and reason have little effect on those who are addicted; in this case, addicted to the "highs" of power and wealth  produced for them by a capitalist economy that is dependent on cheap forms of fossil fuels. Unfortunately these addicts are our very own ruling class, however we have done little to put a stop to their habits. I guess that makes us "co-dependents".

Court Spotlights the FBI’s Super-Secret National Security Letters

Click here to access article by Cora Currier from The Intercept.
Can the government make demands for data entirely in secret?

That was the question yesterday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, where government lawyers argued that National Security Letters — FBI requests for information that are so secret they can’t be publicly acknowledged by the recipients — were essential to counterterrorism investigations.
While our masters in the One Percent are slowly and quietly establishing global corporate rule through neoliberal trade negotiations, they are also pursuing the old-fashioned methods of police state surveillance to ascertain any threats to their rule that might develop among those of us in the Ninety-Nine Percent. This receives little coverage in their media for obvious reasons except when unusual citizens like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Julian Assange sacrifice so much to bring it to our limited attention-spans.

You might also be interested to learn how the NSA is seducing kids into their exciting world of citizen surveillance by reading "How The NSA Plans To Recruit Your Teenagers".

What’s Wrong With The Trans Atlantic Trade And Investment Partnership?

Click here to access article and 4:08m video posted by Don Quijones of Raging Bull-Shit.
Most Europeans and Americans are still blissfully unaware of even the existence of the Transalantic Trade And Investment Partnership (TTIP), nevermind how it could impact their own existence. Here’s a four-minute, eight-second summation of many (but far from all) of the things that are wrong with the soon-to-be-signed treaty (told from a largely European perspective).
To have even the slightest chance of stopping TTIP from melding together the U.S. and European economies into one giant forced-trade zone where the giants of corporate America and Europe are granted the right to do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want — and always at our expense — people on both sides of the Northern Atlantic must first wise up to its existence.
What ruling class fascists were intent on doing in the 20th century (eliminating annoying capitalist forms of "rule of law" and "representative" government) using police state methods, ruling capitalist classes of this century have added another strategy to their weapons arsenal--transnational agreements such as NAFTA, TTIP, etc. It will have the same ultimate effect: corporations über alles. Because of the secrecy imposed on these negotiations, ruling class media are not informing us ordinary people about what is happening. Without media of our own, we are easy victims: passive, compliant, unaware, and distracted sheeple who will only wake up as they are led into the slaughterhouse of global corporate rule. 

Of course, our masters are also maintaining the old-fashioned 20th century method of surveillance over what we say, write, or do, but they now have benefit of the sophisticated technologies of the 21st century.

ISIS, Turkey, and the Propaganda of Intervention

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from New Eastern Outlook.
Today’s headlines are filled with reports of the imminent fall of the Syrian city of Kobani to forces of the Islamic State (ISIS). There are terrifying descriptions of an imminent massacre and the looming threat to Turkey as Islamic State forces move ever closer to the Turkish-Syrian border. ....

And yet, somehow lost amid the din of cries for intervention is the simple fact that it is US policy and the actions of the aforementioned Erdogan along with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Israel that created ISIS, nurtured it in its infancy, promoted its development, and unleashed it on Iraq and Syria. And now, for those same leaders, along with a chorus of interventionist voices in the media establishment, to sound the alarm is not only cynical and utterly disingenuous, it is a shining example of the arrogance of empire.

As fighters of the Islamic State (IS) continue their charge towards the mostly Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish-Syrian border, deep cracks in the edifice of the US-led coalition against IS have begun to emerge.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A bigger pie doesn’t mean you are getting a slice

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder. 

Dolack once again aids working people in understanding how the capitalist system works for the capitalist class as a whole and against working people. However, the focus of the article is on disputes within the capitalist class, a fight over their "big slices of the pie". He does this by way of illustration provided by a major multi-national corporation--The Coca-Cola Company.

Under the rules of capitalism capitalists "own" the fruits (or the "pie") produced by working people and thus have major influence over how the wealth (the "pie") created by working people is divvied up. These people can be separated into two sub-classes that make up the capitalist class: 1) people who have purchased and thereby "own" some portion of a company (referred to as "financiers" in the article); and 2) top company managers whose income is derived in part from the work they perform, but in substantial part in share ownership (stocks) of the company along with bonuses. The pure capitalists in the first class long ago realized the importance of co-opting top company managers and highly skilled technical people into their system by giving them a significant "slice of the ownership pie". (Of course, this arrangement leaves only a small piece for those who actually make and bake the pie.)

I think this latter development was brought about most substantially by the publication of James Burnham's classic 1941 book The Managerial Revolution which foresaw the probability of top managers displacing pure capitalists as a ruling class. This creative response by pure capitalists provides another illustration of their ability to respond to any threats to their capitalist system, the goose that lays for them so many golden eggs in the forms of wealth, and-- what has become even more important--power.

The future will not be impressed

Two videos featuring important commentaries about activism by Mickey Z. posted on World News Trust.


The Neoconservative Hit List: Iraq, Libya and now Syria? A Plan for Global US Military Supremacy

Click here to access article by Steven MacMillan from New Eastern Outlook.

The author notices a consistent pattern in pursuit of wars in the Middle East which has been implemented by the deep state (shadow government) regardless of which party or person holds office. (You see, it matters not whom we are allowed to vote for in the "democratic" elections managed by the ruling capitalist class.) Such plans were almost spelled out in detail in several important documents written by neoconservatives who from all appearances constitute a major faction within the deep state.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Problem Is Capitalism

Click here to access article by Fred Magdoff from MRZine.

Magdoff's adaptation of this famous cartoon.

In this essay Magdoff focuses on the environmental and climate crises. He first disposes of the many explanations for these crises, and continues on to explain how they are rooted in the dynamics of capitalism. Finally he suggests solutions that could create sustainable environments as well as a socially just world.

Shut Up, Conspiracy Theorist!!!

Click here if you wish to access the source posting of this video from The Corbett Report.

This five minute video is loaded with satire by James Corbett directed against those who attack and smear with the label "conspiracy theorists" anyone who questions explanations given by ruling class authority figures such as TV pundits, mainstream news sources, government officials, etc.

Encroaching Tides

Click here to access article from Union of Concerned Scientists.
Tidal flooding, driven by sea level rise, will dramatically increase in U.S. East and Gulf Coast communities over the next 30 years. 

Oceans Getting Hotter Than Anybody Realized

Click here to access article by John Upton from Climate Central.
Ocean warming is exacerbating flooding caused by the melting of glaciers and other ice. Seas have risen 8 inches since the industrial revolution, and they continue to rise at a hastening pace, worsening floods and boosting storm surges near shorelines around the world. Another 2 to 7 feet of sea level rise is forecast this century, jeopardizing the homes and neighborhoods of the 5 million Americans who live less than 4 feet above high tide, as well as those of the hundreds of millions living along coastlines in other countries.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Syrian opposition: who's doing the talking?

Click here to access article by Charlie Skelton from The Guardian. (I was reminded of this 2012 article by its recent posting on The Analyst Report. I made reference to it in my blog at that time from a posting from another site--see this.)

I was remiss by not posting this article directly on my website in 2012. I am absolutely amazed at the re-reading of Skelton's in-depth investigation of the Syrian opposition and his revelations about the numerous ties of the directors of this opposition with top ruling class organizations of the Empire. This is the best piece I've seen to examine how the capitalist ruling class manages its media to cover news in support of their class interests. Thus, if you missed it in 2012, it is a must read, and studied, not only because of the Empire's renewed interest in removing Assad from power in Syria and replacing him with someone who will serve the Empire, but also as a lesson about the ruling class's management of news and information generally.

CIA document details cover-up of drug trafficking by Contras

Click here to access article by Thomas Gaist from World Socialist Web Site.

Finally we get a correct interpretation of the recently released CIA document entitled "Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story" after three weeks since The Intercept and its author Ryan Devereaux offered quite a different interpretation. The fact of this delay and that this source is the only one to provide a correct analysis of the CIA document provides further evidence of the anemic quality of today's critical journalism on the left within the US. Over many years I have found that WSWS offers the most consistently accurate interpretation of events in which the US ruling class had some involvement. However, I also have one major criticism of their coverage, but more on that later.

In my review of Devereaux's take on this CIA document, I viewed his interpretation as excessively friendly to the CIA's position with regard to the sensation caused by Gary Webb's 1996 series of articles in the San Jose Mercury which cited evidence of  CIA connections to the proliferation of crack cocaine in US urban areas in the 1980s. 

This phenomenon paralleled another US sponsorship of a terrorist organization known as the Contras: this time to destabilize Nicaragua's Sandinista government which threatened by a good example the Empire's domination of the region. Although CIA involvement in the latter leaked out in various media as an exchange of weapons sales to Iran to fund the Contras, it was Webb's articles that really caused a sensation in the US which supposedly was engaged in a War on Drugs. Whereas, the former was treated by US authorities as limited to some out-of-control CIA agents, the Webb's revelations created a huge scandal that had to be covered up.

But because my focus in this blog is to provide access to alternative media and their interpretations of political events, I often do not have time to examine lengthy government documents. Besides my personal life in the 1980s brought me in close contact with the core issues of this issue, and I had complete confidence in my basic understanding of the event. 

I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I managed public housing properties where crack cocaine spread like wildfire, I visited Nicaragua twice during this period and witnessed first hand the results of the Contra's terrorist activities, and I followed alternative media which gave me accurate insights about what was going on.  

Thus in my commentary on Devereaux's analysis, I did not directly challenge his analysis of the CIA document by arguing that there were plenty of other methods that US ruling class directors could have put pressure on the media to discredit Webb's work--and this is true. While generally accepting Devereaux's take on this CIA document, I was confident that it was far too friendly toward the activities of our ruling class to discredit Webb's investigations which the latter had only begun.

Now with this analysis by Gaist of the WSWS I felt it my duty to scan the CIA document to see whose interpretation was correct. Gaist's is correct while Devereaux's still looks suspiciously like damage control on behalf of the CIA.

Now, as to my major criticism of WSWS and their journalism, I am constantly irritated by their failure to include links to relevant documents.  This is typical of websites directors who do not want readers to wander onto other websites by providing links. This is disrespectful of the intelligence of readers, and is very self-serving. This policy of WSWS seems to assume that people should take everything they state as completely factual. This sort of arrogance is typical of Trotskyist organizations (like WSWS) who tend to believe that they have a monopoly on truth, that they are the vanguard that everyone should unquestioningly follow.

Awareness = Overrated

Click here to access article by Mickey Z. from World News Trust.
In defense of the recent People’s [sic] Climate March, I’ve often been told: “But at least it raised awareness.”

Awareness (noun): knowledge or perception of a situation or fact; concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development

Everywhere we hear about the need to raise "awareness." So much so, that awareness and consciousness appear to have become the goals: ends in and of themselves.

If only we were conscious of “what's going on” in some place like Syria or aware of “how prevalent” this or that disease has become or whatever else it is we need to recognize, it seems most folks would be mighty satisfied.

My sincere question: When exactly does all this goddamned awareness translate into authentic solidarity, productive action, and tangible change? 

Seizing Silwan: Come Steal More Parts of Palestine For $136 A Day! (But Keep Guns Loaded)

Click here to access article by Abby Zimet from Common Dreams.

She writes about the latest "facts on the ground" in Palestine.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Is Former Israeli IDF Officer Behind Fake Videos of Beheadings?

Click here to access article by William Engdahl from New Eastern Outlook.
The infamous youTube “beheading” videos of two US journalists by the ISIS in Syria/Iraq, ... bear more serious attention. The details are emerging that show both videos are entirely fake events, staged apparently by professional actors to create the popular support for a US bombing of Syria to finally depose the democratically-elected Bashar al Assad.

War Propaganda Continues On Corporate Media

Click here to access article by Peter Hart from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. 
When government officials launch an ill-defined war based on dubious claims about a threat to the "homeland," you might hope that would be the time for reporters to aggressively examine and question government claims. But corporate media see things differently; war time is when TV screens are full of former generals and hawkish politicians, and reporters are busy transmitting official claims. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fundamentalist Theology is Bleeding Us Dry: Stop the TTIP

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from his blog East by Northwest. 

Despite some major conceptual flaws that contaminate this article, most of it provides an excellent description of what is happening under neoliberalism across the world that goes larger unreported in mainstream media. This is fact does not represent an oversight--it is a deliberate strategy to keep the world's Ninety-Nine Percent unaware of the erosion of national laws and subordinating them to supra-national neoliberal bodies created by, and serving the interests of, the trans-national capitalist elites.

So, please excuse his references to "democracy" as residing in nation-states and being subverted by neoliberal investors. This is much like asserting that nation-states are like innocent, pure virgins being seduced by rapists. Such a view fails to recognize that nation-states were created by the capitalist classes largely to mediate competition between enterprises within the geographical boundaries they controlled. 

Also, framing the issue as caused by a "fundamentalist theology" is very misleading. To be sure, there is a lot about capitalism that is faith-based, but what we see happening today is not some narrow interpretation of capitalist theology, it is an advanced form of capitalism.

Like many other critics of neoliberalism, Todhunter does not understand the nature of capitalism and its various stages of evolution. Such critics fail to understand the growth imperative of capitalism which results in ever greater concentrations of wealth and power. We have now merely arrived at a global stage in the growth of capitalism made possible by technological advances. 

Of course, technology, like everything else, was created by working people, but under capitalism it does not belong to them and will not be used to serve the interests of ordinary people. No, it will be used to serve investors who insist that they "own" it--and, of course, they do under the rules of capitalism. And, no, it is not possible to reverse its development back to some mythical golden age of capitalism.

The point so well illustrated in this article is that capitalist elites now see nation-states as providing barriers to their enterprises and the financial institutions which feed off the latter. Thus, neoliberal capitalists are erecting supra-national institutions to override the authority of nation-state institutions. Todhunter provides an excellent description of this phenomenon and the devastating consequences it is creating for ordinary people throughout the world.

Obama Reconsiders Attacking Assad

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from The Smirking Chimp.
Sometimes bad ideas die slowly. It was only one year ago that Obama announced he would bomb the Syrian government, only to change his mind at the last minute. Now the same fetid war talk is sprouting fresh roots in the ever-fertile U.S. military. Various media outlets reported that Obama might “enforce a no fly zone in Syria to protect civilians from the Syrian government.” 

Entire "Occupy Central" Protest Scripted in Washington

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from Land Destroyer Report. 

Cartalucci has dug up more background information about the "Occupy Central" protests in Hong Kong. By doing so, he reveals the true nature of the Empire's support for the protests.
It is not about having Hong Kong vote for who they desire to see in power, it is about getting the foreign-backed political cabal behind "Occupy Central" into power, and disarming Beijing of any means to prevent what is for all intents and purposes the "soft" recolonization of Hong Kong, and a further attempt to divide and destabilize China as a whole.

‘Biden tries to distance US from the mess in the Mideast’

Click here to access article from RT in which RT interviews Annie Machon, a former intel­li­gence officer for the UK's MI5 and whistleblower.

Machon seems as mystified as most other people with Biden's remarks, but tries to speculate on Biden's motives for his latest gaff (see this and this): this time in relation to the Empire's closest allies in the Middle East. I am referring, of course, to the Medieval kingdoms of Saudi Arabai, United Arab Eremites, and Qatar, in addition to Turkey.

I offer my own speculation. It was just another gaff by someone who has never completely mastered the art of lying especially when addressing an audience that is much more savvy about world affairs. In contrast to Obama, he is much less skilled at using Empire rhetoric to deflect attention away from the realities of Empire politics. I think he is more motivated by a desire to gain approval from his audience. Of course, what he told Harvard students is far from the whole truth. Now after telling some of the truth about these shady allies, he's having to clean up the mess

Weekend Funnies for the Depressed Collapsitarian #9

Click here to access article by XrayMike79 from Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

I love this first one, but there is a lot more. 

Capitalism’s onward march to self-destruction