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, July 4, 2015

The bin Laden death mythology: Official history of raid camouflages US protection of governments behind 9/11

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed from Insurge Intelligence, "a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project".
...bin Laden’s execution successfully obscured the wider context of his state-sponsorship, including longstanding US complicity in protecting the governments that protected the al-Qaeda terror chief, before and after 9/11.
This article contains a lengthy analysis using documents from a number of sources attempting to unravel the many mysteries which have underlain major events like 9/11, the War on Terror, the bin Laden killing, etc, and what retired Professor Peter Dale Scott has labeled as a "deep state" which secretly directs US foreign and often domestic policies. As such it is a major piece of investigative journalism that seeks to reveal the actual forces directing the actions of the US-led Empire. These behind-the-curtain actors are well hidden from the American public by using secret agencies and a constant barrage of lies purveyed by ruling class media. Ahmed's findings dovetails nicely with Scott's description of a deep state that is using Middle East resources as a major foundation for its imperial domination of the world. As Scott put it,
“… a complex that involves the oil majors like Exxon, the Pentagon’s concern with oil and gas movements from the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, offsetting arms sales, Saudi investments in major US corporations like Citibank and the Carlyle Group (the owners of Booz Allen Hamilton), and above all the ultimate United States dependency on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and OPEC, for the defense of the petrodollar.”

Washington’s “Two Track Policy” to Latin America: Marines to Central America and Diplomats to Cuba

Click here to access article by James Petras from Global Research

In spite of the celebratory comments coming from the pseudo-left in the US, this retired sociology professor argues that the recent rapprochement toward Cuba by the US is nothing more than a belated recognition that the one-track policy of military threats, subversive actions, and economic sanctions is no longer effective. However, in areas of Latin America such as Venezuela which reject US's "soft" strategies, the directors are beefing up their "hard" strategies. And in places where hard policies are effective as in Central America, they continue using them. It all depends on what's necessary to get compliance with Empire interests of profit and power.
After a decade and a half of hard knocks, repeated failures of its ‘big stick’ policies, rejection of US-centered integration schemes and multiple resounding defeats of its client-politicians at the ballot box, Washington finally began to ‘rethink’ its ‘one track’ policy and tentatively explore a limited ‘two track’ approach.

The ‘two-tracks’, however, encompass polarities clearly marked by the recent past.  While the Obama regime opened negotiations and moved toward establishing relations with Cuba, it escalated the military threats toward Venezuela by absurdly labeling Caracas as a ‘national security threat to the US.’
In this globalized world in which the Empire directors operate, one can expect the same two-track treatment within the US. On the one hand they offer us crumbs in form of a relaxation on restrictions regarding marriage between same sex couples and marijuana use, on the other hand we can expect a continuation of militarized police forces, non-prosecution of police crimes, and 24/7 surveillance.  

Environmental Profit Grinder

Posted on Occasional Links & Commentary and sourced from Cagle Cartoons.

Friday, July 3, 2015

New US military strategy: ‘Russia, China - threat to unipolar domination fantasy’

Click here to access an interview with Brian Becker of the anti-war Answer Coalition from RT.

The RT interviewer asks questions related to a recently released Pentagon document entitled "The National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2015".

Besides a clear indication that our masters in the US-led Empire are preparing military threats to both Russia and China, the document, according to Becker, also indicates that they will be imposing more austerity measures on the American public to help finance their military threats. 
Americans are being told that there is no money for hospitals, schools and many other vitally needed social programs, but suddenly we will have a clarion call that the US must catch up and must not let its adversaries – Russia or China – become superior to the US. This is precisely what triggered the advanced arms race in the 1950s. So I think the language is political, it shows the US is a defensive party, it’s a possible victim of aggression, it must not allow itself to become the victim of aggression and it can only deter it by adding more money to the arms budget.

How the Biggest Banks Are Conspiring to Rip Up Financial Regulations around the World

Click here to access article by "Don Quijones" from Wolf Street.

Although Wikileaks released the document more than a year ago, the author contributes to the public knowledge of probably the worst neoliberal project, TISA, that has been negotiated in strict secrecy for a number years by summarizing its details into six main threats to member governments' ability to regulate their financial industries.
According to the treaty’s Annex on Financial Services, we now know that TiSA would effectively strip signatory governments of all remaining ability to regulate the financial industry in the interest of depositors, small-time investors, or the public at large.
In my opinion the best interpretation of the leaked document was provided by Pete Dolack a year ago in an article entitled "Financiers seek to have fondest dreams come true through own secret trade deal". 

What Stinks about Varoufakis and the Whole Greek Mess?

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from New Eastern Outlook.
Something stinks very bad about Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the entire Greek mess that has been playing out since the election victory of the nominally pro-Greek Syriza Party in January. I am coming to the reluctant conclusion that far from being the champion of the hapless Greek people, Varoufakis is part of a far larger and very dirty game.
Engdahl's cynicism regarding Syriza leaders corresponds well with the views of James Petras.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

G7 leaders fiddle while Earth burns

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder.
The G7 governments saying they will phase out fossil fuels by 2100 isn’t closing the barn door after the horse has left. It is declaring an intention to consider closing the barn door after waiting for the horse to disappear over the horizon. It is okay to be feel underwhelmed by this.

Thanks to Wall Street, America Has Growing Greek-Like Debt Bombs

Click here to access article by Pam Martens and Russ Martens from Wall Street on Parade.
If a retail stock broker attempted to bury his client under margin debt or allowed the client to commit financial suicide in the market, the broker would be on the wrong side of the law. A long line of arbitration cases and Security and Exchange Commission rulings mandate that a registered representative must guide the client on a course of suitable investing. But apparently, burying counties, cities, countries, and U.S. territories under debt has no legal barriers on Wall Street. One has to get caught bribing someone to get charged by a regulator.
Whenever I see a liberal, pretending to be radical (for example, see this) comment about how evil "unregulated capitalism" is, I cringe. Of course, they are implying that all was fine under regulated capitalism, that all the exploitation, massacres of workers, imperialist adventures, the subversion of governments, the internecine capitalist wars, and their boom and bust economies have been just fine. If not stated outright, what is often implied is that we only need to try harder to elect people (in ruling class managed elections) who will regulate capitalism and everything will be okay once again. 

Capitalist ruling classes never compromise their advantageous position vis-a-vis workers unless they must to maintain their advantages and their system of advantages. This so because capitalism is not a social system as advertized, but a class system of domination over societies. By 1981 when the US ruling class installed super-salesman Reagen into the White House, they had accrued so much power and wealth that they knew they could eliminate most of the existing regulations hampering their quest for profits and power. And, they went on a rampage eliminating all those that were passed by a very threatened ruling class back in the 1930s. 

This was followed by minor economic busts, the slashing of social safety nets, the export of jobs to third world countries, and then a major economic collapse in 2007/2008. In contrast to the 1930s when they felt threatened by an irate working class, this time nothing has changed. The Martens have been reporting the details of this for several years now, and this article is another fine example. The American people have been bewildered and bamboozled by corporate propaganda, defeated by capitalist class policies eliminating their civil rights, surveilled 24/7, and intimidated by militarized police forces. 

Living co-operatively: everyday dissent

Click here to access article by Amy Corcoran from Red Pepper (Britain).
We cannot override the current system overnight; revolution relies on popular will. How can we hope for this to happen without demonstrating that there is an alternative (particularly when we have been indoctrinated to consider neoliberal capitalism the only viable modus operandi)?

To do so, we must be that alternative. In how we treat one another, in how we treat the environment, in how we live and think. This may feel like a daunting, unachievable task, but we can all make changes – and by sharing the responsibility we lighten the load, and can secure achievements far greater than the sum of our parts. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What does the YES vote mean? What does the NO vote mean? Greeks face confusion amid Sunday’s referendum

Click here to access article by "alexrpt" from Red Pill Times
The crisis ballot on a European bailout proposal comes down to 68 word question and two financial / technical documents that may have Greek citizens a bit confused as to what happens after the referendum results are announced.
And there are other interesting articles you may want to read on this issue: here (link contains both parts 1 & 2), here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I tend to agree with the argument in the last link from Workers World. I think that the leading criminal capitalist clique in Europe are motivated primarily by an objective to destroy the Syriza government in Greece because Greeks had the audacity to vote them in and against the bankers. European banking elite want to make an example of Greece to head off any such independent ideas from numerous other nations in debt to them. After removing the Syriza government, they will proceed to negotiate a settlement with a new, more favorable Greek government. 

Unfortunately, the Syriza government staffed with middle and upper middle income people have given numerous concessions to European bankers, and by doing so have dug themselves deeper in the hole of debt. Because of this the Syriza government have made the choice to separate from the European Union much more difficult and painful. In other words, I don't think that the European ruling financial class ever seriously negotiated with the Syriza leaders, but merely let them dig themselves deeper in the hole of debt to make it even harder for Greece to escape.

But this game of chicken is clearly not over yet as seen in these latest articles: here and here. Stay tuned for more surprising developments in this fast-moving drama.

Planet or Profit?

Click here to access article from TruthOut.
It is not clear whether we have already passed a tipping point such that human survival beyond the next few decades cannot be assured, but what is overwhelmingly clear is that capitalism - and the drive for profits no matter what the threat to the ecosystem all humanity depends upon - is a force for global destruction.
The staff at Truthout have assembled a collection of articles all relating to climate destabilization and its various effects. Of particular interest to me, because I live in the Northwest, was the article by Dahr Jamail entitled "Soaring Temps in Pacific Northwest Shattered Records". 

Jamail begins his article by reporting on his hiking adventures up mountains in Washington state and discovering dramatic evidence of the effects of the increasing temperatures we are experiencing here in the Northwest of the US.

He then proceeds to examine evidence across the globe which reveal a number of symptoms of climate destabilization: record-breaking heat waves, droughts, torrential downpours of rain, disappearing glaciers, studies of species extinction, etc. Meanwhile corporations and their government are pretending that it's not happening. 

Where to begin with Climate Justice?

Click here to access article by Joanna Cabello from degrowth (Germany).
Climate justice is a relatively new term. Being a key concept in the Degrowth in Action – Climate Justice Summer School 2015, it is important here to expand upon the different understandings of, and some of the debates surrounding, the term ‘climate justice’ – though of course no single understanding is right or wrong, and no group can lay claim to a particular concept. 
.... For many of the groups and networks that participated in CJA [‘Climate Justice Action’] the broad position underlying the use of the term is the politicisation of climate change – understanding that it results from our current and historical social relations, and that in order to address it we need fundamental changes to our economic and political systems.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Greek Asset Stripping Similarities

Click here if you wish to access this video presentation of a talk given by Michael Hudson at the recent conference in Greece posted on his website and delivered via YouTube. 

What I think is most interesting is the first three minutes of this video in which Hudson compares financial imperialism as being essentially another way of conquering a nation and stealing its resources. In the rest of his talk he argues that this approach is completely irrational simply because it will destroy the Greek economy so that they cannot pay back the country's debt. 

I believe that he misses the point of what financial global capitalists located in the the US Empire are faced with. Hudson essentially argues that they are stupid in pursuing these austerity policies. I think that because European bankers, who play a top role in the European division of the Empire, have relied so much on lending their accumulated wealth to others in order to keep their system going, they really have no alternative but to steal Greek assets, slash social safety nets, and impose cheap labor rates on Greek workers. European bankers are clearly aware that Greece can't pay back the loans, so they intend to steal from Greece what they believe is theirs. If they make concessions to Greece, then many other countries will expect the same.

In this era of neoliberalism, the advanced stage of capitalism, capitalists have developed the machinery or weapons of financial capitalism to do what armies did in the first half of the 20th century. And in the first three minutes Hudson offers a very good summary description of this kind of financial warfare.

Julian Assange: The Byline Interviews, Part Two – 'It’s Almost All Censorship'

Click here to access the second of three installments of the interview with Assange by Seung-yoon Lee of Byline website (British and international).
In the second of our series of interviews with Julian Assange, we get his views about the media - how it works, whether there is hope in new media models and citizen journalism, and whether he prefers Rupert Murdoch or Eric Schmidt

Monday, June 29, 2015

Julian Assange: The Byline Interviews, Part One [of three] – 'The God of Mass Surveillance'

Click here to access the first of three installments of the interview with Assange by Seung-yoon Lee of Byline website (British and international).

After going into some detail to describe how large data collection organizations like Google are so vulnerable to government surveillance efforts, I was particularly intrigued by Assange's lengthy response to the following question in which he explained that small organizations can frequently outmaneuver huge secret government surveillance agencies:
You have said that small organisations like WikiLeaks have an advantage, in that they don’t have the bureaucratic problems that large organisations do. Is there potential to oppose the government with micro-political organisations?
His answer reminded me of incidents which I have frequently observed outside my window in rural Washington state. I have often seen black birds attacking eagles which come too close to black birds' nests, and it is clear that the eagles are no match for these assaults. This is simply because black birds can easily outmaneuver the much larger eagles while in flight.

(Tomorrow I will post the 2nd installment of this fascinating interview.)

Do Not Blink, Greece

Click here to access article by Alex Andreou from Byline
There is no doubt in my mind that in twenty years Greece will still exist and most likely be thriving. I do not say this because of glories of the past and "cradle of democracy" arguments. I abhor romanticised nationalism. All that is in our distant past. I look instead at our present. I look at the solidarity grassroots movements, which have sprung up to provide medical care for people who can no longer afford it or shelter for the thousands of Syrian refugees coming through our borders. I look at the cooperative factories and restaurants which have been born to provide people with jobs. I look at how families have pulled together and at how relatively firm the fabric of our society has held in the face of five years of onslaught. These achievements are why I am hopeful about the future - not ancient history.  

The Coup and Its Aftermath: Honduras Bleeding

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser and Ramiro S. Funez from CounterPunch
June 28 marked the six year anniversary of the military coup in Honduras – the day that a democratically elected left wing government was ousted by a US-backed, US-trained cabal of generals and right wing politicians and landowners. It could correctly be called a “Quiet Coup” primarily because it took place with very little fanfare from the corporate media which, to the extent that it covered it at all, did so mostly from a distorted perspective which spread more misinformation than truth. Today, six years (and many innocent lives, and billions of dollars) later, this shameful moment in recent history still remains largely forgotten.
Also, I recommend this piece from Al Jazeera entitled "The Honduran meltdown: Made in USA" which reports that Honduras is another disintegrating society and failed state "made in the USA" and created to serve US corporations.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Greek workers should say No to Euro austerity - and so should we

Click here to access article by Lindsey German from CounterFire. 
The Troika's intransigence has led to Tsipras calling a referendum, to be held next Sunday, on the proposals. In reality a No will mean an exit from the Euro and from the EU. It is the right thing to do. The government has spent too long negotiating with the enemy, smiling in public while being humiliated behind closed doors. Now Greek working people have a choice: carry on with the anti austerity policies on which the government was elected, or capitulate to the bullying neoliberals who want to force poverty and misery on European workers as a whole.
We ordinary working people under the heel of the Empire are all suffering from austerity policies, but people in Greece, Spain, and Portugal are feeling it the worst. To understand this, we must understand the natural trajectory of capitalism. 

The rich elites that direct this capitalist Empire have gradually over the past several centuries consolidated their control over a large part of the global economy. Along with this consolidation has come the extreme concentration of wealth and power by a tiny powerful minority which is precisely the natural outcome of the system of capitalism. This is because capitalism is not really a social system, but a class serving system in the sense that the system is not designed to serve society, but only one part of society--those who "own" and control the economy.

What we are now observing in various parts of the world--especially in countries like Greece--to keep such a dysfunctional system going, they must lend their wealth either to us directly or indirectly by loaning it to our governments (which we in the end will have to pay back because the rich don't pay taxes) in order to keep the economy functioning. Hence, the current need for them to radically cut back all social safety nets. Such safety nets together with never-ending wars have kept the capitalist social systems fairly stable since the Great Depression, but now it appears that our masters have decided to count on military expenditures and imperial adventures to keep their boom and bust economy going.

People all over the Western world have been experiencing the effects of the 2007/2008 economic collapse: losing their homes, unemployment, massive debt among students and others, and widespread cutbacks in social safety nets. In addition to these direct impacts on many of our lives, the US government has been incurring debts at an accelerated pace. The last time I checked, government debt was at $18 trillion. What we are seeing in Greece may be the beginning stage of the unraveling of the US capitalist Empire.

Most terrifying of all the responses of the Empire directors to the instability of their system is now appearing as hyper-aggressive military actions: the use of military force or its threat in Europe and increasingly in the South China Sea, all backed by a huge propaganda effort which closely resembles its infamous predecessor--Nazi Germany. This, of course, risks a nuclear war with Russia and China. So, if climate destabilization doesn't rid the planet of humans, surely a nuclear conflagration will. The only solution to maintain our survival is revolution, and then to construct a peaceful, egalitarian, and sustainable social system.

How Corrupt is Britain?

Click here to this review by Lindy Syson of a book by the above title posted in CounterFire (Britain).

From Syson's review it appears that in this collection of articles the authors rather carefully circumscribe their analyses. I am referring here to references to Britain, "neoliberalism", "structure of impunity", the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and of course all the government corruption. What the authors apparently carefully avoid discussing is that the adverse symptoms are not limited to Britain, that neoliberalism is merely the end stage of capitalism, and that all of these problems are symptoms of this end stage.

Referring to all the British banking and government scandals in the past decade, Syson writes:
Such scandals have mainstream commentators seemingly puzzled and outraged in equal measure. One common response is to argue that individuals are inherently greedy, or that corrupt individuals are surrounded by those acting in the same way which normalises the situation. Either way, corruption tends to be psychologised and seen as an aberration in a liberal democracy, one that can be and must be rooted out.

That view is challenged in How Corrupt is Britain?....
Okay, this conventional view might be challenged by the authors, but their view replacing it also limits our understanding of the underlying problem. According to Syson, the authors' analyses of all the corruption (apparently only found in Britain) point to neoliberalism as the cause. This fits in nicely with the circumscribed view of Naomi Klein that "unregulated capitalism" is the problem. Fixing this with enforced regulations will restore a mythical "liberal democracy", a major propaganda concept of capitalism which they apparently support. 

Judging by a Bloomberg article quoted in a critical article in The Automatic Earth, it seems that our masters aren't always that supportive of "liberal democracy" when it gets in the way of their interests.

Here is the simple proposal Yanis Varoufakis should have given to the IMF’s Lagarde…

Click here to access article by "alexrpt" from Red Pill Times
While the IMF and EU have refused to work with Greece to solve the debt crisis, pushing Athens and the entire EU into the realm of the unknown…the IMF will gladly lend, throw away money to fund Ukraine…a ready to default, neo-nazi governed, at civil war failed state.