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, August 8, 2015

Trump’s Triumph: Billionaire Blowhard Exposes Fake Political System

Click here to access article by Mike Whitney from CounterPunch.

It's interesting to see how CounterPunch's coverage of candidate Donald Trump contrasts with mainstream media's selective coverage of the election circus that our ruling class is now performing. He is getting extensive coverage with his attacks on immigrants, women, and other sensitive political topics. However, I couldn't find any coverage of his comments that Whitney writes about in this article: Trump comments which suggests the fake nature of our capitalist political system. Instead the coverage was all focused on his critical remarks about certain women.

Perhaps Justin Raimondo's "conspiracy theory" was correct when he suggested last month that Trump's candidacy was a "false flag" operation designed to turn away voters from Republican candidates in order to elect the ruling class's favorite, Hillary Clinton, who they have been grooming for years to be president. He argues:
For the reality is that the media, far from ignoring Trump, have lavished so much attention on him that he’s eating up coverage that would otherwise go to the rest of the crowded Republican field. And that may be a clue as to what’s really going on here….

The usual “mainstream” media tactics regarding a political outsider they hate is to ignore him or her: the example of Ron Paul should suffice to make this point. Indeed, Jon Stewart pointed this out in a memorable “Daily Show” segment, and it took Paul three runs for the White House to get their attention. Trump has suffered no such fate: quite the opposite, in fact. The Donald’s every demagogic pronouncement is faithfully recorded and broadcast far and wide. Over a hundred reporters crowded into his latest appearances in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Jeb Bush, for all the many millions stuffed into his campaign coffers, couldn’t buy that kind of exposure. 
Later, Raimondo reaches this conclusion: 
Although I have no concrete proof of my theory, there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence. His ties to the Clintons, his past pronouncements which are in such blatant contradiction to his current fulminations, and the cries of joy from the Clintonian gallery and the media (or do I repeat myself) all point to a single conclusion: the Trump campaign is a Democratic wrecking operation aimed straight at the GOP’s base.

Donald Trump is a false-flag candidate. It’s all an act, one that benefits his good friend Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party that, until recently, counted the reality show star among its adherents. Indeed, Trump’s pronouncements – the open racism, the demagogic appeals, the faux-populist rhetoric – sound like something out of a Democratic political consultant’s imagination, a caricature of conservatism as performed by a master actor.

Now I realize this is a “conspiracy theory,” and, as we all know, there are no conspiracies in politics. In that noble profession, everything is completely aboveboard and on the level – right?

Like hell it is.
If this is so, the conspirators unfortunately cannot control what Trump will say simply because he is so rich and therefore powerful in a capitalist system. That's part of his appeal to voters--he is completely authentic in contrast to the others who are bought and paid for candidates.

British SAS Special Forces “Dressed Up as ISIS Rebels” Fighting Assad in Syria

Click here to access article from The Truth Seeker.

Coalition between ISIL and US (from a Turkish website)
This blogger reminds us of a similar event which was exposed 10 years ago in Iraq in which Empire forces were busy with the project of creating hostilities between Sunni and Shia sects in Iraq. (I also posted an article on this event, but once again I find that this has disappeared from my website. Another elaborate post of mine which covered labor exploitation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates also disappeared.) Coverage of this event was posted on six British and US websites that can be assessed via the link that the blogger provides. 

This reminder introduces a recent event in which Empire forces are recruiting people to dress up as terrorists to invade Syria as reported in several newspapers, and covered in a recent article by Stephen Lendman which the blogger reproduces in this article.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty

Click here to access article by Melissa Chadburn from The Wrong Kind of Green.

This is a testimony of someone who was highly motivated to do good for poverty stricken people (and not the One Percent) and sought out and was hired by an NGO supposedly doing good. She was soon trained to forget about thinking of real solutions to poverty, instead she was trained to encourage poor people to become more self-reliant, and to measure self-reliance.
The story the campaign told was a story of lost resilience. The narrative they preached was how to get it back. This is a common theme in community work. Over the years the term “resilience” has been applied more and more frequently to people in distressed communities to mean their capacity to bounce back from dysfunction or breakdown. Increasing community resilience becomes a solution to chronic barriers such as poverty, trauma, and class inequity. Dozens of programs that encourage resiliency have been introduced in schools and low-income neighborhoods all over the world in an effort to help children recover from trauma and also cope better with their day-to-day stresses. 

The NGO Trap

Cartoon by Stephanie McMillan

The Anthropocene. The human era and how it shapes our planet

Click here to access a review of a book by the above title by reviewer Elaine Graham-Leigh posted on CounterFire (Britain). 

Graham-Leigh introduces her review with an interesting anecdote telling us how the label "Anthropocene" came about to describe our present era. She then credits the author, Christian Schwägerl, with the insight that capitalism stands in contradiction to a sustainable planet.
Schwägerl provides important reminders here of how in addressing the environmental damage caused under capitalism, we are faced not by a technological problem but a political one. There is no question but that we have or could develop the technologies necessary to make the Anthropocene the epoch in which we reversed the environmental problems of the end of the Holocene. The real issue is how to get these good ideas implemented on a sufficiently large scale to make a difference.

Schwägerl recognises that the principles he puts forward for a sustainable Anthropocene are antithetical to capitalism....
However, it's all down hill from there because, as she points out, Schwägerl's critique of capitalism, like many other current limited critics of capitalism, degenerates into an argument about how we can as moral consumers make capitalism work in a sustainable way.
The book makes clear that a sustainable future and capitalism are antithetical, but what is missing is an understanding of capitalism as a system, not simply as the collective sum of seven billion people’s consumption decisions. In order to change the system, what we need to do is not simply to change our minds, nor even those of our neighbours and Facebook friends as well, but to organise to fight for that change.

U.S. is Destroying Europe

Click here to access article by Eric Zuesse from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Zuesse makes a much stronger argument that the US-led Empire has pursuing strategies against Russia because of its refusal to submit to the diktats of the Empire rather than that these strategies are destroying Europe. 
Obama’s top goal in international relations, and throughout his military policies, has been to defeat Russia, to force a regime-change there that will make Russia part of the American empire, no longer the major nation that resists control from Washington.
Obviously, the economic boycott is hurting European economies and the chaos of the Empire's destruction of entire nations in north Africa and the Middle East is forcing people to flee to Europe causing European countries numerous social and economic problem, but to argue that these actions are actually destroying Europe is not tenable. What they are clearly doing is maintaining Europe's dependence on the US while enlisting European efforts in the anti-Russian project. 
Libya has become Europe’s big problem. Millions of Libyans are fleeing the chaos there. Some of them are fleeing across the Mediterranean and ending up in refugee camps in southern Italy; and some are escaping to elsewhere in Europe.

And Syria is now yet another nation that’s being destroyed in order to conquer Russia.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiroshima: Grief, horror of atomic bomb remembered 70 years on

Click here to access article by Ivan Watson from CNN.

I am posting this article not because I think it offers an excellent analysis or interpretation of the subject, but because it is a rather typical example of what we see in liberal mainstream media regarding this horrific event. Mostly the authors of these articles express American guilt over the event. I notice that RT insists that the US should apologize to Japan. Others conservative authors in mainstream media offer many reasons and justifications for why US leaders decided to unleash this horrible weapon on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, neither of which was a significant military target.

Briefly, because I'm running out of time this morning, I am going to argue that ordinary Americans were not guilty--the American ruling capitalist class was. The most credible reasons why they used the atomic bomb against Japanese civilians: 1) to demonstrate this powerful weapon to the Soviet Union which was always seen as the major target by Western capitalists. 2) racism: The US capitalist ruling class were so accustomed to using racism within the US to divide workers from each other that they used this to mobilize a war effort against the Japanese, and to imprison Japanese-Americans.

I experienced this racism as a child during WWII while viewing many cartoons depicting Japanese as yellow, buck-toothed, crazed creatures running amok in the world. All sides in this war used defaming caricatures to depict their enemies, but with the exception of our "Jap" cartoons, they were mostly targeting the leaders of opposing nations, not the people themselves. Hence, Americans were well indoctrinated to accept the use of this horrible weapon against civilian populations in large Japanese cities.

And, of course, there was nothing particularly unusual about capitalist ruling classes use of weapons of mass destruction. In their quest to dominate the world they frequently resorted to using them: poison gas in WWI and fire bombing of civilians in WII (Tokyo and Dresden). And do you have any doubt that the Nazis would have used the weapon in WWII if they had it? Or the Japanese ruling fascist class? (Fascism is only an extreme form of capitalism.) Whether the Soviets would have used it--especially how they would have used it--is open to debate.

Millions of fish dead in Pacific Northwest — Ocean conditions have ‘gone to hell’

Click here to access article from EneNews.

We in the Pacific Northwest of the US are now witnessing the latest casualties due to global warming caused by capitalism's growth forever imperative: fish, whales, sea lions, birds and many other species that inhabit ocean areas are dying in huge numbers. Scientists have identified global warming as an underlying cause that is creating havoc to the marine environment (for example, see this), others speculate that radiation from Fukushima might be a factor. One thing is clear: ocean and river waters are heating up causing many kinds of health problems for marine life. This article furnishes news from a number of local area and national media sources reporting on this phenomenon.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How US Allies Aid Al Qaeda in Syria

Click here to access article by Daniel Lazare from ConsortiumNews.
The dirty secret about the Obama administration’s “regime change” strategy in Syria is that it amounts to a de facto alliance with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front which is driving toward a possible victory with direct and indirect aid from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, as Daniel Lazare explains.
In this article Lazare's provides an overview of the chaos in Syria and nearby areas, however he fails to dig deeper to see the primary forces that have shaped this series of disasters for ordinary people living in the area who are regarded as dispensable by the various Arab tyrants as they play their petty power games. 

The most powerful actors that have shaped events in this area is not the Obama administration, but the large Zionist component of the US-led Empire's capitalist ruling class and their planted military outpost in the Middle East known as Israel. These powerful actors have continually stirred up conflicts, especially after the US invasion of Iraq, between Sunnis and Shias and between various Arab tyrants allied with one or the other sects. 

In recent years the chaos has grown murkier with the secret sponsorship of the ISIS terrorist army which have been attributed by astute observers such as Pepe Escobar, Tony Cartalucci, William Engdahl, Ray McGovern, Eric Draitser, and others to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, US, and Israel. Thus, while Lazare paints a picture of a series of seemingly irrational conflicts and scandalous policies perpetrated by the Obama administration, what he misses are the deeper interests at work to create this chaos. Empire directors are working earnestly to protect the Empire's access to Middle East oil and its military outpost, Israel, while reducing any inference in this project by hostile Iran,  Russia, and China.

(You might also be interested in these articles: "Iraqi Leader Says US Using ISIS to Continue Intervention", "Syria: Negotiating Ethnic Cleansing And A Temporary Partition", and "Vital Obama Decision on Syria Bombing 'Hoaxed'")

Citigroup’s Unchecked Crime Wave Proves that America Is Headed in the Wrong Direction

Click here to access article by Pam and Russ Martens from Wall Street on Parade.
Citigroup, the bank that played a central role in bringing America to its knees in 2008; received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of finance to resuscitate its insolvent carcass; pleaded guilty to a felony count of rigging foreign currency trading in May and was put on a three year probation – is now under a string of criminal and civil investigations.

High-tech exploitation is still exploitation

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder.
In the so-called “sharing economy,” it isn’t the profits that are being shared. What is being shared are ways of putting old models of weakening labor protections in new “high tech” wrapping.

“Sharing economy” enterprises designating employees as “independent contractors” so that workers are left without legal protections, and undercutting competition through insisting that laws and regulations don’t apply to them, really aren’t new or “innovative.” But it’s Silicon Valley companies that are doing this — so, hurray!, it’s now exciting and, oh yes, disruptive! Quaint, archaic standards such as minimum wages and labor- and consumer-law protections are so old-fashioned that Silicon Valley billionaires are doing us all a favor by disrupting our ability to keep them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Briefing on the migrant crisis: causes and consequences

Click here to access article by Chris Nineham from Stop the War Coalition (Britain).

The Empire of Chaos, designated by Pepe Escobar, has earned this reputation by its so-called "War on Teror" and its "seven country strategy" as discovered by the shocked Gen. Wesley Clark shortly after 9/11 while visiting some Pentagon offices. The inspiration of this grand strategy came from Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, and mostly other Zionists dating back from 1991 and first expressed to Gen. Clark by Wolfowitz in 1991. The policy was formally laid out in the infamous paper published by the Project for the New American Century in 2000 entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses" which noted that only a "new Pearl Harbor" would enable the military and defense policy transformations the group desired to rapidly take place. A lot of people think that this was 9/11. 

We are now seeing the results of these strategies of chaos as we witness many millions of people uprooted all over the Middle East and North Africa fleeing the violence and disintegration of their countries.

The Truth Behind Turkey’s Dual Offensives

Click here to access article by Andrew Korybko from Sputnik International. (Note: I think that Korybko is an American citizen studying at the Moscow university, but I haven't been able to confirm that. Oriental Review always puts "USA" behind his name on his articles.)

I think that this piece offers the best geopolitical analysis of the new aggressive strategy perpetrated by Empire directors in collusion with Turkey in Syria, and adjacent areas. US directors are stirring the cauldron of chaos in this region to further their control of the vast oil resources of the region.
Many people are scratching their heads wondering how the US went from supporting the Kurds in Iraq and Syria to backing Turkey's campaign against them in the former (and turning a blind eye to it in the latter), but the reality is that the US was manipulating them as geopolitical pawns from the get-go. On the one hand, it envisioned using them to create a ‘geopolitical Israel' in the heart of the Mideast, but on the other, it knew that such an effort would tempt Turkey to conventionally intervene and put an end to these plans (which could also derail its [Turkey under Erdogan] potential Eurasian pivot). Either way, it would be a win-win for Washington....
Cartalucci's interpretation of a Brookings article was much more accurate than mine as expressed in my commentary to his article.

China’s Cyberspying Is ‘on a Scale No One Imagined’–if You Pretend NSA Doesn’t Exist

Click here to access article by Janine Jackson from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.

Every once in a while, we see reports from corporate media with alarming news about China agents spying on and stealing our secrets. No doubt some of this goes on, but to pretend that US spy agencies don't exist or are benign actors in these spy operations is laughable. This is another blatant illustration of how capitalist ruling class media attempt to shape our views toward China or any country that Empire directors regard as a threat to their interests. The problem is that they are too often successful in fooling the majority of Americans--and that is, of course, why they create such silly reports. As Will Durant once said,
It may be true that you can't fool all the people all the time, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.

Monday, August 3, 2015

TALK: We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo - Free Thinkers Question the French 9/11

Click here to access this video presentation from YouTube of a recent talk given by Kevin Barrett. I regard it as a "must listen-to talk".
"We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo! Free Thinkers Question the French 9/11" is a new book edited by Dr. Kevin Barrett, in which leading authors and activist challenge the official account of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, France on January 7, 2015.

Dr. Barrett spoke in Denver about this book on Sunday, July 19th, 2015. This is the talk.
I don't usually post video presentations that are longer than one hour, but I was so fascinated by Barrett's talk that I not only listened to all of it, but am posting this on my website. What puzzles me is that YouTube did not make the HTML coding available so that I could reproduce it directly on my website. I've never seen this exceptional treatment before on YouTube.

His talk is based on his investigations of the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris, but includes material from other sources that were featured in his recently published book. I have posted a lot of this material previously by various investigators of this event (enter "Hebdo" in my search engine to find them), but he also in this talk provides a lot of new evidence. Thus, in this talk Barrett provides an excellent summary of all the evidence that has been uncovered by investigators of the incident which points to another false flag operation.

Half of climate safety level has gone

Click here to access article by Alex Kirby from Climate News Network.

In this article Kirby reports on a new scientific study published in New Scientist (behind a paywall).
The world is now halfway towards the internationally-agreed safety limit of a maximum 2°C rise in global average temperatures, researchers say.

That limit seeks to prevent the global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels exceeding 2°C above the pre-industrial global temperature. The UN’s Paris climate summit later this year aims to ensure that it is not breached.

It appears that the human race has taken roughly 250 years to stoke global warming by 1°C. On present trends, we look likely to add the next 1°C far more quickly – across much of the world, many climate scientists believe, by the middle of this century.

Sea levels have risen six meters or more with just slight global warming: Study

Click here to access article by A. Dutton, A. E. Carlson,  et al. from Uncommon Thought Journal.

The authors of this article include some dramatic quotes from scientists involved in the recent published study in Science (behind a paywall), and here is one:
“Studies have shown that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contributed significantly to this sea level rise above modern levels,” said Anders Carlson, an Oregon State University glacial geologist and paleoclimatologist, and co-author on the study. “Modern atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are today equivalent to those about three million years ago, when sea level was at least six meters higher because the ice sheets were greatly reduced.”

“It takes time for the warming to whittle down the ice sheets,” added Carlson, who is in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, “but it doesn’t take forever. There is evidence that we are likely seeing that transformation begin to take place now.”

Wildfire threat spreads across warming world

Click here to access article by Tim Radford from Climate News Central. 
As climate change warms the world vegetation dries, rainfall patterns waver and the threat of wildfire spreads.
The author reports on a research study published in Nature Communications (behind a paywall).
William Jolly of the US Forest Service in Missoula, Montana and colleagues say they examined the fire season worldwide for the study period, taking into consideration all the factors that are used to calculate fire hazard: wind, humidity and temperature, as well as rainfall levels.

They found that the combined changes in the surface weather have meant that the fire season has increased so far by 18.7% 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice

Click here to access article by John Pilger from CounterPunch
For three years, a police cordon around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. It has cost £12 million. The quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His “crime” is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange is about to flare again as it enters a dangerous stage.
This courageous, independent journalist from Australia offers the most detailed history of the vilification and persecution by Empire authorities of Julian Assange that I've seen up until now. Pilger reports that in their vindictiveness they don't even abide by their own laws and legal procedures. The directors of the Empire never forget or forgive those who expose their secret crimes against humanity or refuse obedience to their diktats. Putin at first tried to get along with them, but he learned this lesson after refusing to go along with the UN resolution to bomb Libya and crush Syria. Now there are indications that our masters are going after the Ecuadorian government for protecting Assange.

This is What We’ve Been Waiting for, the True Recovery of the American Economy

Click here to access article by Wolf Richter from blog Wolf Street.

After reading Richter's online biography, it seems to me that after a stint in small-to-medium sized businesses he experienced some sort of mid-life crisis and/or that he became dis-enamored with the way the business world functioned. Thus he traveled the world to escape it and find meaning. However, his world travels didn't seem to make a dint in his commitment to capitalism. 

He now lives in an expensive neighborhood in San Francisco and is the CEO of Wolf Corporation which seems to be engaged in some kind of service to investors or companies. His life experience has only made him become more cynical about business-as-usual in the US. He also apparently believes like many other critics of this business-as-usual that he can through his blog make people wise-up enough to make the system work. Thus, he seems to be admonishing people or banks or somebody that they shouldn't be building the economy on debt. Well, of course, he's right--but that is the way advanced capitalism has to function!

It is the inevitable evolution of capitalism to place ever greater concentrations of wealth (and power) in fewer hands through capitalists' "ownership" and control of automation, robotization, artificial intelligence technology, and all the new events associated with neoliberalism (example: outsourcing jobs to cheap labor countries). Advanced capitalist countries like the US have to rely increasingly on debt to keep the economy going. 

Regarding this use of debt, I was startled by an epiphany one day about ten years ago when reading articles about credit scores. Everyone seemed to have them and it was important to know what one's score was. Then in the post-economic collapse after the economy crashed in 2008, the main engine of recovery was to create fiat money in hopes of fueling spending. As I understand it, this creation of money is enabled by the rich and their corporations through the purchase of government securities which places taxpayers, mostly workers, in debt to these purchasers. (Last time I looked, our national debt was about $18 trillion which will be paid off by us through our taxes and at the sacrifice of Social Security, public services, welfare, etc.) 

And the rich are from everywhere in the world and regardless of the source of the money (drug trafficking, dictators who stole wealth from their countries via loans from the IMF, etc) because they see the US, or banks and governments in NATO countries, with their huge military establishments as the most secure place to store their wealth. The workers of Greece are the latest victims of this process.

So people like Wolf Richter who have been so thoroughly steeped in capitalist ideology and practice are having some doubts about the way the system is functioning or not, but they can't see any alternative because, I think, they are so completely hooked (addicted to) on the benefits of the system. Still, because of the intimate knowledge of how the system works, the Richters of the world can often aid us in understanding how the system works--or doesn't.