The Education Spring uprising against corporate education reform began in Seattle at Garfield High School (my daughter’s former high school) in January 2013. It started with the entire school (teachers and students) walking out rather than take the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). The latter is standardized test mandated under Obama’s Race to the Top and Common Core initiatives.
The Obama administration has used this heavy emphasis on high stakes testing (a leftover of Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy) exactly as his predecessor did.
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, September 26, 2015
As Pope Francis makes his historic first visit to the United States, millions of Americans are turning out to thank the Pontiff for temporarily displacing Donald Trump from the news.
As the Pope visits Washington, New York, and Philadelphia, people from every walk of life are expressing profound gratitude that the news media is offering non-stop coverage of Francis’s every move instead of Trump’s, if only for five days.
County Clerk Rewarded For Courageous Stand Against Love and Tolerance
The Kentucky county clerk recently jailed for refusing to issue gay marriage licences ascended into heaven this morning.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Bartlett presents a summary of past investigations, reported by independent journalists and observers of human rights groups who had operations in Syria and/or published misinformation about Syria, which found that they were funded and/or organized by US government agencies or rich "philanthropic" organizations. They were "human rights" front groups with political agendas which correspond well with the Empire's agendas.
McMillan explain how many middle-class liberals are co-opted to support capitalism while being critics of the system.
[They] decry capitalism’s “excesses” by defining the problem not a capitalism itself, but as errors within an otherwise acceptable economic system. They add qualifiers: crony capitalism, disaster capitalism, corporate capitalism, blah blah blah. They build stellar careers as public intellectuals by offering the comforting thought that if we could simply eliminate its worst elements, the system might yet be saved. But this formula sounds increasingly hollow, as people figure out that the worst aspects of capitalism aren’t a mistake. They’re inherent to it.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Steinbok has observed how US media coverage of China's president has always portrayed him with a negative bias. Living in the greater Seattle area where Xi is now visiting with various high tech company officials, I observe the same phenomenon which I find very surprising given that the links between high tech companies and China have been very strong.
Just recently the Chinese signed a deal to buy 300 Boeing jet airliners worth $38 billion. They have been one of Boeing's biggest customers. Yet, corporate talking TV heads keep making negative comments about Xi--see this coverage from a local TV channel as typical. This TV station, like all the other local stations, is not locally owned, instead owned by Tegna corporation based in McLean, VA. Maybe it's only a coincidence, but CIA also has offices there in addition to nearby Langley where CIA headquarters are located.
...the climate isn’t just getting warmer on average, the climate pattern is skewing towards heat extremes. That’s critically important, because adapting to the new normal – if that’s even possible – will require responding to extremes, not just averages. For human well-being and survival, the issue is not just how much the average ocean level rises, but how high the biggest storm surges are; not just what the average daily rainfall is, but how severe the droughts are; not just how much warmer it gets on average, but how long and deadly the heat waves become.(Note: part three is here.)
If one degree of global warming has made extreme weather significantly more probable, what can we expect in coming decades, as the first full century of the Anthropocene unfolds? A growing body of scientific research has focused on that question, and the answers are consistent: the extreme heat events of recent years will become more frequent and more severe as the century progresses.
This Canadian human rights lawyer reports on little known efforts by the US to prevent any relief supplies going to the Syrians.
The news that the United States asked both Greece and Bulgaria to block Russian flights over their air space headed for Syria is a logical extension of the criminality of the aggression against Syria being conducted by the NATO powers and their allies in the region. The NATO alliance has been conducting a war of aggression against Syria since 2011 when it succeeded in destroying Libya and it was responsible for the waves of humanity who fled the NATO bombing and who now flee the Takfiri militants NATO used as their auxiliaries.
These actions are clearly war crimes of the highest order, contemptuous violations of the UN Charter, international law and of all morality. The resulting misery of the peoples of the countries under attack, who are forced to flee and become refugees in the heart of the very alliance that is attacking them, is beyond words. The images bombard us daily. But the images are not placed in the western media to create a call for peace in the region. Instead, as we see from the recent statements of the British, French and American leaders, they are used to manipulate the emotions of the citizens of the NATO countries to justify a call for more military aggression against Syria which will create more misery, more death and more refugees.
Missing from mainstream media is coverage of the huge role that nuclear weapons corporations play in
One such missing item is how expenditures for nuclear weapons are separate from the Pentagon budget. I think that this separation is by design because most people only look at the Pentagon's expenditures when examining how much of our tax dollars go to support weapons of war--in this case, weapons of truly mass destruction. But, then, we are an "exceptional nation" according to Obama and the Heritage Foundation:
America is an exceptional nation, but not because of what it has achieved or accomplished. America is exceptional because, unlike any other nation, it is dedicated to the principles of human liberty, grounded on the truths that all men are created equal and endowed with equal rights. These permanent truths are "applicable to all men and all times," as Abraham Lincoln once said.
America's principles have created a prosperous and just nation unlike any other nation in history. They explain why Americans strongly defend their country, look fondly to their nation's origins, vigilantly assert their political rights and civic responsibilities, and remain convinced of the special meaning of their country and its role of the world. It is because of its principles, not despite them, that America has achieved greatness.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Despite more than twice the productivity in 1973, employed male workers are earning slightly less now compared to 1973.
Here is my take on this phenomenon. As the Vietnam War was winding down, except for a few who went underground to continue their attacks on the ruling class, most activists quietly returned to focus on their careers or dropped out of conventional society to join rural communes in a back-to-the-land movement. They were tired after many years of protests, disillusioned with the pretensions of a democratic government during years in which they witnessed the full fury of the fascist ruling capitalist class: the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, Black Panthers, and Malcolm X; the killing of student protesters by the National Guard on the campuses of Kent State and Jackson State universities, etc; the lies and deceptions of mainstream media while leaks grew about the horrible war crimes committed by American soldiers, and the devastation of Vietnam and nearby areas with heavy bombing, Agent Orange, etc.
Although losing control of Vietnam and southeast Asia, the ruling class had contained the rebellion at home by using the most vicious policies and tactics. This together with the slow decline of union power gave our masters new confidence in their ongoing class war with workers. They were also angry with the youth of the country which dared to challenge their wars and the construction of their Empire. They wanted revenge. While celebrating the ending of the Vietnam War and taking credit for it, alternative media--or what was left of it--failed to alert ordinary Americans to this new war against workers. Thus most Americans were quietly passive while this new assault on workers began.
In 1980 ruling class directors appointed Ronald Reagan, a former General Electric salesman and Hollywood actor to serve as their chief of public relations (aka "President") to sell their new policies, went about consolidating their control over the economy, further destroying union opposition, brought in a number of Zionists in the government, and wrecked mayhem on the rest of the world. As they say, the rest is history: trickle-down theories, wars, austerity, stock market booms and crashes, a phony "War on Drugs" while secret government agencies facilitated the importation of illicit drugs to finance their illegal wars (Nicaragua for example), bank bailouts by the government, proliferation of prisons and privatizations, neoliberal policies, etc.
This article furnishes data that illustrates another result of this new class war strategy: the capitalist appropriation of most of the profits resulting from the dramatic expansion of productivity--a productivity created by workers.
That Putin guy has certainly been active lately by hosting talks with the likes of Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, which concluded with a nuclear technology deal, even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and is now meeting with Turkey’s President Erdogan. The latter meeting could be most significant as suggested by Bernhard in this article.
Could Putin be dangling economic advantages to sway Arab leaders his way and out of the Empire's camp while neutralizing Israeli influence? All of these efforts together with Russia's military backing of Syria might now be paying off, and might explain why the US regime is now modifying its hard-line stance against Assad.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
From the late 1970s to the mid-80s, Exxon scientists worked at the cutting edge of climate change research, documents examined by InsideClimate News show. This history of that research emerged from an eight-month investigation by InsideClimate News.
Exxon documents show that top corporate managers were aware of their scientists' early conclusions about carbon dioxide's impact on the climate. They reveal that scientists warned management that policy changes to address climate change might affect profitability. After a decade of frank internal discussions on global warming and conducting unbiased studies on it, Exxon changed direction in 1989 and spent more than 20 years discrediting the research its own scientists had once confirmed.
What is missing so far in this series is the reason for the about-face by Exxon top officials.
Look for part 3 next week.
Although the emphasis in Radford's report is on the dollar costs, the social costs are much more striking to me. Presumably the researchers thought that by emphasizing dollar costs, they could more readily catch the attention of our capitalist ruling class.
The two scientists report in Nature Climate Change that if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise as they are doing now, the thaw of the permafrost and the loss of the ice caps could release 1,700 billion metric tons of carbon now locked in as frozen organic matter.This brief summary doesn't begin to capture the devastation in the lives of people impacted by these natural disasters resulting from human-caused climate destabilization.
What would follow would include a higher chance of catastrophic floods, wind storms, heat waves and drought, the accelerated melting of the Greenland (and West Antarctic) ice sheets, rising sea levels, the loss of agricultural land and rising energy demand as more and more people began to depend on air conditioning.
Martin points to the inconsistent application of the Supreme Court's ridiculous decision that corporations are people and enjoy the same Constitutional rights as people. However when a corporation make products that end up killing people, destroying the environment, etc, instead of jailing corporate officials, the corporation merely gets slapped with a fine.
Content-analysis of a great number of tweets that triggered the ongoing wave of migration from Turkey to Germany since August this year suggests that these human streams were inspired and channeled from outside of the continental Europe.
Monday, September 21, 2015
This retired sociologist and outstanding analyst of political affairs sees a split occurring in ruling class policies toward China on the eve of President Xi Jinping's visits: first his visit with high tech corporate officials in Seattle starting tomorrow (Tuesday), and then on to the White House on Friday.
I think that this hate-love ambivalence toward China has been ongoing and will continue for some time in the future. On the one hand China is a boon to US corporations many of whom have long ago outsourced jobs from American factories to China in order to reduce labor costs and increase profits. On the other hand, imperialists among our ruling class masters also see that China is a force to be reckoned with over who dominates the world. "But wait, there's more". Or rather, there is another section of the ruling class, the banksters, who I think are really the top dogs in this aggressive wolf-pack because they have their own interests vis-à-vis China.
Obama’s decision to provoke China on multiple fronts reflects the overwhelming influence of the militarist power configurations in Washington: the Pentagon, the NSA and the Zionist –militarist ideologues.If the bankers continue to be shut out of China's economy as I expect will happen, we can also expect US policies toward China to align with the imperialist section, "the Pentagon, the NSA and the Zionist–militarist ideologues". This is the most frightening scenario.
In contrast to Washington’s aggressive policy, the major US high tech corporations are almost unanimous in their opposition to Obama’s ‘military pivot’ and are appalled by the threat of cyber sanctions, rightly calling them a “needless provocation”.
For its part, Wall Street has taken an intermediary position – hoping Washington will coerce China into ‘opening’ its protected financial markets to the big US banks. It doesn’t necessarily support aggressive sanctions, which could provoke a response from China closing off lucrative opportunities in the world’s biggest financial market.
Given that the United States and Britain are openly supplying the Saudi-led Gulf coalition with fighter jets, bombs and logistics, the array of forces makes for a stark conclusion: the Western states are working in Yemen in direct alliance with jihadist mercenaries.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
This independent British journalist sees that "the times they are a changin'" as suggested by a comparison of the recent liberal Guardian (and Observer) coverage of the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party in Britain with that of the censorship that they imposed on a 2002 report of a former CIA official's admission that the CIA knew there weren't any WMD in Iraq.
Well, the times may, or may not, be a changin', but it will be fascinating to see how the Empire's ruling capitalist class will deal with Corbyn even though, in my judgement, he only wants to return to a past which included strong representation of labor leaders in their government, strong social-welfare policies, and less subordination of British politics to US policies. This cannot happen--without a revolution--simply because the British and American ruling classes have the same imperial interests--they have merged into an Anglo-American ruling capitalist class, the dominant core of the Empire (with a strong Zionist sub-core). Thus, it is not only a "terrible dilemma" for the Guardian and a problem for the ruling class, but ultimately, and most importantly, for the British people when they destroy Corbyn--which they will do in some way.
(A late report from Cook at 3:00 PM) See this for example.
Zibechi, who is a leading activist and political theorist from Uruguay, reviews the visit by Obama with the Brazilian head of state at the White House. He sees the visit as an attempt at mending ties between the two countries following numerous military, technological, and economic deals recently agreed to by both governments, to propose new agreements, and to strengthen the older ties of the OAS which ignores the independent role of new organizations established in South America.
Together with the renewed relations with Cuba, this visit seems to reflect a new policy that the US has devised to strengthen their ties with Latin America following strained relations that resulted from many decades of neocolonial policies ("Washington Consensus") and CIA interference in their domestic affairs. Could it be that the US imperial center is trying to mend ties with Latin American countries as a ploy to gather old
With the looming prospect of climate destabilization caused by the capitalist requirement of growth forever together with the prospect of nuclear wars between the two blocs, we humans can either forget about a future or we can take action to end this scourge of capitalism and create an economic system that can create conditions in which we can live in harmony with each other and with nature. I fear with our passivity and inaction that our future is one of extinction. Some people might see this as a sort of natural justice, or nature's justice, for causing the extinction of so many other species.
There are more and more signs that the new progressive nations of South America that brought in governments which pursued more independent policies, included a smattering of indigenous involvement, and superficial socialist elements are moving to the right politically. This is especially noticeable with the political drift to the right in Ecuador and Bolivia. Perhaps the directors of the US Empire are sensing this and are of the opinion that the time is ripe to try to encourage stronger ties with their old "backyard". Hence their efforts to renew ties with the Cuban government and the new overtures to Brazil as reported in today's other posted article.
In this article the author reports on the Bolivian government's attack on their domestic NGOs that are seeking to protect the environment using false accusations that the NGOs are representing foreign interests.
The fraught relationship between the government of President Evo Morales and Bolivia’s NGOs took a turn for the worse this past August, when Vice President Alvaro García Linera launched an attack on four well-respected Bolivian research organizations: the Center for the Study of Labor and Agrarian Development (CEDLA), the Bolivian Center for Documentation and Information (CEDIB), and the Tierra and Milenio Foundations. The episode has set off a firestorm inside and outside Bolivia, raising important questions about national sovereignty, the erosion of democracy, and the prospects for continuing debate around Bolivia’s extractivist development model.This trend is an illustration of the effects of the rewards of wealth and power provided by capitalism on anyone who comes in close contact with it. It is like a powerful, addictive elixir on those who drink it, and causes them to almost immediately be dedicated to consuming the substance and forget about all the other social goals which they espoused in order to devote their lives to it.