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 24, 2015

The Saker interviews Cynthia McKinney

Click here to access this very fascinating interview from "The Saker's" website A bird's eye view of the Vineyard

I have not had time before my deadline to read this entire interview, but it appears so very rich in insights about recent American history. She warns us:
Despite all of the negative things that have happened to me, I still believe that the people in the U.S. can create positive transformational change for themselves that will also be good for the rest of the world.  What I don’t know is if they will seize the opportunity to do so, while it is still possible.  Sharpening the technologies of death and applying them at home as well as abroad shapes the tenor of the times.  I fear that the democratic space for such positive change is drastically and rapidly closing.

F*** a Wage, Take Over the Business: A How-To with Economist Richard Wolff

Click here to access an interview conducted by Andrew Smolski with Richard Wolff posted on CounterPunch

I've never been much of a fan of Wolff, and the views he expresses about Marxism doesn't change my mind very much. They are essentially "Marxism 101", so rudimentary that they gloss over so much of the development of capitalism. It is a primitive populist version designed to appeal to people with little education. Thus, when applied to the real contemporary world, this conceptualization will run into all kinds of problems. 

His views would be much more relevant to capitalism if he were writing in the 1930s. Wolff writes like an historian who loves actors who played major roles on the stage of world history and as he attempts to bask in their glory. Hence he writes frequently about someone (Marx) in the 19th century who first noticed and understood capitalism as it existed in all its stark contradictions at that time. As a student of the development of capitalism, this is a very good place to start to understand it; but it is not adequate to understand capitalism as it functions in today's world. Moreover, he grossly distorts Marxism by arguing that a political system can be separated from an economic system while implying that what we have today is a real democratic political system. Look at these sample paragraph to see what I am referring to:
Because in our system, the majority of the people prevail in the political arena. The majority of votes, roughly speaking, wins! That creates the following terrifying danger for the people at top. Sooner or later people are going to understand in our system that the damage you suffer in the capitalist economy can be offset or reversed if you use your majority in the political system. You can use the fact that the mass of workers, utterly disenfranchised economically, can use politics to undue the effects.
.... We need system change! .... And one way to do that, the way I would prefer, is to overcome the contradiction by finally making the economic system democratic so it isn’t at odds with a political system that is at least trying to be democratic. 

They Profit, We Die: The Perils of Chemical-Intensive Agriculture

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from CounterPunch.
Our food system is in big trouble. It’s in big trouble because the global agritech/agribusiness sector is poisoning it, us and the environment with its pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and various other chemical inputs. ....

This was only made possible and continues to be made possible because of lavish funds, slick PR, compliant politicians and scientists and the undermining and capture of regulatory and policy decision-making bodies that supposedly serve the public interest.

They Profit, We Die: Toxic Agriculture And The Poisoning Of Soils, Human Health And The Environment

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from East by Northwest. (Note: I am re-posting this article, which I originally posted on the 21st, because of recent comments added by Todhunter and this blogger which adds considerable interest to the issue of capitalism and writing about all the issues related to the system. Please feel free to join in.)

Once again Todhunter shows how the profit gatherers will use any means, even chemically infested foods, to reap their profits and power. Unfortunately, he like many other critics, who almost daily attack the inevitable effects caused by capitalist activities, fail to target the system which not only permits such anti-social practices, but actually promotes them. It's as if these critics also believed the chief propagandists of the capitalist class, people like Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that development of human societies has achieved it final perfect expression in Western capitalist societies and will become the model for all others to follow after the older cultures and religions succumb to the West's influence. The West, of course, embodies "democracy", human rights, material abundance, and all other virtues. Although they don't buy into the virtuous West, they seem to have succumbed to the theme that "there is no alternative".

I'm referring to such astute critics as Eric Draitser, Tony Cartalucci, F. William Engdahl, Pepe Escobar, and Colin Todhunter (I'm not sure about Michael Hudson) who fail to examine the underlying dynamics of capitalism which produce the war crimes and corporate crimes they critique in their writings. Instead they limit their criticisms to what are only symptoms of the ongoing activities of this antisocial, class based system. They are very much like some imaginary medical practitioners who limit their treatment of cancer by attacking painful symptoms with mere painkillers. About the only prescription they advocate to treat the awful things that are happening in today's world is a "multipolar (capitalist) world". 

Todhunter doesn't even do that. He apparently feels that he can shout about the evils of corporate methods of farming and producing food and be heard over the noise produced by the huge megaphones of corporate controlled media in order to influence people to vote for suitable governors in elections controlled by capitalists.

I really dislike criticizing people like the above named critics, all of whose articles I love reading and posting. But the discussion simply must move beyond their critiques of symptoms to the underlying cause of so much of the misery suffered by humanity. Otherwise I think it is inevitable that humans will disappear from the Earth either from catastrophic nuclear wars or climate destabilization.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Welcome to a New Planet: Climate Change “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth

Click here to access article by Michael T. Klare from TomDispatch. (Note: Should you wish to skip Engelhardt's introduction, you will need to scroll down to the article.)
Not so long ago, it was science fiction. Now, it’s hard science -- and that should frighten us all. The latest reports from the prestigious and sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make increasingly hair-raising reading, suggesting that the planet is approaching possible moments of irreversible damage in a fashion and at a speed that had not been anticipated.

Scientists have long worried that climate change will not continue to advance in a “linear” fashion, with the planet getting a little bit hotter most years.  Instead, they fear, humanity could someday experience “non-linear” climate shifts (also known as “singularities” or “tipping points”) after which there would be sudden and irreversible change of a catastrophic nature.
The only problem is...we humans won't be around to "welcome" this new planet. The natural forces which govern our universe will disappear us humans because we have been just another species that failed to adapt by living in harmony with the natural forces. Instead we worshiped the power and wealth of a tiny group of humans called capitalists who led us off the cliffs of never-ending wars and climate destabilization. 

Dirty Hands on Dirty Deals: TTIP and COP21 Shaped by Same Big Business Interests

Click here to access article by "Don Quijones" from Raging Bull-Shit.

This British author who resides mostly in Barcelona, Spain provides an excellent introduction to a much longer report from Corporate Europe Observatory.
Everybody who cares about issues of sustainability and human coexistence with the natural environmental is being told to invest all their hopes and energies in December’s COP21 summit. Finally the people of the world are coming together to mend their ways and build a cleaner, more sustainable planet Earth. At least that’s the pretext.

But what if it’s all bullshit?
As our capitalist masters pretend to protect us from the threat of climate destabilization, they keep on squeezing out their profits from the Earth and its workers while polluting the atmosphere blanketing the Earth and the oceans. They do this because they are addicted to profits and power. The big question is: how much longer are we going to allow this tiny group of drug addicts to continue with their profitable activities while the climate becomes increasingly unstable and prone to extremes of weather. I can just hear one of these addicts respond: "So what? We can just move to another planet after we wreck this one." 

Just today we learn of the latest monstrous hurricane off Mexico's western shore

Next it is headed for Texas and nearby areas:
Once this system moves inland, mid-level moisture and energy from it may get pulled into the south-central U.S. This may add more fuel to a heavy rain and flooding threat in Texas and nearby states this weekend.

Commodifying the Oceans

Click here to access a 55 minute interview conducted by Sasha Lilley of KPFA, a listener sponsored radio station in Berkeley, California, with environmental sociologist Stefano Longo. Longo is a co-author with Rebecca Clausen, and Brett Clark, of a recently published book entitled The Tragedy of the Commodity: Oceans, Fisheries, and Aquaculture.
The oceans are in turmoil, but unfortunately most of it is out of sight and therefore out of mind. Environmental sociologist Stefano Longo explores the multiple threats to the oceans, from overfishing to coral reef collapse to ocean acidification. He weighs in on whether the notion of the “tragedy of the commons” is sufficient to explain the roots of the crisis.
Longo challenges conventional explanations for the demise of fish populations, that this is consumer driven or caused by commonly held properties (“tragedy of the commons”), by arguing for another explanation: the capitalist system drives production in order to produce profits.

Shadow Sovereigns - How Global Corporations are seizing power

Author Susan George is president of the Transnational Institute which is a leading organization that has been exposing for a long time the growing power of transnational corporations. 
Renowned scholar activist Susan George introduces her new book, Shadow Sovereigns - How Global Corporations are seizing power.

She explains how corporations have taken over all branches of the government as well as international governance, in particular through trade treaties such as the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ecomodernism is Anti-Progress – A View from Asia

Click here to access article by Chandran Nair from Degrowth (based in Germany). 

The author takes on the widely publicized myth that technological progress will enable capitalists to both eat the Earth's cake and have it too. Capitalists have apparently employed well educated and indoctrinated middle class people across the world to spread this propaganda. One such international group, who call themselves "ecomodernists", are actively promoting it. Nair argues that it is simply a myth.
Eco-modernists must recognise a simple fact – that simply calling for the decoupling of human activity from environmental impact will not in itself drive technological change to finds solutions. One can only hope that they do not also simply believe that the developers of technology are committed to finding these solutions, because they are driven by some altruistic motives or a higher calling. That is not how the world of technology and investments work. It will need a whole new way of organizing ourselves around the reality of a resource constrained world. And that requires a new socio-economic and political narrative about sustainability, individual rights, freedoms and the role of the state, much of which will fly in the face of current day western led narratives about capitalism, free markets and democracy. ....

A new economic model must therefore account for three major adjustments: First, it must accept limits to growth in a resource constraint world and thus ensure that resources are priced to reflect their true cost. Second, the economy needs to be subservient to maintaining the vitality of the resource base, and not the other way around, as it is now. Third, an effective economy for the 21st century must weigh collective welfare over individual rights. But how do we get there?
Unfortunately, Nair seems to think that the world's capitalist governors and their subservient populations can do the right thing simply by being informed by Nair and others that "ecomodernism" is a myth. He accuses ecomodernists of being naïve, but I think that he has topped them when he makes such an argument. His argument "defies logic and the prevailing evidence" which is much more abundant than the myth being spread by these people.

Black Lives Matter: The Real War On Terror

Click here to access article by Ashoka Jegroo from TeleSur.
...the police terror imposed on the oppressed within the U.S. is intricately tied up with state terror imposed on the oppressed around the world. One cannot decry the 1985 bombing of the Black radical group MOVE by Philadelphia cops and then approve of the U.S. bombing people in Afghanistan and Yemen today, and vice versa. These shared oppressions and their connected histories demand that the struggle against U.S. state terror be further internationalized. Steps have been made to connect Black Lives Matter with the struggle of the Palestinians and with the victims of state violence in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. This needs to continue and expand to other oppressed peoples. The protests must also continue too. But the harsh repression of Black Lives Matter by local and federal authorities, along with the lack of substantial progress made, shows that more radical tactics will have to be employed.

Harper's gone. Trudeau is in. The struggle continues.

Click here to access article from No One Is Illegal-Toronto.

Although Canadians voted for a lessor evil in their recent elections, the author of this article advises against any complacency.
While many rejoice at the end of the Harper government, we also know that the new Liberal government must be met with radical, collective, strategic organizations, and mobilizations if we are to improve the lives of our communities.

The Liberal Party has governed Canada for about half of Canada’s existence, and is responsible for half of the grave injustices we now face, including but not limited to the coup in Haiti, cuts to the national housing plan, and the creation of the temporary foreign worker program and the Canada Border Services Agency. Thus it is clear to us that this new change in government will not result in the collective transformation we require.

Hitler on Syria

My thanks to "The Saker" for alerting me to this (slightly altered) film clip put together by "Dom Rice". It is truly hilarious! It is a perfect piece of satire because it contains so much truth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Monopoly capital

Click here to access article from occasional links & commentary.
...monopoly capitalists don’t strive to increase their accumulation to the maximum extent possible. Instead, large portions of the surplus they are able to appropriate from their workers and otherwise capture with their monopoly pricing power is used to acquire other portions of capital (through mergers and acquisitions), to engage in lobbying and funding its desired political candidates, to pay dividends to stockholders, and to pay enormous incomes to corporate executives and other members of the “professional-managerial” class who produce some of the conditions of existence of monopoly capital.
It is the middle class who mostly benefit from employment by the ruling capitalist class to maintain the latter's system. Much of capitalist profits go to propagate their propaganda in media, education, and even entertainment, and to sponsor elections and candidates so that the American people are fooled into believing that they live under a legitimate type of democratic governance.

“Unconscionable and indefensible” – U.S. 10-year offer to LDCs for pharmaceutical patent waiver

Click here to access article by Sangeeta Shashikant from Third World Network.
The United States’ offer to least developed countries of a 10-year transition period to grant pharmaceutical patents is  “unconscionable and indefensible”, according to six influential US non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

In a letter dated 19 October to President Barack Obama, the NGOs conveyed this strong criticism in view of the public health and other developmental challenges facing least developed countries (LDCs).

The letter states, “We fail to understand why the US, alone, continues to oppose LDCs’ demand – a legally sound and justified request for a pharmaceutical transition period for as long as they remain LDCs”.

Stern warns that humanity is at climate crossroads

Click here to access article by Kieran Cooke from Climate News Network.
Professor Nicholas Stern warns: “Whatever way we look at it, the action we need to take is immense.”

If governments delay taking decisive measures to halt greenhouse gas emissions, he is convinced that a tipping point on climate will be reached. “In Paris, we need recognition of what we need to do − and how radical that change will be.”
As the UN Climate Conference in Paris starting on November 30th approaches, I've notice Obama making noises about environmental concerns. I like Stern's warning about a tipping point, but I am not at all optimistic about any significant reductions in carbon pollution of our atmosphere from these talks. I saw what happened in 2009 in Copenhagen, and I know that only a dramatic cut in production of useless things and a major plan to equably distribute needed things simply is not compatible with the requirements of capitalism. So we can have capitalism or we can have a biosphere that can sustain human life, but we can't have both. Guess which option our masters will choose?

The VA, Another American War We Don’t Talk About

Click here to access article by Gordon Duff, Senior Editor at Veterans Today.

This author depicts the way our capitalist masters "support our troops"--or don't.
As a 100% combat disabled veteran and editor of the largest military and veterans new site, I have spent years dealing with abuses and fraud at the VA.  The body count for the VA itself is actually higher than any war, they kill more American veterans than wars have ever killed of our military.  If only I were making this up, and I am not.

For those who are unaware, there is a pecking order at the VA.  Only those who are 100% disabled, something the hierarchy makes it almost impossible to qualify for, get all available treatments.  Processing a compensation claim for a totally disabled veteran can take years.  Mine took 12 years, the oldest I have worked on has taken 43 years.  Many take 25 years.  In most cases, the veteran dies while waiting for appeals.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

US, allies responsible for Syria’s destruction: Ex-intelligence linguist

Click here to access 2:13m video and associated article from Press TV

Chalk up another victim for the serial war criminal enterprise known as the US Empire. Scott Rickard expresses clearly what most Americans hate to admit, but most informed people already know. 

Should you have any doubts about this, just read the latest information about another recent US war crime furnished by independent sleuth and blogger Bernhard from Moon of Alabama in an article entitled "Why Is The U.S. Silently Bombing Syria's Electricity Network?". 

We learn from Red Pill Times the latest news from Syria in their article entitled "Battle for Aleppo begins. Syrian army ready to take on Obama’s Al Qaeda terrorists forces". We also learn from this article how dangerous the situation is with the US bombing anything which supports the Syrian government while Russia is bombing those who are attacking the government.

12:33 PM addendum: For an excellent hour long discussion of what is happening in Syria and nearby areas from the perspective of the US Empire, Russia, and China and perceptive insights about the US's deep state, I highly recommend that you listen to the following. However, what they overlook is the capitalist structure, the 800-pound gorilla in the room, which has created this monster of a deep state.

Major No to GMO by Majority of EU States

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from New Eastern Outlook.
Monsanto and the GMO agribusiness cartel have suffered a major new defeat as two-thirds of the 28 EU member states have opted for a full ban on GMO crops according to the terms of new Brussels rules allowing national decision on the toxic agro-technology. The bans across the EU greatly expand the EU acreage off-limits to GMO from the previous somewhat chaotic EU procedures.

Jerusalem chaos is a warning of things to come

Click here to access article by Jonathan Cook from his blog the View from Nazareth.
The steady erosion of Fatah and Hamas’ authority during the post-Oslo years, as the Palestinian factions proved incapable of protecting their people from the structural violence of the occupation, has driven Palestine’s orphaned children to the streets, armed with stones.

The growing hopelessness and sense of abandonment have led a few so-called “lone wolves” to vent their fury on Israelis with improvised weapons such as knives, screwdrivers and cars. These attacks have attracted the most publicity, becoming the equivalent of the second intifada’s suicide bomber. But they serve chiefly as a barometer of Palestinian despair.

If They Can Afford To Buy Elections...

by "larryldye" and borrowed from imgflip.

The cartoonist doesn't seem to realize that corporations buy candidates for both parties and sponsor elections in order to reduce their taxes and for many other self-serving reasons. They sponsor elections to fool people into thinking that they have real choices and are participating in some kind of democracy. This is much more cost effective than using a police state apparatus to enforce their will. 

But, just in case people wise up, they have constructed a police state (the Patriot Acts, 24/7 surveillance, militarized police forces, etc) that is ready to quash any resistance. You see, they don't take any chances to allow for change. The worst nightmare they have is that the people will kill the goose that lays their golden eggs of profits and power--capitalism!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Capitalism and technology and Stephen Hawking

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

Hawking provides an insightful answer to a question relating to issues of technological unemployment in this brief article. 

US Pacific Hegemony vs. a Rising China

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook

The author reviews the sordid history of Western capitalists as they plundered Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries as a context for understanding what China is doing today to defend itself. All this ends up arguing for a multipolar world where peace and happiness reigns just like what we experienced toward the middle of the 20th century when the Anglo-American Empire, the fascist countries, and Russia constituted another multipolar world.

Three Rich Treasury Secretaries Laugh It Up Over Income Inequality

Click here to access article by Zack Carter and Ben Walsh from the Huffington Post. 

This article is a little late in that it predates my one month posting rule, but it is so good at exposing the attitudes of people who really rule over our country.

The article and video pertains to an excerpt from a longer discussion, entitled "The Global Economy: A Conversation with Timothy Geithner, Henry Paulson and Robert Rubin”, sponsored by the Milken Institute held in April of this year at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

Can’t Anyone Fix This?

Click here to access article by James Howard Kunstler from World News Trust

Please forgive me for running this article which is dripping with cynicism. You see, I, like you, have good days and bad days. Today I am having the latter. But don't worry, most days I try to be optimistic about the prospects for humans to take control of their lives, their societies, and change things for the better. There is one paragraph in the article that rang so true with me, and I couldn't resist posting the entire article.
What perhaps ought to be more alarming is the way that the two major parties are lining up to be a men’s party and a woman’s party, a perfect acting-out of psychological archetypes in a society churning out millions of lost souls year-by-year. The American people apparently want a Daddy to fix all the broken systems and they want a Mommy to reassure them that everything will be all right. Hillary, of course, wants to be both, but her problem is that a lot of voters won’t accept her as either.
Do you get the feeling that our capitalist masters are playing the Americans for fools? And are we?

Israel Receives $3.1B In US Aid While The Middle East’s Poor Struggle To Survive

Click here to access article by Kit O'Connell from Mint Press News.
...while the Middle East struggles through a historic refugee crisis, Israel is using U.S. taxpayer money to fuel its war crimes against Palestine and oppression of refugees.
The $3.1 billion dollar figure is aid already given to Israel in 2015. From today's report in World Socialist Web Site we learn:
General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, flew to Tel Aviv Sunday to discuss a 10-year military aid package worth some $3.7 billion a year. The pledge of increased American military support came in the midst of an increasingly brutal Israeli crackdown on Palestinians within both the occupied territories and Israel itself.
Of course, the poor in the US would also like to have a piece of this money, particularly the elderly like me: I struggle to live on $1100/month Social Security benefits. Our schools, teachers, and highways, bridges, etc. could also use this money,

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Russia’s Awesome Responsibility

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from New Eastern Outlook.

Let me be clear about my posting of this essay--I think it is abominable! But because Engdahl has written many articles that helped us clarify various geopolitical issues--and I have posted many--I am posting this piece because he is so influential as an alternative geopolitical analyst from the usual capitalist funded analysts. This morning I debated on whether to waste my time on it or to attack it. What I ultimately decided was to rather briefly point to the most obvious flaws in his arguments.

He states near the end of the essay (which I think should have been placed near the beginning) a rather self-serving observation which, of course, does point to a little more than a grain of truth:
A deep study of history then can tell us volumes about what forces Russia, Germany and the world face today.
The only problem with this aphorism is that their are many histories and certainly not all of them are true primarily because most of them have been written by the powerful, and secondarily because of the limitations of any one historian. Only people, who can use a reasonable amount of independent judgement and agree on historical facts, can judge whether any given historical fact is true. And I think his understanding of history as expressed in this piece is riddled with inaccuracies. Thus, his conclusion based on this flawed history cannot be trusted, or at least not be taken at face value. The conclusion he, like many well indoctrinated middle class intellectuals, is essentially arguing is that a multipolar capitalist world will bring peace, social justice, and prosperity to all.

He repeats what I have heard said by those whose obvious motivation was to undermine Russian history and to create cynicism among activists. These history mischief-makers allege one incident as historical fact without presenting any reference to credible evidence, and then use it to generalize about the entire Russian revolution! In this piece Engdahl even omits the alleged historical fact, but simply points to the generalization, without any supporting documentation.
Wall Street and the City of London financed Leon Trotsky, Lenin, and the Bolshevik Revolution essentially as they did Boris Yeltsin after 1990, to open up Russia for looting and balkanization by favored western companies.
I suspect that this undocumented generalization is derived from the above mentioned alleged historical fact that I have heard repeated numerous times, from people whose motives I questioned, is that various rich capitalists, often the Rockefellers, paid expenses for Lenin and Trotsky to return to Russia to foment revolution. But then, consider this: it is an indisputable fact that around 13 capitalist nations invaded Russia immediately following their revolution and many of these nations also funded the White armies opposing the Bolsheviks. So how can the repeated allegations about funding the trip expenses of Russian revolutionary leaders or Wall Street, etc funding their revolution be reconciled with this historical fact? 

If true, this can be easily explained by what has been frequently observed among capitalists: they use their money to try to co-opt antagonists in order to eventually control them. Often they succeed, but they certainly failed with the Russian revolutionaries. So, Engdahl appears to use what is essentially a rumor to generalize that "Wall Street and the City of London financed Leon Trotsky, Lenin, and the Bolshevik Revolution". Is this an illustration of a "deep study of history"?!! 

Now for those of you who are new to this website, please do not infer from my above commentary to conclude that everything that Engdahl argues is wrong, or that I dislike Putin's and Russia's policies and actions in Syria. No one likes a bully, and the US (ruling class directorate) has not only been acting like a bully, no, much worse than that--like a serial war criminal. This time the bully is having his comeuppance.