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, March 19, 2016

Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex [a must-read]

Click here to access article by Patrick Henningsen from UK Column. [article of the month]

This lengthy study of corrupted human rights organizations reveals how many of them have been heavily influenced by the power of money to serve as ideological weapons for the many shady purposes of the Empire. The proliferation of such organizations and their influence over media and UN bodies only scratches the surface of a deeper ideological war: a massive effort to penetrate every institution of Western societies to insure citizens' compliance and support of Empire objectives of profit and power. The author only focuses our attention on one sector--human rights organizations.
Due to increased funding from corporate interests and direct links to government and policy think tanks in recent years, these organisations have become even more politicised, and more closely connected with western 'agents of influence.' As a result, an argument can be made that, on many levels, these 'human rights' organisations may be contributing to the very problem they profess to be working to abate: causing more suffering, death and instability worldwide through their co-marketing of the foreign policy objectives of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels.

The problem is both systemic and institutional in nature. As a result, many of the western world's leading human rights organizations based in North America and Europe have become mirror reflections of a western foreign policy agenda and have become virtual clearing houses for interventionist propaganda.
Because I am retired I have the time to be informed on the huge manipulative efforts of Empire directors, but this study (not merely an article) left me feeling rather discouraged at the prospects of coping with their massive display of power over the minds of ordinary citizens. Only a small fraction of the public will read this and similar articles, and fewer will understand all the implications it has for the urgency of an organized effort on the part of ordinary people to combat the powerful influence of the Imperial propagandists.

American politics as puppet show

by Young taken from a post on Occasional Links & Commentary.

I don't know if this was drawn by Chic Young of the comic strip Blondie or not, but it aptly describes American politics.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Latest Leak Confirms TTIP a 'Serious Threat to Democracy as We Know It'

Click here to access article by Deirdre Fulton from Common Dreams
EU member states and the European Parliament will be "sidelined" in favor of big business and U.S. interests should the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) go through, according to a leaked document revealed Friday.

The leak, of the corporate-friendly trade deal's draft chapter on "regulatory cooperation" between the EU and U.S., was made public by The Independent and Brussels-based campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO).

TPP will be toothless for environmental protection: [Canadian] study

Click here to access article from bilaterals.

This brief article serves as an introduction to a 3200 word report (PDF).
As the debate heats up over whether Canada should ratify the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) highlights the agreement’s serious shortcomings in protecting the environment.

“Far from being a milestone for environmental protection, as claimed by the U.S. and Canadian governments, the TPP will not safeguard or promote effective environmental protection measures,” says Jacqueline Wilson, legal counsel at the Canadian Environmental Law Association and author of the study Bait-and-Switch: The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s Promised Environmental Protections Do Not Deliver.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Imperial Elections

Click here to access article by Gilbert Mercier and Dady Chery from News Junkie Post

I congratulate the authors on this very literate exposé of the current president primary elections as political theater. Referring to Hillary Clinton, they write:
It was her turn. Somewhere a few wise men had decided this. The only problem was a logistical one. It was the perennial dilemma of legitimizing and celebrating this choice with a staged plebiscite. In a lame-duck season, inciting wars, chasing bogeymen, aiming at fake targets, and making victory speeches was not option. Furthermore, though the voters were not consciously aware of this, deep in their hearts they knew that she was the anointed one, and that the smoke of Rome would rise for her in the form of blue and red balloons. Therefore a year-long circus would have to be designed to turn a mirage into reality, to persuade the voters that cotton candy is a nutritious meal and that the clowns, the dancing elephants, and every act would inexorably lead to her grand finale high-wire act. Politics as spectacle would reach its apogee.
Few people on the left are covering these primaries as the carefully staged circus they are. While I admire and envy the writing of these authors (see also a previous piece entitled "The Fake Left"), I worry that the high level of sophistication of this piece will pass over the heads of more ordinary readers; and because of this, the article will likely not be re-posted on other websites whose audiences are less sophisticated. Instead our attention is diverted by the fake left into interpreting these elections at face value. Is there no real left left in America? Perhaps the authors are right in the view they expressed in "The Fake Left" article.
All writers with a desire to rattle people out of their torpor occasionally wonder if it is worthwhile to continue to try to raise their voices over the din of lies and distractions. More and more for us, such thoughts are occasioned, not by the mainstream, which predictably treats all the pronouncements from the powerful as being newsworthy, but by the fake left, which lobotomizes most of whom it touches. The increasing sophistication of this group and its rate of expansion are astounding. Its purpose is to annihilate and replace the real left, and it is making great strides in this regard.

“For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa”

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

Ruccio explains with hard economic evidence that capitalist operations result in most of the wealth produced by American workers has caused the American worker to become poorer and poorer while the "owners" become ever richer by exploiting cheaper labor worldwide. Wealth produced by workers ends up concentrated in the hands of a small segment of society.
...capitalism means that capitalists get to appropriate the surplus and do with it what they want. They get to decide when and where commodities will be produced, and therefore when and where jobs will or will not be created. If that means offshoring production or purchasing inputs from producers in other countries in order to boost profits, they’ll do so. And workers in the United States will either lose their jobs or be forced to accept lower wages and fewer benefits in order to “compete” with the production of commodities elsewhere.
Thus an economy, which is a vital part of every society, ends up under capitalism serving the needs of only a tiny segment or class of each society while producing many undesirable effects such as unemployment, poverty, devastating wars, etc. for the vast majority of people.

Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee a Continuum of the Dubious War on Terror

Click here to access article by Christof Lehmann from nsnbc international.

Lehmann digs up the judicial record of Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court to show that  he will be an excellent choice to serve the ruling class.
A look at the track record of Garland suggests that Obama’s candidate of choice represents a continuum of dubious terrorism and anti-terrorism cases from Oklahoma to Guantanamo and beyond.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Was the First Obama Election Fixed? New Book Raises Suspicions

Click here to access article by Pam Martens from Wall Street On Parade.

Martens comments on a fictional book, Fixers by Michael M. Thomas, a former Wall Street insider, who uses fiction to disclose the many realities of the Obama administration and its smooth handling of the taxpayer bailout of major banks and Wall Street firms.
...what you’re getting in Fixers is a spellbinding analysis of the actual dirty deals that toppled Wall Street in 2008 with a new twist – a fictitious character who says he laundered $75 million into the Democratic presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton’s primary challenger in 2007 in exchange for three names on an index card. Those three names had to become the “hope and change” President’s chief economic advisor, Treasury Secretary, and head of the criminal division of the Justice Department. These three key posts were to keep piles of bailout money flowing to Wall Street while simultaneously making sure no Wall Street executives were prosecuted for the crimes that brought on the crash.
Unfortunately, Martens falls for the latest election scam by declaring that in this year's election we have a real choice in Sanders! Sanders, of course, is being used by the capitalist's Democratic party to bring in hopey-changey young people many of whom will end up voting for Hillary. 

Martens doesn't see that it was all arranged for Hillary to be elected. Our masters know how to manipulate the identity politics of Americans (class politics is taboo). Haven't many of Hillary's supporters said, "wouldn't it be wonderful to have a woman as president?!" Sanders is "unelectable" according to mainstream pundits, and then there's the ogre Donald Trump to scare most into voting for Hillary. Who said history doesn't repeat itself? If the political scam worked before, why shouldn't it work again? 

Organizations condemn Eco Oro Minerals’ warning that it could sue Colombia over efforts to protect water sources

Click here to access article from ISDS Platform.

Actually the article indicates that the Canadian mining corporation has plans to sue the nation because the country has taken actions to protect their water supply, and the actions will interfere with the corporation's profits under another "free trade" agreement with the same clause as the "investor-state dispute settlement" (ISDS) found in all these neoliberal agreements.
Civil society organizations condemn Eco Oro Minerals’ announcement that it will initiate international arbitration against the Colombian state. Eco Oro has stated its intention to sue Colombia under the investment chapter of the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement over measures that the Andean state has taken to protect the Santurbán páramo and páramos around the country from harmful activities such as large-scale mining.

Eco Oro Minerals’ Angostura proposed gold mine in Santurbán has financial backing from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.

Why we don’t bother to debate with climate science deniers, illustrated

Click here to access article from Climate & Capitalism.

Actually I think that the debate on climate destabilization is largely over since Hurricane Sandy occurred right over the capitalist decision-making centers of the east coast. This disastrous storm could not have hit a better place in terms of influencing the debate. Now our masters who are (literally) addicted to the wealth and power "highs" delivered by capitalism, the root cause of environmental degradation, are using their media to censor out any relationship between climate disasters that are becoming increasingly evident and global warming; and when they do mention the latter, they emphasize fantasies about technology solving the problem.
If people are just confused about climate, they can be reasoned with. The facts are convincing, to anyone who is willing to see. But nothing convinces hard core science deniers, as this 2009 episode from Wiley Miller‘s comic strip Non Sequitur illustrates.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Crude Awakening

Click here to access article from Public Good Project.
Now that the U.S. crude oil export ban has been lifted, and ‘bomb trains’ are already rolling into the four Pacific Northwest refineries, the three-year-old conflict between Indian tribes and fossil fuel exporters opens up vast opportunities for Anti-Indian Movement organizing, with some really deep pockets behind it. By comparison, White Power on the Salish Sea — promoted by coal exporters — could seem like a mere warm-up for organizations like Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), “the Ku Klux Klan of Indian country”.
Because I've focusing most of my attention on the many imperial adventures of the neoliberal Empire abroad, I seem to have neglected their activities to exploit opportunities for profit and power in my local area. I was jarred into awakening by a scientist who under contract is working for tribal organizations to defend their fish stock which, like everything else in nature, is under attack by the addicts of profit and power. When I encountered him on some other matter, he was exhibiting signs of extreme frustration over a non-profit, Wild Fish Conservancy, that was launching some kind of legal suit against him, and if he loses will cost the local tribes dearly. What appeared to be driving him crazy was the irrationality of this non-profit's case against fish hatcheries. 

After leaving him I was puzzled by his behavior and decided to do a little online sleuthing. I have subsequently become convinced that he is up against powerful economic interests that are using various non-profit front groups (see this, this, and this) to attack tribal legal rights which are standing in the way of a coal terminal that these interests want to be built to ship coal to China. These sources reveal the powerful interests behind the coal terminal: Goldman-Sachs, and BNSF Railway which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and owned in substantial part by one of America's richest (Warren Buffet) billionaires. 

It suddenly struck me that this is precisely how powerful capitalist actors use NGOs (non-profits in foreign countries) abroad to destabilize various countries (think Ukraine) in the various "color revolutions". It appears to me that these non-profit organizations are being used in a similar fashion domestically (in my backyard!) by these corporate addicts to secure their drugs of profit and power. 

Chomsky: Mainstream Media Owned By Those Who Would Destroy Civilization With War

Click here to access article by Kit O'Connell from Mint Press News.
Chomsky responded that activists must always remember who controls the media, and what their motivations are for controlling the news. “They are based on existing institutions of power and domination within our societies, and that affects the way what they chose to discuss at all — some things they don’t discuss — and the ways in which they do it,” he said.

The True Cost of Cheap Meat

Click here to access a book review by Martin Empson posted on Climate & Capitalism

Empson introduces his review of a new book entitled Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat by Philip Lymbery with Isabel Oakeshott with the following statement:
It is impossible to read Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat without coming to the conclusion that the world’s food and agriculture system is screwed. This is a system that produces enormous quantities of food, yet sees up to a third of that wasted. It’s a highly technological system requiring enormous quantities of oil, pesticides and chemicals to produce vast quantities of food; yet it’s a system that fails to feed the hungry.
Further on Empson reaches the following observation based on the book's examination:
Ultimately people go hungry because the agricultural system is driven by profit and there isn’t any profit in feeding the poor.

Algal Toxins Found in Alaskan Marine Mammals

Click here to access article by Neha Jain from GotScience

The author reports on a recent study that found that rising temperatures across the globe is contributing to the growth of toxic algae causing harmful effects to ocean mammals in northern regions.
Harmful algal blooms produce toxins that can be deadly to marine mammals. In the US, such toxins—unheard of 20 years ago—have caused almost half of all unusual marine mammal deaths in the last two decades, particularly among California sea lions. Now, for the first time scientists have discovered algal toxins farther north in Alaskan marine mammals; the mammals’ health can be jeopardized by these toxins.

“What really surprised us was finding these toxins so widespread in Alaska, far north of where they have been previously documented in marine mammals,” said Kathi Lefebvre, a scientist at NOAA Fisheries and lead researcher of the study.

Algal blooms occur when some species of phytoplankton grow rapidly while conditions are favorable. They are a common phenomenon in tropical and temperate regions.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Feeding The Bank Balance Or Feeding The World: GMOs, Development And The Politics Of Unhappiness

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from East by Northwest (Britain).
Modern state-corporate capitalism is stripping the environment bare through unsustainable levels of consumption. It is legitimised by a deceitful ideology that attempts to justify and sell a system which by its very nature is designed to benefit a minority at the expense of the majority.

This model thrives on the exploitation of peoples and the environment by powerful transnational corporations. Look no further to see how intellectual property rights and agricultural subsidies and the WTO serves the interests of these corporations, for instance, or the roles that 'free trade' agreements,'structural adjustment' and the undermining of non-compliant governments play. Moreover, economic neoliberalism strides the world hand in glove with militarism. The outcome is a programme of endless destabilisations, conflicts and wars over finite resources to enrich elite interests. 
Todhunter has returned to Britain after living a number of years in India where he witnessed the destructive practices of agribusiness, their use of GM seeds together with pesticides, and the transfer of land ownership from small farmers to large corporations who grow crops for export. He explains how all the destructive effects are tied to these powerful capitalist corporations.

Terminal Condition: Neoliberal Globalization

Click here to access article by Maximilian Forte from Zero Anthropology.

In this second of a series of three this Canadian anthropology professor offers his views on the American elections. In this piece he makes some cogent remarks about capitalist myths which clash with contemporary economic conditions. He argues that the American electorate are becoming aware of these contradictions and expressing them in the primary elections held so far, and he provides factual evidence to suggest that many people are discouraged with both parties. The most significant is that the recent primary elections show a dramatic decline of people registered in the Democratic Party, and many of these are gravitating to Bernie Sanders, while mainline Republicans are choosing Trump, a non-neoliberal candidate, over all the neoliberal Republican candidates. All of this supports his thesis that neoliberalism is coming to an end, but not by leftists, but by a right-wing "populist" (as he describes Trump).

I totally disagree with his premise which supports his thesis when writes:
Voters in the US find themselves in a unique position, compared with many of the rest of us: they have a chance to effectively vote on neoliberalism, on globalization.
This is complete nonsense as I and others have argued many times. (See this, this, and this as examples.)

Although he does not state it explicitly here (he did in his previous article), his implication is quite obvious: Trump as he previously predicted will win the presidency and that will be the end of neoliberalism! 

Forte also curiously describes Trump as a "populist" with "authoritarian solutions". Although the word "populist" is sometimes used pejoratively, it is most frequently used to denote a leader who represents real interests of a significant number of ordinary people. "Populist" was never used to describe Hitler although he demonstrated popularity. 

I think Trump is attracting a lot of people who are completely discouraged by all the other well groomed, coiffed and scripted candidates of the Republican Party. He exudes a kind of strong man or hero image who appeals mostly to all the middle and upper income folks who mostly see him as protecting them from the losses of their homes and property and from all the colored people who want to take away all their possessions.

What needs to be understood is the importance of ideology (a web of fairy tales) to any ruling class. What adults find so difficult to believe is that most ruling classes find it much more efficient (cost-effective) to lie about what they are doing simply because what they really do is so illegitimate in terms of any kind of social justice. Capitalist ruling classes have developed an extremely elaborate complex of institutions (which they closely supervise) which they use to inculcate in their subjects mythical beliefs that justify why there are a relatively few rich people and so many poor, and why the poor should work so hard, why the latter should not only obey the rich but esteem them. These myths are spread far and wide, so much so, that the masses of workers find it very difficult to believe that they are only myths spread by the ruling class to support their interests.

You might think of it this way: there are fairy tales for children and there are fairly tales for adults. Children at a certain age are told that their tales such as the tooth fairy are not true, but many similar beliefs about social and political reality are continued on into adulthood simply because such beliefs support the rule of a certain class of people, a ruling class.

This is easily seen when we review the beliefs of previous ruling classes such as existed in feudalism. Here beliefs were widely spread to justify the rule of monarchs and the aristocracy, the chief one of which was that the king ruled by divine right. Everybody believed this myth during feudalism, but no one believes that now. Frequently in the past people held a belief about a future existence in terms of heaven or hell. A relatively few people today take this fairy tale very seriously.

Yet today when adults are confronted with evidence that some of their beliefs about governance are false (for example: political institutions are controlled by the rich who exclude anyone who threatens their power) they experience deep discomfort and may lash out at the person who presents such evidence. The same is true when people are presented with evidence that threaten any of the capitalist beliefs about democracy, freedom, hard work, equality, and yes, elections; and that corporate media is full of lies. This is dramatically true when people are confronted with evidence of a "deep state", or rule by hidden actors behind the official organs of government. Over time such adult fairy tales appear to become integrated into a people's sense of their very identity. Thus any contrary evidence is psychologically very threatening. It follows as a general rule that older adults tend to be much more threatened by challenges to their beliefs than younger people.

Now let us return to the Forte's article. I think that his political analysis is flawed and confusing because he also accepts some beliefs about the US election system as reality: that citizens will determine who rules as president of the US and that people who vote in elections make this decision based on mostly rational beliefs.

It is my sense that the myths about governance in the US have been compounding over time, much like compound interest, to what we experience today: corporate news broadcasts (reinforced in entertainment and education) report mostly lies. I think what we are witnessing in the primary elections results are indications of confusion. People are beginning to sense that many these beliefs do not correspond with their daily experience. People voting for Trump are looking for a strong leader to save them. People voting for Sanders believe all of his social program rhetoric and that he can implement these programs if voted into office. People voting for Hillary Clinton are the majority who are mostly afraid of Trump and don't believe Sanders can win because corporate media keeps telling them that. Meanwhile it is much more realistic to believe, based on evidence, that the ruling class is managing the campaigns and election coverage to insure that Hillary Clinton becomes president. It's all like an incredible circus or puppet show if viewed by someone who is not devoted to mainstream media and their fairy tales.

To the ruling elite, elections are a barometer of how credible their propaganda machinery is. They are a bit worried about Trump's popularity because Trump will likely not follow orders issued by the "deep state", particularly with regard to foreign wars and neoliberal adventures, very well. They might have to assassinate him if he is elected, and assassinations are always messy affairs. But as I see it, they don't need to worry, and I don't think that they are very worried. From now until election time their corporate media will undermine most of the support that Trump is receiving. People will end up voting for Hillary, the ruling directorate's chosen candidate. What really worries the directorate is the diminishing support among ordinary people for their neoliberal agenda. But this setback by no stretch of the imagination means the end of neoliberalism as Forte suggests. They might have to revamp their propaganda, but in the end they always have their police state infrastructure to deal with widespread dissidence and resistance. 

I am thoroughly convinced that the ruling class are addicted to power and wealth and nothing will stop them from pursuing their agendas except an organized revolution by the people. Realistically this seems like a most unlikely prospect. But what's the alternative?  

Mind-blowing February 2016 temperature spike a "climate emergency" says scientist, as extreme events hit Vietnam, Fiji and Zimbabwe

Click here to access article by David Spratt from Climate Code Red (Australia).

Where do you start when climate data comes out that scientists simply call "jaw dropping", 'alarming" and "true shocker" and "quite stunning ... it's completely unprecedented"?

The jaw dropper is the global average temperature for February 2016, released on 11 March by the US government agency NASA.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Syria: Another Pipeline War

Click here to access article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. from EcoWatch

In this essay John Kennedy's nephew provides a very long and accurate history of US interventions and subversive actions to secure the fossil fuel wealth of the Mid-East, but tends to explain the more recent actions as misguided blunders and casts blame on a few neocons who have imperialist motives.