We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Devil Capitalism

Click here to access article by Gary Engler from CounterPunch
Okay, here’s the proposition — you can have a good job, decent pay, lots of overtime, but only if you give me your grandchildren or maybe your great-grandchildren.

Would you make this deal with the devil?
Obviously what is referred to here is the fatal consequence of continuing with the devil's system of capitalism that scientists have been warning us about since at least 1972: climate destabilization because of extensive carbon pollution driven by capitalism's insatiable drive for profits. Unfortunately because people find it difficult to imagine any other economic system and/or don't want to incur the risks to their lifestyle to challenge the present one, they usually go for easier answers provided by the capitalist devil to satisfy their more immediate interests. So far the record seems to show that humans have in effect chosen to accept this bargain with the devil, or that most humans have believed the assurances of this devil that they don't need to worry about it because our masters have it under control.

Because it is likely that the amount carbon pollution in our environment may have already occurred in sufficient amounts to threaten the eventual extinction of humans, these human characteristics (lack of imagination, immediate gratification, and gullibility) may be regarded as fatal psychological flaws that will cause humans to disappear from the Earth.

The Lingering Danger of Google & Facebook

Click here to access article by Ulson Gunnar from New Eastern Outlook

The author provides substantial evidence to show that the US capitalist ruling class has used, and is using, not only NGOs, as many others have shown, but information technology giants such as Google and Facebook in collaboration with the Department of State in their efforts to promote regime change on behalf of the Empire's capitalist interests. This emphasis by Empire agents on the use of information for political purposes illustrates once again the importance of independent media to prevent not only the Empire's successful engineering of consent to their policies, but the liberating revolutionary goal of eliminating any type of class domination over the vast majority of humans.

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street

Click here to access article by Cory Morningstar from The Art of Annihilation.

Morningstar explains why corporations have backed McKibben's and 350.org's support for divestment of stocks that support environmentally harmful activities. (clue) It is just another deception to make us believe that capitalists are doing something constructive about the threat of climate destabilization. 
What most people are happy to dismiss is the fact that the bourgeoisie do not fund and promote what they cannot control and manipulate for their own benefit. It’s incredible how millions of dollars in funding enables those who benefit (those of privilege) to not ask the obvious questions that follow such “philanthropic gifts” (ie. investments). If any person of sound mind truly believes that Rockefeller et al. are united in financing and promoting a global divestment campaign because they simply wish for a clean world, then this author has a bridge to sell them.

Ecuador earthquake disaster relief undermined by multi-million dollar investment tribunal decision

Click here to access article by Cecilia Olivet (Transnational Institute) posted on Friends of the Earth
Today, the Ecuadorian government is required to pay $180 million to multinational oil corporation Occidental, the final payment of a total settlement of $980 million following the widely criticized decision of an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunal. Just two weeks after a major earthquake, this payment threatens to undermine Ecuador’s disaster relief efforts by financially limiting the government’s ability to rebuild severely damaged hospitals, homes and hundreds of schools.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pres. Candidate Dr. Jill Stein & Abby Martin – Symptoms of a Sick Society

Click here to access this introduction and a 23:57m video interview conducted by Abby Martin with Jill Stein, a Green Party candidate for president, posted on Media Roots.

Jill Stein explains some of the ways the ruling capitalist class has to prevent any threats to their interests by preventing progressive candidates within the Democratic Party or a third party candidate from being elected. She also explains some of the reasons how the New Deal legislation was passed in the 1930s, and how it was co-opted and tamed into something that was acceptable to the ruling class. 

Given her career as a physician, her most interesting comments were about how the expensive health care system is not helping the increasing pathology rates of most Americans. Here are some quotes that I gathered from her talk before time ran out.
We are not only literally sick in the sense of high rates of pathology and longevity, but sick in the sense of social injustive and extreme inequality. In addition humans are under threat of extinction due to climate destabilization.
[Her cure is a] green New Deal which cures the economy, cures the climate, and cures the wars for oil.
Our health care system has increasingly become coopted, profiteered, and costs have skyrocketed and peoples' health has not improved.

The Empire of Chaos Strikes Back

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Strategic Culture Foundation.

The Brazilian journalist extraordinaire frames the impeachment proceedings in Brazil as part of a larger effort by the Empire to attack the evolving BRICS and the threat they pose for Empire hegemony.
Cold War 2.0 is essentially about Russia and China – but Brazil is also a key player. Edward Snowden revealed how NSA spying was centered on Petrobras, whose proprietary technology was responsible for the largest oil discovery of the young 21st century; the pre-salt deposits. US Big Oil is excluded from its exploitation. That’s anathema; and that requires deployment of Hybrid War techniques inbuilt in Full Spectrum Dominance.

Brazilian comprador elites have been gleefully playing the game.
The Empire has been actively seeking alliances with ruling capitalist classes among all Latin American countries, and it has been largely successful to the point that many of these classes actively cooperate with Empire directors against their own citizens. In other words, the ruling classes throughout most of Latin America are much more loyal to the Empire's ruling class than they are to their own nation. This is simply because they know that the precarious foundations of their power rests largely on the support of Empire elites. Actually this is true with the Empire's relations with most of the world's ruling capitalist classes, but I think that this phenomenon is more advanced in most Latin American countries.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Organizing for radical change beyond the ballot box

Click here to access article by Ben Reynolds from ROAR
History shows that our best hope for radical social change lies not within the sphere of electoral politics, but in building popular power from below.
The only criticism I have of this article is that Reynolds omits a major building block of any revolutionary movement: propaganda efforts to counter the massive disinformation put out by capitalist institutions. This has always been a major component of any of the movements that he mentions in the article; but when these movement died, propaganda work died with them. Because this has not been pursued by any sustained, organized movement over time in the US (and elsewhere), each generation must re-learn political lessons and real working class history that previous movements and generations had already learned. 

On the other hand capitalist propaganda issues from every pore of mainstream institutional bodies with the result that people end up misinformed and confused. The capitalist ruling class knows something that revolutionaries do not seem to take seriously: if you can capture the minds of those who might rebel from their rule, these potential rebels will remain docile and even supportive of imperial policies with the additional benefit that you don't need to use so many costly coercive measures to contain dissent.

Thus the fundamental task of any viable revolutionary movement must be to build media organizations to counter capitalist propaganda. Initially such forms can emulate anti-Vietnam War activists who spread information near army bases in coffee houses and other establishments. Nowadays, similar efforts can make use of small businesses, collectively run coffee houses and restaurants near college campuses and areas where workers and the unemployed congregate. Online anti-establishment media must make greater efforts to collaborate and share resources. Future efforts can also devote energies to teaching working class history to counter the massive programs of indoctrination that children and youth are subject to in schools. 

Finally, I must add that serious revolutionaries do not pursue careers in order to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, take-on the burden of home mortgages, and raise a family. People who do this are easily co-opted into serving the system because of the ever present threat of a loss of their jobs by capitalists or capitalist overseers who control their jobs. Because revolutionaries know that capitalism is going to be the death and ruination of the working class and indeed the planet, they dedicate their lives to the overthrow of this deadly system in order to replace it with a sustainable, life-affirming system. 

The youth of today are increasingly aware that their generation may be the last that can save humans from nuclear war conflagrations and catastrophic climate destabilization. Never before in human history has a generation faced such a monumental task: to save humans from extinction.

Flashback: Top Journalist Exposes How Intelligence Agencies Control Western Media

Click here to access article by Steven MacMillan from New Eastern Outlook.

Although MacMillan mostly resurrects a 2014 report (I posted articles, see this and this.) by the German journalist Udo Ulfkotte to make his point about the infiltration of intelligence agencies in mainstream newsrooms, it must be stressed again and again.

While writing a commentary last year about China's President Xi and his visit to the Seattle area, I discovered that one of the major local TV stations in the Seattle area is owned by Tegna corporation located in McLean, VA.
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. 
Because the news coverage provided by all major network corporations reveals striking similarities, I think there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the coverage, especially regarding foreign affairs, is carefully managed by the CIA or some other intelligence propaganda agency.

Iraq – US Apocalypse in Mosul in the Guise of Bombing ISIS

Click here to access article by Felicity Arbuthnot from The Greanville Post.

I don't normally post articles of war activities based on a single source, but in this case I respect the honesty and credentials of both the reporter, Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, and Arbuthnot. Independent sources have issued many accusations against corporate media for dishonest reporting about US military campaigns against ISIS and associated armies, and this confirms that this is the case around the major Iraqi city of Mosul. 

This morning I also read two other reports on Aleppo, a major city under severe attack in northwestern Syria: the first from In Gaza entitled "Western Media Break Their Silence on Aleppo With Flagrant Lies, Omissions, Obfuscations" , and another from Reuters entitled "Air strikes on Aleppo hospital kill doctors and children" in which the overwhelming emphasis was on casualties inflicted by some mysterious air force. The contrast between the two articles regarding the same subject was startling. Only brief mention in the Reuter's article was made of ground weapons used. Also in the latter report the nation supplying the air bombardment was, for some strange reason, not clearly identified, but there were allusions made that either Syria or Russia was responsible.
A Syrian military source said government planes had not been in areas where air raids were reported. Syria's army denied reports that the Syrian air force targeted the hospital.

The Russian defense ministry, whose air strikes have swung the war in favor of President Bashar al-Assad, also denied its planes were responsible.  

How NATO-linked Think Tanks Control EU Refugee Policy

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

It appears to me that Angela Merkel is like US presidents who are mere puppets for the deep state that lies behind the official government.
A flood of uncontrolled war refugees from Syria, Libya, Tunisia and other Islamic countries destabilized by Washington’s ‘Arab Spring’ Color Revolutions, has created the greatest social dislocation across the EU from Germany to Sweden to Croatia since the end of World War II. By now it has become clear to most that something quite sinister is afoot, something which threatens to destroy the social fabric of the very core of European civilization. What few realize is that the entire drama is being orchestrated, not by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or by faceless EU bureaucrats of the Brussels EU Commission. It is being orchestrated by a cabal of NATO-linked think tanks.

Climate scientists are now grading climate journalism

Click here to access article by a "guest author" from Skeptical Science

This is excellent news. See how scientists reviewed a recent Wall Street report entitled "An Overheated Climate Alarm" by reading the report first and then the scientists review of it in Climate Feedback. Still, the Wall Street's report will be read by many millions compared to a few hundred that will read the critical reviews by scientists in Climate Feedback.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff: Not a Coup but Payback for Systemic Corruption

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

These authors provide a very different view from other alternative observers such as Pepe Escobar on the current efforts in Brazil to remove Rousseff and the Workers' Party from power.
After 14 years of Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, or Workers’ Party), the Brazilian public has grown profoundly disappointed with a government that has failed, not only to keep its promise to clean up Brazil’s systemic corruption but also to avoid becoming tainted by this corruption. Inequality, social injustice, and racism are practically unchanged. Although Rousseff was elected with the expectation that the criminals of Brazil’s military dictatorship would be brought to justice, she promoted what she called a “national reconciliation” instead of their pursuit. Under both Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil expanded its police and military to unprecedented levels in peacetime and became an active handmaiden to US imperialism in the occupation of countries like Haiti. It took Lula and Dilma’s fake socialism to invade Haiti, not Brazil’s military dictatorship.

Ms. Rousseff’s legal troubles should rather be viewed as a sign that Brazil’s justice system is sufficiently well to take down the country’s top bankers, industrialists, and elected officials.
I am more persuaded by their arguments than that of other alternative observers who only see these efforts from the perspective of an effort of US in collaboration with a Brazilian right-wing to move the Brazilian government more to the right. It is not that I disagree with the views of the alternative observers, it is just that I believe their framing of these political events is far too limited. On the other hand, I don't entirely agree with the authors that the current political events in Brazil are only driven by the Brazilian people who are rejecting the Rousseff government.

I believe that the recent political gains by the right-wing oligarchs in Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil are the result of very compromised leftist movements in those countries. (The same applies to Bolivia and the Morales government.) Each of them has tried to move in a limited left direction by offering some redistribution of their nation's wealth with various social programs. Although such left gains have been helpful to working people, they are only barely tolerated for temporary periods by the combined US ruling class in alliance with the local oligarchs. Such governments are always vulnerable to the subversive reaction of the right-wing forces, consequently their "shelf life" is quite limited.

The alternative observers could argue that this was the only realistic possibility given the severe oppressive reaction that would be generated by the US Empire if these governments had tried to pursue a more significant path against their capitalist ruling classes. There is a lot of merit to this argument because indeed the history of Latin America is filled with numerous examples of US interference in countries that try to deviate too much in favor of working classes. But the recent histories of these countries that have tried mild reforms leads one inevitably to the conclusion that only a vigorous revolutionary effort can be ultimately successful in the complete and lasting liberation of working people.

The New Right’s Origins in the Labor Battles of the 1930s

Click here to access a 44 minute interview with UC Davis historian Kathryn Olmstead conducted by Sasha Lilley on the program Against the Grain broadcast by KPFA, a listener sponsored radio station in Berkeley, California. The interview begins at 6:30m after a news report.
What are the origins of modern conservatism?  The failed Goldwater campaign?  Or the Cold War era discontent of midwestern small capitalists?  Historian Kathryn Olmstead argues that it should be located even earlier, in the intense and massive labor unrest that took place in the fields of California in the 1930s.  The response by growers and other elites pioneered methods that have become familiar today, from deploying populist rhetoric in the interests of big business to funding ostensibly grassroots organizations.
Unless a student can get access to honest historians like Olmstead, one must acquire accurate historical knowledge about workers from sources like this post and books. Otherwise I advise students to use educational institutions, which are always controlled by ideological capitalists, for skills training only.

Verizon sticks it to its workers because $45 billion isn’t enough Apr 27

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder.
Does a company that racked up $45 billion in profits over the past five years really need to stick it to its employees? The answer depends on who’s asking. From any ordinary human standpoint, clearly no. From the perspective of Wall Street and corporate board rooms, the answer is always an enthusiastic yes.
A company is mandated by capitalist law to maximize profits, so Verizon is only being a good capitalist. But the real fundamental question should be: is capitalism good for society? By trying to reform capitalism to recognize workers' interests and satisfy them is very much like asking a slaveholder to stop exploiting his slaves so much. You might accomplish some relief for a while, but ultimately the the slaveholder is motivated to get as much work out of his slaves as possible. Fighting for workers' rights and rewards is a losing battle as the history of unions has clearly illustrated. That doesn't mean workers should not use unions in the present to fend of exploitation by powerful employers, but it does mean that the ultimate solution is not unions, but revolution and the establishment of a system based on equality.

The system of capitalism only benefits the tiny section of society called capitalists. Its history has clearly shown that it is not good for the vast majority of any society, and its future portends more inequality, poverty, climate destabilization, and wars.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Venezuela’s Opposition: Attacking Its Own People

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from TeleSur.

Note: This post was inspired by a reader of my blog in Oregon who made a reference to Venezuela as a socialist nation which is common among left oriented activists. But this is contrary to what I know about that country. So I proceeded to find factual information about the ownership of the economy. What I found was a plethora of articles from corporate media sources spewing pure propaganda pieces attacking Venezuela, and a few naive pieces of left sources that exhibited considerable ignorance about conditions there, and without any background knowledge of the history and culture of that country. This post by Draitser was a single exception. My commentary that follows is an elaboration of my response to her.

The politically volatile conditions in Venezuela never seem to let up, and now that the right-wing opposition is in the majority in their parliament, things are only going to get worse. Although I visited the country for two weeks in 2005 and toured many of the organizations that the Bolivarians created, and followed events there subsequently via the web, I am by no means an expert but feel that I have much more accurate information than most people. For a North American to understand what is going on there requires one to thoroughly understand the history and culture of Latin America.

First of all, I do not view Venezuela as a socialist state in spite of all the rhetoric that Chavez used. I was unable to find factual information about state owned enterprises, but they are very much a minor participant in the economy--except for their oil industry that is state owned. Chavez and supporters did nationalize companies that refused to produce or were counter-productive, but they were few. He did introduce grass-root organizations such as co-ops, media such as Telesur to counter the ubiquitous and blatant right-wing media, and re-distributed wealth through his many social programs. The Bolivarian government, although ruled by the Socialist Party, is mostly social democratic with Latin American characteristics. (People must stop being confused by political parties that use the name of "socialism", but are in fact social democratic parties. This has been common throughout Europe simply because socialist ideas were so popular with the people. Even the Nazis used socialism in their party's name: National Socialist German Workers' Party.)

The history of Latin America since the US launched into empire mode (early 1900s) is strewn with military interventions and indirect forms of domination of those nations. In the early days of the US domination, our capitalist ruling class simply sent in the Marines whenever they didn't like what was happening in those countries. (Read War is a Racket by Gen. Smedley Butler.) Nowadays whenever there is an unfriendly government that takes power, US agents use their updated strategy of chaos to destabilize the country and pave the way for US-loyal right-wingers to take power. By supporting the local capitalist elites who do much of the work of creating chaos, they have found a much cheaper way to effect regime change. Chili, after the people elected a "socialist" government, is a prime example. Another is Nicaragua in the 1980s. The US has been, and is now accelerating that strategy in Venezuela.

Yes, there is a lot of economic chaos in Venezuela, the chief being that of the very high rate of inflation. They have long had that problem, and it is my impression that it is not as bad now than under previous administrations. Also with the Saudi's decision to pump greater amounts of oil to depress prices, their state oil industry has suffered a loss of income which has impacted many of their social programs and is probably contributing to the high rate of inflation. This adverse effect on the economy was very likely the result of collusion between Empire directors and the Saudi family to wreck economic havoc on both Russia and Venezuela.
Their political culture is one of "clientelism" and this has been true of the Chavista governments as well. The state is typically seen as a prize and whichever group can capture the ruling regime fills the government posts with relatives, friends, and neighbors. Thus there have been many instances of government corruption, and this has continued, probably to a lessor extent, under the Chavez governments. 

There is also a strong overlay of racism that has reinforced a split between classes based on the private ownership of the economy. Like most all of the Latin American countries, you will find most government agencies and businesses run by light-skinned Spanish (or in Brazil, Portuguese) descendants. Most of these people also identify with the capitalist interests of the Empire and thus cooperate with the latter's destabilization efforts. Of course, opportunities for education have favored this group and consequently many of them are in the Bolivarian government.

While Chavez often referred to his program in terms of "socialism of the 21st century" and accordingly promised a political role for his grassroots organizations ("bottom-up democratic structures"), he never implemented any type of independent role for them. He mostly used them for his political support during elections.

There is a considerable amount of crime in Venezuela. Their society is wracked by open class war due both to its racist and classist history and, I think, together with US interventions has fostered this kind of sociopathy.

My overall impression is that Venezuela is now under attack by right-wing capitalist forces in alliance with US agents to spread as much chaos as possible in their nation until it is ripe for a military takeover by right-wing military figures. Meanwhile the vastly more numerous Chavista supporters are preparing to defend their social gains.

BRICS Under Attack: Western Banks, Governments Launch Full-Spectrum Assault On Russia (Part I)

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from Mint Press
The U.S.-NATO Empire, with its centers of power in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the city of London, is on the offensive against the BRICS countries. This assault takes many forms, each tailored to its specific target.

The ongoing soft coup in Brazil has recently entered a new stage with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party. Simultaneously, the destabilization of the ANC-led government in South Africa continues as political forces align to remove President Jacob Zuma. These two situations illustrate clearly the very potent forms of subversion via Western-funded political formations and movements being employed against Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the bloc of emerging economies also known as BRICS. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mind Control: It’s Happening to You Right Now

Click here to access article by Jeremy Lent from his blog Patterns of Meaning
Your mind is being controlled by distant strangers who don’t have your best interests at heart. If that sounds like a paranoid fantasy, brace yourself and read on. These are the findings of a series of scientific studies that show how a few dominant institutions have the power to affect how you feel, how you act, and even how you vote – without you ever knowing about it.

Winners and losers of the Great Recession

Click here to access article by economist David Ruccio which briefly elaborates on the meaning of the following chart. Post is from his blog Occasional Links & Commentary.

Transnational Capitalist Class

Click here to access a transcript of a speech given on April 16, in Oakland, CA, by By Peter Phillips.

Prof. of Sociology Peter Phillips

The TCC [Transnational Capitalist Class] represents the interests of several hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires who comprise the richest people in the top one percent of the world’s wealth hierarchy. Ironically, this extreme accumulation of concentrated capital at the top creates a continuing problem for the TCC, who must continually scour the world for new investment opportunities that will yield adequate returns (7-10%).

War is one use for over-accumulated capital.

Cuba and the Future: a Great Debate Has Just Begun

Click here to access article by Nelson Valdes from CounterPunch

The author captures many of the difficulties that the Cuban socialist revolution has faced, and particularly, is now facing while being an island of 10 million people existing 90 miles from the center of the capitalist Empire. Under such circumstances it is a miracle that Cuba still exists as an independent nation and one that has major socialist components in its economy. However, because of forced austerities and a relaxation of controls of money transfers from the US, they now are facing new insidious influences that may be tearing the fabric of socialism which Cubans have constructed over the past 57 years since their revolution.
The Cuban political system is beginning to go through its most significant transition as the seasoned old revolutionaries step aside in what Havana is calling a “generational change,” while the United States government is attempting to foster as much growth in the Cuban private sectors of the island. In Washington, DC it is hoped that those Cubans born after 1980 will identify the revolution with all the shortages and difficulties that ensued after the demise of the Soviet bloc (post 1991), without acknowledging the national, social and cultural achievements.

Like video games? You may be playing with government propaganda.

Click here to access article and 24:38 audio discussion posted by Matthew Gault from Reuters.
Video games are an industry worth tens of billions of dollars. Games make more money than Hollywood and the music industry combined. Video games can be great fun and even great art, but they can also be great propaganda.

Still More Primary Phenomena

Comic by Tom Tomorrow which is the pen name of editorial cartoonist Dan Perkins, posted from Daily Kos

Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Milestone: Earth Sees 11 Record Hot Months in a Row

Click here to access article by Andrea Thompson from Climate Central
The past 11 months have been the hottest such months in 135 years of recordkeeping, a streak that has itself set a record and puts in clear terms just how much the planet has warmed due to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.