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, May 28, 2016

Silencing America as it prepares for war

Click here to access article by John Pilger from his website.

I am posting this article only because of its shortcomings that I think should be addressed.

Pilger continues his practice of condemning nearly every official leader of the Empire, corporate media for their warmongering, and the pervasive nationalist propaganda that seems to exist everywhere in the US. However he fails, or refuses, to look deeper at the forces that drive people to promote the interests of the ruling capitalist class. Such superficial and cynical critiques, I think, serves not to enlarge people's understanding of the real world to that they can take effective actions to change things, but instead drives them into cynicism and despair.

Pilger offers critiques that are more scathing than most, but unfortunately he is much too typical of the many that one can find on the web. I often wonder about this. Are these people really that shallow or do they limit their analysis because they are afraid of going after the real puppet masters who pull all the important strings of the Empire, and their system which they so vigorously protect? If this is so, then they differ only in degree from the people they attack. 

Bear with me here because I don't like criticizing people like Pilger. But, it seems to me the difference is that many critics like Pilger refuse to go deeper because they fear doing so might bring repercussions to the modest perks they enjoy, while those who allow themselves to be used as puppets do so for all the abundant material rewards they will come their way. To be a real revolutionary requires one to live fearlessly, but that is asking a lot of people who have families, some security and comforts. 

We are all faced at times to deal with threats and rewards from powerful agents of capital, and even the best of us make compromises. I have, and I refuse to any longer, but that may be because I am an old man who has lived a full life. Now the threats to humans are of such an enormous scale that if most of us continue to do this, we as humans will surely perish from the Earth.   

Anyway, if you have read his commentaries before, I think you can pass on this one. 

Ticking Closer to Nuclear Midnight

Click here to access article by Jonathan Marshall from ConsortiumNews.

The provides a history of numerous incidents that could have easily triggered a nuclear war conflagration. Most of this history was under-reported at the time, and only now have I learned of many of them. I did experience a terrifying 24 hour period around the Cuban incident. The odds of this happening are increasing daily especially with the aggressive acts of Empire directors against Russia and China.

My only criticism is that the author, like many Empire journalists and commentators, sticks to the conventional and approved script by portraying Obama as the real head of the Empire, instead of his real function--chief of public relations for the naive citizens of the US.

Planetary Crisis: We are not all in this together

Click here to access article by Ian Angus from Climate & Capitalism
Climate change and extreme weather events are not devastating a random selection of human beings from all walks of life. There are no billionaires among the dead, no corporate executives living in shelters, no stockbrokers watching their children die of malnutrition.

Dear Capitalism...

Click here if you wish to access this and a related essay by economist David Ruccio directly from Occasional Links & Commentary.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Feel the Hate

Click here to access article by Paul Street from CounterPunch.

Street takes us on a long tour of recent practices of the Democratic Party in support of the capitalist class, which sponsors them, while its candidates talk populist talk to the masses of ordinary people. During this tour he cites the Clinton's and the Democratic Party's contempt for the people they are duping. In the end he finally acknowledges that voting in capitalist elections doesn't matter anyway. 
But don’t forget the hate – the sheer unmitigated contempt that elite corporate Democrats from the Clintons on down feel for progressives in the ranks of “their” party, and indeed for anyone who challenges their superior wisdom and right to rule. As Ron Fournier noted in The Atlantic last February, “there has always been a [dark] side of the Clintons. They can’t fathom why anybody would challenge their motives, doubt their veracity, or criticize their policies. The Clintons’ self-conceptions are yoked to their sense of public service and joint commitment to making lives better—and they believe their ends justify their means…If you’re not for them, you’re not just an opponent—you’re beneath contempt.”
Still for people who still take American elections seriously, this article is an excellent antidote to treat that disease. The only real solution is revolution.

For others who are already aware of the fake democracy that our masters practice will be more interested in an article by Gilbert Mercier entitled "Donald Trump: Caligula of the Lowest Common Denominator Empire?" in which he launches a scathing and cynical attack on the fake democracy that sustains American capitalist rule in the center of their Empire.
The Orwellian empire is a global parasite feeding on its own people through disaster capitalism. It has no soul, no conscience just a vague reptilian intelligence designed for its elite short term survival. For billions, it has been death on an installment plan decades in the making. Unlike Rome, it is diffused with no specifics centers but a few thousands heads and countless tentacles. This is the nature of the beast. Its primary function is to concentrate the essential of wealth and resources the planet has to offer in the hand of a rarefied elite in power.

Used & Betrayed – 100 Years of US Troops as Lab Rats

Click here to access this brief introduction to the following 30:52m video exposé by Abby Martin posted on Media Roots of one of the worst types of the abuse of soldiers by our ruling masters. This might balance the unbalanced reports you will be subject to by corporate media in their coverage of this year's Memorial Day.

'Idiocracy' Realized: How Our Current Situation Is Worse Than the Film Predicted

Click here to access article by Paula Young Lee from AlterNet

This just may be the article to put you in a sick humor mood for the long holiday weekend. After all this could be the proper mood considering that our capitalist overlords designated Monday as Memorial Day as some sort of remembrance for all those working class soldiers they've sent to their deaths in service to them and their Empire.
The corporate overlords the movie indicted are creating a world where water is inaccessible to the poor and Trump Nation darkly looms. 
If this article doesn't succeed to put you in the mood for sick humor, "Tom Tomorrow's" cartoon might do the trick.


Free trade in rhetoric, not in practice

Click here to access article by Martin Khor from The Star (Malaysia).

This article touches on a subject that has always puzzled me: the contradiction between the rhetoric of "free trade" and the actual practice of "free trade"; and even more so, the fact that this is rarely acknowledged in Western media, both alternative and corporate media. It is a very well kept secret of Western economic imperialism.
Western countries commonly proclaim the great benefits of free trade and the evils of protectionism.

In reality, many developed countries practise double standards, insisting on free trade in areas where they are strong, whilst using protectionist measures in sectors where they are weak.

In the worst case, within the same sector they have designed rules that impose liberalisation on developing countries but allow themselves to maintain high protectionism.

Signing away sovereignty

Click here to access article by Cecilia Olivet, Jaybee Garganera, Farah Sevilla, and Joseph Purugganan from the Transnational Institute (TNI).

This article provides another illustration of corporations über alles.
The stark truth that communities across the Philippines who are facing pollution in their rivers and destruction of their lands have realised is that they are up against some of the most powerful transnational mining companies, and that an international trading system is stacked against them. This complex web of trade and investment agreements has created an architecture of impunity that has made it increasingly impossible to reject or even effectively regulate mining operations. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review of a Film by Michael Moore: “Where to Invade Next” (2016)

Click here to access article by Maximilian C. Forte from Zero Anthropology (Canada).
Michael Moore links US imperial adventurism, the state of permanent war and unending military occupations, with the devastating impacts these have generated at home. Moore is thus advancing the kind of deeper and more comprehensive concept of “blowback” which I have been advocating. He directly ties war, inflated military spending, and the dominance of corporate “defense” contractors, with not just cutbacks to social services and expenditures on health, education, and infrastructure, but also tying permanent war to the entrenchment of militarization in everyday social relations.

Spring snow a no-go?

Click here to access article from Unews at the University of Utah.
Red = Average temperatures;  Blue = Co2
Spring snowpack, relied on by ski resorts and water managers throughout the Western United States, may be more vulnerable to a warming climate in coming decades, according to a new University of Utah study.

The study, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, models the year-to-year variability in precipitation and temperature in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and other ranges in the West.
[The researchers] found that above a threshold elevation, the amount of spring snowpack is dependent more on the amount of precipitation in a year than the temperature. In other words, whether a year is wet matters more than if it’s warm. But below that threshold, temperature matters more. By the end of the century, according to the study, that threshold will move uphill by around 800 feet in the Wasatch and more in the Sierra Nevada, Cascades and parts of the Rocky Mountains. 
 Unfortunately, there is no mention of the fact that positive feedback loops are accelerating global warming.

Socialism…Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

Click here to access a book review by Ralph Graham-Leigh from CounterFire (Britain). 
This book is a well written and funny introduction to revolutionary socialism. Katch is a US humourist and activist and his wit, sincerity and passion run right through the book. He avoids use of jargon, making the book accessible to those without any prior knowledge of leftist thought, while simultaneously making it an amusing and sometimes uplifting read for those who are already familiar with his basic argument.

Insurgency, conflict, and communalism in Colombia

Click here to access this fairly lengthy interview conducted by Janet Biehl, a companion of Murray Bookchin for many years, with José Antonio Gutiérrez D., a Colombian activist teaching in Ireland.

I have followed events in Colombia sporadically for the past several decades. The country has always impressed me as being steeped in the most extreme form of class war, drug kings, terrorism, brutal paramilitary armies, assassinations of unionists, teachers, organizers, etc. And, of course as usual, the leaders of this country have always enjoyed strong support of US leaders and the US ruling capitalist class. 
The US gives money to Colombia for eradication purposes, but the government mainly uses it against insurgents, in the areas that are under FARC influence, and not in areas controlled by right-wing paramilitaries, who operate in compliance with the national army more often than not.

The point is, it’s the lower chains of production that absorb the risk; the peasants in Colombia and, the small-time street dealers in the US. They bear the brunt of the War on Drugs. The cocaine users on Wall Street are never touched. Nor are the financial advisers, the real estate dealers, all the rest who participate in the most profitable activities in this industry. It’s the peasantry that carries the burden. The narcotics mirage distorts our understanding of the basic reality of class struggle.

Judged by its own stated objectives, the War on Drugs has been a failed policy. .... It succeeds in driving drug prices up. And being a criminal operation is part of what makes the drug industry profitable. It also helps drive peasant farmers off the land, and it allows the US to meddle in Latin American affairs with absolute impunity, as some form of moral crusader.
But this article has given me hope that things are changing for the better politically, at least for the numerous small farmers.
...a new way of doing things is coming into being, although I wish it were more horizontal. But each struggle is what it is, and you have to work with what you have and try to improve every day. But there’s a lot of participation today, far more than in traditional politics. The guerrilla force [FARC] has taken a step back, and that space has been reclaimed by communities working in a more autonomous way. That is starting to happen in many parts of the country. People come to meetings. They can speak freely in the assemblies. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ellen Plays by State Department Rules — Agrees to ‘Promote’ Hillary’s ‘Agenda’ on Her Show

Click here to access article by Claire Bernish from The Free Thought Project.

This report represents a breakthrough in documenting the ongoing efforts of our ruling class masters to manipulate our opinions in order to elect their favored candidates. (Remember that the same right-wing organization known as Judicial Watch also obtained government documents last year that inadvertently provided dramatic evidence that the Empire deliberately used al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to bring down the Assad government in Syria.) This article provides another excellent illustration of how our masters use entertainment in addition to straight news media to manage our consent to their nefarious policies.

Though it isn’t surprising — given the vast majority of media in the U.S. is owned by a handful of corporations with both murky and direct ties to the government — such outlets would fawn over the chance to proffer government-approved propaganda....

What he suggests is the use of platforms Americans turn to for entertainment, as secondary news sources, be manipulated to advance whatever governmental agenda needs to be legislated.... 
I am convinced that media directors of the ruling capitalist class routinely use entertainment, especially movies, to insert propaganda messages in support of their policies and actions.

Saudi Press Just Accused US Govt of Blowing Up World Trade Centers as Pretext to Perpetual War

Click here to access article by Jay Syrmopoulos from The Free Thought Project.
In response to the U.S. Senate’s unanimous vote to allow 9/11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia in federal court, a report published in the London-based Al-Hayat daily, by Saudi legal expert Katib al-Shammari, claims that the U.S. masterminded the terror attacks as a means of creating a nebulous “enemy” in order garner public support for a global war on terror.
I never thought I would agree with any article put out by the head-chopping medieval nation of Saudi Arabia, but I thoroughly agree with the main points of this article--9/11 was a US inside job. Saudi Arabia only supplied the pseudo-terrorists to the US masterminders.

Big Nations Should Not Bully Smaller Ones: Obama in Vietnam

Click here to access article posted on TeleSur.

This grossly hypocritical remark by the shallow Obama while visiting Vietnam illustrates how inept or ignorant his handlers and speechwriters are.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday during his visit to Vietnam—a nation still suffering from a U.S. invasion that lasted 20 years—that big nations should not bully smaller ones.

Obama also spoke of the relationship between the U.S and Vietnam amid tensions with China and moves to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
This remark would be humorous if it weren't so sick.

France: savage labour law vs strikes and blockades

Click here to access article by John Mullen from CounterFire (Britain).
Through April and May, millions of workers and students have taken to the streets in over a hundred towns across the country for seven separate days of action against the hated new Labour Law proposed by the Socialist Party government. An opinion poll in early May showed that 74% of the population were opposed to it (70% saw it as “in favour of business”). Only three per cent of those asked declared themselves “completely in favour” of the law and 22% “moderately in favour”!

But the first reading of the bill was rushed through parliament by means of a special “49.3” order allowing the government to refuse any debate. The bill now has to go through the Senate and other stages, which will take weeks, and the movement against it is not about to give up.
US corporate media has almost completely censored news of this movement across France that is in protest to a new oppressive labor law that is being pushed through the French parliament. This nationwide movement started back on March 31st. From a perusal of corporate news, I found only one article in an online report in Yahoo news.

You might be also interested in another alternative report on the French protests entitled "France: Workers battling labor law occupy refineries" from Workers World

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Finance, capitalism and imperial power

Click here to access this book review by Tom Haines-Doran of The City by Tony Norfield from Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (rs21). [Some additional comments were made at 4:40 PM Seattle time.]
Want to reform finance but maintain capitalism? Then you may have a problem.
I have seen many critics of capitalism, most notably Michael Hudson, focus exclusively on the finance sector and its need for drastic reforms in order to make capitalism function smoothly. In this book Norfield examines the City of London, which is one of two major capitalist financial centers of the world, to conclude that "finance is unreformable because it is an essential feature of capitalism".

Haines-Doran in this review writes:
...all too often these arguments take on a reformist hue, suggesting that if only we could moderate the excesses of the financial sector then the type of collapse that the banking system went through in 2008, and the social disaster known as ‘austerity’ that followed, could in future be averted, leaving a nicer and crisis-free form of capitalism. Accompanying these analyses have been feeble attempts by international institutions and national governments to introduce financial regulation.

With great skill, Norfield demonstrates that the financial sector is unreformable.
This insight is precisely why Hudson is allowed so frequently to write and talk about the destructive role that finance (also insurance and real estate) is playing in today's economies. By limiting his critique to finance (I grant that he has shed much light on its corrosive influence), he is ultimately heading toward a dead-end. Hudson is leading people nowhere that threatens our ruling class's beloved system of capitalism. If his critiques did threaten their system, he would no longer have his job at the University of Missouri.  

US Seeks to Transform Vietnam into Weapon Against China

Click here if you wish to directly access this 16:40m interview conducted by Brian Becker with Eric Draitser from Stop Imperialism.

Draitser gives us an excellent overview of the geopolitical strategies our imperial masters are using against the rising power of China in order to supply their insatiable addiction to power by increasing their domination over the entire world. This sick tiny class of addicted capitalists are likely driving us all to a nuclear war conflagration and we, by not interfering, by just going along, and by just concerning ourselves with our immediate circumstance will be contributing to this nightmarish outcome. We ordinary Americans will be, if we are not already, the "good Germans" of the 21st century.
Eric Draitser...provides his analysis (May 20, 2016) of President Obama’s visit to Vietnam and decision to lift the decades-old arms embargo on the country. Draitser expalins that US strategy sees in Vietnam a potential lever to use against China, and that that perspective shapes US policy towards the country and the region. He further explains some of the geopolitical implications of the current situation, and how the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s “Asia Pivot” and other policy initiatives fit into the broader strategy.

Standing Up To Multinational Big-Ag: Nepal, Monsanto, & USAID

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

The author gives us an update on the imperial use of biotechnology by corporations and US "aid" organizations to control the countries of Nepal and India. There appears to be a recent and developing backlash to GMO's and this form of "aid".
That the backlash against Monsanto has put enough pressure on the Indian government to make decisions acting against Monsanto's interests is, however, a sign of hope. Not only must pressure continue to be placed both on Monsanto directly and those in local government approached and bought-off by Monsanto, but alternative agricultural models, markets, and infrastructure must be created by both farmers and consumers, for farmers and consumers - cutting out both middle men and foreign corporate interests seeking power and profits at the expense of the people.

Nepal's temporary reprieve from Monsanto's advances despite the vulnerability it faced after its protracted civil war, should give hope to others in nations under more favorable conditions.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Mental Disease of Late-Stage Capitalism [very inspirational]

Click here to access article by Joe Brewer from A Medium Corporation

This inspirational piece is just what we need to face the new week.
This great lie that we whisper to ourselves is how they control us. Our fear that other impoverished people (which is most of us now) will look down on us for being impoverished too. This is how we give them the power to keep humiliating us.

I say no more of this emotional racket. If I am going to be responsible for my fate in life, let it be because I chose to stand up and fight — that I helped dismantle the global architecture of wealth extraction that created this systemic corruption of our economic and political systems.

If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent

Click here to access article by Gilbert Mercier from News Junkie Post.
Short of a strong left and libertarian ticket led by Sanders, the US election outcome will be a disaster not only for US citizens but globally. Political analysts are making projections that Sanders’ voting block, which is substantial, will not go to Clinton. That is of course if Sanders as part of the fake left, do the unthinkable and endorse Hillary or even worse run on the Clinton ticket as VP.
Most of Mercier's observations about the our current primary elections campaigns differs only a little from my own, but there is one major difference. His perspective completely ignores a deep state which would never allow an individual to interfere with their imperial and neoliberal agendas. 

I think Bernie Sanders well understands this, and would never run as an independent candidate--and not because he because he doesn't believe in the principles affirmed in his political campaign. I cannot, of course, get inside his head to determine his real motivations, but I don't think he is stupid. Beside this, I think it is likely, as has been reported, that he already made a deal with the Democratic party's managers to endorse Hillary in exchange for the privilege of running as a Democratic party candidate in the primary elections.

John Stauber, in article entitled "Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning" essentially makes the same argument except that he opines that Sanders should have run as an independent candidate from the very beginning.

The most probable outcome of the elections is that Americans will be asked to make a distasteful choice between Donald Sanders and Hillary Clinton. This will leave many millions of Americans, mostly young, completely disillusioned with the capitalist election process. Who knows where this could lead?

Israel Veers Even Further Right

Click here to access article by Paul R. Pillar from ConsortiumNews
...Netanyahu is offering the Defense Ministry to former Moldovan nightclub bouncer (and resident of a West Bank settlement) Avigdor Lieberman. This will bring into the ruling coalition Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, which even within the Israeli context is usually described as “hard right.”

Bringing Lieberman into the government is indicative not only of the overall orientation of that government but also of some larger disturbing trends in Israeli attitudes that the government has fomented more than it has discouraged.
Jonathan Cook, a British author and journalist who spends a lot of time in Israel, agrees in his more recent article entitled "Religious zealots waging a quiet revolution in Israel":
In a surprise move, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week forced out his long-serving defence minister, Moshe Yaalon. As he stepped down, Mr Yaalon warned: “Extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel.”

He was referring partly to his expected successor: Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose trademark outbursts have included demands to bomb Egypt and behead disloyal Palestinian citizens.
You might also be interested in this article by an Israeli writer and peace activist Uri Avnery entitled "Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here". 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Venezuela - a last warning

Click here to access article by Jorge Martín from In Defense of Marxism

Martin's analysis of current conditions in Venezuela impress me as being the best that I have seen. The discussion of the rightward move of major countries of South America is strangely mostly absent from leftist observers and intellectuals who follow events in that continent. This article is a major exception, and I think it is exceptional in its clarity of observations and reasoning.

What his analysis demonstrates is that there are no half-way measures in seeking a just society. One either supports an egalitarian social order or one supports a class dominated order. There are no half measures like social democracy (Venezuela) or reformist capitalism as we've seen in Brazil and Argentina that can last over the long run.
What has failed in Venezuela is not “socialism” as the capitalist media likes to highlight in their propaganda campaign. It is precisely the opposite. What has clearly failed is the attempt to introduce regulations in order to make capitalism work, even if only partially, in the interest of working people. The conclusion is clear: capitalism cannot be regulated. The attempt has led to economic dislocation on a massive scale.
The deteriorating situation is leaving revolutionary Venezuelans with the ultimate choice that oppressed people have faced throughout the history of class war expressed in slogans such as "Revolution or death!", "Patria o muerte" (Cuba), and "The people united can never be defeated" (Spain, Nicaragua, and other Spanish speaking countries). Other Venezuelans must decide either to join revolutionaries or else experience the gross exploitation and social injustice they've gone through in earlier periods.

US Provokes Tensions with Russia, Venezuela and Now China

Click here to access article posted on TeleSur.
The United States continues to provoke countries they consider foes by carrying out surveillance flights that threaten the sovereignty of many countries, such as Russia and Venezuela, and most recently China, whose government on Thursday denounced two U.S. jets posing a "serious threat" to their airspace.

The mainstream media, which by default sides with the U.S. and its Western allies, always reports these incidents by highlighting Washington's explanation, which always places the blame on the countries they provoke. 
You might also be interested in an article by John Wight entitled "NATO exercises on Russian border: Are these people actually mad?"

UN Assessment: Global Destruction of Mother Earth on Fast Track

Click here to access article by Andrea Germanos from Common Dreams
With no region of the Earth untouched by the ravages of environmental destruction, the state of the world's natural resources is in a rapid downward spiral, a comprehensive assessment by the United Nations has found.

Published Thursday, Global Environmental Outlook from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) involved the expertise of more than 1,200 scientists and over 160 governments, and exposes through reports on each of the world's six regions that the rate of environmental deterioration is occurring faster than previously thought—and can only be halted with swift action.
But nothing was said in their report about the system that is driving the destruction.