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, December 30, 2017

Recommended articles for 12/30/2017

I learned about this report by way of an article from a Kuwaiti independent journalist posted on his website. I'm not sure one can draw all the implications he does from this TASS announcement, but it is very much worth our attention.
She takes a gander (def.) at the huge run-up of corporate debts, tax cuts for the rich, and continuing low-interest money available to corporations, and reaches the following conclusion:
What does that mean? Financially speaking, 2018 will be a precarious year of more bubbles inflated by cheap money, followed by a leakage that will begin with the bond or debt markets. The GOP tax cuts won’t technically kick in monetarily for corporations until after the year is over in 2019, but the anticipation of extra funds will fuel more buybacks. This will help to provide cover for any rate hikes the Fed implements, because it provides corporations the ability to boost their own share prices further.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and other smaller regulatory authorities in Washington will push for greater deregulation of the financial systems and banking industry on any level possible. If there is another financial crisis in 2018 or later, it will be worse than the last one because the system remains fundamentally unreformed, banks remain too big to fail and the Fed and other central banks continue to control the flow of funds to these banks (and through to the markets) by maintaining a cheap cost of funds.
I agree totally with his analysis of the Venezuelan political scene. I observed first hand the bureaucratic resistance to any leftward course of the Bolivarian Revolution that I drew attention to in previous posts. See here and here.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Recommended article for 12/28/2017

  • China plans to break petrodollar stranglehold by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times. (Because I am very busy today taking care of personal problems, this is the only article I could find at this time. I may post additional articles later if I have the time.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Holberg Debate 2017: "Propaganda, Facts and Fake News" with J. Assange, J. Pilger & J. Heawood

Click here to access a 2:40:40 video featuring the moderator asking each of these participants, Julian Assange, Jonathan Heawood, and John Pilger, a series of questions. (I am updating this post as I listen to this video. Please skip the second speaker. My reaction was that he is a fake speaker and a fake human. I'm looking forward to Pilger because I know he is so very human. 1:49 PM: Yes, Pilger was wonderful as he reviewed the record of Western journalism during the past 60 years. The record was one of fake or omitted news we have received--or not--up until the present, and most of it related to major war crimes. Updated again at 2:32 PM Seattle time after listening to all of it.)
At the 2017 Holberg Debate, Julian Assange, John Pilger and Jonathan Heawood discussed the presence of propaganda in news and social media, and its democratic implications.
The event took place at the University of Bergen, Norway, on December 2nd, 2017.
What really piqued (def.#3) my interest listening to Assange was when the moderator got on the topic of artificial intelligence (at 45:40m) in the context of the information war (the crafting of news and information to get people to believe and do things that would promote capitalist ruling class interests, and likewise, not believe and do things that might interfere with ruling class interests). At this point Julian Assange made this rather startling statement in reference to artificial intelligence: "...it's overwhelmingly the biggest threat to humanity as much as...a much bigger threat than climate change." His following remarks elaborated on this statement which I found most interesting and insightful.

Here are the brief show notes:
About 00:11:00 Julian Assange; About 00:56:00 Questions for Julian Assange; About 01:19:00 Jonathan Heawood; About 01:43:00 John Pilger; About 02:17:11 Las Q&A Session.
I rarely post videos or article of this length; but because this topic is so important, I decided to post it. I recommend listen to Assange's response to a question posed by the moderator at 45:40m regarding artificial intelligence, skip the second speaker, and listen to Pilger's entire address.
About the speakers:

Julian Assange joins the panel via videolink. Assange is an award-winning journalist and the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. He is also a programmer, cryptographer, author and activist. Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks has published millions of leaked documents and several videos. This includes logs that relate to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the controversial “Collateral Murder” video from Iraq, U.S. diplomatic cables, and election campaign related e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta.

Jonathan Heawood is the CEO and founder of IMPRESS, the only press regulator to be recognised as independent and effective under the Royal Charter in the United Kingdom. He has previously worked as a journalist and human rights campaigner, and he is a former director of English PEN. Heawood has written on free speech and regulation for various publications, including The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction, Critical Quarterly, Journal of Media Law, Ethical Space and Communications Law.

John Pilger is an Australian journalist, author and documentary film-maker. Pilger has covered military, political and cultural conflicts around the world for more than five decades, and his criticism of American, Australian and British foreign policy is strongly reflected his documentaries and writings. He worked at the Daily Mirror from 1963 to 1986 and wrote a regular column for the New Statesman magazine from 1991 to 2014. Pilger has won numerous awards as a journalist and film-maker, and he is one of only two people to win British journalism’s highest award twice.

The Holberg Debate 2017 is a collaboration between the Holberg Prize, the Fritt Ord Foundation and Norwegian PEN (Western Norway).

Who armed ISIS? A three year study provides some answers (updated commentary)

Click here to access article from Islamic Societies Review. (I have added additional content to my commentary at 10:54 PM Seattle time.)
Supplies of materiel, including advanced light weapons systems the U.S. military, from foreign parties — notably the United States and Saudi Arabia, ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters.
You may be tired of finding evidence of the US-led Empire's and their allied governments' support of ISIS in Syria in order to overthrow the government of Syria and replace it with a government that is acceptable to the Empire's ruling capitalist class. I have (including this article) 37 links to articles offering such evidence. Meanwhile, most Americans continue to believe the propaganda crafted (def.#5) in the ruling class's media corporations that omits or denies this well documented fact. What most Americans are not aware of is that the purpose of media corporations is not to inform them, but to manage their thoughts in support of ruling class interests. 

What you need to know is that this fact is a prime characteristic of the new version of fascism 2.0. In contrast to the earlier German, Italian, and Japanese versions, this updated version doesn't care that you and a relatively small number of people like you know what is really going on in the world. They just need a certain (unknown) percentage of brainwashed people to maintain capitalist rule. With this arrangement they avoid the troublesome task of brutalizing people into acceptance of their rule. However, this arrangement depends on the level of security that their fascist rule enjoys. If I and other observers are correct, we can expect the decline of the power of the US Empire and the ascendance of other nations led by Russia and China. With this decline we can expect that our masters will increasingly go after people like you and me. Should we just wait for this to happen or should we take action now to prevent this from happening? And if we want to take action now, what should we do? 

These are the crucial questions facing us. I don't have the answers--nobody or no one person does, but we might put our heads together and come up with some good answers.  

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

‘Forces deep within US deep state’ are behind Trump’s national security strategy: Scholar

Click here to access video and transcript featuring Dennis Etler, "a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California" posted on PressTV (Iran). (I again thank Christopher in northwest Oregon for alerting me to this excellent post.)

The video post includes extensive quotes which are essentially a transcript of his talk starting with the section "What is the deep state?". Etler accurately describes the capitalist Deep State that is behind the curtain and in control of their puppets regardless of actors and administrations. The two political parties in the US represent a "heads I win and tails you lose" that is offered by the Deep State to ordinary Americans in their "democratic" elections.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Recommended articles for 12/24/2017

  • Western Media Consumed by Myanmar Monster of Own Creation by Tony Cartalucci
    Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi pledge to work together for Burma
    from Land Destroyer Report. The author knows southeast Asia very well because he resides mostly in Thailand (the last I heard), and he has followed political events in that area very closely. It was several years ago under the Obama administration of the world's "indispensable nation" that a "pivot to Asia" was announced. This, of course, meant that the US ruling class was going to put more efforts into containing and curtailing China's influence in the area. Soon there appeared articles in corporate media that looked favorably on certain events there, particularly in relation to the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar (Burma). Well, it turns out that the attempt to use this character as a useful puppet in their anti-China program backfired. (On the left is another photo from this earlier period when the US ruling class was attempting to recruit her for this project.)