We have to think through how to choose a meaningful life where we’re helping one another in ways that really help the Earth.
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, February 27, 2010
The demands of nearly 7 billion humans are stretching Earth to breaking point. We know about climate change, but what about other threats? To what extent do pollution, acidifying oceans, mass extinctions, dead zones in the sea and other environmental problems really matter? We can't keep stressing these systems indefinitely, but at what point will they bite back?
There are many threads you can pull from the data that contributed to the study’s rankings, including statistics about health behaviors (alcohol and tobacco use, obesity rates), social and economic factors (education, employment, income, community safety), health care access and quality, and environmental factors, including air quality and access to healthy foods.
Big Money’s influence, along with that of many other large and wealthy corporations, dictates the type and scope of laws throughout the US and the world. My daddy used to call this the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.
In a July 7, 2008, article for The New Yorker magazine, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh quoted Robert Baer, a former CIA clandestine officer who worked in South Asia and the Middle East for nearly two decades, as saying that Jundullah was one of the militant groups in Iran benefiting from U.S. support.
Yesterday Greece was shaken by a massive 24 hour general strike. In some sectors there was a total walk out, and in industry as a whole 70% of the workers came out. This is the answer of the Greek working class to the government’s severe austerity measures. The task now is to build on this and keep up the pressure to get the whole package withdrawn.
Friday, February 26, 2010
The human brain is a big believer in equality -- and a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, has become the first to gather the images to prove it.
The mainstream press is showing interest in a taboo, however glaring subject; the inconsistencies in the Bush White House 9/11 account.
Some people see the prospect of peak oil as good news for the environment, as it might be the only threat which could prompt governments to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But it is also likely to encourage them to stimulate investments in even dirtier sources of energy: tar sands, oil shales and turning coal into synthetic petroleum.The author correctly spots major contradictions in the policies of British government officials, but fails to understand, or point out, that the ultimate contradiction informing all contradictions in capitalist societies is the capitalist system itself which demands unlimited growth.
... this study  (PDF) conducted by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington detailing information on health industry donations to the summit's participants in recent years. According to the report, over the past five years the 21 politicians at the summit have received nearly $47 million from the industry.
Ice broken off from Mertz glacier is size of Luxembourg and may decrease oxygen supply for marine life in the area
...my disappointment in government leaders in the U.S. and elsewhere is matched by my admiration for a new influential group of Americans, whom I call lifestyle leaders—for they are taking matters into their own hands, such as through building gardens, weatherizing their homes, getting rid of their cars, moving off-grid, bartering with neighbors and joining Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Transnational corporations (TNCs) now roam the world to find the cheapest and most vulnerable workers.” They’re mostly young women in poor countries like China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Haiti, and many others working up to 14 or more hours a day for sub-poverty wages under horrific conditions.
A flow of information is constantly streaming from the television set; a bombardment of words and pictures. The speed at which this information is communicated makes it easy for the signal to take control, switching the viewer's brain to stand-by as information is absorbed without analysis or question. Today the television's constant signal shapes the conclusions of the masses and produces the collective norm. The signal prescribes what is news and what is truth through the words of so-called experts and authorities, gelding the consciousness and independent thoughts of those subjected to it. Through television, the masses can be made to accept the most monstrous distortions of reality. The signal is a chill wind of continuous oppression over the minds of the masses. It controls the management of society and culture, creating uniformity across all subjects.
In combination, these two trends threaten to shake the foundation of the modern university, in much the same way that other seemingly impregnable institutions have been torn apart. In some ways, the upheaval will be a welcome one. Students will benefit enormously from radically lower prices—particularly people like Solvig who lack disposable income and need higher learning to compete in an ever-more treacherous economy. But these huge changes will also seriously threaten the ability of universities to provide all the things beyond teaching on which society depends: science, culture, the transmission of our civilization from one generation to the next.
Whether this transformation is a good or a bad thing is something of a moot point—it’s coming, and sooner than you think.
Dissidents and critics of the powers that be are often accused of being negative – tearing things down, undermining, never offering a positive alternative vision. Now, I happen to disagree with this. I believe that people who work in waste management – clearing away the garbage, the poisons, the crap – are just as important to the life and health of a community as, say, an architect who makes the community beautiful, or a teacher who educates the young, or doctors who heal the sick and so on.
As the president meets with congressional leaders today to debate health care reform, the Sunlight Foundation has come up with a very useful way of watching the event. There's live video -- and when a politician starts speaking, Sunlight shows their top campaign contributors.
Huge transnational corporations promote international trade because they control most of it – local or ‘domestic’ trade is a riot of diversity by comparison. The ‘globalization’ of local economies enabled corporations to scour the world for the cheapest labour, the lowest costs, the most compliant governments.
"For us, community and popular radio isn't an end in itself. It's part of a global plan of social change, of transformation of the society. We're going to continue to do popular education to change the mentality and behavior of people, as well as to denounce what's being done against the people today. As we move forward, we want to help people understand how to organize themselves and also how to fight the projects now underway, which are going to reinforce their poverty."
The Ben & Jerry’s story is but a small cautionary tale about the still-growing and already far-reaching field of “philanthrocapitalism.” This is the term that author Michael Edwards uses in his new book, Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World, to describe a wide range of activities. It includes Silicon Valley CEOs using “venture philanthropy” to fund new, business-minded nonprofits; stock market traders developing socially weighted investment funds; bankers extending microcredit loans to the poor; and “social entrepreneurs” aiming to simultaneously serve a “double bottom line” of positive public impact and shareholder return.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The peasant militia will be responsible for protecting poor farmers from mercenary groups organized and financed by ranchers and wealthy landowners, Chavez explained in his weekly column, “Chavez’s Lines” on Sunday. More than 300 peasant leaders and activists have been murdered since the government introduced the Law on Land and Agricultural Development in 2001 and launched a program of agrarian reform.
It's been only a month that a union for the unemployed has come into existence through an ingenious grassroots organizing campaign. In case you haven't heard about it, the union's name is "UR Union of the Unemployed" or its nickname, "UCubed," because of its unique method of organizing.
And yes, we are "fed up with Washington and convinced more than 3 to 1 that the nation is heading in the wrong direction," yet there's "confidence that there will be better times ahead, that the classic American dream endures and hasn't been extinguished. It's not even at its low ebb." Why? Because we're in denial!
The new exit plan, so it goes, involves “clearing” all regions of Taliban — US Marines call it “mowing the grass”, acknowledging that as soon as they murder one group of resisters and leave, more pop up. The “new” strategy is to bring in ready-made Afghan administrators and police to create a prosperous, peaceful society once the “enemy” have been destroyed, “winning the hearts and minds” of the locals. “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,” said chief honcho General Stanley McChrystal.
Our brains assume that we can tell truth from fiction, because they evolved in very small groups where we knew everyone extremely well, and usually could see for ourselves what was true.Such findings support a radical decentralization of our society such as is described in Inclusive Democracy, The Simpler Way, libertarian socialism, etc.
It is therefore much easier for a wolf in sheep's clothing to succeed than in a small group setting.
Indeed, sociopaths would have been discovered very quickly in a small group. But in huge societies like our's, they can rise to positions of power and influence.
[Chavez] said it was vital to combat the inefficiency and bureaucracy of the state structures inherited from previous governments that hold back and sabotage the process. “We have to finish off demolishing the old structures of the bourgeois state and create the new structures of the proletarian state.”
To help achieve this, the government has encouraged the creation of 184 communes across Venezuela. Communes are made up of a number of communal councils and other social organisations, bodies directly run and controlled by local communities.
...the funding continues, often through foundations that in effect launder oil and coal money to make it more difficult to trace to its sources. One of the more important conduits is the Washington-based Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Atlas supports financially a network of some 200 libertarian think tanks around the world, including (according to an investigation by US magazine Mother Jones) the Institute of Public Affairs and the Centre for Independent Studies in Australia.
The mainstream media creates what is known in mass psychology as the “spectrum of thinkable thought.” By constantly discussing and debating surface issues, they limit the range of debate. Having the Republican vs. Democrat paradigm leads us to never debating the underlying Economic Elite who control both of the parties, not to mention their ownership of the media platform on which this debate is taking shape. The more important underlying issues are never discussed, and therefore never enter public consciousness.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The corporate capitalist system had forced on American families a lifestyle that left them too busy and too strapped with debt-and of course, too hypnotically entranced with the proverbial "American dream", to read the signals that were becoming more ominous by the day. Besides, in the pubescent ecstasy of the earning/spending/debt party, who wants to be annoyed with downers like becoming an adult and comprehending the facts and their consequences?
Along with their usual rations of grain and prepared feed, factory-farmed hogs and chickens in the United States also dine on a steady diet of antibiotics. The animals are given the drugs, not to prevent or cure illness, but simply because low-level doses of antibiotics stimulate them to grow faster than untreated animals. This may be good for agribusiness’s bottom lines, but an increasing body of research shows that it might be very bad for public health.
Part IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat — The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States of America
Although most of the Economic Elite live and operate inside the US, they are not concerned for our future. To them, the entire world is theirs and they work intimately with other elites throughout the world against the interests of the US public. Ever since the days of Henry Ford, the Economic Elite have needed a thriving US middle class to increase growth and profits, but now, in the global economy, they view the US middle class as obsolete. They increasingly look globally for profits and they would rather pay cheap labor in countries like China and India.
It’s the unjust power of the rich to set the terms of life and death for everybody else, starting with unmentionable agonies of the poor, and ending by driving even the sacred “middle class” from their homes and jobs. The vicious circle of private property destroying human rights and the commons is becoming clearer all the time, as their system collapses and fails to deliver.
Monday, February 22, 2010
All those engaged in these vital efforts [the fight against global capitalism] will benefit greatly from the publication of The Global Fight for Climate Justice, a collection of essays, statements and declarations edited by Ian Angus. Bringing together 46 “anti-capitalist responses to global warming and environmental destruction,” this is not leisurely reading. Ideally, in fact, it should be read collectively, in discussion groups or as background reading for a series of classes or forums. Contributors include Joel Kovel (Enemy of Nature) and John Bellamy Foster (The Ecological Revolution), who have both written extensively about the ecologically destructive essence of capitalism.
Atmospheric levels of methane, the greenhouse gas which is much more powerful than carbon dioxide, have risen significantly for the last three years running, scientists will disclose today – leading to fears that a major global-warming "feedback" is beginning to kick in.
US states are imposing major cuts to Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income Americans jointly funded with the federal government. The cuts are being enacted in response to huge budget deficits in states throughout the country and a sharp increase in enrollment fuelled by the unemployment crisis.
Since November last year, the public has been bombarded with the story of stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, revealing a supposed “scandal” of scientific malpractice, stupidly and lazily named “climategate”. Further media frenzy erupted over an erroneous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change statement that 80 per cent of Himalayan glacier area would very likely be gone by 2035. Other climate-related storms in a teacup have been appearing in the corporate media almost on a daily basis. This nonsense is distracting attention from a mountain of evidence that human-induced climate change is accelerating and poses a deadly threat to civilisation.
Capitalism hasn't failed. What has failed is the economic system in place today.I find this kind of thinking totally amazing. People like this blogger have a religious-like faith in this system which puts private ownership of production, free markets, wage slavery, and profits at its very core. Capitalism promotes sociopathic and predatory behaviors which no significant amount of regulation or government oversight can curtail for very long. In advanced capitalism, the owners "own" all the significant units of the economy as well as the government.
No amount of government taxes, trade barriers, or regulation caused it to fail.
No investigative reporter, or congressional oversight committee, or regulatory watchdog, exposed the massive fraud and corruption in the financial system today. All of the safeguards put in place to protect the public, and the current system from itself, failed.
However, in spite of this naiveté, the author does provide a lot of useful information regarding the devastating social and economic effects of the system.
In the quest to find ways to divorce the well-being of their states from the financial sector, a growing number of candidates are picking up on the public bank alternative. Florida, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, Idaho and California all have candidates whose platforms contain this proposed solution to the credit crisis.
Over the past decade, "$5 billion in political contributions bought Wall Street freedom from regulation, (and) restraint." From 1998 - 2008, "Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates (the FIRE sector)" spent over $1.7 billion in political contributions and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists....Then Lendman goes on to list what the Banksters and Wallstreeters received in return for their "investments".
The founding document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Today, however, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed.
Quite a few military experts have noted that Washington's latest proposed weapon deal with Taiwan is the key part of a US strategic encirclement of China in the East Asian region, and that the missiles could soon have a footprint that extends from Japan to the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.
The Israeli government and its right-wing supporters have been waging a “McCarthyite” campaign against human-rights groups by blaming them for the barrage of international criticism that has followed Israel’s attack on Gaza a year ago, critics say.
Activists and opposition groups are stepping up pressure on the Egyptian government to stop constructing a barrier along the border with the Gaza Strip. Officials say the barrier will prevent cross-border smuggling, but critics say it will seal the fate of the people on the Gaza Strip
Israel's latest conscripts in the fight to improve the country's image have been unveiled: ordinary Israeli citizens. Armed only with a government-issued hasbara pamphlet and a winning smile, they will be sent to wage war with their detractors, in an effort to present Israel as a benign, democratic utopia whose only achilles heel is poor public relations.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Through the creation of a series of quasi-private "foundations", such as Albert Einstein Institute (AEI), National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House and later the International Center for Non-Violent Conflict (ICNC), Washington began to filter funding and strategic aid to political parties and groups abroad that promoted US agenda in nations with insubordinate governments.
What features need to be built into a community for it to be sustainable against the juggernaut of forces that would co-opt it back into in-egalitarian and exploitative economic and cultural patterns?
The El Niño weather phenomenon appears to be taking sides as it parches leftist-ruled parts of South America and brings bounty to US farmers and corporations. One of the severest droughts in decades has given Venezuela's socialist president a political nightmare as hydro-electrical power dribbles to a standstill, unleashing blackouts, rationing and protests.