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 1, 2010

Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer

from Citigroup via Bill Moyers' program from PBS (4-30-10)  (Updated)

I found an especially interesting mini-segment of Bill Moyers' final program when he, after the interview with Jim Hightower, briefly referred to this Citigroup document of 2006. In the interview it can be found at 37:13m. After some searching, I found the document on line. The conclusion at the end of the article is sufficient to get the main points:
The latest Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 from the Fed, just released, shows that the richest 20% of Americans have gotten even wealthier since the last survey was conducted in 2001, and continue to enjoy a disproportionately large share of both income (58%) and wealth (68%). We should make clear that we have no normative view on whether plutonomies are good or bad. Our analysis is based on the facts, not what the society should look like.

This lies at the heart of our plutonomy thesis: that the rich are the dominant source of income, wealth and demand in plutonomy countries such as the UK, US, Canada and Australia, countries that have an economically liberal approach to wealth creation. We believe that the actions of the rich and the proportion of rich people in an economy helps explain many of the nasty conundrums and fears that have vexed our equity clients recently, such as global imbalances or why high oil prices haven’t destroyed consumer demand. Plutonomy, we think explains these problems away, and tells us not to worry about them. If we shouldn’t worry, the risk premia on equity markets may be too high.

Secondly,we believe that the rich are going to keep getting richer in coming years, as capitalists (the rich) get an even bigger share of GDP as a result, principally, of globalization
. We expect the global pool of labor in developing economies to keep wage inflation in check, and profit margins rising–good for the wealth of capitalists, relatively bad for developed market unskilled/outsource-able labor. This bodes well for companies selling to or servicing the rich. We expect our Plutonomy basket of stocks–which has performed well relative to the S&P 500 index over the last 20 years–to continue performing well in future. [my emphasis]
As you can see, the Citigroup document starts off with a disclaimer at having any moral values with regard to the increasing disparity between the rich and poor. That is because one can only function well at the top of the capitalist world if one is a sociopath, that is, one who doesn't have any regard for the morality or ethics of the capitalist system, especially in regard to the widespread effects of social inequality and injustice that it causes.

Then you can see why the ruling classes so vigorously pursued globalization: greater profits by employing working people in 3rd world countries while firing relatively unskilled working people in the US and other Western countries. You see, dictators and ruling classes in third world countries are easy to bribe to keep wages low by preventing working people from organizing into labor unions and ignoring any environmental laws they may have. Increasingly of late, more skilled workers in the US are finding their jobs outsourced to developing countries. This, combined with the rich making the rest of us pay for their gambling debts, has resulted in devastated communities, foreclosures on homes, poor health care, cuts in public services, etc. But that doesn't bother the rich and powerful--they avoid taking any "normative" stand on these issues.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

The End of the Long Summer

from Yes! Magazine. Somehow I missed this article earlier in the month. It is a review of a book by Dianne Dumanoski entitled, "The End of the Long Summer".  Based on the review, it appears that the author (of the book) makes a good case for system change if we as a human species are going to prevent climatic and environmental catastrophe, but in the review there is never any mention of the system that needs changing. You see, in the US it is a real career killer if one, in any way, criticizes the capitalist system.

Lungs of the world are choking

from Al Jazeera. This is an eye-witness report of the dramatic environmental damage caused in Borneo by the operations of large Indonesian corporations.
The lungs of the world are suffering from serious breathing problems. It struck me again when we drove for ten hours on a dirt road on the Indonesian island of Borneo without seeing... trees. I mean real firm standing trees with leaves. The once stunning rain forest has been replaced by a scenery that mostly resembles a graveyard. Undefinable bush on both sides of the road where blackened burned remains of trees are the only evidence that this used to be a forest. Borneo-romantically described as the lungs of the world-is not the most cheerful place on this planet. 

Banks Pressured Credit Agencies, Then Blamed Them

from ProPublica. The title quite says it all, but read the article for more details.

Whistleblower: BP Risks More Massive Catastrophes in Gulf

from Truthout. 
British Petroleum (BP) has broken federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, a former contractor who worked for the oil behemoth claimed in internal emails and other documents obtained by Truthout.

Obama’s blueprint for austerity

from World Socialist Web Site. What capitalists euphemistically call "structural adjustment", which has slashed social, educational, and welfare programs in so many developing countries, is now headed for the US. These are the results of late capitalism under globalization--every country becomes a colony of the international capitalist class and available for exploitation.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility held its inaugural hearing on Tuesday, launching the process through which the Obama administration plans to introduce drastic attacks on social spending and living standards to make the working class pay for the crisis of American capitalism.

Gulf oil spill threatens economic, environmental catastrophe

from World Socialist Web Site. 
The Obama administration claims BP will be responsible for the full cost of the cleanup. However, given the enormous power exerted by big oil over Washington, this is unlikely. In the case of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, up to that point the worst environmental disaster in US history, the oil giant successfully appealed damage awards to the Supreme Court. Ultimately it was ruled liable for the derisory sum of $507 million, equivalent to a few days’ profit for Exxon. As for the clean-up costs, the company recovered a significant portion through insurance claims.

US military enforces attacks on Haitian unions Pt2 (8:18m video)

from Real News Network. This is continuation of the interview with Didier Dominique who claims that there is a deliberate US policy to weaken Haitian farming to create a pool of cheap textile labor.

Time out

The Lunatics Who Made a Religion Out of Greed and Wrecked the Economy

by Matt Taibbi from AlterNet. 
Even if he stands to make a buck at it, even your average used-car salesman won't sell some working father a car with wobbly brakes, then buy life insurance policies on that customer and his kids. But this is done almost as a matter of routine in the financial services industry, where the attitude after the inevitable pileup would be that that family was dumb for getting into the car in the first place. Caveat emptor, dude!

Revolving Door From Capitol Hill to Big Banks

from Sunlight Foundation. 
Concerned about seeing their huge profits cut, six big banks are leading the charge to weaken or block new financial regulations being considered in the United States Senate. To push their cause these banks have hired 145 former government officials–congressmen, staffers and executive branch officials–to lobby on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch.

Fix the economy, not Wall Street

by David Korten from Yes! Magazine. 

Korten has been a popular critic of corporations in the US for quite some time. However his insights and solutions to corporate control of US society has been, in my opinion, very limited and short sighted. He appears to be a classic libertarian--an advocate of reforms to the advanced financial form of capitalism that exists today. The reforms take the form of turning back the clock on capitalist development to a 19th century economy when small capitalism is seen as beautiful. 

But this is like complaining about an adult person who has turned out to be a criminal, and wishing that he could return to his childhood when he was such a cute, well-behaved little guy. This kind of thinking has infected so much of "progressive" thinking in the US and threatens to derail any real solutions to the various crises of capitalism.

Biofooled again: BBC on the impact of biofuels on Paraguay’s ecology and farmers

by Tom Philpott from Grist. The author discusses the implications of a BBC report on the production of bio-fuels.
...government-mandated biofuel programs, both in Europe and here, are distractions from the necessary task of reducing fossil energy consumption. They will inevitably cause the destruction of climate-stabilizing ecosystems like rain forests and seperate small-scale farmers from their land. Indeed, both are lready happening.

How the SEC and Congress Can Bring Down Goldman Sachs and Expose the Financial Coup

by David DeGraw from Amped Status. Unlike mainstream reporters, this insightful investigative journalist links Goldman Sachs' shenanigans to Hank Paulson, the ex-Goldman Sachs executive and former Treasury Secretary. But he doesn't hold much hope that any thorough investigation is in the offing.
So unless this is just the first of many moves on the part of the SEC, this whole case amounts to a psychological operation designed to once again quell popular outrage. These indications lead me to believe that this is a classic “limited hang-out.” As Wikipedia explains it:

    “A limited hangout is a form of deception, misdirection, or coverup often associated with intelligence agencies involving a release or ‘mea culpa’ type of confession of only part of a set of previously hidden sensitive information, that establishes credibility for the one releasing the information who by the very act of confession appears to be ‘coming clean’ and acting with integrity; but in actuality by withholding key facts is protecting a deeper crime and those who could be exposed if the whole truth came out. In effect, if an array of offenses or misdeeds is suspected, this confession admits to a lesser offense while covering up the greater ones.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

War with China? The Dangers of a Global Conflagration

by James Petras from Global Research. The subtitle, "Rising and Declining Economic Powers: The Sino-US Conflict Deepens" much more accurately describes the contents of this article. 

The author presents a very large conceptual framework that requires a good knowledge of history, especially of the capitalist period, to fully appreciate. Within this context, his framework is a kind of theory of empire development and decay. He uses historical examples to illustrate how empires have pursued different strategies when they decline and the effects of such strategies. He argues that the US, which he sees in decline, is pursuing a very self-destructive strategy of military aggression, use of client states, subversion, and propaganda to maintain its empire.

I think that it needs to be stated clearly that he is addressing modern empires driven by the dynamics of capitalism. These include those ruled over by the Soviet Union as well as Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the US, and the emerging power of China. Capitalism at its core is designed to promote the hoarding of wealth and power by a few at the expense of the many. Thus, to be conceptually clear, it is necessary to see the Soviet Union as a bureaucratic, state form of capitalism. 

Except for China, the others are modeled after the British that were led by competing capitalists. China is more like a hybrid of the Soviet type and the classic Western type in that it is a state supervised economy of capitalists. Hence, it is clear to me that we would always be plagued by wars between nations and between classes of people as long as this destructive system lasts even if the threats of climate change and resource depletion were not entering the scene.

Although I believe that his analysis offers some excellent insights that go a long way toward explaining current events and I highly recommend the article, his conclusions are weakened by the fact that environmental factors of climate change and resource depletion are missing from his analysis. Such factors will impinge powerfully upon the continued economic growth of all capitalist countries and will have catastrophic effects upon many life forms on the earth if the capitalist system is allowed to continue.

Finally, his essay is a bit marred by typographical and other errors. The one that caused me the most confusion was his inconsistent use of the abbreviation, "EIP"--established imperial powers, which morphed for a while into "EIS"--apparently referring to established imperial states, and then back to EIP.

How the Western Media Promotes a Mistaken View of the World

by Ramzy Baroud from his blog via Global Research. The author addresses the issue of the narrow and biased focus of Western news agencies which is a never ending challenge for those of us who try to understand the world we live in. He also offers a solution to this problem.

 


Media channels – especially those dispatching their news from various Western capitals - focus not simply on sensational news, but they also intentionally sensationalize news, and purposely relay the news so as to be understood within Western contexts. Thus ‘democracy’, ‘elections’, ‘government restrictions’ and ‘terrorism’ are the usual buzzwords.
                  *******************************
The western media will continue to reduce
[coverage on] non-Westerners, for they have a vested interest in doing so, and it has become habitual. A first step in overcoming this would be to empower our own local and regional media, and to create rapports amongst them.  We can only challenge the abhorrent narratives about us when we start to present our own truth and experience, and support others to do the same.

US military enforces attacks on Haitian unions--part 1 (10:99m video)

from Real News Network. Paul Jay interviews Didier Dominique who is a trade unionist and a prominent spokesperson for Batay Ouvriye. BATAY OUVRIYE  is an organization that regroups factory unions and committees, workers’ associations and militants, all struggling in Haiti for the construction of an independent, combative and democratic union movement, and to organize wage-workers, self-employed workers as well as the unemployed for the defense of their rights.

The Surprising Reason Why Americans Are So Lonely, and Why Future Prosperity Means Socializing with Your Neighbors

by Bill McKibben from Alter Net. This is an excerpt from his book, " EAARTH: Making a Life on a Tough New Plane". The author discusses the practical problems and benefits of localizing production [in a capitalist economy] mostly in relation to food. 

Updated: Facebook Further Reduces Your Control Over Personal Information

from Electronic Frontier Foundation. 
Once upon a time, Facebook could be used simply to share your interests and information with a select small community of your own choosing. As Facebook's privacy policy once promised, "No personal information that you submit to Facebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings."

How times have changed.

Israeli Bulldozers Destroy Palestinian Children’s Playground

from After Downing Street. 
Soldiers present used violent force to remove Palestinian, Israeli and international activists who attempted to prevent the destruction.

Time out

The Highlights AND Lowlights Of The Financial Crisis Hearings (VIDEO)

from Huffington Post. In case you missed some of the televised hearings, here are some choice excerpts from several Congressional hearings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Preliminary Analysis of the Officially Released ACTA Text

from Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Finally, after years of secrecy, the text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been made public. While this is a definitive victory for the countless activists who pressed for transparency, the officially released text makes it crystal clear that our worst fears about this international agreement are real: ACTA is not just about counterfeiting. ACTA targets citizens' ability to use the Internet to communicate, collaborate and create, and it poses significant concerns for citizens' privacy, freedom of expression and fair use rights.

Out of our Ego Houses, into the Collective Intelligence

from Radical Relocalization.
...we've forgotten. We forget that we know about being part of a community, a tribe, in a deep and visceral, all-the-time way. Even though it's part of who we are and even though it resides deep in our experience, it moves with us invisibly, like a ghost. It's not noticed. Yet whatever else we are, we still are that.


One farmer acts to save environment from factory farms

from Food Freedom.
The smell, even in early March, is nearly overpowering. “It’s industrial agriculture using family farms as a disguise,” Henning says. “Manure is no longer manure – it’s toxic waste.” And it needs to be treated as such, she says, not spread untreated on fields or allowed to wash into local water sources.

Seeds under siege: Iraq Order 81

from Food Freedom. 
It was on April 26, 2004 that Order 81 was passed by the Coalition Authority prohibiting Iraqi farmers from using their own seeds and forcing them to buy seeds from multinational seed corporations from the US and Europe.

Study: Fair Use Contributes Trillions to U.S. Economy

from Wired. 
A new study unveiled Tuesday sets out to examine intellectual property in a different light: How fair use — which doesn’t require permission from the copyright holder — actually benefits the economy.

Big Oil Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion

from The Huffington Post. 
The industry has launched a coordinated campaign to attack those regulations, with over 100 letters objecting to the regulations -- in a September 14, 2009 letter to MMS, BP vice president for Gulf of Mexico production, Richard Morrison, wrote that "we are not supportive of the extensive, prescriptive regulations as proposed in this rule," arguing that the voluntary programs "have been and continue to be very successful," along with a list of very specific objections to the wording of the proposed regulations.

Showdown on Wall Street and K Street

from Common Dreams. 
"This is a fight about which side are you on -- Main Street or Wall Street? Main Street is organizing, forcing the politicians to decide whether they follow the money or support the American people,"....
Guess which side the US Congress is on. Yes, you're right! However, they must give every appearance of being on the side of Main Street. Quite a challenge for them, but the media will do its job of helping out.
 

Time out - actually I think the Senators did a rather good job--for a change

The Staggering Collapse of Living Standards in the US -- 92% of Americans Unhappy with the Economy

from Alter Net.
Wide layers of the population, who have seen trillions of dollars funneled from the public treasury into the coffers of Wall Street executives while their own living standards have been assaulted, their jobs slashed, their children’s schools closed, and vital social programs such as Medicare cut by billions of dollars, have no faith in the US government to secure their most basic social needs.

Obama’s phony banking “reform”

from World Socialist Web Site.
The so-called bank “reform” is an exercise in mass deception—an attempt to placate popular hostility to the banks and provide the government with political cover while it continues to do the bidding of Wall Street.
 

Manuel Noriega - from US friend to foe

from the Guardian. The article illustrates what happens to The Empire's puppets when they don't follow orders sufficiently or exhibit too much independence. Noriega, by the way, was just extradited to France. See this. The article lists only 200 ordinary Panamanian citizens who died in the US invasion--I remember at the time many other independent sources estimated around 10,000 of Panama's poorest were listed as casualties, and many homes destroyed by bombing in the poor neighborhoods to capture Noriega. 

Are You At Risk for Vaccine Advertitus?

from Dissident Voice. The article raises some more questions about the influence of Big Pharma on public health in the US, particularly the push for more vaccinations.

I watched Frontline on PBS last night and found the coverage very biased in promoting vaccinations. At no time was the issue of the corruption of public health by profit seeking corporations ever raised. Likewise the issue of a revolving door between Big Pharma and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is never discussed. See this and this

It is no wonder that people have severe doubts about drugs and vaccinations that doctors and medical authorities are pushing. Some people see physicians as functioning more like pimps for the pharmaceutical industry than scientifically trained specialists whose primary concern is the patient's health.

Banks Bailed Out By American Taxpayers Are Paying Us Back By Shorting Our States and Cities

from Washington's Blog. 
...by letting the bailed out gamblers on Wall Street run amok, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke and the gang are increasing the odds that the states and cities of America - you know, the actual constituent parts which make up the United States - will need to be bailed out.

India deal could kill health lifeline

from Asia Times Online. The article illustrates how, once again, corporate profits trump public interests--in this case, public health particularly among the poorest.
Life-saving medicines could become too costly for the world's poor after a new trade agreement between the European Union and India comes into effect, public health activists have warned.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The number of posts today are fewer than what was possible because I have been trying to watch the televised US Senate hearings that are questioning Goldman Sachs officials on their dubious transactions which many feel contributed to the collapse of the economies of many countries.


Unlike most such hearings, these hearings are less political theater than usual. To be sure, there is some political posturing by Senators who claim to be questioning the "banksters" on behalf of all the little people who are out of work and have lost pensions, etc. But the reality is that many people in the ruling class and important members of the middle class were harmed by the actions of Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions. Hence, the questioning is unusually aggressive and hard-hitting. It is amusing to see the Goldman Sachs officials squirm under fire. 


I just ran into an article from Naked Capitalism about the hearings. Check it out.

America Is Losing Its Imperial Status, And Global Institutions Such As The IMF, G20 And BIS Are Filling The Void

from Washington's Blog. The author's otherwise excellent vision fails to distinguish between form and substance. His thesis is that the IMF may "in some ways - replace the U.S." [as the ruling imperial power] 

What I believe is happening is that the ruling class in the US Empire has to a considerable degree become globalized by absorbing capitalists from many other countries. The result is an international capitalist ruling class that is beholden to no single nation (colony). The IMF is only one organization through which it rules. There are many others. 

I still refer to it as the "US Empire" because I believe that it is still largely dominated by US based capitalists--certainly its dictates are enforced mostly by US armed forces and its origins were in the US. 

Allied Regime Change

by John Feffer from Foreign Policy in Focus. The author reports on some of the latest moves of The Empire to secure its authority over the world while appearing eco-friendly.
Hatoyama's approval ratings have plummeted during this face-off with the United States. Washington has pushed the prime minister up against the wall and, frankly, made him look weak and indecisive. The hardball strategy from Washington was clearly designed at first to change the opinion of the Japanese government. Now it seems as though Washington wants to change the Japanese government altogether. Some lawmakers in Hatoyama's government are calling on him to resign if he doesn't resolve the base issue by the end-of-May deadline.

PBS Edits Out Single Payer Proposal

from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. PBS, like NPR, functions as a gatekeeper, or filter, of ideas for the ruling class and greatly facilitates the "manufacture of consent" that is the function of all mainstream media in the US.
Silencing supporters of single-payer, or Medicare for All, is a media staple, but PBS's Frontline  found a new way to do that on the April 13 special Obama's Deal--by selectively editing an interview with a single-payer advocate and footage of single-payer protesters to make them appear to be activists for a public option instead.

Time out

Deepshit Horizon: Earth Day began with a blow-out, will it end with one?

by Darwin Bondgraham from his blog, Sung a Lot of Songs.
...Earth Day seems to have largely become an enabler of denial and self-immolating lies, undermining any ability or will to acknowledge the crises we face. The consequences beyond the deepshit horizon include a planetary die-off of all life, including humans. Beyond the deepshit horizon is a point of no return, involving climatological feedback loops that will be fueled by thawing permafrost and melting polar caps and glaciers. Somewhere out there, within the time frame of several more generations, in the economic frame of perhaps a few more business cycles, a decade or so status quo levels of coal fired energy and a billion cars, out there is mass extinction and an end to the planetary conditions that created and sustain life.

Officials Wake Up to Peak Oil, Part 2: Governments Worried about Peak Oil – But Not Enough to Tell You the Truth

by Chris Nelder from GetRealList. Another very revealing report on the denials about peak oil which are gradually giving way to realities.

Making Money Work: How Can We Reconnect Capital with Community?

from Yes! Magazine. 

I am posting this to illustrate how difficult it is for people who have been subjected to growing up in the US to conceive of any other economic/social system than capitalism. The author of this article can only imagine how the system can be modified to encourage sustainable practices. Maybe when "hell freezes over", or more likely, when the Earth boils over will people in the US be able to conceive of a sustainable system.

Another good example is an article I posted yesterday by another US environmental activist who attended the recently concluded climate change conference in Bolivia. He saw the conference as being "light on specifics for saving Mother Earth". He pooh-poohs the claim made by many in developing countries that the capitalist system is the problem. Apparently for him this claim is also "light", for he immediately dismisses it as something we can't wait for, in other words, a dispensable notion. He disapproves of developing counties that want to develop their energy resources for their benefit. Instead he sees the solution as everyone in the world planting trees and riding bicycles.

Clearly such people are unable to understand that the recent wars and subversive foreign policies pursued by US administrations are a last grab for the world's remaining resources. To understand this would be to arouse an awareness of the necessity to change a system that drives such policies. Apparently, enjoying the comforts supplied to US citizens from imperial spoils does have a dampening effect on their imagination and understanding.

This is probably a too cynical conclusion to reach. It is rarely understood by people, myself included, that the indoctrination in the informal theology of capitalism starts from the cradle and lasts to the grave of every American. It is everywhere in their lives. The belief system, while few people are aware of it, is more powerful in their lives than any formal religion. 

Hence the task of everyone, most especially those in the US, is to counter this ubiquitous brainwashing with sources of real information. This blog attempts to do that, but success can more effectively be achieved if citizens take control of the media.


Cochabamba Postscript: Lessons, Reflections, and the Road to Cancun

from Yes! Magazine. This is the most substantive article I've read regarding the recently concluded conference on climate change held in Bolivia.
This new proposal, brought together by social movements from around the world and anchored by Bolivian and South American social movements, will exist as a synthesis and a road map for both climate negotiations and the movement itself. The conference successfully wove together the strengths and experiences of many movements; at times differences emerged (which I’ll talk about more below), but overall the conference was remarkable for the level of agreement expressed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Our Suburbs Can Be Transformed Into True Communities

from Common Dreams.
...a sustainable locality can be a better place to live. Housing estates need to be replaced by small, multi-function villages. Think of the vitality of traditional European villages and small towns. Backyards can be shared rather than fenced. A neighbourhood can generate electricity, capture water and feed gardens. Sharing food surpluses is a great way to feel part of a neighbourhood and part of the earth.

From Globalization to Re-Localization

by Megan Quinn Bachman from Eco-watch. 
So instead of investing in the global economic growth system which is undermining its own ability to continue by devastating the natural environment on which we depend, we could be investing locally in the people, businesses and technologies that directly sustain us and will sustain generations to come through import-substituting businesses.

University Struggles at the End of the Edu-Deal

from Mute. 
As students around the world start to take action against national governments' university spending cuts, George Caffentzis sees a plane of struggle developing; one which acts against the crooked deal of high-cost education exchanged for life-long precarity

S 510 is hissing in the grass

from Food Freedom. 
S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010,  may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the US.  It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money. 

The Deficit and Our Children: Just the Facts

by Dean Baker from Truth Out.
This is deficit-fest week with President Obama's deficit commission scheduled to have its big public kickoff on Tuesday, followed by an all-day affair sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Institute the next day. If the deficit hawks succeed, everyone should be really really scared about the deficit by the end of the week and just dying to cut Social Security and Medicare for the sake of our grandchildren.

Google publishes figures on government requests for data

from World Socialist Web Site. The more important part of this article is the reports of increasing government access and compliance by internet and telecommunication companies to personal information of those using the internet and smart phones.

Vichy America

from Information Clearing House. This is quite a rant, but it expresses the frustration that many of us feel regarding our fellow Americans who just don't get it (sadly, that includes some of my relatives). 

Okay, so the Teabaggers have been victims of many decades of brainwashing by corporate media, educational systems designed to teach what to think instead of how to think, and the illusion of a democratic government that is bought and paid for regardless of who wins. But still I find it quite astonishing. Never have a people been so duped into serving those who are oppressing them. 

I really think the author is spot on when he states, "Then as the presidential election season is upon us the Republicans will again put up a weak challenger and maybe the teabaggers will hoist some clown as their standard bearer thus making sure that Obama is re-elected." 

I think that Obama is the perfect candidate for the machinations of the governing class. Being a black man (even though he was raised by a white grandmother who had a successful career in banking) with a gift for rhetoric, he is still seen by many (liberals and mainstream non-racists) as someone outside of the white establishment who is concerned about the interests of ordinary Americans. In other words, he is a kind of wolf in sheep's clothing. But a wolf whose appetite is mostly for gaining the approval of the "respectable" people--the white establishment. 

The Imminent Crash Of The Oil Supply

from Information Clearing House. 
The supply of the world's most essential energy source is going off a cliff.  Not in the distant future, but in a year and a half.  Production of all liquid fuels, including oil, will drop within 20 years to half what it is today.  And the difference needs to be made up with "unidentified projects," which one of the world's leading petroleum geologists says is just a "euphemism for rank shortage," and the world's foremost oil industry banker says is "faith based."

Wham-O Moves to America (4:08m video)

from Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Humor to lighten your day--it's better to laugh than to cry.

Israel’s Big and Small Apartheids

by Jonathan Cook from Dissident Voice. The author examines the unique way the Israeli government identifies its inhabitants that provides the foundation for an apartheid state.

2010 US Spending Priorities: 58% to Military

from Dissident Voice. The author does an excellent job of uncovering the real facts of government spending that is hidden from public view.

"Separate and Unequal school system in 'liberal' NYC" (4:50m video)

from Grass Roots Education Movement. The title says it all, but the details are in the video.

Unemployment for Those Who Earn $150,000 or More is Only 3%, While Unemployment for the Poor is 31%

from Washington's Blog. When the rich gamble and lose, the poor pay--this is the current form of class warfare under capitalism.

A climate of can-do

from Climate Code Red (Australia).
Climate politics has become a game of chicken, a planet-crippling procrastination driven by short-term concerns and a striving for partisan advantage.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bolivia's fight for survival can help save democracy too

by Naomi Klein from the Guardian. 
...Bolivia’s enthusiastic commitment to participatory democracy may well prove the summit’s most important contribution.

Bolivia's Evo Morales: Capitalism and Plastic No, Mother Earth and Indigenous Products, Yes

by Jan Lundberg from Culture Change. The author reports on his observations of the recent People's World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth which he attended in Bolivia. He points out some contradictions and problems with Bolivian efforts at dealing with climate change and environmental destruction. He poses this important question:
How far can the global climate justice movement get by fighting capitalism?
And then provides this answer:
There is strong logic in attacking an unfair system that corrupts governance and divides people into competing workers. The failure of the Copenhagen U.N. climate meeting in December was definitely related to corporate business interests pulling puppet strings of politicians.

But can a social movement do such things as turn around overpopulation and make collapse survivable for everyone? Most of us looking at the vulnerabilities of the dominant system and the state of the ecosystem believe not. At this conference there is no evidence of awareness of petrocollapse or collapse by any other name. There is fear of climate change and anger at capitalism and all its ills (consumerism, loss of community, ecocide). What is unsaid is that because climate change is out of control, getting rid of capitalism may be too late. Abolishing capitalism at midnight around the world would leave us with about the same climate-crisis challenge.
My response is the fundamental thesis of this blog: the functioning of the capitalist system is in direct contradiction to a sustainable planet. It might be too late to save a sustainable and livable planet for humans and other species, but there is not the slightest chance of saving it if we do not replace capitalism with a system that is sustainable. The engine that is driving this vehicle Earth off the climatic and energy cliffs is the system of capitalism. A movement which intends to work toward a viable replacement is of critical importance. Whether the Morales administration in Bolivia or Chavez' in Venezuela are capable of doing this is up for debate. In my opinion, this effort will have to be a worldwide movement to be successful. We must all, wherever we reside, do our part by contributing to this effort. I suggest that we look at the models of Inclusive Democracy and The Simpler Way for guidance.

Earth Day and the Real Inconvenient Truth

from Shareable.
This economic system is cordoned off from citizens like a celebrity. It's coddled. It shoplifts. It has bodyguards. It's addicted not to coke, but to growth. It gets drunk and crashes not cars, but entire economies. We’re excluded from the political process to the degree that we have no more chance of having a real impact than of getting lunch with Lady Gaga.

With the crowds, celebrity worship, token acts, and all the ecofabulous crap being showcased, Earth Day reproduces consumer culture faithfully in all its boring glory. And in the process does little for, if not undermines, the citizenship needed to care for each other and the earth.

Time out

For $10 Billion of "Promises" Haiti Surrenders its Sovereignty

posted at Global Research, original source at  Haïti Liberté. It appears to me that the same interests that destroyed Haiti's agriculture will now be directing the aid packages.
It was fitting that the Mar. 31 "International Donors Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti" was held in the Trusteeship Council at the United Nations headquarters in New York. At the event, Haitian President René Préval in effect turned over the keys to Haiti to a consortium of foreign banks and governments, which will decide how (to use the conference's principal slogan) to "build back better" the country devastated by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Potential Anthropogenic Tipping Elements in the Earth System

from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. This post provides an excellent graphic and explanatory outline of the areas of our planet that are experiencing severe damage and will contribute to climate change if they are not restored to health. 

Also from the same source: Copenhagen emissions targets so weak that the world is ‘in peril’