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 8, 2010
Check out an example in Greensboro, N. Carolina in this 2:34m video. And another good source here.
The crisis in Greece reinforces our determination to oppose neoliberal financial policies and to reassert people's sovereignty over their economies, in the South and in the North.
“There’s a reason why [corporations] contribute money into the political process,” said Tyson Slocum, head of the energy program at Public Citizen, a government watchdog group. “They’re giving money, not out of charity, but for the promotion of their own self interests. It’s with the explicit intention of getting something in return.”
Friday, May 7, 2010
From my own experience in the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements and beyond, I would add that these results are based on a limited time frame--the short run--and include rather benign forms of activism like writing a letter to your Congressman or voting. I do not believe that practicing such ordinary civil rights is activism. Excluding the latter, it is also true that activists have often, in the longer run, experienced severe burn-out resulting most dramatically in suicides (e.g. Phil Ochs), ruin of personal careers and financial security, FBI/police harassment, and jail time.
Serious activism should be undertaken with both eyes open and being informed. Making a difference can lead to feelings of well-being if one does, in fact, make a difference. As they say, "nothing succeeds like success". When people succeed, the effects can be an incredible psychological high unlike any that a drug can produce.
I've personally witnessed this among the people in Nicaragua when the Sandinista Revolution succeeded in the early 80s. Likewise when I visited four years later, I saw severe depression among those people when the US sponsored Contras managed to destabilize that country and turn back the changes that those people had fought and died for.
But like Mario Savio said in 1964 on the steps of Sproul Hall, UC Berkeley, "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, you can't take part. And you've got to put your body upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop."
In order to enhance the chances of success, I would argue that it is of critical importance that people proceed by being informed as best they can. That means learning from the experience of those activists that have come before. It means discussing with others the theories and practice of social change. It means organizing with others of a like mind. It means a critical review of activities undertaken. I think it means that activists should choose goals that are reasonably possible given the resources at hand and the real conditions that exist. Ideally, it means having a theory, strategy, and tactics that are well thought out, agreed upon, and revised as people gain experience.
Thousands of Iraqi mothers are being asked not to get pregnant at all.The reason for this pregnancy dissuasion stems from the fact that the West who cares so much about its own little infants, had absolutely no qualms into pouring tons of lethal chemicals as in Weapons of Mass Destruction over the people of Basra and Falluja, weapons like depleted uranium and phosphorus which caused cancer rates to soar among children and which produced the most ugly looking monsters -- genetically modified by "freedom and democracy"...
Over 250 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have hit back at global warming deniers, warning that attacks on climate science are being mainly driven not by intellectual inquiry but by special interest and dogma.***
“We urge our policy-makers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the un-restrained burning of fossil fuels,” they write (letter, open access version). “We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them.”
...the bailout of the financial system by states has temporarily stabilized the position of the banks, while guaranteeing the wealth of the financial elite. However, this has not resolved the crisis that erupted in 2008, but merely transferred it into a growing crisis over state debt.
The sovereign debt crisis and the demand that the working class pay for this debt through an unprecedented attack on living standards is creating the conditions for social revolution and renewed economic and financial collapse.
...for journalists, our task is to censor by omission and make the crime seem normal for you, the public. For it is your understanding and your awakening that are feared, above all.Also, for more on election theater in Britain, read William Bowles' take on it. (You will need to scroll down to the article)
With no appreciable difference between the three main parties, what difference does it make which one ‘wins’? And this view is reinforced by the opinion polls that tell us that very many people see no difference between the three and thus why there are so many ‘undecided’.
Bolivarian Venezuela at the Crossroads: Part I. Nationalization and Workers’ Control. Achievements and Limitations
Thursday, May 6, 2010
“A community-based system of agriculture is all about relationships,” said Meter who predicts that “over time, communities will choose organic food...because they know the farmer is taking care of the land.”
Meter believes that in general, community-based organic farms make four major contributions: good health and nutrition for the population; a fair distribution of wealth among farmers; connections between people since food is so central to American and ethnic cultures; and the capacity for farmers, not corporations, to decide what foods to produce.
The video interview with Jeffrey Smith will be re-launched on our own video network where the whole world will soon be able to hear what Jeffrey Smith had to say about GMOs that YouTube desperately wants to silence.
The people of Greece seem determined they will not pay for the orgy of corruption and double-dealing that has left their economy in tatters. Whether it was Goldman Sachs playing funny with derivatives to help the Greek government to hide its debt, or German companies rushing to buy up newly privatized industries, or the wide-spread corruption of Greek politicians, they are saying something that American workers and middle class might be thinking, and that has some people afraid: "’let the plutocracy pay’…’Why should we, the little man, pay for this crisis?’"
Paul Jay interviews Jayati Ghosh who is Professor of Economics and currently also Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She explains how prices for food have been grossly distorted since 2003 when a law was passed in the US allowing non-agricultural businesses to trade in the futures market. Based on her analysis, she predicts another imminent food price bubble.
Also, here is part 2 (8:09m video) where she further explains the operation of financial institutions playing in the "free" markets to increase their profits but result in undermining food supplies in developing countries, and she explains what needs to be done to stop this.
It follows that a more accurate slogan than the popular quote ("it's the economy, stupid!") from one of our great capitalist Presidents (Bill Clinton who sold us globalization) would be: "it's the economic system, stupid!"
For the last decade, BP has been busily engaged in a multi-million-dollar greenwashing campaign. Changing its name from British Petroleum to BP, the company adopted a new slogan, “Beyond Petroleum,” and began a “rebranding” effort to depict itself as a public-spirited, environmentally sensitive, green energy enterprise, the very model of 21st century corporate responsibility.
I've seen this movie before. In 1989, I was a fraud investigator hired to dig into the cause of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Despite Exxon's name on that boat, I found the party most to blame for the destruction was ... British Petroleum (BP).
With oil continuing to gush from the deep well, they have sprayed 160,000 gallons of chemical dispersant on the water’s surface and pumped an additional 6,000 gallons directly onto the leak, a mile beneath the surface....some environmental groups are deeply nervous.
The "Evil Guys List"? "Free Journalism" in the Service of US Foreign Policy: The Role of Reporters without Borders
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Because of the economic crisis, massive unemployment, corporate bailouts, home foreclosures, and criminal activity of Wall Street, the majority of people in the U.S. have never been as passionately anti-corporation. But the corporate owned media plus the wealthy, elite-controlled Congress reacted quickly to these intolerable circumstances and fought back.
They took the fight over public opinion to the airwaves, and massively pushed the blame for the dismal state of the U.S. economy onto those unable to defend themselves — immigrants.
BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Jim Warren, director of NC WARN, pointed to President Obama’s recent admonishment that coal mine safety regulations “are riddled with loopholes.” Warren called on Obama to apply the same standard to the NRC: “The nuclear industry has been gaming the NRC for decades because of persistent pressure to cut costs. If the Obama NRC allows this travesty to continue, the U.S. could see more catastrophes that should have been prevented.”
“We, the workers began to say, the buildings are here, the machines are here, and so are the workers. The only thing missing is the boss. Let's continue to produce, and that's what we did.”
If you have eaten a tomato this winter, chances are very good that it was picked by a person who lives in virtual slavery.
In case you missed it, this is an excellent examination of another Wall Street scam which has been exploiting students and the US government while making investors rich.
The key elements are corporate scam artists setting up private educational institutions, deceived students, collaborative accrediting agencies, government officials who look the other way--similar in many ways to the recent sub-prime mortgage scams. The end result is that students at these private schools are defaulting on these loans at a rate of 50%, and many graduates from these schools can't find employment in their fields because of poor training and lack of accreditation of their schools by professional associations. Many such students end up with several hundred thousand dollars in debt due to accrued interest.
This has been going on for a number of years. I myself, back in 1987, took a job in San Francisco teaching math to copier technicians enrolled in a private trade school. It soon became apparent to me that they were recruiting any students they could get their hands on regardless of any aptitude for this kind of work and signing them up for student loans. I was so shocked that I resigned immediately after working there only a few months.
I've noticed over the years that this issue never made it into mainstream media. It appears that only now has PBS covered the issue because of the fiscal problems that the government is having, and government moves to cut back on student funding.
The exposé was generally well done, but they failed to follow up on one key aspect of this--the purchasing of accreditation from regional educational accrediting agencies by these private educational corporations. They made only brief mention of it at 47:28m into the program.
Lawmakers crafting a sweeping farm bill in 2008 promised it would cut government payments to wealthy farmers. Two years later, little appears to have changed.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
"BP Says It’ll Pay For This Mess. Baloney." BP Liability Currently Capped at Only $75 MILLION ... Menendez Bill Would Raise Liability to $10 Billion
He found that under four different temperatures (ranging from 89 degrees F to 156 degrees F), high-fructose corn syrup degraded enough in bees to cause ulceration and dysentery; above 120 degrees F, HMF levels doubled and bee deaths multiplied dramatically as observed in colony collapse.
This woman has had a career in the financial services industry. She knows it inside and out, and she's honest, but a believer in the capitalist system. She believes that it can be reformed. Others also, like this guy.
Here she argues persuasively that some of the most powerful drivers of our economy, particularly "The Fed", function in secret, and she wants to change that. In my opinion, she does not understand that private interests have always operated in secret. She doesn't understand that the capitalist system has grown like a cancer in the body of the republic to the point that it has almost completely devoured it.
Private interests have long used a facade of democracy behind which to pull the strings of the economy--a vital segment of any society--to serve their private interests. The most powerful of these private interests are essentially a ruling class. They are called a ruling class simply because they are the people who really rule this country because they "own" most of it. This has happened because of the functioning of private property laws over time under their beloved capitalist system. Because of their power, they also determine most of what happens in our government, media, and education.
The Fed itself, behind a thin veneer of government involvement, is a consortium of private banks that issue our money supply.
Another actor in this drama that she has described is Blackrock investment company. This is a powerful and private investment company where the super-rich, who are mostly members of the ruling class, play with their investments. They are heavily invested in so-called "defense companies"--the manufacturers of killing machines in order to enforce the dictates of The Empire, over which they also rule, on to the rest of the world. Hence the US government's super aggressive foreign policy places considerable emphasis on warfare, the threat of war, and military exports to client states. Read about the Pentagon's latest game plan.
If my argument is correct, then you can understand why the Fed "thumbs its nose at the public."
A spring Gallup study found that Americans' concern over global warming peaked two years ago, and has steadily declined since.
But there's one area where doubt hasn't grown—and where, indeed, people are more and more certain that climate change is not only real, but imminent: The world of industry and commerce.
as TPMmuckraker has looked into the group, every indication is that Stop Too Big To Fail is an astroturf operation funded by corporate interests to give the appearance of grassroots opposition to reform.An update to this story is here.
...the ONLY way out of the deadly and doomed industrial sewer we’ve dug ourselves is through refashioning the intricate web of local economic and social relations that can bind a local community together. And this doesn’t require money inputs from outside. And it doesn’t require organizational help from the state and federal governments.
it requires trust and familiarity between neighbors; it requires hard work and practical knowledge; it requires the conscious practice of kindness and cooperation. Basically, it requires people realizing that these social and economic connections within the community are worth far, far more than money or possessions or anything having to do with industrial consumption. That’s it.
Our garden needs to run, so to speak, on community and ecological power – not money.
The Knox County Board has officially established a local food council that will work to strengthen and develop local food networks.
The 15-member council will become a non-profit foundation and will work with local growers to help them reach markets for their products and add value to them. County officials hope that over time growth in local food production could create hundreds of sustainable jobs.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Also, see here what the Greeks are faced with and what they are doing to fight back.
The engine of our system is capitalism; the pursuit of private profit through the market under corporate control, free of any public intrusion save for minor reforms that try to keep its most destructive tendencies from all working simultaneously and destroying society in the process. But destruction is what we face if we try to make society healthier by segregating one group or aspect of its illness from the social body without confronting the terminal social disease that escapes notice, is hidden from notice, or is forbidden from being noticed.
In the late 1990s, DuPont voluntarily adopted the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, which meant they would cut their greenhouse gas emissions to less than half of 1991 levels. This led to a net savings of $6 for every ton of carbon dioxide that DuPont shed. Natural Capitalism uses this example to say, “Look, it works.” Hawken and the Lovinses go on to point out, “America could shed $300 billion a year from its energy bills using existing technology. The Earth’s climate can thus be protected, not at a cost, but at a profit.” This is the strand of thinking that others, including Thomas Friedman, have picked up on. It sounds really good to a lot of powerful people, powerful corporations, and powerful politicians beholden to those corporations.
...what does DuPont do with the money they save? They put it right back into making more chemicals. They put it back into growing their business because that’s what you have to do in capitalism. That’s the logic of the market. You have to grow or you lose out to the competition.
The past year has seen an accelerating awareness, a growing anger and realization of the bankruptcy of capital to contend with the crisis it has spawned. How can it, when to overcome the crisis would mean its own liquidation? There is now a widespread assumption, which was much more limited five years ago, that the problem is not this corporation or that, or “industrialization,” technology, or just plain bad luck, but all-devouring capital. This is a salubrious truth, a truth that sharpens the mind and can be worked with and built upon. The human intelligence can be daunted, but it cannot be erased. As the ecological crisis grinds on irrespective of capital’s propaganda system and its massive apparatus for fixing the environment, so does capital’s legitimacy begin to fray. With this, the possibility of new thinking emerges and begins to flower. On one side, a predictable inevitability, that the system will collapse; on the other, no more than a hope, grounded however in reality, that a new form of society may emerge no longer dependent upon accumulation and its progressive breakdown of ecosystems.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
If, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu admitted, 9/11 was “very good” for Israel, a nuclear 9/11 might be even better. As the spellbinding effects of that traumatic event nine years ago have begun to wear off, and with Americans increasingly questioning the costs of a one-sided alliance, it may even be considered necessary.
Chávez has a progressive sensibility and a character far removed from that of a tyrant or demagogue. But he has around him a military and bureaucratic presence which sees itself as the vanguard of the revolutionary process. Because economic, political and bureaucratic interests are so prevalent in the government the project becomes strictly the opposite: corporative, bureaucratic and militarised. The worrying thing about Chávez is whether he is aware of this, and also how he fails to react when everybody is saying, “Throw out all these satraps in the government.”
Capitalism is the problem [my emphasis] because it “has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.”
For more than 100 years, May Day has symbolized the common struggles of workers around the globe. Why is it largely ignored in North America? The answer lies in part in American labour’s long repression of its own radical past, out of which international May Day was actually born a century ago.
Pollution near both airports dropped significantly during the first three days of the shutdown. During last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, levels of two major pollutants, NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and NOx (the generic term for oxides of nitrogen, taken together) fell virtually to zero.
These emerging signals are consistent with what we expect from our projections, giving us confidence in the science and models that underpin them. In the absence of action to mitigate climate change, we can expect much larger changes in the coming decades than have been seen so far.
The decline of the country's estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.