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, June 19, 2010
The introduction of a new Senate bill, S.3480, dubbed the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010,” is sparking concerns about a massive power grab over the Internet under the guise of “national security.”Moreover, with a sponsor like Sen. Joe Lieberman, I think we have much to worry about.
The article discusses the favorable reception Matt Ridley received from mainstream media in the UK over recently published book, The Rational Optimist. Monbiot makes a convincing case that this is another very dramatic example of how big corporate media grossly favors those who favor unrestrained corporate rule.
This excellent illustration reminds me of the mainstream media coverage of the noted author, John Le Carré. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union he wrote numerous novels that focused on Russian and East European spy themes. Because they were "politically correct", he was given widespread publicity in mainstream media in the West.
But things radically changed after this period when Le Carré turned his attention to themes relating to Western spy agencies. Suddenly he was dropped from all coverage. One certainly cannot argue that the quality of his writing dramatically deteriorated. I think that his novels are better than ever. However, he has been relegated to obscurity in the literary world of the West. I was most startled by this fact during the course of a conversation I had with an English instructor at Oregon State University in 2000. He expressed surprise that Le Carré was still writing novels.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The world's polar regions are warming up faster than the global average, but the western edge of the Antarctic Peninsula is especially steamy. Over the past 50 years, winter temperatures have shot up by an almost unbelievable 6°C—more than five times the global average, according to a paper just published in Science.
Last week, England’s new government said it would abandon the previous government’s stimulus program and introduce the austerity measures required to pay down its estimated $1 trillion in debts. That means cutting public spending, laying off workers, reducing consumption, and increasing unemployment and bankruptcies. It also means shrinking the money supply, since virtually all “money” today originates as loans or debt. Reducing the outstanding debt will reduce the amount of money available to pay workers and buy goods, precipitating depression and further economic pain.
...the job done by offshore drilling regulators at the Minerals Management Service has been marked by fast-tracked offshore drilling plans, self-policing by industry, lax enforcement, the occasional sex and drug scandal, and loose royalty collection.
...the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is one of the government agencies in charge of regulating such claims, has signaled a greater willingness to regulate than under past administrations. As evidenced by the warning letters sent to industry. But it remains to be seen whether these letters will translate into actual regulation.Yeah, like when hell freezes over. The mega-corporations are in charge of FDA.
Why did the Obama administration just approve more than 400 new leases for oil companies to operate in the Gulf of Mexico?Simply because the profit driven system requires energy. Profit under this system always trumps every other consideration. It doesn't matter in the least which front man, demopub or repocrat, occupies the White House.
The British are upset that Obama is attacking the very own corporate criminal. The most tribal and corporate Republicans and conservatives are taking BP's side.I agree with his thesis given the laws of capitalist society. But there is something more fundamental here--it is the system itself that corrupts governments which enables corporations like BP to take huge risks in their efforts to maximize profits. It's the economic system, stupid!
This is an interesting article from a website that I have just discovered. The website is dedicated, as indicated by the title, to solutions to the general crises that we are facing today. For someone like myself who have seen these problems develop over the past fifty years, the articles seem to come from a rather naive perspective. Yet, I think that it is a sincere perspective and one that should be supported in hopes that greater understanding of the problems can be achieved, and thus more effective solutions formulated.
The theme of this particular article is summarized here:
The U.S. political economy is failing across a broad front—environmentally, socially, economically, and politically. Deep, systemic change is needed to transition to a new economy, one where the acknowledged priority is to sustain human and natural communities. Policies are available to effect this transformation and to temper economic growth and consumerism while simultaneously improving social well-being and quality of life, but a new politics involving a coalescing of progressive communities is needed to realize these policies.
I will argue there are many sound, rational, material reasons for working people to be in revolt against the state.The state, as in the US and most other countries, is controlled by the class of owners of the main sections of the economy, usually referred to as capitalists, ruling elites, governing classes, etc. This class exploits its dominant position in the state as well as in the economy to the detriment of working people--those people who actually produce wealth.
The author's list of twenty-two reasons is a very good list for working people to hate the state. But there are many problems that working people face when trying to change the state. First, the problem of identifying the real source of their problems. The governing class is very successful at obscuring any understanding of where the real causes lie through their control of all significant media. Moreover, they are adept at deflecting the anger away from them onto others. Typically this is directed toward minorities, either racial or ethnic, social-economic groups such as "welfare cheats", unwed mothers, illegal aliens, etc. Thus ordinary people often hate these targeted groups as well as the government.
The anger at the government can be directed at usually one other political party or individuals in those parties. Their carefully controlled election systems always provide the illusion of choice so that people feel that they can get rid of the bad political leaders and elect good ones. Witness the recent euphoria over the Democratic candidates that were presented as candidates in the US in the 2008 elections. One was of mixed race, but identified as African American and the other a woman. Thus both were seen as providing different kinds of leadership, and were packaged by mainstream media as offering real change.
Once again, the "wool was pulled over the eyes" of US working people and they now discover that nothing has changed. Nothing will ever change until working people take charge of their society by taking away the private ownership of the economy and putting it under the real democratic control of ordinary people. The same applies to the agencies of indoctrination--the media and educational institutions.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The author provides abundant evidence to back up her assertion that the pharmaceutical industry is influencing medical treatment of mental illness to enhance their profits. And, of course, corporate media plays along.
The WikiLeaks advised proposal to build an international "new media haven" in Iceland, with the world's strongest press and whistleblower protection laws, and a "Nobel" prize for for Freedom of Expression, has unanimously passed the Icelandic Parliament.
...we spoke with a federal official who said the four-hour safety course that BP is providing to Gulf cleanup workers lacks basic information on health risks and is too short to cover the necessary material.
Joseph Hughes, director of the worker training program at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, said the course fails to incorporate important information. Among the subjects not included are chemical inhalation, the health effects of dispersants, and the risks of direct contact with weathered crude oil.
In this article he illustrates the deceptive games that the Empire plays on its own citizens to maintain its global hegemony. But these are games that will inevitably lead to global catastrophe just like the recent oil drilling disaster that is filling up the Gulf of Mexico with oil.
With BP's oil gusher in the gulf approaching two months, public anger is approaching the boiling point. When will the oil spilling into the gulf be stopped and what remediation can be done for the ecosystem and the local economy? Those of us who aren't at ground zero have to rely on what the media is reporting -- which is turning into an outrageous scandal of its own.
The classified Pentagon video from Afghanistan is alleged to show the notorious U.S. airstrike on the village of Garani in May 2009 that killed roughly 140 civilians.
As a starter this is an excellent, sensible recommendation to making things right. I would add that criminal charges be brought against those who violated or ignored regulations governing deep-water drilling practices. But, of course, that won't happen because these people own our legal system, the legislative system, and our executive branch.
Nothing can be done to truly prevent such catastrophes from happening again until people wake up and take charge of their economies and governments by nationalizing such vital industries, and taking true democratic control of their governing institutions. Otherwise, the wealth and control addicted people will continue to rule and ruin everything.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
With so many problems in the USA, it's no easy job to single out a handful of the most important, priority issues. But the enormous pile of wasted money spent on wars and the military-industrial complex has to be right at the top. Not only is the money spent an enormous destructive waste, but there's also the question of opportunity cost; just a fraction of war money could make major improvements to health care, schools and universities, and our decaying public infrastructure.
In the post-conscription era, parents have subtler enemies to fight.Clearly this is so true. By the time children grow up, they are well primed to engage in electronic warfare without any pangs of conscience.
This article does a very good job of illustrating how corporate media protects the system that feeds it. Hence, it is clear that the system's beneficiaries know that controlling the minds of ordinary people is of great importance. This is the kind of information people need to begin to arm themselves against such propaganda and to seek independent sources of information.
An essential role of corporate journalism is to shore up public confidence in an unjust, crisis-riven financial and economic system. Although plenty of gloom and doom is permitted, especially in the face of obvious crisis, the legitimacy of the system is rarely questioned.
As weak as Financial Reform bills are in the House and Senate, that's not good enough for some. The White House and Legislators want it weaker and are working under the cover of oil disaster to make it so.
The reality is that nothing significant has been done to deal with our energy crisis because tackling it will require fundamental changes to our economy—to our transport and food systems, even to our financial institutions. Until we are willing to honestly face the fact that an "American dream" based on ever increasing rates of consumption of non-renewable resources is a dead end, and that we will have to dramatically cut back on energy usage in order to make a transition away from fossil fuel dependency, all discussion about renewable energy, efficiency standards, and energy research is fairly pointless.Heinberg, who understands so much about climate change and peak oil, apparently does not understand the dynamics of an economic system that requires growth, a system that provides huge rewards for people who lay claim to the wealth generated by the consumption of resources. Yes, my friends, that system is capitalism, and until we bring it down and construct a system that is compatible with nature, we, the ordinary people, will always lose.
Until we understand the source of our problems, nothing will change. The evidence regarding this source is overwhelming. The fact that the system continues in the face of the overwhelming evidence is testimony to the power of the system's propaganda organs to control our minds. Hence, the first battle is to take back the truth, to clear out of our minds all the system's images and thought patterns about how the world is, and how we should relate to each other. Then we can begin the task of constructing a viable system that serves us all.
The mental environment therefore is a place where elite forces cross swords in winning over hearts and minds (read impulses and impressions) and where activists can have a counter influence. People talk. Errors get through. Interpretations go wrong. New communication platforms suffer temporary democracy.
An important tool in the activist’s arsenal is to go for the jugular. Call murder murder and genocide genocide. Call it displacement, extermination, and a war crime when that is what it is and name the exploiters and murderers. Find them and name them. Expose it in the broad society and flyer it in the gated community if you can.
Once the blood on their hands starts to show they will want to escape the mess that they have created. They will be more constrained than before. Having to create appearances always caries a real price – a new standard to which the mental environment must conform... Expose expose expose and they will need to spend more resources than ever defending their image. And the more they spin the more obvious it becomes that they are spinning.
To date, the US and its allies have little to show for the increased carnage, which is far worse for the Afghan people. Speaking Thursday, on the first day of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, McChrystal hinted at the massive popular opposition, especially in the Pashtun south, to the US-led occupation.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
How Greene obtained such a large margin of victory is unresolved, but the reported vote totals from the ES&S electronic voting machines warrant an independent investigation. If they were tampered with or malfunctioned, it would only be the most recent example of voting irregularities in the United States. In case after case, from the theft of 2000 elections to the disputed results in Ohio and other states that returned Bush to the White House, the Democratic Party has opposed any serious fight against the trampling on voting rights.
According to a recent study issued by the Boston Consulting Group, the rich are getting richer worldwide despite the deepest financial and economic crisis since the 1930s.
...guaranteed U.S. access to "strategic reserves" of "strategic minerals", where possession is nine tenths of the game and the resources are just as valuable still in the ground as mined and processed for market, is a heady brew to mostly-hawkish senior policymakers and Very Serious think-tankers, especially if the end of the sentence goes 'and China doesn't get them". [The report] will be used to add some geopolitical weight to the arguments McChrystal and others are already beginning to make as to why they should be allowed to break their promise to Obama and the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan a few years longer.
Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of his lawsuit on the ground that courts have no right to interfere in these decisions of the Executive Branch. That was the decision which the U.S. Supreme Court let stand today, ending Arar's attempt to be compensated for what was done to him.
Today's young workers may be harder to corral. China now has 787 million mobile-phone users and 348 million Internet users—and migrant workers in their twenties are far more aware of world developments than their parents. The younger generation can follow labor actions as they unfold, whether in China's northeastern Rust Belt or southern Pearl River Delta. "They have access to information. They use their mobile phones for messaging, to send pictures and video, and to go online,"....
Couchsurfing has become so popular in some locations that there are local groups who host visiting Couchsurfers. The connections often persist over time, and grow into a new sort of international network of friendship, pleasure and trust. What’s amazing about Couchsurfing is how quickly it has scaled and how durable and trustworthy it generally is. It just goes to show that a gift economy can grow to international scale, thanks to the Web, and be every bit as satisfying as the Holiday Inn, and cheaper.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The corporate fix is in with these bills and the money keeps rolling in from government to the corporations, which are writing government regulations that surreptitiously (and with sustainable-sounding terms) mandate dangerous corporate products the public rejects. That is, farmers are being targeted for doing right for generations and now will be financially punished for trying to continue to do so.
Despite the evident success that foundations have had in shaping ideology in the twentieth century their power is “not monolithic” and they “do allow differing points of view to be expressed, although these never or only infrequently form the basis for policy.” Indeed, most of their power is simply derived from the fact that their hegemony remains unchallenged, even from anti-capitalist activists. Yet with the increasing availability of the internet it is now much easier to break the ideological clout of foundations, and while in the past many criticisms of foundations have been rendered inaccessible to most people, this is no longer the case.
Senate and House conferees are about to reconcile a financial reform bill that is virtually designed to institutionalize “too big to fail.” And when they do we’ll lose another battle in the ongoing war between global financial markets and democratic nation-states.Well, I would argue that there has never been real democracy since the ancient Greeks practiced it on a limited basis. There has been a lot of rhetoric about it, but it is mostly a facade behind which the elites rule as always. As an idea it remains a dream which all ordinary people hunger for. It is a dream that is part of a carefully managed program of indoctrination in which citizens are induced to believe that the concept means the holding of elections. Of course, the elites also manage the elections by controlling the candidates that ordinary people to vote for.
Here, in this article, is another example where intellectuals cannot name the system. Here he uses the term "financial theocracy" in place of capitalism. But I like the implication that the system is essentially a religion, a religion which does not tolerate unbelievers. And it has numerous taboos such as naming the system "capitalism".
The president, Gibbs added, lacked the authority to play anything more than a supervisory role – a curious line of argument from an administration that has reserved the right to assassinate American citizens abroad and has nationalized much of the auto industry. "If BP is not accomplishing the task, can you just federalize it?" a reporter asked. "No," Gibbs replied.
Professor Paul Freemont, co-director of the UK centre for Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London, said his gut reaction to this idea was that it could be "very difficult".
From coast to coast, eco-concerned homeowners are ripping out their manicured, chemically-treated lawns and replacing them with organic food gardens, native flowers and sometimes, just rocks.
In a world where every single minute of a president's time is accounted for, it is a huge investment of political capital. Obama's advisers hope the TV cameras and huge pool of White House reporters that follow his every movement will portray him as someone in control of the situation.Even the World Soccer tournament match between England and the US is brought into damage control in this article. Yes, the blasted limeys have the gall to suggest that the goalie deliberately flubbed the ball to calm the anger of Americans! ;-)
Those who value Anglo-American relations should send a small (very small) bouquet to the fumbling Mr Green. The World Cup draw, one might say, has poured oil on troubled waters. The goal Robert Green let in is a salve to the American inferiority complex about English soccer (and maybe the English accent etc).
Waheed Omar, Karzai's spokesman, said at a news conference on Monday... "I think it's very, very big news for the people of Afghanistan and that we hope will bring the Afghan people together for a cause that will benefit everyone," he said.This would be laughable, if it wasn't so tragic. Maybe ordinary Afghans will have other ideas.
"This is an economic interest that will benefit all Afghans and will benefit Afghanistan in the long run."
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Although the knowledge needed to transition to localized, sustainable agriculture exists, the current structure of power relations and resource control in the United States prevents the widespread move away from fossil fuel based agriculture. Those in positions of power within the United States government and in agribusiness have no interest in altering a system from which they greatly benefit. Without a change in the status quo, however, small local and sustainable producers will have a difficult time competing against the fossil fuel subsidized overproduction of agribusiness which finds its way into our grocery stores. The adoption of sustainable agriculture can only be truly transformational if we broaden its scope to focus on the relationship between social, economic and ecological factors within the agri-food system.
Taking control of the climate by injecting sulphur particles into the upper atmosphere sounds like science fiction, but there is now a powerful alliance of scientists and venture capitalists backing the idea. It looks like the ruling classes are becoming desperate in their attempts to ward off climate catastrophe in order to preserve their beloved capitalist system that demands ever increasing inputs of energy mostly in the form of fossil fuels.
This is an excellent site to track the Empire's costs of war and what might have been had the people in the US been in charge of their country. Be sure to check out their trade-off tool that allows you "to explore what services could be obtained for your community with the same amount of money that Congress has appropriated for war spending."