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, December 17, 2011

Outsourcing Jobs, Offshoring Markets

Click here to access article by Alan Nasser from CounterPunch. 

This is one of the clearest explanations of the effects of globalization that I have seen. Above all, he explains the logic of globalization as it is currently influencing events and what is likely to happen in the future which is essentially a small first world and a huge third world everywhere in the world.
One might object that there are clear limits to how impoverished working people can be made – after all, workers have to be maintained as work-ready. Upward redistribution can only go so far. But ever-widening inequality is perceived by elites as feasible by virtue of the limitless possibilities of greater indebtedness. Workers can make ends meet by indefinitely mortgaging their future income.
It is on the latter point where the author fails us. The future is far worse than what he describes. As I see it, more devastating wars, more police state methods, more climate chaos, more environmental degradation, as well as greater extremes of wealth and poverty are in our future...unless, of course, we of the 99% get more active and refuse to allow capitalist ruling classes to have their way.

Extreme Weather Map

Click here to access map from Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Besides reasons of social justice, even more important is the necessity to replace class rule with genuine participatory rule of the people in order to insure our very survival as a human race. The planet will continue regardless of what humans do, but the evidence is clear that under the rule of the capitalist class all habitat that can support human life will be destroyed. It was clear in the 1970s that we could not continue spewing carbon dioxide into the air and poisoning our rivers and oceans. But now, 40 years later we stand poised on critical thresholds beyond which there will be nothing we can do to prevent our extinction. 

US Public Relations Officers Employed by the Ruling Class Reassuring the Public

So far, the governing capitalist class has been able to do nothing other than launch public relation campaigns to have us believe initially that there wasn't actually a problem, and now we are receiving soothing messages from the fossil fuel industry to have us believe that sometime in the near future they will come up with a magic solution to this developing crisis.

One can better understand our dilemma by seeing this governing class of people as addicts--because that is exactly what they are. And like all addicts, they will get their fix even if it kills them. Well, that wouldn't be so bad except that we will go down with them...that is, if we continue to allow them to satisfy their addictions to power and profits. On the way to extinction we can look forward to more extreme weather disasters, more poisoning of our rivers and oceans, and more wrecked economies.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dante’s Divine Comedy – Banksters Edition

Click here to access article by William K. Black from New Economic Perspectives. 

One can fantasize all they want about punishing the banksters and others for bringing our economy to the edges of collapse, but that will not change anything. What the author does clarify is that so many people were involved in the mortgage scam: bankers, hedge fund managers, Wall Street, accountants, insurance companies, rating agencies, mortgage companies, on down to real estate agents. That is the only way it could have worked. But the engineers of this scam were at the very top of the class of people who own and control capitalist societies. They offered all kinds of inducements to these other people to engage in sociopathic behavior. There has been class war for the past 10 thousand years, but this was class war on steroids.

But if you still prefer to engage in fantasies, here is another one from the liberal Atlantic magazine where they fantasize about Congress enacting stronger regulatory laws. 

So rather than passively engaging in soul satisfying fantasies, we of the 99% must organize and do away with any kind of class rule by designing a class free society, a bottom-up form of genuine, participatory democracy. It's hard and potentially dangerous work, but it must be done.

The Truth Hurts–And Heals

Click here to access article by Charles Hugh Smith from Occupy Wall Street News.

Participants in the Occupy movement in the US are now beginning to discover some truths about the system that governs their society:
There is a system of government in which rule of law is merely a propaganda screen, where financial and political Elites run the show and escape the consequences of their actions: it’s called tyranny. The truth is that we live in a financial tyranny.
However, the solution, a truth commission, that this blogger recommends demonstrates that there are many more truths which will need to be uncovered in order to create a healthy society; and I have no doubt that they will be. The most fundamental ones that I have in mind are: money cannot be under private control, socially produced wealth cannot be appropriated by private interests, and what is produced and how products and services are produced must be under genuine democratic control.

African-American Faith Community Joins Forces with Occupy Wall Street – First Day of Action on MLK Day, Jan 16 at Federal Reserve Banks

Click here to access article from Occupy Wall Street News.
Members of the African-American faith community have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to launch a new campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Faithful to its philosophical origin, the “Occupy the Dream” coalition has called for a National Day of Action on Martin Luther King Day – Monday, January 16, 2012 – when they will “Occupy the Federal Reserve,” in multiple cities nationwide, focusing attention on the gross injustice visited upon the 99% by the financial elite.
This is great news! It demonstrates once again that the movement is here to stay by drawing in more of the 99% who identify with the movement. 

Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas

Click here to access article by Steve Connor from The Independent. 

This is the latest update of findings by a research team who have been monitoring methane releases in northern Siberia for the last 20 years. Their recent findings are looking worse than the preliminary data with discoveries of huge eruptions of atmosphere destroying methane gas. This release of methane from thawing of the Arctic tundra has long been anticipated and feared by climate scientists. For more clarification see also "Global Warming Feedback Loop Caused by Methane" from National Geographic and Wikipedia's explanation of greenhouse gases.
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bradley Manning story inspires play by National Theatre of Wales

Click here to access article by Alex Needham from The Guardian. 

With US media constantly referring to US troops used to invade other countries as "soldier warriors" and heroes, I and many others regard resistance people such as Bradley Manning as the real heroes of our age. Bradley fought on behalf of the 99 percent by helping to expose the lies of the One Percent. By doing so he risked so much, and has undergone horrendous punishment for his services to us. We simply must support our heroes! 

Here is are lyrics to a great new song to celebrate Bradley and our other heroes:
For Bradley Manning
When Bradley comes marching home again Hurroo, hurroo
When Bradley comes marching home again Hurroo, hurroo
We’ll charge the war makers with their crimes
Put ‘em in the dock, make them pay for those crimes
When the peace is won and Bradley comes marching home

For Molly Ivins
When Molly comes marching home again Hurrah, hurrah
When Molly comes marching home again Hurrah, Hurrah
We’ll win the peace, just you see
The world will have a chance to be free
When the peace is won and Molly comes marching home

For Dr. King
When Martin comes marching home again Hurray, Hurray
When Martin comes marching home again Hurray, Hurray
We’ll put our conscience to the test
And lay the war machine to rest
When the peace is won and Martin comes marching home

When Bradley comes marching home again Hurray, Hurray
When Bradley comes marching home again Hurray, Hurray
We’ll start with a truce, don’t you see
No more war, that’s the key
When the peace is won and Bradley comes marching home

The Making of the American 99% and the Collapse of the Middle Class

Click here to access article by Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich from TomDispatch. (Note: You may want to skip the introduction by scrolling down to the article.)

Unlike many writers, these astute observers demonstrate that they really understand class structure. They explain how US society so suddenly became divided between the (less than) one percent and the 99 percent.
...until a few months ago, the 99% was hardly a group capable of...articulating “the identity of their interests.” It contained, and still contains, most “ordinary” rich people, along with middle-class professionals, factory workers, truck drivers, and miners, as well as the much poorer people who clean the houses, manicure the fingernails, and maintain the lawns of the affluent.

Reform vs Revolution Within Occupy [must read article]

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from Workers Compass.
...it seems obvious that most people in America are on the fence as to whether or not to support or reject Occupy. These people cannot be dismissed as Conservatives or "apathetic.” Many of them will be willing to fight with Occupy in the streets, as some unions have, if they see Occupy's fight as their own. Occupy must demonstrate to the 99% that it is serious about waging a real struggle for working class demands, since tens of millions of working people are suffering and would rally to a movement they saw as providing real hope, not merely moments of bravery combined with anti-1% rhetoric.
Because the Occupy movement may be the last opportunity to win a final contest with the One Percent who are hellbent on placing us in perpetual servitude and destroying the Earth to satisfy their addiction to power and profit, we, the 99%, simply must get it right this time. Everyone who cares about peace, about education, about social justice, about the environment--not only for ourselves, but for generations to come--must get involved in the process of determining the future of the Occupy movement. Because we are heading toward a pivotal point in the history of humanity, nobody can sit out this contest. 

Which side are you on? You are either with the 99% or, if you do nothing, you are by default with the One Percent. How can I make such a startling claim? Because the One Percent are busy ratcheting up their war on us. Take a look at what they have been doing very recently:
Read also Kevin Zeese's article for some great ideas about moving the movement ahead.

Did the Pentagon Help Strangle the Arab Spring?

Click here to access article by Nick Turse from TomDispatch. (Note: You may want to skip the elaborate introduction by scrolling down to the article.)

While public relations officers of the Empire (Obama, Sarkozy, Clinton, etc) have been making noises in support of the Arab Spring and the democratic forces behind it, the real story is gradually emerging.
As state security forces across the region cracked down on democratic dissent, the Pentagon also repeatedly dispatched American troops on training missions to allied militaries there.  During more than 40 such operations with names like Eager Lion and Friendship Two that sometimes lasted for weeks or months at a time, they taught Middle Eastern security forces the finer points of counterinsurgency, small unit tactics, intelligence gathering, and information operations -- skills crucial to defeating popular uprisings.
The Pentagon's strategy to insure the Empire's dominance is always to wed a target country's military with the Empire's military in order to co-opt them and to subvert any kind of legitimate government. Thus, they lavish training junkets, perks, military equipment, etc on the target country's military leaders.

NATO dreams of civil war in Syria

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. 

The author sees a Plan B that the Empire is employing in Syria: terrorize the Assad government to death.
By adopting this pincer movement, NATO in Syria is now actively diversifying into an Iraq-in-the-1990s strategy; to submit Syria to a prolonged state of siege before eventually going for the kill.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupy is Not Just About Occupying: The Goal is Not to Occupy it is to End Corporate Rule

Click here to access article by Kevin Zeese from Occupy Wall Street News.

The author provides an excellent perspective on what the Occupy movement is all about: to replace corporate rule with the rule of the people. Seen this way, further actions toward this goal seem clear.
Occupying for a short time accomplishes many of the objectives of holding public space – the political dialogue is affected, people are mobilized and all see that fellow citizens can effectively challenge the corporate-state.  Staying for a lengthy period continues to deepen these goals but the impacts are more limited and the costs get higher.

What to do next?  The Occupy Movement needs to bring participatory democracy to communities.  Occupiers should develop an aggressive organizing plan for their city.  Divide the city and appoint people to be responsible for different areas of the city.  Depending on how many people you have make these areas as small as possible.  Develop plans for house-to-house campaigns where you knock on doors, provide literature, ask what you can do to make their lives better.  Do they need snow removed?  Clothes?  If so, get the occupy team to fulfill their needs, find used clothes, clean their yard – whatever you can do to help.  This shows community and builds relationships.

EU summit: tales of fiscal union and financial adultery

Click here to access article by Jérôme E. Roos from Reflections on a Revolution. 

The author sees the current European banking/sovereign funds crisis as being a contest between European financial centers. The political leaders of the various countries are only representing their financial centers while the people's dire economic interests are being ignored. He uses a metaphor of a family of European nations whose parents are engaging in extramarital affairs with banking institutions while totally disregarding the welfare of their children, the people of Europe. 
As always, the greatest pain is quietly borne by the kids: the citizens who haven’t even been consulted by their leaders. Childhood illusions about European solidarity have been brutally uprooted. But, as if to repress the most confronting part of the drama, no one appears to be talking about the disgraceful extramarital affairs that lie at the root of it all. The truth is that both the UK and Europe have been engaging in financial adultery for decades on end.
Although quite amusing, I'm not really convinced that this is the most apt metaphor. First, it is hard to imagine any set of parents having so little, if any, regard for their children. But to extend the metaphor a little, the solution is for the kids to grow up, organize and support their own healthy households, and leave the squabbling parents behind. Second, the European political leaders are really only representatives of the financial institutions, even though they and all the societal institutions that the ruling class controls pretend otherwise.

On the other hand, a more appropriate metaphor would be this scenario: several giant corporations fighting for a dominant position in the market by engaging in a price war. The officers of these corporations couldn't care less about their employees--there are plenty more out there among the unemployed. So, they keep cutting the prices on their products to undersell their competitors. This results in their selling below the costs of production and causes harm to their enterprises which, in turn, results in layoffs of employees. (This happened in the early days of industrial enterprises until they became wise to the adverse effects of this game plan and decided to collude with each other against consumers by price fixing and market division tactics.) Nowadays financial empires are governed by powerful people who, while being drunk on their sense of power, feel a sense of impunity and have little inhibitions about wrecking havoc among their national populations in their pursuit of more power and profits.

The Iraq withdrawal and the continuing eruption of US militarism

Click here to access article by Bill Van Auken from World Socialist Web Site. 

This is the best assessment of the current pull-out of uniformed US troops from Iraq that I have seen. 
In Iraq itself, uniformed troops are being replaced by a new army in civilian clothes. A massive, fortress-like American embassy in Baghdad has been erected in a walled compound of 104 acres—larger than the Vatican—with two similar facilities having been opened as consulates in the southern oil center of Basra and the Kurdish capital of Arbil in the north.

Operating out of these American fortresses will be up to 17,000 personnel. They will include 5,500 armed military contractors.
Meanwhile, according to this report, the Empire's weapons industries look forward to big profits from selling weapons to the Empire's satrap in Iraq.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The pro-Israel NGO behind NATO’s war on Libya is targeting Syria

Click here to access article by Maidhc Ó Cathail from Foreign Policy Journal. 

The current propaganda campaign to do a Libya-type operation on Syria is being waged by various Empire centers of propaganda. This author outs a major one tied to Zionist interests--UN Watch.
Founded in 1993 under the chairmanship of Ambassador Morris B. Abram, the former US permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, UN Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee.

West Coast Port Shutdown Sparks Heated Debate between Unions, Occupy

Click here to access article by Evan Rohar from Labor Notes. 

The article touches on all the complicated aspects of actions such as this which affects legally constricted unions and independent contractors.

See also this article from AlterNet entitled, "Occupy Activists Try to Shut Down West Coast Ports", and this one from Socialist Worker for more information. 

Once again, war is prime time and journalism's role is taboo

Click here to access article by John Pilger from his website. 
On 22 May 2007, the Guardian's front page announced: "Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq."
This distinguished, independent journalist outs another blatant attempt by a "respectable" mainstream publication to serve the war needs of the Empire. This is another illustration of how the Empire has infiltrated all major media to serve the needs of the less than One Percent. Parallel with this is the colonization of our minds with Empire propaganda. This effort is very cost effective for the Empire--much more so than employing the direct brutal methods of a police state. But, of course, they are perfectly willing to use the latter, and do bring it into operation whenever the former doesn't work.

A Therapist Talks About the Occupy Wall Street Events

Click here to access article by Lane Arye from In Front and Center. 

The article explores ways to strengthen the Occupy movement through inclusive methods of participation.
...when all voices and roles have a chance to be heard and interact, the wisdom of a group or community can arise. Perhaps the many-headed creature that is OWS needs our particular song, our particular direction. The world is trying to express itself. It is using us. By believing in our own voice, in our own special part, and by actively listening to our peers, we can help the wisdom and power of the movement to develop.

You Have Never Seen a Political Leader Say Anything Like This Before

Click here to access the source of this posting from Economic Policy Journal.

The comments section on the site where this was posted indicate that a lot of Brits are dubious about his sincerity. Nevertheless, the British MP, Nigel Farage, has dramatically expressed some important, but very uncomfortable truths about capitalist democracy in Europe and the way that the European sovereign debt crisis is being managed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Anti-#Occupy/CIA Connection

Click here to access article by Maureen Tkacik from Naked Capitalism. 

There were numerous reports that leaked out in various media about coordinated efforts of municipal police departments in dealing with their local Occupiers. An article entitled, "The cop group coordinating the Occupy crackdowns" was one of the first and, if you are unaware of this phenomenon, you definitely should read it first before reading this article.

This article provides a lot of interesting background information of the growing role of the CIA - security establishment's infiltration of, and influence over, local police departments. Also, see the extensive comments following the article which add a lot of additional interesting information. 

Although the author doesn't make it clear in the article, PERF, the offshoot of the Police Foundation, stands for Police Executive Research Forum

Zambada Niebla Case Exposes US Drug War Quid Pro Quo

Click here to access article by Bill Conroy from The Narcosphere.

Court Cases such as this that sometimes do not play out according to the scripts written by the DEA agents of the One-Percent can reveal a lot about the realities of the "War on Drugs". However, because the DEA hides behind a veil of secrecy enabled by laws of the One-Percent (Classified Information Procedures Act), one must do a little sleuthing to tease out these realities. The Narcosphere website is devoted to this task.
...the information provided by the Sinaloa Cartel to US agencies against its rivals assures a steady flow of drug busts and media victory headlines for US agencies and for the Mexican government. That propaganda is necessary for hoodwinking their citizens into believing that progress is being made in the drug war and thereby assuring the continued funding of bloated drug-war budgets and support for failed policies that have cost the lives of some 50,000 Mexican citizens since late 2006 and ended any hope of a productive life for hundreds of thousands of US citizens — most wasting away in US prisons and not a small number the victims of street homicides linked to drug deals gone bad. [my emphasis]
This program of the One-Percent referred to as a "War on Drugs" serves multiple purposes for the benefit of the One-Percent: it justifies the militarization of local police forces, strengthens the influence of federal agencies over local police agencies, creates a climate of fear which increases citizen compliance with police state methods, and supplies hard drugs to the poorest sections of the nation to demoralize and create chaos in communities to prevent them from organizing any resistance such as was provided by organizations in the past like the Black Panthers.

US outed, and far from drawn down

Click here to access article by M K Bhadrakumar from Asia Times Online. 

The Empire's arrogance and aggressiveness sometimes causes problems for its satraps in the Middle East and Asia. This is now dramatically seen in Pakistani reactions to the latest incident involving a NATO air strike on one of their military installations. This may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back of Pakistani cooperation with NATO. This author goes into the details of this story which appears to be about a collision course between an apparent post-Libya policy of the Empire's political operatives to increase, rather than draw down, NATO forces and Pakistan's hostility toward, and distrust, of NATO. Then there is China and Russia nearby.

The usual scenario in such circumstances is often a covert operation instigated by Empire political operatives to replace a head of state with one who is more compliant. According to this author, such a strategy might be very difficult.
...the Pakistani army is taking great and meticulous care that while traversing the shark-infested waters in the months ahead, it holds the hands of the country's civilian leadership at every stage, every moment.

Bank’s leaked email admits ‘Occupy’ movement ‘could impact our industry’

Click here to access article by David Edwards from The Raw Story. 
It is the bank’s policy to protect and secure our properties for the investors who own them.
The class war has now moved to the homes of Americans and Bank of America is preparing for this war. No doubt, other institutions of the one percent are doing likewise. It seems to me that this battle is crucial. If we are unable to take back our homes, then we should surrender to the one percent's Empire and prepare to descend further into barbarism and environmental degradation. Yet, there is so much investor money tied up in our homes that we can expect a ferocious battle which, like Stalingrad in WWII, could be the decisive battle in the overall war.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Future of the Occupy Movement

Click here to access article by Jules Lobel from the Center for Consitutional Rights.

The author contributes to an ongoing discussion of the Occupy movement and it's future.
Perhaps the most critical component of OWS is its creation of alternative communities which reflect the egalitarian, democratic world that its activists seek for the future. Sometimes referred to as “pre-figurative politics,” this perspective seeks to create in microcosm the alternative models that reflect the future world that the activists support, while at the same time using those institutions to engage in direct action to change the current reality.

Julian Assange: 'People want the truth'

Click here to access article and the transcript of this video from Green Left.

This is the first time I've heard Julian Assange, one of the world's most courageous journalists, speak directly. I am very impressed. He has been exposing the lies of the Empire, and by doing so, learning that the Empire reaches across many national boundaries to co-opt many political leaders and governments. 

The Revolution of the Middle Class

Click here to access article by Brent Herbert from The Living Resurrection: Random Commentary.

This perceptive, thoughtful writer sees the current Occupy movement as a middle-class revolutionary force. Although the middle class is certainly being threatened and is to a large extent driving this movement, I'm not so sure that one can characterize the whole movement as being owned by the "middle class". As parts of the middle class are being driven to despair, I think that such people are merging with the ranks of revolutionary workers. Thus, class lines are being blurred as are national boundaries. Neo-liberal policies have created class war across the globe by the one percent against the 99% who constitute everyone else. In any case, he has a lot of interesting perspectives to offer in our quest to understand what is currently happening in the US.
It is worth noting that for close to thirty years, and continuing uninterrupted over the last few years, the 'super rich one percent,' the capitalist ruling class, those Napoleons, the Mussolini of the boardroom, have just been socking those big fat cheques away, increasing their share of world's wealth by double digit percentages, year after year. Life remains quite good for some people. They have piled up a percentage of the wealth of this planet that is unprecedented in the history of that capitalist system, the social inequality today being even more extreme than the polarization that was present before the last great crash in 1929.

Emma Goldman – The Failure of Christianity

Click here to access article re-published by Eagainst.

As much as I admire the contribution that Emma Goldman made to raise the political consciousness of American workers after WWI, I think that her focus on reactionary Christianity misses the broader story of how all religions, the effort to make sense of life, are often corrupted by those who wish to exploit and dominate other people. For me, this broader view is best expressed in the online article entitled, "Revolutionary Christianity" by Brent Herbert.

COP17 succumbs to Climate Apartheid

Click here to access article from Climate Connections. 
“What some see as inaction is in fact a demonstration of the palpable failure of our current economic system to address economic, social or environmental crises,” said Janet Redman, of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. “Banks that caused the financial crisis are now making bonanza profits speculating on our planet’s future. The financial sector, driven into a corner, is seeking a way out by developing ever newer commodities to prop up a failing system.”

Despite talk of a “roadmap” offered up by the EU, the failure in Durban shows that this is a cul-de-sac,  a road to nowhere.