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, January 21, 2012

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

Click here to access 39 minute audio program (and transcript) from This American Life program from WBEZ in Chicago. "Act Two, Act One" is a followup by the program on this performance. 
...31 years ago, when Deng Xiaoping carved this area off from the rest of China with a big red pen, he said, this will be the special economic zone. And he made a deal with the corporations. He said listen, use our people. Do whatever you want to our people. Just give us a modern China. And the corporations took that deal, and they squeezed and they squeezed. And what they got was the Shenzhen we find today.
This excellent portrayal of the Chinese workers who make IPhones and all the other stuff we consume and purchase from global corporations gives you a vivid picture of what neoliberalism means for workers who produce this stuff. These same corporations would like American workers to compete by asking for the same wages and conditions of the Chinese workers or else--or else they will keep shipping their factories to people in such places all over the world. These US corporations were all built on the sweat and imagination of American workers, but under the rules of capitalism they have no control over what they have created. Under the rules of capitalism the One Percent "owns" the corporations. But, who made these rules?

Seven Truths Inconvenient to U.S. Foreign Policy

Click here to access article by Dan Kovalik from CounterPunch.
As George Orwell so eloquently stated, “Truth is the first casualty of war.”  Indeed, lying is absolutely necessary to the ability of countries such as the U.S. aiming to wage unprovoked war upon other countries – the worst form of human rights crime as recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal....

George Carlin on the 1%: Ahead of His Time Again…

Thanks to Climate Connection for re-posting this wonderful vignette from a performance by America's premier social critic and comedian.  

Top Justice officials connected to mortgage banks

Click here to access article from Reuters. 

This piece illustrates how the US Justice Department, like all other government agencies, is wedded to the financial interests (including other corporate entities) of the One Percent. People connected to high finance are the core component of the ruling One Percent. These people make our laws through their employees called "Congressional representatives", and these laws are enforced by the Justice Department and other such agencies against transgressors in the 99 Percent, not the One Percent. All ruling classes function this way. Get use to it, or change the system.
Reuters reported in December that under Holder and Breuer, the Justice Department hasn't brought any criminal cases against big banks or other companies involved in mortgage servicing, even though copious evidence has surfaced of apparent criminal violations in foreclosure cases.

The evidence, including records from federal and state courts and local clerks' offices around the country, shows widespread forgery, perjury, obstruction of justice, and illegal foreclosures on the homes of thousands of active-duty military personnel.
 I know what some of you are thinking. Didn't the enforcing agencies go after Bernie Madoff and Michael Milken and put them in prison? Yes, there are some who are convicted of their crimes, but it is usually people who have caused others among the One Percent some harm. Often such people serve only a small part of their sentence.

Fracking Would Emit Large Quantities of Greenhouse Gases

Click here to access article by Mark Fischetti from Scientific American. 
Yesterday, two Cornell University professors said at a press conference that fracking releases large amounts of natural gas, which consists mostly of methane, directly into the atmosphere—much more than previously thought.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The US-GCC fatal attraction

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.
...the House of Saud sells its oil only in US dollars - thus the pre-eminence of the petrodollar - and in exchange benefits from massive, unconditional US military and political support. Moreover the Saudis prevent the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - after all they're the world's largest oil producer - to price and sell oil in a basket of currencies. These rivers of petrodollars then flow into US equities and Treasury bonds.
But, hold on! Escobar looks at some trends which suggest a very different scenario in the future. You see, a major factor propping up the Empire is the imposition of the US dollar on most of the rest of the world. It is very much like a hooligan in your neighborhood forcing everyone to use his money. This is a huge benefit to him. He can merely print money, and as much as he likes and use it to get the goodies he wants from everyone in the neighborhood.

US government shuts down file-sharing site MegaUpload

Click here to access article by Patrick Zimmerman from World Socialist Web Site.
The actions by the Obama administration came a day after widespread protests against proposed legislation—the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act—that would, if enacted, vastly expand the control of the US government over the Internet.
But hackers are fighting back by attacking government and industry websites.

The world war on democracy

Click here to access article by John Pilger from his blog. 

Pilger celebrates the life of Lisette Talate and her never-ending battle to recover and return to her island paradise, the Chagos Islands. In 1971 in a deal with the US government, the British cleared the island of its inhabitants and leased it to the US. Since renamed Diego Garcia, it was turned into a giant, and strategically important airbase that the Empire uses to inflict violence on those who resist its demands in Eurasia. 
What was done to Lisette's paradise has an urgent and universal meaning, for it represents the violent, ruthless nature of a whole system behind its democratic facade, and the scale of our own indoctrination to its messianic assumptions, described by Harold Pinter as a "brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis." Longer and bloodier than any war since 1945, waged with demonic weapons and a gangsterism dressed as economic policy and sometimes known as globalisation, the war on democracy is unmentionable in western elite circles.

What is behind the S & P downgrades? [re Europe]

Click here to access an approximately 20 minute interview with Michael Hudson on KPFA, Los Angeles. 

For background on his remarks, he uses his article (translated into English) entitled, "Europe's Transition From Social Democracy to Oligarchy", published in December in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the newspaper in Germany with the largest circulation.

He essentially argues that the governing classes in Europe are using the parties that historically have been  associated with the left and labor to ram through the neo-liberal policies of the right. This, of course, is the situation here in the US where the Obama administration has been used likewise. One has to marvel at the ingenuity of capitalist political operatives.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Which way forward for the 99%?

Click here to access article from Anarkismo. (Note: the main article is just below the announcement about a mobilization on May 1st.)
...we are looking to offer real solutions to addressing issues of immediate concern where each of us is at, through direct collective action from the bottom-up. The goal is to continue the ongoing shift currently happening within the movement from just mobilizing, to organizing.... Mobilizing is necessary, but it is not enough. We can’t just call people out to engage in action. We need to build the networks, organizations and campaigns that provide the opportunities for an ever greater number of people to participate in the decision-making process and functioning of the autonomous popular organizations we are creating.
These next steps are of critical importance. What happens in the near future will have a major impact on the outcome of the contest between the One Percent and the rest of us. We simply must start the slow, hard work of organizing to build a society of the 100%.

Occupy Nigeria: A general strike against the 'Cabalocrocy'

Click here to access article by Paul Fudder from Solidarity.
With millions on strike and crowds singing Solidarity Forever, Occupy Nigeria has shut down the most populous country in Africa. ...Though big labor actions might be more common in Nigeria than in the US, folks are saying this one feels different. Maybe it's the wave of protest against neoliberalism around the world in 2011, maybe it's the corruption--facilitated by neoliberal deregulation -- or maybe it's the high unemployment rates (over 40% among young workers), maybe it's that oil is so central to the economy; or maybe it's all of this together.

The Real 2012 Doomsday: U.S. Falls To Tyranny

Click here to access article by Sam Rolley from Personal Liberty Digest. 

This warning about a growing police state in the US is coming from the right, probably the libertarian right. I suspect their supporters are drawn from the ranks of the old middle class of shop keepers, small entrepreneurs, small farmers, and other members of the threatened modern middle class of managers, professionals, students from this class, etc--people drawn to the Tea Party.
The past year has been a bad one for democracy, and the Republic that once was the United States seems to live in name only. Because of the extreme abuses of power the Federal government has exercised just in the past year, the people of the Nation have been broken, discouraged and must now only be controlled.
In contrast to Occupier activists, they appear to be quite demoralized.

Implications of Arctic Permafrost Thaw

Click here to access article by Ian Dunlop from The Club of Rome. 
Business, supposedly the experts on risk management, should take leadership, but have abrogated any responsibility, given that realistic action will require a fundamental redesign of the economic system, undermining established vested interests. [my emphasis]
How true! The choice is basically ours. It's either capitalism, wars, exploitation, unemployment, climate extremes and environmental crises OR inclusively democratically controlled societies, peace, social justice, cooperation, productivity for the needs of all, living within and respecting the limits of our planet's ecology.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ecology and the Pathology of Capitalism

Click here to access article by Charles Sullivan from Dissident Voice. 

This article contains several basic observations about today's world that are themes of my blog. Here is one:
...the continuation of capitalism as the primary political economy can have one of two possible outcomes: the virtual destruction of the biosphere, meaning the death of the host organism, or the abolition of the capitalist system.
He follows with what a world without capitalism might look like.

One million signatures filed to recall Wisconsin governor

Click here to access article by Patrick Martin from World Socialist Web Site. 

The main point that the other makes is this: 
The recall campaign itself, however, is a deliberate political diversion, engineered by the unions, to shut down the protest campaign and block any independent action by the working class, including a general strike.
And, I think it is perfectly valid. The legal-governmental machinery of the capitalist state is designed to serve the interests of the One Percent. One of their fundamental interests is to contain dissent. If activist movements pursue actions within their legal frameworks, they can only expect frustration. I'm not saying that they should never pursue such strategies. However, they should never be a primary strategy--which should always be organizing alternative institutions and undermining the capitalist regime.

SOPA Censorship bill Websites blackout over 'SOPA censorship'

Click here to access article by Chris Arsenault from Al Jazeera.

Also view this 4:20m video entitled, "SOPA Censorship bill" from linuxpowerification.


Wikipedia and several thousand websites are protesting SOPA by closing down their websites. Use their link to send a message to the corporate employees paid to represent you, also known as  "Congress representatives", telling them to keep their hands off the internet. We don't want corporations and their government controlling the internet. 

Also, check out this 1:09m video from ABC which provides a brief summary of the protests:

Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media

Click here to access article by Jonathan Steele from The Guardian. 
When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar's royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.
I first became aware of managed news and propaganda in the US when I was in military service in the late 1950s . I became acquainted with a soldier who was born and mostly raised in Cuba, after which his family emigrated to the US. From him I learned about all the US based organized crime that had essentially governed Cuba for many years. Following my discharge from the service in 1959, I decided to follow up by accessing news about Cuba. This, of course, was during the time immediately after the Cuba revolution. I was astonished by the blatant anti-Cuba propaganda that I was seeing everywhere in mainstream news coverage. I lived near a large university and thus was able to access a lot of news and information contained in more obscure publications. I was thoroughly astonished at the contrast in coverage. 

That experience continued over the years through the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, throughout the cold war, and the various political events in Latin America where US operatives were manipulating events from behind the scenes. Also, after becoming an adult I reviewed the Korean War, and discovered so many truths that had been hidden from me as a teenager. (Read at least volume 1 of The Origins of the Korean War by Bruce Cumings.) This experience is currently repeating itself in the coverage of events in Syria.

I am a bit fascinated as to how the operatives of the ruling class are able to control the coverage so well. Yes, I know that control and ownership of most media is concentrated in large corporations, but still it is very much as if there were an Orwellian Ministry of Information somewhere than was controlling the coverage. The fact that they have been able to accomplish the same control while maintaining, in the minds of many citizens of the US, the image of a free and independent media is mind-boggling.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Social Media Meets 21st Century Statecraft in Latin America

Click here to access article by Cyril Mychalejko from Unside Down World.
While the positive contributions of technology to social movements and uprisings have been been amply noted, if not overstated, more attention needs to be paid to the intrinsic dangers looming in the co-optation of this technology-driven networking, specifically by Washington, but by other repressive governments as well.
The author explains that although social media has contributed to activism, we must be aware that it can be used against activists. In fact, plans are already underway to do just that as revealed in the article.

The undisputed person of the year

Click here to access article by Eamonn McCann from Socialist Worker.

Certainly the man of year for activists is Bradley Manning for exposing heinous war crimes. We need to ask ourselves what we would do in the circumstances he faced.
What would any of us do? We might hope we'd risk the wrath of a government involved in war crimes and cover-ups, and tell the people the truth.
It says a lot about the nature of the Empire when people like former Sen. John C. Stennis are memorialized with his name on an aircraft carrier. With all the press coverage Chris Kyle is receiving from mainstream media, I would not be surprised if he were not designated as person of the year.

NYC's deadly deal with Israeli apartheid

Click here to access article by Sherry Wolf from Socialist Worker.
...under the guise of research, this deal would cement a lucrative bond between the financial capital of the U.S. empire and Israel's military-industrial complex.
Looking at US-Israel relations from a dog and tail metaphorical point of view, it is often difficult to tell where the main body of the dog ends and the tail begins, and which is wagging which. US and Israel are already so well integrated that some people in the US have advocated bringing Israel in as a 51st US state. That way the citizens of this apartheid state and Empire outpost would contribute tax revenue to the US Treasury which would help fund the $3 billion-plus aid that goes every year to Israel from US taxpayers.

In signal to Israel, US delays war games

Click here to access article by Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe from Asia Times Online.
The postponement of a massive joint United States-Israeli military exercise appears to be the culmination of a series of events that has impelled the Barack Obama administration to put more distance between the United States and aggressive Israeli policies toward Iran. 
These two well informed political analysts try their hand at divining US's latest move back from the game of chicken that Zionist influenced US political operatives have been promoting. Some time in the future we will have access to documents that will tell the real story, but their interpretation looks quite plausible and positive because it should lessen tensions. We might just be spared another world crisis

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Occupations in winter

Click here to access article from Corrente. 

Here is another attempt to sum up where the Occupy movement has come from and its significance. 
...I prefer to see Occupy as a species of rhizome: A mass of roots (radix) growing slowly and irresistibly, indeed invasively, and scaling horizontally by sending out runners everywhere. Underground and in the dark. Right now cold, but soon to be warm. And just like hops, asparagus, ginger, turmeric, galangal, irises, or Lily of the Valley, if you chop an Occupation into pieces, you get as many Occupations as the pieces you chopped. 

Forty years on, some lessons from the life—and death—of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Click here to access article by Patrick Martin from World Socialist Web Site.

On this day to honor Martin Luther King I dug up this article from 2008 which is the best brief article I could find that would give an accurate framing of his place in US history. By the time of his assassination (April 4, 1968) the political operatives of the One Percent (CIA/FBI and affiliated underworld criminals) had become very skilled at assassinations. They had practiced for years on various attempts (some have estimated over 200 attempts) on Fidel Castro but without success. 

They had decided that John Kennedy was to be eliminated because he was refusing to follow their agenda of rollback in Vietnam and was pursuing secret talks with Khrushchev on disarmament. With the successful assassination of John Kennedy in November of 1963, they had perfected the art of assassination within the US by adding designated patsies and devising coverups. (Read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass). Filled with arrogance from this triumph, they proceeded to kill others who posed threats to their rule--Malcolm X in 1965, Martin Luther King in April, 1968 followed by Robert Kennedy in June. (Of course, there were many others of less stature, for example, Black Panther leaders.)

A public criminal trial was never allowed in any of these cases because of the government's "sovereign immunity". In our land of the free where the government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, the people cannot put a U.S. intelligence agency on trial.  

However, in 1999 the King Family pursued a civil trial in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil suit was brought against a man, Loyd Jowers, who was terminally ill and confessed to a role in the crime, and "others, including governmental agencies." They were essentially putting the CIA on trial. The jury found that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy involving government agencies. (Read An Act of State by William Pepper) Of course this trial was almost completely ignored by mainstream media. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The largest gathering of humanity in the history of Bolivia

Click here to access article by Chellis Glendinning from Culture Change.

Here's the scene:
The streets of La Paz were teeming with supporters from every hamlet and municipality in Bolivia and beyond! Red flags were blowing in the wind. Green flags. Yellow flags. Wiphala flags! Workers. Taxi drivers. Housekeepers. University students. Mothers with babies. Union leaders. Theater groups. Supporting indigenous groups boasting traditional dress, flutes, and drums Former government officials who had left the MAS party. The press. International support teams. Trumpets blared. Flutes sang. Mariachi bands blasted accordion music. Placards proclaimed: “TIPNIS=VIDA, EVO=MUERTE,” “EL TIPNIS: NO SE TOCA, CARAJO!” and “¡TIPNIS SOMOS TODOS!” People rushed to meet the marchers, hugged them, kissed them on the lips. Men and women were sobbing in the streets! Whole schools had been liberated to play a role in history, and uniformed children were waving flags, holding up their drawings of tropical flowers, and cheering. Along the boulevards the welcomers flanked the marchers like a thick envelope of protection from potential police action; in some parts the shield extended five times thicker than the march itself.
What precipitated such a scene? You will have to read the article to get the full flavor of this delightful morsel. Basically, the people of Bolivia have achieved a great victory. It may be temporary and limited, but they did it by understanding that they had power and they mobilized it. These mostly peasants saw through the phony populism of their pretend leader and understood that they must depend on themselves to secure their lives. It was probably this insight more than the victory itself that generated so much celebration.

Could we in the US who regard ourselves as better educated achieve a similar understanding that candidates whom we are allowed to vote for are charlatans? That hopey changey Obama is as phony as Evo Morales? And, finally if we are to have any real change, we must bring it about ourselves?

The Faustian Bargain that Modern Economists Never Mention

Click here to access article by Gail Tverberg from her blog, Our Finite World.
 What about the Faustian bargain? It remains deeply hidden from view because its exposure by the high priests of modern economics would force us to rethink how we live and why we live this way, as well as what we’re planning to leave for future generations. The Faustian bargain goes something like this: Thanks to the discovery and exploitation of fossil fuels, humans (really just a small minority of them) are able to live richer lives today than even the queens and kings of yore could have dreamed of.
[The downside of the bargain:] ...in the future, one that creeps ever closer, this economic system, fed by energy and other resources at ever increasing rates at one end and spewing out waste products at rates that cannot be absorbed by Earth’s ecosystems at the other, is unsustainable.
But who or what has made this bargain, keeps it a secret, and continues acting in accordance with the bargain? One of the major theses of this blog is that it is fundamentally a system, one that largely serves "a small minority" currently known as the "One Percent". In my view the system is really based on faith. Hence, it can be regarded as a religion. The priests of this religion called capitalism insist on keeping this Faustian bargain a secret much like an alcoholic who denies his addiction and keeps his addiction carefully hidden.

Western oil firms remain as US exits Iraq

Click here to access article by Dahr Jamail from Al Jazeera. 
The end of the US military occupation does not mean Iraqis have full control of their oil.
Surprise, surprise! Okay, so you are not surprised, but this piece provides a good reference to document an example of when more conventional neo-liberal policies do not succeed, the savage dog of imperialism will be unleashed. 

Meanwhile, how are the Iraqis doing? Read "Iraq: A country in shambles" also by Jamail.

Fresh prime time war propaganda targets Iran

Click here to access article by John Pilger from Green Left (Australia). (Note: "MoD" in the article refers to the British Ministry of Defense.)

This great independent journalist once again shows, mostly to a British audience, how the British media is constructing lies to manage the consent of the public in support of another invasion--this time, on Iran. With the One Percent's dominance of mass media, their messages always overwhelm the voices of truth-telling journalists like Pilger. 

However, one sees cracks appearing in the gullibility of the 99 Percent. Should most of the public turn away from mainstream media to independent journalism for their information, one will then see the velvet gloves come off the fascist hands of the real authorities who govern us. As frightening as this prospect is, reality and truth can be very refreshing.

The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11

Click here to access article by Peter Dale Scott from Voltaire.

It seems like Scott has been around forever warning us about the secret machinations of people who have directed so many awful events from behind the facade of official institutions and the smoke and mirrors of mass media propaganda. I remember his revelations during my politically active days in the 1960s. 

His tales of hidden power manipulating events sometimes seems so bizarre that one can be forgiven for thinking that they are science fiction--except anyone who has been able to access difficult-to-find independent news material and/or who was close to the events. 

However, I think the way he presents the material contributes to a sense of unbelievability. I think he tries to cover too much ground in too little space. This second part of his essay reads almost like an outline. True, he does provides a lot of references, but too many refer to his own past writings. There is now so many other great works produced by people who carefully investigated the material he writes about and corroborate nearly all of it. Much of this material can be accessed by reading the books I've recommended on the right hand side of this blog. And, there are a lot of other books, but this list is a good place to start.

Occupy Movie [24:50m video]

Occupy Movie is a short film and collection of ongoing interviews conducted by inspired filmmakers' need to provide contrast to mass media's deliberate misrepresentation of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Resistance and Hope at a Time of Climate Emergency

Click here to access article by Nick Buxton from Transnational Institute.
As climate scientist, Kevin Anderson of the UK Tyndall Center argues climate change requires large scale and much more radical government actions than has ever been carried out before. Yet our political and economic system, as it currently exists, makes that radical action almost impossible. 
However, he lets me down with this statement: "we must pro-actively confront the corporations that have hijacked the political system ...." As long as people refuse to acknowledge that the problem is the system, there is no hope of survival. "Radical action" is not reform!

I think that writers like this--and they are all over the place--need to dig a little deeper to see that the system of capitalism needs to be replaced by a system where no one benefits from the appropriation of wealth produced by others, by excessive consumption of fossil fuels, by trashing the environment with pesticides and other forms of pollution.