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, April 21, 2012

Leo Panitch on the Occupy Movement

Here are two videos of a March interview with Leo Panitch from Newsclick website (India).

This well-known Marxist professor from Canada looks at the Occupy movement from an historical perspective in order to reveal its unique qualities and speculate on its possibilities.

Part 1 (18:49m) The Challenge is to Move Beyond Protests

Part 2 (11:24m) Constraints of the #Occupy/other protest movements

Iran and Syria: Small Glimmer of Hope in a Bleak Scenario

Click here to access article by Prabir Purkayastha of Newsclick (India). 
It is Israel which has the sole agenda of containing Iran. Israel knows that Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability is going to weaken its position as the pre-eminent military power in West Asia and North Africa. Israel's claim that Iran with a nuclear weapons capability will become an existential threat to Israel with its arsenal of 300-400 nuclear weapons, is absurd. What Israel wants is that the US should take out Iran, as it took out Iraq. This will let it militarily dominate the entire Middle East, invade any country when it wants and bomb whoever they feel like. A nuclear capable Iran threatens the impunity with which Israel acts militarily today.

Propaganda, Inc.: The State-Corporate Nexus and US Democracy Manipulation

Click here to access article by John Brissenden from New Left Project.
The increasingly close relationship between Google and the US “democracy promotion” apparatus recently took a new turn with the launch of a new, private, non-profit organisation designed to leverage the resources of major US corporations in manipulating democratic movements in (initially) four nations: Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Russia.
It's clear that the political operatives of the Empire's One Percent are enhancing their weapons of subversion against those they characterize as "violent extremists", which is code for activists of all types who are organizing all over the world to fight the attacks of the Empire on their resources, their social benefits, their media, their educational institutions, etc. Why? In their own words:
“Anti-Americanism and violent extremism threaten the commercial and investment climate for U.S. businesses in countries that are essential energy sources and potentially significant markets... SAGE will contribute to more stable markets where American business can thrive.”

The rationale for the scheme is clear. US policymakers have been looking for ways to maximise the use of “soft power” to complement American military and economic dominance, and for ways to place the interaction of the state and corporations in the propaganda effort on a stable footing....

WikiLeaks supporters plan US foundation to restore funding

Click here to access article by James Ball from The Guardian.
US backers of transparency organization Wikileaks have announced plans to establish a foundation for the site seeking a way to allow donors to give money to Julian Assange's Wikileaks once again. Wikileaks has undergone over 500 days of a "banking blockade" after Visa, MasterCard and PayPal blocked donations from going to the website.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ted Trainer and the Simpler Way

Click here to access article by Samuel Alexander from Energy Bulletin. (Author Samuel Alexander is a co-founder of The Simplicity Institute of Australia. He writes: "I feel Ted's vision is absolutely critical to getting out of the mess we're in, and yet his position doesn't get anywhere near the attention it deserves.")

This is an edited, abbreviated version of the PDF formatted essay to which a link has been provided for people who wish to learn more about Trainer's excellent ideas.  His proposal for a new sustainable social model is in sharp contrast to the present planet and soul destroying system of capitalism.
After presenting his critical analysis of the global situation, Trainer describes his vision of The Simper Way, which is a vision of communities creating highly localised, zero-growth economies, based on far lower resource and energy consumption than what is common in developed nations today, and in which the profit motive has been largely or entirely removed. Since Trainer believes that governments are inextricably intertwined with the economic imperative to grow, his theory of change is fundamentally ‘anarchistic,’ in the sense that he believes that ‘top down’ parliamentary processes cannot be relied on to play any significant role in restructuring society for The Simpler Way.
It appears that Mother Nature is going to evict us from our planetary home, the Earth, because we have been trashing the place. It's shocking because many of us thought that we owned the place, but the truth is that we are only renters. It looks like we have only two options: 1) either we immediately stop trashing the place, which means changing the economic system, or 2) we immediately look for another planet and a means of getting there. If we don't stop trashing right a way, she will start the eviction process; and then its only a matter of decades before we are out of this world, which will leave only the second option.

The Titanic Code

Click here to access article by Dave Gardner from Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. 

The author uses the very apt metaphors of the Titanic and a computer operating system to clarify the dangerous state that humanity is currently in.
Our culture is not interested in a course correction because we’re distracted. We don’t see the iceberg ahead because we’re fixated on a cultural story that defines progress as growth, and growth as progress. This worldview has led us to develop a system that depends on everlasting growth.
I don't think that "we" as ordinary working people ever designed this system. It was created by and for a class of people who declared ownership rights over all significant elements of the economy which has entitled them to secure the wealth produced by workers. This process in turn has evolved over time into massive concentrations of wealth and power. We now have a small class of people who hold so much power over our lives and is now threatening the planet with their destructive activities.

Of course, when the author refers to the "operating system" and the "old system", he is writing about the system of capitalism--but he can't identify it as such! In our present Orwellian society, the authorities apparently have removed this word from our lexicon, thinking that if we couldn't name the system, we couldn't change it.

Displacing American Labor Through Foreign Guest Worker Visas

Click here to access article and 10:15m CBS video posted by Robert Oak from The Economic Populist. 
While the Wall Street Journal tries to claim software engineer is the best job, whistle blower Jay Palmer is blowing the lid off the dire straights most American technical workers are facing today. We have brazen labor arbitrage through abuse of the United States foreign guest worker system. American workers with college degrees, high skills and years of experience, are either fired or not hired. Systemically U.S. STEM labor is displaced and replaced by cheap foreign guest workers, some on immigration visas which are not even legal. 
With all the apparent concern about illegal immigrants and all the resources put into preventing them from coming into the US, it's obvious that government authorities are looking the other way at these cost savers and profit enhancers for US corporations. 

Although CBS failed to inquire about government collusion with this scam, I have to credit them with this rare exposé of this practice which suggests the hypocrisy of US politicians about their concern for US workers.

Creating a Prison-Corporate Complex

Click here to access article by Steve Fraser and Joshua Freeman from TomDispatch. (You may want to skip the introduction by scrolling down to the article.)

The infamous 19th century use of convict labor, consisting mostly of African Americans, to provide pliable low cost labor to corporations has made a reappearance in our 21st century. This is an excellent report on both the earlier history and what is happening today.
Rarely can you find workers so pliable, easy to control, stripped of political rights, and subject to martial discipline at the first sign of recalcitrance -- unless, that is, you traveled back to the nineteenth century when convict labor was commonplace nationwide.  Indeed, a sentence of “confinement at hard labor” was then the essence of the American penal system.  More than that, it was one vital way the United States became a modern industrial capitalist economy -- at a moment, eerily like our own, when the mechanisms of capital accumulation were in crisis.
An excellent film on the 19th century use of African American convict labor was recently broadcast by PBS: entitled, "Slavery by Another Name". The DVD can be purchased here.

Why the Israeli state is terrified of peaceful protest

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

The author assembles a lot of first and second hand reports including videos to explain the headline.
The extreme violence of the Israeli state against peaceful protesters reveals a deep-seated fear inside the country’s political establishment. Realizing that they cannot successfully guarantee civil consent and popular legitimacy, successive governments have embraced violence as a necessary tool for the state to guarantee its survival in a context of eroding international support.

Do Emissions Cause Tornadoes? Climate Service Would Know

Click here to access article from Bloomberg editorial. 

Even the people at this premier Wall Street financial news service would like to know the answers, but the Neanderthals in the Republican party are keeping their heads firmly in the sand. Referring to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the editorial reveals that...
The agency has for years wanted to create a National Climate Service that would track and assess climate change, figuring out whether it is to blame for specific extreme weather events such as tornadoes, floods, droughts, heat waves and hurricanes. In this and other ways, it would help people -- farmers, insurance companies, policy makers -- plan for changes in the growing season, coastal erosion, water supply, human health and so on.
In November [2011], however, Republican members of the House of Representatives killed that plan, even though it would have required no new funding at all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

John Holloway at the Left Forum Closing Plenary

Here is a very inspiring, eloquent speech by Holloway directed to all activists at the end of this year's annual Left Forum (March 16-18) in New York City. (Note: video, which may take a while to appear, is 15:06m, but you can reduce it by starting your video at the 2 minute mark skipping the introduction.)

Bailouts are capitalist business as usual, not “socialism”

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog, Systemic Disorder. 

The writer corrects a lot of misconceptions about the economy commonly found in mainstream media, and clarifies how the system of capitalism currently functions in the US.

Anarchy 101

Click here to access article by Bob Black from Eagainst. (A re-publication from The Anarchist Library.) 

A very good description of anarchism. The main problem I have with it is his view of "democracy": it is a distorted form known to much of the world as "bourgeois democracy" or as "representative democracy". Essentially they are referring to the capitalist form of electoral democracy designed to fool ordinary people into thinking that it is the real thing. It's a semantics issue among many on the left.

Obama's Atomic Solyndra?

Click here to access article by Harvey Wasserman from HuffingtonPost.

It's clear that capitalists are perfectly aware that atomic energy plants are a poor investment. Therefore, the solution is for working people to pay for them and to assume all the risks. When capitalists can't make a profit from an enterprise, they make the government, which they control, do it. Because cheap fossil fuels will diminish in the decades ahead, capitalists also know that their growth-imperative system cannot continue without nuclear power. Do you seriously think that they will choose to give up the system that gives them so much wealth and power?

This liberal author either doesn't understand how the One Percent rules our country or he is deliberately hiding the truth when he states:
...Obama holds the key. It's our job to make him turn it in a green direction.
A short while ago, this package was considered a done deal.
But the GOP uproar over the failed $535 million loan to the solar company Solyndra changed to context. Initiated by Bush, Republicans have made Solyndra the poster child for bad federal loans.
This is complete nonsense. It doesn't matter who lives in the White House. Republicans are making meaningless political noises over the support given to Solyndra by the Obama administration. They know that solar power cannot power their growth addicted system. Most of them will have no problem when it comes to complete taxpayer backing for future nuclear projects. And, you can be sure that petitions opposing their construction will be tossed in the garbage can. It will take much more militant forms of citizen opposition for the political operatives of the One Percent to back off. In fact, I think it will require a revolution.

Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

Click here to access article by Dahr Jamail from Al Jazeera. (2:29m video and article.)
Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.
The blogger at George Washington's Blog has also sourced other evidence of Gulf habitat destruction:
  • A recent report also notes that there are flesh-eating bacteria in tar balls of BP oil washing up on Gulf beaches

In Poll, Many Link Weather Extremes to Climate Change

Click here to access article by Justin Gillis, cross-posted from The New York Times. (Normally I post from original sources; however in postings that require registration or fee access, I may source the articles elsewhere.) 
“People are starting to connect the dots.”
Now, the next step is for people to connect the dots to the capitalist organization of economies.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Assange interviews Nasrallah: Episode One

Access Julian Assange's 28:00m video interview with the Hezbollah leader from RT.

This is Julian Assange's premier interview on his World Tomorrow internet program. I haven't had much time yet to listen to all parts of it, but it appears to cover the Syrian crisis, other Mid-East issues, and more general questions about his religious beliefs, etc. Especially because I found it difficult to hear some key words, I wish that a transcript would be provided for these interviews.

In Barcelona, Austerity With an Iron Fist

Click here to access article by Peter Gelderloos from Truthout. 

After having squeezed as much as they could out of Greek workers, the European One Percent is now putting the squeeze on Spanish workers. Their methods? The same ones they are using everywhere in the Empire: austerity (for the 99 Percent) and a growing police state. But, like the Greeks the Spanish people are also fighting back. The author reports on the latest details.
The repressive trends of the crisis are especially visible in Catalunya, where social movements have been most active in resisting or blocking austerity measures. Hospitals that planners intended to shut down have been occupied and kept in function. In response to fare hikes, neighbors and users have forcibly opened metro stations so everyone can ride for free. Students have seized their universities to protest measures of privatization, and ordinary people have harassed and chased away politicians when they tried to make a public showing. In the month of March, every single family in Barcelona threatened with eviction for not being able to pay their rent or mortgage that sought broader support in order to resist successfully postponed or blocked their eviction.  

What Capitalism Delivers

Click here to access article by Richard D. Wolff from MR Zine. 

Like an incorrigible alcoholic, the capitalist class goes on one drinking binge after another. In between binges he beats his wife, the workers. Then he promises never to beat her again and never to drink again. And, you know the rest of the story. The author succinctly reveals the real history represented by this metaphor and what it could be like if workers divorced this deadbeat.

The History and Resurgence of Death Squads in Central America.

Click here to access article by Rights Action Team from Rights Action.

I get horrible reports like this everyday by listservs. They always involve collusion among local elites and US government officials, US political operatives, drug traffickers, death squads, and mostly North American corporations. Of course, these reports almost never make it into mainstream news in the US and Canada.
Like the death squads in the 1960s-70s, recent crimes in Guatemala appear to employ criminal networks, drug trafficking network hit men, to carry out violence against unions and communities organizing against abuses by transnational corporations, with the collusion or support of the military and police.
The return of the repressive state in Guatemala is part of a regional process that mixes drug war, anti-terrorism and anti-communist rhetoric and partners US security experts and agencies with repressive States, States made up of many of the same individuals responsible for crimes against humanity carried out just one generation ago with the assistance of US military advisors.
In Honduras, death squads targeting anti-coup activists have been operating across the country since the June 2009 military coup; human rights activists denounce over 300 politically motivated killings. In the Bajo Aguan region, since January 2010 death squad killings have been spearheaded by private security forces working for transnational palm oil corporations with the collaboration of police and the same Honduran military units that have received ongoing training from US military forces.  As a result over 60 campesinos and journalists have been killed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Class Warfare On Two Fronts

Click here to access article by Mark Ames from The Exiled and ConsortiumNews.
"Yes, there’s class warfare, all right," warns Warren Buffett. “But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
The author provides many more details about the class war that has occurred in real estate affecting, as usual, some very vulnerable members of the 99 Percent trying, albeit naively, to serve their country in the military. While doing so, some soldiers appear to express their frustrations by committing war crimes.  He contrasts the disasters suffered by these "losers" in the real estate game with the rewards and celebrations of the sociopathic winners located in the One Percent. 
Army Sgt. Robert Bales stands accused of murdering 17 Afghan civilians, a crime that some trace to the financial pressures his family faced back home. However, to the rich financial swindlers, the ruining of Bales’s family – and many others – is just another day’s work....
Meanwhile, "back at the [capitalist] ranch"...
Hayes Barnard and Paramount Equity Capital are doing better than ever. In 2009, Hayes Barnard was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Roseville Chamber of Commerce, the wealthy Sacramento suburb where Paramount Equity Mortgage is headquartered. In 2010, the Sacramento Business Journal honored him as one of Sacramento’s “40 under 40” leaders.
Among other crimes and deceptions, officially,
Paramount stood accused of charging and collecting unearned fees, charging consumers to buy down interest rates without actually reducing the rate, failing to make required disclosures and making state and federally-required disclosures in a deceptive manner.

Seeking the Truth About U.S. Targeted Killing Strike That Killed Dozens of Women and Children in Yemen

Click here to access article by Nathan Freed Wessler and Pardiss Kebriaei from American Civil Liberties Union.

Meanwhile, peaceful US citizens protesting against these drone crimes are met by stormtroopers.

Emperor of the Air: Potomac Poobahs Squeeze the Skies

Click here to access article by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque. 

The author discusses another manifestation of US imperial power. Travelers of foreign countries...
are now being forced to submit (a most apt word) their "personal data" to the United States Department of Homeland Security -- even if they are not travelling to the United States, or even crossing U.S. airspace.

Occupy the US: Musings on Horizontal Decision-Making and Bureaucracy

Click here to access article by Marianne Maeckelbergh from Stir.

Some food for thought for Occupy activists.
The year 2011 has breathed new life into horizontal models of democratic decision-making. With the rise of the 15 May movement and the occupy movement horizontal decision-making became one of the key political structures for organising responses to the current global economic crisis. While this decision-making process has arguably never been as widely practiced as it is today, it has also never seemed as difficult and complicated as it does today.

The vultures that want to bring Argentina to its knees

Click here to access article by Stéphanie Jacquemont from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt. 
Argentina has recently been assaulted on several fronts. These attacks are related to the 2001 suspension of payment on its external debt and to cases brought against the country before the ICSID (International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes), the controversial World Bank arbitration tribunal.
One should have some background on sovereign debts and enforcement of repayment by international bodies to fully understand this article. I recommend reading Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, The Blood Bankers by James Henry, and Super Imperialism: the Economic Strategy of American Empire by Michael Hudson. 

'Let Cuba In!' Sixth Summit of Americas sends ultimatum to US

Click here to access article by Adrian Salbuchi for RT. 
...US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that before Cuba can rejoin the OAS, “there should be an opportunity for a transition to a full democracy in Cuba”.
...US-style “democracy” more often than not results in grossly corrupt governments peopled by crooks and thieves.Is the best thing that Clintonite “full democracy” can offer just “government by the rich, for the rich and of the rich”?Clearly, US “full democracy” is nothing but “the best democracy that money can buy”.

“Always look on the bright side of life”: Bright-siding climate advocacy and its consequences [Part 1 of 5]

Click here to access article by David Spratt from Climate Code Red. 
...with climate change, the problem is not a commercial or political construct, and not fully solving the problem will be catastrophic beyond most peoples’ imaginations and current understandings. The price of failure is not a product left on the shelves or an election lost. Failure is a planet on which most people and species will not survive.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame

Click here to access article by Nicholas D. Kristof from The NY Times.  
Here's a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands. 
This well kept secret has leaked out so much that the NY Times finally were forced to put it in print. However, you will notice that they hide the real reasons for this phenomenon behind lack of treatment, medical diagnoses, etc. instead of the real reason: once soldiers are deployed to the Empire's battlefields, they begin to see how they are being used to participate in the Empire's war crimes. They also realize how much they have been lied to by trusted sources in the US. Suicide rates such as this also occurred in the Vietnam War, but did not happen in WWII.

Assange: I’ll be called a traitor, interviewing radicals

Click here for 13:21m video interview (and script) with Julian Assange by RT regarding his show on their network starting tomorrow. 

During the interview he makes a very good point about news bias and censorship in media by national ruling class interests. The implication is that one can often get access to coverage about events from media outlets that are located in other countries where the same interests do not exist. From my own experience spending time in foreign countries, I found this to be so true. Hence, it follows that if Assange's interviews were to offend Russian ruling class interests, he would find immediate pressures to shape his coverage accordingly.
RT: RT aims to provide this kind of alternative view to those aired by the international mainstream channels. Is your choice of RT as the platform for your interview show your kind of response to that mainstream media?
JA: It is a response seeing that a lot of the things that we have been trying to report have not been carried accurately in the mainstream press. There are many, many fine exceptions but when we look at international networks there’s really only two that are worth speaking about, and that’s RT and Al Jazeera. The other international networks, as far as WikiLeaks issues are concerned, are too busy considering their own national agenda.
Now, if WikiLeaks had been producing voluminous material about Russia, perhaps that situation would be different. But in the case that we are in at the moment, our major confrontation is with the West, although we have published material for many countries.
For more information on his show entitled "The World Tomorrow", which will be premiering tomorrow at 7:30 AM New York time or 10:30 AM Seattle time, check out this link from RT.
The first-episode, with a notorious guest who's identity is still under wraps, will coincide with the 500th day of financial blockade on Wikileaks. The countdown for "The World Tomorrow" begins today. 

Afghan war whistleblower Daniel Davis: 'I had to speak out – lives are at stake'

Click here to access article by Paul Harris from The Guardian. 
...Davis saw America's military chiefs, such as General David Petraeus, constantly speak about America's successes, especially when working with local troops. So Davis compiled two reports: one classified and one unclassified. He sent both to politicians in Washington and lobbied them on his concerns. Then in February he went public by giving an interview to the New York Times and writing a damning editorial in a military newspaper.
It appears that this Lt. Colonel in the US Army naively thought that his bosses, the political operatives of the One Percent were interested in truth. Like any top authoritarians in other hierarchical organizations, they want reports that confirm, or conform to, their views and interests. And, that is mostly what they get in every war. After being disabused of that notion, he like other whistle-blowers, felt that telling the truth to the public, the 99 Percent, was important for their interests. Because of this, he is another hero of the 99 Percent.

Kick Some Ass with the Working Class

Click here to access article by Ron Jacobs from Dissident Voice.

This is a review of a recently published book entitled Autoworkers Under the Gun by Gregg Shotwell.
The ugly side of being a factory worker in the US auto industry is all here. Sociopathic CEOs, their lawyers, and the acquiescence of the UAW leadership, it’s all there. This collection of newsletters written by a United Auto Workers activist documents the purposeful destruction of a union, an industry, and a way of life by bankers, corporate raiders and supplicant union bosses. The tale told here is about the daily fight on the shop floor. 

You Can't “Grow The Movement” By Dissing The Kids: On Chris Hedges And Occupy

Click here to access article by Katherine M Acosta from CounterCurrents.
Chris Hedges is on a mission. That mission is to save the Occupy movement from anarchists who employ any tactic of which Hedges does not approve.
The author points out all the contradictions in the views expressed by Chris Hedges, the former NY Times liberal journalist.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Growth machine is a capital problem

Click here to access article by Ian Angus from Green Left.

When criticized for producing and promoting more consumption of stuff, capitalists always bring out the tired argument that they are only responding to consumer demands and human nature.
In article after article, book after book, scientists and environmentalists have exposed the devastating effects of constant economic expansion on the global environment. The drive to produce ever more “stuff” is filling our rivers with poison and our air with climate-changing gases. The oceans are dying, species are dying out at unprecedented rates, water is running short, and soil is eroding much faster than it can be replaced.
         But the growth machine pushes on.

What the New 2011 EIA Oil Supply Data Shows

Click here to access article by Gail Tverberg from The Oil Drum.

The author provides a lot of interesting data about energy supplies by type and area. It appears that crude oil has peaked, but liquid energy is being supplemented by natural gas and ethanol for an overall slight increase in liquid energy. 

Except for natural gas supplies in the near future, it looks to me like we can expect energy to continue to increase in the future to a point where prices will create havoc for all capitalist economies with their insatiable demands for growth which cannot be supplied at a cost that economies can handle. I have little doubt that ruling classes will insist on more nuclear power plants with all their problems of costs, disposal of hazardous waste, maintenance, decommissioning, and accident risks.

Assassination Columbia – What If It Ain’t About Whores?

Click here to access article by Gordon Duff from Veterans Today.

The author found the report about Secret Service agents being disciplined for cavorting with prostitutes in Columbia as unbelievable as I did. When I first heard the story on TV, all sorts of alarm bells went off in my head. This story, for anyone with experience with US coverup stories, smells to high heaven. But, what is the real story? Duff makes a stab at it by using his informed imagination. Need I mention that Israel is the unnamed country? His version has far more credibility than the one reported in mainstream media.

It would be to you, too--especially if you had read the books entitled JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglas and The Echo From Dealey Plaza by Abraham Bolden, a former Secret Service agent. Both authors provide considerable evidence that the Secret Service was at the core of the assassination of John Kennedy.