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, February 9, 2013

Neil Barofsky Tells Jon Stewart How the Ego and Narcissism of Washington Preserve a Broken Status Quo

Click here to access the two video segments featuring an interview with Neil Barofsky on John Stewart's The Daily Show posted on Naked Capitalism

Barofsky was the US Treasury inspector appointed to oversee the TARP program used to bail out banks. He served from late 2008 until his resignation in March 2011. 

In the interview he describes the "alien world" (to us ordinary people of the 99 Percent) of government operations in Washington DC. At one point Stewart refers to government officials as "delusional" and such activities as reported by Barofsky as merely a part of a "Washington culture". While the comments in the interview were funny, I think they only served to head off the proper, and more dangerous, notion that the government is controlled by people who have interests which are incompatible with the great majority. This epiphany would lead to more subversive and seditious thoughts which liberals, who serve a useful function (for the One Percent ruling class) of preventing us from going there.

I mean--think about it--the implications from what Barofsky reported about his experience clearly leads to the conclusion that we have a government that pretends to serve society in general, but in reality only serves a small elite who are well connected with major banking institutions. Consider only these two facts brought out in the interview:
  • Nothing changed from George Bush Jr to the Barak Obama administration.
  • Barofsky in his role of inspector was thwarted in every way from going after the major bank executives.
Clearly this suggests that there exists a shadow government in Washington controlled by the financial elites. Thus, they were not delusional, they were only acting in their own interests regardless of the disasters created throughout the economy of the US and many parts of the world.

US Crude Exports, the IEA can’t have it both ways

Click here to access article by Lorne Stockman from The Price of Oil.

This piece provides one more illustration of how the dynamics of capitalism trump any efforts to prevent climate catastrophes. 
Only a few months ago, we reported on the release of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, which for the first time ever acknowledged that we cannot burn at least two thirds of the fossil fuel reserves we currently classify as ‘proven’.

Drones Set To Fly Over All US Public Schools

Click here to access article by DP Whitehead from The Spoof! 

Instead of following the near-secret lives of the rich and powerful this morning, I thought I would digress into much needed humor.

It's clear that the article refers to armed drones, not surveillance drones.

Friday, February 8, 2013

'US a police state, Obama consciously allows torture' – CIA veteran John Kiriakou

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of this interview with John Kiriakou by RT.

The CIA-NSA engineered 9/11 tragedy accomplished even more than what Kiriakou acknowledges--it launched the never-ending "war on terrorism" to justify wars of aggression everywhere in the world at anytime:
In this post 9/11 atmosphere that we find ourselves in we have been losing our civil liberties incrementally over the last decade to the point where we don’t even realize how much of a police state the United States has become.
Ten years ago the thought of the National Security Agency spying on American citizens and intercepting their emails would have been anathema to Americans and now it’s just a part of normal business.
The idea that our government would be using drone aircraft to assassinate American citizens who have never seen the inside of a courtroom, who have never been charged with a crime and have not had due process which is their constitutional right would have been unthinkable.   

Paul Craig Roberts also recognizes that this police state developed out of 9/11, although much of his arguments about it being a Republican conspiracy is off the mark. The culprit is the system of capitalism and the sociopaths it creates by rewarding them lavishly with wealth and power. It's an inevitable end result of a system that relies on theft of wealth and power. 

The US is now essentially on the same path as we have seen in Nazi Germany and the other Axis powers. Notice that one of the first acts of the Nazi regime, whose takeover of the German government was sponsored by industrialists, was the consolidation of local police forces under Himmler and the SS. Here in the US, this has been largely accomplished by the Orwellian name of Dept. of Homeland Security.

The capitalist thieves have become so habituated to stealing from workers and the environment, and have been richly rewarded for their criminal activities with so much wealth and power that they no longer fear any retaliation--the only thing that sociopaths worry about.

Why Africa Is Turning to China

Click here to access article by Kwei Quartey from Huffington Post.

The Empire has been very concerned about Chinese influence and access to resources in Africa and many believe that this concern informs the Empire's current aggressive policies in the continent. (See this.) This writer describes how the Chinese have obtained this influence and access. 
...China portrays Africa more positively as a partner in "mutually beneficial cooperation" and "common prosperity," rather than a "doomed continent" requiring aid.

All Over Your Face: Confessions of a Former Social Media Junkie

Click here to access article by Christina M. Castro from Indian Country

This Native American explains how she broke the Facebook habit.
It has been roughly two months since I deactivated my beloved Facebook account. I’d been wanting to do so for some time and had told myself I was going to do it once the presidential elections were over.... Before I knew it, the POTUS [President of the US] had been elected for a second term and it was time to make a decision. I battled with the idea for at least a couple weeks, wondering if I had the strength to go through with it. Someone suggested I just limit my usage, as if it was that easy! I knew it had to be all or nothing. Finally, I decided honor what my inner voice was telling me, which was: "Do you really want to be one of those annoying types whose face is always in a phone or sitting in front of a monitor? Come on Castro, you’re better than this!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two Years On, Egyptian Revolution Caught in Violent Past

Click here if you wish to access 10:23m video posting from Real News Network

For coverage on recent events on the ongoing revolution in Egypt that you will not see on your TV network, this will help bring you up-to-date.
Egypt still reeling from January 25th anniversary violence, as police brutality moves some revolutionaries to abandon peaceful protests. Over 60 people have been killed across country, hundreds more injured, detained and still missing. Police torture leaves multiple detainees fighting for their lives in hospitals, while one activist died Monday morning after subjected to savage police torture. Attacks on police stations and government institutions are on the rise. 

Austerity, US Style, Exposed

Click here to access article by Richard D Wolff from Truthout.

The author uncovers the realities that drive austerity policies.
 Distractions such as "fiscal cliffs" and "debt ceilings" focus public attention on mere secondary details of austerity. Politicians, media and academics use such distractions to wrangle over whose taxes will go up how much and which recipients of government spending will suffer what size cuts. They do not debate austerity itself; that is, they do not debate very idea of raising mass taxes and cutting spending in a deep and long economic downturn. They do not explore the interests served and undermined by any austerity policy. So we will.

Producing more but earning less around the world

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder
What we have is a structural problem, not a problem confined to a particular country, caused by a government nor solvable by adopting a specific monetary policy. Nor is personal greed the underlying cause, regardless of the personal qualities of individual capitalists.

So God made a banker

Click here to access article by Brett Arends from MarketWatch (The Wall Street Journal).
And on the eighth day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need someone who can flip this for a quick buck.”
So God made a banker.
Does this satire posted on a Wall Street Journal website illustrate that the One Percent have a self-deprecating sense of humor or a sense of impunity? I think both.

Press was prone on drones, but cover blown

Click here to access article by Bill Weinberg from World War 4 Report

With the ruling class having such tight control over all major institutions, we must honor the courageous leakers and whistleblowers who expose their government's wrongdoing. However, because of their vulnerability to retaliation if their names are exposed, many will have to be unsung heroes.

The revelation here that there was a Justice Department memo justifying the government's killing of its own citizens on very nebulous grounds has stirred up a challenge to a fascist leaning government that is still pretending to function according to laws processed through legitimate political institutions. Now the ruling class, through their control of government and the media, are working overtime to cover their criminal actions and transform them into something that resembles the legitimate rule of law.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cash Hoarding, Tax Evasion, and the Corporate Coup

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from Occupy.com.

The author provides data to show that the major players, the banks and large corporations, are hoarding cash and pushing austerity measures across the world, and exposes the methods they use to avoid paying taxes. It is clear to me that the cancer of capitalism, which invaded the world-host some 400 years ago, has now overtaken the entire body. It is now feeding on that last resources of public wealth--schools, libraries, worker's benefits, government retirement benefits, government sponsored medical care, public utilities, public lands, public roads, public services. etc.

The major carriers of this deadly virus, banksters and corporate executives, want the wealth from these public assets to continue developing, manufacturing, and using weapons to destabilize countries that still pose barriers to their profit-making operations. Likewise, they want this wealth to spend on the development and application of technology to spy on their own populations in order to suppress any opposition that those populations might pose. Their media continue massive disinformation campaigns to prevent us from knowing what is really happening, and to further divide us from one another.  They have no problem spending huge amounts of money on Superbowl spectacles, other distracting entertainments, and trivia to keep us preoccupied and attention diverted away from them and their tricks.

This cancer is now so advanced that it appears that the public body is in a terminal condition. Only a miraculous, heroic effort can save it.

A journey into the vice-ridden world of banking

Click here to access article by Éric Toussaint from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt

This is part 4 of a six-part series. I have not posted the previous parts because he tends to provide a heavy load of details in long paragraphs which I feel are not conducive to online reading. This article does not depart from that practice, but it has sufficient other merits: especially by explicating the games major banksters play with the aid of governments they control. I admit that I only scanned some parts, omitted others, and read some sections rather closely. If you read nothing else here, I suggest reading the last section entitled "Epilogue: a purely imaginary story".

The author and the website's objective is a limited radical reform of the capitalist system: it is to declare most sovereign debts to banks as illegitimate and put banking institutions under public ownership and control. This would be helpful, but it "ain't gonna happen" with banksters in control of the government. 

Banking scams are integral to the capitalist system and feeds enormous rewards to its major players. It would be like doing surgery to remove a major tumor in a body where the cancer has spread to all parts. The disease of capitalism must be totally eliminated. Only a revolution can make the necessary changes. Such changes must bring about a whole new economic system that prevents the growth of any class of people having advantages which sets them apart and over the rest of us which has occurred with the present ruling class who derive enormous advantages from their "ownership" of socially produced wealth.

Palm oil: fueling landgrabs and climate change, not development

Click here to access article by Jeff Conant from Friends of the Earth.

This article reports on another source of biofuels which pretends to be a "green" technology, but in reality supports more profit-taking for global corporations and results in more ecosystem destruction which threatens us all.
Just a few years ago, palm oil entered the spotlight as one of the best and brightest options for a “drop-in” biofuel feedstock (a type of biofuel that can be “dropped into” existing transportation infrastructure) to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, cut back on climate emissions, and bring economic development to marginal lands in developing countries. But a growing body of evidence shows that reliance on palm oil not only fails to reduce global warming, it increases it.

Genetic privacy needs a more nuanced approach

Click here to access article by Misha Angrist from Nature

Privacy from government snooping agencies has become a major issue especially for activists fighting against more government encroachment on their civil liberties. DNA research is providing another invasive tool for such agencies.
One can imagine law enforcement salivating at the prospect of turning a bloodstain into a name and address.
If you are unfamiliar with this issue, as I was, I suggest you read this earlier article entitled "Genetic privacy" from Nature before you read this one.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Corporate Personhood and The Culture of Pathology

Click here to access article by Nozomi Hayase from Brave New World.
Western societies are rapidly losing their moral center. The employment of reason in the majority of society now seems divorced from the basic capacity for empathy. Government war criminals walk free, while whistleblowers reporting their crimes are punished. Bankers who commit massive fraud are bailed out while taxpayers have their futures foreclosed. When a culture rewards selfish deeds and immunizes the criminal acts of its leaders, it skews the norm toward depravity. How has this happened? How is it that Western civilization has devolved into something like a global rouge state?
The author provides some profound perspectives on the appearance of global corporate power that is shaping human beings and their culture in pathological ways, ways that transform the best in human nature to the worst. In my view, what her analysis lacks is a class and system analysis to uncover the source of this phenomenon which she characterizes as a "culture of pathology"; and by doing so, she focuses on the effect rather than the cause. By identifying "corporate personhood" as the cause which, in her view, happened almost accidentally, does not get at the root of the problem. 

If you are familiar with my point of view, you know that the root is the system known as capitalism, the private ownership of an economy, which was established by the old mercantile and banking classes some 400 years ago. The legal fiction of corporate person-hood represented another stage of the growing dominance of this class over the rest of society.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Energy literacy through an astonishing coffee table book

Click here to access article by Kurt Cobb from Resource Insights.

 The author of this book review offers a profound question, but only very indirectly points toward a solution.
Will we continue to accept the religion of unlimited economic growth [also known as capitalism]—which must also be accompanied by unlimited growth in the production of energy and other resources—until a remorseless nature enforces its limits upon us?
The extreme reluctance on the part of contemporary intellectuals to deal directly with the planet destroying system of capitalism is preventing any possible solution.

Israel in Syria

Click here to access article by As'ad AbuKhalil from Al Akhbar.

The author provides some interesting speculations on Israeli's role in a region that is currently experiencing major upheavals. 
Israel, of course, regards the eruption of civil war in any Arab country as a golden opportunity to enter the scene, usually with the assistance of one of the two sides of the conflict.

Hidden Agenda behind America’s War on Africa: Containing China by “Fighting Al-Qaeda”

Click here to access article by Ben Schreiner from Global Research.

The author astutely reports on the latest moves by the Empire to curb China's influence in Africa and to secure more resources for its corporations. Meanwhile, its propagandists are working overtime on the US population.
...as the American public is prepped for the opening of a new front in the unending "war on terror," U.S. intervention accelerates.
In a 2010 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Johnnie Carson, U.S. assistant secretary for African Affairs, echoed Kerry's concerns. In fact, Carson went so far as to classify China as a "very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals."

Such U.S. sneering over growing Chinese investments in Africa were aired publicly during Secretary of State Clinton's visit through African back in August. As Clinton, in a clear jab at China declared on her trip, "Unlike other countries, 'America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier to look the other way and keep the resources flowing.'"

It’s all about Israel

Click here to access article by Jim Lobe from Lob Log.

If former Defence Secretary-designate Sen. Chuck Hagel’s lacklustre performance at his confirmation hearing Thursday heartened neo-conservatives and other hawks opposed to his nomination, those who argued that the Israel lobby has been exerting too great an influence on U.S. foreign policy were ecstatic.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sovereignty – betrayals and lies.

Click here to access article by David Malone from his blog Golem XIV.

The author's provides an exposé of the true nature of British officials' complaints about the European Union. He specifically targets recent comments by Prime Minister David Cameron (for example, see this) which reveals hidden motives of Western global elites to continue their attacks on what remains of social supports and pro-labor laws passed by west European governments following WWII, and left over from the former Soviet satellite governments .

You see, after the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-1943 it became clear to Western capitalist ruling classes that the Soviet Union would not be defeated by Germany (which, of course, is what they wanted). WWII then became a contest of empires between the Third Reich and the Anglo-American nations (soon to become an empire) to see who would dominate the capitalist world after the war. 

Following the war there was considerable popular support in Europe for pro-labor causes and more radical institutions symbolically represented and inspired by the ideologies that informed the 1917 revolution in Russia and founded the Soviet Union. Hence, Western European capitalist elites were forced to offer extensive social concessions in a form which became known as "social democracy". 

With the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by a self-serving bureaucratic class and was not a "worker's state", Western elites confidently announced the triumph of capitalism ("end of history", "there is no alternative", etc). Since then, along with the dismantling of national impediments to business (globalization), capitalist elites in order to increase profits have gone on the attack against all social supports and pro-labor laws across the world.

New Kevin Spacey Film Exposes Lobby & Its Supporters

Click here to access article by MJ Rosenberg from his blog.

Because I don't have the ability to "stream" the film, I haven't seen it. But, it sounds very interesting, especially this aspect as described by Rosenberg.