It is an inauspicious sign for the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP19, that Poland, a country heavily dependent on coal and notorious for blocking more ambitious climate change policy at the EU level, is this year's host for the meeting. The Polish Government has invited private corporate sponsorship of the COP – a first for the conference – raising questions of whether this is being taken seriously as an international meeting of paramount importance, or a facilitated lobbying opportunity for those who have a direct commercial interest in burning more fossil fuels.The article goes on to report the astonishing details about the infiltration of big corporate polluters into these talks.
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, November 23, 2013
I wonder how many times that this essay will be updated. Surely my fellow Americans will wake up before too long and take matters in their own hands!
Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare. No health insurance system is without problems but Canadian style single-payer full Medicare for all is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal.
In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!All across the country people (including myself) are experiencing shock at their new medical insurance rates. Read this, this, and this.
It appears that hugging people in Saudi Arabia is a threat to public order, but the training and funding of terrorists by the Saudi rulers is okay. Isn't it interesting that the latter have been best friends with the directors of the Empire? Is it true that you can judge people by the friends they keep?
Saudi’s religious police have dubbed al-Swed and al-Khayyal’s “happiness” campaigns as “exotic practices” which “offend public order,” neither of which is to be tolerated in the Kingdom.
I've recently re-started a practice of posting lifestyle articles about the rich that I formerly ran for a few years starting in October of 2010. The thought behind this effort was to increase our understanding of our fellow citizens in the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%, or one out of every 10,000 of us) hoping that by doing this that we wouldn't lose touch with their world and their concerns. Unfortunately, for some reason they tend to hide their lives from the rest of us behind walls of secrecy, literal walls of guarded gated communities, private clubs, esoteric publications, by traveling with private jets, etc.
Hopefully, you weren't so naive to believe that the rich are bothered by standing in line for humiliating security checks at airports and be inconvenienced by having to wait around airports for their flights. Of course not! They are smarter than us--they fly in their very own jet aircraft.
Today's article reports on one of the best places in the world to buy the luxury jets they use to commute to their homes scattered throughout the world, and to attend various gatherings where the elite meet and socialize. The locale is appropriately in London where reportedly most multi-millionaires reside.
Friday, November 22, 2013
This is an annotated representation of the 1999 essay written by James Douglass with modifications made by the author in 2012 for greater clarity. Hyperlinks and endnotes by David Ratcliffe with the assistance and approval of James Douglass.I believe that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was a watershed event in US history. It marked a real turning point from what had previously been a fairly independent presidency, although, of course, always representing the broad interests of the dominant capitalist class.
After the assassination of JFK, the National Security State under the guidance of a financial/banking directorate took direct control of the growing US Empire. (It was the agents of these people who, I believe, were referred to by Jacqueline Kennedy while preparing for the emergency swearing in of Johnson as president. In reply to suggestions that she change from her blood splattered pink outfit that she continued to wear, she said: "No, I'm going to leave these clothes on. I want them to see what they have done".) The stunning success of this assassination encouraged many others that followed against any serious threats posed by people such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, many Black Panthers and other activists.
What we have now is a chief executive who functions as a public relations officer for the Empire. The real executive function has been taken over by a ruling directorate consisting of influential people from the financial, military, and industrial complex that I often refer to as a "shadow government". (There has been one exception: the presidency of George H. W. Bush who was very much a part of the directorate. His son, George Bush Jr, was too stupid to exercise much leadership.)
Anyway, I am posting this online piece written by Jim Douglas who has done considerable research on the event and authored one of the best books on the subject--JFK and the Unspeakable.
Two prophets, a president, and a president-to-be were martyred between November l963 and June l968, four and a half years that raised some of the greatest hopes in American history. Has our downward spiral ever since as a people, from hope to despair, from faith in change to an acceptance of systemic evil, been because we haven’t recognized the truth of those martyrdoms, bound up as they were with unspeakable forces that continue to threaten us all?Of course, the answer is YES!
See also this article from Salon published a few years ago.
I never cease to be amazed by the gullibility of Americans, who know nothing about either event, but who confidently dismiss the factual evidence provided by experts and historians on the basis of their naive belief that “the government wouldn’t lie about such important events” or “someone would have talked.” What good would it do if someone talked when the gullible won’t believe hard evidence?
The directors of the ruling class have been flooding their media with an abundance of information and misinformation on the subject to insure that the younger generations learn the "correct" view about this historic incident.
This article provides a number of reliable resources to pursue if you want to know more about what the real story is. I followed the event closely on that day 50 years ago and have accessed a wide variety of authentic materials since then. If you have time for reading only one book about this tragedy, I highly recommend JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass.
This posting also contains a brief commentary which I am quoting in full below:
People often ask,
"Why does the Kennedy assassination still matter?"
It's a good question, and one worthy of a longer and more detailed response than you'll find here. Ultimately each person needs to answer that for themselves, but here's one response:
When the government can flat out lie to its citizens about the death of its own President, when the truth is knowable, when the conspirators still living are not prosecuted, when the accessories after the fact still grind out the disinformation, when a concerted campaign to publish books promoting the big lie can go unchallenged, and when the media is not held accountable for its participation in the
40+ year[50 year] cover-up, then our constitution is meaningless, our laws without substance, our people without hope of ever participating in the pseudo-democracy that passes for America.
If we allow ourselves to be lied to in so blatant a fashion about something as important as the assassination of a president, can we really expect the government or the media to tell us the truth about anything at all after that? Is that why Watergate happened? Iran-Contra? If no one is held accountable, than anything goes.
We are only just now finding out about an operation during the Vietnam war to spray nerve gas on deserters. What is going on now that we cannot know for another thirty years?
George Orwell wrote in his famous book 1984, "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." He wasn't being facetious. He was giving us a strong warning, and one that should be well heeded.
Don't give up your history. It's too important.
The author, without stating so, really describes how the duplicitous capitalist game has worked in the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS). Only at the end of the article does he imply that the game was rigged from the beginning without explaining how and why.
SCOTUS is just one of three branches of a totally broken government, broken in part at the very start by the U.S Constitution that is fundamentally flawed in its design and needs to be "demythologized" by asking "What kind of government do we want?"The game was established to insure the dominance of rule by, and for, a class consisting of owners of economic property (capitalists), but widely packaged and sold as "democracy". The latter theme has been pounded into the heads of its citizens ever since the founding of the nation so that now it is rarely questioned.
Still, there are widespread doubts about the way things are currently going in the "land of the free and the home of the brave". People are concerned about never-ending wars, poor and expensive health care, the closing and underfunding of schools, the disappearing jobs that pay a living wage, debts, homelessness, hunger, and the emergence of a police state that engages in full-spectrum surveillance of its citizens.
The writer provides evidence that the medieval kingdom is conflicted over foreign policies that they have been pursuing in the Middle East, policies which have put them in conflict with the Empire upon which they have long depended for their survival in the modern world. Rivalries to succeed the aging king are heating up.
We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist. The claim that it does exist is misleading and misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue. Moreover, the claim encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate caution, potentially endangering the health of humans, animals, and the environment.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
This is a well-researched, well-documented analysis of the latest forms of social organizing that led to the June uprising in Brazil. The author through his writings has gained a reputation as a leading political theorist on the left throughout Latin America. The following is an apt introduction by his translator:
An unprecedented wave of mass protest rocked multiple Brazilian cities beginning in June, 2013, and shows no sign of letting up. In this special two-part series, Raúl Zibechi argues that the huge mobilizations were not simply a demand for reduced bus fares -- as portrayed in mainstream media -- but the product of a decade of grassroots, anti-capitalist organizing. He dispels the myth that it was a spontaneous protest fueled by social networks, investigates the radical social movements behind the countrywide uprising, and explores the forms of organizing based on horizontalism, consensus and direct action.The organizing going on in Brazil is another illustration of the rise of a new global political culture that has developed through global ideological crowdsourcing. One can see the influences of grassroots resistance movements all over the world in Brazil's grassroots political actions.
Many...students, though, have had enough. A revolt against the orthodoxy has been smouldering for years and now seems to have gone critical. Fed up with parallel universe theories that have little to say about the world they're interested in, students at Manchester University have set up a post-crash economics society with 800 members, demanding an end to monolithic neoclassical courses and the introduction of a pluralist curriculum.It is becoming apparent that economics students are not buy the ruling class's version of economics. The author even implies that this version, whose proponents are intolerant of all others, is about power and domination--in other words, orthodox economics is the academic manifestation of class warfare.
One of the challenges of preparing for the Geneva conference is to write the history of Syria. The NATO powers and the Gulf Cooperation Council are trying to impose their version of events which would give them a clear advantage at the negotiating table. Hence a sudden avalanche of articles and summary reports in the Western and the Gulf press.It seems to me that the propaganda cover for promoting this war by the Empire and the Gulf Cooperation Council will play a secondary role in the negotiations and used mostly for public consumption as it was always designed to be used. It is real politics that will be the primary driving force in the negotiations. It will be the concrete material interests of the Empire, and the various components that comprise it, that will primarily determine the outcome of the negotiations.
Nevertheless, in this article Meyssan provides a broad view of this brief historical episode as a counter-narrative to the Empire's propaganda version which I think is very credible and useful. Because he doesn't attempt to document the elements and elaborate on the arguments that make up his version (it would have resulted in a very lengthy article), one has to rely on his record as a credible source. I believe that he has well established his knowledge and credibility over the past several years with his numerous writings about the Syrian conflict and other related matters in the Middle East.
Members of the G77+China, a group of 133 developing countries have walked out of the negotiations on ‘loss and damage’ at dawn today, amidst growing frustration at the intransigence of the EU, Australia, Canada, US and other developed countries on the issue of who should pay compensation for the effects of extreme climate events.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
This is the best antidote I've seen to cope with nausea after viewing/listening/reading mainstream media's programs/reports featuring the re-hashed version of Kennedy's assassination known as the Warren Commission Report. It is clear that our ruling shadow government and their agents in mainstream media do not want the new generations of Americans since Kennedy's murder to be disturbed by any new evidence and dissenting views on the matter. The worst perpetrator of this kind of coverage has been the government's own mega-media organizations known as PBS/NPR.
This author and researcher has collected a mountain of evidence that does not support the ruling class's official story, yet their media to a considerable extent refuse to cover the discrepancies. This sort of media coverage is the greatest furnishes one of the best arguments that we have been ruled by a shadow government since the Kennedy assassination. He was the last president to rule with any kind of independence from what had been a growing right-wing cabal which since the assassination has completely taken over the government.
Despite this new evidence, there are many programs being broadcast this month about both President Kennedy and his murder, e.g. Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy. Not a single one will present anywhere near a representative selection of the new evidentiary discoveries made by the ARRB [Assassination Records Review Board created by House Select Committee on Assassinations]. Yet, this information is crucial to understanding where the United States finds itself today, a country awash in excessive secrecy and growing public distrust.
Apparently Irish press conferences are not as carefully managed as they are in the US where a journalist like this one would never be allowed into the conference, or would be severely punished if he/she asked such questions.
While there are those who would suggest that Egypt has now merely returned to the status quo ante of the Mubarak years’ security state, the persistence of the language and ideals of the 2011 revolution in various, often unexpected quarters reveals that the lies of the state are not left unchallenged. Indeed, the grassroots organizations taking action on issues ranging from sectarian discrimination to sexual harassment to neighborhood revitalization counter the notion that the revolution has failed.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once famous in Washington for his cigars, parties and charm, is now Saudi Arabia’s point man, fighting Iran in Syria and denouncing the Obama administration.Bandar is a prime example of elite rule: rule by people who have attained power over others in their societies by various means, but means that always include the threat of violence against those who object. Contributing to the problem of rule by elites is that many people can be quite easily trained to behave like slaves or children and to show uncritical deference to authority figures. This may be the major flaw in human nature that may threaten the human race.
Power acts very much like a drug. Once having obtained power, rulers and their agents lose their inhibitions and social conscience, and tend to act out their petty fantasies and grudges at the expense and suffering of others. Unless humanity can devise a means of organizing societies in which true equality is the basic principle, this scourge of elite rule will likely lead to human extinction now that humans possess weapons of mass destruction. If that doesn't accomplish the extinction, then the system of capitalism will in its mad pursuit of energy which will inevitably lead to the destruction of an ecosystem that can support human life.
Fortunately, there are people who still exist that refuse to act like slaves, refuse to recognize the authority of illegitimate power, who recognize the ecological destruction that is now occurring, and who are willing to fight for their survival.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
This piece caught my eye because I know Sweezy as a prominent American socialist economist whose articles were often published in Monthly Review. But then the brief introduction to a lengthy quote from a 1982 article which was printed in the Monthly Review left me puzzled:
‘Secular stagnation’ is the talk of the town at the moment. It was one of the mayor interests of Paul Sweezy. Here, part of a 1982 lecture with a rather concise conclusion.So, why was this "the talk of the town"? And, what does "secular" refer to in the phrase "secular stagnation". I couldn't find the answer to the second question after wasting about 15 minutes looking for it. The term appears to have been coined by an American Keynesian economist by the name of Alvin Hansen whom Sweezy refers to. It seems to me that "capitalist stagnation" is what is meant by the term. (For some reason, capitalist economists tend to avoid using terms that refer directly to capitalism--it probably has something to do with their belief that there is no alternative, or that they don't want you to think that there is.)
As to the first question, it seems that the origins of this sudden interest in "secular stagnation" was ignited by a recent brief talk (Nov. 8th) given by Larry Summers at an IMF forum which Kevin Drum of Mother Jones summarized as simply this: "we might be in a permanent condition of slow economic growth—i.e., secular stagnation." It seems that capitalist ideologs have run out of solutions to the stagnant economy and Summers is simply acknowledging this.
Major wars in the past have served as a fix when capitalists were faced with this dilemma; but having arrived in this era of nuclear weapons, this solution is no longer feasible. So, I guess we of the 99 Percent are "screwed", unless, of course, we start to seriously consider alternative socioeconomic systems besides capitalism.
Could this be why the Sweezy quote from 1982 was resurrected in reference to the term "secular stagnation" without any explanation other than the term was "the talk of the town"? It appears to me that capitalist economists, even liberal ones who write for this website, don't want to direct too much attention to their dilemma and our plight. You see, we of the 99 Percent might get ideas--dangerous ones to the One Percent.
To me, the most interesting part of this rambling article is the part where she writes about her experience in 1970 as a 16 year old runaway and meeting people with direct connections to the JF Kennedy assassination. This experience obvious spurred her on to dig up a lot of the confusing and conflicting details, alleged and factual, related to this event.
In sharp contrast to recent TV programs on the assassination, this article captures many of the inconsistencies of the reports from eye-witnesses, police, and local and federal agencies. I well remember most of these events and the bewildering conflicting reports that finally were reduced to the totally unbelievable story published by the Warren Commission and has now entered US history books.
...when it comes to a mass rebellion against the perpetrators of global destruction, we can see a glimmer of the coming upheaval in events of the present moment. Take a look and you will see that the assorted environmental protests that have long bedeviled politicians are gaining in strength and support.I think that the author grossly underestimates the opposition to any significant reduction in fossil fuels and nuclear power by capitalist ruling classes. He doesn't seem to understand the growth imperative without which the capitalist system simply could not function.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are set to rise again in 2013, reaching a record high of 36 billion tonnes – according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project, co-led by researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia [Norwich, England].
Monday, November 18, 2013
The author provides profound insights on the transformation of feudalism into profit-driven industrial capitalism, insights that, no doubt, were mostly absent in your education. Following this transformation he begins his analysis of the conversion of privately owned farms into corporate agribusinesses (with special emphasis on China), and their influence on governments to remove national barriers inhibiting their accumulation of profits globally (neoliberalism).
What is going on today must be placed in the historical context of the continuous development of capitalism. .... Specific examples of the dispossession of people from the land will emphasize the various techniques used by capital (or nascent capital) that have resulted in a continuous stream of people moving to the cities. The examples discussed below are but a small sampling of the dispossessions that have occurred, and are occurring, around the world.
The author describes current conditions in the Empire's latest failed state.
On Friday, the Misrata militia fired on thousands of demonstrators, including women and children, killing 43 and wounding over 500. The demonstrators were calling for the government to rein in the militias as they marched to the Misrata brigades’ headquarters at Ghargour. The central government’s weak forces only arrived long after the violence erupted.Meanwhile, according to the NY Times the Empire's Africa Command is considering training (referred to as "counter-terrorism" training) Libya's military to give the puppet government improved capability of suppressing any rebellion by its citizens.
Witnesses said anti-aircraft weapons were fired at peaceful demonstrators carrying white flags and placards.
Like so many liberal critiques of corporate power in relation to global warming, this piece totally ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room--the economic system that corporations inhabit. Thus, it distracts from the mandatory solution to the climate crisis: the elimination of the system of capitalism from the Earth.
Capitalism is a cancer that is slowly consuming the healthy body of the planet. Tinkering with its dynamics only wastes time and energy that we could be using to excise this cancer and save the body. By arguing that "corporate power blocks global energy transition" is like arguing that traffic congestion is caused by too many vehicles for the roads, and therefore the solution is to build more roads and lanes. Here in the Seattle area congestion has become such a big problem that highway construction can't keep up with the number of cars. They are now boring tunnels under the city. Our local ruling class still cannot bear to think of a different kind of system designed to move people around.
Like all cultural elements in class structured societies since their origins about 10,000 years ago (about 2% of human existence), the automobile fetish has been created to serve the interests of the ruling capitalist class. These fossil fuel driven vehicles designed only for individuals and their families are enormously profitable.
On Monday [11/18/2013], by far the most dangerous nuclear operation attempted in human history was set to begin in the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, the removal of more than 1,300 spent fuel rods and some 200 unused rods from a reservoir on top of Unit 4.Given the ongoing nuclear disasters at Fukushima, it is a wonder that nations still want nuclear power. But then, given the fact that the climate is now obviously destabilizing due to the use of fossil fuels, some form of energy is required that doesn't contribute to global warming. Besides, the voracious appetite of capitalist economic engines require ever greater amounts of energy to produce products and services to provide profits demanded by the ruling global capitalist class. Thus, nuclear energy is the only alternative source that can provide the amount of energy required to feed the capitalist monster.
This begs a question: why should the rest of humanity, the vast majority, allow this tiny class to wreck havoc on their planet?
Sunday, November 17, 2013
The author and labor organizer takes us on a tour through the most "progressive" of current US labor unions to see how they function in the growing fast-food industry. After that, he contrasts the latter with a radical type of union organizing.
Imagine if a fast food worker union advanced a vision not just of better-paying work in a fundamentally inhumane economy, but for a worker-controlled food system operated in the interests of all of humanity and the earth? Such a turn is unlikely while the campaign narrative is dictated by union bureaucrats who see themselves not as capitalism’s gravediggers, but its doctors.
The US Empire, which took off after the devastation of WWII, has never allowed Greek independence simply because Greeks were overwhelming opposed capitalist policies. Greeks fought vigorously against the Nazis and were rewarded by the post-WWII Empire with the re-imposition of fascist pro-Empire rulers. (See this and this)
No doubt Chris Hedges, were he Greek, would be admonishing the current anti-fascists for their use of violence, and insist that they should hold candlelight marches instead.
The retired professor of sociology tries his hand at deciphering the logic of empire building. Empire builders obviously use violence, deceit, subversion to build their empires, but in the process they also create many enemies. To deal with the latter problem, they must construct vast spying networks to head off resistance to their rule. The professor provides more of the details of this process and illustrates the logic by referring to the history of the US Empire. I'm not as hopeful as he is about the ultimate consequences of this logic.
Zionism, like capitalism, is losing its aura of beneficence and inevitability, as its fangs become harder to hide. Israel is not the Upper West Side overseas. (No matter what many people on the Upper West Side may like to think.) It is a violently racist colonial enterprise, with all the ideological and practical viciousness that implies.
It seems that a Medieval kingdom and a European-Jewish enclave in the Middle East have become allies. Could this be another threat that Israeli expansionists are using against any concessions negotiated by the US?
Recent decisions by the governments of Australia, Japan and Canada to downgrade their efforts over climate change have caused panic among those states most affected by global warming, who fear others will follow as they rearrange their priorities during the downturn.Of course, all the leading capitalist nations have, to a great or lessor extent, reneged or dragged their heels on promises to reduce carbon emissions (Germany is probably the least sinful--see this). Of course, their capitalist ruling classes will always find ways to renege or cheat (probably the best way is to off-shore production to the least developed countries) to promote their own industries and profits.