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, September 27, 2014
ProPublica's stated mission is to be the nation’s authority on professional, investigative reporting by “producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.” However, because ProPublica is so well-connected, well-funded, and well-embedded in the US ruling class, it can only manage a pretense of an exposé of the Fed and its inability to head-off the banking crisis of 2008 as illustrated in this article. Their investigative report, while very interesting, doesn't really lead to any insightful conclusions other than that the "culture" of the Fed was a major contributing problem that resulted in the banking crisis. WTF does "culture" mean as an explanation?
Actually, I argue that these is a much larger problem of culture that is endemic to the entire capitalist ruling class. Any ruling socioeconomic class has a common interest in maintaining their rule and maintaining any systems that support their rule. The end result is the creation of a ruling class culture to establish the norms of conduct acceptable to this class, and their primary focus will be to maintain their power and interests, and the system of capitalism which supplies them with such fabulous wealth and power. The Fed is at the nerve center of their class rule, and as such it plays a key role in this class's control over society. And, because ProPublica is also a part of this ruling class, it cannot seriously offer an exposé of this key institution. Hence, the author concludes with bland conclusion that the problem with the Fed is "culture" without analyzing what this culture consists of.
Nothing will come of this report, as well as nothing will come of the lawsuit by the fired employee, Carmen Segarra, who seriously tried to do her job as a bank examiner for the Fed.
...American respondents estimated the ratio of estimated incomes of CEOs to unskilled workers to be 29.6, whereas the actual ratio was about 354....Tyler Durden suggests that there is one way to survive: befriend a rich person by hanging out in places where the rich are. And, he helpfully provides us with a "The Billionaire Social Calendar". Maybe we of the poor might run into each other at these occasions. If we get bored, we can swap notes and tips on how to make friends with a rich person.
With another UN climate summit under way, I wish we could all be more excited and hopeful about the results. Besides the fact that all eyes are focused on ISIS right now, there is plenty of pessimism about the latest UN meeting.Do you think that this phenomenon has anything to do with capitalists' control of the UN?
This climate summit may very well be the most important one ever held. In fact, every climate summit from here on out is the most important one ever held. (If you’re driving your car towards a cliff at high speed, it can be argued that each move you make becomes more important than the preceding move because you’re, um, about to go over a cliff!) Countries of the world started to hold meetings to discuss what to do about global warming way back in 1992. Remember the Earth Summit?
Friday, September 26, 2014
In this article Devereaux reviews a recently released CIA document about CIA concerns in relation to Gary Webb and his sensational 1996 series of articles which exposed considerable evidence of CIA involvement in the spread of crack cocaine in California. I found in this article a number of troubling signs of bias with regard to the author's treatment of Gary Webb and the CIA. Devereaux' treatment of the CIA which seems to be based largely on this released CIA document suggests to me that he is engaging in damage control for the CIA. This early paragraph describes in summary form his whole treatment of the CIA's relationship with this incident.
Looking back on the weeks immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the document offers a unique window into the CIA’s internal reaction to what it called “a genuine public relations crisis” while revealing just how little the agency ultimately had to do to swiftly extinguish the public outcry. Thanks in part to what author Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time of publication, describes as “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” the CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter.While the CIA may have played a minor role in media attacks on Webb's revelations, this criminal agency played a major role in the proliferation of illicit drugs among poor urban areas of the US. By focusing attention on the discrediting of Webb's investigative reporting and the CIA's minor role in it, he deflects attention away from the crimes of the CIA. As far as who was discrediting Webb's work, there were others in the US ruling class directorate that were interested in controlling the powerful influence of his work, and ended up destroying his career. His series of articles in the San Jose Mercury only reached the attention of the wider American public because his revelations corresponded so well with widespread suspicions among people in the African-American urban communities.
Devereaux takes the CIA document as a serious argument that the CIA, and by extension the ruling class, had little to do with the subsequent smearing of Webb's reporting in major newspapers like the NY Times and the Washington Post, which then spread throughout major US news media. Instead he suggests that the discrediting was mostly due to rivalries and jealousies among other journalists in major newspapers.
Discussing the newly disclosed “Managing a Nightmare” document, Schou says it squares with what he found while doing his own reporting. Rather than some dastardly, covert plot to destroy (or, as some went so far as to suggest, murder) Webb, Schou posits that the journalist was ultimately undone by the petty jealousies of the modern media world. The CIA “didn’t really need to lift a finger to try to ruin Gary Webb’s credibility,” Schou told The Intercept. “They just sat there and watched these journalists go after Gary like a bunch of piranhas.”As the German journalist, writer, and former newspaper editor Mathias Broechkers wrote in his book on conspiracies:
The intimate involvement of western intelligence agencies with organized crime and illegal arms and drug dealing may be proven and documented a hundred times over--yet this conspiracy will still not be publicly exposed.I strongly suspect that the recent release of this CIA document was timed precisely because of the upcoming release of the film covering this subject.
Doherty examines the frequent use of the Hitler and Nazi metaphors targeting enemies of the US Empire to provide propaganda cover for the Empire's military interventions. In this piece he offers an excellent correction to the false history reported widely in the US about what is often referred to as the "good war" (WWII). In reality it was essentially an inter-empire conflict in the 20th century's "multi-polar" capitalist world.
Public support for western interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere depends very heavily on the belief that the Western democratic states are fundamentally benign actors in world affairs. Since that assumption is difficult to square with the ugly reality of Western imperialism, WWII is routinely invoked in an effort to demonstrate that supposed benevolence. Indeed it is hard to think of a post-Cold War era conflict involving the United States and her allies in which Nazi comparisons have not been drawn - from Libya to the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and beyond. If we wish to restrain the Western powers from routine intervention in the global south we would do well to blunt the power of this particular propaganda tool by endeavouring to see that a more critical picture of the Second World War is known to the publics of the imperial societies.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
I can easily identify with these two authors and their perspective as activists against an earlier war engaged in by the Empire--the Vietnam War. This war brought in a huge cross-section of young Americans by the ruling capitalist class to kill people in Indochina who had been fighting the French to gain independence. It was during the buildup to this war that saw other events that created opposition to the war from many sections of the society: the Cuban missile crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and many people in radical type organizations like the Black Panther Movement. While all of these events were contributing to a huge opposition to the war, the ruling capitalist class were learning many lessons from this experience which they then proceeded to implement in the years that followed.
There were two main lessons that resulted in profound changes in US society: increased control over media coverage by the capitalist class to transform mainstream media into a pure propaganda organ, and the embedding of a secret deep state to take direct control of the official organs of the nation, Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court, whose independent powers were greatly diminished.
As a result of these changes, the ruling capitalist class, also known as the One Percent, have succeeded in engaging in military aggressions, directly or indirectly, against many countries across the globe without significant opposition from the well-indoctrinated people of the US. And, whenever the American people get tired of war, the ruling class will always whip them in line by creating new fears, new evils, and new bad guys that will come to the US and kill them. The 9/11 project was a hugely successful example of this. The creation of ISIS is the most recent illustration.
In this article the two authors demonstrate a clear understanding of the root causes of war in our era, and end on a note of hope:
Sadly, war will continue as long as capitalists run the country and the world.
War is highly profitable. And almost without competition. The carefully masked fascist war machine already controls the US government, it has already bribed government officials. The payoff comes with every new plane, ship, bomb, missile, mortar, gun, and bullet ordered by the military. Not to mention unlimited access to the US treasury.
The enemies of war are the people who value the lives of everyone’s children, their own lives, and the lives of animals, and the destiny of this planet—our only home. Precious as they are, they have no place in the current capitalist paradigm.
Yet they are the future of mankind.
They are the revolutionaries.
An interview with Radio Voice of Russia, World Service on Ukrainian sovereignty in the face of IMF loans, the push for fracking [and GMOs] by US interests and how corruption lurks in the background.Hudson explains the devious strategy of the IMF and US corporations which are using Ukraine to induce European acceptance of fracking and GMOs.
John Cowsill is a socialist and environmental activist. He lives in Islington, London. After a 20 year career as a systems analyst and programmer, he changed tack and gained an MSc in Architecture: Advanced Energy and Environmental Studies at the University of East London and the Graduate School of the Environment in Wales. He was the principal researcher on storage and Vehicle-to-Grid technology for the ZeroCarbonBritain (2007) report.Cowsill in this article is writing about some irrationalities that have been showing up in the UK over energy used to supply their National Grid. Lately it appears that they have had an oversupply of energy which ruling class authorities have dealt with by shutting now renewable energy sources. They provided cover for this irrational action by claiming the shutdowns were for many phony reasons. Cowsill has spotted the real reason.
Under capitalist rules private enterprises exist to make a profit, and cheaper renewable energy is adversely affecting the profits of energy corporations. With capitalists in control of societies, they are dictating policies like this which from a social system point of view are irrational, but rational from a capitalist point of view.
Unmentioned by the author, there is another reason for the shutdown of renewable energy resources. The current oversupply must be seen as only a temporary phenomenon given the growth-imperative of capitalism. Hence, the future demands for energy can only increase and such demands cannot be met by renewable energy resources. Thus, they must continue to develop fossil energy resources to keep their system going, a system what supplies these addicts with their drugs of power and wealth. They are finding that new fossil fuel sources are becoming ever more expensive; thus energy companies require huge investments which must be recouped through profits. They can't tolerate having cheaper renewable energy competing with them.
And, worst of all, they are so drugged-out that they refuse to seriously look at the reality of climate destabilization, much less the likelihood of nuclear wars between capitalist gangs to gain control of diminishing fossil fuels sources.
Unlike mainstream media, Zimet and Common Dreams does us a favor by informing us that we are in the middle of Banned Books Week. The event is about the banning of many books from libraries and schools with emphasis on the worst offender, Texas. This is worrisome because, as an article from The New York Review of Books explains, Texas has crucial influence over textbooks selected for classrooms across the country.
Carbon dioxide generated by the burning of fossil fuels is being absorbed into the oceans with already serious -- and potentially catastrophic -- consequences for marine life and human life. Meg Chadsey describes the phenomenon of ocean acidification and the myriad physical and social threats it poses.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Because the directors of the Empire like to play to its home crowd in themes of morality, humanitarianism, and rule of law, the twists and turns of their imperial ploys often require rather absurd twists and turns in their propaganda. Then we have Escobar who can smell hypocrisy miles away, and loves to ridicule it wherever he finds it. With directors like those running the Empire, he has no difficulty satisfying his love of ridicule. He feasts on the abundance of hypocritical newspeak that these directors must serve to their home subjects in order to appear as humanitarian cooks.
The Obama administration's unison newspeak is that Khorasan includes former al-Qaeda assets not only from across the Middle East - including al-Qaeda in Iraq and Jabhat al-Nusra - but also Pakistan, as in an ultra-hardcore extension of the Pakistani Taliban.If ridicule is not your "thing", then read a more conventional report by Tony Cartalucci on the same subject. Some will argue that Escobar's article is more effective.
What a mess. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is the embryo of ISIS, which turned into IS. Jabhat al-Nusra is the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria, approved by CEO Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both despise each other, and yet Khorasan holds the merit of bundling Caliph's goons and al-Qaeda goons together. Additionally, for Washington Jabhat al-Nusra tend to qualify as "moderate" jihadis - almost like "our bastards". Too messy? No problem; when in doubt, bomb everybody.
NGOs (non-profits, foundations, other "charitable" organizations) often function as front organizations serving our corporate/financial overlords in support of their neoliberal and imperial policies abroad and austerity policies within the US. Our rich ruling class use this method to funnel their vast amounts of wealth to such organizations which appear to be engaged in merely humanitarian efforts. It is often effective in protecting their system and policies from resistance by the Ninety-Nine Percent (that's us!). Aren't they clever?
As a fifth column of fascism, imperial civil society – funded by such entities as Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Ford Foundation, and Soros Open Society Institute – operates worldwide (in tandem with official false fronts like USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, and U.S. Institute for Peace) to subvert sovereignty and derail democracy in favor of US hegemony.
A hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-ization of resistance.Roy draws on her experience watching NGOs function in India to explain how some NGOs function in support of neoliberal "structural adjustment" programs by pacifying populations and containing dissent.
For a lengthy description of how such NGOs function in another country, Eritrea, read this article.
Britisher Todhunter, who has lived in India for a number of years, has learned a lot about the way global corporations function in developing countries. He explains how the agricultural corporations' exclusive dedication to profits adversely affects the health and well-being of ordinary people.
With each new ‘fix’, with each technology, with each new pesticide, herbicide, GM innovation, we become further removed from with nature as powerful corporate entities attempt to dominate it with some or other biotechnology that further damages both ourselves and the environment. But, it’s all good business. And once peasant economies are destroyed and remaining farmers are forced onto the treadmill of chemical inputs and GMOs, it can be difficult to get off. There’s always money to be made from a continuous state of crisis management (aka ‘innovation’ and bombarding farmers with a never-ending stream of new technologies).
In her new work of "fiction", it appears that this former FBI translator and whistleblower reveals more Empire secrets.
What the mainstream sources do not tell you about Operation Gladio is that it is not merely a NATO-led operation, but a CIA-sponsored and Pentagon-connected one; that it is not merely operative in Europe but throughout the world; that its main area of operations is not Italy but Turkey; and that it did not end operations after the fall of the Soviet Union, but merely changed tactics, from fostering right-wing paramilitary groups (original Gladio) to fostering Islamic terrorist groups (Gladio “B”).And if you are interested how censorship is exercised in this "land of the free...", you need to read about her experiences with book publishing.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
With a string of failures including what many believe to be videos of staged beheadings broadcast over and over to get the war-weary American public behind another war, the Empire's propaganda directors continued their work and have finally achieved success.
...all the tales of the besieged Yazidis being rescued by those great M16 toting humanitarians of the U.S. military didn’t quite suffice to fully move the American public onto a proper war footing. The hangover from the Iraq war (part II) still lingered. Understandable, considering the war launched to prevent a war (“preemptive defense”) blew a three-plus trillion dollar hole in the American coffer, let alone having left thousands of American GIs killed and maimed (in addition to claiming millions more “unworthy” victims in Iraq). So try as they might, the “respectable press” could not sell the prevention of “genocide” as a casus belli to a still war-weary public. The responsibility to protect mantra of the liberal interventionists clearly has its limits.Meanwhile, the Empire's propaganda directors ignore occasional reports showing how the Empire and its Arab allies have promoted ISIS (see this and this), and cover such purported beheadings in a very selective manner.
The time had come, then, for the propaganda system’s trump card. Enter fear.
This article also documents many other nefarious aspects in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.
While the Times article is couched in the language of defense, in relation to both Russia and China the US has played the role of aggressor. The US and its allies in Europe organized a right-wing coup in Ukraine that has been followed by a campaign of sanctions and war threats against Russia. And the Obama administration has been carrying out a “pivot to Asia,” asserting its control over the Asia-Pacific while encouraging the remilitarization of Japan.
These confrontations, as well possible conflicts with European powers, pose the danger of nuclear war.
Prime Healthcare Services — like the rest of the for-profit health industry — shows capitalism as its worst.
...Prime Healthcare’s history suggests an organization determined to view the sick as a resource for exploitation, an attitude that has led, unsurprisingly, to a dramatic rift between Prime’s management and the workers that staff its hospitals.
Engdahl provides a summing up of one of the Empire's latest adventures, Ukraine, which could have brought about a nuclear conflagration; and offers thanks to the "true heroes" who averted such a catastrophe. It illustrates once again that "the people united can never be defeated." Hence, the powerful efforts by Empire agents to divide people.
We should all thank God it has not happened, and that Russia has acted with remarkable restraint in the situation. Instead, a rag-tag citizens’ militia across eastern Ukraine, fighting for their homes, their lands, for their families and friends, whether or not in part helped by Russians, have fought an incredible battle. It has been a battle to stop the insanity put in power in Kiev that US State Department neo-conservative Assistant Secretary Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland and CIA Director John Brennan and others in the Obama Administration have brought.
.... Finally with the declaration by Ukraine’s Poroshenko of a ceasefire, it is time to recognize the debt of gratitude all lovers of world peace and civilized people everywhere owe to the citizens of eastern Ukraine whose refusal to allow the destruction of their lives by a criminal band of US-financed barbarians in Kiev just might have helped avoid a world war. [my emphasis]
We really need to understand the methods used by NGOs to undermine radical political organizing efforts and divert us into political dead ends. ....This is so true, much more than we realize. However, this piece only lightly touches on the problem. We need a much deeper examination of the methods used by NGOs to divert energies and criticism into safer (for the ruling class) channels and away from real change strategies.
.... NGOs will descend on any organizing effort and try to take it over, dilute it, and bring it eventually to the Democratic Party. We can also see an identical set-up with the established labor unions and many other organizations.
In the past couple of days both Google[i] and Apple[ii] have announced that they’re enabling default encryption on their mobile devices so that only the user possessing a device’s password can access its local files.
Quite a sales pitch? Cleverly disguised as a news report no less. Though it’s not stated outright the tacit message is: open your wallet for the latest gadget and you’ll be safe from Big Brother.Blunden deconstructs the latest deceptions from corporate America.
Monday, September 22, 2014
If you line up the S&L, the Junk Bond and the Dot Com bubble, America has had a major home-brewed financial crisis every ten years. If you consider that none of these events happened in isolation nor limited their effects to the country of origin then we have to conclude that the global financial system is prone to crises. You can, if you see the world through resolutely libertarian glasses, blame everything on interfering governments – it matters little. The fact remains that the system as is, is unstable and run by the myopic, the greedy and the corrupt. Where they draw their salary, which side of the revolving door they happen to be on, on any day seems to me irrelevant. The worst of them don’t understand and are easily bought. The best have no concern for anyone or anything beyond their next bonus.Then in Part two he speculates about what the One Percent have planned for us in the next crisis; and argues that if we understand their plan, there might be hope that we can save ourselves.
And here we are being led by them.
...we should be thinking what our leaders, what the people they work for – the global overclass – might already have in mind or have already put in place, for what they want done next time.
An alternative to Democracy must be introduced and praised. That alternative must be the Rule of International Law as written and controlled by the lawyers of the 1%. People must be told that this is all that stands between them and an increasingly hostile and anarchic world. But that it can only keep them safe if it has absolute authority over democracy. People must voluntarily bow to it out of fear and its decisions must be as absolute and unquestionable.
...I suggest that this amounts to a dystopian version of the old environmentalist idea of Spaceship Earth. A corporate version where we are just passengers who must pay our passage in a ship someone else owns. No longer inhabitants or citizens with the same inalienable right to be there and be heard as anyone else.
And yet, dark as all this may seem, victory for the 1% depends on no one understanding what is happening. If we are already beginning to see the outlines of what the Over Class wants, then their victory is not assured. If our ignorance is their bliss, then our understanding is like sunlight on a vampire’s skin.
After being misled down the path of fake anti-capitalism as performed by Naomi Klein, I have decided to focus much more attention on astroturf non-profit organizations (NGOs) operating here in the US to manage dissent and consent in relation to US-led Empire interests. I have run a number of articles describing such NGO operations in foreign countries, but I think I have been somewhat remiss by a lack of focus on the same type of operations here in the US. After all, Empire operatives have a global perspective to go along with their global Empire aspirations, and thus there is no reason to separate their functions abroad from their domestic efforts to manage the views and opinions of ordinary people.
In this article Morningstar provides considerable evidence of recent operations of astroturf organizations being funded by the well-connected rich hidden behind many non-profit foundations. Such foundations appear to funnel money of the rich from one such organization to another in an effort to head off growing criticism from the new-economy movement and their focus on changing the system, from those who fear climate destabilization stemming from fossil-fueled capitalism, and many who are opposed to foreign adventures of the Empire to extend its control over the remaining resources of the world.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
The author is expert at describing where we are headed if we continue down the path of "business as usual". It ain't pretty, but it's real.
From its inception, capitalism paved a one-way path to annihilation, predicated as it was on unmitigated growth, the extraction of finite resources, the exaltation of individualism over communal ties, and the maximization of profit at the expense of the environment and society. .... Capitalist industrial civilization was built on burning the organic remains of ancient organisms, but at the cost of destroying the stable climatic conditions which supported its very construction. The thirst for fossil fuels by our globalized, high-energy economy spurred increased technological development to extract the more difficult-to-reach reserves, but this frantic grasp for what was left only served to hasten the malignant transformation of Earth into an alien world.
In this article Saul advises people "to bear in mind the potential dangers and drawbacks of such an endeavor" of which he suggests some. He also offers suggestions about how the event could be useful.
I think that if all people do is gather in mass in New York and march through the city with a lot of corporate embedded NGOs, then it will be all for nothing. But to the extent that The People's Climate March raises peoples' consciousness of the seriousness of climate destabilization, then it could be promising if afterwards people at the grassroots build organizations to confront the goliaths of capitalist ruling classes along a series of battlegrounds--control of media, government, education, and most important of all, the economy.