Climate scientists have been warning for decades that the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as a result of the human combustion of fossil fuels, will at some point tip stable climate zones into new regimes – a shift defined by the researchers as an “abrupt, substantial and persistent” change.
Most climate scientists expect such change to happen in the next few decades, but this new study seems to declare that it has already started to happen.
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 28, 2015
This is a huge story that many progressives seem to be overlooking. In 2013 the Supreme Court allowed companies — Netflix, T-Mobile, rental cars, banks, private schools, medical practices, online retailers, etc. — to slip “arbitration clauses” into contracts for services and jobs that circumvent the court system entirely. If you have a legal grievance, you will be shunted into their private kangaroo court, presided over by often-laughably biased officials hired by the company. The NY Times has a must-read three part series on this truly incredible overturning of a fundamental Constitutional right.
Friday, November 27, 2015
Todhunter starts out this essay by exposing the latest lies of the British prime minister to justify attacks on Syria. But soon he urges us to regard this as only the latest deception by global capitalists to pursue their passions of profits and power throughout the world.
All activists must stop thinking and acting along national lines because our masters among the capitalist elites no longer have any regard for the interests of working people within their respective nations. In this increasing globalized world what occurs in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, or the United States is modulated by the global passions of the capitalist elites who manage their neoliberal world.
This British independent blogger, like many others, illustrates this global perspective by tying issues occurring in various hot spots of the world together. However unlike the global capitalist elites mostly operating under the direction of the US Empire, Todhunter ties together many global issues as a threat to the lives of every working person everywhere. Especially with the following paragraph he sounds the alarm to wake us up to this global war on all workers regardless of nationality.
Cuts to welfare, increases in military spending and events in Syria form part of an ongoing war on working people. That's because militarism is but one arm of a neoliberal agenda that seeks to bend all working people and regional elites - whether Assad, Putin, Saddam or Gaddafi - to the will of Western capital. It is ordinary working people who ultimately pay the price, whether refugees fleeing from conflict, civilian deaths in war zones or those subject to the types of structural violence that ‘austerity’ or other forms of economic warfare brings courtesy of the IMF, World Bank, WTO or trade agreements like NAFTA, TPA and TTIP. And, ultimately, it is the Lockhead Martins, the Blackwaters (XE Services) and the BAEs, the Chevrons and Occidental Petroleums, the Halliburtons and Monsantos and the financial interests on Wall Street and in the City of London that benefit.
In early October, Jacobin publisher Bhaskar Sunkara spoke to Vivek Chibber, a professor of sociology at New York University, about the lessons of past periods of state-led development and what kind of movements could extract real concessions from capital today.From a working class perspective Chibber offers some very insightful views about economic development experiences of poorer countries in both the nationalistic form of capitalism that was popular in the 20th century and the neoliberalism of the 21st century. Unfortunately he concludes with views about what he sees as the only realistic possibility today: a kind of social democracy. But what else can one expect from a person situated within the comfortable middle class of North American academia?
In preparation for the upcoming climate talks in Paris (COPE21), the author summarizes the recent exposés about the many deceptions of ExxonMobil in their attempt to cover up, and cover over, their earlier findings about carbon pollution and its relationship to climate destabilization. She also demonstrates a naive belief, typical of Greenpeace, that we can use moral persuasion ("hold accountable") to persuade this leading world corporation to change its ways.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Once again Berhard demonstrates an expert sleuthing of evidence which he carefully scrutinizes and analyses to arrive at what I regard as sound and disturbing conclusions in the last three paragraphs.
This 7:08 video features some very interesting interviews. Suggest reading the comments following it. It looks very authentic. The only problem I have with it is that the Jewish interrogator seems to suggest that Jews are victims of ISIS. I remember many other reports that indicated Israelis were providing medical assistance to wounded ISIL soldiers, furnishing the latter with intelligence by Mossad, and other types of support (see this, this, this, and this).
Notions of racial hierarchy abounded in the early nineteenth century as missionaries tried to convert Native Americans, federal officials sought to seize Indian lands, and Indians in the southern US bought, sold, and owned black slaves. Barbara Krauthamer relates what happened when people of different races, agendas, and social status encountered one another in the shadow of the US colonial project.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Over the past few centuries, Western countries embarked on a road to material affluence at the expense of the environment and other peoples across the globe who were subjugated, killed or left to live in poverty. And while offering more of the same and selling unfettered capitalism to the rest of the world, Washington as the now dominant imperial power is doing all it can to destroy any rivals, not least Russia and China. It alone thinks it should be the sole beneficiary in a resource-depleting race towards a barren-wasteland finish.
Dolack offers a review of Michael Lebowitz's latest book entitled The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now. The "Gotha" in the title refers to Marx's critique of a particular working class party based in Gotha, Germany in 1875. This critique was the last great contribution that Marx made to socialist and communist ideology.
Lebowitz's views of socialism has also been strongly influenced by ideological and organizational developments in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez's reign as president. From my observations based on a visit to Venezuela in late 2005 and subsequent readings, I think that these developments were more ideological than successful, really-existing socialist forms. From my readings by knowledgeable people and direct observations, I think that the socialist organizations were used more to serve the political purposes of the Chavez government than the bottom-up, theoretical orientation. This truncated form of socialist practice was no doubt due to the delicate control that Chavistas had over a state in which a large and powerful segment of capitalists existed and backed by the US Empire.
Lebowitz concludes his review with this summary statement:
No blueprints are offered in the book; properly so as pre-conceived conceptions are useless. It would have been useful to have had more concrete examples in a book that is sometimes a little too abstract, but it does provide a thorough grounding in why the salvation of humanity and Earth itself rests on a transition to a rational, democratic system, one based on human need and not the profits of a privileged few. The form of that system will be different from 20th century systems that called themselves “socialist” and necessarily vastly different from any form of capitalism. We have a world to win, a goal for which Michael Lebowitz has given us an inspirational guide.
In anticipation of the November 30th start of Cop 21 meetings in France, on November 29 people all over the world will be voicing their cry of anguish over this destruction of the Earth's climate commons. But, he asks: "will it make a difference?". His answer is negative simply because the system of capitalism is obsessed with driving this destruction. But demonstrate we must...for another reason:
The root of the problem, simply, is that human beings and nature are means for capital rather than ends in themselves; accordingly, capital tends to destroy both original sources of wealth in its drive to expand. "Apres moi le deluge" is its message. But we can prevent the deluge by sending a different message—not a message to governments but a message to ourselves by demonstrating that we are many and that we are strong enough to care for our common home.
Is Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State (ISIS)? Allegations range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. It is also alleged that Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS attacks against Kobani.The author then continues in the research article to link to considerable evidence that answers a resounding "yes" to the above question. This solid piece of research together with numerous others (all you need to do is enter "ISIS" into one of my search boxes) adds up to an overwhelming conclusion that the US Empire and its vassal states have been mounting years of lie-filled propaganda barrages to justify their overthrow of the legitimate government of Syria.
Also, see the latest evidence of Israeli terrorist contribution to the destabilization of Syria provided by American geopolitical analyst F. William Engdahl based in Germany entitled "Israeli Colonel Caught with IS Pants Down" from New Eastern Outlook.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
In recent weeks with Russian air support, Syrian troops have retaken large swaths of territory from ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist fighters. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has even begun approaching the Euphrates River east of Aleppo, which would effectively cut off ISIS from its supply lines leading out of Turkish territory.And for Russian President Vladimir Putin's immediate response, see this.
From there, Syrian troops would move north, into the very “safe zone” the US and its Turkish partners have long-sought but have so far failed to establish within Syria’s borders. This “safe zone” includes a region of northern Syrian stretching from Jarabulus near the west bank of the Euphrates to Afrin and Ad Dana approximately 90-100 kilometers west.
Once Syrian troops retake this territory, the prospect of the West ever making an incursion into Syria, holding territory, or compromising Syria’s territorial integrity would be lost forever. Western ambitions toward regime change in Damascus would be indefinitely suspended.
The endgame is at hand, and only the most desperate measures can hope to prevent Russia and Syria from finally securing Syria’s borders. Turkey’s provocation is just such a measure.
Mr Putin ended his speech by suggesting Turkey wanted Nato “to serve” ISIS. He earlier described the Turks as “accomplices of terrorists”.And that, of course, is what Turkey has been doing all along.
“Instead of contacting us, Turkey went to its partners in Nato to discuss this incident. As if it was us who downed a Turkish plane, and not vice versa. What? They want to make NATO serve ISIS?”
U.S. officials fear Putin is hoping more aggressive action against ISIL in Syria will forestall an extension of economic sanctions over Crimea.This raises a question in my mind: could the Turkish downing of the Russian jet have been coordinated with the US to ratchet up the tension in the Middle East to prevent further warming of relations between Russia and France, and maybe the rest of Europe?
This marks the first time since the start of the Cold War that nuclear-armed NATO has committed an act of war against another nuclear-armed state. It’s a well-known and well-rehearsed scenario for a possible global conflagration.
Many of us have been warning about such an eventuality for some time – since at least the moment the US and its tame puppies in Europe went full Strangelove and began openly backing what amounted to a NATO takeover of Ukraine and Crimea. Now it’s come to pass. And if this isn’t the trigger for Armageddon, the next such flashpoint might be. And there will be more – and more and more – until the non-crazies find the spine to step in and put an end to the madness.
The author reveals the games that liberals play to cover for predatory corporations on the make for profits.
By now, everybody knows the drill. An American or European company (typically a manufacturing or food-processing enterprise, but increasingly expanding to include IT operations) sets up shop in a stable Latin American or Asian country in order to take advantage of ridiculously low wages and weak or near non-existent environmental laws. It’s beats the hell out of what they face back home.
Monday, November 23, 2015
The strategy is remarkably simple. Provoke an attack, stage an attack, allow an attack to happen or simply capitalize on a spontaneous attack. Use the public's own outrage to push through draconian new legislation, all the while pretending to be the savior.Corbett opens his essay by featuring an extended 10:45m interview (I previously posted a much shorter version) with Irish journalist Gearoid O Colmain.
In the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Paris, world attention will once again be focused on the issue of refugees entering Europe. While much of the spotlight has been rightly pointed at Syrian refugees fleeing the western-sponsored war against the Syrian government, it must be remembered that the refugees come from a variety of countries, each of which has its own particular circumstances, with many of them having been victims of US-NATO aggression in one form or another. Syria, Afghanistan and Libya have of course been targeted by so-called ‘humanitarian wars’ and fake ‘revolutions’ which have left the countries fractured, divided, and unable to function; these countries have been transformed into failed states thanks to US-NATO policy.
What often gets lost in the discussion of refugees however is the fact that a significant proportion of those seeking sanctuary in Europe and the US are from the Horn of Africa....
George is the president of the Transnational Institute, which is based in Brussels, and, in my opinion, one of the leading progressive thinkers in today's world. This article is a transcript of a talk she delivered at the London School of Economics where she, among others, was invited to express her views on the theme of "Progress and its Discontents". She quickly narrowed the focus of her contribution to focus on the rather relatively recent anti-progressive phenomenon of neoliberalism.
Thus, after she begins her talk with "Good evening to all.", you can skip down to the 14th paragraph of this rather lengthy article to where she writes "Right now I’m personally hoping...". She then launches into an examination of the anti-progressive ideology of neoliberalism which made its first appearance after the Vietnam War, and has since crippled the lives of the vast majority of humans while accelerating the destabilization of the climate.
Since 2007, the European Commission has based its research priorities on the KBBE, which is a hybrid of the OECD’s bioeconomy project and the EU’s Knowledge-Based Economy and links knowledge with technological innovation. The KBBE can be understood as a new political-economic strategy, and plays a role in shaping policies, institutional practices and societal changes with the aim of creating ‘sustainable capital’ [also known as "sustainable capitalism", an oxymoron]. Simply put, the EU’s KBBE agenda presents technological advancement as the equivalent of societal progress and improved life quality. However, the KBBE does not address the long-term consequences of constantly striving towards new, ‘more efficient’ technologies and the development of projects that promote the commodification of nature.
The KBBE perspective equates ‘renewable’ with ‘sustainable.’ With this viewpoint, anything that can be regrown is considered to have an infinite supply, and technology that can manipulate organisms should therefore be used to create these renewable products. In short, this requires the commodification of nature. The goal becomes ‘sustainable capital’....
For a company that is long accustomed to getting its way in just about every jurisdiction on planet Earth, the constant obstructionism of the Mexican justice system is beginning to wear thin for Monsanto. But the company and its rivals still have one ace up their sleeves, a weapon that has the potential to obliterate Mexico’s judicial resistance in one fell swoop: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the world’s biggest trade agreement that was recently signed by the governments of 12 Pacific-rim nations, including Mexico.
So far as I know, the film's premiere was yesterday in Amsterdam. But you may be on the outlook for it at a nearby campus; or if you are connected to a university, you might be able to have it shown on campus. If you were unable to jet to Amsterdam yesterday, this 4:46m trailer might whet your appetite and motivate you to have it shown in your community.
Fortunately you can view other excellent films on this subject made by the author. I recommend this and this.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
I rather vaguely remember an incident when I was working with adults with disabilities back around 1968 that brought to my attention an obscure disease called autism. Even though my job entailed only working with adults, I decided to investigate a child who had been diagnosed with this disease by actually interviewing the parent and observing the child's behavior. Now 47 years later this disease along with many others is quite common.
The rate of autism has skyrocketed from roughly one in every two thousand in the 1970’s to the current rate of one in every sixty eight. Alzheimer’s has become almost universal in the elderly.One would think that a concerted effort would be made by researchers to uncover the causes of such dramatic increases in many diseases. However, in a capitalist society profits rule über alles. Hence very little research has been done, and what little solid research that has been done has been met with overwhelming resistance mostly from industry funded researchers.
The food and chemical giant [Monsanto] has constructed a webpage with links to scientific studies pronouncing the safety of glyphosate.
Other science writers have also taken up the Monsanto banner, scoffing at the scientific studies that prompted Seneff to make her claims. “They made it up!” pronounced Huffpost science writer Tamar Haspel, in an article thin on analysis but heavy on declarative prose.
One must overlook the fact that Engdahl is a gold fetishist who occasionally makes some glaring typo errors to see that this article reports on some interesting economic arrangements that are developing in Russia to cope with aggressive Empire economic sanctions.
Russia is in a fascinating process of rethinking every aspect of her national economic survival because of the reality of the western attacks. It could produce a very healthy transformation away from the deadly defects of the Anglo-American free-market banking model.
El Niño and La Niña events are an occurrence of varying temperatures in the ocean off Peru and extending to the west in the Pacific Ocean. These cyclical events are closely associated with observed weather patterns and global warming in general. (Read this if you need further clarification.)
The article examines the trend in recent decades for these events to become more extreme and bringing associated extreme weather to parts of the world.
The various factors that scientists watch to forecast the near-term future of these events, including Kelvin waves and westerly wind bursts, suggest that the current El Niño will grow stronger. The model estimates that have most closely tracked the progress of this El Niño suggest that it will become the strongest on record when measured against the traditional three-month yardstick.
While this El Niño is unprecedented, it is not wholly unexpected. For several years now the oceans have been swallowing and drawing down much of the heat that has been accumulating in the atmosphere, including the extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by the growing blanket of carbon pollution. That heat is now reemerging.
Predicting how El Niños evolve in a warming planet is extremely challenging. The factors involved are far from well understood. However, the most recent model projections tell us that we may expect extreme El Niños (and La Niñas) to happen more frequently. Records tend to be broken when natural variation runs in the same direction as climate change, and this El Niño is moving along on a record-breaking path.