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, January 30, 2010

Free Cooperation vs. the Old Utopias

from P2P Foundation blog.

Take Back Your Education

by John Taylor Gatto from Yes! website. Not a recent article, but recently posted on their website.

The revolving doors of business and government

from In Defense of Marxism website based in Britain. British socialists certainly have no illusions about how power is exercised in their capitalist country.

'Capitalism is evil … you have to eliminate it'

from The Guardian website.
[referring to an FDR speech that was never broadcast] It is hard to imagine any circumstances in which Obama could put forward such an agenda, I suggest. Moore disagrees.
"He could make that speech."
And survive politically?
"He has told people he's going to operate these four years not with an eye on getting re-elected but on getting things done. I have been very happy for the last year. We came out of eight dark years and his election was – what's the word? – the relief I felt that night, I've been filled with hope since then. Now my patience is running a bit thin. He hasn't taken the reins and said: I'm in charge here, this is what we're doing. Do it. I can understand he's afraid but he's gotta do it."
It is clear from this and other comments that Moore has made that he, along with most Americans, simply does not understand how a class system of power, especially the capitalist system, functions. Obama was carefully vetted for this job which is essentially a public relations position representing major sections of the ruling class, the ownership class. Their system of capitalism is what gives them so much power, profit, and privilege. If Obama somehow had a change of heart and wanted to pursue actions that were not in the interest of this sponsoring class, he would be removed--one way or another. I am astounded that Moore and so many others simply just don't get it.

The Audacity of Populism

from the Wall Street Journal website. The ruling class certainly does not suffer from any illusions about Obama as is clear from this article carried in their favorite newspaper. Why is Michael Moore and many other liberals so naive?

Where Can I Get Mine?

borrowed from Naked Capitalism blog.

Allies okay road map out of Afghanistan

from The Star website in Toronto. The Canadian paper is treating the NATO-Afgan war's end as if it were a done deal--more so than any other source I've seen. Maybe they're right and moves are well underway to set up a client state like has happened to Iraq. Clearly the war is very unpopular in all the NATO countries. I just find it hard to believe that the Afgan people would ever tolerate such an arrangement. Of course, the Western powers need a face-saving excuse to leave, and maybe the Afgans will provide them with one. After most of the NATO forces leave, they can then put an end to this puppet government.

To gasps from the gallery, Blair said we should be proud of the war

from The Independent. Britain's number one war criminal defends his actions.

Robert Fisk: Why does the US turn a blind eye to Israeli bulldozers?

from The Independent.

Zelaya leaves Honduras for exile

from Al Jazeera website. A sad ending to another attempt by a Latin American country to assert its independence from The Empire.

China retaliates over US arms sales to Taiwan

From The Guardian website. Arms sales are the biggest US export. How do the Chinese authorities expect the US to buy their products--by borrowing more money from them? (sarcasm)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Haiti's Classquake

from Upside Down World website. Sorry that I missed this excellent article from last week. It gives the neo-liberal context missing from mainstream media's coverage on Haiti.

World War As Class War

by James Heartfield from Mute magazine's website. This is a must-read account of the terrible effects, aside from military casualties, of war on working people while the capitalist classes prosper. This working class history of WWII is a necessary antidote to all the indoctrination that working people have received in the governing class's educational institutions.

Our Addiction to Disaster Porn

by David Sarota from creators.com website. Of course, he is writing about the US ruling class's take on disasters and its avoidance of any historical context to hide the crimes of The Empire.

The kidnapping of Haiti

by John Pilger from his blog.
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the "swift and crude" appropriation of earthquake-ravaged Haiti by the militarised Obama administration. With George W. Bush attending to the "relief effort" and Bill Clinton the UN's man, The Comedians, Graham Greene's dark novel about exploted Haiti comes to mind.

[US] Terror comes at night in Afghanistan

from Asia Times website. Read how the US is "winning the hearts and minds" of the Afghan people.

Obama Hypocrisy Watch: Obama Rips Lobbyists, Then Gives Them Private Briefings

by Yves Smith at her Naked Capitalism blog.

Radical Inequality Is Literally Killing Us

from Alter Net website. I notice that the article fails to mention any adverse affects of inequality on the health of the governing class. I very much doubt that it does. In any case, the governing class can't see beyond their noses of power, profit, and privilege to care much about anything else. 

Swiss halt deal with U.S. that IDs Americans with secret UBS bank accounts

from the Washington Post. I can hear the sighs of relief across the US among the ruling class at this bit of news. Actually I doubt that many were very worried.

Police and Protestors

from Resurgence website based in Britain. The article looks at the tactics of intimidation used by the ruling class's legal system and their enforcers--the police; and Plane Stupid's counter tactics.
Over the last six months, Plane Stupid has been targeted by a campaign of police intimidation and intrusion. Some of us have been approached to inform on the rest of the group; others have been arrested for perfectly lawful protest, including one elderly protester who was interrogated and held in a cell overnight for writing ‘you fly, we die’ in the snow. Add this to the picture of routine violence and harassment handed out to Climate Campers at the G20 and elsewhere – and the “intelligence led” pre-emptive arrest for conspiracy of 114 activists in Nottinghamshire – and it is clear that the emerging climate action movement has been singled out by the police for some very special treatment. The question is, why?

Why Transition? Creating a Brighter Future (2:37m video)

from Transition United States website. Read script and watch video at the bottom of page. You can also double click on the video to watch it on You-Tube. This is fairly elementary material for those who watch this blog, but it might be useful for friends and family who are less informed.

UN Asks U.S. To 'Stop Secret Detention and Abuse'

from Global Research re US human rights abuses.

The New York Times: Home of Disgraced Editors, Shady Reporters & Agenda-Driven Foreign Correspondents?

from Boiling Frogs website, by Sibel Edmonds, whistle blower extraordinaire.

Voices of Participatory Democracy in Venezuela--a book review

from Upside Down World. This is a book review by Hans Bennett on a book by this title written by Carlos Martinez, Michael Fox and JoJo Farrell. There are also two video interviews with Carlos Martinez.
There are many different ways that the corporate media continues to misrepresent the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. Many critics of this biased media coverage have directly challenged the demonization of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but very few critics, if any, have exposed the media’s virtual erasure of the vibrant and growing participatory democracy in Venezuela. 

Looking for alternatives

from Al Jazeera. A report on the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

World Social Forum: Another Kind of Economics Is Possible

from IPS news service. 
Democratising economics as well as politics is essential for ending irrationality and discrimination as part of the struggle for social and environmental justice, said participants at one of the panels of the seminar assessing the World Social Forum's (WSF) first 10 years.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Transition: what’s it all about? (8:17m video)

from Transition Culture website.

Obama takes on Wall Street? (10:10m video)

from Real News Network. An interview with Gerald Epstein who offers his solutions to existing disconnect between capital and real economy.

Gerald Epstein is Co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and Professor of Economics.He received his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. He has published widely on a variety of progressive economic policy issues, especially in the areas of central banking and international finance, and is the editor or co-editor of six volumes.

Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87

from Boston.com website.

Fighting on Frontlines of the Foreclosure Crisis: Citizens Take on the Monster Banks

from AlterNet website. 
Combining grassroots organizing, legal action, pressure on the banks and eviction-day sit-ins, activists in East Boston are winning the fight to keep people in their homes.

The Impossible Hamster (1:10m video)

from Ecosocialism Canada website.

Jim Hightower | The Supreme Coup

Jim Hightower's take on the recent US Supreme Court decision, from Truthout website.

Better alive than dead

from Asia Times website.

The release of the latest audio  message claimed to be from Osama bin Laden has got tongues wagging again as to his status and whereabouts. The failure of technologically peerless American intelligence to find any trace him for nine years leads to speculation whether the United States is keeping bin Laden alive for strategic convenience.

The evolution of ruling class ideas, a satirical example (click to enlarge)

The London Conference on Afghanistan: Rebranding an Unpopular War

 from Socialist Project website. A view from Vancouver, Canada on this conference.

The “deny Al-Qaeda a safe heaven” justification opens up nearly infinite new potential fronts in the global “war on terror,” a term that has been dropped from White House press releases while its aggressive and counter-productive mentality remains in place.

9th Circuit sides with Calif. newspaper in labor dispute

from First Amenment Center website. Another setback for labor rights and honest news coverage by courts stacked with conservative jurists.
The ruling stems from a newsroom dispute that began in mid-2006. Nearly every top editor at the paper quit in protest over what they said was the owner’s interference with news coverage.

Defining Community Food Enterprise

from Community Food Enterprise website. An introduction to CFEs and this website.

A Farming Model to Sustain the World

from Z Space website.
60,000 acres increase in a farming system that does not use chemical pesticides, and is also phasing out chemical fertiliser, that too in matter of few months, is a record of sorts. Ten years from now, in 2020, when we try to look back, Indian agriculture can be transformed into a healthy and vibrant system where farmer suicides have been relegated to history, where distress and despondency has been replaced by the lost pride in farming, and where agriculture becomes sustainable in the long run and does not result in climate change.

Wanted: two miracles

by blogger Guy McPherson who is professor emeritus at the University of Arizona.
Ignore the delusions for a short time, and you’ll see we’re headed for a correction. At this late juncture in the industrial game, hoping for anything else requires a massive dose of wishful thinking.
Even a correction seems unlikely, unless by “correction” you mean “crash.”

The Peak Oil Crisis: A Meeting in California

by Tom Whipple from Falls Church News Press. 
Absent from the meeting was any representation from our political leadership who are currently busy:1) denying there is a problem; 2) trying to spend our way out of the recession; or 3) simply overcome by the pace of events and do not want to rock the boat by speaking publicly on such matters before the next election.

US-Iran: Sanctions, "Regime Change" Take Centre Stage

from IPS news service. 
With the Senate set to take up major sanctions legislation against Iran by mid-February, neo-conservative and other hawks are calling on the administration of President Barack Obama to pursue a more aggressive course of "regime change" in Tehran.

Europe: Privatised Services Back in Public Hands

from IPS news service.
"the selling of the municipal utilities to private companies, which only obey the shareowners' interest, has proven to be a mistake."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The sanctity of military spending

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon website. 

Russia, Turkey, and the Great Game: Changing teams

by Eric Walberg on Dissident Voice website. The author looks at some of the recent changes in the Great Game in that area of the world. The inter-elite rivalries are rarely covered as such in mainstream media, and their games often have such devastating consequences for ordinary people. I'm not thinking of this particular example, but of the rivalries between Anglo-American states and Germany in the 20th century.

Rogue State: Israeli Violations of U.N. Security Council Resolutions

Great post from Dissident Voice website. I have occasionally seen references to UN violations by Israel, but here they are all cataloged.

Historic anniversaries in labor history

posted on the Economic Populist website. Some very interesting labor history which you probably were unaware of (I wasn't). Education in capitalist countries do a very poor job of teaching this subject, for understandable reasons.

Winner of Google-China feud is - India

from Asia Times website. The author looks at this recent dispute in the context of inter-capitalist and corporate rivalries and cuts through the distortions of mass media coverage which hide the use of computer applications by the governments concerned to spy on its citizens and/or censor information.

If bears were like humans, what a world this would be!

Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon.

Financial Services: From Servant to Lord of the Economy

This blogger provides a simple chart as one piece of evidence to show how financial services has become the dominant section of capitalism.

Czechs Bank on Cooperatives for Revival

from IPS news service. 
"We are living in an exciting and scary time of a shift in the prevailing paradigm," Johanisova told IPS. "The Western Enlightenment dream (of which both capitalism and Eastern European communism are outgrowths) of eternal human material advance under the banner of reason, science and fossil fuel-powered technology is literally running out of steam."

The systemic nature of swine flu

by Takis Fotopoulos from Inclusive Democracy website. The author looks at the recent swine flu phenomenon in the context of globalized capitalism.
Factory animal farming...has delivered enormous growth in global meat production over the last three decades, with consumers persuaded to buy its cheap products with the same ease as they were getting the freely-offered loans of the financial boom, without asking any questions on how such consumption could be sustained or what the eventual consequences might be. It is, therefore, not surprising at all that the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico is linked to industrialised farming methods designed to provide cheap food for consumers. 

'Peak water' could flush civilisation

from the Irish Times website.
FORGET PEAK OIL. Forget climate change. Peak water is where it’s at, according to Scottish journalist and broadcaster, Alexander Bell, who has just written a fascinating book, Peak Water (Luath Press, Scotland).

Richard Heinberg: Peak Coal and Blackout (book review)

posted on Energy Bulletin website. (Translated from French)

Heinberg concludes that coal is sufficiently abundant to have a substantial impact on the climate but not to the extent that it will be able to replace other fossil fuels in the long term once they have started to decline. In this context he envisages three scenarios, while being aware that reality will be more complex and differently nuanced.

Chavez Writes Off Haiti’s Oil Debt to Venezuela

from Latin American Herald Tribune website. 
He also announced that ALBA has decided on a comprehensive plan that includes an immediate donation of $20 million to Haiti’s health sector, and a fund that, Chavez said, will be at least $100 million “for starters.”

Oil-rich Venezuela is the economic heart of ALBA, which also includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Haiti is among several countries that send observers to ALBA meetings.

State of the Union Junk Economics, 2010 (Pt. 2): Obama's State of the Union Rhetoric

by Michael Hudson from Global Research website. 
When listening to the State of the Union speech, one should ask just which economy Mr. Obama means when he talks about recovery. Most wage earners and taxpayers will think of the “real” economy of production and consumption. But Mr. Obama believes that this “Economy #1” is dependent on that of Wall Street. His major campaign contributors and “wealth creators” are in the FIRE sector – Economy #2, wrapped around the “real” Economy #1.

Economy #2 is the “balance sheet” economy of property and debt. The wealthiest 10% lend out their savings to become debts owed by the bottom 90%. A rising share of gains are made in extractive ways, by charging rent and interest, by financial speculation (“capital gains”), and by shifting taxes off itself onto the “real” Economy #1.

Privatization: Resistance spreads worldwide to raids on public wealth

from Freedom Socialist website.
...the system of capitalism is based on the appropriation of communal property. The theft of land held in common made the rise of capitalism possible.

For your amusement

Thanks to carbonequity.info for passing this gem on to me. We all need a little humor to make the rest of the news go down. "This originated from Radio 4’s Now Show reporting on the COP-15 meeting in the style of Dr Seuss. Anyone who has spent any time working with large international organisations will also appreciate the tragedy."

Climate of suspicion

an editorial from Nature website. 
With climate-change sceptics waiting to pounce on any scientific uncertainties, researchers need a sophisticated strategy for communication.

Climate Change Deniers Without Borders

from Mother Jones website. "How American oil money is pumping up climate change skeptics abroad—and how they could derail any progress made in Copenhagen."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FBI Replaced Legal Process with Post-It Notes to Obtain Phone Records

from Electronic Frontier Foundation website.

Growth isn't Possible (an excerpt)

An NEF (The New Economics Foundation) article from Energy Bulletin website. This article supports my view that the capitalist system which depends upon unlimited growth is on a collision course with the natural systems of our planet. 

The most recent data on human use of biocapacity sends a number of unfortunate signals for believers in the possibility of unrestrained growth. Our global ecological footprint is growing, further overshooting what the biosphere can provide and absorb, and in the process, like two trains heading in opposite directions, we appear to be actually shrinking the available biocapacity on which we depend.

Wall Street Journal: Ivins Not the Anthrax Killer

from Washington's Blog. 
Given that the scientist who blew the whistle on the false claims about Saddam Hussein's WMDs is also officially claimed to have committed suicide, but vital information about his cause of death is being sealed for 70 years, isn't there something just a tad fishy going on here?

Main Street's Disneyland folly

by Julian Delasantellis from Asia Times website.
The fantasy seems to suit the country better; then again, who ever thought that "Tomorrowland" would refer not to a bright and shiny Disney attraction, but to a boarded up, vandalized, abandoned and crumbling never-occupied housing development?

Iran confronts core contradictions

from Asia Times website.

Participatory Management: Looking Deeper at the Mondragon Principles

by John McNamara from Solidarity Economy website.

Millions to Lose Unemployment Insurance

from Center for Media and Democracy website.

Past Peak Oil Travelling towards Transition (2:13m animated video)

by Anita Sancho, eco-animator. This might make a good teaching tool for children.

From pre Hubbert's Peak Oil chart towards Transport and travel in a world where transition has taken place. A positive animation look at the future of traveling without oil fuel, in this climate changing world to where we will again be able to hear the sound of birds.

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Reclaiming Value: An Interview with Raj Patel

by Paula Crossfield from Huffington Post.
In his latest book, The Value of Nothing, Raj Patel explores the failures of so-called free market capitalism, and highlights some of the ways people are changing the democratic system.
...the commons have always been a way that the community can value and manage resources together in a way that doesn't rely on markets, but does rely on a more engaged kind of community democracy. The commons [also] offers a great way of internalizing externalities. If you live with the consequences of your actions, then your learn from your actions in the future and modify them to make your actions sustainable. At the moment our food system is entirely unsustainable, and we do need to be living within our means. And I think the food movement is kind of heading that way much faster than any other sector of the economy.

Soul Power

from Resurgence website.
We live in an extraordinary age – an age of both mortal danger and unprecedented opportunity, if only we can understand what’s happening and why. Our capacity for destruction, both military and environmental, is vastly greater today than it was half a century ago, and will be greater still tomorrow.
It seems as if this mortal danger is forcing us to take a great leap in our evolution that we might never have made, were we not driven to it by the crises facing us. This leap consists of an expansion of human consciousness; a shift from seeing ourselves as the dominant species on this planet with a right to exploit its resources for our own needs, to seeing ourselves as utterly dependent for our survival on an extraordinary living web of planetary life. This great web of life, formed over countless millions of years, will not survive unless we respect the interdependence of its living systems.

Golf and the great Lao land grab

from Asia Times website.
The communal complaint: their long self-sustaining community will on government orders soon be converted into an 18-hole golf course, luxury hotel and top-end residential developments, and the compensation on offer to relocate is well below going market land prices.
...As the economy transitions towards more market driven economics, the landlocked country has undergone a quiet economic boom in recent years, with average gross domestic product growth averaging around 6%. 

Can the Rainforests Be Saved Without a Plan?: Well Intended, Poorly Executed

from Der Spiegel website. I suspect plans like this are mostly for the public relations benefits that ruling classes derive from them.

The West wants to direct billions toward protecting forest lands, but the lack of any standardized rules and enforcement methods could lead to disaster. Experts warn that the wrong people might benefit from the money and argue indiginous peoples, not bureaucrats, should watch over the rainforests.

State of the Union Junk Economics, 2010 (Pt. 1)

 by Prof. Michael Hudson from Global Research website.
...Mr. Bernanke’s money drop seemed to land only on Wall Street. Now that it has emptied out the government’s credit in an unparalleled deficit, Mr. Obama is saying, “No more. I’m drawing the line. No further deficit.” There goes any hope for stimulating the “real” economy. Treasury apparatchik Tim Geithner, backed with his armada of administrators on loan from Goldman Sachs, is unlikely to support indebted labor, consumers or their companies in any way that does not benefit Wall Street first.

World Social Forum: Talk vs Action - the Tug-of-War Continues

from IPS news service. 
A call issued by social movements to evolve towards a more active role in generating concrete action marked the opening session of a seminar assessing the 10 years of the World Social Forum (WSF) Monday in this southern Brazilian city, the birthplace of the annual global civil society gathering.

Iran: The campaign for regime change in its last phase

by Takis Fotopoulos from Inclusive Democracy website. I normally try to limit my articles to 3000 words, but I think that this one (5800 words) is especially important. The author examines the confusion he see existing on the left that limit any real change in the New World Order.

The movements that emerged in the New World Order ―whether they are parodies of initially anti-systemic movements (e.g. feminist, green, etc.) currently fighting for rights or for single issues respectively (rights of women, movement for a “green capitalism” etc.), or new “anti-authoritarian” movements which fight for the rights of minorities (e.g. the rights of immigrants, ethnic minorities, gays, etc.)― have one common feature: the lack of anti-systemic universalist projects which they consider either “obsolete” or potentially “totalitarian”. For these movements, there is no need for an anti-systemic movement, but rather for a struggle against the power relations that turn up in various social practices.

…these movements are fully compatible with the New World Order, playing in practice the role of the left boot of the system. This is because the system does not need the active support of these movements, but only their fellow-traveling, which obscures the real goals and essentially disorients activists in struggles for rights and civil liberties, instead of anti-systemic struggles against the New World Order. Clearly, such struggles have no chance at all in creating anti-systemic consciousness, and, even more so, the conditions for the transition to a society of equal distribution of all forms of control/power among all citizens. In this sense, these movements and the “anti-authoritarians”, who support them, play the game of the transnational elite and its supporters.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cold Case Democracy

from Global Research website. This is a must-read article because of its excellent background information re corporations in the US.

..."democracy disperses power" and "corporations concentrate power."  And property as power accumulated in the hands of a few, inevitably becomes power over the majority, power over their thoughts, their livelihoods, their communities, their government and their environment, both physical and cultural.  Natural persons, human beings, are fast becoming faceless commodities, mere human resources to be consumed by shareholders hiding behind the powerful shield of property, the faceless, artificial persons also known as corporations.

Cars fed on corn, people fed on horseshit

from Joe Bageant, the muse of working men and women answers some questions about "democracy" in the US, the false ideas propagated about socialism, etc.

Even those among us who can see, who can observe the hardening condition induced by the enemies of human liberty and well being, feel powerless in the face of this darkening and omniscient order. Despite the quadrennial claims of our political parties during national election years, no savior has arrived and none is coming. No Obama, no miracle of "green science," no national genius will emerge to lead us. We have only the simple, direct, undeceived intelligence of ordinary men and women to rely upon. We must regain respect for the seemingly meager and often lonely powers an individual does have, and choose work and a way of living upon which we can all rely.

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction

by Chris Hedges from Truth Dig website.

American Corporatocracy

from Information Clearing House.

Stiglitz pinpoints 'moral' core of crisis

by Henry C. K. Liu from Asia Times website. As I see it, the only moral imperative of capitalism is to maximize the accumulation of private wealth. The system does that very well. As much as I admire the insights of Liu, I think he, and other liberals, totally miss this principle. You simply can't argue social system values when you have a system that is informed by private values. And his hero, Professor Stiglitz, was in Clinton's administration which radically pushed capitalism forward into its globalization phase.

Cat Who Has A Special Friend That Visits Every Morning (click on this link for more photos)

Cover-up claims as David Kelly post mortem set to stay under wraps for 70 years

from Mail Online website. The British ruling class hides its war crimes for 70 years.

Health Care: Time to Cross the Rubicon, Mr. President!

from New Deal 2.0 website. Even financial people recognize the need for universal health care for US citizens.

Days of world consumption: A warning label for oil and gas discoveries

originally from Resource Insights blog. Author warns about MSM reports on petroleum discoveries.

General Stanley McChrystal hints that negotiations in London could see Taliban leaders join new Kabul government

from The Guardian website. I was amused by this which is another trick that The Empire often uses on its enemies when it can't defeat them--co-opt them! Give the Taliban leadership positions in the government complete with fancy titles, offices and desks, salaries, perks, etc., and they'll do our bidding in maintaining Afghanistan in The Empire.

Diplomat-whistleblower says he faces government reprisal

from the Toronto Star website. Canada's Harper government likes to practice government US style. There have been times when Canada tried to pursue a more independent course in world affairs, but under Harper it is clear that Canada is an integral part of the US Empire.

For your amusement

The Obama Administration's Cover-up of the Flight 253 Affair

 from Global Research website. Investigative journalist, Tom Burghardt, attempts to unravel the mysteries of the Christmas day airline incident.

As we have seen since Obama's inauguration however, rather than cleaning house--and settling accounts--with the crimes, and criminals, of the previous regime, the "change" administration chose to retain senior- and mid-level bureaucrats in the security apparatus; employing officials who share the antidemocratic ideology, penchant for secrecy and ruthlessness of the Bush administration.

World Social Forum: Positive Reviews, On Balance

from Global Research website. 
Nearly a decade after its inception, and in spite of some reverses, on balance the World Social Forum (WSF) has proved a resounding success as a platform for planet-wide debate, from the point of view of the people most affected by the world's problems.

This is the conclusion derived from a close reading of texts by the principal activists and promoters of the forum for another world, which began in January 2001 as a counterweight to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual meeting of top business and political leaders and invited guests.

By the way, the World Economic Forum is holding its annual meeting this coming Wednesday through Sunday in Davos, Switzerland. According to Wikipedia:
The Annual Meeting has also been decried as a “mix of pomp and platitude” and criticized for moving away from serious economics and accomplishing little of substance, particularly with the increasing involvement of NGOs that have little or no expertise in economics. Instead of a discussion on the world economy with knowledgeable experts alongside key business and political players, Davos now features the top media political causes of the day (such as global climate change and AIDS in Africa).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Enough Is Enough: Why we can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for regime change in Iran.

by Richard N. Haass from Newsweek website. Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a prime governing class organization.  I occasionally like to read what our representatives of the governing class are thinking, even though their writing must be decoded in order to reveal their thinking. I thought this article of particular interest because it was printed in a mainstream magazine. Hence it is designed to influence opinion leaders from all strata of decision makers in the US. I won't bother to comment on their use of the terms "human rights" or "democracy" or "democratic" other than to say that such people haven't the slightest interest in human rights and their use of the terms "democracy" and "democratic" are code terms for capitalism. 

Note that the article presents two points of view: a realist and neo-conservative. The former has to do with more indirect approaches to promoting the interests of capitalists, the latter is the former plus a large dose of Zionist interests. The latter make use of much more aggressive strategies, and I fear that this may lead us into more military adventures in the Mid-East.

Disorder in the houses of OPEC

from The National website. Article surveys the various OPEC countries and finds significant political instability that may pose problems for the recovery of the world's economies.

Thinking about Planning for the Future

from The Oil Drum website. The author looks at various scenarios re energy use over the next 40 years, and the implications for planning.

1. A Business as Usual (BAU) Scenario, as perceived by the press and EIA
2. A Scenario constrained by fossil fuel resource limits only, assuming that there are no issues with Liebig's Law of the Minimum, or reduced demand because of high prices, or international credit issues. It is assumed that wind, solar, and nuclear will continue to grow, at the rates assumed by EIA forecasts. I also show a related scenario with coal phase out.
3. A Crash Scenario, in which some combination of credit collapse, reduced demand because of high prices, and Liebig's Law of the Minimum (relating to oil) cause demand to collapse very quickly.

Who Lost Chile? Conservative Multi-Millionaire is President Elect

from Unside Down World website. This is a closer look at the reasons why Chile is swimming against the region's political tide. The reasons appear to be a combination of the poor choices available to working people and...
like rightwing populists the world over, Piñera wooed the masses with endless promises of “a strong hand against crime”, a “million jobs”, spectacular economic growth and spurious stories of his rise from rags to riches.

Voices of Participatory Democracy in Venezuela: A Review of Venezuela Speaks! Voices from the Grassroots

by Hans Bennett from Upside Down World website. The book review suggests that the book is a very good antidote to mainstream media's slanted coverage of events in Venezuela.
The authors recognize the interviewees “conflict and frustration” with the government, but they argue that “rather than let their criticisms of Venezuela’s political process fill us with disillusionment, these testimonies should provide us with inspiration in knowing that so many people are actively engaged in constructing their new society, regardless of setbacks.” This point is clearly the dominant theme throughout the book, with the authors boldly asserting that “beyond the social programs, economic projects, and anti-neoliberal policies promoted by the national government, truly profound change will only come from the active debate and dialogue between organized peoples and the government. It is this debate and dialogue that has set Venezuela apart from many national liberation struggles of the past, and if Venezuela is to succeed where others have failed, then it must continue to strengthen this relationship.”

Something to think about

Why capitalism needs racism

from Green Left website. The article examines how racism is used by capitalists to divide working people and to depress wages. Emphasis is on racism in Australia.

Campaign to boost cycling in Beijing

from The Guardian. It's cars vs bicycles in China.

Iceland's children paying for slump

from The Observer. Looks at some of the social consequences of the recent collapse of the capitalist organized economy. 

Haiti: The Politics of Rice Pt 1 (10:35m video)

by Avi Lewis from Al Jazeera website. The author looks at the devastating effects of free trade policies on Haitian production of rice. 

See also Part 2 (4:55m video) to examine the impact of free trade policies on the devastation caused by the recent earthquake.

No 'hope for Haiti' without justice

by Mark LeVine from Al Jazeera website. Good historical perspective on Haiti, particularly with its neo-colonial relationship with the US.

Women make up half of Bolivian cabinet

from Press TV