This year, the president dispensed with the window dressing. No big deal about cuts -- except on the domestic side. While the administration's record $3.8 trillion budget cuts or freezes spending on domestic programs, it requests $708.3 billion for war. That's $14.8 billion more than we're spending now.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, February 6, 2010
You can walk down many of the streets of Port au Prince and see absolutely no evidence that the world community has helped Haiti.
Twenty three days after the earthquake jolted Haiti and killed over 200,000 people, as many as a million people have still not received any international food assistance.
John Zogby is president and CEO of Zogby International, a global polling and market research company. He is the author of The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream (Random House, 2008)
Friday, February 5, 2010
There are signs that the public are tired of waiting for politics and business to blink first. Across the world, community organisations and individuals are making efforts to effect profound changes to the way we live. Whether this is through the rise of Fairtrade and organic produce or the more active community projects that search for solutions to ecological problems, statistics show that more people are waking up to the social and environmental crises and are prepared to work for change.
The fact that the Government labels Person X a "Terrorist" is not proof that Person X is, in fact, a Terrorist.
That proposition should be intrinsically understood by any American who completed sixth grade civics and was thus taught that a central prong of our political system is that government officials often abuse their power and/or err and therefore must prove accusations to be true (with tested evidence) before they're assumed to be true and the person punished accordingly.
Ah, but that begs the question: if the government numbers are that grotesquely wrong, what does that say about the government’s policy with regard to joblessness, about it’s policy towards economic stimulus, about the government’s policy towards alleviating the suffering of the struggling citizenry? After all, policies are supposed to be designed around a solid set of facts.
We know in the present that government propagandists appeared over 4,500 times as “experts” in the PR run-up to the current war in Iraq, corporate media refuses to clearly communicate the essential news that ALL the claims for war were known to be false at the time they were told and US wars are “emperor has no clothes” obviously unlawful. The American public is recognizing the propaganda in corporate media by deserting them to embrace alternative sources.
The mainstream media’s coverage of climate change must also share some of the blame. Despite the scientific consensus, “journalists continued to report updates from the best climate scientists in the world juxtaposed against the unsubstantiated raving of an industry-funded climate change denier — as if both were equally valid,” Hoggan said.
If you were to ask most ‘but why do they tap your phone line and capture your data or conversation? You the good citizen?‘ The common answer would be along these lines, ‘I don’t know. They must know something. I don’t understand how intelligence and police stuff like this works. They must know something, if they think tapping my phone and listening to my conversation helps to fight terrorists and keep us safe…I just do my own thing and since I don’t have anything to hide it doesn’t bother me. They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do to protect us…’
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Over the decades, the Kurds quixotic struggle for some form of independence doomed them to a seemingly endless cycle of rebellion followed by incredibly vicious repression. Those uprisings were usually encouraged by enemies of Iraq’s rulers who made use of the Kurds to destabilize the regime in Baghdad. It was a ruthless, deceitful process, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Kurds being slaughtered and displaced over the years. And it was an ideal playing field for Kissinger.
The Supreme Court’s seismic January ruling that corporations are free to spend unlimited amounts of their profits to advertise for or against candidates may have been the latest shakeup of campaign finance – but gaping holes already allow corporations to spend enormous sums without leaving a paper trail, a Raw Story investigation has found.
Campaign finance experts confirmed that though disclosure rules remained intact in the new Supreme Court decision, there are effective methods to circumvent them.
Science Applications International Corporation, SAIC, an $8 billion corporation involved in defense, intelligence community, and Homeland Security contracting... represents a private business that has become a form of permanent government. SAIC epitomizes something beyond Eisenhower's worst nightmare: the military-industrial-counterterrorism complex.
Our economy is in shambles, millions of Americans remain unemployed and depressed, our national infrastructure is crumbling, and poverty and homelessness are reaching alarming levels. And, yet, in spite of the catastrophic state of our nation, the annual $1 trillion dollar military budget remains sacrosanct, totally untouchable. This is a completely unsustainable condition, a formula for economic disaster and national bankruptcy.
"This is the ugly face of capitalism," Roger Van Vlasselaer, the leader of a major Belgian union told Time. "AB InBev are just thinking of their bottom line for shareholders, regardless of the social cost.
The workers’ strategies were successful in the end and the blockades were lifted after a compromise was reached on January 22 in which the management agreed to freeze the job cuts.
In a stark reminder of growing costs, the government has released a new estimate that healthcare spending grew to a record 17.3% of the U.S. economy last year, marking the largest one-year jump in its share of the economy since the government started keeping such records half a century ago.
The Vancouver Winter Olympic torch relay is winding its way across northern British Columbia this week. It arrived in the coastal town of Kitimat yesterday. The celebration was subdued. Like most towns on the relay’s route, Kitimat is suffering huge economic blows from the barons of the natural resource industries that are the mainstay of the province’s economy.
The committee's 350-page report of an investigation that lasted two years focuses on how U.S. banks, lawyers, real estate and escrow agents hide the origins of funds belonging to foreign government officials and other "politically exposed persons" (PEPS) who might be moving illicit cash.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Here in part 2, Cohen traces some governing class's reaction to the gains made by progressive forces during the disastrous Vietnam War. After this turbulent period the capitalist class launched a much more aggressive campaign against working people while promoting their class interests of profit, power, and privilege.
What most people fail to understand in the US is that the two capitalist parties, Republican and Democratic, only represent, at most, different strategies to promote the interests of those who "own" the economy--the ruling class. At the very least, the two parties are designed to promote the false idea that people have real choices and that the US has a democratic system. Until ordinary people pierce the veil of these false ruling class ideas and realize that the economy is a legacy of technology and wealth inherited from previous generations of working people, nothing will change for the benefit of working people. Working people create all wealth. Capitalism is a criminal system devised to steal the wealth created by working people. In other words, capitalism is organized crime.
Instead of recognizing that deepening debt, low wages and the siphoning up of wealth to the top of the economic pyramid were primary causes of the Depression, Prof. Bernanke attributes the main problem simply to a lack of liquidity, causing low prices.
Will investors in international equity markets have the same prescience, or will they just react in the same way they did to the market top in autumn of 2007, with denial, ignorance, and reliance on hoary old hidebound cliches in place of facts? The facts being that the bird in question is actually and indisputably dead....
The United States plans to unveil later this decade a new conventional "Prompt Global Strike" (C-PGS) system. It will enable the US to instantly carry out a massive conventional attack anywhere in the world in an hour or less.
The Radical Homemakers I interviewed had chosen to make family, community, social justice, and the health of the planet the governing principles of their lives. They rejected any form of labor or the expenditure of any resource that did not honor these tenets. For about 5,000 years, our culture has been hostage to a form of organization by domination that fails to honor our living systems, under which “he who holds the gold makes the rules.” By contrast, the Radical Homemakers are using life skills and relationships as replacements for gold, on the premise that he or she who doesn’t need the gold can change the rules. The greater one’s domestic skills, be they to plant a garden, grow tomatoes on an apartment balcony, mend a shirt, repair an appliance, provide one’s own entertainment, cook and preserve a local harvest, or care for children and loved ones, the less dependent one is on the gold.
This titanic act of fiscal malfeasance includes a security force that was originally budgeted at $175m, but has since inflated to $900m. With more than 15,000 members, it's the largest military presence seen in western Canada since the end of the second world war, an appropriate measure only if one imagines al-Qaida are set to descend from the slopes on C2-strapped snowboards.
The recent expansion of U.S. missile defence systems in the Persian Gulf just days after President Barack Obama warned Iran of "growing consequences" if it did not accept the West's conditions over its nuclear programme signals a possible change of approach by Washington even as uncertainty still prevails how it will deal with Iran eventually.
The inspectors’ mission is to deliver demolition orders to owners of illegally-built homes, almost all of them Palestinians.
The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies released the results of a new national survey on public responses to climate change. This report finds that public concern about global warming has dropped sharply since the fall of 2008.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
...the end of empire would mean an end to the horrendous economic distortion wrought by our war-profiteering industries. Other businesses would inevitably come to the fore, economic activity would be spread more evenly across more sectors. And so, yes, those who have feasted so gluttonously for so long on blood money would not be quite as rich as they are now.
A better world -- again, not perfect, by no means perfect, but much better -- is entirely possible. We could easily dismantle the empire -- carefully, safely, with deliberation -- over the next ten years. It is a reasonable, moderate, serious option. It would not require violent revolution or vast social upheaval. But our elites do not want this. They can no longer fathom life without the exercise -- and worship -- of unrestricted power that empire entails. They will not accept -- or even contemplate -- any alternative to it.
Major crops genetically modified for just two traits - herbicide tolerance and insect resistance – are ravaged by super weeds and secondary pests in the heartland of GMOs as farmers fight a losing battle with more of the same; a fundamental shift to organic farming practices may be the only salvation.Also check out some of these superweeds in this video (2:16m)
The tax shift off finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) onto labor and industry since 1980 has polarized the economy between a creditor class at the top of, and an indebted, “real” economy below. Unless this tax favoritism is reversed, more and more revenue will be diverted away from spending on consumption and investment to pay debt service and “financialize” the economy even more.
“In the upcoming elections, voters will face a choice between Republicans who are standing with Wall Street fat cats, bankers and insurance companies -- or Democrats who are working hard to clean up the mess we inherited by putting the people’s interests ahead of the special interests," Menendez said in a press release last Wednesday.
The last few days have certainly seen a remarkable display of bellicosity by the Obama Administration, putting almost every tool in the militarist kit to use: nukes, ships, missiles, money, proxies and war-profiteering. With just a few flicks of the imperial wrist, Obama sent waves of destabilization through some of the most volatile regions on earth.
Production from Giant Gas Fields in Norway and Russia and Subsequent Implications for European Energy Security
The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects total natural gas output in the EU to decrease from 216 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/year) in 2006 to 90 bcm/year in 2030. For the same period, EU demand for natural gas is forecast to increase rapidly.
Defenders of Israel’s aggressive stance have for many years been recognised as a powerful force shaping United States foreign policy. A less well-known fact is that the pro-Israel lobby has been making a concerted effort to strengthen its presence in Europe.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Media Democracy in Action: The Importance of Including Truth Emergency inside the Progressive Media Reform Movement
Project Censored is also involved in an ongoing and growing collaboration with the college and university affiliates program through Media Freedom International. Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff not only continue to pursue censored media with this effort, but in addition there are also now over 30 affiliates with more on the way, including some from Latin America, Europe, and Asia. The 2010 book contains work from nine of the affiliates, with a few placing stories in the top ten. The MFI website will be a home base for affiliate work and continue to publish Validated Independent News stories and more detailed academic, investigative reports year round in the effort to combat censorship and the ongoing Truth Emergency in the United States and around the world.
SCOTT: Well, I'm afraid that by my analysis of things it's not in the power of a president to announce a new mindset out of Washington. The mindset in Washington [ruling class] chooses the people who become president.
For the first time in the modern history of Greece, anti-government protesters last night pitched tents outside the large standstone building of the Athenian parliament amid growing public anger and unprecedented international concern over the country's dire public finances.
As Greeks attempt to get to grips with an economic crisis that has begun to spill over the borders of their tiny state into the rest of Europe, the sight of tents lined up in Sydagma Square has conjured the mood of the nation: one that is veering, perilously, between bewilderment and despair.
From Bill O’Reilly to Bill Moyers there is consensus that a return to growth is the remedy for what they see as an economic recession. Their political divisions arise over how to rekindle demand and consumption, with the right favoring a market led recovery and the left typically advocating massive government stimulus spending.
Were I to meet O’Reilly or Moyers I would ask, “Since we live on a finite planet, with finite resources, why is economic growth the solution and not the source of our dilemmas?” The failure of media, political, educational, scientific, and cultural leaders to consider this question illustrates what Joseph Campbell calls the power of myth. Questioning growth is at odds with our faith in the American Dream, whose main promise is that future generations are entitled to a higher material standard of living than their parents enjoyed.
The government will instead call for $6bn to be spent over five years to develop a commercial craft to transport astronauts into orbit. Such a move would mark a sea change in how Nasa works, forcing it to rely on a private company to design and manufacture a spacecraft.
Michael Griffin, a former Nasa administrator who championed the Constellation programme, told the Post the budget would prevent the US from being "a significant player in human space flight for the foreseeable future".
Sunday, January 31, 2010
“Capitalism itself is being proposed as the solution, through the means of establishing pollution as a property right. This is the meaning of the “cap and trade” system. Government will give the biggest polluters the biggest rights to pollute, and then slowly withdraw the rights, leading to a market in pollution rights. And since the market knows all things, sees all things, the market will solve the problem without any further government involvement.
I regard NPR as little more than a fairly sophisticated propaganda organ of the US ruling class aimed at the American middle class. Their selection of news items reflects the interests of the ruling class. News analysis is shaped by interviews with conservative figures, especially pentagon officials, and rarely by any critics of American foreign or domestic policies. I also see a lot of Zionist influence in their coverage of news and analysis.
The movement against school closings should become the beginning of a broader fightback against the attacks on the public sector. There needs to be a full mobilization of the unions and working class communities on the streets. In doing this we will inevitably come up against the opposition of the bulk of the political establishment, both Democratic and Republican. It is after all a Democratic governor and legislature that have been implementing these cuts, not just a Republican mayor. As this struggle develops, both here and around the country, other questions will be posed including the need for independent candidates representing the interests of working people to run for higher office.
Michael Pettis is a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets, and a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Modern industrial society is based on a triad of hydrocarbons, metals, and electricity. The three are intricately connected; each is accessible only if the other two are present. Electricity, for example, can be generated on a global scale only with hydrocarbons. The same dependence on hydrocarbons is true of metals; in fact the better types of ore are now becoming depleted, while those that remain can be processed only with modern machinery and require more hydrocarbons for smelting. In turn, without metals and electricity there would be no means of extracting and processing hydrocarbons. Of the three members of the triad, electricity is the most fragile, and its failure serves as an early warning of trouble with the other two.
Climate change is like a fever that is symptomatic of an underlying disease which must be cured before the fever will dissipate. The underlying cause is the belief that humans are separate from, and superior to, nature and that more is better. These beliefs have fueled the misconceived and doomed attempts of industrialized, consumer-based societies to achieve lasting human well being by exploiting and damaging Earth.