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, March 13, 2010

Learning About Capitalism at Gunther's Garage

by Joe Bageant from Counterpunch. Joe has a very unique style for capturing the gritty realities of working people and does so with love, compassion, humor, and insight. In this article he draws inspiration from talking to a working grunt in his hometown in Virginia and goes on to provide some rather profound insights on the economy and prospects for change. There are so many gems in this article to highlight that it is hard to select just one, but this is my choice:
Defenders of capitalism claim that there can be no real economy, no real material value created by the real people on Main Street, without the financing of Wall Street’s virtual economy. Allegedly, they are so intertwined as to be the same thing, which they are, and that no other way of doings things is possible, which is patently untrue. The storyline goes that without virtual economy financing from Wall Street, without the ever-expanding debt that drives the quest for limitless growth, the world would end.

The High Price of Materialism

An interview with Tim Kasser from New Left Project. 
I...think that there are alternatives to capitalism that can promote better mental health, as well as greater social cohesion and ecological sustainability.  To me, such economic systems need to re-shift their values so that they do not create priorities for wealth and profit and economic growth, but instead recognize that the real purpose of an economy is to provide people with meaningful work so that they can have the material things they need to live, in a way that doesn’t compromise the ability of other people, other species, or future generations to meet their needs.

Neighbors and Online Networks

by Bill McKibben from Yankee website. What a great idea on how to build your immediate community using the internet!
Forget the World Wide Web--this one stretched barely four blocks. And no video, no rating systems, no celebrities, no hyperlinks. Just the daily rhythm of neighborhood life. "It grew steadily, from 10 or 20 percent of the neighborhood to the point where by 2006 we had 90 percent of the neighborhood signed up," says Wood-Lewis.

AFRICOM’s First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia

Rick Rozoff in Voltaire's website provides the latest update on The Empire's military operations in Africa, reports of which are completely absent from US mainstream media.

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Iceland Busts the Banksters

by John Nichols from Yes! magazine. 
...the people who pay the taxes have a right to be a part of the decision-making process. And, in a democracy, voters have a right to say "no" when they recognize that they are being forced to pay for the dirty deals of the big bankers and the failures of governments and international agencies that were supposed to regulate the bankers.

Life After Growth--Managing our Way to a Desirable Future

by Richard Heinberg, a condensed version posted on The Oil Drum.
It’s an uncomfortable idea, but one that cannot be ignored: The “normal” late-20th century economy of seemingly endless growth actually emerged from an aberrant set of conditions that cannot be perpetuated.

That “normal” is gone. One way or another, a “new normal” will emerge to replace it. Can we build a different, more sustainable economy to replace the one now in tatters?

Our Energy Supply: Some Basics

by Gail Tverberg from The Oil Drum. This site often generates thoughtful articles on energy resouces, forecasts, etc. The discussions following each article are often as interesting as the articles.
Our energy problems are close at hand, and solutions using what are optimistically called "renewables" are distant and may very well sink the country further into recession.

Friday, March 12, 2010


    "There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part.

    "And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop.

    "And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

           Mario Savio, Sproul Hall steps, 1964

The New McCarthyism

by Joe Conason, from Creators. 

I am posting this piece because it represents a quintessential liberal view on recent neo-conservative attacks on key legal figures in the Obama administration. 

Liberal views, IMO, retard any effective action to change the economic system of capitalism that is currently destroying the communities and lives of working people. This liberal view falsifies both our history (the McCarthy period) and our current political circumstances. The end effect, of course, is to preserve the legitimacy of the capitalist system. 

Senator McCarthy didn't just happen, he was essentially produced by the right wing of the ruling class in the US during the early post war (WWII) period in order to roll back all the concessions to labor and public social services created by the Roosevelt administration to ward of threats to capitalism in the US during the volatile 1930s. McCarthy was a bit of a nut, and when his nuttiness went to far when he attacked the US Army, the ruling class got rid of him. He was disposable because the damage he and others caused to any thoughts of peaceful co-existence with the Soviet Union and to the gains made by the US labor movement had been accomplished.

There is now, as during that period, a right wing of the ruling class that intends to fight any concessions to working people that may arise in the liberal wing in order to stifle increasing domestic disturbances caused by the recent economic collapse. In contrast to the earlier period of rollbacks, the current and more aggressive right wing, the neo-conservatives, want to complete the work of G. W. Bush to turn this country into a complete fascist police state under their control.

The Wrong Kind of Green

by Johann Hari from The Nation. 
Why did America's leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests--and runaway global warming? Why are their lobbyists on Capitol Hill dismissing the only real solutions to climate change as "unworkable" and "unrealistic," as though they were just another sooty tentacle of Big Coal?

Cud and Complicity: Burying the Alternatives to Empire's Dominion

by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque. I was a bit surprised to learn of this event from the internet--not from mainstream media.
Think about that for a moment: an unprecedented event, on the floor of the House, going on for hours, involving a question of supreme national importance. Regardless of one's position on the issue, is this not the very definition of "news"? But on Thursday morning, you could search high and low on the front pages (print and web) of both the New York Times and the Washington Post -- our national arbiters of serious newsworthiness -- yet find no mention whatsoever of this event. This, even though the web fronts -- unlike the paper versions -- contain headlines for dozens of stories, including sections devoted entirely to Washington politics.

Greece: Millions join general strike against government austerity package

from World Socialist Web Site. 
Workers throughout Greece staged their second one-day general strike within a month yesterday to protest the austerity measures being imposed by the PASOK social democratic government of Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Predatory lenders and consumer protection (5:27m vido)

from McClatchy News. An interview with the reporter who is following the events in Washington re a consumer protection agency.

It is completely obvious that a consumer protection agency would need to be independent. However the current ruling corporate class cannot tolerate any hint of an independent consumer agency to protect ordinary Americans from their predatory practices. Liberals (e.g. Sen. Dodd) only make a pretense of pushing for an independent agency. If you don't believe me, wait and see what actually happens. 

The Rogue Nation

by Philip Giraldi from Anti-War.
In spite of the fact that the United States faces no enemy anywhere in the world capable of opposing it on a battlefield, the Defense budget for 2011 will go up 7.1 percent from current levels.  A lot of the new spending will be on drones, America’s latest contribution to western civilization, capable of surveilling large areas on the ground and delivering death from the skies.
Meanwhile, the legislators in my state are trying to slash the state budget by making draconian cuts in public services, raising taxes, increasing college tuition, etc.

Yves Smith for Dummies [Humor]

from Outside the Box. Today's offering of humor. Read the "for dummies" version of an interview with Yves Smith who has had an extensive background in the financial services industry.

Food, water driving 21st-century African land grab

by John Vidal from Mail & Guardian (South Africa). 
The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 320km to Addis Ababa and flown 1 600km to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Lehman Fraudulently Cooked Its Books, Accounting Giant Ernst & Young Helped, Geithner and Bernanke Winked and Slapped Them on the Back

from Washington's Blog. 

All the dirt on the key players in the economic collapse (for working people) that you probably don't need to know, but might be curious about anyway. I think the key point that very astute observers like the author of this blog and Yves Smith miss is that, to paraphrase a famous statement of one of our great presidents, Bill Clinton, "It's the economic SYSTEM, stupid!" 

The economic collapse is, IMO, not about personalities even though the destruction is carried out by individuals of, or serving, the governing class of owners. It's the built-in incentives of capitalism that shapes the behavior of individuals who otherwise might have turned out to be decent folks.

ECONNED – The Movie, Um, Video! (1:54m video)

by Yves Smith from her blog, Naked Capitalism. Although this is a promotion of her recently released book entitled, "Econned", I am posting it because it is also a powerful visual statement about how ideas can have such devastating consequences for ordinary people--Wall Street's financial institutions and the governing class are doing fine. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is "More Jobs" Sustainable or Necessary in the Post-Peak Oil World?

by Jan Lundberg from Culture Change. Although he makes a number of good points, I think that he omits the fact that so many necessary jobs (as well as unnecessary jobs) have been outsourced to cheap labor countries. Thus there would be plenty of productive work for Americans if they were brought back home. However if we had an economic system built around the principle of meeting the real needs of people rather than profit, there would still be plenty of work to do and plenty of leisure time.
What was required for a growing economy, that was supposed to uplift all of modern humanity, is at root a false notion for the manipulated public: the overwhelming majority must work for others to enrich the few so that all of society benefits through unlimited expansion. This problematic profit-scheme is failing to hold up, what with general economic uncertainty on the rise (apart from “Hope”) and the advanced depletion of easily extracted, cheap oil.

Official dogma: Iraq War a success

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. 
It was only a matter of time before American elites abandoned their faux regret over Iraq.  For tribalists and nationalists, America can err in its execution but never in its motives.  There's no question -- as this glorifying, propagandistic Newsweek cover story reflects -- that it's now official dogma that this was the right thing to do, or at least that we produced something great and wonderful for that country, as was our intent all along (leaving aside the what is actually happening in Iraq). 

The Hurt Locker, the Academy Awards and the rehabilitation of the Iraq war

by David Walsh from World Socialist Web Site. Walsh is, in my opinion, one of the best film critics.
The US military is a professional, not a conscript army, operating as something akin to a hit squad on a global scale in the interests of the American financial elite. All sorts of ex-lefts and liberals are now rallying around the imperialist war efforts, often through the formula of the need to “support the troops.” This is a miserable and cowardly slogan. In practice, it means the effort to discourage and suppress criticism of the origins, conduct and aims of the brutal conflicts.

When Goods Get Traded, Who Pays for the CO2?

from Time Magazine. A better title would be, "Study exposes massive outsourcing of emissions by rich countries". But then you can't really expect too much from a global media corporation that owns Time Magazine.
Climate-change critics like Republican Senator James Inhofe may rail against China, but the PNAS paper shows that while Beijing may be leading the world in carbon emissions, that output is in large part due to the fact that it is using energy to make clothes, cars and toys for the rest of us.

Why Are We Still in Afghanistan?

from Washington's Blog. Could it be that what is good for the US military-industrial complex is good for America? Or could it be that what is good for the military-industrial complex is good for the ruling class? You decide.

Premature withdrawal in Iraq

by Tom Engelhardt from Asia Times Online. He sees more and more evidence that ruling class spokespersons are preparing the groundwork for cancellation of Obama's pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq. 

Time out

God Helps with Personal Decisions, Most Americans Say

from Live Science. Here is clear evidence that the opiate of religion is working for the ruling class to discourage any rational inquiry into the causes of the adverse effects of the capitalist system on working people.
Most Americans believe God is involved in their everyday lives and concerned with their personal well-being, though the well-educated and higher earners are less likely than their counterparts to believe in such divine intervention, a new study suggests.

Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, examined data from two recent national surveys of Americans and their beliefs about God's involvement in their everyday lives. 

Greek protesters clash with police (2:02m video)

from the Guardian, includes report in addition to video. 

In the video George Papendreou, the President of Greece makes a brief appearance to offer reassurance to the US administration and, no doubt, to all the capitalist ruling classes that Greece (the working people of Greece) will make the necessary sacrifices while Greek workers shut down Greece in a general strike. Despite some "socialist" credentials, Papendreou and his family have long had very close ties to the US. Many political figures in Europe make pretenses of being socialists because of the historical appeal that socialist ideas have held for working people in Europe. Hence even the Nazi party (commonly known in English as the Nazi Party from the German pronunciation of Nationalsozialist) was called  the National Socialist German Workers Party.

Greek Debt Crisis Is At The Center Of The Credit Default Swap Debate

from Huffington Post. 
"Speculators are making billions every day betting on Greece's default," Prime Minister George Papandreou said this week in Washington, where his government is pressing the U.S. to restrict such trading.
Greece favors banning "naked" credit default swaps on a country's debt. In naked trades, the buyers of the swaps don't actually hold the underlying debt. Yet they can still profit or lose money on the bet.
Papandreou likened this practice to buying insurance on a neighbor's house and then burning it down to collect. Without naming names, he said some U.S. banks that were bailed out during the financial crisis are using naked swaps to make "a fortune out of Greece's misfortune."

Why GM [genetically modified food] Has No Place in a World in Transition

by Rob Hopkins from his blog, Transition Culture.
Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. He has many years experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and set up the first 2 year full-time permaculture course in the world, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland as well as co-ordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission.

British activist saw Rachel Corrie die under Israeli bulldozer, court hears

from the Guardian. Local mainstream media coverage of this trial and the original incident has received very little coverage here in Washington state where Corrie was born and raised. This is in sharp contrast to the widespread media coverage of another Corey (Haim), a Hollywood celebrity, who died recently. See also this re the trial.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Violent Backlash Against Climate Scientists

by Stephen Leahy from IPS news service. I think that the basic conflict behind all the efforts to deny the overwhelming evidence of man-made climate change is that the capitalist system is on a collision course with the limits of our earth's ecological systems. Capitalists will viciously attack any threat to their beloved system even if it means the destruction of their own habitat. They are like addicts who know that their destructive habits will kill them (as well as the rest of us), but they simply can't stop.
U.S. Senator James Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma and climate change denier, in late February released a list of leading climate scientists he wants prosecuted as criminals for misleading the government. Those scientists are receiving hate mail and death threats.

The Empire Continues to Strike Back: Team Obama Propaganda Campaign Reaches Fever Pitch

 by Yves Smith from her blog, Naked Capitalism. I think that this astute Wall Street and financial services insider fails to understand that Obama was carefully vetted and selected by the ruling capitalist class to cover their sins and to continue their wars. He is not disappointing them.
Over twenty years of malfeasance, from the savings and loan crisis (where fraud was a leading cause of bank failures) to a catastrophic set of blow-ups in over the counter derivatives in 1994, which produced total losses of $1.5 trillion, the biggest wipeout since the 1929 crash, through a 1990s subprime meltdown, dot com chicanery, Enron and other accounting scandals, and now the global financial crisis, the industry each time had been able to beat neuter meaningful reform. But this time, the scale of the damage was so great that it extended beyond investors to hapless bystanders, ordinary citizens who were also paying via their taxes and job losses. And unlike the past, where news of financial blow-ups was largely confined to the business section, the public could not miss the scale of the damage and how it came about, and was outraged.
So the only problem with this picture was how to fool the now-impoverished public into thinking a program of Mussolini-style corporatism represented progress.

Israel's Apartheid

by Murray Dobbin from Black Agenda Report. 
At literally every turn, Palestinians are treated as people with no rights. Israel controls water in the West bank and while its citizens have swimming pools, Palestinians are on water quotas -- prohibited even from digging wells. Ask blacks in South Africa if they were ever faced with a 20-foot concrete wall dividing their communities, their land and the roads connecting their villages. Palestinian land is still being seized for use by Israeli settlers, their orchards bulldozed.

In the 21st Century, It's Black America VS Corporate America

 by Bruce Dixon from Black Agenda Report. I think that the capitalist system is becoming an equal opportunity victimizer for those who don't own large amounts of corporate shares and must earn their living by "the sweat of their brow".
Corporations are immensely wealthy, taxed and regulated more lightly than human beings, protected by law from most kinds of accountability, and are immortal. An human who kills someone, even by accident, can be held civilly or criminally liable, stripped of all property and assets, imprisoned or put to death. Corporations can poison and kill thousands at a time, without even the need for apologies. Texas alone puts a couple people to death every month. When was the last time a corporation had its assets confiscated? Why isn't there a corporate death penalty?

Fixing the Great Mistake of Planning for Cars (3:43m video)

from World Changing. 
Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White shows how planning for cars drastically altered Park Avenue in New York City. Watch and see what Park Avenue used to look like, how we ceded it to the automobile, and what we need to do to reclaim the street as a space where people take precedence over traffic.

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Bibi's snub to Biden may backfire

from the Guardian. I seriously doubt it.
Simultaneously, Israel's leader tried, with some success, to shift the US conversation on to Iran, which he says poses an existential threat to his country and the region. All in all, it was an Oscar-standard performance in obfuscation, prevarication and disingenuousness. To the achingly smart, but politically less pugnacious Obama, Netanyahu's behaviour was intellectually insulting. The fact he has put up with it until now may be a measure of Israel's clout in Washington, especially on Capitol Hill.

Corporate Past - Corporate Future…?

Another excellent interview from the New Left project, this time with Joel Bakan, the author of "The Corporation" and the inspiration for the documentary by the same name. If you haven't seen the latter film or read the book, this is a must-read article to further your understanding of corporations which are the engines of capitalism.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Emilia-Romagna Coops: A Market Without Capitalists

by Francis Moore Lappé from Solidarity Economy
The presumption is that by aiding each other, all gain. And they have. Per person income is 50 percent higher in Emilia Romagna than the national average.

Informed consent

by William Blum from his blog, The Anti-Empire Report. 
I'd like to suggest that before a young American man or woman can enlist in the armed forces s/he must be told the following by the staff of the military recruitment office:

Time for a U.S. Revolution – Fifteen Reasons

by Bill Quigley from ICH. 

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

The Local Food and Farming Revolution

by Michael Brownlee from Transition Times. This is quite a lengthy article (about 7,000 words), but contains a lot of useful information and references to resources regarding permaculture, transitioning, localization, etc.


from Restoring Mayberry blog (Ireland). Excellent article on how communities can "share the wealth" by sharing books, tools, etc. Also see this about sharing tools in Portland, Oregon, USA. 
Even more useful than the books or activities, though, is the principle behind libraries, that we and our neighbours can pool our resources and hold things in common that all of us occasionally need. Most of the Western World, however, adopted this principle for books and then stopped, never extending it to other obvious areas of life.

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards: Hollywood celebrates itself, undeservedly

from World Socialist Web Site. 
What stood out most glaringly about the ceremony was the extent to which the realities of life faced by millions of people were absent, both in the films honored (with few exceptions) and the program itself. The world and the country are gripped by the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, bringing with it high levels of unemployment and social misery, the Obama administration is prosecuting two neo-colonial wars and threatening more, the US seethes with social frustration and discontent, and yet none of this found the slightest expression in last night’s broadcast.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Calling All Rebels

by Chris Hedges from Truthdig. 
There are no constraints left to halt America’s slide into a totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics are a sham. The media have been debased and defanged by corporate owners. The working class has been impoverished and is now being plunged into profound despair. The legal system has been corrupted to serve corporate interests.

Unnatural Acts: Breaking the Fever of Militarism

 by Chris Floyd from his blog, Empire Burlesque.
...the brutalization, moral coarsening, corruption and concentration of elite power that attend every war do not simply disappear from a society when the fighting stops. They persist, like microbes, in myriad forms, working with slow, corrosive force to degrade and deform the victors. Indeed, victory in battle often leads a society to enshrine war's most pernicious attributes: violence is ennobled, and becomes entrenched as an ever-ready instrument of national policy. Militarism is exalted, the way of peace dishonored: cries of "Appeasers! Cowards! Traitors!" greet every approach that fails to brandish the threat of extreme violence, that fails to "keep all options on the table."

Iraqi election for a new US puppet regime

from World Socialist Web Site. 
US General David Petraeus coined the term “Iraqcracy” last month to describe the flagrant resort to bribery, intimidation and sectarian, tribal or ethnic appeals that marked the efforts of Iraqi politicians to win popular support. This reality, which the US occupation has created, will determine the make-up of the next Iraqi government. It can be stated in advance and without fear of contradiction that it will be an unstable pro-US puppet regime, riven by communalist tensions that could lurch into open civil war.

Do higher wages cause inflation? (6:05m video)

Real News Network interview with Robert Pollin, an economics professor, regarding this question. Mainstream media always presents "experts" who claim that this is so.

The Wrong Kind of Green

By Johann Hari from The Nation.
Why did America's leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests--and runaway global warming? Why are their lobbyists on Capitol Hill dismissing the only real solutions to climate change as "unworkable" and "unrealistic," as though they were just another sooty tentacle of Big Coal?

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

Proof that 9/11 Truthers Are Dangerous [ ;-) ]

from the author of Washington's Blog. 
Most Americans don't know what kind of people 9/11 truthers really are. So they can't figure out whether or not they are dangerous.

Below is a list of people who question what our Government has said about 9/11.

The list proves - once and for all - that people who question 9/11 are dangerous.
See also six-10 minute videos on a 9/11 truth seeking lecture recently delivered by an economist in Toronto.


The Fall of Greece: Yes, It Really is a Capitalist Plot

by Diana Johnstone from Global Research.
What the EU leaders meant by “solidarity” in their appeal to the gods was not that they were going to pour public money into Greece, as they poured it into their troubled banks, but that they intended to squeeze the money owed the banks out of the Greek people. 

Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion "This Time We Went Too Far"

by Norman Finkelstein from Global Research. 
Although “pro”-Israel organizations alleged that “college and university campuses . . . have become hotbeds of a virulent new strain of anti-Semitism,” at many campuses Jewish students have played a leading role on the local “Students for Justice in Palestine” committees, and creative and dedicated young Jewish activists in Birthright Unplugged and Anarchists Against the Wall, alongside individuals such as Anna Baltzer, author of the memoir Witness in Palestine, have gone from school to school offering personal testimony on the daily horrors unfolding in Palestine.

Strained US – China Relations: China’s Crucial Role as America's Creditor

by James Petras from Global Research.  This astute observer of international political and economic affairs trains his sights on the increasing role of China in international affairs and the reactions of the US governing class to the challenges it presents to the US global hegemony.  Among his particularly interesting observations are the following:
The Obama regime’s political and diplomatic provocations against China in pursuit of its military-driven empire, come at a very high real and potential price.  We cannot assume that China will remain a stoic punching bag for the US, absorbing territorial threats, economic pressures and gratuitous diplomatic insults without taking counter-measures especially in the economic sphere.

In large part, the majority of exports from China to the US are the result of US multi-national corporate decisions to produce and sub-contract in China.  In other words, the trade deficit with China is directly related to US corporate global investment strategy, which, in turn, flourished after the US government liberalized it rules and deregulated US corporate conduct.  Liberal investment policies under the US government, and not Chinese “unfair trade rules”, are a major cause of the trade deficit.

In other words, the US re-directed its investment strategies from producing useful, quality commodities for domestic consumption and export to importing manufactured goods from abroad at a greater profit for the corporations.  The weakening of US productive capacity - its productive forces - was reflected in its declining competitive position and its deepening trade imbalances.  Given the tight relations between the White House and Wall Street, policy makers sought to blame Chinese monetary officials for an undervalued currency, rather than confront the bubble economy stimulated by the policies of the Federal Reserve and generated by the Wall Street investment houses, whose executives go on to occupy key economic posts in the US government and who provide substantial funding for electoral campaigns.

The key to understanding this paradox of economic gain and political hostility lies in the fundamentally different political and economic structures and global strategies of the two countries.

In contrast to the Chinese market-driven quest for global power, US imperialism is built around military conquest and appropriation of economic wealth.

The US has severely weakened its productive forces in the process of funding a global military machine. China, on the other hand, has sought to become a world power on the bases of the long-term, large-scale development of its productive forces, even in the face of US opposition.
However I take issue with his conclusion: "Ultimately what we have is a conflict between two diametrically opposing political economic systems." Such a statement suggests that they are different systems! They are both capitalist systems--but the Chinese form is at an earlier, nationalistic stage for obvious historical reasons. Whereas the US version is at an imperialistic stage of development, and insists on its global hegemony. China is too big and too proud to submit to demands such as the penetration of their economy by Wall Street financial institutions and submission to other US ruling class dictates. In the longer run, the capitalist system is doomed in both countries by diminishing energy and material resources, environmental pollution, and climate change.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Women’s Rights, Population and Climate Change: The Debate Continues

from Climate and Capitalism. 
Poverty is a cause of high fertility — where child mortality rates are high and social safety nets are nonexistent, people will have many children to ensure that some survive and to help support parents in their old age. But the reverse is also true — high fertility can exacerbate poverty. More children can mean less food, education and healthcare to go around, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. The best way to break the cycle is to address poverty with equitable development that reduces the need for large families and to make sure that people have the services and information they need to make their own decisions about childbearing.

The net fiscal expenditure stimulus in the US 2008-2009: Less than what you might think

 from Vox. This academic type article on US expenditure efforts to stimulate the economy supports the intuitive impression that very little NET stimulus has actually happened--hence very little progress in reviving the economy.
The crisis led to significant fiscal stimulus efforts by the US government to offset the downturn. But this column argues that, properly adjusted for the declining fiscal expenditure of the fifty states, the aggregate stimulus was close to zero in 2009. While a net decline was avoided, the stimulus did not raise aggregate expenditure above its predicted mean. This can explain the anemic reaction of the US economy to the alleged “big federal fiscal stimulus”.

March 4 Actions: Reports from Organizers — Across the Country [US], Socialist Alternative Mobilizes Against Education Cuts

from Socialist Alternative. I haven't seen much mainstream media coverage of these events.
A new movement of students and education workers has erupted in response to the vicious budget cuts raining down on public education in state after state. The media coverage of March 4th actions across the country – and particularly in California, the epicenter of the new movement – was extensive. But this was by no means a spontaneous outburst of resistance. The protests were organized by student and public sector union activists who are on the front lines of this growing movement. 

The mystery of the Afghanistan war

by Christopher King from Redress. Much food for thought in this speculative article.
Christopher King argues that “a situation exists in which it may be in the interests of the United States to seek a ‘cold war’ situation with Russia and China as a pretext for defaulting on its external debt, attacking Iran, taking direct control of all Middle Eastern oilfields and effective control of Europe”.

Time out (click on cartoon to enlarge)

You may also need to do a "ctrl" and "+" a couple times to make it more readable.

How food and water are driving a 21st-century African land grab

from The Observer. 
"The foreign companies are arriving in large numbers, depriving people of land they have used for centuries. There is no consultation with the indigenous population. The deals are done secretly. The only thing the local people see is people coming with lots of tractors to invade their lands."

Open war over Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama's master of the dark arts

from The Guardian. The government servants of the US ruling class are fighting among themselves. By the way, Emanuel has close ties to Israel.  During the 1991 Gulf War Emanuel was a civilian volunteer who assisted the Israel Defense Forces.  According to Wikipedia, Emanuel's father served in the Irgun, a Zionist terrorist organization that operated in the British mandate of Palestine between 1931 and 1948.

World Workers paralyse Greece as MPs debate huge cuts

from Morningstar in the UK. 
Greek workers have shut down hospitals, schools and public transport again in protest at the government's "socially unjust" spending cuts. 

Canadian asks: Who you gonna bomb next, eh?

by Joe Bageant from his blog. Joe answers this question posed by Ryan in Canada.