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, July 31, 2010

Michael Hudson & Richard Wolff: Europe Under the Crunch [16:50m video]

from Grit TV. A most fascinating discussion regarding the economic collapse in Europe and the US and what might be done about it.
We've heard plenty about the recession in the U.S., but what about the rest of the world? Countries across Europe have faced budget crunches and conservative governments are using the crisis as an excuse to roll back the social safety net that most have enjoyed for decades. Many of the problems--and the solutions--sound sadly familiar. Lowered taxes on the rich and corporations, falling wages, and deregulation led to the crisis, which is being shifted onto the backs of the working class--as Michael Hudson notes, putting the class war back in business. Hudson joins us in studio, along with Richard Wolff, to discuss the economic crisis in Europe, what we can learn about the response to it and apply back at home. Here's a hint: it involves organized labor.

Treasure Island: A Case Study in Shareable Journalism

by Jeremy Adam Smith from Shareable

As corporate sponsored journalism continues to degenerate, there may be a new model emerging to tell the truth about our lives.
"Civically minded journalists, who in the past weren't used to collaboration, are inventing new ways of telling stories about the community that are not reliant on corporate control or funding,"

This Is What You Eat

by Marc Perton from The Consumerist

See a great graphic and what the US corporate food industry is doing to Americans to increase their profits.
If you are what you eat, this graphic from Visual Economics may not make for the best inspirational reading. Then again, is there really anything so bad about drinking 53 gallons of soda or eating 85 pounds of fat and oil each year? (No, you don't have to answer that.)

Foreclosures Continue To Increase Dramatically In 2010

by Michael Snyder from Business Insider.
Back in 2007 and 2008, experts tell us that most foreclosures were due to toxic mortgages.  People were being suckered into mortgages that they couldn't afford with "teaser rates" or with payments that would dramatically escalate after a few years, and when those mortgages reset, the people who had agreed to them no longer could make the payments.

But now RealtyTrac says that unemployment has become the major reason for foreclosures.  Millions of Americans have become chronically unemployed during the economic downturn and many of them are losing their homes as a result.

WikiLeaks Obtains Copy of Tony Hayward’s Resignation Letter [humor]

from The Daily Goat.  Enjoy

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce [10:57m video]

by Slavoj Zizek from RSA and You Tube. 

The renowned philosopher Slavoj Zizek challenges your thinking about charity.

A Police State You'd Better Believe In

by Jack Kenny from New American.
 ...we should not let a smooth talking political leader like our current President talk us out of the civil liberties he seemed zealous to protect when the perpetrators of the coming police state were Republicans in the White House and the cabinet. We had a changing of the guard on January 20, 2009, but the goals of our national jailers remain the same. The bars and the barbed wire are still being put in place, but the names and the faces of the wardens have changed. That's the only real "change" we have gotten from the Obama administration. The rest is merely verbal sleight of hand and rhetorical windsong. It is "change" they can deceive with.

This week in Change

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.
So there's your Week in Change:  tens of billions more appropriated for war through supplemental spending tricks and without conditions or timetables, attacks on war opponents for being Troop-Haters, threats to criminally prosecute journalistic outlets (such as WikiLeaks) which publish classified information on the grounds of being Traitors, and a major expansion of the Government's ability to spy on your private communications without even obtaining warrants.  And it's only Thursday morning, so think how much more Change can happen in the next two days.

A Great Quote from a Comtemporary Patron Saint of Capitalism

from VoltaireNet and Current Concerns, an excerpt from the preface to the book, Free Fall, by Joseph Stiglitz: 
The current crisis has uncovered fundamental flaws in the capitalist system, or at
least the peculiar version of capitalism that emerged in the latter part of the twentieth
century in the United States (sometimes called American-style capitalism). It is not
just a matter of flawed individuals or specific mistakes, nor is it a matter of fixing a few minor problems or tweaking a few policies.
But, not to worry all you capitalism loving people out there, he is not arguing for a change of system. He concludes the preface with the following:
But in the aftermath of the Great Depression, we did succeed in creating a regulatory
structure that served us well for a half century, promoting growth and stability. This
book is written in the hope that we can do so again.
It sounds like "tweaking" to me.


On Walkers, Extra Men, and Professional Houseguests

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair

This week's offering about the lives and concerns of what are referred to as the 1% Americans. After all they share this great country with us and we need to know about their daily lives and concerns. For those of you who would like to get to know them better, the article provides some tips on how you can associate with them. ;-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

The End of Capitalism?: Interview of Alex Knight – Part 2B. Social Limits and the Crisis

from The End of Capitalism. A must-read series if you are to be an aware citizen activist.

In this 3rd segment of the interview Alex Knight continues to develop his thesis that "the global capitalist system is breaking down due to ecological and social limits to growth and that a paradigm shift toward a non-capitalist future is underway."

Trends to Barbarism and Prospects for Socialism

by James Petras from Dissident Voice

The only problem I have with this essay is that the author barely mentions the impact on capitalism that ecological limits will have on it. Working people of the world face a race against time as capitalism is the engine, if we are unable to stop it, that will drive humanity off the cliffs of environmental degradation, resource exhaustion, and climate change.
In ancient society ‘barbarism’ and its carriers ‘the barbarians’ were envisioned as threats by outside invaders from outlying regions descending on Rome or Athens. In contemporary Western societies, the barbarians came from within, among the elite of society, intent on imposing a new order which destroys the social fabric and productive base of society, converting stable livelihoods into insecure deteriorating conditions of daily life.

Mainstream Economists: "Mission Accomplished"

from Washington's Blog.
Numerous current stories show how disconnected mainstream policy-makers are from reality.

For example, Ryan Grim points out that there is an "unbelievable disconnect" between the American people (who are people are against the Afghanistan war) and Congress and the political elite (gung-ho to escalate this never-ending war)...

US and Cambodia in controversial lockstep

by Clifford McCoy from Asia Times Online

Because items like this never make it into mainstream news coverage, few Americans have any idea of how the US "military-industrial complex", that former President Eisenhower warned us about, is running amok provoking military confrontations nearly everywhere in the world. And now they are also performing such exercises with the South Korean navy! The same thing has been going on with Columbia, and I can't remember how many other places I've read a little about!

Can you imagine how the same mainstream news corporations would cover news of joint military exercises in Mexico involving the armed forces of China?

The Wages of Sin: Former Citi Execs Pay Token Fines for Lying to Investors

by Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism

She illustrates how the drivers of profit for the ruling class can and do lie with impunity. Well, don't all ruling classes and servants have their perks? The author doesn't seem to realize that the system creates sociopaths and lavishly rewards their criminal behavior.

Everything You Need to Know About Global Warming in 5 Minutes

by Barry Ritholtz from The Big Picture

Even some key players in the capitalist system are getting the message that their system is in deep doo-doo. But the author hasn't given up hope to save the system. He concludes the article with this statement:
Global warming will be the most important investment issue for the foreseeable future.  But how to make money around this issue in the next few years is not yet clear to me.

Time out

Putting society before shareholders: What work is really worth

by Pierre Rimbert from Le Monde Diplomatique

Some researchers in the UK studied the remuneration of workers from a social utility point of view rather than from the conventional point of view which emphasizes enhancement of capitalist profits. The results are very enlightening.

Is WikiLeaks the antidote to the Washington K Street Kool-Aid?

by Sibel Edmonds from Boiling Frogs.

This former FBI worker and heroic whistle-blower looks at the significance of the recent WikiLeaks disclosures.
The sheer scope of the growth and the extensive privatization of intelligence and security was so profound that it represented “an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in oversight.”

...The perpetual Taliban/Al Qaeda threat fueled a perpetual war that could never be won, justifying an endless string of restrictions on civil liberties and governmental transparency, which then prevented Americans from seeing how their money was spent. Locked out of this “alternative geography of the United States,” Americans have become helpless to stop their democracy and their economy from being lifted right out from under them.
IMO they are not helpless, but feel helpless because they have not yet figured out who is deceiving and oppressing them. Once they figure that out, and WikiLeaks is making a big contribution to that process, they will then come up with their own solutions.
Thanks to the revelations the word was finally out that whatever impact the “war on terror” had made on terror worldwide ( which many claimed it made only worse)  it was above all, a spectacular boondoggle.

Sudan: Oil Companies Alleged to be Complicit in War Crimes

by Miles Ashdown from Toward Freedom

International oil companies that support the government of Sudan wreck their havoc on the Sudanese in the pursuit of profits. The recent history of the Sudan illustrates a worst case example in the neo-liberal period of capitalism.
“We’re talking about rape, murder, torture, arson, looting, arbitrary bombing by high-altitude bombers as well as by helicopter gunships, driving people into uninhabitable areas like the swamps where many people suffered and died due to exhaustion, hunger, diseases,” said Wesselink, who worked on the ECOS report entitled “Unpaid Debt.”

Greece: Society Begins to Crack Under Harsh Measures

by Apostolis Fotiadis from IPS

The lives of working people in Greece are being destroyed which is causing serious deterioration of their society. But the owners of their enterprises benefit--isn't that what capitalism is all about? I think I see this happening in the US.
This culture [intimidation of workers] prevails across the country, and is tolerated only because of mounting economic uncertainties, says Klissas. "People are scared and easily manipulated. Things are getting tougher here. Most of the people put up with things that they should speak against. How can they?"

The dead sea: Global warming blamed for 40 per cent decline in the ocean's phytoplankton

by Steve Connor from The Independent.
The microscopic plants that support all life in the oceans are dying off at a dramatic rate, according to a study that has documented for the first time a disturbing and unprecedented change at the base of the marine food web.

Scientists have discovered that the phytoplankton of the oceans has declined by about 40 per cent over the past century, with much of the loss occurring since the 1950s. They believe the change is linked with rising sea temperatures and global warming.

Obama Administration In Danger Of Establishing "New Normal" With Worst Bush-Era Policies, Says ACLU

from the American Civil Liberties Union.
[The Obama Administration] has not...abandoned the 'global war' framework that was the basis for many of the last administration's counter-terrorism programs. Indeed, some of the Obama administration's policies – like the policies on indefinite detention, military commissions and targeted killings – are entrenching this framework, presenting a profound threat to human rights and the rule of law.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Capitalism and Ecological Limits, Part 2A

from The End of Capitalism. This is a must-read series of articles.

I am simply amazed at how Knight sheds so much light on how capitalism has directed the human drama to the precarious place we are in today, and doing so in a way that can be easily understood by ordinary people.
The following exchange between Michael Carriere and Alex Knight occurred via email, July 2010. Alex Knight was questioned about the End of Capitalism Theory, which states that the global capitalist system is breaking down due to ecological and social limits to growth and that a paradigm shift toward a non-capitalist future is underway.

This is the second part of a four-part interview.

US Grows Isolated on Aggressive War

by Peter Dyer from Common Dreams

This is a well-meaning, but, IMO, a rather naive essay on the rule of law in relation to the Empire's wars. Like politics, laws at the international level are simply war by another means. Such laws and legal systems are devised by the powerful to advance their interests and to negate the interests of their adversaries. This will remain so until all hierarchical class systems are abolished.  

The people of the Empire are growing weary of the current wars, dissent is growing while their economies are declining. Only active, organized working people all over the world can bring peace.

Legal Fund Established To Fight Imprisonment of Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower

by Bradley Manning Support Network from Counter Currents. A very worthy project to support our heroes in the military who risk so much to keep us informed. "Support our troops!" 

The last report I read was that he was being held in a US prison in Kuwait away from legal assistance and prying eyes.  That is a very dangerous situation for anyone to be in given the history of torture in US controlled prisons in foreign lands.
...the Bradley Manning Support Network (www.bradleymanning.org) will begin accepting online donations for the legal defense of Private First Class Bradley Manning.

The Network, a grassroots initiative formed to defend and support accused whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning, has partnered with Courage to Resist, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting military objectors.

Peace Movement Adopts New Comprehensive Strategy

by David Swanson from War Is a Crime.
Last week 700 leading peace activists from around the United States met and strategized in Albany, N.Y. ...They discussed, debated, and voted for a comprehensive new plan for the coming months. The plan includes a new focus and some promising proposals for building a coalition that includes the labor movement, civil rights groups, students, and other sectors of the activist world that have an interest in ending wars and/or shifting our financial resources from wars to where they're actually needed.

Time out

The Mighty Rise of the Food Revolution

by Michael Pollan, article reproduced on AlterNet from The New York Review of Books. 

This is an excellent, in-depth, essay exploring the disparate elements that seem to be coalescing around something that the author identifies as a food movement, and he examines its potential significance for changing American culture
It makes sense that food and farming should become a locus of attention for Americans disenchanted with consumer capitalism. Food is the place in daily life where corporatization can be most vividly felt: think about the homogenization of taste and experience represented by fast food. By the same token, food offers us one of the shortest, most appealing paths out of the corporate labyrinth, and into the sheer diversity of local flavors, varieties, and characters on offer at the farmers’ market.

Put another way, the food movement has set out to foster new forms of civil society. But instead of proposing that space as a counterweight to an overbearing state, as is usually the case, the food movement poses it against the dominance of corporations and their tendency to insinuate themselves into any aspect of our lives from which they can profit.

The Gulf's Invisible Villain: Natural Gas

by Kate Sheppard from Mother Jones.
You can't see or smell the methane that poured into the ocean with the oil, but experts say it's stealthily destroying marine life.

NYT’s Ignores Documents Showing Large Numbers of Unreported Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: “We Know All That.”

by Carolyn C from Fire Dog Lake.

The article reports on the efforts of the Empire to manage dissent following the release of the Empire's war documents by WikiLeaks. 
The willingness of the Times to further American empire building while participating in the MSM black-out of ongoing US atrocities abroad, not only endangers our safety, it diminishes our humanity. The press of the country that once declared "all men are created equal," and claimed that they possess "certain unalienable rights," now no longer seems to believe that self-evident truth. Apparently, not all deaths are equally important — some are insignificant enough to be ignored. In their coverage of our senseless, ongoing wars, The New York Times and the rest of the media perpetuate the fiction that American lives are more important than the lives of the persons in the countries we brutally invade and occupy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

American Soldiers Brainwashed with "Positive Thinking"

by Bruce E. Levine from AlterNet.
"...this is the largest, deliberate, psychological intervention in human history. . . . We don’t know when the global war on terrorism is going to end so we’re preparing to have to be engaged for a long period of time.”

BP’s Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell Policy: The Well’s Corked, But Public And Government Are Left In The Dark

by Dave Lindorff from The Public Record

Contrary to what is being reported in mainstream media, there are other leaks related to the primary well leak, and more may develop over time. Professor Bob Bea, of UC Berkeley, a civil engineer with years of expertise in marine oil drilling, reports:
In the time since the well was fitted with a temporary cap last week, allowing pressure to build up within the pipe, Prof. Bea says it is likely that the underground gas bubble, instead of running up the pipe, or staying put where it was in the ground, has been pushing its way along cracks and faults that lead to the surface.

Liberal Elites and the Pacification of Workers

by Michael Barker from State of Nature

This brilliant essay tracks the efforts of liberal elites in the US to manage opposition to the capitalist ruling class. After the often brutal clashes with Populist activists of the late 19th century and those of the socialist movements of the early 20th century, liberal elites beginning with the so-called "Progressive" era went to work devising many clever strategies to soften the opposition and to manage dissent. It is imperative for those who wish to change the system to be aware of these strategies.

Time Out

The End of Capitalism?: Crisis and Opportunity – Part 1.

 from The End of Capitalism.
The following exchange between Michael Carriere and Alex Knight occurred via email, July 2010. Alex Knight was questioned about the End of Capitalism Theory, which states that the global capitalist system is breaking down due to ecological and social limits to growth and that a paradigm shift toward a non-capitalist future is underway.

'Moscow smog may kill 100 people daily'

from Press TV.
As Moscow experiences its hottest weather in 130 year, officials say hundreds of people may lose their lives to the smog from peat fires.

The Con of the Decade Part II

by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds.  Part I is here.
In order for the con to work, however, the Power Elites and their politico toadies in Congress, the Treasury and the Fed must convince the peasantry that low tax rates on unearned income are not just "free market capitalism at its best" but that they are also "what the country needs to get moving again."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Taft-Hartley Act Revisited

by David Macaray from Dissident Voice

While I have spent much of my adult life unlearning what I was taught in schools, media, and films about the history of my country, I never came across the details of this infamous attack on working people until now. I am most grateful to this author.

After WWII the US ruling class was ready to roll back the many gains that working people made during the 1930s when the economy was in shambles and working people were rioting and threatening the system. The gains were actually quite modest having been carefully crafted by the astute guidance of the FDR administration, but were seen by many in the governing class as a threat to their rule. The reaction was swift and deadly by both capitalist parties. Loyalty oaths, anti-communist witch-hunts, and anti-labor legislation were the weapons used to put working people in their subservient place.
The realization that working men and women were now wielding genuine power —power that translated into independent political and economic clout — was scaring the wits out of the Establishment. It was that fear that precipitated the legislation.

Obama's Afghanistan strategy under siege

by Gareth Porter from Asia Times Online. The author reports and comments on the recent WikiLeaks' disclosures of classified documents. 
 Among the themes that are documented, sometimes dramatically but often through bland military reports, are the seemingly casual killing of civilians away from combat situations, night raids by special forces that are often based on bad intelligence, the absence of legal constraints on the abuses of Afghan police, and the deeply rooted character of corruption among Afghan officials.

The most politically salient issue highlighted by the new documents, however, is Pakistan's political and material support for the Taliban insurgency, despite its ostensible support for US policy in Afghanistan.

Hacker Magazine Editor Says WikiLeaks is Bigger Than Julian Assange (17:00m video)

from Democracy Now broadcast. 

Amy Goodman interviews Emmanuel Goldstein (pseudonym), editor of the magazine "2600: The Hacker Quarterly". Their discussion starts off with a video excerpt from a conference featuring a segment where a government informant, Adrian Lamo, discusses his role in the recent Wiki leaks controversy. Spc. Bradley Manning is the alleged leaker. 

With the exception of people like Lamo, the interview reveals how brave people in and outside of the Armed Services are fighting for the public's right to know what is happening in the Empire's wars.

Iraq, intelligence and media manipulation – lessons from the UK

by Richard Smith from Naked Capitalism. The author rightly begins his article with this statement:
It occurred to me that this story might not get all that much mainstream air time in the US, for reasons that will become obvious.

Imperial Overkill and the Death of U.S. Empire

by Francis Shor from Foreign Policy in Focus

Among other things, this article shows the seamless transition of the Empire under Bush Jr to Obama. The underlying consistent force emanates from the Empire's ruling financial class and their blood-sucking banking institutions.
It's hard to imagine the persistence of a U. S. empire that relies on imperial overkill.  In fact, much evidence of a dying empire can be found on the blood-soaked landscapes invaded by the U. S. military and the mad mindscapes of imperial policymakers. From the “shock and awe” bombing campaigns unleashed on Iraq by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to the death squads fostered by the Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the drone attacks in Pakistan, the U. S. political elite seems committed to what C. Wright Mills called “crackpot realism.” Such policies can only lead to increased resistance to U. S. hegemony.
It appears to me that Empire's ruling class is like a wounded tiger lashing out everywhere in a last desperate attempt to save itself. Of course, this tiger is a still powerful animal and can kill a lot of people before its demise.  

Only a world-wide working class that is aware of its exploitation by this class and aware of its own power, can turn developments away from death and destruction toward healthy, sustainable societies.

Time out

Big Falsehoods: An updated guide to Andrew Breitbart's lies, smears, and distortions

from Media Matters for America

I noticed that when the recent brouhaha over Shirley Sherrod's firing was revealed, mainstream media focused on the embarrassment of the Obama administration and NAACP. The focus, of course, should have been on the deliberate disinformation efforts of right wing media. This article, although it focuses a bit too much on Breitbart's shenanigans, helps to frame the issue on right-wing disinformation campaigns.

I believe that mainstream media's reluctance to frame the issue appropriately is because the ruling class is using right wing media to confuse working people of the US, to deflect their anger onto others and away from the economic collapse caused by finance capitalism. Such a strategy is an old one, but has been very successful. The Nazis were very good at it.

Does BP Have an ACE Up Its Sleeve on Climate Education?

by Anne Landman and Ross Wolfarth from Center for Media and Democracy. Today, boys and girls, we learn about more corporate subversion of public education in the US. After all, corporate rule depends on keeping the American public stupid and/or misinformed.
...as school budgets are being slashed and schools are increasingly desperate for resources, it is also an area ripe for corporate exploitation or influence, and that may be just what is happening.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clueless in Afghanistan -- and Washington: The Opposites Game

by Tom Engelhardt from Tom Dispatch.
Have you ever thought about just how strange this country’s version of normal truly is?  Let me make my point with a single, hardly noticed Washington Post news story that’s been on my mind for a while.  It represents the sort of reporting that, in our world, zips by with next to no reaction, despite the true weirdness buried in it.

Climate Change, Water, and Risk

from Natural Resources Defense Council
Climate change will have a significant impact on the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades. A new analysis, performed by consulting firm Tetra Tech...examined the effects of global warming on water supply and demand in the contiguous United States. The study found that more than 1,100 counties -- one-third of all counties in the lower 48 -- will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming. More than 400 of these counties will face extremely high risks of water shortages.

The Con of the Decade Part I

from Of Two Minds by Charles Hugh Smith. This astute author outlines the crime of the century.
In effect, it's a Third World/colonial scam on a gigantic scale: plunder the public treasury, then buy the debt which was borrowed and transferred to your pockets. You are buying the country with money you borrowed from its taxpayers. No despot could do better.

On Wall Street, crime pays very well

from World Socialist Web Site
 The report on bank bonuses only underscores the impunity with which the financial aristocracy rules over American society. Under conditions where 20 million people are out of work, wage levels are being slashed, and the social infrastructure is under ruthless attack in the name of “deficit reduction,” the lords of Wall Street and the hedge fund kings accept not the slightest restraint on their incomes and their accumulation of private wealth.

The use of such terminology to describe the financial elite is perfectly justified. Wall Street today is as haughty, rapacious, self-satisfied and parasitic as the French landed oligarchy before 1789 or the Russian Tsar before 1917. The disconnect between the billionaires and CEOs and the great majority of the American people has reached unprecedented dimensions.

Time out

Plunder: The Crime of Our Time [[11:02m video & script]

from The Real News Network

Paul Jay inteviews Danny Schlechter on his recent film by that name. Notice that Jay starts off asking the right question regarding the structural changes needed in our economic system to solve our problems, but then retreats to asking conventional questions like:  who should we vote for in the Fall elections? 

Unless we as working people can control the election process, there is no point in participating in them. Under the existing system, no one will be allowed to run for any significant office who does not support the capitalist ruling class. By boycotting elections we can demonstrate their illegitimacy.

It seems to me that it follows that what needs to be done at this point is to continue, as The Real News Network does, to report on the crimes of this class in order to break down the wall of right wing propaganda that shields this class from exposure, and their class rule from illegitimacy. Soon, at some point, we working people must build our organizations to confront this monster, criminal class.

Matthew Simmons: Lightning Rod for Gulf Oil Controversy

from Washington's Blog. This is the part of the article that is most distressing to me:
The bottom line is that the use of so much Corexit in combination with such huge amounts of oil is a science experiment, and no one knows the outcome. This might kill the Gulf. Or the Gulf might bounce back surprisingly fast.

Rob Kendall, director of Texas Tech’s Insitute of Environmental & Human Health, says:

    This is a catastrophe of enormous proportions. To me, this is the biggest environmental toxicology experiment we’ve ever conducted.

And Kim Withers, a coastal ecologist at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi notes:

    It's like the biggest science experiment ever. Unfortunately, it's a completely uncontrolled experiment.
It seems so overwhelmingly obvious to me that all oil/fossil fuel companies, because their operations have potentially enormous consequences on the environment and public health, should be under public ownership and control.

China Calls Our Bluff: "The US is Insolvent and Faces Bankruptcy as a Pure Debtor Nation but [U.S.] Rating Agencies Still Give it High Rankings"

from Washington's Blog. This is the part of the article that interests me most:
Indeed, as I pointed out in 2008:
So why hasn't America's credit rating been downgraded?
Well, a report by Moody's in September states:
...For reasons that take their roots into the large size and wealth of the economy and, ultimately, the US military power, the US government faces very little liquidity risk — its debt remains a safe heaven. There is a large market for even a significant increase in debt issuance."
So Japan and Scandinavia have wimpy militaries, so they got downgraded, but the U.S. has lots of bombs....
The fact that America spends more than the rest of the world combined on our military means that we can keep an artificially high credit rating. But ironically, all the money we're spending on our military means that we become less and less credit-worthy ... and that we'll no longer be able to fund our military.
This relates to an argument that I made quite some time ago that the US operates likes a super terrorist in the world with a huge military force used to intimidate world neighbors into compliance with its demands. 

It is primarily backed mostly by Western capitalists who benefit from the US Empire's hegemony and serves their interests. The developing third world led by China have great wealth, resources, and US debt which may be worthless, but must bend to the will of this Empire due to its possession of overwhelming force. Thus Western capitalists buy US paper to invest in the world's biggest bully, while China, etc, buy US paper because of similar fears and because they already hold so much US debt that they fear US bankruptcy.  It all seems like such an incredible scenario and so extremely complicated in how it will play out.

I suspect that nature will bat last, that planetary resource limits and pollution limits will have major impacts in how this world drama plays out. The only salvation for working people is that they must find a way to take control of events or face increasing disasters--wars, famine, starvation, climate change, etc.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to create your very own terrorist state

by Tim Coles from Redress.
Tim Coles takes us through 11 steps necessary to create a “terrorist state”. Using Yemen as a case study, he argues that these steps precisely match US and British policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran as well as Yemen to grow “very poisonous seeds”, some which have ripened while others are ripening.

Buying Venezuela’s Press With U.S. Tax Dollars

by Jeremy Bigwood from NACLA

This report based on recently released Freedom of Information documents reveal how the Empire subverts the governments of the world that do not fit with the Empire's interests. Note the extensive use of NGOs with such nice sounding names.
The U.S. State Department is secretly funneling millions of dollars to Latin American journalists, according to documents  obtained in June under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The 20 documents released to this author—including grant proposals, awards, and quarterly reports—show that between 2007 and 2009, the State Department’s little-known Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor channeled at least $4 million to journalists in Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela through the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), a Washington-based grant maker that has worked in Latin America since 1962.

Aggressive US Foreign Policy Seems to be Esculating

by Ron Horn

I should be immune to the war-mongering of my government, but recent news coverage has me quite astonished. The ruling class is provoking confrontations with North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela while being bogged down in Afghanistan. Of course, war has often been used by the ruling class to deal with domestic problems, but these policies seem insane.  

Iraq war inquiry: former UN expert accuses Whitehall of cover-up

by Jamie Doward from The Observer.

The cover-ups never end. It will be many years before we know the truth, just as it took many years to uncover the contrived Tonkin Gulf incident (see this and this) used as as excuse for the US to become seriously involved in the Vietnam War.

Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan Causing Controversy with Build America Bonds

by David Caploe PhD from Oil Price (originally from Economy Watch, but I can't find it there). 

I read this and wept. The article illustrates so many themes about what is wrong in the US that I don't know where to begin. This is clearly a stimulus plan designed by, and for, the banking industry.

Time out

Tour de France As an Illustration of Capitalist Culture

by Ron Horn.

As revealed in Bloomberg News, the Tour de France is the private property of a family who have owned it since 1940. Most of the cyclists who do the actual grueling work of competitive cycling over 20 days get peanuts compared to what the owners, who do essentially nothing, receive. However, as in other commercial sports it is necessary to motivate cyclists to compete so that a few winners do receive substantial rewards. These incentives plus the materialistic values of capitalism encourage widespread corruption such as exist in other capitalist enterprises as we've recently seen in banking and finance. 

In cycling in takes the form of drug and other artificial enhancements to boost cycling performance. There have been a number of cyclists caught doing it--so much so that the sport has become a bit tarnished. 

So far, the widely celebrated hero of Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, who has been accused by a number of friends, close acquaintances, and other cyclists of using such methods, has survived unscathed. As this recent article indicates, the accusations do not go away. 

However, just as in the rest of the capitalist world, I doubt very much that justice will prevail.
Because Armstrong has so many economic interests (corporate sponsors, the Tour de France industry, broadcasters, etc.) tied to his victories, it will be hard for anyone to pin anything on him--as it has been. On the other hand, there are so many cyclists enraged about the injustice of the issue and continue to fight back.

Gulf Oil Spill BP testimony: Officials knew of key safety problem on rig

from LA Times

With all the finger pointing, restrictions on journalists, corporate and government media management, and key witnesses not testifying, it may be years before the public knows what really happened. But that is the way the governing class "manages consent" and defuses dissent.
Lawyers representing the various contractors asked why certain safety and diagnostic tests were not undertaken. Two of the day's scheduled witnesses could have shed light on the issues, but neither testified. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza — both BP managers — did not appear. Vidrine presented a medical excuse, his second, and Kaluza exercised his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

A third day of testimony was canceled after lawyers cited several reasons why they could not proceed.

June Is Fourth Month in a Row of Global Record Temperatures

from Climate Progress. A NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) report adds further support to global warming trends. Read the latest findings and weep.

Map showing how the world will warm by the early, mid and late 21st century for a medium-high emissions scenario.
IPCC 2007