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 26, 2011

Out in Force: 300,000 to march in London anti-cuts protest [5:49m video]

from Russia Today (RT) via U-Tube.

So far I have seen only very shallow coverage of this major event in US mainstream media. They are focusing much more time on the Royal Wedding. 

One often can get good coverage by accessing another country's media where that country is not directly involved with the related issues. RT has also been providing excellent coverage of events in North Africa and the Middle East.

In this video we are seeing the beginning of a massive demonstration in London today protesting the drastic cutbacks and the current war adventure in Libya.

Bahrain's New Symbol of Resistance

by Rannie Amiri from CounterPunch

While our mainstream media focuses almost entirely on the war in Libya, and, to a lesser extent, on the uprising in Syria, the conflict in Bahrain and the government's (with the help of Saudi troops) brutal crushing of dissent seems to have disappeared from the news coverage. This article helps us to stay informed. 
Although anecdotal, overwhelming corroborating testimony from eyewitnesses and treating physicians removes all doubt that egregious violations of international law, specifically articles of the 4th Geneva Convention pertaining to the protection of civilian hospitals, occurred. Human Rights Watch decried the detention of civil rights workers and physicians who spoke out against the abuse of civilians.

How Catastrophe Heralds a New Japan

by Kojin Karatani from CounterPunch
It's not Japan's demise that the earthquake produced, but rather the possibility of its rebirth.
The author foresees the necessity of a new awakening in Japan that looks for alternatives to life-destroying capitalism. Very hopeful outlook and inspiring. Will this change happen in time to save humanity? Stay tuned. Even better, get informed and be active.

Five Billionaires Who Party Harder Than Russell Brand’s Arthur

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair

Once again Jamie leads us on an excursion in the lives of the one-percent, among people whom you and I would never meet in our hum-drum lives. Here he introduces us to some of the biggest spenders among this segment of our population that rules the empire.  Well, not directly--they are too busy having fun to do that. They hire that out to political operatives like John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, Governor Walker of Wisconsin, and super-salesmen like Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan.

I'm sure there are some people (spoil sports) out there who are envious and feel that the ostentatious display of wealth is in poor taste. Well, as they say, if you've got it, why not flaunt it? What is the point of getting rich if you don't enjoy all the good things in life? And, isn't it good for the (capitalist) economy to consume? It boosts our economic scorecard (GDP), gets the money circulating so that some of it trickles down to us folks--it's downright patriotic!

Friday, March 25, 2011

GE, Leader in Tax Evasion, Pays Virtually No Tax Yet Got Bailed Out in Crisis

by Yves Smith from her blog

Globalized capitalism has provided many opportunities for corporations and their ruling class owners to expand their power and profits. Using GE as an illustration, this article focuses largely on one method used by corporations to avoid paying taxes: shifting their revenue to low tax jurisdictions. 

This added to all their other ploys--outsourcing jobs to low wage countries, corporate tax cuts, subsidies, bailouts, sponsorship of government representatives, etc--has resulted in what we have today: local, regional, and national governments near bankruptcy because of lack of revenues. Hence they are pushing hard for more cutbacks in public sector spending except, of course, for weapons and armies to be used against foreign elements ("terrorists") who fight back against global capitalism and their resource grabs.
The New York Times reports tonight on what a great job General Electric does in tax evasion avoidance, reaping a tax credit of $3.2 billion on $5.1 billion of reported US profits. And while GE is a particularly egregious example by virtue of having the most sophisticated tax operation in the US, it illustrates a more general point.
And, regarding another global corporation, what do you think the chances are for AT&T getting the regulatory agency's (FCC) approval to buy T-Mobil and further consolidate their control over mobile communications. I'd say like 100%, even though the end result will be higher prices that we will pay for these services. AT&T will only need to hint that they might move some more jobs overseas to break down any resistance from the regulators.

Endgame: Divide, rule and get the oil

by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.  

Once again this political realist gives us the real story about events in Libya and the Near East.

However, early on he makes reference to a "promise to protect the Gulf Cooperation Council" without any explanation:
The Arab League--routinely dismissed in Western capitals as irrelevant before this decision--is little else than an instrument of the House of Saud's foreign policy.

Its "decision" was propelled by Washington's promise to protect the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) kings/sheikhs/oligarchs from the democratic aspirations of their own subjects - who are yearning for the same democratic rights as their "cousins" in eastern Libya.
This was a major agreement that has had profound effects on the course of world events.
The Vietnam War in addition to the Cold War proved very costly for the US and they had to go off the gold standard as backing for US currency. In a crucial move to insure its own currency as the prime world currency, they made a mostly secret agreement with the rulers of that oil rich, medieval-like Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this 1974 agreement negotiated by Kissinger, the US guaranteed the security of the Kingdom and, in return, the Saudis agreed to sell oil only in US dollars and to recycle those dollars into US Treasury bonds and US stocks. This effectively backed the US dollars with oil. As Michael Hudson stated:
Saudi Arabia realizes that it exists only with U.S. support. Doing what U.S. diplomats tell them to do lets them keep their oil resources rather than being treated like Iraq and Iran.
For a much more detailed explanation of the background and the effects of this agreement, check out this report by William Engdahl where he writes:
The crucial shift took place when Nixon took the dollar off a fixed gold reserve to float against other currencies. This removed the restraints on printing new dollars. The limit was only how many dollars the rest of the world would take. By their firm agreement with Saudi Arabia, as the largest OPEC oil producer with a swing role. Washington guaranteed that the world's largest commodity, namely oil, could be purchased on world markets only in dollars. Oil was essential for every nation's economy, being the basis of all transport and much of the industry.

The deal had been fixed in June 1974 by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
when he established the US-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Co-operation. In effect, the US Treasury and New York Federal Reserve “allowed” the Saudi central bank, SAMA, to buy US Treasury bonds with Saudi petrodollars. In 1975, OPEC officially agreed to sell its oil only for dollars. A secret US military agreement to arm Saudi Arabia was the quid pro quo. 

US Army deserter readies for legal battle, faces tough odds

from RT (Russia Today). [3:31m video and transcript]

I am posting this today largely because you will not see this reported in US media. Many US veterans have taken their own lives after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This brave soldier, and others like Bradley Manning, are fighting back against the Empire. We must do what we can to support them.
Shepherd admits that he may be on a slippery slope, but he also says that he is ready for the battle of his life, maintaining that there was no justification for the war in Iraq.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lifting the Veil [1:52:00 video]

I lifted this fine documentary from an article by Lenore Daniels entitled, "U.S. Dictatorship? Propaganda and Hope".  It is my feeling that you can skip this rather overlong article and go directly to the video. I have provided direct access below, but if it doesn't work satisfactorily on your computer, access it from the Vimeo website. I watched it in full screen mode and found the resolution of most of the interview clips to be very satisfactory.

The creators of this video have done an excellent job of selecting, editing, and splicing together video clips of the best critical thinkers in order to pierce the veil of capitalist ideology that has been so effective at brainwashing so many North Americans. Many of you who follow this blog and similar ones probably really don't need to watch it, but it is important for you to get friends and relatives to watch it to help them "lift the veil" of corporate propaganda and begin to see the reality that lies behind. 

The timing is right to do this. So many people's lives have been threatened by the recent bankster engineered crisis and the ongoing Empire wars, and people are starting to wonder and question. This video will accelerate that process.

Lifting the Veil from S DN on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

BLOGGER'S NOTE: I have two posts today which are lengthier than what I normally post. At least for me and, I gather, for many others, a computer screen does not lend itself well to extended reading.

When I come upon an article which I believe is very important, I will print it out and read the hard copy. This is what I did with these two articles. (My delay in posting them is because of the lengthy backlog of reading that competes for my attention.) I recommend that you also print them out and read at your leisure.  

I believe the two following articles are important because they attempt to get behind mainstream media coverage of events to the real forces that shape events. So much of reality is reconstructed by corporate mainstream media to obscure the underlying realities, and at other times, completely omits coverage of important actors and actions. The real facts which, if understood correctly by working people, would undermine the elite's ability to exploit and rule over us. 

People Power in Egypt: Defusing a Revolution?

by Michael Barker from Counter Currents.  (17.5 single-spaced pages)

The coverage of world events by ruling class media to shape the views of their citizens probably began in earnest with the influence of Edward Bernays, particularly after the publication of his book in 1928 entitled, Propaganda. His views also had a powerful influence on Joseph Goebbels, the famous Nazi propagandist. 

Added to this propaganda toolbox was an insidious method of managing group behavior through a carefully planned mix of infiltration of trained agents into groups along with money and perks in order to shape group behavior in support of elites. This was used most effectively by Soviet indoctrination agencies under Stalin, and after WWII adopted by the CIA to counter Soviet activity. (Read The Mighty Wurlitzer by Hugh Wilford for the details.)

Next the development of psychological warfare techniques was refined by the CIA into what became known as "psyops", or psychological operations. These techniques were used against insurgent groups that posed a threat to regimes favored by US elites. They consisted of carefully crafted and planted information and misinformation into the dissident groups to cause confusion, dissension, and low morale. This method was first successfully used by a CIA agent in 1953 in the Philippines against a communist inspired insurgency; and it is still widely used, even within the US, to control dissent.

These methods have been modified to what exists today in the form of "democracy promotion": the use of benign sounding foundations and NGO's to insert themselves into countries where a government is highly unstable in order to contain and control activist organizations and revolutionary groups. Their objective is to effect liberal democratic regimes that support free market policies, also known as capitalist style "democracies". This operation is currently underway in Egypt, and Barker does an excellent job of describing exactly how it works. This is a must-read article.

As you can see, all societies that are dominated by ruling classes, whether capitalist "democracies" or fascist or bureaucratically (Stalinist) controlled regimes, all use such devious methods to control their citizens and to preserve their class rule.

Seymour Hersh and the Men Who Want Him Committed

by Matthew Phelan from Who What Why.  (About 6.5 pages)

The article is really, and more importantly, about Hersh's revelations with regard to the secretive Catholic order called the "Knights of Malta".  From time to time I've run across references to this organization, usually with connotations about conspiracies, and I've never known what to make of such comments. 

The author starts with Hersh's revelations and adds information from a variety of other sources. Hence, I found this article very useful in shedding some light on this secret organization, and its associated charity called "AmeriCares". Phelan writes:
Nowhere was the alliance between the Knights of Malta, AmeriCares and U.S. Intelligence more pervasive and troubling than in Central America.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Banker on How to Solve Debt Crisis: The Public Needs to Work Harder for Less Money and 50% Fewer Benefits

by Courtney Comstock from Business Insider. 

Of course, this European banker is right. And, of course, he is assuming the continuation of capitalism. Like his fellow one-percenters he cannot imagine any other system.

Energy and other resource materials are becoming more expensive which limits the growth imperative and profits of capitalism. His solution is the only solution for capitalists in order to continue their appropriation of worker-produced value at past rates of profit.

In contrast to many European capitalists, US capitalists have managed to subdue private sector workers and their unions by simply sending most of their jobs to countries with cheap labor and low environmental standards. With a few exceptions US private sector employed workers have already negotiated away all the gains made in the post WWII years in order to keep their remaining jobs from going to cheap labor countries. The only exceptions for US workers has been in military related industries (for obvious reasons) and public sector workers (most cannot be outsourced).  Hence workers in the public sector are the current targets for cutbacks as we are now seeing most dramatically in the Mid-Western States.

If we all sit back and do nothing, this assault will continue, until we have a thoroughly polluted world with limited resources and extreme weather, a world that consists of small islands of well-guarded, gated communities surrounded by oceans of poor wage-slaves. Never in the history of the human race has more been at stake for working people than is the case today.

The West bombs, the Arab League ducks

by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.

Escobar does an excellent job of deconstructing the many myths (our motives are humanitarian, the Arab as well as the international community supports this attack, etc) supplied by US mainstream media to indoctrinate Americans in supporting yet another war while imposing cutbacks on them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

War stalks revolution in Middle East

by Sreeram Chaulia from Asia Times Online

This astute author looks at the current situation in Bahrain from a historical perspective regarding counter-revolutions, and sees some ominous signs as suggested by the title.
Historically, there is a strong sequential correlation between revolution and inter-state war. Radical overhaul of a country's socio-economic or political system rarely remains confined to that state and often triggers a wider regional or international conflagration. This is because revolution is a volcanic phenomenon that knows no artificial borders. If ideas cannot be imprisoned the way bodies can, then revolution is the most exhilarating or pernicious idea, depending on where one stands.
Read also this article from Ahram Online entitled, "Middle East boils with Libya strikes, Yemen on brink".

Governments Have Been Covering Up Nuclear Meltdowns for Fifty Years to Protect the Nuclear Power Industry

from Washington's Blog

If you check his sources, once again you will find that this intrepid investigative blogger does his research very well. 

The nuclear power industry, spearheaded by such influential corporations as General Electric and Westinghouse, have worked their magic to insure their massive profits and to satisfy the voracious appetite of capitalist enterprises for cheap energy. Both the nuclear and fossil fuel industries have made their energy sources even cheaper with government subsidies and highly favorable tax policies. Nuclear power is particularly expensive as well as dangerous. See the conclusions reached in this report starting on page 24.

This brings to mind an incident in 1979 while I was interviewing for social worker positions at some medical facilities in northern Nevada. During one informal conversation with some staff members at one facility, they confided in me in rather hushed tones that the area had abnormally high cancer rates, but such data went unreported in the media. Under capitalism, public health like everything else, takes a back seat to corporate profits.

Powering Down

by Linh Dinh from Dissident Voice.

The author offers a thoughtful commentary mostly about the "stoical" Japanese facing their nuclear disaster, and ends with this provocative image about us:
Until the televisions go black, I suppose, most of us will pretend that nothing outside our doors has really changed. Belief in the trumpeted recovery means a yearning for life circa 2007, before the crash. As this ebbs and ebbs, we’ll find out what we’re really made of.

A New McCarthy?

by Helen Thomas from Falls Church News-Press
King's search would do best to ask why any Muslim would be against our great country which provides so many freedoms of speech, opinion and belief.

But he is not seeking in-depth answers. Is there any reason some Muslims might be unhappy that their home country was under attack by the U.S.?
This 90 year old fearless journalist who has won numerous journalism awards is now writing for this highly respected Virginia newspaper after having been a victim of a stealth attack from a Zionist reporter.

In this commentary she sees the same process at work with the current hearings on Muslims chaired by Rep. King with Sen. McCarthy's hearings during the anti-communist witch hunts of the early 1950s when the US ruling class was busy purging unions of militant leaders, and other left-thinking persons throughout US society.

Is Rep. King merely another right-wing bigot, a "useful idiot" who is being used by American Zionists to promote more pro-Israel policies, or is he being used by the ruling class to divide Americans as they have already done with their anti-immigrant campaigns? You know--the old divide and conquer strategy to divert attention away from the class war now being aggressively waged against American working people in the Mid-Western States? You decide.

See also this piece entitled, "Representative King and the Muslim Hearings: McCarthy, Part Deux?"

Read here about the latest target of anti-Muslim bigotry and fear.

Some Fight Back

by Michael Donnelly--A Review of Joe Bageant's Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir  
What happened to the natural sense of community that engendered -- that "we're all in it together," culture we now long for? And, what about America's supposedly classless society? How's that working out for ya?

Here’s a new book that answers these questions and more. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America

by Don Peck from The Atlantic

I have not had time to fully read this article, but it looks very interesting. The Atlantic is a mainstream, elite publication that provides information and analysis to the ruling class and its managers in order to secure their system of capitalism. 

So far, I have seen little in mainstream media about the severe effects on young men and women caused by prolonged unemployment. I think that it is a bombshell waiting to explode--it is only a matter of time. Hence, the importance for the ruling class to look at the problem. This article addresses that, and quite candidly.
If it persists much longer, this era of high joblessness will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults—and quite possibly those of the children behind them as well. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar white men—and on white culture. It could change the nature of modern marriage, and also cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a kind of despair and dysfunction not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years.

The Capitalist Follies

by David Glenn Cox from OpEd News

The author looks at the current crises and the way capitalist authorities frame their coverage of these events as a kind of road show which attempts to distract us from any real understanding. But there are problems with "The Capitalist Follies"--it is lacking in credibility. It is becoming a kind of "Theatre of the Absurd".
These world shaking events make it difficult for these Capitalists to disguise their true agenda. During the California budget crisis, should they cut funding for the sick and the poor? Yes, should they raise taxes on oil companies? No, should they cut funding for education? Yes, should they raise taxes on yacht owners? No, of course not and these events are all perfectly understandable when you pull back the curtain of the Capitalist follies. To the Capitalist every event is an opportunity to make money and take more away from you. If you live near water they'll sell you flood insurance. If there is no flood they will profit by it and if there is a flood they will claim that it was the storm and not the flood which caused your damage. Then they will raise the insurance rates because of the recent flood.

High food prices said foretaste of climate shocks

by Alister Doyle from Reuters
"...in the next few decades the build-up of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere could greatly increase the risk of droughts, flooding, pest infestation and water scarcity for agriculture systems already under tremendous stress,"....

World food prices hit a record high last month, according to the United Nations. High food prices are adding to poverty and are a factor in triggering uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt which have spread across the Arab world.
See also, "Chinese Drought Could Cause Global Food Crisis" from Huffington Post.

Earth's Acid Test: As the oceans rapidly grow more acidic, scientists are scrambling to discover how marine life is likely to react.

by Quirin Schiermeier from Nature News
A sense of urgency is propelling these studies. Governments have shown no signs of stemming CO2 emissions any time soon, and there is talk of tackling the problem of methane and other greenhouse gases first, leaving the tougher issue of CO2 for a later generation. That might slow the global temperature rise, but it won't keep the seas from growing ever more corrosive.