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, May 21, 2011

Bankers Cheer as IMF Head Faces Sexual Assault Charges: Why They Hated Dominique

Click here to access article by Mike Whitney from Counterpunch. 

I have been nauseated by mainstream media's orgy of coverage regarding this latest elite sex scandal. I knew that they were hiding the real story behind their salacious focus on the sex details. I've been waiting for someone to come through with a sensible analysis of this incident--that involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of capitalism's most powerful figures. This author from my own State of Washington has provided it. 

Of course, I don't for one micro-second condone such behavior, nor do most people. But human beings are complex creatures. We are all made up of good and bad characteristics. Bad behavior is quickly discouraged, even punished, by one's peers among ordinary people. But where you have vastly unequal power relations among people, those with less power must often suffer the "slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune"--chief among these "outrageous misfortunes" is living in a class structured society. 

Therefore, the arrest and public humiliation of this powerful capitalist did not make any sense to me. This does not happen in the real world unless powerful people stray from the party line of the ruling class. Ruling class people have always screwed working people with impunity throughout history both literally and figuratively, as they continue to do today, probably more than ever.
The IMF chief certainly has enemies in high places who will be cheering his predicament. He had recently broke-free from the "party line" and was changing the direction of the IMF. His road to Damascus conversion was championed by progressive economist Joesph Stiglitz in a recent article titled "The IMF's Switch in Time".

Mexico: Imperialism, Bankers, Drug Wars and Genocide

Click here to access article by James Petras from Voltaire Network. 
If Washington has been the driving force for the regime’s war, Wall Street banks have been the main instruments ensuring the profits of the drug cartels. Every major US bank has been deeply involved in laundering hundreds of billions of dollars in drug profits, for the better part of the past decade.
With his usual perceptive analysis of the drug business in Mexico, Petras reveals the real story of how capitalist addiction to profits and power results in devastation to the lives and communities of ordinary people in Mexico and the US.

Spain: this is what working class revolt in 2011 looks like

Click here to access article by Alex Snowdon from his blog, Luna17.
The mass protests in Spain are an inspiration to everyone facing austerity and fed up with the hollowing out of democracy. The movement fuses economics and politics, just like in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. It takes inspiration from the Arab Spring, while seeing itself as part of Europe-wide resistance to cuts. Spain's young workers, jobless and students are showing us the way.

The always-expanding bipartisan Surveillance State

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.

We now live in a National Security State, otherwise known as a police state. Yes, my friends, it is the "new normal"--so, get used to it.  And the war on Libya is legal because the President, our Fuehrer, says so. (See update 2 in article.)

Trump Is Not the Carnival Sideshow—The Political “Normal” Is

Click here to access article by Russ Baker from Who What Why.

I think a better title to this perceptive piece would be, "How Mainstream Media Misses the Real Circus by Focusing on the Sideshow."

...the bigger problem is that we fail to properly study the system itself in terms of the “non-hucksters” who get to the top.

Which Posh, Customized Private Plane is Right For You?

Click here to access article by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair. 

Often on Saturday mornings I like to pay a visit to the lives of the One Percent of Americans who live very differently than we do. Theirs is a life free of any concern about medical care, paying their bills, helping their children get a decent start in life, facing unemployment, foreclosure on their homes, etc.
But, after all, we really should get to know them because they do share this country with us as neighbors. 

Well, not really. We rarely, if ever, meet rich people in the flesh who spend much of their time at their various homes and playgrounds in such secluded places as Aspen, The Hamptons, Nantucket, Davos, Dubai, and Monte Carlo. We don't even meet them in the lines at airport security check points because they get around in their own private planes. One of their biggest concerns is deciding which type of aircraft to buy.
...rich aviation enthusiasts spend millions annually on lesser-known planes, commonly called owner-operated aircraft, or personal aircraft, built for recreational pilots whose passion for flying is matched by the size of their overflowing bank accounts. Their owners tend to be gentleman pilots eager to fulfill a James Bond fantasy. This typically involves finding the perfect seaplane to complement a grand private yacht, but sometimes it just means cruising the skies in de-weaponized military fighter jets.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bin Laden Death Script & the Needed Trigger for Next Step-Pakistan

Click here to access article by Sibel Edmonds from her Boiling Frogs blog. 

Edmonds is a former FBI translator who was fired because she blew the whistle on government cover-ups and criminal activity. She is another important anti-war voice of reason that we must listen to if we are to prevent another round of wars concocted by capitalist empire builders. 

In this article she offers evidence that there is a US strategy against China that informs the Empire's plans for Pakistan. I agree with her assessment of the importance of Pakistan to the US Empire and the threat to the Empire that China poses. (For more evidence, read this.) 

Should Pakistan escape the clutches of the US Empire and embrace China, a dangerous chain of events could ensue with very unpredictable consequences. Such inter-capitalist rivalries are dangerous for working people, because it is we, or our sons and daughters, whose lives will be sacrificed to settle these inter-capitalist rivalries for dominance. We simply cannot allow them to repeat the horrendous war crimes they perpetrated in the last century. Only organized, informed, peace-loving working people throughout the world can put a stop to this.

Why does Nobody Believe in the U.S. Default?

Click here to access article by Paul Koshik from Foreign Policy Journal.

I agree with his thesis that the recent downgrading by Standard and Poor of the US credit rating was a propaganda stunt by the US governing class. It was part of a strategy to impress working people that all the devastating cutbacks in public services and the social safety nets are, indeed, required to save the dollar. However, I disagree with this Russian author as to the reasons the US can get away with running huge deficits with impunity.

The basic reason is the huge military force that the US governing class uses to impose its money and other interests upon the rest of the world. It is precisely like a neighborhood bully who uses his counterfeit money to buy things from his neighbors. They dare not refuse to take his money or they know bad things will happen to them. (See this, if you are not convinced.) 

Another reason, but one related to this basic reason, is the secret deal Kissinger made in the 1970s with the brutal and oppressive Saudi medieval rulers to sell their oil only in US dollars in exchange for US security guarantees. Forcing the world to pay for oil in US dollars secured its value even without gold backing. In Mafia terms, the Saudi clan was paying for protection. An added bonus for the US is that the Saudis agreed to deposit their petro-dollars in US banks and invest in US securities. (See this, and this, p.207.)

Floods, Droughts Are 'New Normal' Of Extreme U.S. Weather Fueled By Climate Change, Scientists Say

Click here to access article by Deborah Zabarenko from Reuters via Huffington Post.

The extreme weather we now see is only a small bitter taste of what's to come if we don't stop growth-
addicted capitalism from destroying our planet.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama Officials Refuse to Investigate New Evidence in National Guard 1970 Kent State Shootings

Click here to access article by Linn Washington Jr. from This Can't Be Happening.
 During that late 1960s and early 1970s, the FBI was involved in COINTELPRO, secret and blatantly illegal campaign to disrupt the anti-Vietnam War movement as well as the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, including through violence and assassinations. COINTELPRO actions involved not just the FBI, but also the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and other secretive government units, as well as Nixon's own secret and illegal "Plumbers unit" run from inside the White House.
It is no surprise to me that the Justice (sic) Department refuses to look at more evidence about the murder of Kent State students by the Ohio National Guard. This incident was only one among so many attacks on US citizens by government authorities during the Civil Rights/Vietnam War era. 

This was a period when Americans experienced one shocking incident after another--assassinations of Jack Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Malcom X, numerous Black Panther party members, and many other militant activists. All these crimes were covered up.

It was a time when the anti-war and Civil Rights Movement was coming together to challenge the ruling class, and the latter made it clear that they would brook no opposition to their rule. That is when the naked fist of fascism, always hidden behind capitalism's facade of "democracy", was brought out to smash the jaw of American militants. It was a shocking and dreadful time for activist citizens who thought they had some rights to oppose their government's crimes against humanity. 

For me, it was even more disturbing that so many of my fellow Americans, those who were not activists, believed all the cover-up stories reported in mainstream media.

Spain’s Tahrir Square

Click here to access article by Pablo Ouziel from ZNet. 

This writer is an activist and a free lance writer who lives in Spain. It appears to him that his countrymen are finally waking up to see the necessity of fighting back against their ruling class.
As the country continues to implode economically, unemployment grows incessantly leaving one in two young people unemployed across many of the country’s regions. With many in the crumbling middle class on the verge of losing their homes while bankers profit from their loss and the government uses citizen taxes to expand the military industrial complex by going off to war; the people have begun to grasp that they only have each other if they are to rise from the debris of the militarized political and economic nightmare in which they have found themselves. Will thousands in protest become tens and hundreds of thousands? It is beginning to look like they might.

In Athens, austerity puts revolution back on the menu

Click here to access article by Jérôme E. Roos from Greek Left Review. 

This article reports on the concerns of the ruling elites in Europe about the increasing militancy of the Greeks and their fight-backs against austerity programs. What do you think is of primary concern to them? Well, read the article to find out if you are right.

The Hot-Money Cowboys of Baghdad

Click here to access article by Steven Lee Myers from The NY Times.

This Iraqi capitalist vulture sees a great profit opportunity in the devastation of his country resulting from US war crimes:
What makes Iraq’s economic potential so great, he explained, despite everything, is not just its abundant natural resources — it is the shattered state of Iraq itself: the damage done by the American war, but also the long, steady decay under Saddam Hussein, from the war with Iran that began in 1980 through the invasion of Kuwait a decade later and the crushing international sanctions that followed the first gulf war. The country has been decimated, and therein lies its potential.
Capitalists not only get rich waging wars, but they get rich re-building countries after their wars. As Deng Xiaoping of China said, "to get rich is glorious".

From Chiquita to Nike: Labor Activists Drive Corporations Bananas [updated 2x]

Click here to access article by John Lasker from Toward Freedom. 

The headline of this article would be much more accurate if it read, "From Chiquita to Nike: Corporations Drive Labor Activists Bananas.

I can't tell you how much an article like this angers me! This liberal view of the ongoing war on working people by ruling class corporations is precisely what is the most damaging to working people. It provides the prospect of hope for positive change by promoting methods that do not in any way disturb the system itself. To fight back according to the rules of capitalism will always ultimately end in defeat. 

Most labor activists have been doing this since the inception of capitalism, and what do they have to show for it? Is today's world so much better for working people than it was 300 years ago? Only for a relatively few high tech workers and workers in unions in the advanced capitalist countries. But, as we've seen, unions in the West are now facing all-out attacks by the ruling elites. 

The vast majority of working people (assuming they are working) in the world have seen their lives, and the environments in which they live, trashed. The working conditions in Columbia are not untypical working conditions in many areas of the world--it just isn't reported in capitalist media for obvious reasons. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.

It is long past time for activists and progressives to grow out of their delusions, and organize to fight this life destroying system! It is long past time for activists to start to create a new system that provides for social justice and one that enables us to live in harmony with the ecosystem!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Anyone at Home?

Click here to access article by David Glenn Cox from OpEd News. 

Throughout mainstream media there are many reports on the recent economic downturn, usually with statistics and broad descriptions, often colored with reassurances that the economy is improving. Even in alternative media one rarely finds descriptions of the suffering people actually experience. When I see and read all these reports, I often wonder how people are actually coping, what it is like to face extended periods of unemployment, about all the tensions that tear at the fabric of families and communities, how it feels to face foreclosure and being homeless. This gifted writer gives us some of the raw human experience behind these sterile mainstream media reports.
These things, these events leave scars and marks that Tide won't wash off. Like a death or a divorce, you carry them with you internally from then on. With upwards of ten million home foreclosures and maybe as many evictions it means that nearly of a third of our population has been displaced and scarred. A huge army of men, women and children whose lives have been disrupted and destabilized, who fear answering the telephone or the arrival of a stranger's car. The mail makes them queasy and the end of the month makes them nervous and jumpy.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal: bankruptcy or democracy

Click here to access article by Nick Dearden from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt. 
It is simply not possible that the policies being inflicted on Greece, Ireland and now Portugal will reduce the debt burden of those countries – the very opposite will happen, as was seen from Zambia in the 1980s to Argentina at the beginning of the last decade.

...So why then are these policies still being pursued?
As usual, it's capitalists sí, democracy no!

Radiation exposure and the power of zero

Click here to access article by Jeffrey Patterson from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  • The accidents at Fukushima have once again raised concerns about public exposure to elevated levels of radiation.
  • Science tells us that there is no dose of radiation so low that it can be considered completely "safe" or "harmless."
  • We cannot afford to risk annihilation and continued environmental contamination; we must turn away from nuclear power and weapons.
The author acts like we, as citizens, have much of a choice in this matter under existing conditions. In spite of all the suppression of negative news about nuclear power, poll after poll in the US, both before and after the Fukushima disaster, demonstrates that most citizens want the focus to be on conservation and alternative energy. See this, this, and this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Confidential Federal Audits Accuse Five Biggest Mortgage Firms Of Defrauding Taxpayers (with revised commentary)

Click here to access article by Shahien Nasiripour from Huffington Post. 

After only a two month audit that is being kept under raps by the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) the results indicate that taxpayers have been defrauded out of at least $30 billion dollars.
The audits conclude that the banks effectively cheated taxpayers by presenting the Federal Housing Administration with false claims: They filed for federal reimbursement on foreclosed homes that sold for less than the outstanding loan balance using defective and faulty documents.
They clearly broke numerous laws, but what do you think the chances are that they will face any legal consequences? The people who run these institutions are in, or serve the interests of, the ruling capitalist class in the US. They make the laws, but only to serve their interests. Their laws don't apply to them. Laws only apply to us.
Rather than punishing banks for misdeeds, the administration is now focused on helping troubled borrowers in the hope that it will stanch the flood of foreclosures and increase consumer confidence, officials involved in the negotiations said.

Levying penalties can't accomplish that goal, an official involved in the foreclosure probe talks argued last week.
Yves Smith, a financial analyst, who has followed this issue closely in the past few years sees a coverup of the crimes. She writes:
This revelation, that HUD audits of the biggest servicers over a mere two-month period, showed extensive fraud, is proof that abuses were extensive. It also establishes that the effort by Tom Miller to settle the 50 state attorneys general investigation quickly and and the recent “see no evil” Federal consent orders are a cover up.
The article hardly mentions all the socially devastating effects that bankster (for my foreign readers, this is a combination slang word joining "banker" with "gangster") and mortgage lender practices have had on falling home prices. the wiping out of equity that ordinary citizens accumulated in their homes, the destruction of the economy, public spending cutbacks, and so on. As everyone knows or should know, the recent collapse of the economy was caused by the mortgage scam: coaxing people, even those with poor credit, to come into real estate offices and sign no-money down mortgages. Many people were in on this project, even George Bush who promoted the practice with celebratory references to an "ownership society". As a result property values took off and the real estate boom was on.

It is well known that economic booms and busts are an inherent part of a capitalist economy. What is less known is that capitalists love it. Volatility whether in the stock markets or in the general economy provides great opportunities to increase their fortunes. With their hands on the levers of finance, credit, mainstream media, and the political system, they can with their piles of money fairly easily create this volatility. During downturns in the stock market or, even better, busts in the economy, the ruling class seizes on these opportunities to pick up properties of all kinds at bargain basement prices to enlarge their holdings. These sociopaths who oversee our economy couldn't care less about the devastating effects of booms and busts on the rest of us.

After the latest economic bust in order to make even bigger bucks, the banksters spread this economic virus even further by wrapping these worthless mortgages in attractive AAA ratings from various agencies (no doubt they were also in on the scam), pedaled them to financial institutions and sovereign wealth funds, etc. all over the world. And the rest, as they say, is history.

We Have Bigger Abbortive Problems Than Abortion

Click here to access article by E.R. Bills from Dissident Voice. 

This piece is not terribly profound, but the point is so creatively expressed. He/she teases us into becoming critical thinkers! This is important because without critical thinking, there is no hope that we can solve the multi-dimensional crises we are now facing. So, stop performing abortions on your ideas!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wanted Dead or Alive

Click here to access article by Robert Koehler from Transcend Media Service.

The more perceptive alternative commentators on the internet are seeing through the Empire's latest propaganda stunt: the dredging up of the myths of the Wild West which are worked over endlessly in mainstream media. 
In the post-9/11 decade, myth and politics — myth and all phases of American culture — have converged with a certain ferocity that seems unprecedented in my lifetime, and coincides with our transition to a state of perpetual war and economic freefall. As real security for most people nosedives, appeal to myth, especially the myth of the Wild West, becomes the prime tool of governance.
Imperial regimes frequently employ myths to mobilize their populations in support of their imperialist goals giving the pursuit of the latter heroic qualities that hide crimes against humanity. The most notable regime in recent history to do this were the Nazis who used myths that dramatized the superiority of the "Aryan race" to justify their domination over other people and races. Read 'Nazism and the myth of the "master-race"' for more details.

Green Smoke Is Sighted as Vatican Releases Glacier Report

Click here to access article by Lauren Morello from the NY Times.  
Climate change is shrinking the world's mountain glaciers, whose retreat creates new risks for humans and sensitive ecosystems alike, warns a new report commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church.
Maybe the Pope can excommunicate all the climate change deniers out there! But seriously, I don't understand the NY Time's titling of this article--are they trying to ridicule the report? The research team's qualifications look very impressive:
The Vatican academy fielded a group of two dozen researchers, including experts in snow, glaciers and atmospheric chemistry, led by Ramanathan, Lennart Bengtsson, the former director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, and Paul Crutzen, who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on the ozone layer.

Crutzen later coined the term "Anthropocene" to describe the idea that human activities have pushed Earth's climate into a new geologic epoch that will last for thousands of years. That concept lies at the heart of the new report.

Debtocracy [1:14:47 video]

Click here to access the video from CADTM.
For the first time in Greece a documentary produced by the audience. “Debtocracy” seeks the causes of the debt crisis and proposes solutions, hidden by the government and the dominant media.
I have not had much time to view this video from Greece, but it looks very interesting. It has very good resolution in full screen mode on my computer monitor. I'll watch the whole video later. 

Observing the 63rd Nakba

Click here to access article by Richard Falk from Foreign Policy Journal. 
On this 63rd anniversary of the catastrophic Palestinian experience since 1948, when an escaping and expelled 760,000 Palestinians (now this dispossessed population has grown to 4.7 million; the 160,000 Palestinians who managed to stay behind in what became Israel now number 1.3 million), there is an encouraging sense that the destiny of the Palestinian people has entered a more hopeful phase....
After reading this article, I recommend watching the following 2:12m video that I borrowed from Transcend Media Service:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century? (Foreword to the new report)

Click here to access article by Richard Heinberg from The Post Carbon Institute via The Oil Drum.

I am posting this from The Oil Drum because of the very interesting commentaries included after their articles. People who follow this website are generally highly trained people in the various scientific disciplines. 

In Heinberg's forward to the study conducted by The Post Carbon Institute, and based on that study, is critical of the optimistic projections of the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Keep in mind that the EIA is a US government environmental agency which, of course, is stacked with people who have a stake in the capitalist economy that requires never-ending growth. He explains how this pro-capitalist bias works to influence the wider society.
...if this report [The Post Carbon Institute's study] is right, then how could mainstream energy analysts have gotten so much so wrong? ...it is fairly easy to trace the convergence of interests among major players. First, the shale gas industry was motivated to hype production prospects in order to attract large amounts of needed investment capital; it did this by drilling the best sites first and extrapolating initial robust results to apply to more problematic prospective regions. The energy policy establishment, desperate to identify a new energy source to support future economic growth, accepted the industry’s hype uncritically. This in turn led Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, 60 Minutes, and many other media outlets to proclaim that shale gas would transform the energy world. Finally, several prominent environmental organizations, looking for a way to lobby for lower carbon emissions without calling for energy cutbacks, embraced shale gas as a necessary “bridge fuel” toward a renewable energy future. Each group saw in shale gas what it wanted and needed. The stuff seemed too good to be true—and indeed it was.

Reflections Before the Collapse of Oil (Jan Lundberg interviewed in Shanghai Oriental Morning Post)

Click here to access article from Culture Change (Jan Lundberg's website). 
Jan Lundberg is an independent oil analyst who just published his autobiographical Songs of Petroleum. His father Dan Lundberg was the founder of the Bible of the oil industry "Lundberg Survey." Jan worked closely with Dan Lundberg for 15 years, during which time they accurately predicted the Second Oil Shock in 1979. In 1988 Jan had left for-profit work and founded Fossil Fuels Policy Action which coordinated the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium and published the Auto-Free Times magazine. Jan has been car free since 1989 and enjoys bicycling, walking, sailing, and taking trains.