We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ten Reasons Why We Need a New, Anticapitalist Alternative

Click here to access article by Simon Hardy from New Left Project (UK). 

Although the author is addressing his remarks to activists in the UK, most of what he writes about is very relevant to activists confronting capitalism most everywhere in the world. 
Unless we find a way to realign the left around a radical perspective that breaks the bottle necks and captures the new mood of resistance, then we will pass through this crisis only to bear witness to new defeats. We will have failed the challenge that is being posed to us all - are we still relevant?

iPads, iPhones, iPocrisy

Click here to access article by Scott Nova from CounterPunch. 
While Apple and its competitors know they must pay lip service to concern for worker rights, lest their brand’s image be tarnished, the practical reality is that if worker rights were genuinely respected in places like China, production costs would be higher, deliver times slower, and profits correspondingly lower. The last thing these brands want is for any of the countries where they exploit low-wage labor to actually enforce their own workplace laws, much less comply with international standards.
My only criticism of the author's article is that he only can imagine reforms to the practices of these industries. Also when he makes the following statement, he diverts attention away from the system's logic and places it onto "today's captains of industry":
By the perverse moral logic to which today’s captains of industry subscribe, a corporation would never voluntarily reduce its profits, however modestly, to accomplish an irrelevant purpose like paying a decent wage to the people around the world who make its products.

Occupy Oakland: Are We Being Childish?

Click here to access article by Osha Neumann from CounterPunch. 

In numerous places across the US Occupier activists are in the process of fighting back against the policies and agents of the One Percent. The process necessarily includes a review of strategies and tactics so that future actions can be more effective in the war against the One Percent. This writer critically examines recent actions in Oakland, California and comes up with some useful insights that, I think, ought to be considered by all activists. 

It is clear that many young people feel justifiable rage, but rage if not channeled into thoughtful, controlled aggression can lead to defeats. It may be more emotionally satisfying to attack authorities and symbols of authority, but the hard work of organizing communities to furnish a powerful base for future controlled aggressive actions can in the long run be far more productive. 

It's possible that activism can be considered to be in its infancy in the US, but infants normally grow up to be highly functioning adults. Let us nourish and protect this infant so that he/she will grow up to threaten the bully that is harming us all.

What Israel Really Fears about Iran

Click here to access article by William Blum from Consortium News. 
Israel does not really see Iran as an “existential threat,” at least not in the sense that Iran would fire a hypothetical nuclear bomb at Israel. Rather, Israel fears that an Iranian bomb would tilt the strategic balance, since Israel now holds a nuclear monopoly in the region, as William Blum explains.

Elliot Abrams' Dark History in Latin America and the Struggle for Justice

Click here to access article by Cyril Mychalejko from Upside Down World.

More and more recently released official US documents are being used by human rights activists in Latin America to bring their domestic perpetrators to trial. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the same thing could happen here in the US? 

Well, it ain't going to happen as long as the political operatives of the One Percent remain in existence in the US. They are much too powerful, and their interests are not our interests! This means that we must work to remove the system of capitalism which their existence depends on.

Monsanto’s New Seeds Could Be a Tech Dead End

Click here to access article by Tom Laskawy from Civil Eats.  

Corporate agriculture is constantly introducing innovations that serves the profit interests of the One Percent. Their use of pesticides in combination with "ownership" of genetically modified seeds may produce more immediate profits, but these practices are creating long term threats to our food supply and our health. Because the One Percent also "owns" the government, we cannot look to it for protection. The author gives us the latest scoop on Monsanto's activities.
The USDA, along with the entire large-scale agriculture economy, is built around the profits of pesticide and biotech companies. You need only watch the USDA approve new genetically engineered products—which the agency admits represents a threat to other forms of agriculture—to see how deep in the tank to these companies our government is.

Giant Crack in Antarctica About to Spawn New York-Size Iceberg

Click here to access article by Richard A. Lovett from National Geographic. 
"This glacier is really important," adds mightily to sea level rise, experts say.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"In Lybia now the truth is coming out"

Click here to access article by Lizzie Phelan from Voltaire Network. ("HRW" referred to in the article likely refers to Human Rights Watch.)
I was video interviewed over Skype by New York Times journalist Robert Mackey about my coverage of events in Libya and Syria and my criticisms of the mainstream western and GCC media in relation to events in those countries.
Lizzie Phelan is an independent Irish journalist who has done reporting and interviews for foreign media such as Russia Today, a Syrian TV station, and other alternative media such as Voltaire Network. In this posting she summarizes the important questions presented by a journalist from the NY Times and her responses. You can also access the actual 35:14m Skype interview here.

She mentions that coverage of human rights violations in Libya has been more honestly reported since the NATO backed forces took over. I have seen extremely little coverage of this in the US. However, I checked her reference to Amnesty International and found numerous reports of atrocities committed by the NATO installed regime in Libya.

What I notice from this posting and from the live interview is the Empire's well embedded journalist, Robert Mackey, from the NY Times asking her questions loaded with pro-Empire biases and constantly re-framing her responses in such a way as to discredit her. Mackey no doubt received extensive indoctrination in US universities and ultimately hired because the Ministry of Truth, the NY Times, became convinced that he would reliably frame his reports in the interests of the Empire. He is no doubt paid very well for his services and has a bright future ahead serving the propaganda needs of the Empire.

Report of the Head of the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria

Click here to access article from Voltaire Network. 

This is the only report I've seen from the Arab League Observer Mission that has been so roundly criticized by Western political figures. The report seems to focus on the details and forgoes any summary statements about the violence in Syria. There also seems to be a lot of evidence that the Mission was not very well organized to handle a lot of very tense situations that one would expect. 

One finding that was of special interest to me is their observations about an unknown "armed entity" or "entities" that were associated with violence against the government and citizens. This could be the mercenary forces that independent sources report as being supported and inserted into Syria from nearby countries to spread violence and chaos. See this, this, this, and this for more details.

The War At Home [numereous videos from the battleground in Oakland, California]

Click here to access article by Yasha Levine from The Exiled. 
The Oakland Police Department went on another massive tear this weekend. On Saturday, they used rubber bullets, pepper flash-bang grenades, tear gas and batons to violently crush an attempt by Occupy activists to take over a vacant convention center in downtown Oakland and turn it into a community center/local Occupy HQ. Scores of people were injured, including a 19-year-old woman rushed to the hospital and treated for internal bleeding after a cop thrashed her kidneys with his truncheon. Yesterday, I got second-hand info that a man was shot in the face with a rubber bullet, and had his tooth/teeth knocked out. Using the same sort of kettling techniques extensively employed by the NYPD to trap and net protesters like fish, the OPD arrested over 400 people.

In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.

Click here to access article by Dana Frank from the NY Times. 
It's time to acknowledge the foreign policy disaster that American support for the Porfirio Lobo administration in Honduras has become. Ever since the June 28, 2009, coup that deposed Honduras’s democratically elected president, José Manuel Zelaya, the country has been descending deeper into a human rights and security abyss. That abyss is in good part the State Department’s making.
I was quite surprised to find this piece run in the Empire's "newspaper of record". Because I receive almost daily postings of reports from human right organizations about atrocities occurring in Central America committed by US backed regimes and US and Canadian corporations, I am well aware of such incidents. But notice that this is not an editorial from a NY Times commentator, but it is run as an opinion piece written by a U. of California professor.

Actually, I disagree with the professor in one respect: US foreign policies are not seen as a disaster from the point of view of the political operatives of the One Percent. They see it as a victory. The installation of the compliant regime in Honduras is just business as usual--the same as the installations of client states all over the world, the latest being Libya.

I do not follow closely media coverage by the NY Times, so I was curious if they had run much coverage of the atrocities in Honduras. Checking their index, I found rather little. By googling Honduras I found quite a bit, but mostly from obscure sources.

The Assange case means we are all suspects now

Click here to access article by John Pilger from his blog.

 With American courts demanding to see the worldwide accounts of Twitter, Google and Yahoo, the threat to Assange, an Australian, extends to any internet-user anywhere. Washington's enemy is not "terrorism" but the principle of free speech and voices of conscience within its militarist state and those journalists brave enough to tell their stories.

...The message to all journalists was clear: do your job as it should be done and you are traitors; do your job as we say you should and you are journalists.

The Party People of Wall Street

Click here to access article by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship from Moyers' blog. 

The authors report on a recent party attended by the One Percent. They provides a lot of insights on how our ruling class conduct themselves at party time and their more candid views on contemporary events.
They got together at the St. Regis Hotel off Fifth Avenue to eat rack of lamb, drink and haze their newest members, who are made to dress in drag, sing and perform skits while braving the insults, wine-soaked napkins and petit fours – those fancy little frosted cakes — hurled at them by the old guard. In other words, a gilt-edged Animal House, food fight and all.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wall Street, Small Business, and the Limits of Corporate Personhood: An Interview with Doug Henwood

Click here to access article from MRzine.

I found that many of his views cut through so much of the confusion that Occupiers and other activists on the left have shown recently regarding many issues. 

This confusion doesn't surprise me after living all my life in the US and being involved with activist organizations. Up until rather recently there was sufficient upward mobility in the US to stifle dissent and questioning of the dominate ruling class views. This combined with the pervasive control by the ruling One Percent over news and ideas through their consolidation of media and insertion of ideologues in education has insured that the 99 Percent remain dumbed down and confused about social-economic-political issues. With the recent economic collapse people inside the Occupy movement and many others are beginning to really question things, and this is wonderful as Henwood acknowledges.

However, I did have problems with his views when he got on the subject of the Federal Reserve and, to a lessor extent, on corporate personhood. At this point in the interview he seemed to take off on a liberal critique of these institutions and was merely arguing for reform. This disturbed me. I think his confusion on these subjects is explained in the answer he gave to this question:
Interviewer: Clearly, your skepticism about small banks, corporate personhood, and community money aren't motivated by love of the established order.  If these solutions aren't radical enough, what would be?
Hudson: Well, god, I don't know.  Our imaginations have been so constricted by 30-35 years of reaction that it's almost hard to think about these things.
Regarding the Federal Reserve, a much better critique and understanding of their function is provided by the American Monetary Institute. Read this article entitled, "The Need for Monetary Reform" in which the author states:
Money has value because of skilled people, resources, and infrastructure, working together in a supportive social and legal framework. Money is the indispensable lubricant that lets them “run.” It is not tangible wealth in itself, but a power to obtain wealth. Money is an abstract social power based in law; and whatever government accepts in payment of taxes will be money. Money’s value is not created by the private corporations that now control it.

    ...the money issuing power should never be alienated from democratically elected government and placed ambiguously into private hands as it is in America in the Federal Reserve System today.
Better yet if you have the time, read their book entitled, The Lost Science of Money. The only problem with their views is that they see the Fed as the only problem.  

What About The Children?

Click here to access article by Jan Baughman from Swans Commentary. 
It's unfathomable that a country can exploit and sacrifice its children, who hold the very future of the country in their tiny hands. Rather than planning for their success, they are being groomed as an emerging market in chronic disease, being set up to replace the aging and soon-to-disappear baby boomers as consumers of our high-priced health care system. 

Free-Market Medicine -- A Personal Account

Click here to access article by Michael Parenti from MRzine. 

Parenti reports on his recent surgery and learns first hand about medical care in the US. (Hint: it's really more about profit-care for the One Percent.)
The goal of any free-market service -- be it utilities, housing, transportation, education, or health care -- is not to maximize performance but to maximize profits often at the expense of performance.

Under the Hammer

Click here to access article by David Glenn Cox from OpEdNews.

We are daily witnessing how globalization is adversely impacting the lives of almost everyone nearly everywhere in the world, and remaking the world to serve the global One Percent. For the rest of us it is like living "under the hammer". In this piece Cox reports on a mysterious incident in his life that alerted him in concrete ways how globalization is impacting the world around him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Click here to access article by Michael T. Klare from The American Empire Project. 
So oil, the prestige of global dominance, Iran's urge to be a regional power, and domestic political factors are all converging in a combustible mix to make the Strait of Hormuz the most dangerous place on the planet. For both Tehran and Washington, events seem to be moving inexorably toward a situation in which mistakes and miscalculations could become inevitable.  Neither side can appear to give ground without losing prestige and possibly even their jobs.  In other words, an existential test of wills is now under way over geopolitical dominance in a critical part of the globe, and on both sides there seem to be ever fewer doors marked “EXIT.” 

2011: A Year of Weather Extremes, with More to Come

Click here to access article by Janet Larsen and Sara Rasmussen from Earth Policy Institute. 

...while some parts of the globe were overwhelmed by rain in 2011, others were distinguished by dryness. A severe drought in the Horn of Africa that began in 2010 devolved into a crisis situation in 2011, characterized by crop failure, exorbitant food prices, and widespread malnutrition. Exacerbated by chronic political instability and a belated humanitarian response, the death toll may have exceeded 50,000 people. 

Meanwhile, the leading publication of the One Percent continues to provide misinformation to their constituents. Read "Dismal Science at the Wall Street Journal " from the Union of Concerned Scientists website. 

Jailed for Marching in Oakland: What it means for you and your children.

Click here to access article by Beth Seligman from East Bay (Oakland, CA, USA). 

Here is a snapshot of the ongoing class war being waged by Occupiers in Oakland, California. You will see the naked fist of capitalist fascism applied to crush dissent, brutalize and intimidate any who oppose the One Percent's rule of society. 

Will the rest of us cower, return to our homes, turn on the boob tube, let our minds go back to sleep, and fail this challenge that previous generations faced and fought in the name of social justice (the Populist Movement, union organizing activists of the 1930s, Women's Suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam Anti-war Movement, etc? Okay, so they didn't overturn the exploitative system of capitalism, but they achieved many social gains that we have enjoyed and that are now being threatened. 

However, now there is much more at stake. Capitalism with its addiction to profits, growth in production and consumption is now coming up against the limits of a finite planet. Those who rule over, and benefit from, this system have no compunctions about using their vast instruments of violence to take what they want from others, even from their own citizens, in order to feed their addiction. Now there is so much more to fight for: not only social justice, not only a dignified existence for the 99 Percent, but a planet that can sustain human life. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Currency Warfare: What are the Real Targets of the E.U. Oil Embargo against Iran?

Click here to access article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Strategic Culture Foundation. 

This Canadian author in my opinion is one of the best independent international journalists. In this very informative report he helps us untangle the complications of the latest dangerous moves by the Empire to destabilize Iran. 
...the Iranians originally wanted to turn to the euro and a petro-euro system with the hope that the competition between the American dollar and the euro would make the European Union an Iranian ally and de-link the E.U from the United States. As political tensions have mounted with the E.U., the petro-euro has become less and less alluring for Tehran. Iran has realized that the European Union is submissive to U.S. interests under corrupt leaders. Thus, to a lesser extent Iran has also tried to move away from the euro too.

Declaration of Social Movements Assembly Porto Alegre (RS), Brazil

Click here to access article from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt. 
The exclusionist rationale of that model [capitalism] only makes a small elite wealthier at the expense of the large majority of the population, both in the North and South. Defending people’s sovereignty and self-determination and social, economic, environmental, and gender justice is key to overcoming the crisis, strengthening the leading role of a State free from corporations and at the service of the people.

Occupy the Super Bowl: Now More Than Just a Slogan

Click here to access article by Dave Zirin from The Nation.
The sheer volume of the Super Bowl is overpowering: the corporate branding, the sexist beer ads, the miasma of Madison Avenue–produced militarism, the two-hour pre-game show. But people in the labor and Occupy movements in Indiana are attempting to drown out the din with the help of a human microphone right at the front gates of Lucas Oil Stadium.

War Is a Racket

Click here to access book by General Smedley Butler posted today by David Ruccio on the Real World Economics Review website.

This American military general achieved a dramatic epiphany after serving the US ruling class in leading its military to pursue various imperialist adventures during the 1920s and 30s. Butler's small book published in 1935 is the story of this epiphany. 

But what is far more important is the story of the attempted recruitment of General Butler by right-wing ideologues to replace president Franklin Roosevelt with a right-wing dictatorship. This is an extremely important part of US history, but one that will never be included in US school curricula at any level simply because it is at odds with ruling class propaganda. To recover this missing history, you will need to read a book by Jules Archer entitled, The Plot to Seize the White House. But a succinct summary is provided in the first paragraph of a comment to the posted article provided by Jim Craven which reads as follows:
Smedley Butler was a hero but not, and he said so himself, for that which got him nominated three times and awarded twice the Medal of Honor. His real heroism came when he was approached in 1934 by a representative of a cabal of right-wing businessmen (including the Bushes of course) plotting to overthrow FDR and establish a fascist dictatorship with Butler (who commanded the affection of many troops unlike McArthur, also involved in the plot who was hated by the troops) commanding a 500,000 man army of veterans as shock troops for the oligarchs. Butler went along with them long enough to expose them publicly and bring on an investigation that went nowhere because those involved were “too big to fail” and would have taken out FDR as colateral damage at minimum,
However, even among those who have knowledge of this sordid episode, many fail to see that the fascist wing of the ruling class did not cease in their ambitions with this setback. In fact, after WWII they succeeded beyond even their wildest, twisted imaginations. The way they did this comprises the real post WWII history of the US which I have been working all my life to uncover. I hope to write more about it from time to time in my blog.

Philanthropy is the enemy of justice

Click here to access article by Robert Newman from The Guardian. 
The world's poor are not begging for charity from the rich – they're asking for justice and fairness
But, of course, there is no mention in this liberal publication that just maybe the capitalist system is unjust, a system which favors the few who manage to attain "ownership" over large parts of an economy against the interests of the vast majority who through their physical and mental labor create real wealth. That would be blasphemy in the religion of capitalism which this publication supports! Thus, they choose to frame the issue as being only a matter of morality which easily descends into statements about the low quality of human nature.

Such framing of issues is the purpose of liberal publications. They serve to constrain issues within limits that are acceptable to capitalists, and to divert attention away from the inherent flaws in the system.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Geopolitical Stakes in Nigeria: The Curious Role of the IMF

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from Voltaire Network.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest oil producer, is from all evidence being systematically thrown into chaos and a state of civil war.
Western media sources, as usual, provide extremely poor coverage of African affairs. This suits the Empire perfectly because it allows their actors (political operatives, oil companies, finance institutions, etc.) to have a much freer hand in exploiting African resources to enrich Western corporations and banks. 

Engdahl in this piece sheds some light on what lies behind the current scene of unrest following the government's removal of fuel subsidies. There appear to be a lot of familiar elements that are found in many resource rich 3rd world countries: the IMF, importation of finished products made from abundant local raw materials, government corruption, poverty, terrorism, illicit drugs, and China.

The day after: the movement beyond the protest

Click here to access article by Carlos Delclós from Reflections on a Revolution. 
...the first challenge...is to build and strengthen the alternative institutions of the commons. By institutions, of course, we are not referring to the institutions of a political regime such as parliaments, executives and the like. Nor are we referring to those which may lie between the regime and the movement, such as political parties, unions or other organizations.

We are referring to institutions which provide a foundation for the movement and are defined by their own autonomy: social centers, activist collectives, alternative media, credit unions and co-operatives. Institutions like these constitute no more and no less than material spaces in which we can articulate the values, social practices and lifestyles underlying the social climate change taking place all over the world.

Zombie banks are dragging Ireland into the ground

Click here to access article by Nick Dearden from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt. 
Ireland’s financial crisis has much in common with scores of countries across the developing world. The country has been brought to its knees by an enormous debt, which originated not with excessive public spending, but a footloose financial sector that gambled with the future of the country. Without so much as a vote, Ireland’s people found themselves on the hook for tens of billions of euros of reckless investments.
The author explains how this happened.

Israel destroys another Palestinian home, leaves family homeless

Click here to access article from Al-Akhbar.

Israeli officials love to negotiate while continuing to create "facts on the ground" by destroying one Palestinian home at a time. 
Last year, a coalition of international rights groups and aid organizations said Israel's demolition of homes in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem had displaced more than 1,000 people in 2011, twice that of the previous year and the highest number since 2005.

Israel has sped up its construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in defiance of international law, while continuing to demolish Palestinian homes.
Fort Israel serves the Empire very much like the old US forts did while occupying Native American territories back in the 19th century.

Ralph Schoenman: 'US candidates play into Israeli hands' [4:05m video]

From Press TV via YouTube.

Well, actually I don't think that Ron Paul is a part of this pro-Israeli chorus, but then "he's not electable" according to the political establishment. (He is certainly not electable to serve the interests of the 99 Percent, but that is irrelevant because the political establishment serves only the One Percent.)

Shale Gas a Bridge to More Global Warming

Click here to access article by Stephen Leahy from IPS. 
Hundreds of thousands of shale gas wells are being "fracked" in the United States and Canada, allowing large amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, to escape into the atmosphere, new studies have shown.
As if this weren't bad enough, we learn here that the energy companies have bigger plans--"super-fracking"!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

From Common Goods to the Common Good of Humanity

Click here to access article by Francois Houtart from P2P Foundation (a posted excerpt from a document). 
The time has come to take action and to do so by developing new ideas. However repairing the dysfunctions of the capitalist market economy, preaching green capitalism, regulating financial markets, struggling against poverty by doling out aid, drawing up security systems that are increasingly militaristic and criminalize resistance are all simply ways of adapting the existing system. What we now need is a radical change, another paradigm: in other words a fundamentally new orientation of the life of human beings on the planet.

Scientists, Policymakers, and a Climate of Uncertainty

Click here to access article by Fred Powledge from University from U. of California Press (via JSTOR). 

What is useful about this article is that it provides an up-to-date survey of the current state of climate change politics in the US, albeit at a rather superficial level. Most scientists and writers on scientific matters seem to have a trained incapacity to understand where power really lies in the US.
Much of the US-based research is directed at people who make political decisions: members of Congress, the president, state legislators, municipal officials. But whereas the flow of information from scientists has been copious, the response from policymakers, including those at the topmost positions in government, has been minuscule.
What they need to understand is that the dynamics of capitalism and conserving a healthy ecosystem are totally in opposition. And even more importantly, scientists need to communicate this understanding to the general public and to the real power brokers. Unfortunately, scientists have been dumbed down by their lengthy ideological training in the One Percent's institutions of higher learning and, thus, are unable to see where real political power lies and that there are alternatives to capitalism. 

The Iranian oil embargo blowback

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. 
If the sorry parade of European poodles...had any understanding of Persian culture, they would have known that blowback for their declaration of economic war in the form of an Iranian oil embargo would be nothing short of heavy metal.

Better yet; death metal.