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 18, 2012

Justice Department Wins Rosemary Award for Worst Open Government Performance in 2011

Click here to access article from The National Security Archive. 

This article provides a lot of details on how the realities of operations in the US Justice Department, which earned them this award, differ from the open government policies proclaimed by President Obama. That is factually correct, but it seems to suggest that this is the fault of members of this department. 

Once again, I feel compelled to clarify that the role of US Presidents is to serve as chief public relations officers for the Empire. Thus, one cannot take anything they say seriously no more than one should take seriously the pious announcements from big oil corporations about all their efforts to promote "green" energy. 

Obama is an employee of the ruling class, and like all other officers in this front organization called US government, which is operated from behind the scenes by a Mafia-like coterie of political operatives who serve the interests of the One Percent, he takes his orders from them. Judging by the huge campaign contributions that he has received from corporations and the rich, he has been given a very good performance review by the One Percent and will no doubt continue to be employed as chief public relations officer ("President") for another term.

Public Poll Finds 94% Support Occupy Oakland

Click here to access article by Occupy Oakland Research Committee from Occupy Oakland. 
The poll, conducted online and published in the Oakland Tribune print edition on Saturday February 11, 2012 asked readers: “Do you support Occupy Oakland?” Out of a total of 10,826 responses, 94% answered yes. 

The Revolution’s Torturers: Systematic Human Rights Abuses in New Libya

Click here to access article by Andrew Bashi from In These Times. 

Because political operatives of the Empire like to frame their imperial adventures as "humanitarian interventions", this article permits us take a hard look at the results of their latest accomplishment of humanitarianism--Libya. There are many links to reports from real humanitarian organizations that are even more useful. 

As one would expect, the current crimes against humanity in Libya have disappeared from US mainstream media. The latter have now moved on to Syria, the Empire's latest project of destabilization.

Friday, February 17, 2012

“Let’s not live as slaves”

Click here to access article from Eagainst.

This reads like an inspiring manifesto from the Greeks to all of Europe's 99 Percent and beyond.
...it’s time European societies acted collectively, through a joint new European network of revolutionary action. Through open assemblies in every square, in communication and interaction with all the rest, the citizens of Europe could liberate themselves of this mechanistic barbarity of Neoliberalism, taking decisions together that will define our lives. Not as lenders and borrowers, not as rich and poor, not as prosecutors and defendants, but as equal and free citizens.

Workers’ control in Greece: Eleftherotypia’s workers are back with their own newspaper

Click here to access article by Moissis Litsis from Coalition of Resistance. 

Greek workers keep showing us the way to fight the One Percent ruling class. Here we see them taking the first steps to control media in Greece. In my opinion, this is a crucial stage in the struggle against capitalism. It is precisely the capitalist control of media that keeps workers all over the world ignorant of their real interests and their power.
...Greek public opinion...had been eagerly waiting for its publication – we were overwhelmed by messages cheering the journalists for publishing the newspaper themselves – since dictatorship of the markets is coupled with media dictatorship that makes Greek reality difficult to read and interpret. Had it not been for the general consensus that was maintained by most media in 2010, based on the argument that there was no alternative to Papandreou government signing the first Memorandum, whose patent failure has now been acknowledged by everyone, we might have seen the Greek people rising up much earlier in order to overturn a policy that has proven disastrous for all Europe.
2-21-2012 Update: Please read the comment I received from a "friend from Greece".

Capitalism’s obscenities are unacceptable

Click here to access article by Peter Boyle from Green Left.

This is a brief article which illustrates why the One Percent love capitalism; and why they won't give it up easily in spite of the fact that it has caused so much social injustice, economic crises, wars and is now threatening the human race with extinction through catastrophic climate change.

The EU's Emissions Trading System Isn't Working

Click here to access article by Alexander Jung from Spiegel Online.

The results are coming in for Europe regarding the carbon trading scheme--the capitalist's ploy to pretend that they are doing something about fossil fuel pollution.
Emissions trading, the European Union hoped, would limit the release of harmful greenhouse gases. But it isn't working. The price for emissions certificates has plunged, a development that is actually making coal more attractive than renewable energy.
Environmentalists have been warning the world about this scam for years. See this and this.

US wants SWIFT war on Iran

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.

The author speculates on the types of blowback that is likely to follow the Empire's economic war on Iran. (Note: "SWIFT" in the headline is an acronym and used here as a pun.)
...only the deaf, dumb and blind wouldn't understand the message; blowback for the ridiculously counter-productive European sanctions/oil embargo package will only plunge vast swathes of Europe further into deep economic pain.

Parallelisms: Sankara, the hero who defied his creditors

Click here to access article by Leonidas Oikonomakis from Reflections on a Revolution. 

For most of my adult life I have been uncovering the many lies that were taught me under capitalist education and recovering much that has happened but totally ignored by educational and media agents employed by capitalists. This article reports on an African leader's activities in the 1980s that is an example of the latter. The article also makes clear that the practice of neocolonialism by banking elites of yesterday in the 3rd world is now raising its ugly head everywhere in the world.
It happened in 1987.

The Organization of African Unity assembled in Addis Abbeba, Ethiopia, in the last days of that hot July. And there he was. With his khaki uniform and his bone-breaking humor, Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, Africa’s own Che Guevara, gave his last speech and stole the hearts of the world’s poor and exploited. Para siempre.
The 52:04m video on Sankara at the end of the article looks very interesting.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Obama, Democrats hail deal to slash unemployment benefits

Click here to access article by Barry Grey from World Socialist Web Site.

US media celebrates the latest attack on workers by framing their coverage of a Congressional bill as cutting worker taxes. But, here is the real story.
Presented by the Obama administration and the media as a boon to hard-pressed working Americans, the measure is in reality a cruel and punitive assault on the working class—in the first instance, those most severely impacted by nearly four years of mass unemployment.
Also, for more details on this bill, see this article from FireDogLake.

Apple’s China Comes Home to Haunt Us

Click here to access article by Robert Scheer from TruthDig.
Four decades ago Richard Nixon, a once famously hawkish Republican president, cut a deal with the Communist overlords of China to reshape the world.

...At the heart of the deal was a rejection of the basic moral claim of both egalitarian socialism and free market capitalism, the rival ideologies of the Cold War, to empower the individual as the center of decision-making. Instead, the fate of the citizen would come to be determined by an alliance between huge multinational corporations and government elites with scant reference to the needs of ordinary working folk.
The moral of the Cold War, which has seen both "socialist" countries, Soviet Union and China, evolving into capitalist countries, is that class structured societies regardless of what names they call themselves will always result in a ruling class that exploits the other classes. The bureaucracies in both countries realized beginning in the 1970s that they could extract much more wealth and power under capitalist policies than they could under bureaucratic based rule. As we have seen, the conversion to capitalism was easy and painless--for the ruling classes of both China and Russia.

In the 1990s capitalist apostles celebrated these conversions by exclaiming "the end of history" by which they meant that humanity had achieved its final perfect organization of society. Today capitalist apologists are now more on the defensive about their glorious system, but profits are just too good to really make any real changes. Under neo-liberal policies they have eliminated borders for their ruling classes and joined together to exploit workers even more efficiently to enrich all capitalists everywhere. The most celebrated success nowadays is Apple corporation which has married the tightly controlled cheap labor in China with American technology (created by mostly American workers) to create fabulous profits for all Apple investors.  

As a result we now hear talk about corporations bringing back some overseas manufacturing to the US, but under what conditions of employment? With so much current unemployment in the US, corporate employers may be thinking that US workers will accept much lower wages and benefits. After all, they are directly competing with the most vulnerable workers in the world. Ain't neo-liberalism wonderful?

The New York Times: America's Unofficial Propaganda Ministry

Click here to access article by Stephen Lendman from The Peoples Voice.
For over a century, The Times played America's lead role disseminating state/corporate propaganda duplicitously.

Its daily diet features managed, not real, news, information and analysis. Readers don't get what they pay for. They're cheated on what matters most.

What it reports, other major media scoundrels regurgitate. Readers and viewers are left misinformed and uninformed in the dark.

Wealth and power support defines its agenda, especially when America goes to war or plans to.
The NY Times, along with the Washington Post, really does function as a propaganda ministry for the One Percent ruling class in the US. Although it does provide much more hard news than other newspapers, it also frames issues of concern to capitalists and sets the limits of criticism or revelations of misdeeds of capitalist agents that can be allowed to be published in any media. Journalists or media companies who violate these guidelines are often punished severely. (See this posting.)

Labor Pains: A Fable for Our Times

Click here to access article by Walter Brasch from Dissident Voice. 

Read it and weep.Then get informed and active.

The Greek Experiment

Click here to access 11:06 video interview with Michael Hudson (script included). 

Hudson offers some insights as to how neo-liberal policies of Europe's ruling class is driving events in Greece and what this portends for working people in other European countries.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Social Media "Tactical Intelligence Collection": Spying and Propaganda using Facebook, Twitter

Click here to access article by Julie Lévesque from Global Research. 

Activists should realize that the benefits of social connectivity provided by these new forms of gadgets and software are a two-way street. They also can be used by the One Percent against us--in fact, this article clearly shows that this is happening today. Many useful links are provided to support this claim.

Syria to Hold Elections and Enact a New Constitution in Less than Two Weeks … Will U.S. and Its Allies Attack Anyway?

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog. 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
But – given that the U.S. government has been consistently planning regime change in Syria for 20 years (and dreamed of regime change for 50 years), and that the U.S., Britain, Qatar and other countries have already started a covert war in Syria – it is uncertain whether democratic elections and a new constitution can avoid a Syrian war involving the West.

“American Exceptionalism;” or, It’s Not State Capitalism When America Does It

Click here to access article by Kevin Carson from Center for a Stateless Society. 

There is an art to the way a ruling class functions to obscure the realities of their special privileges of power and wealth accumulation. In mostly earlier periods of human history they have often used religion to sanction their rule. Today's capitalist classes use carefully constructed myths and concepts about how their economies function, and even make the Orwellian claim that their societies function "democratically" according to the rule of law. 

In this article the author clears out much of the confusion that is propagated widely in US media about current forms of capitalism--of course, the version in the US is the best. After reading this piece, you will wonder if there are really any differences between contemporary versions in various countries.

Longshore workers name Occupy movement as crucial in EGT settlement

Click here to access article by Steven Argue & Occupy EGT from Indybay. 

It appears that the longshore workers together with the support of the local Occupiers won a court settlement in support of their union's (ILWU) jurisdiction on hiring at the Export Grain Terminal (EGT) in Longview, Washington. 
"The Occupy Movement and rank-and-file unionists both within and outside of our ranks have forced the company to settle, but this is not over," said Jess Kincaid of Occupy Portland. "Occupy doesn't sign contracts. We have not entered into any agreements with EGT, nor do we intend to do so. EGT and its parent company Bunge bribe the government for military escorts, use slave labor in Brazil and systematically avoid contributing anything to our social safety net in the US or abroad. There is no ethic here beyond putting money back in the pocket of the 1% at the cost of working people and the sustainability of the earth."
Meanwhile, I have yet to see any coverage of this in local mainstream media. 
The political operatives of the US ruling class (the One Percent) love countries like Saudi Arabia whose corrupt and oppressive ruling class shares their interest in dominating the world and securing its wealth for themselves.

Another American Way

Click here to access article by Barbara Kingsolver The Occupied Wall Street Journal. 
Every system on earth has its limits. We have never been here before, not right here exactly, you and me together in the golden and gritty places all at once, on deadline, no fooling around this time, no longer walking politely around the dire colossus, the so-called American Way of consecrated corporate profits and crushed public compassion. There is another American way. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Global Square: a call for coders to build the platform

Click here to access article by Pedro Noel from Reflections on a Revolution.

This appears to be a very important technical project that could bring together all the world's 99 Percent activists. 
...The Global Square will mainly be developed based on the existing peer-to-peer technology provided by the renowned file sharing software Tribler. Tribler is a project focused on decentralized social networks with years of expertise in peer-to-peer communication. By using this particular existing P2P technology it becomes virtually impossible to break or censor our network. The content files are not centralized in any physical server, so the network belongs to its users — a basic principle of participatory democracy applied to the online space.

High-Tech Trickery in Homs?

Click here to access article by Sharmine Narwani from Al-Akhbar. 

US mainstream media followers have been flooded with Syrian government atrocities against its citizens to manage the consent of US citizens to promote the Empire's support of the Syrian opposition and intervention by other countries in support of Syrian opposition forces. The coverage has been totally one-sided and simplistic. This article appears to uncover some glaring deceptions in this propaganda campaign. 

Meanwhile all coverage of the ongoing anti-government protests and severe government repression in Bahrain where the US 5th Fleet is stationed has disappeared from US media. View this You-Tube 4:44 video of yesterday's protest in Bahrain.

Syria’s Uprising in Context

Click here to access article by Stephen Gowans from Voltaire Network. 

I think that this is the most thorough and perceptive analysis I've read on the civil war in Syria. 
In this analytical overview, Canadian pundit Stephen Gowans puts his finger on a fundamental aspect which informs on Washington’s real regime change ambitions in Syria. Political dictatorship in Syria is over. However, what does subsist is a state committed to independent, self-directed economic development...hardly the free-enterprise model in line with the interests of overseas banks, investors and corporations.

Drones and Special Forces Invite Payback: Time for a Return to Sanity and Peace

Click here to access article by Dave Lindorff from This Can't Be Happening. 
The attacks and attempted attacks this week on Israeli embassy personnel in Georgia, India and Thailand should serve as a serious warning to the people of both Israel and the US that there will be an increasingly heavy price to pay for the kind of government-sponsored terror that both countries have long practiced, and that too many Americans and Israelis have mindlessly cheered on.
And he explains how payback to state sponsored terrorism is becoming a practical option.

The Surgeons of Occupy

Click here to access article by Peter Gelderloos from CounterPunch.
It’s election year. Those who still have faith in the system, or those whose paychecks are signed by the major unions, the Democratic Party, progressive NGOs, or the left wing of the corporate media, know it’s their job to forcibly convert any popular movement into a pathetic plea to be made at the ballot box. The unmediated, experimental politics of the Occupy movement must give way to symbolic protest and dialogue with the existing “structures of power” whose members must be brought “to our side”. For the Occupy movement to be sanitized and converted into a recruiting tool for the Democratic Party, it will have to be neutralized as a space for real debate, experimentation, and conflict with authority. Its more revolutionary elements will have to be surgically removed. It is an operation the police, the media, and some careerist progressives have been engaged in for months, and Hedges’ contribution is just the latest drop in the bucket.

Slavery by Another Name [A must-see PBS program/film]

Click here to access videos

Watching this program on PBS last night blew my mind. I think that I am reasonably educated and informed on US history, but this coverage of post Civil War history of slavery totally escaped my attention. I was certainly aware of chain gangs and the severe repression of African Americans after the Reconstruction Period, but not this new version of slavery that corporations exploited--which is precisely why I never came across this subject before--it reveals this heretofore carefully guarded dirty secret! This is a must-see film--especially for all Americans.

It is also clear to me that the Civil War was mostly about the rising class of northern industrialists wanting to free up labor that was tied up in the ownership of southern slaveholders, not because of any moral considerations. They simply covered their nefarious plans with the morality of "freeing the slaves" just like they do today when they launch wars for "humanitarian" reasons. By freeing the slaves after that dreadful Civil War, they were then able to exploit African-Americans under the system of convict labor which skirted around the Constitutional prohibition of slavery. And again, one can see the same parallels with this current period of globalization in which capitalists have removed restrictions on moving anywhere in the world to gain access to cheap, exploited labor. 

Convict labor was a system that leased African-Americans (essentially a sale), who were arrested for all sorts of silly crimes, to commercial interests between about 1875 and well into the 20th century. Usually, the criminal offense was a contrived one: loosely defined vagrancy or even changing employers without permission.

Unfortunately, it appears to me that the program was only scheduled for yesterday evening in my area and through my cable provider. But you should check here (under "About the Film" tab, select when to watch) for broadcast times by provider in your area. Also, you can watch the whole program online at the above link, or purchase the DVD from PBS. 

(Note: 1-17-2012 - A few days after writing this post I realized that I had heard about this phenomenon during the late 1960s from black nationalist spokespeople. But with no other authoritative sources to corroborate these reports, I think I concluded that the black nationalists exaggerated the extent to which convict labor was used by corporations during that period.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

450 Bases and It’s Not Over Yet

Click here to access article by Nick Turse from TomDispatch. (Note: you will need to scroll down to the article.)

The author gives us the scoop on how our tax dollars will continue to be spent in Afghanistan under the Pentagon's leaner budget plans, instead of for our schools, libraries, and health care.
This is exactly what you would expect of an occupation force looking to scale back its “footprint” and end major combat operations while maintaining an on-going presence in Afghanistan.  Given the U.S. military’s projected retreat to its giant bases and an increased reliance on kill/capture black-ops as well as unmanned air missions, it’s also no surprise that its signature projects for 2012 include a new special operations forces compound, clandestine drone facilities, and a brand new military prison.
This will no doubt benefit the so-called "defense industries", the manufacturers of killing machines. The savings will be in expenses for "boots" on the ground. See this article entitled, "Obama’s new Pentagon strategy: strip benefits and buy more weapons", for all the details.

Instead of the US merely "scaling back" military operations, Tom Engelhardt in his piece entitled, "Offshore Everywhere", sees this as part of a new global military strategy to increase Empire hegemony. As capitalists always seek to increase profits, the symbiotic military always plans to extend its power over the rest of the world.

From Syria to Haiti: Another showcase of Western hypocrisy

Click here to access article from RT (Russia). 

The recent return of the infamous Baby Doc Duvalier to Haiti provides a dramatic lesson in the hypocrisy of Western "humanitarian" interventions in other countries.
While the free western nations are falling over each other in their indignation over human right violations in Syria, they neatly look the other way when a former dictator is walking free while UN troops look on and stay ‘neutral’.

The Libyan Model?

Click here to access article by Vijay Prashad from Jadaliyya. 

The widely heralded "victory" in Libya for NATO forces has inspired Empire actors to press on against Syria using the same humanitarian public relations campaign. The author takes a closer look at the alleged and real human rights violations in Libya and followup efforts to hold people accountable. Guess what he found:
The Libyan case demonstrates that the human rights regime was only useful to build up pressure for a UN Security Council resolution and for a NATO military intervention.

Greece: 12-2 / Revolt begins as the regime votes in favour of the EU

Click here to access article, videos, and photos from Eagainst. 
A peaceful protest was organised by the major trade unions...at 17:00 outside Syntagma (parliament) square. Around 1 million Athenians responded to the call. Violent clashes broke out between some militant demonstrators and riot squads a few minutes later when some police officers attempted to brutally attack the crowd by throwing excessive amounts of tear gas, aiming to remove them from the square, violating their democratic rights to assemble.

Inequality? We Need a New Word

Click here to access article by Saskia Sassen from The Occupied Wall Street Journal. 

Creative financial engineering by financial gurus serving the One Percent resulted in widespread problems for both financial institutions and ordinary people. Only the former were rescued by government intervention.
The brutality of eviction, of losing the little material security one has, did not factor into the calculations of our financially creative class, who many now consider a criminal corporate elite. The fact that neighborhoods and communities would be destroyed, shops shuttered and businesses folded, municipal governments and social programs slashed and literally trillions of dollars wiped from the national books did not—and does not—factor in.
Financial engineers exist to serve capitalists, the One Percent, not the 99 Percent. They did that and created a disaster for our economy. However, the One Percent is richer than ever. If you are going to accept a system that does what it is designed to do, you are a fool if you merely criticize it, and not insist that the system needs to be changed.

Big Oil’s Banner Year: Higher Prices, Record Profits, Less Oil

Click here to access article by Daniel J. Weiss, Jackie Weidman, Rebecca Leber from Center for American Progress. 
Instead of heavily investing in job creation or production, the big five used $38 billion, or 28 percent of annual net income, to repurchase their own stocks. This practice enriches shareholders but it doesn’t add to oil supplies or investments in alternative fuels or other new technologies.
The authors fail to understand that this is the way capitalism is designed--to maximize shareholder wealth--not to promote employment, alternative energy, or a sustainable future. Corporations are mandated by laws engineered by capitalists to do precisely this.

Earth Summit is doomed to fail, say leading ecologists

Click here to access article by Fred Pearce from New Scientist. 
We can forget about fixing the planet's ecosystems and climate until we have fixed government systems, a panel of leading international environmental scientists declared in London on Friday. The solution, they said, may not lie with governments at all.
I'm not sure what science advisers meant by the last sentence, but it is clear to me that the system of capitalism will inevitably drive toward our ecological peril, unless we, the 99 Percent, are willing and able to change the system to something that can exist in harmony with our habitat, our planet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What Prospects for OWS?

Click here to access article by Shamus Cooke from Global Research. 
Ultimately Occupy needs to organize for power; we need a greater power to displace the current power of the 1%. This doesn't mean that we must adopt the same forms of power utilized by the state, but that new ones must be created, while using EVERY opportunity within the existing structure to organize, educate, and mobilize working people.
I think that activists such as this author do not fully appreciate the huge challenge of Occupiers in the US to create a real alternative to past left theories of social change in order to achieve a real form of democracy: a decentralized bottom-up form of democracy, also known as "horizontal democracy". This will take time, but in my opinion, it must take this form in order to create sufficient social energy to take power away from the One Percent. If you think that we are not in a class war, you are very naive. 

Many middle class and/or older people simply do not understand the radical change in organization that this new form means. The process of developing this is only in its infancy. And, there are no guarantees that we of the 99 Percent will achieve this new type of democracy or achieve victory over the One Percent. However, there is no decent alternative ahead but to fight for our lives, for social justice, for a planet that can sustain our lives well into the future.

We cannot expect the same level of commitment to social struggle that exists in places like Greece (see the latest news) simply because the capitalist contradictions in such places are more advanced than they are here in the center of the Empire. It will develop here because the contradictions of capitalism in the US will be accelerating in the future causing all sorts of social pain--this will spur on development. It is fortunate that we have additional time to prepare.

Propaganda Wars : Their Version – “Markets don’t fail”

Click here to access article by David Malone from his blog, Golem XIV

I had to read this quite hastily to meet my posting deadline, but it appears to reveal details about the propaganda war that the One Percent is waging against us over all the corporate owned media. 
...the bankers’ sanitized narrative is that markets don’t fail, people do and when a bank or a banker is caught doing something fraudulent or immoral it is just a bad apple which is neatly replaced. Imperative is the message that there is NOTHING intrinsically wrong with the banking/finance system as it is now constituted. THAT is their central concern and version of reality.

The other side of their strategy, which I suggest we”ll see more of in the coming months, is to suggest those who oppose them are suspect or even dangerous.

Activists and Anarchists Speak for Themselves at Occupy Oakland

Click here to access article by Susie Cagle from IndyBay.

This post provides for responses to  left critics like Chris Hedges from several Oakland Occupier activists who have benefit of first hand experience in the Oakland actions.

A Movement and the Hostile Media

Click here to access article by Boots Riley from The Occupied Wall Street Journal.

Every progressive movement in U.S. history was portrayed negatively by mainstream media at the time it was happening. So it’s no surprise that today’s media portray the Occupy Wall Street movement in the same light.

A New Declaration

Click here to access article by Derrick Jensen from The Occupied Wall Street Journal. 
Once we’ve recognized the destructiveness of capitalism and industrial civilization—both of which are based on systematically converting a living planet into dead commodities—we’ve no choice, unless we wish to sign our own and our children’s death warrants, but to fight for all we’re worth and in every way we can to overturn it.