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, August 18, 2012

Organize, Imagine, and Act: How a Student Movement Can Become a Revolution

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall (Canadian) from his blog. 

This is a MUST READ for all activists who see reform of the existing class system of capitalism as irrelevant, even worse, as in a death spiral for the 99 Percent. This is a brilliant exposition of where activists all over the world need to proceed after the initial battles with the One Percents have concluded. They need to take the next step: to transform protests over specific issues into organizing inclusive collective energies that adversely affect entire communities. This will lay the foundation for an inclusive revolutionary movement that can grow to challenge the beloved class-based system of the One Percents and establish a new social-economic system that promotes the health and welfare of 100 percent of societies. 

Enough said. Read this article, think about it, talk about it with others.

Theater of the absurd in Myanmar

Click here to access article by Nancy Hudson-Rodd (Australia) from Asia Times Online.
Nancy Hudson-Rodd PhD, human geographer, former director of the Centre for Development Studies, honorary research fellow, Edith Cowan University, has conducted research in Burma for the past decade on the confiscation of farmers’ land by the military regime.
Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi pledge to work together for Burma

When images such as this and other celebratory news reports extolling the new "democracy" in Myanmar kept appearing last December on my TV, I wondered what was really going on. 

Although I really didn't engage in a thorough search, I found little in my daily surfing of the internet about what was really happening there. Until now.  

Guess what has been going on there? Yes, you're right! You are so smart! Yes, it was all just a propaganda piece issued by the Ministry of Truth (joke--sort of) to all mainstream media outlets after the military dictators there put a new "democratic" face on their regime which included opening up their country to foreign investors.
Myanmar is being advertised as the last emerging "golden land of opportunity" for global business. Current and former military officers still in government together with their business partners are rushing to become rich making deals. Military-owned or connected companies and associates that dominate the country's economy are hurrying to force citizens off land that they can use to attract foreign investors.
The author's article uses the metaphor of a stage play to explain was has really happened. This piece is loaded with sarcasm, cynicism, and irony. If that is not your style, you may prefer this piece by her published in February entitled "Trouble brews as Burma turns to world markets".

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stand Strong and Do Not Despair: Some Thoughts on the Fading Student Movement in Quebec

Click here to access article by Andrew Gavin Marshall from his blog.

This young, very articulate, and wise Canadian blogger puts the latest struggles of the Quebec student movement in a much broader perspective: their strike against higher tuition was but a battle in longer, bigger war against those who defend a system that has gone global, a system that is intent on exploiting everyone, everywhere who are not a part of the global One Percents who lay claim or "ownership" over everything of value.
Our elites, much like Marie Antoinette, looked upon the massive unrest and anger of the population and declared, “Let them eat cake”: let them have elections, let them buy televisions, iPods, and game systems; let them choose between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative; let them buy a house and have a car, let them go to school and get a job, let them think and feel as if they are free and in charge… but do not let them take freedom or take charge. So now, it’s payback time for all the small concessions they have granted us, each one in their eyes, an unjust and undeserving sacrifice, always proclaimed to have catastrophic consequences to the economy and society and “free industry” and “enterprise.” So now, it is “all for them, and none for us.”

Now, we don’t even get our cake.

South Africa Police Say They Killed 34 Miners

Click here to access article by Thomas Phakane and Michelle Fault from Huffington Post

This is one of a very few pieces online that provides anything like an objective report. All mainstream news reports frame the event as police defending themselves. Of course, this is the typical way that the media of the One Percent portray all clashes between the 99 Percent and themselves and/or their enforcers.

Some accurate reports covering other aspects of this incident are from World War 4 Report entitled "South Africa: paranoid politics of platinum mine massacre" and from CounterFire entitled "South Africa: the story behind a brutal police massacre".  

Most class wars are of a non-violent type in the sense that they occur in legislative bodies and legal courts that are controlled by the One Percent. However, whenever they cannot be successful by these bodies, the One Percent have no compunctions about using violence against workers to gain their wealth.

The One Percent in the US have their own history of massacres against striking workers: the 1886 Haymarket massacre, the 1892 Homestead Strike massacre, the 1894 Pullman Strike massacre, the 1897 Lattimore Massacre, the 1914 Ludlow Massacre, and the 1937 Chicago Memorial Day massacre among the most notorious.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beaten Down, Isolated, Angry, And Distracted

Click here to access article by Phil Rockstroh from Dissident Voice.

I hesitate to post his writings because they are so dense. I fear that only one who has excellent command of English can understand them. Even I find that I have to work at some paragraphs in order to fully grasp what he is communicating. But, the effort is always worth it. He doesn't so much describes what he sees, but evokes it with his creative use of words.

There is an unreality about living in the US that makes it difficult for people completely immersed in its mind-numbing experience to recognize it as a false reality. People who, like Rockstroh, have lived outside this culture can more readily see what he sees. Or, one who has long been alienated from mainstream culture like myself.

Here is one paragraph the meaning of which I recognized instantly: 
The fact that so many U.S. citizens continue to believe that they inhabit a democratic nation, devoted to the concept of freedom of speech, of the press, and of free assembly reveals something very troubling: that the internalization of the tacit tenets of the corporatist state (a mutant strain of classic fascism) is now embedded so deeply in the collective psyche of the U.S. populace, and has rendered all too many with only a cursory, at best, understanding of what civil liberties involve.

Another Week, Another Bankster with Impunity

Click here to access article by Marcy from her blog Emptywheel.

Her report provides another excellent illustration of the One Percent's protection of major capitalist crooks (banksters),and how their media frames news reports related to this fact.

Her reference to "Preet Bharara" may need some explanation for people outside of the New York area. He is a US attorney, an Obama appointee, who handles government prosecutions in the New York area which, of course, includes Wall Street crimes. In 2012, Bharara was named by Time magazine as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World". For more information on him, see this and this.
This week, the bankster who will avoid all legal accountability is MF Global and its CEO Jon Corzine. So says the NYT.
While I’m disgusted by that news, I’m not shocked. I’ve grown used to the guarantee that top banksters are immune from all laws.

Occupy Empathy

Click here to access article by Mickey Z from World News Trust.

The author describes a recent visit to Saks department store in New York City in which he experienced what it is like to be a target of the Blue Bloc: what it is like to be a person of color, an immigrant, or a Muslim when confronted by police. His white skin saved him from being frisked and arrested.

Senate Anti-Leaks Bill Threatens the Rights of the Press and the Public

Click here to access article by Jennifer Lynch and Trevor Timm from Electronic Frontier Foundation. 

Another ominous piece of evidence to indicate that the government of the One Percent intend to close the curtains on the public's right to know what they are doing. 

If you are really interested in this subject of growing government secrecy, I urge you to read a book by Sibel Edmonds entitled Classified Woman. She is a former FBI translator, whistleblower, and winner of the Pen Award. She writes about her experience over the past decade to fight government coverups of their crimes. Warning: you may not be able to put the book down once you start reading it.

Dramatic lessons from the Arctic big melt of 2012: It's already too hot, as Greenland melt record is smashed

Click here to access article by David Spratt from Climate Code Red (Australia). 

While suffering through this summer's heat, you may not want to know this. However, global warming is also having a major impact on arctic ice and threatens to reach tipping points, if it hasn't already. He provides lots of graphs to illustrate what's happening.
The Arctic, the part of the world where global warming is greatest and where some of the most dramatic impacts are being witnessed, is the canary in climate warming coal mine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Criminalizing Dissent

Click here to access article by Chris Hedges from TruthDig.

The author reports on the recent US District court hearing on a civil liberties lawsuit that he, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and others filed against the Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act. The judge had previously issued a temporary injunction order against the enforcement of this provision, and will issue a final decision in the coming weeks. However, the case is expected to wind its way to the Supreme Court.

Hedges warns us about the ominous consequences to our civil liberties if this provision is found to be legal. It seems clear that this law would move us further down the road to a police state.
This section of the NDAA, signed into law by Obama on Dec. 31, 2011, obliterates some of our most important constitutional protections. It authorizes the executive branch to order the military to seize U.S. citizens deemed to be terrorists or associated with terrorists. Those taken into custody by the military, which becomes under the NDAA a domestic law enforcement agency, can be denied due process and habeas corpus and held indefinitely in military facilities. Any activist or dissident, whose rights were once protected under the First Amendment, can be threatened under this law with indefinite incarceration in military prisons, including our offshore penal colonies.
His comments about our two party system and the elections indicates that his awareness of our deceptive political system is progressing. 

The broader purpose of all these actions such as the Patriot Acts, NDAA, militarizing police forces, is to turn the US into a police state. The political operatives of the One Percent ruling class are becoming aware that they will no longer be able to depend on methods of indoctrination (broadcast media, schools, entertainment, etc) to keep their subjects ignorant. They know that the latter will soon wake up to the fact that the entire system is rigged against them to One Percent's advantage.  Thus, they foresee the necessity for coercive methods to maintain the capitalist system--the goose that lays their golden eggs.

Drone on the Range

Click here to access article by Jim Hightower from Truthout. 

This folksy, populist Texan's report on drones coming to your local police force is not exactly news, however he claims that it has already occurred in one Texas sheriff's office and hints of their likely use.
A Texas sheriff's office that has already bought a "ShadowHawk" drone says it might outfit the little buzzer to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.

Our Cooperative Darwinian Moment

Click here to access article by Richard Heinberg from Post Carbon Institute. 

This exceptional environmentalist, who has been warning us for decades about resource depletion and global warming, is now advising us on the critical role of cooperation that will be necessary for the human race to survive in the challenging decades ahead. This is a very profound and somewhat hopeful look at the ominous future.
...things will go a lot better for us if, rather than stocking up on guns and canned goods, we spend our time getting to know our neighbors, learning how to facilitate effective meetings, or helping design resilient local food systems. Survival will depend on finding cooperative paths in which sacrifice is shared, the best of our collective achievements are preserved, and compassion is nurtured.

Morsy, the Coup and the Revolution: Reading between the Red Lines

Click here to access article by Hesham Sallam from Jadaliyya.

This is the most sensible analysis that I have seen of the recent re-shuffling of military figures in Egypt.
...as compelling as it is to interpret these recent developments as a civilian coup against Egypt’s military rulers, there are some indications that they are the product of a movement within the military’s own ranks to avert an impending confrontation with civilian political forces and to reconfigure the army’s role in politics in a way that leaves its autonomy and long-term interests intact.
I wonder if the "impending confrontation" might have been a coup attempt against Morsi by the dismissed top Egyptian generals. An article in Haaretz (Israel) provides some evidence of this.

I would not be surprised if US operatives were also involved in this reorganization. In any case, Egypt is staying clearly within the orbit of the Empire. Here is another piece of supporting evidence from Haaretz which reports: 
Egypt will discuss the possibility of a bigger-than-expected $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund when a delegation from the Washington-based body visits Cairo this month, its finance minister said.  

Briton held in Syria says British militants among captors

Click here to access article by AFP (Agence France-Presse) via The Express Tribune (Pakistan).

It seems that at least some insurgents that go by the name of the "Free Syrian Army" are not Syrian. Surprise, surprise! (sarcasm)
A British photographer who was held hostage in Syria for a week said on Sunday that his captors were international militants who included several Britons.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Global 1%: Exposing the Transnational Ruling Class

Click here to access article by Peter Phillips and Kimberly Soeiro from Project Censored. (Both are associated with Sonoma State University in northern California. 

I consider this a key document to be used for reference on the study of a critically important subject that is often hidden from view for obvious reasons: who are the One Percent, their inter-relationships, and how do they wield so much power. The authors bring together numerous and important studies on the ruling One Percents of the world. Together they paint a picture of governance that is in sharp contrast to what the capitalist organs of indoctrination--schools and media--portray as the way important social, political, and economic decisions are actually made. This study of studies represents an important contribution to the ongoing effort to reveal the hidden masters of the planet so that we can more effectively combat their perilous power over our lives.
Abstract: This study asks Who are the the world’s 1 percent power elite? And to what extent do they operate in unison for their own private gains over benefits for the 99 percent? We examine a sample of the 1 percent: the extractor sector, whose companies are on the ground extracting material from the global commons, and using low-cost labor to amass wealth. These companies include oil, gas, and various mineral extraction organizations, whereby the value of the material removed far exceeds the actual cost of removal.We also examine the investment sector of the global 1 percent: companies whose primary activity is the amassing and reinvesting of capital. This sector includes global central banks, major investment money management firms, and other companies whose primary efforts are the concentration and expansion of money, such as insurance companies. Finally, we analyze how global networks of centralized power—the elite 1 percent, their companies, and various governments in their service—plan, manipulate, and enforce policies that benefit their continued concentration of wealth and power. We demonstrate how the US/NATO military-industrial-media empire operates in service to the transnational corporate class for the protection of international capital in the world.

Morsi’s Military Move & the Burden of History in Egypt’s Transition

Click here to access article by Daniel Tavana from Muftah. 

This brief article rather well sums up the broad speculative reaction coming from various quarters as to the significance of the recent political events described in Egypt.

Here is are some samples of these reactions:

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Are They Thinking?

Click here to access article by Luke Hiken from Dissident Voice. 

After listing all the attack positions of Republican candidates that reflect class interests at the expense of the 99 Percent, this attorney cannot understand why the Republican party pursues the following positions which he insists are not in their interest:
...why do the right wingers vote against their self-interest by helping billionaires destroy public education? Why are they universally opposed to reasonably affordable health care for all citizens? Why do they rally around the fascist attempts to prosecute and silence whistleblowers who expose governmental cover-ups and atrocities? Why are Tea Party Republicans so adamant about denying women the right to abortion? Why do they feel that gun control is such an important right, given the fact that it is the poor and unemployed who are the greatest number of victims of firearm abuse? Why do they rally around a religious fanaticism that abhors same-sex marriage or equality for gays and lesbians? And, the most obvious question of all is why they rigidly oppose taxing the super rich billionaires who are rapidly destroying the natural resources of the earth and undermining every aspect of their quality of life?
I think one can present some good arguments that at least some of these positions conform well with their class interests. But, generally, I think he has a point. And, he is baffled.  

Let me offer a simple explanation which, I think, explains so much about US politics. It is the old "good cop, bad cop" strategy. The political operatives employed by the One Percent find this a very useful strategy to get people sufficiently motivated to vote the lesser evil into office--this time it is Obama--in spite of the fact that he also serves their interests. Also, this gives people some warped sense of choice, or "democracy". In contrast to these mad dog Republicans, Obama does it, that is, serves their interests. with such good sounding populist rhetoric.

Injured Workers Sew Lips Shut in Hunger Strike to the Death

Click here to access article by Isabelle Jameson from IndyBay (San Francisco Bay Area).

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The author provides another example of the social disasters caused by the latest, and final stage of capitalism--neoliberalism. It is an illustration of the social consequences of laws like NAFTA have against which workers of the Northwest in the US fought in Seattle in 1999. Not only have American workers lost their jobs, but those in "developing countries" are exploited and abused in order to serve the interests of the One Percents. 

But, that is exactly the way the amoral system of capitalism works. Due to the advancements of technology created by working people--but which capitalists own according to the rules of their system--the One Percents are  now able to set up their factories anywhere in the world where corrupt, oppressive governments can provide them with weak labor and environmental laws that guarantee them substantial profits. The system doesn't function to serve the welfare of societies, but only one segment of society--the major property owning class or the capitalist class. The wealth and power they accumulate blinds them to the social disasters that result from such a system.

So, the next time you view a TV ad like this extolling the safety features of Chevrolets, think about the unsafe working conditions faced by workers in "developing" countries like Columbia.

For the latest outsourcing incident, be sure to read this pathetic story of US workers training their Chinese replacements

“The average income of the bottom 90 percent fell 13.5 percent.”

Click here to access source of brief article by David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review.

The graph says it all. This is why pundits in mainstream media keep saying that we are in a slow recovery, but it is a recovery for those of the One Percent who are doing fine, although not as well as they would like.
...while “since 2000, no income group has done particularly well,” the average income of the top .01 percent did increase 6.5 percent while the average income of the bottom 90 percent fell 13.5 percent.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Roundtable on the Language of Revolution in Egypt

Click here to access article from Jadaliyya featuring a roundtable discussion by academic specialists on Mid-East issues. They are associated with various Western universities.

I recommend especially the first two discourses regarding the nature of the political and social changes brought about recently in Egypt. The treatments of the subject vary basically around the objective versus subject aspects of the events that have occurred in Egypt since early 2011. 

As I have always argued, what happened with the ousting of Mubarak was only a battle in the ongoing struggle of the Egyptian people for substantial revolutionary change. If the latter is to happen, it depends on the strength of a revolutionary consciousness persisting in spite of the more superficial changes. This consciousness will depend to a great extent upon the prospects for the material improvement of the lives of ordinary Egyptians under the new regime. 

But therein lies the rub. The new regime is still wedded to the US Empire and neoliberal policies, and therefore they cannot improve the lives of ordinary Egyptians. Thus, in the years to come the Egyptian military will further oppress their populations. 

This, of course, is happening nearly everywhere in the world. The dynamics of neoliberal policies will bring ever greater concentrations of power and wealth in the face of diminishing resources and the social chaos created by disasters related climatic changes. Thus, the One Percents of the world will have to rely on their instruments of violence to sustain their system and rule.

Spanish workers expropriate food from supermarkets

Click here to access article by Carlos Delclós from Reflections on a Revolution. 

The author describes some extraordinary methods used by some Spanish people to deal with the ongoing assault on their lives by the austerity policies of their One Percent.  
...the action is a spectacular example of the type of civil disobedience people all over Spain are engaging in to resist the government’s simultaneous imposition of neoliberal austerity and their pardoning of financial criminals and kleptocratic elites. Citizens refusing to pay outrageous fees for public transportation and toll roads, doctors refusing to deny free health care to undocumented immigrants, and police refusing orders to assault protesters are just some examples of how, like the budget cuts, the Spanish regime’s crisis of legitimacy extends to all sectors of Spanish society. 

As mining conglomerates target Haiti, Latin America rises against them

Click here to access article by Roger Annis and Kim Ives from International Viewpoint. 
In Haiti, U.S. and Canadian gold mining companies are rubbing their hands over the riches that they believe await them. A recent study by Haiti Grassroots Watch estimates up to $20 billion, at gold’s current price of $1,600 an ounce, lies in the ground [1].
So it’s no coincidence that Washington has used its proxy, the Organization of American States (OAS), to illegally install a compliant regime – that of President Michel Martelly – whose operative watchword is: “Haiti is open for business.” Washington and Ottawa, which represent most of the international mining firms in the Americas, are adopting an increasingly interventionist response throughout the continent.
The article contains a lot of interesting revelations regarding recent political changes in Haiti engineered by Western elites to further the plundering of Haiti's valuable resources.