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, January 11, 2014

Saudi Arabia: A Retrograde Rentier Dictatorship and Global Terrorism

Click here to access article by James Petras from his website.

It is often said that one can judge a person by the friends they keep. Well, look at one of the US ruling class's closest friends in the Middle East. 
The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection. The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family. The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.

Al-Qaeda’s real origins exposed

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham for PressTV.

Although the author focuses mostly on the US collaboration with Saudi Arabian support of jihadi terrorists in recent years, he does make brief reference to their first application against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan which was mainly retaliation for their material support of the National Liberation Front of Vietnam and its struggle for independence from the US Empire.
The US has been working covertly with Saudi Arabia and British military intelligence for more than three decades to foster and fuel al-Qaeda extremists, beginning in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union from the late 1970s until 1990.
And, then there in considerable evidence of Saudi Arabian involvement in 9/11.

D19-20 ALLIANCE DAY OF ACTION: looking back as the smoke clears

Click here to access article from Corporate Europe Observatory.

The article reviews the protests in Brussels on December 19 and 20 against the meetings of the European Summit held at the same time. 
After the smoke clears and those involved look back, it's remarkable what has been achieved: not just the successful blockade, but groups who have never worked together before finding common ground, building new links, and showing those looking on – who were supportive but unable to join – that the D19-20 Alliance can deliver and is here to stay, which means more support and a stronger voice in the future. This is important to all European citizens, Brussels being the seat of European power, home to the European Parliament and Council, as well as the undemocratic, unelected Commission, which is one third of the Troika and responsible for imposing austerity-laced bailout packages on struggling European countries.  

Cracking Down on the Press: Turkish Media after Gezi [Part 12 of 20: Reflections on the Gezi Uprising]

Click here to access article by Beatrice White from Reflections on a Revolution. (Note: If you wish to see an outline of the entire series, click here.)

Control of information is the most powerful weapon of all that ruling classes use to control their citizens. This author reports on how this is being done in Turkey following the Gezi park protests of last year.
After the world’s attention moved on, the lack of international scrutiny gave the government the leeway it needed to mete out the sanctions and penalties it felt were warranted by the embarrassing show of civil disobedience and dissent.

The past few months have witnessed a backlash of remarkable scope, affecting all levels of society.
From this report we learn that the directors of the Turkish ruling class are frequently using a favorite method of their counterparts in the US, but applying it much more aggressively (only because the Turkish ruling class is much less secure than the US's): they are taking away jobs from journalists and others who express dissent in all forms of media including social media. Hence, underground alternative media that is financially supported by citizens must be established in this war of information and ideas in Turkey as well as in the US.

USDA set to eat the poison apple

Click here to access article by Will Bennington from Climate Connections. 
Genetically engineered apples may be the next novelty food item to hit markets, if Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits wins the praises of the USDA.
And, as made clear in the article, there is little doubt about the outcome.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fakethrough! GMOs and the Capitulation of Science Journalism

Click here to access article by Jonathan Latham from Independent Science News

"Fakethrough" as explained in the article is the fake reporting of a "breakthrough" which we have been seeing widely reported in mainstream media about some latest research in biotechnology. Clearly corporate dominance in journalism, as in all areas of our society, has corrupted the reporting of biotechnology news. 
The marketing of fakethroughs is an important component of a general manipulation of the science media. But interference with the media is in turn only a part of the barely understood but vast web of influence by which the biotech industry meticulously orchestrates the perception of itself (and its products).

What is new today, and which wasn’t the case thirty years ago, is that individual industrial sectors such as the life science industry are nowadays sufficiently profitable, monopolistic, and global that they can and do coordinate, to the mutual benefit of their larger members, the flow of information that spans three distinct but interconnected domains of thought: the public domain (TV, radio, print), the scientific domain (peer-reviewed publications), and the policy domain (government reports and bureaucratic discussions). 
See also this piece posted today entitled "Pharmaceutical firms accused of falsifying data in major Alzheimer’s study" which is on a related theme of corporate practices to deceive the public--although in this case it was not done via media journalists, but directly by corporations.

COINTELPRO is not dead—it's the FBI's second highest-ranked priority

Click here to access article from PrivacySOS (The site is produced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.)

This article shows how our masters in the ruling One Percent class have used the theme "national security" to also change (along with curtailments of civil liberties and promotion of all surveillance and militarized police agencies) the FBI into an agency to protect corporate controlled government from its citizens using the old COINTELPRO methods supposedly suspended back in the 1970s.

Bank of America employs 20 full-time social media spies, watches anarchists and occupy protesters

Click here to access article from PivacySOS

This piece, which has convincing supporting documentation, provides one more illustration (in our local area of Seattle) of the mostly covert nature of fascism that characterizes the US nation today. Fascism, if you didn't know already, is the convergence of powerful forces in modern societies: corporations, civilian government, and the government's enforcement agencies (police and military).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

US NGO Uncovered in Ukraine Protests

Click here to access article by William Engdahl from Boiling Frogs. (This extraordinary website has recently made more articles free to non-members; but for all us who cherish the vital work they do, we simply must support their work by becoming subscribers or simply donating to their work.)

This outstanding geopolitical analyst has uncovered evidence of Empire meddling in recent political affairs of Ukraine which the Empire has been vigorously trying to lure away from Russia influence and bring into the European Union, and thus into the Empire. 

US imperialism and Iraq’s descent into civil war

Click here to access article by Bill Van Auken from World Socialist Web Site. 
The confrontation, presented by the corporate media as a struggle against Al Qaeda terrorists, has deep roots in the sectarian divisions that were instigated by the US war and occupation as part of a deliberate divide-and-rule strategy. They succeeded in pitting Iraq’s majority Shi’ite population against the minority Sunnis, while the Kurdish minority in the north has been allowed to pursue regional autonomy, while conflicts over borders and rights to oil wealth threaten to erupt into civil war there as well.
For more information of the Empire's use of the "divide-and-rule strategy" see this, this, and this.
For their application of terror to destabilize Iraq see this.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

America’s Black-Ops Blackout: Unraveling the Secrets of the Military’s Secret Military

Click here to access article by Nick Turse from TomDispatch. (Note: if you wish to access the article directly, you might want to skip Engelhardt's introduction by scrolling down to the article.)

In this report you will learn about the wide-ranging activities of the Special Operation Command (SoCom). Two items are especially disturbing. They are engaged in propaganda activities abroad by setting up websites which, to me, suggests that they are likely doing the same here. The other is Turse's report on SoCom's efforts at embedding itself in a number of civilian institutions in our own society. Yes, folks, this report once again adds to the overwhelming evidence that the upgraded version of 21st century fascism is tightening its grip on the US while it tries to extend its influence over the entire world.
Today, Special Operations Command finds itself at a crossroads.  It is attempting to influence populations overseas, while at home trying to keep Americans in the dark about its activities; expanding its reach, impact, and influence, while working to remain deep in the shadows; conducting operations all over the globe, while professing only to be operating in “a number of locations”; claiming worldwide deployments have markedly dropped in the last year, when evidence suggests otherwise.

The Madoff Trustee Makes the Case; the Justice Department Collects the Money

Click here to access article by Pam Martens from Wall Street on Parade.

Thanks again to Martens whose reporting sheds much light on how the Wall Street/financial centers of the US Empire function. In this unusual Department of Justice case against JP Morgan, a global financial services firm whose executives are highly influential in all matters of the Empire, it was found that many large investors were duped by Madoff's pyramid scheme in collaboration with JP Morgan executives. People who facilitated this scheme ought to have gone to jail. Instead, JP Morgan pays a fine and the executives aren't even mentioned in the settlement. 

This case illustrates a lot about justice in the USA. Justice, like everything else in this capitalist country, is class based. It is only when other capitalists are threatened that the wheels of justice turn, but they turn carefully to avoid bringing any capitalists to justice.

Gezi Spirit: The Possibility of an Impossibility [Part 5 of 20: Reflections on the Gezi Uprising]

Click here to access article by David Selim Sayers from Reflections on a Revolution. (I can't seem to keep up with this series of articles on Turkish politics. See this introduction for the complete list of the series.)

The ferment in the Middle East as evidenced by the "Arab Spring" in general, the Egyptian uprising and counterrevolution by the military puppets of the Empire, the Saudi sponsorship of terrorist activity all across the Middle East and Eurasia, and the recent Iranian and US rapprochement, is far from over. It bear serious watching because it may develop into something which could radically change the geopolitics in the region and the world dramatically. This series of articles by very knowledgeable people focuses on the evolving political conditions in Turkey, a key player in the Middle East.
If this was the end of the Turkish Uprising, then what end did the Turkish Uprising actually serve? And why is it still an interesting phenomenon for us today? 

Saudi Arabia: The Ultimate Rogue State?

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Raging Bull-Shit
The Saudis’ increasing destabilization of the region is testament to just how desperate and isolated they’ve become. In many ways the country is still stuck in the middle ages, and the family that has reigned as an absolute monarchy for generations is determined that it will stay that way. However, there is a tide of change sweeping through the region and if history teaches us anything, it’s that governments that are unwilling to change will eventually be forgotten by time.
The author provides an excellent summary of evidence of this Medieval kingdom's role in supporting terrorist activities throughout the Middle East in an attempt to ward off threats to it antiquated rule.

I have been waiting for some kind of disciplinary response from the directors of the Empire to the recent insubordinate activities of this kingdom, and now I am wondering if their cozening up to Iran might just be their way of retaliating.

Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility: Only 1 of 9,136 Recent Peer-Reviewed Authors Rejects Global Warming

Click here to access article by James Lawrence Powell from DeSmogBlog.
The scientific literature since 1991 contains a mountain of evidence confirming man-made global warming as true and no convincing evidence that it is false. Global warming denial is a house of cards.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thailand: More Throw-Away Propaganda From NYT

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from his blog AltThaiNews.

The greater the possibility of a propaganda piece to be believed is enhanced when there are the fewest number of independent media people who can question or contradict such propaganda. Because remote or dangerous places such as Africa or, in this case, Thailand, which have few Western independent journalists who are well informed about events in such areas, mainstream major propaganda outlets such as the NY Times can likely get away with their lies, both of commission and omission. In this article Tony Cartalucci who lives in Bangkok, Thailand, exposes the lies in a NY Times editorial entitled "Democracy in Peril in Asia".
An unsigned "editorial" appearing in the New York Times titled, "Democracy in Peril in Asia," most likely written by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), reiterates the disingenuous narrative peddled by the West regarding "democracy" in Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Thailand.

A winter of discontent

Click here to access article from Socialist Worker. (Note: the "fight for 15" refers to the fight for $15/hr minimum wage laws in local jurisdictions.)
...the brewing discontent with what people endure today--in an era of space-age technology, amid ever-greater extremes of wealth--is forcing more and more people to question the dogmas and prejudices that justify the status quo. Socialists need to find every opportunity to give our answers to these questions, in a way that builds the capacity of our side to resist.
The article provides a summary of promising worker achievements and struggles across the US with some of the best right here in the Seattle area.

The 40-year disconnect (USA)

Click here if you wish to access this reproduced article from its source, by David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review

As Steven Rattner explains,

    Wage increases haven’t been paltry because the efficiency of the American worker has flagged; indeed, productivity has continued to chug along. But those productivity gains have simply not been passed on to workers. Between 2000 and 2012, productivity rose by 22 percent while wages increased by 7.7 percent. The divergence was particularly great over the last three years of that period – productivity up 4.6 percent and real wages down 1.1 percent. For this failure of the American worker to be rewarded for his growing output, blame a variety of factors, perhaps most important, globalization, which has allowed companies to move production to whatever part of the planet offers the lowest cost labor. In that respect, American workers remain in a race to the bottom.

Actually, it’s American employers who remain in a race to the bottom—and, during 2013, they continued to win.

Gezi: Losing the Fear, Living the Dream [Part 1 of 20]

Click here to access article by Rüzgar Akhat from Reflections on a Revolution.
Had I not experienced it myself, I would hardly believe that the apolitical people of Turkey, cowed by a history of coups d’étât, peer pressure and civil authoritarianism backed up by a vicious security apparatus would fill the streets of the country and resist for months after. We were there to protest the authoritarian front that found its voice in Erdoğan, and the intolerable assertiveness of a corrupt government. But the demonstrations spread so swiftly that I, along with many others, was puzzled and unable to grasp how and to what end things were happening.

Now, looking back, I have even more questions than I started out with. Of one thing I am certain: the resistance sparked by Gezi was a proud stance against neoliberal insolence....

Gezi and the Spirit of Revolt

Click here to access article by the collective at Reflections on a Revolution

This piece introduces what the writers refer to as a symposium. It is a collection of views from an additional twenty different authors all of whom are attempting to make sense of the surprising events that happened in Istanbul, Turkey during the Gezi protests last summer. 
Gezi: the name of a little-known and even less appreciated park in the heart of Istanbul’s booming Beyoğlu district. Generally known as a place to be avoided at night, when the small area adjacent to Taksim Square is taken over by drunks and drug addicts, who find shelter and security in the darkness provided by the shadows of the large trees. But this was before, before anyone could have even guessed that this obscure oasis, this last green refuge amid the encroaching concrete jungle, this biotope of fresh air courageously pumping out oxygen in a place where smog, toxic fumes and pollution are the norm, would be the rallying cry for thousands upon thousands of angry citizens from all walks of life.
This first piece is an introduction and overview of the twenty articles that are to follow in the near future.

Pennsylvania, other states confirm water pollution from natural gas drilling

Click here to access article by Associated Press republished online in Climate Connections.
In at least four states that have nurtured the nation’s energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen.

Australia’s hottest year was no freak event: humans caused it

Click here to access article by Sophie Lewis and David Karoly from The Conversation (Australia).
What caused these extreme temperatures? Climate scientists have a problem: because climate deals with averages and trends, we can’t attribute specific records to a particular cause.

But our research has made significant headway in identifying the causes of climate events, by calculating how much various factors increase the risk of extreme climate events occurring. And we have found sobering results.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Activists accuse World Bank of deadly dealings in Honduras

Click here to access article by Kate Woodsome from GlobalPost

I get reports almost daily from independent journalists and human rights workers about raping, murdering, and pillaging by police, military, and paramilitary forces in Honduras and Guatamala to support the interests of US and Canadian corporations. I rarely see news of this reported in US media, and when it is, it is framed very carefully using words like "alleged" and "activists accuse" as we see in this headline. Nevertheless, this report is much better at providing some factual content which exposes the neoliberal role of the World Bank in service to North American corporations at the expense of Honduran farmers.

Why do I hate America?

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

Having been a life-long critic (during my adult years) of US political and economic policies and actions, I can really identify with this piece. The conformance to the views of authority figures by many ordinary Americans and the frequent intolerance of dissent that critics experience suggests that many Americans have adopted the prescriptions and views of ruling class authorities like a fundamentalist religion. The fact that there are so many people like this is another result of having grown up in American culture where obedience and deference to authority figures and the neglect of critical thinking are so pronounced.  

Of course, this is not an accident. Our ruling masters in the One Percent have learned over many decades how to get people to buy their views and values just like they get people to buy their shoddy products--even when it is against people's own interests--without having to resort to authoritarian threats and harsh methods that dictators use. 

Hence, our masters have employed all their institutions of indoctrination--schools, news media, even entertainment--in this effort; and, at the same time, found it useful to frighten people: the Russian's are coming, the "commies" are going to control your minds with their propaganda, it's them terrorists who's gonna get you, or it's criminals and drug addicts that are coming to steal what you have, and the sex perverts are going to attack your children. There are many of these people in your neighborhood, so you probably should not even trust your neighbors--but you can trust our authoritative pundits and personalities who tell you the truth between commercials on TV. Thou shalt not question what they tell you--or else you are un-American, and people will ask you, "why do you hate America?"

Glaxo: the new modern face of big pharma?

Click here to access article by Tom Jefferson from The Conversation.

The author tells us how recent scandals perpetrated by large pharmaceutical corporations have caused them to modify some of their more egregious strategies to enhance profits: bribing your family physician and recognized medical authorities to push their drugs. So, have they reformed themselves with their new policies? Or, are they merely covering their asses and figuring out new, more subtle ways to enhance their financial statements. The author invites you to be skeptical.

Some of the more politically aware readers of this article might very well see these Big Pharma practices very similar to the methods used by the ruling capitalist class in general. I am referring to the bribes used to influence members of Congress referred to in polite terms as "lobbying". 

However, directors of the ruling class use many other means to establish and influence KOLs (key opinion leaders) in all institutions of society. They start with the youngsters in school with their indoctrination in the virtues of capitalism, then they pave the way for promising and compliant people with numerous perks--scholarships, foundation money for their projects, lucrative job assignments and promotions, insider stock information, stock options, etc. Once their well trained subject assume roles of "key opinion leaders", the ruling class is rewarded by their services in spreading the gospel of neo-capitalism (aka neoliberalism) and neo-imperialism ("defending American values and way of life" and for "humanitarian" purposes).

Revolution on Ice

Click here to access article by Elliott Colla from Jadaliyya

Colla thoughtfully examines one Egyptian author's recently released novel in an attempt to unravel the mystery presented by many Egyptian intellectuals who have supported the Egyptian military establishment's recent ruthless crushing of the Muslim Brotherhood and their ongoing suppression of dissent and protest in Egypt. Referring to the novel, Colla writes:
...it allows us to begin to recognize the author's deep skepticism toward the revolutionaries' proposition that another world is possible. Al-Jalid [the name of the novel] elaborates a form of Left pessimism, a Marxist, anti-imperialist critique of injustice and oppression, but without the utopian promise of justice or emancipation. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Finding the roots of addiction in the instability of ‘free markets’

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder.
Solutions to addiction based on correcting individual behavior are hopeless without analyzing the role of dislocation in capitalist society, argues Bruce K. Alexander in his paper The Roots of Addiction in a Free Market Society.
This blogger introduces this thesis published in a longer PDF document authored by Bruce Alexander who is a Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University located in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Alexander's paper presents a radical thesis regarding addiction which enlarges the concept to apply to other forms other than the conventional forms such as alcohol and drugs.
The English word “addiction” came to be narrowly applied to excessive drug use in the 20th century, but was generally applied to non-drug habits during many previous centuries. There is ample clinical evidence that severe addictions to non-drug habits are every bit as dangerous and resistant to treatment as drug addiction.
More importantly, his concept relegates the latter to symptoms instead of causes. He identifies the primary cause as "dislocation". By reading only this article, it was not clear to me what Alexander meant by this term. This article seems to suggest only a physical dislocation. But by reading sections of the longer PDF report by Alexander, it is clear to me that he means any significant dislocation or separation from a society's web of supports and social relationships.  Here are some excerpts that point to this meaning:
It [dislocation] can arise from a natural disaster that destroys a person’s home or from a debilitating accident that bars the person from full participation in society. It can be inflicted by violence, e.g., by driving masses of people from their territory, or by abusing an individual child who thereafter shrinks from all human contact. It can be inflicted without violence, e.g., as when a parent instills an unrealistic sense of superiority that makes a child insufferable to others. It can be voluntarily chosen, e.g., in the single-minded pursuit of wealth in a “gold rush,” or in jumping at a “window of opportunity.” Finally, dislocation can be universal if a society systematically curtails psychosocial integration in all its members. Universal dislocation is endemic in free market society.
.... Because western society is now based on free market principles that mass-produce dislocation, and because dislocation is the precursor of addiction, addiction to a wide variety of pursuits is not the pathological state of a few but, to a greater or lesser degree, the general condition in western society. Because western free market society provides the model for globalization, mass addiction is being globalized, along with the English language, the Internet, and Mickey Mouse.
The concept also suggests alienation which has been written about throughout history, but in the  era under capitalism, such names as Marx, Émile Durkheim, and Erich Fromm are some of the most prominent authors who have linked capitalism with alienation. Alexander builds on this edifice to link "dislocation" or alienation to behaviors characterized as addiction, and even more specifically to drug addiction. The fact that most other Western intellectuals have not, shows the widespread enforcement of capitalist values among capitalist ideologs in defense of their system.

There Is No "Power Vacuum" In The Middle East

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama. 

This blogger exposes the latest piece from the Empire's main newspaper as just another piece of Empire propaganda.
Vacuum is the absence of matter.

But according to the New York Times the only "matter" that counts is the U.S. military.

1st newsletter of Troika Watch

Click here to access article from Troika Watch.
The current situation is characterized by a Troika that still pushes for even more austerity and by governments that are doing window-dressing by claiming to see a positive development for the times ahead, which will never become reality if the current policy is continued. Neither in the Troika nor in the national governments, talks are about what should really be on stage: a significant debt relief in many countries – not only for the public, but also the private sector -, a restoration of public services and significant investment for facing some of the great challenges of our time, such as climate change and energy shortage.

By publishing this newsletter with reports from the countries affected by the Troika, we hope to be part of a growing movement that one day will be able to change this. 

The Not-So-Tangled Web of Tear Gas Manufacturers

Click here to access article by Jay Cassano from Jadaliyya

The weapon of choice for most ruling classes to control and oppress their citizens is their use of tear and CS gas. Profit-making corporations will tend to produce whatever brings in their profits and will sell to anybody willing to buy these products. This piece provides some information on the profit-making corporations that supply these regimes. 

To supplement this piece, I recommend that you see the graph at this link (in place of the one in the article) regarding the connections between the corporations and their national regime customers, and this link from Wikipedia showing the five major corporate suppliers.

'Chance of a Century' International Investors Flock to

Click here to access article by Susanne Koelbl from Spiegel Online.

This author provides a current view of political and economic conditions in Iran while relying mostly on her contact with a German businessman who grew up there. Of course, such views have to keep in mind the values and outlook of not only this businessman, but those of a major capitalist media source from Germany. 

Could it be that the lack of capitalist opportunities since the removal of the Shah, the Empire's puppet, in their revolution of 1979 was really the root cause behind the Empire's hostility toward Iran, as well as the current rapprochement due to the current regime's change of policies?