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

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The End Of Democracy As We Knew It

Click here to access article by Bernd Hamm from Information Clearing House.

Bio on Bernd Hamm:
Bernd Hamm, born 1945 in Germany, Professor of Sociology, Jean Monnet Professor of European Studies, and UNESCO Chair in Europe in a Global Perspective at the University of Trier, Germany. 
Bernd Hamm is a professor emeritus of sociology, living in Berlin, Germany.
This lengthy article packs a lot about what I refer to as the "Empire", or the US-led Empire. You might consider it a condensed version of many articles I have posted on this website for nearly five years. Hamm offers a rich, concentrated tour of the Empire, its hidden features, its operations, leadership figures and organizations, and the use of fear campaigns to induce compliant citizens. 

The title he gives this piece and the substance of the article suggests to me that his political orientation is likely that of a social democrat: someone who favors strong social supports for the working class and civil liberties within a capitalist system with some vague notion of reforming it to socialism. He refers to such regimes as "democracy as we knew it". In other words, a kinder, gentler form of capitalism that existed in the immediate post-war years in Europe. Of course, this type of government was no accident. 

After the devastation of the inter-capitalist war of WWII there were large numbers of radicalized people and militant unions in Europe. Thus, the ruling capitalist classes were forced to offer this type of government to gain time to consolidate their control. I think Hamm is appalled at what I regard as the ultimate natural development of capitalism: the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a very rich few, a plutocracy.

Disaster communism part 1 - disaster communities

Click here to access article by "Out of the Woods" from Libcom.
In part one of this three-part article, we look at the concept of disaster communism as it relates to the communities of solidarity and mutual aid typically formed in disaster situations.
This series appears to be very timely given the fact that we humans face a future filled with disasters due to the accelerating destabilization of the climate. 

Ruling classes have successfully dominated societies since the advent of civilization. The current capitalist class in their limitless hubris, or maybe a hardcore addiction to power and profits, thinks it can control nature, that they can come up with a technological fix that will allow them to continue to exploit nature on our finite planet. Whereas we humans seem too willing to submit to domination and exploitation by our fellow humans, nature will not tolerate abuse and will always rid itself of creatures who violate, or cannot adapt to, her laws.

Corporate Oligarchy or People’s Democracy: Countering the Elite Agenda [An updated interpretation]

Click here to access article by Ajamu Baraka from Common Dreams. [My original commentary on May 1st is here.] 

I just read this article again and had a slightly different reaction. I think that Baraka is not advocating simply more efforts at reforming the fake democratic structure of capitalist society, but sees the necessity to ward off efforts at further curtailment of civil liberties in order to provide space for serious revolutionary action. Because his emphasis in this article was overwhelmingly on the first part, I didn't see the second part. However, I believe it is strongly implicit.

Such a misreading the first time around is due to the fact that I read dozens of articles everyday and sometimes read them too fast and miss nuances of meaning. I think my reaction came from a concern that far too much time and energy is consumed by progressive activists in reform activities and not enough on building a revolutionary movement. In other words, far too much time is spent on defense instead of offense.

Christian Boy Dies For 3 Minutes, Meets Allah in Heaven

Click here to access article from The Daily Currant. (humor and satire)

Friday, May 9, 2014

This Land Isn’t Your Land, This Land Is Their Land

Click here to access article by Peter Van Buren from TomDispatch. (Note: Should you wish to skip Engelhardt's introduction, you will need to scroll down to the article.)

Van Buren takes us on a tour of many parts of the US, and in doing so he sheds much light for those of us over the age of 40 on the dramatic changes that have appeared across this land in the last three or four decades, changes which parallel the much more devastating changes our masters in the One Percent have wrought across Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine. Outside of the enclaves of One Percent neighborhoods, the only areas resembling America 30 years ago are odd little immigrant places like Spanish Harlem and military bases. However, military base communities are heavily subsidized, rather artificial places that come with authoritarian rule. Welcome to neoliberal America!
I grew up in the Midwest at a time when the country still prided itself on having something of a conscience, when it was a place still built on hope and a widespread belief that a better future was anybody’s potential birthright. Inequity was always there, and there were always rich people and poor people, but not in the ratios we see now in America. What I found in my travels was place after place being hollowed out as wealth went elsewhere and people came to realize that, odds on, life was likely to get worse, not better. For most people, what passed for hope for the future meant clinging to the same flat-lined life they now had.

Remorseful Jurors Plea to Judge: No Prison Time For OWS Activist

Click here to access article by Sarah Lazare from Common Dreams.

It seems to me that the hidden hand of class rule is now coming out from under the blanket of indoctrination which has always portrayed our society as a "democracy", ruled by impartial law, in a system of justice informed by the civil liberties enunciated in the US Constitution. The judicial case as reported in two articles (this and the previous one) on this website provides a perfect illustration of this new reality. 

This development is probably good for many Americans, mostly white and middle class, who naively believed everything taught to them in schools, by media talking heads, and other authority figures in their lives. Such people have been living in a "democratic" fantasy-land full of sugar plum fairies dancing to the tune of civil liberties, an abundance of superfluous consumer goods, carefully managed elections, and other childish delights.

Of course, the development is shocking, but also a wake-up call that, hopefully, heralds a new consciousness about the world we live in--painful, yes--but, a consciousness that could lead to all kinds of constructive actions.

Obama Directive Makes Mere Citing of Snowden Leaks Punishable Offense

Click here to access article by Jon Queally from Common Dreams.

In a new policy directive from the Obama administrative, national security and other government officials will no longer be allowed to publicly discuss or even reference news reporting that is based on "unauthorized leaks."

The fourth monkey blogger should also worry because our ruling class masters are starting down the slippery slope of website discrimination based on speed of access, and allowing corporations to buy faster access times. Eventually it will take a long time to access sites like this blog and Common Dreams.

Wealth, celebrity and decadence in Obama’s Washington: White House Correspondents Association gala

Click here to access article by Patrick Martin from World Socialist Web Site.

It appears that corporate sponsored journalism and a few co-opted independent journalists have become thoroughly embedded in the ruling class, and are well rewarded--it pays to serve power.
Those participating in the correspondents’ gala have long ago abandoned any sense that an independent press—once dubbed the “Fourth Estate” to distinguish it from the official government structure—should maintain a certain distance from the political establishment in order to report on it objectively and critically.
This was not a once-a-year encounter between the press, the corporate oligarchy and the political rulers, but another in the daily encounters in which they work together, make money together, and, in many cases, sleep together. They share the same political assumptions and personal ambitions.

Industrial Agriculture: Too Big to Succeed

Click here to access article by Paul Weinberg from Inter Press Service.
...experimentation in agricultural practices is less likely to happen in North America where farming operations, because of their size, are tied up in loans and big contracts to corporations in agribusiness and their unsustainable practices, says food security specialist Danielle Nierenberg, president of the Chicago based Food Tank, a food security think tank.
But small farmers, especially in developing countries, are better able through necessity to innovate and so, “we have a lot to learn from them,” she told IPS.
Many farmers have been encouraged to practice more industrial methods and they are finding in the face of drought and extreme flooding that going back to more traditional and indigenous practices they are able to better combat climate change, says Nierenberg.
I think the author exhibits naïve optimism by failing to understand that the Empire and other capitalist countries are vigorously promoting industrial agriculture, and this powerful force is creating dramatic climate destabilization in which small farmers, like the rest of us, will no longer be able to cope. Therefore, we must rid the planet of the scourge of capitalism if we humans hope to survive.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Climate change is evidence of the death-wish of capitalism

Click here to access article by Renfrey Clarke from Green Left Weekly.

Unless you have been living in the information cocoon created by right-wing mainstream media, I think you can omit reading the first part of this essay. What is new and valuable in this piece is Clarke's excellent examination of the deep contradictions between solving the climate crisis and the logic of capitalism. Thus, I advise skipping down to the subsection "The Compulsions of Capitalism".
Capitalist firms have no choice but to try to maximise profits and growth rather than address social needs. If they fail to concentrate on these private priorities, they are soon outcompeted and ruined. In strictly private terms, carbon polluting can make for a killer bottom line. But this privately rational choice will, in time, be collectively catastrophic.

The Kiev Putsch: Rebel Workers Take Power in the East

Click here to access article by Dr James Petras from Boiling Frogs Post.

The retired sociology professor provides an excellent summary of events in Ukraine, a geopolitical analysis of these events, and the near future consequences likely to appear in that country. 
Washington’s strategic objective is to isolate Russia from without, undermine its military capability and erode its economy, in order to strengthen NATO’s political and economic collaborators inside Russia – leading to its further fragmentation and return to the semi-vassal status.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Is This One of the Men Pushing Obama Toward War With Russia?

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from his blog Raging Bull-Shit.

Quijones' rhetorical question regarding Brzezinski suggests a very important fact about US governance. People who occupy official offices in the government are rarely ones who actually have much influence over government decisions. (One exception as president was G. H. W. Bush) However, Quijones still gives far too much agency to Obama who, like most presidents, has been more accurately described as a "sock puppet for the ruling elite".

I've often referred to the power structure of the US ruling class as a kind of onion because there are many layers of influence. From my perspective, Brzezinski is located at the second layer from the center. He is a product of the Rockefeller clan who adopted him in his youth to wage the Cold War with Russia. His hatred for the Russians is no doubt rooted in his family background as members of the Polish aristocracy who were often suppressed and harassed by the Russians. (Notice he refers briefly to historical Polish-Russian relations in the video at the end of the article.)

Incidentally, there are political factions within the ruling class' directorate. Kurt Nimmo reported on the two most prominent--neoliberals and neoconservatives in his article "Obama, Brzezinski, and the Neolib-Neocon Family Feud". For another insightful report on the major players in the US ruling class since WWII, I highly recommend this article entitled "Demonic David Rockefeller Fiends Dulles Kissinger Brzezinski". 

I don't think that Brzezinski is really pushing war with Russia--I don't think he is that crazy despite his long obsessive hatred of Russia. I think he explains what he wants in a recent article directed to Americans posted in Politico: a well equipped and financed NATO-inclined Kiev government that will engage Russia in a costly local war.

The posted video in this article should be understood, which Brzezinski made clear, as an address directed to the Ukrainian people. As such, it is a pure piece of propaganda loaded with all kinds of deceptive language to inspire Ukrainians to fight Russians.

'Screwed?' US Climate Report says Era of 'Normal' Over

Click here to access article by Lauren McCauley from Common Dreams.
"We're screwed. Right now. And it could get much worse."
That was how 350.org co-founder Jamie Henn responded to Tuesday's release of the federal government's National Climate Assessment, the national scientific community's definitive statement on the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
While there are some indications that officials of our capitalist government are beginning to recognize the devastating impacts of continued fossil fuel usage, their policies cannot solve this problem within the system of capitalism. Thus, their efforts are directed at managing the perceptions of Americans regarding climate destabilization. 
Obama on Tuesday has scheduled interviews with a number of meteorologists from major network stations in an effort to promote the report and stem "the strong current of climate skepticism among weather forecasters," the Guardian reports.
According to a 2012 Pew report, 62% of Americans trust television weather reporters on climate change far more than they do climate scientists. And another survey in 2010 by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communications found that only 19% of TV weather forecasters accepted that human activity was the main driver of climate change.

Humanity's Destruction of Earth's Climate in Ninety Seconds

Click here to access article by Jon Queally from Common Dreams.

This morning I heard part of Fed Chairperson Janet Yellen's testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in which she stated the following:

Although real GDP growth is currently estimated to have paused in the first quarter of this year, I see that pause as mostly reflecting transitory factors, including the effects of the unusually cold and snowy winter weather. With the harsh winter behind us, many recent indicators suggest that a rebound in spending and production is already under way, putting the overall economy on track for solid growth in the current quarter. [my emphasis]
I believe this quote indicates that the ruling class's Federal Reserve, which has so much power over the economy, still has no idea that their economic system is having a major and destructive impact on our biosphere. They continue to have their heads stuck firmly in the sand. This is a typical symptom of an addict: prolonged and irrational denial of reality in order to continue practicing a drug habit. 

This posting, and in particular, the dramatic graphic that it contains (reproduced below) in addition to many years of warnings by scientists will not alter their delusions or their behavior in the slightest. Hence, it is up to us to take charge of this society and world by any means possible--our survival is at stake.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Christoph Germann Explains China’s War on Terror

Click here to access 26:22m audo interview with Germann on The Corbett Report.

Guess what? US agents appear to be stirring up terrorism in the western province of China (Xiajiang). Germann provides a comprehensive report on these incidents.

Washington, Ukrainian puppet regime prepare new fascist slaughter in Odessa

Click here to access article by Alex Lantier from World Socialist Web Site.
Reports are already emerging that inside the city there is widespread fear of far-right, anti-Semitic violence breaking out in the coming days. The National Guard began street patrols yesterday, amid mounting popular outrage over the Friday massacre. 
.... Everything points to the preparation by the Kiev regime and its US and European backers of another fascist atrocity to try to terrorize the city into submission. Given that forces like Right Sector openly glorify Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust, there is deep concern, in particular in Odessa’s 30,000-strong Jewish community, one of the largest in Ukraine. 

Is Thomas Piketty Right About the Causes of Inequality?

Click here if you wish to access the original post (with transcript) from Real News featuring an interview with economist Michael Hudson in which he discusses a popular French economist's book entitled Capital in the Twenty-First Century that is widely circulating among our masters in the One Percent. 
[Interviewer]: So, Michael, this week we're going to be talking about the very popular book by French economist Thomas Piketty. It's a 700-page book that takes on the topic of income inequality. Why do you think so many people are talking about this book? What's in it that has people buzzing?

You might also be interested in Howard Kunstler's take on this book posted on World News Trust in which he writes:
Energy and technology are not substitutable with each other. If you run out of the former, you can’t replace it with the latter (and by “run out” I mean get it at a return of energy investment that makes sense). The techno-narcissist Jeremy Rifkins and Ray Kurzweils among us propound magical something-for-nothing workarounds for our predicament, but they are just blowing smoke up the collective fundament of a credulous ruling plutocracy. 
In fact, we’re faced with an unprecedented contraction of wealth, and a shocking loss of ability to produce new wealth. That‘s the real “game-changer,” not the delusions about shale oil and the robotic “industrial renaissance” and all the related fantasies circulating among a leadership that checked its brains at the Microsoft window.
However, Kunstler's vision of the future is unimaginative and uninspiring--humanity can do better.

Cecily McMillan's guilty verdict reveals our mass acceptance of police violence

Click here to access article by Molly Knefel from The Guardian.

To Knefel it appears that the harsh sentences imposed on Occupy protesters is due to a combination of the public's tolerance of police brutality combined with carefully managed courtroom procedures. I wonder if officials constructed the jury selection process in order to select more conservative citizens.

April 2014 sees atmospheric CO2 at over 400 ppmv

Click here to access article by Soumya Dutta from Climate Connections.
For the first time since ‘modern humans’ originated on planet earth, the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached and stayed at or over 400 ppmv (parts per million by volume), or 0.04% for over a month.  The modern humans (Homo Sapien Sapiens) are said to have originated around 60,000 years ago, and in that short span of time – about four seconds, if we take the earth’s age of 457 billion years as one year – we have managed this remarkable (negative) feat.
Looking at the graph in the article, the trend appears to increase generally through the month of April. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

NATO’s new Cold War runs into trouble in Germany

Click here to access article by Christoph Germann from Boiling Frogs Post.

Germann begins his excellent geopolitical analysis of the Ukraine crisis by introducing us to the propaganda technology used in the past to promote wars, specifically the recent wars promoted in the Middle East by the Empire, and especially now in Ukraine. 
This begs the question of what this is all about. Why is Washington determined to take on Russia? 
After his analysis in which he attempts to answer this question, he provides what I regard as very encouraging news about a huge, growing gap, supported by documented evidence, between the propaganda put forth by the European ruling capitalist classes regarding events in Ukraine and the views of the general population, with particular emphasis on ordinary Germans.

(By the way, there are many other excellent postings on this website that lie behind a subscription wall. I strongly encourage people to support them, and thereby being able to access all of their material. If we hope to ever seriously confront and defeat capitalist rule, then we simply must support sites like this.)

Another NYT ‘Sort of’ Retraction on Ukraine

Click here to access article by Robert Parry from Consortium News.

Independent observers (see also articles at Washington's Blog, here and here) are beginning to report the obvious deceptions put out by the ruling class's media, however their voices are little heard in the US where most citizens still believe what they read and hear via mainstream media. It boggles my mind to witness so much gullibility.

In this piece Parry continues to expose the lies and omissions (Read also his article of a few days ago.) that proliferate in mainstream media such as the... 
...on-the-ground reality of legitimate and understandable concerns among the eastern Ukrainians [that have] been missing from the U.S. propaganda barrage, which has overwhelmed the mainstream press as thoroughly as a similar P.R. campaign did during the run-up to the Iraq War, if not more so. Official Washington’s “group think” now is all about blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Ukraine crisis.  

A US & Filipino Front Vs. China

Click here to access article by Ulson Gunnar from New Eastern Outlook.
The reversal of longstanding policy preventing the US from using Filipino territory for military bases signifies and escalation in tensions between the United States and China, as well as exposes the true nature of the US “pivot” toward Asia. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

CIA’s Trojan Horse enters the Heart of India

Click here to access article by Shelley Kasli from his website Great Game India. (Shelley Kasli is a geopolitical researcher for international English quarterly Inner Voice of Bharath, who writes articles specific to the Indian subcontinent in the global scenario.)

We have all heard and read about the use of philanthropic foundations (NGOs) to hide the nefarious schemes of the Empire and its secret agents to promote their agenda of world domination. In this article Kasli gives us a lot of background on this development with a special focus on how the Empire's Trojan horses have in the past, and continue, to function in India.

Kiev Murders Civilians with Orwellian Western Collusion

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham from Strategic Culture Foundation.
Washington, which has invested $5 billion over the past 20 years in implementing regime change in Ukraine, seems to have yanked the strings tighter on its puppets in Kiev, demanding a much stiffer military response to crush the anti-Kiev protests it the east and south. The apparent integration of regular Ukrainian military with CIA-backed neo-Nazi paramilitaries and covert American mercenaries is consistent with this renewed Washington-led regime change effort. The greater covert intervention by Washington in Ukraine is also consistent with the unprecedented build-up of NATO forces in the region. The latter has to be seen as a concerted campaign of state-sponsored intimidation, just as shooting civilians on the street is.

Beware of Dangerous Articles by Rob Kall of OpEdNews

Click here to access article by John Spritzler from NewDemocracyWorld.

I'm not sure that Rob Kall is any more dangerous than all the other political liberals that exist in abundance in the US. He serves as another propagandist for the notion that there is a kinder, gentler capitalism and hopes to contain serious inspection of capitalist rule by giving an internet platform for many liberals to blow of some critical steam. Spritzler really takes apart the idea that there is a kinder, gentler capitalism with his devastating critique of America's favorite historical liberal, Franklin Roosevelt.

Capitalists of all stripes have a deep vein of authoritarianism that runs through their political souls, and I noticed that this was embedded in Kall's soul several years ago when I tried unsuccessfully for five or six months to get off his email subscription list. I finally started complaining directly to the authors he was featuring and got success.