Friday, July 22, 2011
Corporatism or Survival on Earth?
July 22, 2011 | Countercurrents | OpEdNews | Axis of Logic
Globalized commerce and finance have taken over the planet and the majority of nations are above all anxious to keep up the pace with the rest of the frightened sycophants to the Empire, anxious not to fall behind when and where the big profits are being raked in off the roulette tables. Mesdames, messieurs, faites vos jeux! Tomorrow we’ll be dead. But today, let us not be left out of the big game!
The vicious and self-destructive cult that we call Corporatism has so completely taken over the running of the world that the entire financial systems of nations have been derailed. Nations, poor or rich, are no longer allowed to govern their own people, to follow their own paths in terms of economic policies – taxation, education and welfare spending being the most critical in any national budget, for the general good of the people.
Keeping up the appearance of firmness, limiting social spending, standing strong and judgmental against an increasing number of immigrants (Untermenschen – they will just increase the burden on our already overtaxed welfare budget – so say the politicians), all these carefully staged and highly visible stands are ones that please the Corpocrats.
A gradual depletion of budgets for education and for social spending in general is taking place at a fast speed, while military and national security budgets have increased by over 100% in the United States since the tragic event of 9/11 – that fabulous windfall for the arms and security industries. Europe, as far as military spending goes, is following in the path of the Master.
Naturally all this is cause for great self-congratulation by the corporate bosses. The governments, however, at the very same time complain about a severe lack of money (economic crisis, hold on, we’re gong to sink!) for the real needs of the people. The staggering amount of wealth that is being amassed by the top 1% of the world’s population must be seen in the light of increasing unemployment (the jobless recovery – ha!) and austerity budgets that deprive even the middle class and, above all, the poor from living a decent life. The fairytale of golden opportunities and a good education for all, that the U.S. so proudly has been boasting about ever since its creation, is now gone. The age-old legend of living in the ‘only’ country on earth where the son of a poor farmer can become the President of the nation, where everybody has a fair chance of getting ahead, of doing better than their parents – what a dying dream! On this account, the propaganda machine has ground to a halt.
Immigration and Migrations
The invasions by the hordes of Genghis Khan, the Mongols who came killing and plundering from the central steppes of inner and eastern Asia in the 13th century, seems to be a monumental show that is now taking place again – and in an even more vicious version. What brought about those former violent and successful invasions will remain a mystery forever, but hunger for power must certainly have been a major motor. As usual though, the need for fertile land and space must also have been a contributing factor (Lebensraum, it was known as by the Nazis). The Mongol Empire became, geographically, the largest empire that has ever existed in the history of the world. Is the United States aiming at repeating history, and outdoing it?
Arabic Media tells us:
“Hundreds of thousands of people were put to the sword while al-Musta’sim Billah, the last Abbasid caliph1, was murdered, trampled to death under foot. The Mongol (Tartar) left the countryside the way they left many other countrysides, totally ruined. While in Baghdad, Hulagu2 deliberately destroyed what remained of Iraq's canal headworks. The material and artistic production of centuries was swept away.”
Sound familiar? Only this time there is, in addition to the hunger for power, also the destruction of the environment that is being brought about by the greed-driven Corpocrats.
Migrations have been one of the most powerful and recurrent phenomena in the history of mankind. Because of climatic changes, land has become infertile and entire tribes or peoples have been forced to move to new lands. Drought has probably been the most common factor. Even migrations from one continent to another have been taking place and now we are aghast at the fairly limited migrations occurring in the Western world. The planet has been cut up into nation states with more or less artificial borders and migrations have become a political problem.
Industrialism is Born
In the 19th century industrialism was making its first appearance. Mining got underway on a massive scale, the steam engine was made into a useful tool for greedy industrialists, railroads were built, electricity was invented, the automobile industry was born, mass production could begin and conveyor belt construction got started. People became slaves to the bosses of factories, and land owners developed the system of slavery and indented farmers, who were also often white people. Exterminating and chasing off native Americans from fertile lands went alongside the buying and cruel exploitation of African slaves. Ruthless racism was fertile in the Unites States of America from the very birth of the nation.
The 20th century saw the increased development of industrialism to levels never formerly imagined, even though workers’ organizations also came into being. Socialism lived a short life however and the Corpocrats made sure the trend started going in the opposite direction. In the 21st century industrialism has developed into Corporatism where there is no room whatever for people’s mass movements.
Big Business is cleverly giving the people some breathing room however, mainly consisting of artificial needs for entertainment and luxury. A people anesthetized by propaganda and comfortable living are far less likely to undertake militant and risky rebellions. We must be persuaded to believe that it is oxygen we are breathing, even though it’s actually polluted and often radioactive poison. We the people are being kept artificially alive while the bosses are thumbing their noses at our real needs.
Seeing the true workings of the corporation-driven world today has become a superfluous luxury. People are being deliberately perverted by entertainment and consumerism, maximizing pleasure and inventing ghastly idols and living styles. Those models are so far from natural living that it boggles the mind how anybody can actually be caught up by the false so-called values that Big Money openly or surreptitiously forces upon deluded citizens. Propaganda and advertising are deliberately creating pathological needs for entertainment and excessive consumption that are in the end going to ruin the environment along with people’s health and psychologically sound living.
The New Empire
A new Empire is born and the lust for conquering, ravaging and massacring is just as brutal, just as barbaric as any Tartar conquest in history ever was.
The New World Order under neoliberal rule is seeing to it that the already poor regions in the world are even further impoverished through the vicious treatment of their economies, using the weapons of the IMF and the World Bank. They are being forced to produce for export agricultural and other products that are not natural to their culture and to their soil. By so doing, they have to import rather than produce themselves the goods they need for their healthy survival. Age-old subsistence farming is being made away with through cruel pre-conditions when what these countries are in need of is honest economic help. A Western way of life is forced upon these victims of Neoliberalism.
Corporations such as Monsanto are contributing to the impoverishment of the soil in these regions by selling their toxic pesticides and fertilizers and by the use of their genetically engineered seeds, products that are more or less forced upon innocent farmers through the cozy relationship between the governments and the bio-tech companies. By this means, countries are made totally dependent on and increasingly dominated by the West and the Corporate Empire. The ‘help’ they are getting is truly a cup of hemlock served to each person in the land. Except, of course, to the corrupt leaders who personally profit from bending to the demands of the Empire.
Immigration is the Forced Outcome of Western Exploitation
What is the unavoidable effect of these policies in the third world countries? Well, immigration of course. There is always the firm belief that the grass is greener on the other side of the Mediterranean – or the border, in the case of Mexico. Farmers in the poor countries first fled by the millions to the outskirts of the big cities, this migration being brought about by the collapse of the subsistence farming culture and the lure of work in the big cities. Factories were mushrooming in the third world, exploiting the cheap labor offered by these defenseless refugees from a provincial life in ever increasing poverty, victims of malnutrition and deadly diseases. What came next? Well, of course even cheaper labor was found in countries with even more desperately poor workers or unemployed masses.
There were the migrations which created the slums surrounding the big cities such as Mexico City, Jakarta, Mumbai, Manila, San Paolo, Lagos – and the list goes on. It was then at first the flight from the countryside because of poverty resulting from the increasing difficulties of subsistence farming, mainly due to the manipulations by the Western governments hand in glove with the Big Corporations. And all the while the Western governments were with superb hypocrisy preaching the messianic gospel of the ‘Free Market’, a myth which meant that the rich were free to rob the poor.3 Can you wonder why those poor people then tried desperately to get to the rich countries where they are not even wanted any more? Once they were the source of the wealth of those same countries. They were welcomed because they provided cheap labor, while at the same time they were treated as dirt. Without this cheap labor the wealth that you see in the Western world today would not have been possible. But now we are showing them the door.
What changed the game? Well, it is very simple. They are not needed any more. Work is now being outsourced to countries on the other side of the globe and immigrants are seen as a liability and not a source of income. That at least is the way lawmakers and rulers look at the situation. Immigration has become a major problem and racism is back with a vengeance.
Social Cutbacks and the Ubiquitous Military
Now that the Corpocrats have managed to get the money sealed off from the masses and handily amassed by the trillions in the upper 1% of the population of the world, they feel free to go on with their game of conquest. Getting rid of the poor is their first goal. This is done by cutting back on social spending. No more ‘gifts’ to the working classes – no good schools, no child care, no unemployment benefits, no health care. Let the poor people die of AIDS of man-made epidemics, of malnutrition. All the money that does not go to the luxuries of the super rich goes to the military and all its subsidiaries. Backing up the U.S. client states costs billions every year, millions every day4. The way Washington operates, it must at all costs have the support of strategic regimes all around the globe. The U.S. has hundreds of military installations in all corners of the planet, airfields, navy bases, military personnel that are just waiting for marching orders, should there be an outbreak of resistance to the Empire in a strategically important corner of the world5.
The global war on terrorism, the spooky devil the CIA named Al Qaeda6, became the gigantic myth that was used to justify the ‘NEED’ for the growing domination of the USA and the Corporate Empire7. And the ‘war on terror’ of course turned into a war on Arab nations and on Islam all over, Arab or non Arab. I am mainly referring to the U.S. obsession with Iran, the non-Arab major enemy, which might well be replacing the widely believed myth of a once-upon-the-time Soviet threat to the safety and the supremacy of the United States and, as they prefer to see it, the safety of the Western world in general. A new cold war alongside all the hot wars going on at this time. Isn’t that just what we need?
Corporatism is Killing the Planet
The Empire is digging in its feet, invading and pillaging one obstinate and geo-politically important country after the other, at the same time as the people at home are deprived of their human rights, the rights to a decent livelihood and a good and secure job. One might think that this would be the sum of the horror show going on today in the world. But no, there just is no end to the damage that is wrought. The criminal takeover and destruction of the planet by the corporations stops at nothing. An additional problem is of course the rapidly progressing and deliberately ignored global warming, but this phenomenon too is most likely linked to corporate misbehavior and over-consumption.
The Corpocrats are so totally deluded by their illusion of infinite power that they also believe that the earth offers the means for infinite growth. What they do not seem to understand at all is the fact that man can never, never dominate nature. The total insanity of these men, the criminal neglect of the environment, the absolutely certain effects of the corporate malfeasance that will soon make the earth unlivable is mind-boggling and literally devastating. They go on living the high life as if there was no tomorrow. Well, there may not be a tomorrow. Unless we put the machine in reverse – right now, this very moment.
1. Seven hundred fifty-one years ago today, that last redoubt of that single Muslim community was extinguished when the last Abbasid caliph was put to death by the Mongols. (in 1258) – The Abbasid dynasty of caliphs had built their capital in Baghdad.
2. Hulagu Khan was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia (1217 – 8 February 1265). Under Hulagu's leadership, the Mongols destroyed the greatest center of Islamic power, Baghdad.
3. On the illusion of the Free Market, see Ha-Joon Chang: ‘Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism’. Ha-Joon Chang is an outstanding Korean development economist who is currently teaching Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge.
4. “It costs the US military $4 million a day to prosecute war in Libya” - Newstimeworld
5. Historian and journalist Nick Turse explained, “What I’m relatively sure of is that there are no less than 1,077 US bases or sites in foreign countries….and likely there are many more than that, we just can’t be sure.” … “The U.S defense budget is now about the same as military spending in all other countries combined and, since 9/11 military and security expenditure has soared by 119 percent.” - An empire of US military bases
6. BBC: al Qaeda Does Not Exist – Al Qaeda simply means "the base" or "the database" in reference to CIA/MI6 information on mujahedeen fighters who were funded and trained by the Western nations to fight against the USSR.
7. The total cost of the wars America has fought since 9/11 has reached a staggering $3.2 trillion.
Siv O'Neall is an Axis of Logic columnist, based in France. Her insightful essays are republished and read worldwide. She can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2011 by AxisofLogic.com
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Corporations Are Not Free Market Enterprises
by Derryl Hermanutz article link
July 21, 2011 | OpEdNews
The Real Crime: Concentration of Power
July 21, 2011 | Global Research | Huffington Post
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Are Your Humanitarian Heartstrings Being Tugged in the Name of Empire?
Author James Peck's new book 'Ideal Illusions' challenges our basic assumptions about the universal crusade for human rights.
by James Peck article link
July 19, 2011 | AlterNet
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Posted by Caimbhriain Myrddin at 12:54 PM
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The Results of Corporate Control of the Government On Our Economic Well Being
by Shayne Munger article link
July 20, 2011 | OpEdNews
The only thing that Corporations doing business in America are concerned about is "Profit"! That is profit for the shareholders and the enormous salaries, perks and retirement packages (Golden Parachutes) for their executives. To hell with the average worker, the community they thrive in and the retired, the homeless, the unemployed, the underemployed, the sick, the children and the poor people in this country. Since 1980 and Ronald Reagan's Administration, they have used their money to purchase our Congressional Representatives, the People in the White House, the Judges in our Judicial System, the Justices of the Supreme Court, the State Legislatures and the Governors of these States. You think that we live in a Democracy but we sure as hell don't. If the Corporations can't buy an election with their enormous campaign and advertizing investments, they simply corrupt the individuals in power so that the wealth in the country flows to them and their wealthy investors. The following is the record of Corporate Control of America:
* Since the inception of the New Deal and the Great Society they and their political shills have systematically tried to and practically succeeded in eliminating the Social Safety Net in the Country. They are still at it at the present time using the corporate controlled and financed Tea Party Politicians and Activists to push their decades old agenda to cripple and even eliminate these programs.
* The Corporatist hacks in Congress have pushed laws through the system that have drastically lowered the tax burden of the wealthy and of Corporations compared to what it was BR (Before Reagan). The tax burdens on these entities are the lowest in the Industrialized World and they want to push them even lower! Their Tea Party Hacks in Congress and in State Governments are purposely ignoring the facts that tax increases to these privileged few are necessary to balance budgets and to bring prosperity back to the average American and thus restore the "American Dream"! They continue to want to put the tax burden and balance the budget on the backs of the poor and middle classes of the Country and thus give a free ride to their corporate benefactors. They have people believing that reducing taxes creates jobs and the wealth of the people at the top 1% of the economic pyramid will "trickle down" to the rest of us poor peasants. That is balderdash and proven erroneous many times. It is just another propaganda tool to enable the transfer of wealth to the privileged.
President Roosevelt: "In 1776 the fight was for Democracy in Taxation. In 1936 there is still the fight. Mister Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said "taxes are the prices we pay for civilized society'. One sure way to determine the social conscience of a government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent. And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax reaction. Taxes, after all are the dues we pay for the privilege of membership in an organized society. And as society becomes more civilized government, national and state and local, is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens. The privileges of membership in a civilized society are vastly increased in modern times. But I am afraid we still have many who still do not recognize their advantages and want to avoid paying their dues."
* In search of cheap labor for their corporate workforce they have sent millions of jobs offshore where they can get cheap exploited labor, they have to pay little or no benefits to these workers and their operations are not subject to the Labor Laws of the United States. Because of this they are raking in enormous profits. The Corporatist Politicians have passed laws (NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, the Chinese Trade Policy, tax deductions for shipping these jobs overseas, other favorable tax policies, etc) that have enabled these organizations that are not only making huge profits from this basic business model but using those tax loophole laws to avoid paying their fair share of the USA tax burden. Sometimes paying no tax at all. If you want to know where much of the profit goes is reflected i n the fact that according to some sources, chief executive pay is between 250 and 500 times that of the average worker. A typical example of the Corporatist Influence in our Government is the fact that Obama's Chief Economic Advisor is the CEO of General Electric (A company that paid no income tax last year). This "free trade policy" of the USA has contributed to a huge unemployment and underemployment problem in the US. This has contributed to the present 9.2 % unemployment rate (over 20 % if you include those underemployed and those that have given up looking for employment) which figures out to over 20 Million unemployed American workers. Another way to look at this is that the lack of over 20 million taxable jobs and the loss of fair corporate tax revenue have contributed directly to the deficit problem that we now face.
This policy has also led to the devastation and elimination of many heretofore Industries (Steel, Textiles, the Clothing Industry, Scientific Instrument Production, Auto Parts Industry, Heavy Equipment Manufacturing, Machine Tool Manufacturing, Appliance Manufacturing, and Computer Manufacturing, Software Manufacturing and Programming and many others) where the US was once a world leader and has really undermined the security of our Country because of it. We are no longer "The Arsenal of Democracy". I feel that these free trade and tax policies that have been pushed by the Forces of Greed have undeservedly rewarded the wealthy and CEOs in the Country have pushed the USA towards a third world economy where the rich and corporations are in control while the rest of the American people are exploited for their benefit! Instead of the Corporatist Tea Party Politicians and Activists pushing for cuts to Social Programs they need to address this idiotic situation as a deficit reduction option.
* They have created a Health Care System that is the most expensive in the World, delivers bellow average results and under serves millions of American Citizens all in the name of profit for the Insurance Companies, Big Pharma and Health Care Corporations.
* Our environment has been raped and exploited by these Corporations all in the name of profit for the few at the expense of our clean air, our pure water systems and streams, our scarred and polluted earth (open pit mines, mountaintop removal, mine tailings, fracking, radiation leaks, radioactive waste storage, oil spills, rocket fuel pollution, etc), the decimated oceans and our clear cut forests. And they still demand less regulation and a freer hand to continue this exploitation.
* Consumer protection has been systematically attacked and decimated by these Forces of Greed again to line the pockets of the Corporate Executives and the wealthy at the expense of us all. And using their politician corporatist shills they fight and block any consumer regulations and legislation that might bring a modicum of fairness to the treatment of the American Consumer.
* Our food supply that is being controlled by the Big Agribusinesses and Importers keeps periodically delivering poison to our tables. Again no relief from this outrageous situation from our, I mean the Corporate controlled politicians. Laws that routinely help the large Agribusinesses and bankrupt the family farmer are the name of the game for these Forces of Greed.
* Our politicians, I mean "their" politicians have allowed, through deregulation, the growth of Financial Institutions (Corporations) that are supposedly too big to fail and routinely rip off the consumer and investor for their enhanced profitability. The ultimate rape of this country and of the taxpayer by these Corporations was their $14 Trillion bailout by their Corporatist shills in Congress and the Administration during our recent financial meltdown. And amazingly not one of the executives of these Financial Institutions has been held accountable for their criminal behavior while causing this financial crisis.
* The Housing Industry and the Real Estate Market have taken massive hits due to financial crisis and the manipulations of the Financial Industry which helped create the massive financial crisis. Those manipulations included the creation of the Housing bubble, building of the sub-prime mortgage market, the financing of non-qualified borrowers, the selling of bundled mortgage instruments (including bad paper), etc. This housing collapse cost the home owners approximately $4.5 Trillion. This money went into the coffers of the Financial Industry prior to the collapse. The Fed Chairman and the shills in Congress for the Financial Industry helped create this Housing bubble by instigating and passing the deregulation of the Financial Industry. Meanwhile these financial creeps are reaping trillions of dollars more in the foreclosure of properties that are in trouble.
Quote from the Washington Times on December 17, 2010, "The U.S. housing crisis is entering its fourth year, yet Lender Processing Services says more than 2 million homes are in the process of foreclosure and another 2 million are seriously delinquent, having missed more than three monthly payments." Of course the politicians are slow in putting together legislation to help these homeowners that are being raped by the Financial Industry. Any help these exploited homeowners are given by our government will interfere with the profits that the Forces of Greed are reaping from this foreclosure process. So it stands to reason that the Corporatist Politicians will be loath to help these poor exploited Americans. In the meantime these crooks that caused this situation have been burned and were carrying the bad loans and financial instruments that helped precipitate financial crises on their books and were being threatened with closure and bankruptcy. But the Corporatist Politicians stepped in and bailed them out as out as part of the $14 Trillion bailout rip off of the American taxpayer.
* These Forces of Greed through their political control of the Federal Government and of the State Legislatures are trying to destroy our Public Education System with the goal of privatizing it and thus making the education of our youth a cash cow for the Forces of Greed. This is why do they have been attacking the teachers unions in the various States so as to weaken their influence over policy. This also goes along with their agenda of "dumbing down" Americans so that their policies will not be questioned and their propaganda machine will "brain wash" the electorate into swallowing their talking points and vote against their own self interests.
* The Forces of Greed are slowly but surely taking over and privatizing the correctional systems of this country all in the name of PROFIT!
* They have almost destroyed the Unions in the Country who were once responsible for creating the Middle Class in the USA. Because of their policies and those of the Corporatist politicians the once mighty USA Middle Class is being devastated.
* Lobbyists and the corrupt politicians under corporate control have helped create a huge Defense Budget to deliver bloated contracts to the corporate contractors and thus ripping off taxpayers like you and me
* Their influence helped instigate numerous wars and incursions by the US that have created enormous wealth for the war profiteers and for the Oil Industry in particular and in the process we have killed millions of people to satisfy the greed of these Corporate Profiteers while costing us taxpayers $4 Trillion to date with more to come. If more countries that are going through insurrection and unrest problems were oil producers we'd have even more wars and incursions instigated by our Forces of Greed politicians. Why aren't these costs being addressed in the Deficit talks? Probably because the Forces of Greed are profiting to much from these wars!
* Finally they have taken control of all the major news outlets through financial manipulation and monopolistic purchases so that we are consistently feed disinformation and propaganda to further their agenda and to excuse their excesses. There are very few legitimate investigative reporters left in the main stream media and the mouthpieces for the Forces of Greed continually batter the public with lies and half truths to further this Corporatist agenda and to elect their political shills.
* Now these Tea Party Idiots in Congress are proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. In that Amendment they are proposing that it take a 2/3 majority vote in Congress to raise taxes thus continuing to free the Corporations and the wealthy from paying their fair share of the cost of our government and continue to saddle the rest of the 99% of us with that burden. This is the law that is now in effect in California and has crippled the once great economic engine of that State.
So my question is, when are the American people going to wake up and throw off this tyrannical corporate control of our political system. When are we going to tell the corporate political hacks that the $14 Trillion deficit is not the result of spending on the Social Programs that have helped Americans for decades but the result of the previously outlined corporatist agenda to transfer the wealth of the Country to the privileged few? Are the American people ever going to stop believing the lies and half truths that are being fed to them through corporate controlled media on a daily basis? When are we going to demand solutions to the clearly catastrophic problems that are so obvious from our political representatives and hold them accountable if they don't deliver? We need to demand that a Constitutional Amendment be passed to reverse the Supreme Court Decisions that established "personhood" for corporations instead of the bullshit demand for passing the idiotic Balanced Budget Amendment that is being pushed through Congress by the Tea Party corporate shills! We need to eliminate corporate campaign contributions to political campaigns and PACS. And after electing leaders that are not beholden to the wealthy and Corporations we need our representatives to put in place and progressive legislative agenda to swiftly address the above problems that are leading our country into becoming a second rate third world type of economic disaster.
To accomplish this we need to:
* Support the October 6, 2011 Movement: Sign on, get others to sign on, get organizations to sign on, labor unions, locals, environmental groups, social justice groups, peace groups, etc.
* Join, get your non-biased news, be a supporter and contribute to the discussions and actions of progressive and liberal organizations like MoveOn.org, Democracy For America, Democrats.com, The Daily KOS, The Liberty Underground, The Liberal Democratic Party of the USA, Progressive Push, etc.
* Join online talk groups to share ideas (i.e. Americonscience, DiehardDems, libertyundergroundtalk at yahoogroups).
* Protest, sign petitions, speak out and take to the streets when asked to support actions against the corporate controlled establishment and corporate controlled politicians and their agents (the Tea Party, etc).
* Support the Liberal and Progressive politicians that are already in elected offices by volunteerism, emails and letters of support, requests for legislation, donations and supporting their PACS.
* Stop donating to the Republican and Democrat Organizations (i.e. DNC and the RNC). Support non-corporatist individuals only.
* Register as an Independent and then support progressive, liberal and Green Party candidates (not Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats, New Democrats or DLC Democrats) by contributions (whatever you can afford), time as a volunteer, letters to the editor, town meetings, protests etc. I'm recommending the Green Party as they do not accept corporate money. And make sure that in elections you vote for these kinds of non-corporate controlled candidates! DO NOT VOTE FOR THE LESSER OF TWO EVIL CANDIDATES! If you have to start write in campaigns against any corporatist candidate!
* Organize, Organize, Organize, Speak Out, Speak Out, and Speak Out!!!!!!!!!!!
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." -President Dwight D. Eisenhower April 16, 1953
Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Shayne Munger: I am a rabid progressive liberal from California.
Posted by Caimbhriain Myrddin at 11:36 AM
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
“Our troops” are just as controlled and exploited as the US citizens that worship them. ... Yellow ribbons, flag-waving, repressive laws, peer pressure, and loud chants of “USA” don’t qualify as support. Rather, this is self-policed obedience manipulated by a corporate-dominated state.
Our Troops versus Our Eco-System
July 20, 2011 | Global Research | Fair Share
Since I’ve already told you about the importance of repetition, let me recite some numbers I’ve shouted out a few hundred times or so:
80% of the world’s forests are gone; 90% of the large fish in the ocean are gone; 80% of the planet’s rivers can no longer sustain sustain life.
200,000 acres of rain forest are destroyed each day 200 animal and plant species go extinct every 24 hours.
If these statistics make you (at least) squirm, you might be interested to know something I’ve also repeated till I’m hoarse: The US Department of Defense (DoD)—the interventionist institution formerly known as the War Department—is the biggest polluter on Planet Earth, for example, releasing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined.
To add insult to injury, the world’s worst polluter—the entity wrecking havoc upon the landbase that makes all life possible—also gobbles up 54% of US taxpayer dollars. But it takes more than obscene amounts of money to keep this criminal enterprise afloat. It also takes more than the volunteers willing to be paid to wage illegal, immoral, and eco-system destroying wars. The DoD will be able to maintain its crime spree as long as most of us continue to unconditionally support (sic) those troops.
As long as the yellow ribbons fly, our shared heritage/future is doomed.
For some, the phrase “support our troops” is merely a euphemism for: support the policies that put the troops there in the first place. For others—sadly, including many activists—the mantra is a safe way to avoid taking an unqualified, uncompromising stand against this war (and all war). Many who identify themselves as “anti-war” still vigorously defend the troops … no questions asked.
The excuse-making typically falls into two broad categories. The first being: “Our troops are just following orders.”
If you activate the google function on your interwebs machines, you’ll easily find many reasons why this concept has no legal basis. For example, Principle IV of Nuremberg Tribunal (1950) states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
(Besides this, I hope I don’t have to explain that “only following orders” also has no moral footing.)
The second common excuse: “It’s a poverty draft. The poor have to enlist because they any economic options.” America is certainly an unjust economic society and this would be a compelling argument … if it were true. However, studies found that wartime recruits since 1999 are “on average a bit wealthier, much more likely to have graduated from high school, and more rural than their civilian peers.” It seems youths “from wealthy American ZIP codes are volunteering in ever higher numbers” while “enlistees from the poorest fifth of American neighborhoods fell nearly a full percentage point over the last two years, to 13.7 percent. In 1999, that number was exactly 18 percent.”
Did some of the soldiers enlist primarily for economic reasons? Sure. Did others sign up for a chance to shoot some “ragheads”? Probably. After factoring out these two relatively small groups and rejecting the illegal, immoral, and reactionary “only following orders” defense, I ask this of anti-war, pro-green activists: Exactly how are the men and women who willingly signed up to be paid to wage war immune from any and all scrutiny and/or blame?
They are also not immune from profound irony.
While most American citizens—even if they’re anti-war—are manipulated, harassed, coerced, and guilted into hanging yellow ribbons, from Shays Rebellion in 1787 to Coxey’s Army to the Bonus Army to the Gulf War Syndrome, generation after generation of US military personnel has suffered a distinct lack of support from their own government (and the corporations that own it). “Our troops” are just as controlled and exploited as the US citizens that worship them.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the number of suicides among people serving in the armed forces has jumped more than 25% since 2005. In 2010 alone, 454 service members killed themselves in combat zones.
Life doesn’t get easier for those who make it home. About one-third of the adult homeless population is veterans and, according to the VA, is 95% male.
The majority of homeless vets are single, come from urban areas, suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders.
People of all ethnicities may sign up to defend (sic) the land of the free (sic) but 56% of all homeless vets are African American or Hispanic (despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the US population respectively).
More VA stats:
107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness Only 8% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 20% of the homeless population is made up of veterans.
Another 1.5 million veterans, says the VA, are considered at risk of homelessness due to “poverty and lack of support networks.”
Yes, you read that correctly: “lack of support networks.”
Yellow ribbons, flag-waving, repressive laws, peer pressure, and loud chants of “USA” don’t qualify as support. Rather, this is self-policed obedience manipulated by a corporate-dominated state. As long as so many of us conform, our tax dollars will be stolen to fund endless foreign wars and interventions launched by the most egregious polluter on Planet Earth … and the lost souls volunteering for this global terror campaign will learn too late that no one gives a shit about them.
Support? Our eco-system needs it most. What our citizens could use is some assistance rediscovering the capacities of critical and independent thought.
One more thing: Let’s stop with the “our troops” charade. You and I may foot the bill, but “we” have no say in how that money is spent.
If those truly were “my” men and women, I’d bring them right home and put them to work doing something useful … like turning the Long Island Expressway into the world’s longest organic farm.
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.
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Thank You For Your Service?
July 19, 2011 | Lew Rockwell | ICH
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1 Million Dead in Iraq?
6 Reasons the Media Hide the True Human Toll of War -- And Why We Let Them
Most Americans turn a blind eye to the violent acts being carried out in their name.
by John Tirman article link
July 19, 2011 | AlterNet
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Posted by Caimbhriain Myrddin at 9:52 AM
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Soaring Food Prices, Wild Weather, Upheaval, and a Planetful of Trouble
Reading the World In a Loaf of Bread
July 19, 2011 | CommonDreams | TomDispatch | OpEdNews | Truthout
What can a humble loaf of bread tell us about the world?
The answer is: far more than you might imagine. For one thing, that loaf can be “read” as if it were a core sample extracted from the heart of a grim global economy. Looked at another way, it reveals some of the crucial fault lines of world politics, including the origins of the Arab spring that has now become a summer of discontent.
Consider this: between June 2010 and June 2011, world grain prices almost doubled. In many places on this planet, that proved an unmitigated catastrophe. In those same months, several governments fell, rioting broke out in cities from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Nairobi, Kenya, and most disturbingly three new wars began in Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Even on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Bedouin tribes are now in revolt against the country’s interim government and manning their own armed roadblocks.
And in each of these situations, the initial trouble was traceable, at least in part, to the price of that loaf of bread. If these upheavals were not “resource conflicts” in the formal sense of the term, think of them at least as bread-triggered upheavals.
Growing Climate Change in a Wheat Field
Bread has classically been known as the staff of life. In much of the world, you can’t get more basic, since that daily loaf often stands between the mass of humanity and starvation. Still, to read present world politics from a loaf of bread, you first have to ask: of what exactly is that loaf made? Water, salt, and yeast, of course, but mainly wheat, which means when wheat prices increase globally, so does the price of that loaf -- and so does trouble.
To imagine that there’s nothing else in bread, however, is to misunderstand modern global agriculture. Another key ingredient in our loaf -- call it a “factor of production” -- is petroleum. Yes, crude oil, which appears in our bread as fertilizer and tractor fuel. Without it, wheat wouldn’t be produced, processed, or moved across continents and oceans.
And don’t forget labor. It’s an ingredient in our loaf, too, but not perhaps in the way you might imagine. After all, mechanization has largely displaced workers from the field to the factory. Instead of untold thousands of peasants planting and harvesting wheat by hand, industrial workers now make tractors and threshers, produce fuel, chemical pesticides, and nitrogen fertilizer, all rendered from petroleum and all crucial to modern wheat growing. If the labor power of those workers is transferred to the wheat field, it happens in the form of technology. Today, a single person driving a huge $400,000 combine, burning 200 gallons of fuel daily, guided by computers and GPS satellite navigation, can cover 20 acres an hour, and harvest 8,000 to 10,000 bushels of wheat in a single day.
Next, without financial capital -- money -- our loaf of bread wouldn’t exist. It’s necessary to purchase the oil, the fertilizer, that combine, and so on. But financial capital may indirectly affect the price of our loaf even more powerfully. When there is too much liquid capital moving through the global financial system, speculators start to bid-up the price of various assets, including all the ingredients in bread. This sort of speculation naturally contributes to rising fuel and grain prices.
The final ingredients come from nature: sunlight, oxygen, water, and nutritious soil, all in just the correct amounts and at just the right time. And there’s one more input that can’t be ignored, a different kind of contribution from nature: climate change, just now really kicking in, and increasingly the key destabilizing element in bringing that loaf of bread disastrously to market.
When these ingredients mix in a way that sends the price of bread soaring, politics enters the picture. Consider this, for instance: the upheavals in Egypt lay at the heart of the Arab Spring. Egypt is also the world’s single largest wheat importer, followed closely by Algeria and Morocco. Keep in mind as well that the Arab Spring started in Tunisia when rising food prices, high unemployment, and a widening gap between rich and poor triggered deadly riots and finally the flight of the country’s autocratic ruler Zine Ben Ali. His last act was a vow to reduce the price of sugar, milk, and bread -- and it was too little too late.
With that, protests began in Egypt and the Algerian government ordered increased wheat imports to stave off growing unrest over food prices. As global wheat prices surged by 70% between June and December 2010, bread consumption in Egypt started to decline under what economists termed “price rationing.” And that price kept rising all through the spring of 2011. By June, wheat cost 83% more than it had a year before. During the same time frame, corn prices surged by a staggering 91%. Egypt is the world’s fourth largest corn importer. When not used to make bread, corn is often employed as a food additive and to feed poultry and livestock. Algeria, Syria, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia are among the top 15 corn importers. As those wheat and corn prices surged, it was not just the standard of living of the Egyptian poor that was threatened, but their very lives as climate-change driven food prices triggered political violence.
In Egypt, food is a volatile political issue. After all, one in five Egyptians live on less than $1 a day and the government provides subsidized bread to 14.2 million people in a population of 83 million. Last year, overall food-price inflation in Egypt was running at more than 20%. This had an instant and devastating impact on Egyptian families, who spend on average 40% of their often exceedingly meager monthly incomes simply feeding themselves.
Against this backdrop, World Bank President Robert Zoellick fretted that the global food system was "one shock away from a full-fledged crisis." And if you want to trace that near full-fledged crisis back to its environmental roots, the place to look is climate change, the increasingly extreme and devastating weather being experienced across this planet.
When it comes to bread, it went like this: In the summer of 2010, Russia, one of the world’s leading wheat exporters, suffered its worst drought in 100 years. Known as the Black Sea Drought, this extreme weather triggered fires that burnt down vast swathes of Russian forests, bleached farmlands, and damaged the country’s breadbasket wheat crop so badly that its leaders (urged on by western grain speculators) imposed a year-long ban on wheat exports. As Russia is among the top four wheat exporters in any year, this caused prices to surge upward.
At the same time, massive flooding occurred in Australia, another significant wheat exporter, while excessive rains in the American Midwest and Canada damaged corn production. Freakishly massive flooding in Pakistan, which put some 20% of that country under water, also spooked markets and spurred on the speculators.
And that’s when those climate-driven prices began to soar in Egypt. The ensuing crisis, triggered in part by that rise in the price of our loaf of bread, led to upheaval and finally the fall of the country’s reigning autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Tunisia and Egypt helped trigger a crisis that led to an incipient civil war and then western intervention in neighboring Libya, which meant most of that country’s production of 1.4 million barrels of oil a day went off-line. That, in turn, caused the price of crude oil to surge, at its height hitting $125 a barrel, which set off yet more speculation in food markets, further driving up grain prices.
And recent months haven't brought much relief. Once again, significant, in some cases record, flooding has damaged crops in Canada, the United States, and Australia. Meanwhile, an unexpected spring drought in northern Europe has hurt grain crops as well. The global food system is visibly straining, if not snapping, under the intense pressure of rising demand, rising energy prices, growing water shortages, and most of all the onset of climate chaos.
And this, the experts tell us, is only the beginning. The price of our loaf of bread is forecast to increase by up to 90% over the next 20 years. That will mean yet more upheavals, more protest, greater desperation, heightened conflicts over water, increased migration, roiling ethnic and religious violence, banditry, civil war, and (if past history is any judge) possibly a raft of new interventions by imperial and possibly regional powers.
And how are we responding to this gathering crisis? Has there been a broad new international initiative focused on ensuring food security for the global poor -- that is to say, a stable, affordable price for our loaf of bread? You already know the sad answer to that question.
Instead, massive corporations like Glencore, the world’s largest commodity trading company, and the privately held and secretive Cargill, the world’s biggest trader of agricultural commodities, are moving to further consolidate their control of world grain markets and vertically integrate their global supply chains in a new form of food imperialism designed to profit off global misery. While bread triggered war and revolution in the Middle East, Glencore made windfall profits on the surge in grain prices. And the more expensive our loaf of bread becomes the more money firms like Glencore and Cargill stand to make. Consider that just about the worst possible form of “adaptation” to the climate crisis.
So what text should flash through our brains when reading our loaf of bread? A warning, obviously. But so far, it seems, a warning ignored.
To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which Parenti discusses the origins of his latest book and how climate change contributes to global violence, click here, or download it to your iPod here.
To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.
© 2011 Christian Parenti
Christian Parenti, a Nation contributing editor, fellow at The Nation Institute and visiting scholar at the CUNY Graduate Center. His most recent book is Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. Previous books include The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq (New Press) and Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis.
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East Africa's Drought: 11 Million Lives At Risk
July 18, 2011 | CommonDreams | Countercurrents | GlobalPost
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Post Apocalyptic America -- NOW!
by Rob Kall article link
July 18, 2011 | OpEdNews
Posted by Caimbhriain Myrddin at 11:01 AM
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