Monthly Archives: February 2012
Who Gets to Call the Shots? [Updated 2-7-2012]
As climate chaos, economic crisis and resource wars converge on what remains of the ‘world as we know it’ and the last tattered vestiges of U.S. democracy disappear under a mountain of corporate money and delusional absurdities, the question arises: Is anybody really in charge here, or does Raw Random Occasion rule?
Into this governance breach many actors and agencies are eager to leap, most of them arrogant, unelected and unaccountable.
This edition surveys some of the actors, factors, forces and agencies fighting over the steering wheel as the world bus heads for the wall.
Naomi Wolf, Christian Parenti, Walden Bello, Vandana Shiva, Michael Hudson, Chris Hedges, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Ellen Brown, Pepe Escobar, Daphne Wysham, Leo Panitch, Tom Engelhardt, Bill Moyers and Bill Quigley and others look at transnational corporations like Apple and Goldman Sachs , meta-national agencies like the IMF, the European Central Bank, and new international blocs like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Arab League, the BRICS – all competing for control of the joy stick for Planet Earth. And who was Saul Alinsky?
The Seed Emergency: The Threat to Food and Democracy
Patenting seeds has led to a farming and food crisis – and huge profits for US biotechnology corporations.
by Vandana Shiva – Published on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Al Jazeera English
Activist and author Dr Vandana Shiva is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology.
New Delhi, India – The seed is the first link in the food chain – and seed sovereignty is the foundation of food sovereignty. If farmers do not have their own seeds or access to open pollinated varieties that they can save, improve and exchange, they have no seed sovereignty – and consequently no food sovereignty.
The deepening agrarian and food crisis has its roots in changes in the seed supply system, and the erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty.
Saul Alinsky, Who?
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Published on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Common Dreams
And now, a word about a good American being demonized, despite being long dead. Saul Alinsky is not around to defend himself, but that hasn’t kept Newt Gingrich from using his name to whip up the froth and frenzy of his followers, whose ignorance of the man is no deterrence to their eagerness, at Gingrich’s behest, to tar and feather him posthumously.
USDA Forces Whole Foods To Accept Monsanto
“The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must.” – Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011
In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.
In a cleverly worded, but profoundly misleading email sent to its customers last week, Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and “seed purity,” gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to approve the “conditional deregulation” of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa. Beyond the regulatory euphemism of “conditional deregulation,” this means that WFM and their colleagues are willing to go along with the massive planting of a chemical and energy-intensive GE perennial crop, alfalfa; guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S.
In exchange for allowing Monsanto’s premeditated pollution of the alfalfa gene pool, WFM wants “compensation.”
…o pressure Whole Foods Market and the nation’s largest supermarket chains to voluntarily adopt truth-in-labeling practices sign here, and circulate this petition widely.
And please stay tuned to Organic Bytes for the latest developments in our campaigns. Power to the People! Not the Corporations!
Occupying Corporations: How to Cut Corporate Power
by Bill Quigley
Published on Monday, February 6, 2012 by Common Dreams
“Corporations are people, my friend.” Mitt Romney at Iowa State Fair
Corporations are obviously not people. But Romney is accurate in the sense that corporations have hijacked most of the rights of people while evading the responsibilities. An important part of the social justice agenda is democratizing corporations. This means we must radically change the laws so people can be in charge of corporations. We must strip them of corporate personhood and cut them down to size so democracy can work. People are taking action so democracy can regulate the size, scope and actions of corporations.
One of the most basic roles of society is to protect the people from harm. The massive size of many international corporations makes democratic control over them nearly impossible.
Christian Parenti – Tropic of Chaos
Euro-Chaos and Global Capitalism
Leo Panitch: We are witnessing the irrationality of capitalism and the incredible struggle of people in the street. – The Real News Network
For Greece, It’s Austerity — or Else
“Bankruptcy for Greece would be hell.”
– Common Dreams staff
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel continue their push for Greece to accept further austerity measures in order to receive bailout funds and warned that Greece was “running out of time” to accept the deal presented to them. Today Merkel told Greece that it needed to make up its mind on taking the reform package while Greek unions announced a nationwide strike for tomorrow in protest of the austerity measures.
The ongoing bonanza in the U.S. hydraulic fracturing industry marks a dangerous misstep on the road to U.S. energy independence.
By Daphne Wysham – Other Worlds
Folks, I’ve got some good news and some bad news about the nation’s ever-elusive quest for a sound energy policy. The good news: Finally there’s some under-the-radar bipartisan consensus in Washington. The bad news: Both parties are dead wrong.
Exposed: The Arab agenda in Syria
By Pepe Escobar – Asia Times
Here’s a crash course on the “democratic” machinations of the Arab League – rather the GCC League, as real power in this pan-Arab organization is wielded by two of the six Persian Gulf monarchies composing the Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Gulf Counter-revolution Club; Qatar and the House of Saud.
The Cancer in Occupy
Posted on Feb 6, 2012
By Chris Hedges
The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.
Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment.
How Drones, Special Operations Forces, and the U.S. Navy Plan to End National Sovereignty As We Know It
By Tom Engelhardt
Make no mistake: we’re entering a new world of military planning….
For Washington, “offshore” means the world’s boundary-less waters and skies, but also, more metaphorically, it means being repositioned off the coast of national sovereignty and all its knotty problems. This change, on its way for years, will officially rebrand the planet as an American free-fire zone, unchaining Washington from the limits that national borders once imposed. New ways to cross borders and new technology for doing it without permission are clearly in the planning stages, and U.S. forces are being reconfigured accordingly.
The Millions Funding Geoengineering
Bill Gates among wealthy funding large-scale geoengineering
– Common Dreams staff -Monday, February 6, 2012
As scientists search for a plan to deal with climate change, some have pushed for a controversial approach known as geoengineering, a technological fix for climate change that involves efforts such as reflecting solar energy back into space or fertilizing the oceans.
The billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is backing a group of climate scientists lobbying for geoengineering experiments. (photo: Ted S. Warren/AP) Bill Gates is among other wealthy individuals financially backing scientists to lobby governments to push geoengineering, raising concerns that this small group may have a large impact on further decisions on geoengineering.
1/28/2012 — Further dissection of the ‘HAARP ring’ theory / ‘Frequency manipulation’ of the weather
Why the AGs Must Not Settle: Robo-signing Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
by Ellen Brown
Published on Sunday, February 5, 2012 by Common Dreams
A foreclosure settlement between five major banks guilty of “robo-signing” and the attorneys general of the 50 states is pending for Monday, February 6th; but it is still not clear if all the AGs will sign. California was to get over half of the $25 billion in settlement money, and California AG Kamala Harris has withstood pressure to settle.
That is good. She and the other AGs should not sign until a thorough investigation has been conducted. The evidence to date suggests that “robo-signing” was not a mere technical default or sloppy business practice but was part and parcel of a much larger fraud, the fraud that brought down the whole economy in 2008. It is not just distressed homeowners but the entire economy that has paid the price, resulting in massive unemployment and a shrunken tax base, throwing state and local governments into insolvency and forcing austerity measures and cutbacks in government services across the nation.
The details of the robo-signing scam were spelled out in my last article, here [or see below]. The robo-signing fraud and its implications are expanded on below.
The Shadow Banking System: A Web of Financial Fraud
by Ellen Brown
Published on Friday, January 27, 2012 by Common Dreams
The Wall Street Journal reported on January 19th that the Obama Administration was pushing heavily to get the 50 state attorneys general to agree to a settlement with five major banks in the “robo-signing” scandal. The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed. Evidence reveals that it was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes. If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail – fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.
The Apple Connection
By Walden Bello, February 1, 2012 – Foreign Policy in Focus
…Apple’s products are top of the line, distinguished by their superior design, engineering, and personality or “soul.” But the company’s march to market supremacy has been accomplished at tremendous cost to both American and Chinese workers. The iPad and iPhone are engineering masterpieces. But these commodities are not simply material. They also incarnate the social relations of production. They are the expression of the marriage between a demanding enterprise that has become the cutting edge corporation of our time and what Slavoj Zizek has called today’s “ideal capitalist state”: China, with the freedom it offers capital along with its unparalleled capacity to discipline labor. One cannot but agree with Jared Bernstein, a former White House economic adviser, when he told the Times, “If it’s [the Apple system] the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”
Corporations Have No Use for Borders
By Chris Hedges
Posted on Jan 30, 2012
What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.
But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010’s G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.
The voices of dissent sound like our own. And the forms of persecution are familiar. This is not an accident. We are fighting the same corporate leviathan.
…The decay of Canada illustrates two things. Corporate power is global, and resistance to it cannot be restricted by national boundaries. Corporations have no regard for nation-states. They assert their power to exploit the land and the people everywhere.
What the Occupy movement must learn from Sundance
These great documentary films have a simple lesson: effective political protest needs good organisation and smart messaging
by Naomi Wolf – Guardian UK
…Media exposure, a clear message, smart soundbites, clearly stated demands, and, most importantly, tasked, empowered negotiators working on the inside in concert with mass disrupters applying pressure from without – this equals political life.
Europe’s Deadly Transition From Social Democracy to Oligarchy
by MICHAEL HUDSON
Welcome to a new era of polarization as financial oligarchy replaces democratic government and reduces populations to debt peonage
The easiest way to understand Europe’s financial crisis is to look at the solutions being proposed to resolve it. They are a banker’s dream, a grab bag of giveaways that few voters would be likely to approve in a democratic referendum. Bank strategists learned not to risk submitting their plans to democratic vote after Icelanders twice refused in 2010-11 to approve their government’s capitulation to pay Britain and the Netherlands for losses run up by badly regulated Icelandic banks operating abroad. Lacking such a referendum, mass demonstrations were the only way for Greek voters to register their opposition to the €50 billion in privatization sell-offs demanded by the European Central Bank (ECB) in autumn 2011.
Currency Warfare: What are the Real Targets of the E.U. Oil Embargo against Iran?
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – Global Research
Who Benefits? The Economic Targets are beyond Iran…
The end of Iranian oil exports to the European Union and the decline of the euro will directly benefit the United States and the U.S. dollar. What the European Union is doing is merely weakening itself and giving the U.S. dollar the upper hand in its currency rivalry against the euro. Moreover, should the euro collapse, the American dollar will quickly fill much of the void. Despite the fact that Russia will benefit from higher oil prices and greater leverage over E.U. energy security as a supplier, the Kremlin has also warned the European Union that it is working against its own interests and subordinating itself to Washington.
Many important questions are at play about the economic consequences of increased oil prices. Will the European Union be able to weather the economic storm or a currency collapse? What the E.U. oil embargo against Iran will do is destabilize the euro and snowball globally hurting non-E.U. economies. In this regard, Tehran has warned that the U.S. aims to hurt rival economies through the adoption of E.U. oil sanctions against Iran. Within this line of thinking, this is the reason why the U.S. is trying to force China, India, South Korea, and Japan in Asia to reduce or cut Iranian oil imports.
Within the European Union, it will be the most fragile and struggling economies, such as Greece and Spain, which will be hurt by the E.U. oil embargo against Iran.
Obama’s Drone Program Includes Targeting Rescuers and Funerals
– Common Dreams staff – February 5, 2012 by Common Dreams
A week after President Obama spoke publicly for first time about the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan, a new investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times in London reports the program has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals.
Missiles being loaded onto a military Reaper drone in Afghanistan. Research by the Bureau has found that “since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”
U.S. Accused of Using Drones to Target Rescue Workers and Funerals in Pakistan
Democracy Now – February 06, 2012
The CIA’s drone campaign targeting suspected militants in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to rescue victims or were attending funerals. So concludes a new report by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Has the Nobel Peace Prize lost its way?
Nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize closed last week. However, Nobel officials are facing an investigation into the view that their recent awards have lost sight of Alfred Nobel’s original intentions. By REBECCA DAVIS.
…Over the years the Nobel committee has made some intriguing choices for its Peace laureates, including US diplomat Henry Kissinger in 1973. Possibly the most controversial award in recent years was 2009’s choice of US President Barack Obama, who was barely a year in office. An MSNBC poll at the time found that 62% of Americans polled did not believe Obama deserved it. Brian Becker, US coordinator of the Act Now To Stop War group, told Reuters at the time: “This is the Nobel committee giving Obama the ‘you are not George W Bush’ award. Unfortunately Obama is continuing many of the same policies of Bush.”
Obama seems to have been awarded the prize ‘aspirationally’, in the hope it would encourage him to work harder for peace. Foreign Policy magazine suggested in 2009 “the committee has increasingly given the peace prize to honour the awardees’ cause, even when their aspirations are not matched by concrete accomplishments”. The magazine pointed out, though, that the 27 aspirational prizes awarded since 1971 have not accomplished much.
Inside the World Bank’s Population Policy
January 18, 2012
By Michael Hudson
Taken from Super Imperialism, 2nd Edition, p213 (1972)
For instance, the World Bank is essentially an American instrument, and the United States is a food-surplus nation threatened with loss of foreign markets for farm products as modernization of European agriculture proceeds. For the World Bank to finance such institutional reforms in developing nations as would lead them toward self-sufficiency on food account would run counter to American interests. U.S. farm surpluses would become unmanageable as the overseas market for U.S. farm products dwindled. Hence, the World Bank prefers perpetuation of world poverty to the development of adequate overseas capacity to feed the peoples of developing countries.
There is a yet more subtle point to be considered. Mineral resources represent diminishing assets. It is in the interest of developing peoples to conserve such assets for their own ultimate use in manufacturing industries, as these develop within the borders of nations rich in raw materials but backward in general development. In the short run such domestic use of mineral resources is not possible because of inadequate industrial capital and consumer markets place. The specter is thus raised that in the long run these countries will find themselves depleted of resources as World Bank programs accelerate the exploitation of their mineral deposits for use by other nations.
The long-term prospect is thus for these countries to be unable to earn foreign exchange on export account sufficient to finance their required food imports. The World Bank has foreseen this. Its proposals for population limitation in these countries is a cold-blooded attempt to extort from them their mineral resources, without assuming responsibility for the sustenance of these peoples once the industrialized West has stripped them of their fuel and mineral deposits.
…Whether the United States and the World Bank have been led to this objective by their intention to preserve the obsolete and oppressive militaristic class institutions in developing nations, or whether they have been led to the preservation of these institutions in order that the mineral resources of these countries can continue to be stripped from them, may be a matter for conjecture. But the facts remain, whatever the dominant motives at work. Excessive industrialization in the United States, coupled with increasingly wasteful uses of resources on armaments and on personal luxuries that are essentially trivial in terms of human well-being, makes essential the U.S. exploitation of the developing countries, their resources and peoples. The United States is in deficit on raw-materials account, but is unwilling to limit its industrial expansion correspondingly. It is in surplus on farm products account, but is unwilling to limit its agriculture accordingly. The peoples of developing countries therefore are to be turned into the instrument through which the otherwise untenable U.S. economic process is perpetuated.
The 10th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of governments meeting will take place on November 7 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The prime minister of Pakistan will participate in the meeting at the invitation of Russian Prime Minister Alexander Putin. The Organization, originally founded in 2001 has evolved into an effective mechanism over the years to enable its member states trans-act on strategic regional issues and economic development….
…Since its inception the organization has come a long way wherein it is now given due importance at all regional and international organizations. As it happens with every upcoming organisation it is confronted with many external and internal challenges as well. Externally, its security concepts run counter to that of Nato and the United States. The SCO believes in ‘non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-interference in the affairs of other countries’ by preferring to convince the countries to solve their differences through peaceful means. The United States still relies on its military prowess to realize its own security and as well as that of its allies through military means. The SCO is working towards ending the ‘cold war’ concepts and transcending ideologies unlike the Americans who still follow them….
…With the incorporation of India and Pakistan, this unique organization will have four nuclear powers (two recognized and two yet to be recognized), a landscape full of energy resources and mineral wealth and accommodating half of the global community; it has all the ingredients to play a powerful role in the world affairs to maintain a balance.
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