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The Other One Percent

As a high school student, I came across an observation by Abraham Lincoln who said that “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” Today “public sentiment” would be called “public opinion.”

Over the years, I have been astonished at how less than one percent of the citizenry, backed by the “public sentiment,” have changed our country for the better by enacting reforms to protect the people from abuses of power, discrimination and deep neglect.

Specifically, if – one percent or less – were to dedicate a modest amount of their time and money working together for much-needed changes …

Hijacking the Anthropocene

How the anti-green ‘Breakthrough Institute’ misrepresents science to advance a technocratic agenda and undermine grassroots environmentalism

When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.
—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

What can lobbyists do when science contradicts their political messages? Some simply deny the science, as many conservatives do with climate change. Others pretend to embrace the science, while ignoring or purging the disagreeable content. That’s what the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) is doing with one of the most widely discussed issues in 21st century science, the proposal to define a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.

BTI has been described as …

Canadian Media Finally Discovers Mass Graves of Indigenous Children

It was eighteen years ago this month that I first handed to a Vancouver Sun newspaper editor a list of possible mass grave sites of Indian residential school children on Canada’s west coast, based on government documents and statements from eyewitnesses who buried children there. I and these witnesses were flatly ignored: not only then, but every other time over the subsequent years that we presented such evidence to the same newspaper.

Bone sample found at Brantford residential …

Was the Spanish Empire Not So Bad After All?

Revising our assessment of the Spanish empire is in vogue among economic historians. Most notably, Regina Grafe and Alejandra Irigoin (2006; 2008) have sought to revise the nature of the empire’s political economy. Their goal is to refute those who claim that the wealth gap between Anglo and Latin America today is due to the ‘extractive’ institutions established by the Spanish in their colonies compared to the more ‘inclusive’ institutions established by the British. ((E.g. North, D.C., W. Summerhill, and B.R. Weingast (2000), ‘Order, Disorder and Economic Change: Latin America Versus North America’, in B. Buenos de Mesquita and H.L. Root, eds., …

Wine Empire Replaces Redwood Empire

Northern California’s Sonoma County has been known historically as part of the natural Redwood Empire. Wine industry lobbyists re-branded it as the commercial “Wine Country.” Its economy has been so colonized by outside investors, who extract water and resources from the environment and export them, that re-branding would be appropriate. A more accurate description would be that Sonoma County is now part of the multi-national Wine Empire.

Locals and nature have been dominated by these outside investors; they reap the benefits, while the environment and the residents pay the costs. They have de-localized, industrialized, commercialized, urbanized and commodified a once …

They Say “Peace” But It Is Really War

They say “may peace prevail on earth”, but every night, there are fires burning in the terrible slums of Nairobi, Jakarta, Guatemala City and Mumbai.

The World Education Forum is now taking place in Seoul, South Korea. UNESCO and Korea organized this colorful event. Everyone is talking, others are singing, and a few are dancing.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is talking peace, and the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, is talking peace.

Peace, peace, peace! It has been turned into one of those cliché words that are repeated in every political speech, words like “freedom” …

The Fragility of Our Complex Civilization

The rapid growth of knowledge

Cultural evolution depends on the non-genetic storage, transmission, diffusion and utilization of information. The development of human speech, the invention of writing, the development of paper and printing, and finally, in modern times, mass media, computers and the Internet: all these have been crucial steps in society’s explosive accumulation of information and knowledge. Human cultural evolution proceeds at a constantly-accelerating speed, so great in fact that it threatens to shake society to pieces.

In many respects, our cultural evolution can be regarded as an enormous success. However, at the start of the 21st century, most thoughtful observers …

Secret Intel Reports on Syria and Iraq Revealed

Why did U.S. Ignore the Analysis and Predictions?

Almost three years ago the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the U.S. Dept of Defense accurately characterized the conflict in Syria and predicted the emergence of the Islamic State. This stunning revelation has emerged as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in connection with the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

The heavily redacted August 2012 seven page intelligence report reveals the following:

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) confirmed the sectarian core of the Syrian insurgency.

It says:

Events are taking a clear sectarian direction.  The Salafist, The Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces

Why Occupy?

Third in a Four Part Series

In Parts One and Two of this series, we argued that to prevent oligarchic rule, democratic and economic institutions need to be salvaged, ironically, through anarchist political activism and Marxist capital analysis, specifically Marx’s labor theory of value, which identifies the systemic and structural nature of exploitation. The point is that workers are “entitled” to the surplus value they create. We also argued that globalization as manifested in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), amounts to imperialism. In this particular case, we utilize the economic analysis provided by British economist John Hobson. In his great work Imperialism, Hobson, an anti-imperialist …

Fascists Flipping Burgers in Saigon or Stalingrad

For the vast majority of Westerners, that is to say both US Americans and their relatives (imagined or real) in Europe, the war against Vietnam was a brutal military conflict waged by the United States against a small Southeast Asian country by deploying up to some 500,000 combat personnel and more ordnance than dropped on Germany in WWII. The virtues of this endeavor are still disputed. In fact, there are numerous “technical” disputes which continue to make sober discussion of the period between 1945 and 1975 extremely difficult—never mind the attempts to draw coherent conclusions from the course of events.

After …

Who Are Woman Sex Offenders and Why Are They Treated Like Men?

For the first quarter of my life, I didn’t think much about sex offenders. Call it thoughtlessness or a naïve little bubble; it was probably both. This thoughtlessness might not be unique. But I began thinking about sex offenders when, at age 25, I was charged with a sex crime.

I had had sexual contact with my 17-year-old neighbor. I’m not proud of this and, if given the chance, would absolutely reverse that decision. But I slept with him once and joined the burgeoning ranks of women charged with sex offenses.

I think of these ranks both as a demographic and a …

Nuclear War Is Not Likely Over Ukraine: US Tries to Reassure World

“We don’t think the Ukrainian conflict is a nuclear crisis.”

That comment is a recent example of a US State Department diplomat deploying standard diplo-speak in order to engage in nuclear saber rattling by denying there’s any need to rattle any of the roughly 10,000 nuclear sabers that already worry the entire sentient world. The world can plainly see that the two most heavily nuclear-armed countries (between them, the US and Russia have about 95% of the global nuclear stockpile) are in …

John Kerry Admits Defeat

The Ukraine story the media won’t tell, and why U.S. retreat is a good thing

The U.S. seems to admit it overplayed its hand over Ukraine. Caving to reality is actually the best possible policy

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry puts in an ear piece for translation during a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Kerry sought Thursday to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging nuclear deal with Iran and explore ways to calm instability in Yemen and other troubled nations in the Middle East.

It is just as well Secretary of State John Kerry’s momentous meetings with Russian …

Remember Your Humanity

This year, 2015, marks the 60th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which contains the following words:

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise. If you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.

The background for the Russell-Einstein Manifesto is as follows: In March, 1954, the United States had tested a hydrogen bomb at the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. …

Dear God, Please Just Say No to Governor Jindal

Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday announced he is praying over his decision whether to run for president. Yesterday he also issued an executive order supporting discrimination against marriages by Louisiana gay and lesbian citizens, minutes after a similar bill was overwhelmingly rejected by the Louisiana legislature.  His action was interpreted as an effort to generate funds from fundamentalist religious organizations for his presidential campaign.  Yesterday Jindal supporters started running $10,000 worth of ads casting him as a protector of freedom of conscience in Iowa.

The people and businesses of Louisiana already know they are paying the price for …

Nakba and the Question of “Palestinian Strategy”

“What is the Palestinian strategy?” is a question that I have been asked all too often, including on 15 May, the day that millions of Palestinians around the world commemorated the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1947-48.

The question itself doesn’t require much elaboration, as in, “What is the Palestinian strategy to combat Israeli military occupation, siege violence, apartheid and racial discrimination?” The painful reality is well known to many, although few take on the moral responsibility to confront it.

And the posing of the question is telling in itself. It wouldn’t …

Women’s Peace Walk Across the Korean DMZ Impeded

Activists Pledge to Cross Anyway and Call on the UN to Assist

PYONGYANG, North Korea — International, Northern and Southern Korean women activists who plan to cross the Korean Demilitarized Zone said Wednesday they are determined to move forward with their walk, despite the announcement that United Nations authorities can’t guarantee their safety if they walk from the North to the South at Panmunjom. Panmunjom is where the Korean War armistice agreement was signed, and it is critical to the delegates that the DMZ crossing take place at this symbolic site.

Officials in Pyongyang have informed organizer Christine Ahn, a Korean-American peace activist, that without a formal letter from Seoul approving a crossing …

New York Times Coverage Follows Narrative of Israeli State Power

The New York Times ran two very different stories recently related to Israel. An analysis of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement titled ”Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities” portrays the nonviolent campaign to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law as a cause of tensions between ethnic groups. Several days later, the Gray Lady printed “Israel Says Hezbollah Positions Put Lebanese at Risk” uncritically repeating Israeli propaganda justifying a future violent, illegal invasion that would likely kill thousands of civilians.

In the article on BDS, the Times pursues a biased …

Derailing Amtrak

Tracking the Latest Disaster in the Infrastructure Crisis

The dangerous underfunding of US infrastructure was underscored by a fatal train derailment on May 12th. The tragedy did not deter the House Appropriations Committee from voting to slash Amtrak funding the very next day. There are ways Congress could fund its massive infrastructure bill without raising taxes. But the conservative-controlled Congress seems to have other plans for the nation’s profitable public assets.

The May 12th train derailment near Philadelphia, which killed eight people and hospitalized 200, was the deadliest Amtrak accident in recent history. The train barreled around a dangerous bend at 106 mph, more than double the 50 …

Has the BDS Movement been hijacked by Liberal Zionists?

Palestinian civil society thinks that calling for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) represents a creative breakthrough to shake off the burden of Israel’s occupation regime in historic Palestine. Historically, resistance to Zionist intrusion into Palestine can be traced back to the mid-1920s. So far, however, all strategies have failed both before and after the establishment of the State of Israel.
The British colonial Mandate regime subdued the Arab revolt of 1936-1939 and killed its leader Izz ad-Din al-Qassam. In his memory, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas established in 1991 the “Al-Qassam Brigades” tasked to resist further Israeli land theft and …