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Militarism and Capital Accumulation

The Pentagon and Big Oil

There is no question that, in the immediate aftermath and for several years following US military conquests, wars, occupations and sanctions, US multi-national corporations lost out on profitable sites for investments. The biggest losses were in the exploitation of natural resources – in particular, gas and oil – in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

As a result some observers speculated that there were deep fissures and contradictory interests within the US ruling class. They argued that, on the one hand, political elites linked …

Political Prisoners in the Sacrifice Zone of Empire

Mumia Abu-Jamal and Jeremy Hammond

Recently, two cases concerning the constitutional rights of people in prison came to public light. They involve two U.S. political prisoners: Mumia Abu-Jamal who is serving a life sentence at a facility in Frackville, Pennsylvania and Jeremy Hammond, who is serving a ten year sentence at a federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky.

On Monday October 20, it was reported that Hammond, a young Chicago based computer programmer, had been held in solitary confinement for the last 10 days. In November 2013, he was sentenced after he plead guilty for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for allegedly revealing …

The Dark Soul of American Empire

Whether or not the soul exists may depend entirely on how it’s being defined, and depending on the definition may also depend on faith, religious or otherwise. The human soul is thought by many as inherently good while the absence of a soul leaves open the possibility to commit and even delight in malicious or evil acts – these destructive actions are also interpreted in terms of being dark. Oddly enough, man’s ego enjoys taking credit for his goodness, while he regularly attributes responsibility for destructive behaviors to outside influences, including at times a supernatural consciousness of evil that influences …

Washington Is Defaming Putin

UPDATE: Here is a translation of Putin’s address at Valdai.

Today at the Valdai International Discussion Club meeting in Sochi, Russia’s President Putin correctly and justifiably denounced Washington for destabilizing the world in order to serve its own narrow and selfish interest and the interests of the private interest groups that control Washington at the expense of the rest of the world. It is about time a world leader denounced the thuggish neocon regime in Washington. Putin described Washington’s double standards with the Roman phrase: “What is allowed for God [the US] is not allowed for cattle [the rest of …

Scam Goes Education

What can be more important to save in a viable democracy than education and the assurance that it is easily accessible for all, whatever your skin color or financial means? Unfortunately the best vehicle for that endeavor, public education, has figured prominently in quick-profit schemes of private investors, some stemming from honest attempts to improve education, but many motivated by pure greed.

For the latter, it’s beginning to take the character of the Wall Street frenzy that passed off toxic securities as AAA rated, and sold them full price to unsuspecting buyers. For the most part, Wall Streeters, having a culture …

The English Badger Culls: the National Farmers Union Successful Failure

The UK government’s highly unpopular ‘pilot’ badger culls have just come to the end of the second year of a four-year programme.  Even without the independent oversight, monitoring and auditing by an Independent Expert Panel (IEP), discarded by the government after last year’s slating by the IEP, the culling has been as much of a failure as last year, despite the National Farmers Union (NFU) hailing it as a ‘success’.

But the NFU has been steering this policy of slaughtering our badgers for years.  Ever since the first bovine TB-infected badger was found in 1971, to the surprise of animal …

Mars Madness Amidst Astronomical Poverty

Insanity in India

In a macho violation of common sense and the needs of hundreds of millions of people living in crushing poverty, the ruling elite of India (that’s the government and multinational corporations who own the country) recently launched a satellite that “after a journey of 300 days and 420 million miles…arrived to orbit around Mars,” reported The Guardian. The $74 million ‘Mars mission’ is “cheap by American (or Chinese) standards”, The Economist says, but amounts to a fraction of a much more expensive – not to say insane space programme that drains US $1 billion a year from the …

Piercing the Technology Bubble

This weekend, October 25 and 26, I will be joining leading critics from the United States and abroad, of corporate-controlled technologies, who are also proponents of appropriate technologies for the people (Vandana Shiva, Anuradha Mittal, Helen Caldicott, Wes Jackson, Bill McKibben), convening at the historic Cooper Union Great Hall on “Techno-Utopianism and the Fate of the Earth”.

The speakers are highly knowledgeable. Some of their prior warnings were ignored by policy makers. Unfortunately, many of these warnings were, in retrospect, understatements. The chief organizer of this gathering is Jerry Mander who heads the International Forum on Globalization (see IFG.org

Pro-war Pundits: Always Wrong, Always Claiming to be Right

and Always Erasing the Victims

There is no shortage of men and women – but mostly men, typically white – willing to write 800- to 1,000-word editorials on the need for Decisive Action or Continued Resolve in Whereverthehellistan. Some of these people are historians, some are journalists, but all have attained material success in the field of arguing about war without ever once having to go through the trouble of being right. It is a full-time profession where it undeniably pays to be wrong and speak to power only what power wants to hear, with American advocates of mass killing from El Salvador to Iraq …

Half of All Americans Are Poor, but We Love Johnny Depp’s Life, Pro-athletes’ Antics, Oscar Night

Do We Even Know the Story of Poverty Without the Poor Reporting, Writing and Broadcasting Our Stories?

No! A little note before DV readers get another magazine piece of mine to be published — in edited and redacted form (to be explained at a later date) — in November. Universality of a town like Spokane and any town. I repeat that if you live somewhere, know it, write about it, and make sure we all know that your town is our town. Detroit, where economic butchers shut off water. San Francisco where Google Eichmanns push working class folk out of historical …

British Columbia LNG Exports in Doubt

In the 2013 BC provincial election, Christie Clark’s Liberals promised that exporting liquefied natural gas to Asia would provide jobs and expanding government revenues.  A year and a half later this boom is nowhere to be seen. Fifteen liquefying plants and pipelines have been promoted. Six were reported to be on the verge of starting construction. But in early October, Petronas—the company closest to seeking regulatory approval—announced that it was considering shelving its proposal.

The Malaysian government-owned corporation wanted assurances that provincial and federal taxes and royalties would be kept low and that the company could bring in workers from abroad …

Sweden’s Submergency

Sweden ends its search for the unmentionable

This morning the Swedish defence solemnly called off its search for whatever it thought it was searching.

That was what I predicted two days ago:

For the above reasons the Swedish military will soon call off the whole thing and the affair will have served its purpose – precisely by not stating what it was, who it was or why it was. Or if it was.

What the purpose of the event may be remains to be revealed at some point in the future. Or perhaps never if – the purpose was fearology for increased militarisation.

Somebody somewhere knows what’s going on. And

Israel Risks Turning al-Aqsa into Powder Keg

Abbas appears powerless as Jewish extremists seek to gain greater foothold at al-Aqsa Mosque

With East Jerusalem already smouldering, it emerged this week that the Israeli parliament is to consider a bill that could set the region ablaze. The measure would lift limitations on Jews visiting the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Details of the measure have yet to be published. But one possibility is that it will overturn a prohibition in Israeli law on Jews praying at the site, ending also a long-standing rabbinical injunction against such activities.

Other reports, however, suggested the bill would extend visiting times for Jews, possibly by forcing the Islamic authorities …

The Return of Occupy London: this Time it’s Truly Political

Occupy is back in London, UK, with a renewed focus on politics and an ambitious vision: to galvanise a mass movement for real democracy and establish a huge People’s Assembly to debate a list of specific demands for radical political reform.

This week, stalwarts of the Occupy Democracy campaign in Britain are continuing to stand their ground in Parliament Square. The heavy-handed police crackdown and evictions may have scuppered much of the plans for peaceful and creative demonstrations, but the re-emergence of the Occupy movement is a welcome sight in an increasingly unequal, stressed and disaffected city of London.

The goal …

Bury the Bomb Before it Buries Us

A quarter century after the Cold War ended, the people of the world are now entering a dangerous era of improved and more accurate nuclear weapons and faster, more precise delivery systems at a time of growing antagonism between Washington and Moscow and potential antipathy between the U.S. and China.

All nine nuclear countries are upgrading their atomic weaponry, led by the United States and Russia — the two main nuclear states by far with 7,300 and 8,000 warheads of all kinds between them respectively, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The actually deployed weapons, long-range and strategic, …

The Coming Financial Crisis: a Harbinger of World Renewal?

A full six years after the global financial crisis, not only have governments failed to rethink the way we organise our economic systems, but politicians across the world have pressed forward with an obsolete political agenda that has paved the way for yet more financial chaos. The failure of our elected representatives to adopt a just and sustainable alternative to neoliberal capitalism has also set the scene for years of increased hardship and popular unrest that will inevitably follow any future economic crash.

The very real prospect of a repeat of the 2008 meltdown is now widely accepted in the mainstream …

Stock Symbol: KILL

First, a disclaimer: I know virtually nothing about “the stock market.” Nor have I—for moral (and aesthetic) reasons—wanted to know. Still, as Karl Marx explained so long ago, those who have Capital will invariably seek to maximize “share-value”: increasing revenues (and net profits), reducing competition (through mergers), and reducing labor-costs (through automation, union-busting, offshoring). For those able to moderate their wealth-addiction, it becomes sickeningly easy for the “savvy investor” to “make a killing”: “buy low and sell high,” for starters–but also keep in-step with the various mechanisms which inflate share-prices (manipulative business “news,” for instance).

These days, of course, the Dow …

Transform your Global Justice Sentiments into Action to End the Occupation of Haiti

In overthrowing me you have cut down in Saint Domingue [Haiti] only the trunk of the tree of liberty; it will spring up again from the roots, for they are many and they are deep.

— Toussaint L’Ouverture

The people of Haiti have been living under a military occupation for over ten years by way of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). However, this military imposition has not generated sustained organizing and mobilizing of resources from anti-war, Pan-Afrikanist/nationalist, socialist, trade unions, international solidarity activists, organizations or movements located in the imperialist centres of Europe and North America.

It is critically important for …

Venezuela’s Indigenous Pemon are Caught in Time on Land Too Valuable for Numbers

On the heels of Columbus Day, known since 2002 in Venezuela as the Day of Indigenous Resistance, President Nicolas Maduro handed over ‘collective property titles’ encompassing 8,382 hectares (21,000 acres) to six different indigenous ethnic groups in the eastern state of Anzoátegui.

During last week’s honorary ceremony, representatives of Venezuelan indigenous groups met in Miraflores presidential palace in ceremonial dress; looking quite comfortable in minimalist loincloths and beaded necklaces amid plush red carpets and gilded portraits of the country’s (white) 19th century independence leaders.

The thirty-four representatives, elected by their respective communities by popular vote, will make up a presidential council whose …

Badgers at Dawn

While people are fighting to protect the badgers from the UK government’s infamous culls, they are also working to protect the badgers from bovine TB by vaccinating them.  The season for vaccinating badgers against bovine TB has finished for this year, and for those people wanting to help protect badgers from disease, it is time to think about volunteering for next year’s vaccinating.  What does this involve?

All is quiet in the wood.  Light is slowly seeping through the leaves but it will be some time yet before sunrise.  Barely enough light to see when I have to duck to avoid …