Saturday Matinee: Goodbye 20th Century

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“Goodbye 20th Century” (1998) is a twisted but ambitious Macedonian film (directed by Darko Mitrevski and Aleksandar Popovski) connecting three allegorical tales from different eras. In the first segment, a man cursed with immortality in a post-apocalyptic world encounter a trickster who may hold the key to ending his existence. A shorter segment follows depicting the tragic first wedding captured on film in 190o. The film concludes in 1999 when a man in a Santa suit’s interruption of a military wake has violent consequences for all involved.

For English subtitles, click on the “cc” button near the bottom right corner of the video window.

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The Path to Eternity

400px-Anthony_Albright-Night_Walker

By Mark Anthony Rockeymoore

Source: Sacred Space in Time

Thoughts are things. Energy that becomes words, then actions. Are your thoughts generally positive or negative? Your words, your actions? Do you see the positive in life more naturally, or the negative?

Given enough time and repeated attention, thoughts take on a life of their own. We become haunted by fears that take over our lives. Collective thoughts haunt the collective mind. Individual fears become our lives and collective fears become the world we live in.

Positive thoughts create a positive life, even in a world of negativity. Individually and collectively we each are responsible for the world we co-create. For our thoughts, words and actions. Starting the day concentrating on the good things in our lives we fundamentally alter the trajectory of our experience as perception determines words and actions.

The multiverse, the universe, the galaxy, the solar system and the world are all thoughts in the mind of God. And the same thing applies to our lives. We create them within this larger structure, based upon conditions unique to each of us. How we choose to perceive our lives, positively or negatively, determines the course of our paths and fundamentally alters our possibilities.

There is no greater purpose in life than to live consciously. To consider thoughts, words and actions carefully. To live according to your deepest purpose, aligned to the truths you have discovered during the course of your own experience. To hone thought to the point of utter clarity, to speak precisely, to act decisively.

Looking at your life right this moment, can you tell how far you are along that path? Does your answer to that question satisfy you? Do your regrets outweigh your joys? If they do, you know exactly what you must do. The only thing left then, is to determine how.

The answer arises with the question. Query yourself and commit yourself to living according to your deepest understanding. Regrets will then pass away with this shift in perception and the recognition that life’s lessons are ongoing and there is no final test, just continuous growth along the path to eternity.

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A Libertarian Argument for Universal Basic Income

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Why Has Classical Capitalism Devolved to Crony-Capitalism?

Crony-Capitalism_200x200

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: OfTwoMinds.com

Here is the quote that perfectly captures our era: “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.” (John Kenneth Galbraith) The trick, of course, is to mask the unspoken second half of of that statement: everybody else gets destroyed along with the Elites when the system implodes.

Union pension funds: toast. Government employees’ pension funds: toast. 401Ks: toast. IRAs: toast. The echo-bubble in housing: toast. The Fed’s favorite PR cover to cloak the enrichment of their financier cronies, the wealth effect:toast.

The primary tool the Elites use to mask the risk of complete destruction is magical thinking–specifically, that “given enough time, the system will heal itself.”

That’s rich, considering that the Elites’ primary tool of avoiding destruction is crippling the market’s self-healing immune system: price discovery. Thanks to ceaseless interventions by central banks, the price discovery mechanism has been shattered: want to know the price of risk? It’s near-zero. Yield on sovereign bonds? Near-zero. And so on.

Prices have been so distorted (the ultimate goal of Central Planning everywhere, from China to the EU to Japan to the U.S.) that the illusion of stability is impossible without more intervention.

This leads to two self-liquidating dynamics: diminishing returns (every intervention yields less of the desired result) and the Darwinian selection of only those money managers who believe risk has been vanquished.

Everyone who pursues prudent risk management has either been fired or saw the writing on the wall and exited stage right. So the only people left at the gaming tables of the big institutional players are those individuals who are genetically incapable of responding appropriately to rising risk. Those who did have long been fired for “underperformance.”

So how did classical free-market capitalism become state-cartel crony-capitalism, a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions that is entirely dependent on ceaseless central bank perception management and interventions on a scale never before seen?

We can start with these six factors:

1. Those who control most of the wealth are willing to risk systemic collapse to retain their privileges and wealth. Due to humanity’s virtuosity with rationalization, those at the top always find ways to justify policies that maintain their dominance and downplay the distortions the policies generate. This as true in China as it is in the U.S.

2. Short-term thinking: if we fudge the numbers, lower interest rates, etc. today, we (politicians, policy-makers, money managers, etc.) will avoid being sacked tomorrow. The longer term consequences of these politically expedient policies are ignored.

3. Legitimate capital accumulation has become more difficult and risky than buying political favors. Global competition and the exhaustion of developed-world consumers has made it difficult to reap outsized profits from legitimate enterprise. In terms of return-on-investment (ROI), buying political favors is far lower risk and generates much higher returns than expanding production or risking investment in R&D.

4. The centralization of state/central bank power has increased the leverage of political contributions/lobbying. The greater the concentration of power, the more attractive it is to sociopaths and those seeking to buy state subsidies, sweetheart contracts, protection from competition, etc.

5. Any legitimate reform will require dismantling crony-capitalist/state-cartel arrangements. Since that would hurt those at the top of the wealth/power pyramid, reform is politically impossible.

6. Understood in this light, it’s clear that central bank monetary policy—zero-interest rates, asset purchases, cheap credit to banks and financiers, QE, etc.—is designed to paper over the structural problems that require real reform.

Japan is a case in point: the Powers That Be in Japan have put off real reforms of the Japanese economy and political system for 25 years, and they’ve enabled this avoidance by pursuing extremes of fiscal and monetary policy that have eroded the real economy and created long-term structural imbalances.

In this 24 minute video Gordon T. Long and Charles Hugh Smith discuss through the aid of 17 slides the rapid advancement of Crony Capitalism in America. The facts are undeniable, but why is it becoming so obvious and undeniable? Why is it accelerating without any apparent ‘checks and balances’? Where have the safeguards against this happening gone?

Posted in Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, Economics, Financial Crisis, History, Recession, Social Control, society, Video | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two for Tuesday

Michael Franti and Spearhead

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The US and Global Wars: Empire or Vampire?

GIF by WhatReallyHappened.com

GIF by WhatReallyHappened.com

By James Petras

Source: Axis of Logic

Introduction

To the growing army of critics of US military intervention, who also reject the mendacious claims by American officials and their apologists of ‘world leadership’, Washington is engaged in ‘empire-building”.

But the notion that the US is building an empire, by engaging in wars to exploit and plunder countries’ markets, resources and labor, defies the realities of the past two decades. US wars, including invasions, bombings, occupations, sanctions, coups and clandestine operations have not resulted in the expansion of markets, greater control and exploitation of resources or the ability to exploit cheap labor. Instead US wars have destroyed enterprises, reduced access to raw materials, killed, wounded or displaced productive workers around the world, and limited access to lucrative investment sites and markets via sanctions.

In other words, US global military interventions and wars have done the exact opposite of what all previous empires have pursued: Washington has exploited (and depleted) the domestic economy to expand militarily abroad instead of enriching it.

Why and how the US global wars differ from those of previous empires requires us to examine (1) the forces driving overseas expansion; (2) the political conceptions accompanying the conquest, the displacement of incumbent rulers and the seizure of power and; (3) the reorganization of the conquered states and the accompanying economic and social structures to sustain long-term neo-colonial relations.

Empire Building: The Past

Europe built durable, profitable and extensive empires, which enriched the ‘mother country’, stimulated local industry, reduced unemployment and ‘trickled down’ wealth in the form of better wages to privileged sectors of the working class. Imperial military expeditions were preceded by the entry of major trade enterprises (British East India Company) and followed by large-scale manufacturing, banking and commercial firms. Military invasions and political takeovers were driven by competition with economic rivals in Europe, and later, by the US and Japan.

The goal of military interventions was to monopolize control over the most lucrative economic resources and markets in the colonized regions. Imperial repression was directed at creating a docile low wage labor force and buttressing subordinate local collaborators or client-rulers who facilitated the flow of profits, debt payments, taxes and export revenues back to the empire.

Imperial wars were the beginning, not the end, of ‘empire building’. What followed these wars of conquest was the incorporation of pre-existing elites into subordinate positions in the administration of the empire. The ‘sharing of revenues’, between the imperial economic enterprises and pre-existing elites, was a crucial part of ‘empire building’. The imperial powers sought to ‘instrumentalize’ existing religious, political, and economic elites’ and harness them to the new imperial-centered division of labor. Pre-existing economic activity, including local manufacturers and agricultural producers, which competed with imperial industrial exporters, were destroyed and replaced by malleable local traders and importers (compradors). In summary, the military dimensions of empire building were informed by economic interests in the mother country. The occupation was pre-eminently concerned with preserving local collaborative powers and, above all, restoring and expanding the intensive and extensive exploitation of local resources and labor, as well as the capture and saturation of local markets with goods from the imperial center.

“Empire-building” Today

The results of contemporary US military interventions and invasions stand in stark contrast with those of past imperial powers. The targets of military aggression are selected on the basis of ideological and political criteria. Military action does not follow the lead of ‘pioneer’ economic entrepreneurs – like the British East India Company. Military action is not accompanied by large-scale, long-term capitalist enterprises. Multi-national construction companies of the empire, which build great military bases are a drain on the imperial treasury.

Contemporary US intervention does not seek to secure and take over the existing military and civilian state apparatus; instead the invaders fragment the conquered state, decimate its cadres, professionals and experts at all levels, thus providing an entry for the most retrograde ethno-religious, regional, tribal and clan leaders to engage in intra-ethnic, sectarian wars against each other, in other words – chaos. Even the Nazis, in their expansion phase, chose to rule through local collaborator elites and maintained established administrative structures at all levels.

With US invasions, entire existing socio-economic structures are undermined, not ‘taken over’: all productive activity is subject to the military priorities of leaders bent on permanently crippling the conquered state and its advanced economic, administrative, educational, cultural and social sectors. While this is militarily successful in the short-run, the medium and long-term results are non-functioning states, not a sustained inflow of plunder and expanding market for an empire. Instead what we have is a chain of US military bases surrounded by a sea of hostile, largely unemployed populations and warring ethno-religious groups in decimated economies.

The US claims to ‘world leadership’ is based exclusively on failed-state empire building. Nevertheless, the dynamic for continuing to expand into new regions, to militarily and politically intervene and establish new client entities continues. And, most importantly, this expansionist dynamic further undermines domestic economic interests, which, theoretically and historically, form the basis for empire. We, therefore, have imperialism without empire, a vampire state preying on the vulnerable and devouring its own in the process.

Empire or Vampire: The Results of US Global Warfare

Empires, throughout history, have violently seized political power and exploited the riches and resources (both material and human) of the targeted regions. Over time, they would consolidate a ‘working relation’, insuring the ever-increasing flow of wealth into the mother country and the expanding presence of imperial enterprises in the colony. Contemporary US military interventions have had the opposite effect after every recent major military conquest and occupation.

Iraq: Vampires Pillage

Under Saddam Hussein, the Republic of Iraq was a major oil producer and profitable partner for major US oil companies, as well as a lucrative market for US exports. It was a stable, unified secular state. The first Gulf War in the 1990s led to the first phase of its fragmentation with the de facto establishment of a Kurdish mini-state in the north under US protection. The US withdrew its military forces but imposed brutal economic sanctions limiting economic reconstruction from the devastation of the first Gulf War. The second US-led invasion and full-scale occupation in 2003 devastated the economy and dismantled the state dismissing tens of thousands of experienced civil servants, teachers and police. This led to utter social collapse and fomented ethno-religious warfare leading to the killing, wounding or displacement of millions of Iraqis. The result of GW Bush’s conquest of Baghdad was a ‘failed state’. US oil and energy companies lost billions of dollars in trade and investment and the US economy was pushed into recession.

Afghanistan: Endless Wars, Endless Losses

The US war against Afghanistan began with the arming, financing and political support of Islamist jihadi-fundamentalists in 1979. They succeeded in destroying and dismantling a secular, national government. With the decision to invade Afghanistan in October 2001 the US became an occupier in Southwest Asia. For the next thirteen years, the US-puppet regime of Hamad Karzai and the ‘NATO coalition’ occupation forces proved incapable of defeating the Taliban guerrilla army. Billions of dollars were spent devastating the economy and impoverishing the vast majority of Afghans. Only the opium trade flourished. The effort to create an army loyal to the puppet regime failed. The forced retreat of US armed forces beginning in 2014 signals the bitter demise of US ‘empire building’ in Southwest Asia.

Libya: From Lucrative Trading Partner to Failed State

Libya, under President Gadhafi, was evolving into a major US and European trading partner and influential power in Africa. The regime signed large-scale, long-term contracts with major international oil companies that were backed by a stable secular government. The relationship with the US and EU was profitable. The US opted to impose a ‘regime change’ through massive US-EU missile and bombing strikes and the arming of a motley collection of Islamist terrorists, ex-pat neo-liberals and tribal militias. While these attacks succeeded in killing President Gadhafi and most of his family (including many of his grandchildren) and dismantling the secular Libyan government and administrative infrastructure, the country was ripped apart by tribal war-lord conflicts, political disintegration and the utter destruction of the economy. Oil investors fled. Over one million Libyans and immigrant workers were displaced. The US and EU ‘partners-in-regime-change’ have even fled their own embassies in Tripoli – while the Libyan ‘parliament’ operates off-shore from a casino boat. None of this devastation would have been possible under President Gadhafi. The US vampire bled its new prize, Libya, but certainly could not incorporate it into a profitable ‘empire’. Not only were its oil resources denied to the empire, but even oil exports disappeared. Not even an imperial military base has been secured in North Africa!

Syria: Wars on Behalf of Terrorists not Empire

Washington and its EU allies backed an armed uprising in Syria hoping to install a puppet regime and bring Damascus into their “empire”. The mercenary assaults have caused the deaths of nearly 200,000 Syrians, the displacement of over 30% of the population and the seizure of the Syrian oil fields by the Sunni extremist army, ISIS. ISIS has decimated the pro-US mercenary army, recruiting and arming thousands of terrorists from around the world It invaded neighboring Iraq conquering the northern third of that country. This was the ultimate result of the deliberate US dismantling of the Iraqi state in 2003.

The US strategy, once again, is to arm Islamist extremists to overthrow the secular Bashar Assad regime in Damascus and then to discard them for a more pliable client. The strategy ‘boomeranged’ on Washington. ISIS devastated the ineffective Iraqi armed forces of the Maliki regime in Baghdad and America’s much over-rated Peshmerga proxy ‘fighters’ in Iraqi ‘Kurdistan’. Washington’s mercenary war in Syria didn’t expand the ‘empire’; indeed it undermined existing imperial outposts.

The Ukrainian Power Grab, Russian Sanctions and Empire Building

In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, the US and EU incorporated the Baltic, Eastern European and Balkan ex-communist countries into their orbit. This clearly violated major agreements with Russia, by incorporating most of the neo-liberal regimes into NATO and bringing NATO forces to the very border of Russia. During the corrupt regime of Boris Yeltsin, the ‘West’ absolutely looted the Russian economy in co-operation with local gangster – oligarchs, who took up EU or Israeli citizenship to recycle their pillaged wealth. The demise of the vassal Yeltsin regime and the ascent and recovery of Russia under Vladimir Putin led the US and EU to formulate a strategy to deepen and extend its ‘empire’ by seizing power in the Caucuses and the Ukraine. A power and land grab by the puppet regime in Georgia attacking Russian forces in Ossetia in 2012 was decisively beaten back. This was a mere dress rehearsal for the coup in Kiev. In late 2013-early 2014, the US financed a violent rightwing putsch ousting the elected government and imposing a hand-picked pro-NATO client to assume power in Kiev.

The new pro-US regime moved quickly to purge all independent, democratic, federalist, bilingual and anti-NATO voices especially among the bi-lingual citizens concentrated in the South-Eastern Ukraine. The coup and the subsequent purge provoked a major armed uprising in the southeast, which successfully resisted the invading NATO-backed neo-fascist armed forces and private armies of the oligarchs. The failure of the Kiev regime to subdue the resistance fighters of the Donbass region resulted in a multi-pronged US-EU intervention designed to isolate, weaken and undermine the resistance. First and foremost they attempted to pressure Russia to close its borders on the eastern front where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians eventually fled the bombardment. Secondly, the US and EU applied economic sanctions on Russia to abandon its political support for the southeast region’s democratic and federalist demands. Thirdly, it sought to use the Ukraine conflict as a pretext for a major military build-up on Russia’s borders, expanding NATO missile sites and organizing an elite rapid interventionist military force capable of bolstering a faltering puppet regime or backing a future NATO sponsored putsch against any adversary.

The Kiev regime is economically bankrupt. Its war against its own civilians in the southeast has devastated Ukraine’s economy. Hundreds of thousands of skilled professionals, workers and their families have fled to Russia. Kiev’s embrace of the EU has resulted in the breakdown of vital gas and oil agreements with Russia, undermining the Ukraine’s principle source of energy and heating with winter only months away. Kiev cannot pay its debts and faces default. The rivalries between neo-fascists and neo-liberals in Kiev will further erode the regime. In sum, the US-EU power grab in the Ukraine has not led to the effective ‘expansion of empire’; rather it has ushered in the total destruction of an emerging economy and precipitated a sharp reversal of financial, trade and investment relations with Russia and Ukraine. The economic sanctions against Russia exacerbate the EU current economic crisis. The belligerent posture of military confrontation toward Russia will result in an increase in military spending among the EU states and further divert scarce economic resources form job creation and social programs. The loss by significant sectors of the EU of agricultural export markets, as well as the loss of several billion-dollar military-industrial contracts with Russia, certainly weakens, rather than expands, the ‘empire’ as an economic force

Iran: 100 Billion Dollar Punitive Sanctions Don’t Build Empires

The US-EU sanctions on Iran carry a very high political, economic and political price tag. They do not strengthen empire, if we understand ‘empire’ to mean the expansion of multi-national corporations, and increasing access to oil and gas resources to ensure stable, cheap energy for strategic economic sectors within the imperial center.

The economic war on Iran has been at the behest of US allies, including the Gulf Monarchies and especially Israel. These are dubious ‘allies’ for US ‘empire’ . . . widely reviled potentates and a racist regime which manage to exact tribute from the imperial center!

In Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, Iran has demonstrated its willingness to co-operate in power sharing agreements with US global interest. However, Iran is a regional power, which will not submit to becoming a vassal state of the US. The sanctions policy has not provoked an uprising among the Iranian masses nor has it led to regime change. Sanctions have not weakened Iran to the extent of making it an easy military target. While sanctions have weakened Iran’s economy, they has also worked against any kind of long-range empire building strategy, because Iran has strengthened its economic and diplomatic ties with the US’ rivals, Russia and China.

Conclusion

As this brief survey indicates, US-EU wars have not been instruments of empire-building in the conventional or historical sense. At most they have destroyed some adversaries of empire. But these have been pyrrhic victories. Along with the overthrow of a target regime, the systematic break-up of the state has unleashed powerful chaotic forces, which have doomed any possibility of creating stable neo-colonial regimes capable of controlling their societies and securing opportunities for imperialist enrichment via economic exploitation.

At most the US overseas wars have secured military outposts, foreign islands in seas of desperate and hostile populations. Imperial wars have provoked continuous underground resistance movements, ethnic civil wars and violent terrorist organizations that threaten ‘blowback’ on the imperial center.

The US and EU’s easy annexations of the ex-communist countries, usually via the stage-managed ballot-box or ‘color revolutions’, led to the take-over of great national wealth and skilled labor. However, Euro-American empires bloody campaigns to invade and conquer the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa and the Caucuses have created nightmarish ‘failed states’ – continuously draining imperial coffers and leading to a state of permanent occupation and warfare.

The bloodless takeover of the Eastern European satellites with their accommodating, corrupt elites has ended. The 21st century reliance on militarist strategies contrasts sharply with the successful multi-pronged colonial expansions of the 19th–20th century, where economic penetration and large scale economic development accompanied military intervention and political change. Today’s imperial wars cause economic decay and misery within the domestic economy, as well as perpetual wars abroad, an unsustainable drain.

The current US/EU military expansion into Ukraine, the encirclement of Russia, NATO missiles aimed at the very heart of a major nuclear power and the economic sanctions may lead to a global nuclear war, which may indeed put an end to militarist empire-building… and the rest of humanity.

Posted in anti-war, Empire, Geopolitics, History, propaganda, society, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US to rapidly expand war in Iraq and Syria

Screenshot from 2014-09-11 15_16_14(1)

By Peter Symonds

Source: World Socialist Web Site

In the wake of President Obama’s speech Wednesday night, the US is preparing to rapidly ramp up its military operations in Syria and Iraq. Over the past month, the American military has carried out about 150 air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias inside Iraq. Now, Obama declared, the US will “go on offense,” extending the war in Iraq and into Syria.

While ISIS “terrorists” are the nominal target, the new US-led war in the Middle East is above all a revival of plans shelved a year ago for the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Immediately after Obama’s address, a senior American defence official briefed the media on the Pentagon’s plans, declaring that it “is ready to conduct direct action against ISIL [ISIS] targets in Syria.” Of the nearly 500 additional US troops due to arrive in Iraq next week, more than half will be allocated to boosting joint operational command centres in Baghdad and the northern Kurdish city of Erbil, closer to the Syrian border. Another 125 military personnel are to go to Erbil to boost the number of drone strikes inside Iraq and Syria.

US Special Forces are already operating in Iraq and undoubtedly will be deployed inside Syria. A senior Air Force commander told USA Today that, while spy planes could identify targets in Iraq and Syria, it was “absolutely crucial that pilots are talking to an American on the ground.” He drew a parallel with the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when US Special Forces and CIA operatives infiltrated into the country to guide US air strikes on Taliban targets and lay the ground work for the military occupation.

The Obama administration is pressing for Congress to authorise $500 million to train and equip anti-Assad militias, which is likely to proceed quickly with bipartisan support. At the same time, US Secretary of State John Kerry is touring the Middle East to enlist political and military support for anti-Assad forces inside Syria.

Twelve months ago, Obama called off a US air war against the Assad regime at the last minute amid widespread popular hostility, divisions in US ruling circles, lack of support from key allies such as Britain and opposition, particularly from Russia. Now the White House has seized on the spectre of ISIS—which the US and its allies in the Gulf States helped foster and fund—as the pretext for dusting off its plans for regime-change in Syria.

Saudi Arabia, which was bitter about the US decision to cancel the air strikes last year, is enthusiastically supporting the new war against ISIS, even though significant sections of the Saudi elite have been backing ISIS. The Saudi monarchy is well aware that the US has Assad firmly in its sights. Assad’s overthrow would greatly weaken the Saudi regime’s arch rival, Iran, by removing Iran’s ally in the Middle East.

The Saudi regime has offered facilities on its soil for the US to train and arm “moderate” anti-Assad militias and yesterday hosted a meeting between Kerry and Middle Eastern foreign ministers, including from the Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. A joint communiqué between the US and 10 Arab states endorsed efforts to cut off funding to ISIS and block the flow of volunteers to ISIS.

The statement called for a coordinated military campaign, to which each country would contribute “as appropriate.” No specifics were spelled out, but a US State Department official traveling with Kerry told the media that “there’s going to be a meeting soon of defence ministers to work out the details,” including “enhanced basing and overflights” for US military forces.

Speaking after the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal enthused: “There is no limit to what the kingdom can provide.” Asked about previous criticism of Obama’s decision last year to call off air strikes on Syria, he played down past differences, declaring: “I don’t see disagreement. I see agreement about the present situation.” Any Saudi involvement in military operations inside Syria would dramatically heighten tensions with Iran and throughout the region.

The presence of the new Iraqi foreign minister is significant because Saudi Arabia branded the previous Baghdad government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as an Iranian puppet and cut diplomatic relations. Washington’s determination to oust Maliki to make way for “a more inclusive government,” formed this week, was aimed at drawing Iraq toward Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, and isolating Iran.

Kerry, who met with new government ministers in Baghdad on Wednesday, underlined how critical Maliki’s removal was to Washington’s war plans. “Now that the Iraqi parliament has approved a new cabinet with new leaders and representative from all Iraqi communities, it’s full speed ahead. A new, inclusive Iraqi government has to be the engine of our global strategy against ISIL.”

While repeating the line that the US would not deploy combat troops, Kerry left the door wide open by adding the rider, “unless, obviously, something very, very dramatic changes.” Dramatic changes are virtually inevitable as the US plunges recklessly into a military conflict in Iraq and Syria. If a sufficiently dramatic event does not emerge, it can always be provoked or manufactured.

The governments in Syria, Iran and Russia understand that they are the targets of this phony new “war on terror.” Syrian National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar declared yesterday that “any action of any type without the approval of the Syrian government is an attack against Syria.” Haidar insisted “there must be cooperation with Syria,” but Obama has emphatically ruled that out.

Russia’s foreign ministry warned that any US action, “in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.” Obama has indicated that, while he will seek a UN resolution, the US is prepared to act without it. Already confronted by the intervention of the US and its European partners in Ukraine, Russia now faces the prospect of losing its only ally in the Middle East and access to a Mediterranean port for its naval vessels.

Just as the 2003 invasion of Iraq was never about weapons of mass destruction, so the latest US military intervention in the Middle East has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, but is aimed at securing American domination throughout the region. A decade on, under conditions of greatly heightened geo-political tensions, this new expanded war of aggression threatens to embroil the entire region and trigger a far broader conflagration.

 

Posted in anti-war, Empire, Geopolitics, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Podcast Roundup

9/7: On Expanding Minds, hosts Maja D’Aoust and Erik Davis have a conversation with Andy Sharp of English Heretic about death, Horror films, Hiroshima, psychogeography, and his latest release, The Underworld Service.

 
http://s50.podbean.com/pb/fd840a4721e38d3f25dd4ec01834d2c6/541340f7/data2/blogs18/276613/uploads/ExpandingMind_090714.mp3

9/8: R.U. Sirius joins hosts Chris Dancy and Klint Finley to discuss technology transhumanism, and the current social/political climate among other topics.

 
9/9: Peter Null interviews Professor Andrew Kolin, a professor of political science at Hilbert College in Hamburg and Kevin Carson, researcher at the Center for a Stateless Society, on militarization of police, centralization of power, war and the military-industrial complex.

http://s53.podbean.com/pb/e788a26888199ef114360f06cc89f48c/541347f9/data1/blogs18/371244/uploads/ProgressiveCommentaryHour_090914.mp3

9/10: On the C-Realm, KMO and June Pulliam discuss and dissect the archetypes and cultural meaning of zombie apocalypse narratives.


http://c-realmpodcast.podOmatic.com/enclosure/2014-09-10T12_48_22-07_00.mp3

9/11: Christopher Knowles joins Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio to examine how Gnosticism connects to alternative cultures, politics and humanity’s existential crisis.

http://content.screencast.com/users/AeonByte/folders/AEON%20BYTE/media/7984ec1d-8363-4162-a034-0dabc54aef33/1.%20Gnosticism%20and%20Politics%20with%20Chris%20Knowles.mp3

9/12: On New World Next Week, James Corbett and James Evan Pilato report on 9/11 terror hysteria, Obama’s private CFR event with Sandy Berger (9/11 document thief) and the cryptocurrency/anti-surveillance potential of a new off-the-grid communications technology.

 
http://www.corbettreport.com/mp3/2014-09-11%20James%20Evan%20Pilato.mp3

Posted in 9/11, Activism, anti-war, Art, black ops, civil disobedience, civil liberties, consciousness, Conspiracy, Corruption, culture, Economics, Empire, False Flag, Film, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, History, media, military spending, news, Philosophy, Podcasts, police state, propaganda, Psychology, Recession, Science, Social Control, society, Spirituality, State Crime, surveillance state, Technology, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: The Color of Life

vermillion_011

“The Color of Life” (2002) is a feature-length compilation of some of the oddest of the many odd moments from cult Japanese late night comedy/variety program “Vermilion Pleasure Night”. Recurring skits featured on the show include NSFW English language and cooking educational programs, an alien trapped on a starship resembling a Japanese studio apartment and antics of families of zombies, mannequins and human Barbie dolls. Interspersed through the film and television episodes are surrealistic musical and/or animated segments.

For English subtitles, click on the “cc” button near the bottom right corner of the video window.

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Growing Social Inequality in America. Wealth Concentration and Decline in Living Standards

inequality-illo

New Federal Reserve report US median income has plunged, inequality has grown in Obama “recovery”

By Andre Damon

Source: Global Research

The yearly income of a typical US household dropped by a massive 12 percent, or $6,400, in the six years between 2007 and 2013. This is just one of the findings of the 2013 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances released Thursday, which documents a sharp decline in working class living standards and a further concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich and the super-rich.

The report makes clear that the drop in a typical household’s income was not merely the result of what is referred to as the 2008 recession, which officially lasted only 18 months, through June 2009. Much of the decline in workers’ incomes occurred during the so-called “economic recovery” presided over by the Obama administration.

In the three years between 2010 and 2013, the annual income of a typical household actually fell by 5 percent.

household_income

Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances

The Fed report exposes as a fraud the efforts of the Obama administration to present itself as a defender of the “middle class”. It has systematically pursued policies to redistribute wealth from the bottom to the very top of the income ladder. These include the multi-trillion-dollar bailout of the banks, near-zero interest rates to drive up the stock market, and austerity measures and wage cutting to lift corporate profits and CEO pay to record highs.

The Federal Reserve data, based on in-person interviews, show a far larger decline in the median income of American households than indicated by earlier figures from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

In line with the figures on household income, the report shows an ever-growing concentration of wealth among the richest households. The Fed’s summary of its data notes that “the wealth share of the top 3 percent climbed from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 51.8 percent in 2007 and 54.4 percent in 2013,” while the wealth of the “next 7 highest percent of families changed very little.”

The report states that “the rising wealth share of the top 3 percent of families is mirrored by the declining share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent,” which fell from 33.2 percent in 1989 to 24.7 percent in 2013.

income_shares

Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances

The ongoing impoverishment of the population is an indictment of capitalism. There has been no genuine recovery from the Wall Street crash of 2008, only a further plundering of the economy by the financial aristocracy. The crisis precipitated by the rapacious, criminal practices of the bankers and hedge fund speculators has been used to restructure the economy to the benefit of the rich at the expense of everyone else.

Decent-paying jobs have been wiped out and replaced by low-wage, part-time and temporary jobs, with little or no benefits. Pensions and health benefits have come under savage attack, as seen in the bankruptcy of Detroit.

Not surprisingly, the Fed report has been buried by the American media, confined to the inside pages of the major newspapers.

Measured in 2013 dollars, a typical household received an income of $53,100 in 2007. By 2010, this had fallen to $49,000. It hit $46,700 by 2013. At the same time, the average income for the wealthiest tenth of families grew by ten percent.

While median income fell between 2010 and 2013, mean (average) income grew, from $84,100 to $87,200. The report noted that, “the decline in median income coupled with the rise in mean income is consistent with a widening income distribution during this period.”

For the poorest households, the drop in income has been even more dramatic. Among the bottom quarter of households, mean income fell a full 10 percent between 2010 and 2013.

The report reveals other aspects of the social crisis. The share of young families burdened by education debt nearly doubled, from 22.4 percent to 38.8 percent, between 2001 and 2013. The share of young families with more than $100,000 in debt has grown nearly tenfold, from 0.6 percent to 5.6 percent.

These statistics reflect both a historic and insoluble crisis of the profit system and the brutal policies of the American ruling class, which is carrying out a relentless assault on working people and preparing to go even further by dismantling bedrock social programs such as Medicare and Social Security. The data undercuts the endless talk of “partisan gridlock” in Washington and the media presentation of a political system paralyzed by irreconcilable differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.

There has, in fact, been a seamless continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations in the pursuit of reactionary policies of war abroad and class war at home. The two parties have worked hand in glove to make the working class pay for the crisis of the capitalist system.

The Federal Reserve has itself played a critical role in the growth of social inequality in the US. The bailout of the banks, estimated at $7 trillion, has been followed by six years of virtually free money for the banks.

Every facet of American life is dominated by the immense concentration of wealth at the very top of society. The grotesque levels of wealth amassed by the parasites and criminals who dominate American business, and the flaunting of their fortunes before tens of millions struggling to pay their bills and keep from falling into destitution, are fueling the growth of social anger. This anger will increasingly be directed against the entire economic and political system.

The figures released by the Fed reflect a society riven by class divisions that must inevitably trigger social upheavals. The explosive state of social relations is itself a major factor in the endless recourse by the Obama administration to military aggression and war, which serve to deflect internal tensions outward.

The growth of inequality likewise underlies the relentless attack on democratic rights in the US, including the massive domestic spying exposed by Edward Snowden and the use of militarized police to crack down on social opposition, as seen most recently in Ferguson, Missouri.

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