Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Monsanto Revolution

The Monsanto Revolution
By Timothy V. Gatto
The protests against the Monsanto Protection Act were not covered by the corporately run news media in the United States. This treacherous act itself has not been discussed by the majority of people and the information about what it really means to us is being hidden by those charged to provide this information.

The very fact that the corporate media has tried to minimize the coverage of the protests, and the fact that they hid the role of Congress in protecting a company that has the potential to damage our lives is something that is actually criminal. The fact that most Americans still don’t know about the potential effects of GMO seeds to the American people cannot be defended.

It was the alternative and social media that brought this matter to the public. The marches and the gathering of concerned Americans demonstrated the power of this new way of communication. The effectiveness and coordination in over 250 cities in the United States was absolutely remarkable and a demonstration of how democracy works. 

It was also remarkable how the commercial media downplayed and censored the protests of the people. The importance of the information that the demonstrators were trying to present to the American public and the effect of what Monsanto's policies will have on the public is of significant importance.

Even though people demonstrated in almost every city in the United States, the commercial media still managed to keep the purpose and the import of the demonstrations quiet, the suppression of that information was done masterfully.

What Else are they hiding from the People?

It appears that our government has morphed into something that would be unrecognizable to those that designed and formed it. In the period of time during the American Revolution, many people in the government were indeed rich and powerful, but many were not. Today most Senators and Congressman are rich and powerful and those that are not will by the time they leave office. The majority of those in Congress are controlled by corporate money and this is what funds their campaigns.

The Monsanto debacle has proven, beyond any shadow of a doubt that the commercial media is in the hands of the rich and powerful. Information they don’t want known does not escape from the media cloud that is dispersed to the people. The importance of what Monsanto plans to do, and the effect it would have on all of the people in the United States proves that even a subject that affects us so deeply can be hidden from the people.

This should cause a seismic shift in our understanding of who and what controls the American people. The importance of The Monsanto Protection Act and the potential damage to the health and economic welfare of American citizen's cannot be understated. What Congress has done was not done in the name of the American people; it was done to shield a corporation and thus was essentially an act of treason.

Again I’m  asking the question; what else are they hiding from us? Whether it is because of corporate interests or because of what they feel is "national security", these questions should and must be asked and the government should be compelled to answer.

The simple facts are, the people don't work for the government in America, the government, under our law, works for the people! When they passed "The Monsanto Protection Act", they passed a law that literally protected a corporation from the American people! Again, this is treason! Treason perpetrated against the American people is a capital offense! This may sound extreme, but every lawmaker that voted for this bill should be impeached and charged with treason against the people of the United States. The bill should be declared treasonous and overturned by The Supreme Court.

Of course, in today's political climate, and with the perpetrators being the ones that hold power in Congress, this won't happen at this particular time, but it can and will happen. It must happen! If the American people want control of the government instead of the government having control over them, they must take this issue to its logical conclusion.

As has happened many times in the past, it is happening here and now in the United States of America. The government has acted against the welfare of its own people for the personal gain of a corporation. This display of corporate power is contrary to our Declaration of Independence and against our Constitution.

Anyone who really cares about the welfare of their fellow man should take notice. It is apparent that one day of marches and demonstrating in the streets just isn't enough. The only way forward is to continue to raise hell; more marches, more demonstrations, more people posting articles and more people raising awareness using any means possible. This is the only hope of stopping treason against the people.

Monday, May 27, 2013

US Makes Syria an ‘Offer it Can’t Refuse’ – Again

Finian CUNNINGHAM | 25.05.2013 | 07:45

In Mafia terms, it’s called «making an offer that can’t be refused». The «offer» is not one of free choice between options that may benefit the object party. In reality, it is about setting up a scenario of duress, under which the object party is coerced to capitulate to detrimental terms of extreme prejudice determined cynically by the other party.

This is the scenario that Washington and its NATO allies are contriving for the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad…

The so-called international peace conference that may take place in the coming weeks, at the behest of Washington and Moscow, is ostensibly aimed at finding a negotiated end to the conflict in Syria that is now in its third year and which has resulted in up to 80,000 deaths. At least half of these deaths are believed to be civilian.

Russian officials have confirmed that the Syrian government is willing to participate, in principle, in the conference with factions of the Syrian «opposition» – provided, says Damascus, that the latter participants do not have «blood on their hands».

That criterion may yet turn out to make the forthcoming conference a non-runner since the main opposition group – the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC) – is entwined with a host of mercenary forces on the ground that are drenched in blood from a relentless campaign of terrorism and sabotage.

However, it is not even clear if the fractious and mainly exile-based SNC has any authority over the motley crew of militant groups – more than 75 per cent of whom are foreign self-styled jihadi extremists that emanate from 30 or more Arab and other countries, according to United Nations reports.

Chief among these groups that comprise the so-called Free Syrian Army is the Al Nusra Front, the main fighting force, which is aligned with the Al Qaeda-affiliated network that stretches from Russia’s Caucus region, through Afghanistan and Iraq, to Libya, Mali and Niger.

It has to be said that Russia’s intentions for a negotiated peace settlement seem to be honourable – and based on the principle of arriving at some kind of internal Syrian consensus. To that end, Russia maintains the position of not setting preconditions about the political fate of the incumbent President Assad. Russia is supported in this view by Iran and China. It is not, they say, for foreign governments or their regional allies and proxies to determine the outcome of the conference and in particular the political future of Assad.

Contrast that with the position of the other broker – Washington. At a preliminary meeting in Jordan this past week, the US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted, along with NATO allies, Britain, France, Italy and Germany, as well as the Persian Gulf Arab sheikhdoms, that Assad «must go».

Kerry told the assembled «Friends of Syria» that the US was not dictating the outcome of the planned peace conference, but then contradicted himself flatly by repeating the assertion that President Assad would not be part of any Syrian political transition.

«Can a person who has used artillery shells and missiles and Scuds and tanks against women and children and university students – can that person possibly be judged by any reasonable person to have the credibility and legitimacy to lead that country in the future?» asked Kerry.

The veracity of these allegations against the Assad regime is more than a moot point. There is substantial evidence that the violations Kerry was attributing to Syrian government forces, such as the rocket attack on Aleppo University in January that resulted in more than 80 deaths, were in fact committed by Western-backed militants. The use of chemical weapons near Aleppo in March has also been shown recently by Russian RTR journalists to be the work of Western-backed militants, not the regime, as Western governments have been insinuating.

But that aside, the immediate point here is that Kerry and his «Enemies of Syria» coalition are very much trying to dictate terms on the anticipated political process. That same Western intransigence was largely why the Geneva accord reached last June by the UN Security Council came unstuck – and tens of thousands more Syrian deaths followed.

Adding to the warped framework of negotiations, the US, Britain and France are also insisting – in contrast to Russia and China – that Iran should not be permitted to take part in the process. Of course, the NATO powers can rely on their Sunni allies among the Persian Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to endorse that stipulation. Why the Western powers and their Arab dictator friends have any more right than Iran – an ally of Syria with vital interests at stake in the conflict – is beyond their permitted rationale or discussion.

So, the upshot is that Assad is being offered a poisoned political chalice. On one hand, he is being told to forfeit the sovereign rights of his people to have him as their leader, and by all accounts a leader with a popular mandate, to give way to a negotiation with «opposition» parties who are solely designated, funded and patronised by foreign powers.

The SNC’s Ghassan Hitto, a Texas-based Syrian businessman, is designated by Washington, London and the former colonial power Paris as Syria’s premier-in-waiting. It is fair to say that Hitto, as with many other American-accented members of the SNC, has negligible popular support within Syria. That is, without any mandate from the Syrian population, these exiles are being foisted to negotiate the political future of Syria – a future that is extremely prejudicial in favour of Western geopolitical interests.

On the other hand – and this is where the Mafia analogy takes hold – the Western powers are making thinly veiled threats that if Assad does not conform to the warped political framework, that is, drink from the poisoned chalice, then all hell will break lose on this country with an even greater escalation of Western-backed violence.

«The United States is lobbying European governments to back a British-led call to amend [lift] the EU arms embargo on Syria,» reported the British Guardian this week, as Washington and its friend were gathering in Jordan.

Up to now, Washington has at least been maintaining the fiction that it is not arming the anti-Assad militants. It has, of course, been plying the mercenaries covertly with weaponry and logistics, along with its NATO allies and the Gulf Arab dictatorships.

Militant commander Brigadier General Salim Idriss has been pleading for Washington to begin openly supplying anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles – not just the assault rifles and explosives that have come so far through the clandestine CIA/MI6 conduits of Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Since last month, Washington officials have begun briefing media outlets, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, that the Obama administration is moving towards more direct military intervention in aid of the militants in Syria. «We’re clearly on an upward trajectory,» a senior US official said somewhat cryptically on 30 April. «We’ve moved over to assistance that has a direct military purpose.»

Days later, in the first week of May, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel hosted a press conference at the Pentagon with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond. «Arming the rebels, that’s an option,» said Hagel, indicating an apparent reversal of White House policy of ostensibly only sending «non-lethal aid».

And this week a US Senate committee voted in favour of Washington arming the «rebels» in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry is adding to this increasingly articulated threat. Voice of America reported from the Jordanian meeting last week: «Kerry says the Obama administration hopes President Assad ‘will understand the meaning of that’ [shift in US military policy towards Syria].»

This latent threat of greater aggression against Syria by the US, if it does not toe the political line as ordained by Washington, is not a new tactic in America’s underlying objective of regime change.

Last month, the Iranian FARS news agency reported that Syrian envoy to Iran, Adnan Mahmoud, disclosed that as far back as March 2011 – when the conflict was kicking off in Syria – that the then US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, had starkly told the Damascus government that it faced «a choice».

The Syrian envoy to Iran was quoted by FARS as saying: «Of course, in the very first weeks of the conflict in Syria, the US Secretary of Defence [Robert Gates] sent a message to the Syrian government, and said we should have cut our ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran if we wanted to stop the war, and stressed that if we did so, they [the US] would provide us with whatever we want». In other words, Washington was making Syria back then «an offer it couldn’t refuse». Well, Syria did refuse back in early 2011 to comply with US demands to cut its strategic ties with Iran, and as time has shown Damascus has since paid a heavy price in terms of human lives and the destruction of the country.

Now again, as the American-backed «peace conference» is being dangled in front of Damascus, Washington is replaying that same cynical offer. Either, drink from this poisoned political chalice – or «we’ll send the boys around to do their worst».

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

America's Greatest Challenge

I've been reading a few articles on the “alternative” media which really have me thinking. One, by Chris Hedges entitled “Rise Up or Die” made me think about just how bad things really are nowadays here in the USA. The other article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, “You are The Hope” was also a particularly dark piece.
It’s not that I don't agree with what the two have said…I do; still, I don’t think they quite accurately reflect the growing disconnect between what many Americans and the mainstream media, along with the Powers That Be would have us believe.

At this moment in time (I reserve the right to change my mind at a moment’s notice), from talking to people I have been meeting in my travels, there really isn't much support for the President or the Congress. People don’t seem to be buying what they are selling on the corporate media. I heard today (mostly from the Democrat megaphone on MSNBC) that the President’s approval rating is actually up this week. I'm starting to wonder who exactly was really polled.

Contrary to what the MSM tells us, most people are not idiots. I think that most Americans can look at their lives and pretty much come to this conclusion; they are not living as well as their parents did. There are many Americans who really don't believe that the new American “normal” of working two part-time jobs with no health benefits isn't a “be all, end all” situation. Young people graduating from colleges and universities, saddled with huge student debt, aren't exactly bowled over with their job prospects.

There are also very real problems that have yet to make their mark on our much-touted American society. The treatment the government has given our Veterans is a blemish on our nation. Our government, fighting this over-hyped “War on Terror”, has demanded that not only active duty soldiers been required to fight multiple combat deployments, but National Guard and Reserve soldiers too. Suicides, PTSD, broken marriages, sexual trauma (in the case of rape) and backlogs for disability claims have been the other “new normal”. The phrase “Thank you for your service” does not make up for the abysmal treatment they are getting from the government that has used and abused them. The truth is…millions of disgruntled veterans have made life difficult, not only in this nation, but other nations, throughout history.

There is something going on in this country, and it is not good. Everyone in government, Wall Street and in the corporate boardrooms think they have a handle on the economy. The truth is, they have over-looked the most important part of the equation, once they have raped the American Middle Class and have lined their pockets with the assets they have stolen from us, who is going to buy their products?

Ask yourself some questions: How many people do you know have lost their once good credit ratings? How many people are paying a mortgage that is higher than the home is worth? Who do you know that has recently moved back in with Mom and Dad or vice-versa? When was the last time anyone you know took a two-week vacation? When was the last time you heard someone bragging about their “portfolio”? I could go on, but I bet you get my drift.

The simple truth is that this great nation of ours can’t keep spending over 50% of our discretionary budget on the military, while spending only 6% on education and another 6% on social programs! The simple truth is that we get no return on our buck for spending on the military! All we get in return are more enemies that wish the worst for us. Still, they keep selling us this “Superpower” rhetoric. What’s the good of being a superpower when 22% of Americans are living under the poverty level?

We have the power to change this country for the better.

The first thing Americans need to do is to get off this label kick that the PTB want us on. It should be apparent to most Americans that there is very little difference between the two corporately controlled political parties. In reading this article I would like people to understand one thing; they want us to fight amongst ourselves. The more we fight with each other, the more divided we are, the more power they have over us.

This is the game that the Republicans and Democrats are playing. The more we focus on differences they foster, the less we focus on how we are being screwed. We all know who controls the GOP, but where were the Democrats when they cut food stamps? Where were the Democrats when they smashed Occupy? Where were the Democrats when they passed and signed the NDAA? Where were the Democrats when they sent whistleblowers to prison? Again, I can go on and on. The point is, stop supporting these two political parties. As George Carlin once said; “It’s a big club, and you ain't in it. It’s the same club they hit you over the head with.”

We need to talk to our friend and relatives’. We need to sit down and write articles and call in to talk shows. Those that can need to start their own radio show on the internet or small community radio or host a show on public access TV. We all need to share articles on Facebook and Twitter. If we all could just spend one hour of our day doing these things we could make profound changes.

"Though [the people] may acquiesce, they cannot approve what they do not understand." --Thomas Jefferson

It is our duty as citizen’s to educate those who are currently ignorant in the present situation. There is no free lunch when it comes to this. Either we will rise to the occasion or give away our freedom and prosperity to those who will take it from us. This is the challenge we as Americans face.

Monday, May 20, 2013

You are The Hope

By Paul craig Roberts
If there is hope, dear readers, you are it.
You are motivated to find truth.
You can think outside the box. You can see through propaganda.
You are the remnant with the common sense that once was a common American virtue. You come to this site, because you get explanations that are not agenda-driven, that are not BS, that are not right-wing or left-wing, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. You get explanations based on my lifetime of unique education and experience. Some of you are young enough to be equipped with the energy and courage to organize whatever resistance there may be to the Gestapo State that is descending on the United States of America.
Until the George W. Bush Regime, I never thought that it could happen here. I could not imagine law professors and Department of Justice (sic) officials writing legal memos justifying, in the name of a hyped “war on terror,” the termination of civil rights for United States Citizens. We were the land of the free. The Constitution was our bedrock. Yet, the Constitution and Bill of Rights were easily taken away from the inattentive American people.
The Constitution did not protect native inhabitants and slaves who were not considered part of the American population, but the universal suppression in the US of non-whites’ rights produced in the end the civil rights movement that brought moral awareness of the wrongs and successfully hitched its cause to the founding documents of the country.
Where today is moral awareness as Washington bombs civilian populations around the globe? Where is the moral conscience of the civil rights movement as the First Black President, the first member of the oppressed class to sit in the Oval Office, validates the Bush Regime’s assertion of the right of the unaccountable executive to ignore habeas corpus and due process? Not satisfied with this crime, Obama asserted the right of the executive branch to murder any citizen suspected, without proof being offered to a court, of undefined “support of terrorism.” Today all Americans have fewer rights than blacks had prior to the Civil Rights Act.
Anything, including a column critical of war and the police state, can be declared to be “in support of terrorism.” As the tyrant Bush put it: “You are with us, or you are against us.”
The print and TV media and many Internet sites got the message: Serve Washington’s agenda, and will you will prosper. Advertisers and the CIA will pump money into your coffers. Challenge us and you will be demonized and could face a military tribunal, indefinite detention, or assassination. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are being persecuted for telling the truth.
So far, Washington has convinced the public that Washington’s terror is mainly limited to Muslims, who are obligingly demonized by print, TV, and much of the Internet media. However, if Muslim American citizens lack civil liberty, so do all other American citizens. Those who are safe are those who ally with the tyrant and remain subservient.
To ally with the tyrant, a United States citizen must have no moral conscience, no sense of justice, no compassion for the innocent and dispossessed. These are the worst kind of Americans; yet, they are the only ones who can succeed in the present environment.
Every time I write a column that is the truth or the truth as I am able to discover it, instead of hawking the propaganda line, I move up on the list of those who are persona non grata in the Empire.
A writer can find himself demonized and declared a kook simply by reporting findings from distinguished scientists, high-rise architects, structural engineers, first responders, and an international collection of high government officials. Not too long ago a writer or reporter for the Huffington Post discovered to his surprise that Pat Buchanan and I disagreed with all the wars that had been launched to protect us from terrorism. He asked me for an interview, and I agreed.
An hour or so after the interview was posted on the Huffington Post, I received an emergency call or email. He had been criticized for interviewing me, “for giving you a forum when you are a 9/11 sceptic.” He was unsure that it was possible for a Reagan presidential appointee to be a 9/11 sceptic and asked if I was.
I replied that I had reported the findings of scientists, architects, engineers, and the public testimony of first responders, because I thought these were qualified people whose opinions at least ranked equally with the politicians on the 9/11 Commission and the talking heads on Fox “News” and CNN, none of whom could pass a high school test in the laws of physics, much less high-rise architecture and structural engineering.
The Huffington Post writer panicked. Instead of taking down the interview, he felt impelled to assure readers and his boss that he had been deceived. He wrote at the beginning and ending of the interview that he did not know he was interviewing someone about the Iraq War who had given ink to those conspiracy theorists who raised questions about the truthfulness of the US government. He wrote that my views on the wars should be disregarded, because I wrote that scientists, architects, engineers, and first responders provided evidence contrary to the government’s claims.
And there you have it.
The Huffington Post has far more readers than I do, and far more money. There is no limit on the ability of the Huffington Post to tell and sell the lies of the Agenda.
I can remember when I was a Wall Street Journal editor and columnist, a Business Week columnist, a Scripps Howard News Service columnist and appeared regularly in the major mainstream print media and even from time to time on TV talking head programs. Today, the editor or producer who gave me a forum would be fired instantly, and they all know it.
It is discouraging that after so many transparent lies and orchestrations–weapons of mass destruction, al-Qaeda connections, Iranian nukes–the majority of Americans still believe the government. Americans are even buying into the line that Syria is ruled by a brutal dictator whose overthrow justifies Washington’s alliance with its 9/11 enemy, al-Qaeda, in order to overthrow a secular ruler who constrains al-Qaeda.
Washington has come full circle. Its enemy is now its ally. Washington wasted trillions of dollars and countless lives in eleven years of war and constructed a domestic police state all in order to combat al Qaeda with whom Washington is now allied against the Syrian government.
The public’s response to the Boston Marathon Bombing is even more discouraging. Not even King George and his Redcoats could achieve what Homeland Security just pulled off–locking down 100 square miles of Boston and its suburbs with heavily armed troops tramping through citizens’ homes barking harsh orders, all justified by a hunt for one 19-year old suspect. It was the Third Reich’s Gestapo in operation right here in “freedom and democracy” America. Ron Paul is correct that the suspension of civil liberty is a greater threat than the bombing. Note the government’s euphemism for martial law–”shelter-in-place.”
Two brothers have been convicted in the media and by the Obama Regime, including the president’s own words, of a bombing without the public ever being presented with any evidence except anonymous unattributed reports and a film of the alleged brothers walking with backpacks, which were ubiquitous.
I am old enough to remember when it was impermissible for government and media to convict a person prior to the jury’s verdict. Americans once lived in a free country governed by the rule of law in which a person was innocent until proven guilty.
What was the reason or evidence for naming the brothers suspects? Was any reason given, or was the film of the two walking with backpacks simply shown over and over, hour after hour, day after day, with the media reporting that these are the suspects. In other words, was it beat into your brain that they were suspects because there they are in the film? If not, why was the same film shown repeatedly? Fox “News” was still showing the film on April 26, eleven days after the bombing and might still be showing it. Did you experience: “Here are the suspects. See them. They have backpacks. See. We know that they are suspects, because, see, there they are.”
When is the last time the media investigated anything? A good candidate for investigation is the post-bombing rampage the brothers allegedly went on, robbing a 7/11 store (later contradicted by local police), killing a campus policeman, shooting a transit cop, high-jacking a SUV and releasing the owner.
Why would terrorists seeking to escape in order to strike again call attention to themselves in such outlandish ways and release a car-jacked owner to alert the police of the tag number? If the brothers were willing to kill police with gunfire and innocents with bombs, why release the guy whose vehicle they stole so he could inform the police of the license plate and make the brothers’ capture easier? What is the evidence, other than “reports from authorities,” that these events occurred or had any more connection to the brothers than the falsely reported 7/11 robbery that local police disavowed? Why does the US media simply accept whatever government authorities say?
Where is the evidence of a first shoot-out and a second shoot-out? The second shoot- out consisted of the authorities bombarding a motionless youth bleeding from wounds in a boat with multiple volleys of stun grenades and then multiple gunshots. The unconscious 19 year old was unarmed and unable to respond to the boat owner who discovered him. As he lies there, he is shot many times, including through the throat, and is on life support. But the very next day, according to the presstitute media, he is providing hand-written confessions.
Was the purpose of the reports of a murderous rampage to create fear among the population so that they would accept martial law and home invasions by armed troops ordering American citizens out of their homes with hands over their heads on the pretext that they might be harboring the Boston Marathon Bomber?
The videos of the street celebration in which Bostonians thank the police and of the two Boston families, if not scripted by actors, shows Americans who far from opposing the police state welcome it. A father says that he with his daughter in his arms was forced out of his home by troops pointing automatic rifles at their heads, but that he was thankful for the safety the police provided him by violating every civil right that the Constitution gave him. A woman says it was scary but that “the police are just doing their jobs.” Are Americans now so brainwashed that they attribute their safety to the presence of a Gestapo Police State?
Why have detention facilities been built? Why did Homeland Security purchase a billion or more rounds of ammunition? Why does Homeland Security have 2,700 tanks and a para-military force? Why aren’t these questions being investigated?
The US Constitution is the product of 900 years of human efforts to restrain brutal government and to make government subject to law. It only took Bush and Obama eleven years to get rid of it.

Rise Up or Die

Rise Up or Die

By Chris Hedges
May 20, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"TruthDig-  Joe Sacco and I spent two years reporting from the poorest pockets of the United States for our book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.”We went into our nation’s impoverished “sacrifice zones”—the first areas forced to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace—to show what happens when unfettered corporate capitalism and ceaseless economic expansion no longer have external impediments. We wanted to illustrate what unrestrained corporate exploitation does to families, communities and the natural world. We wanted to challenge the reigning ideology of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism to illustrate what life becomes when human beings and the ecosystem are ruthlessly turned into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. And we wanted to expose as impotent the formal liberal and governmental institutions that once made reform possible, institutions no longer equipped with enough authority to check the assault of corporate power.
What has taken place in these sacrifice zones—in postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., and Detroit, in coalfields of southern West Virginia where mining companies blast off mountaintops, in Indian reservations where the demented project of limitless economic expansion and exploitation worked some of its earliest evil, and in produce fields where laborers often endure conditions that replicate slavery—is now happening to much of the rest of the country. These sacrifice zones succumbed first. You and I are next.
Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.
The Department of Justice seizure of two months of records of phone calls to and from editors and reporters at The Associated Press is the latest in a series of dramatic assaults against our civil liberties. The DOJ move is part of an effort to hunt down the government official or officials who leaked information to the AP about the foiling of a plot to blow up a passenger jet. Information concerning phones of Associated Press bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn., as well as the home and mobile phones of editors and reporters, was secretly confiscated. This, along with measures such as the use of the Espionage Act against whistle-blowers, will put a deep freeze on all independent investigations into abuses of government and corporate power.
Seizing the AP phone logs is part of the corporate state’s broader efforts to silence all voices that defy the official narrative, the state’s Newspeak, and hide from public view the inner workings, lies and crimes of empire. The person or persons who provided the classified information to the AP will, if arrested, mostly likely be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. That law was never intended when it was instituted in 1917 to silence whistle-blowers. And from 1917 until Barack Obama took office in 2009 it was employed against whistle-blowers only three times, the first time against Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The Espionage Act has been used six times by the Obama administration against government whistle-blowers, including Thomas Drake.
The government’s fierce persecution of the press—an attack pressed by many of the governmental agencies that are arrayed against WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and activists such as Jeremy Hammond—dovetails with the government’s use of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to carry out the assassination of U.S. citizens; of the FISA Amendments Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution was once illegal—the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of tens of millions of U.S. citizens; and of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which permits the government to have the military seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them in indefinite detention. These measures, taken together, mean there are almost no civil liberties left.
A handful of corporate oligarchs around the globe have everything—wealth, power and privilege—and the rest of us struggle as part of a vast underclass, increasingly impoverished and ruthlessly repressed. There is one set of laws and regulations for us; there is another set of laws and regulations for a power elite that functions as a global mafia.
We stand helpless before the corporate onslaught. There is no way to vote against corporate power. Citizens have no way to bring about the prosecution of Wall Street bankers and financiers for fraud, military and intelligence officials for torture and war crimes, or security and surveillance officers for human rights abuses. The Federal Reserve is reduced to printing money for banks and financiers and lending it to them at almost zero percent interest; corporate officers then lend it to us at usurious rates as high as 30 percent. I do not know what to call this system. It is certainly not capitalism. Extortion might be a better word. The fossil fuel industry, meanwhile, relentlessly trashes the ecosystem for profit. The melting of 40 percent of the summer Arctic sea ice is, to corporations, a business opportunity. Companies rush to the Arctic and extract the last vestiges of oil, natural gas, minerals and fish stocks, indifferent to the death pangs of the planet. The same corporate forces that give us endless soap operas that pass for news, from the latest court proceedings surrounding O.J. Simpson to the tawdry details of the Jodi Arias murder trial, also give us atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide that surpass 400 parts per million. They entrance us with their electronic hallucinations as we waiver, as paralyzed with fear as Odysseus’ sailors, between Scylla and Charybdis.
There is nothing in 5,000 years of economic history to justify the belief that human societies should structure their behavior around the demands of the marketplace. This is an absurd, utopian ideology. The airy promises of the market economy have, by now, all been exposed as lies. The ability of corporations to migrate overseas has decimated our manufacturing base. It has driven down wages, impoverishing our working class and ravaging our middle class. It has forced huge segments of the population—including those burdened by student loans—into decades of debt peonage. It has also opened the way to massive tax shelters that allow companies such as General Electric to pay no income tax. Corporations employ virtual slave labor in Bangladesh and China, making obscene profits. As corporations suck the last resources from communities and the natural world, they leave behind, as Joe Sacco and I saw in the sacrifice zones we wrote about, horrific human suffering and dead landscapes. The greater the destruction, the greater the apparatus crushes dissent.
More than 100 million Americans—one-third of the population—live in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Yet the stories of the poor and the near poor, the hardships they endure, are rarely told by a media that is owned by a handful of corporations—Viacom, General Electric, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Clear Channel and Disney. The suffering of the underclass, like the crimes of the power elite, has been rendered invisible.
In the Lakota Indian reservation at Pine Ridge, S.D., in the United States’ second poorest county, the average life expectancy for a male is 48. This is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere outside of Haiti. About 60 percent of the Pine Ridge dwellings, many of which are sod huts, lack electricity, running water, adequate insulation or sewage systems. In the old coal camps of southern West Virginia, amid poisoned air, soil and water, cancer is an epidemic. There are few jobs. And the Appalachian Mountains, which provide the headwaters for much of the Eastern Seaboard, are dotted with enormous impoundment ponds filled with heavy metals and toxic sludge. In order to breathe, children go to school in southern West Virginia clutching inhalers. Residents trapped in the internal colonies of our blighted cities endure levels of poverty and violence, as well as mass incarceration, that leave them psychologically and emotionally shattered. And the nation’s agricultural workers, denied legal protection, are often forced to labor in conditions of unpaid bondage. This is the terrible algebra of corporate domination. This is where we are all headed. And in this accelerated race to the bottom we will end up as serfs or slaves.
Rebel. Even if you fail, even if we all fail, we will have asserted against the corporate forces of exploitation and death our ultimate dignity as human beings. We will have defended what is sacred. Rebellion means steadfast defiance. It means resisting just as have Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, just as has Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical journalist whom Cornel WestJames Cone and I visited in prison last week in Frackville, Pa. It means refusing to succumb to fear. It means refusing to surrender, even if you find yourself, like Manning and Abu-Jamal, caged like an animal. It means saying no. To remain safe, to remain “innocent” in the eyes of the law in this moment in history is to be complicit in a monstrous evil. In his poem of resistance, “If We Must Die,” Claude McKay knew that the odds were stacked against African-Americans who resisted white supremacy. But he also knew that resistance to tyranny saves our souls. McKay wrote:
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none. It is time to employ the harsh language of open rebellion and class warfare. It is time to march to the beat of our own drum. The law historically has been a very imperfect tool for justice, as African-Americans know, but now it is exclusively the handmaiden of our corporate oppressors; now it is a mechanism of injustice. It was our corporate overlords who launched this war. Not us. Revolt will see us branded as criminals. Revolt will push us into the shadows. And yet, if we do not revolt we can no longer use the word “hope.” 
Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” grasps the dark soul of global capitalism. We are all aboard the doomed ship Pequod, a name connected to an Indian tribe eradicated by genocide, and Ahab is in charge. “All my means are sane,” Ahab says, “my motive and my object mad.” We are sailing on a maniacal voyage of self-destruction, and no one in a position of authority, even if he or she sees what lies ahead, is willing or able to stop it. Those on the Pequod who had a conscience, including Starbuck, did not have the courage to defy Ahab. The ship and its crew were doomed by habit, cowardice and hubris. Melville’s warning must become ours. Rise up or die.
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years
© 2013 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The American “Helplessness Syndrome” and How to Defeat It
By Timothy V. Gatto


Ask anyone that has any understanding of what is really going on politically and economically in this nation and their answers will probably be very close to the truth. If you then ask them what we can do about changing the current situation, unfortunately, the answer will probably be “nothing”. Why is this so?

Here you will get a range of different answers. When you ask people about changing the way money decides elections for example, people will tell you that the politicians won't change the system. If you suggest electing different elected representatives, they will explain that you can't elect anyone without a truckload of money (classic Catch-22). This is the classic conundrum in the American system.

The unfortunate truth is that this happens to be pretty much the case. I know that some will point out to people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and proclaim that you can indeed change America via the ballot box. Surprisingly, I’m going to agree with those people, but not for the reasons that you may think.
First of all, the people of the United States are not going to effect change through the two-party system. On a Federal level, there will be few primary wins by candidates that don't fully support the national platform. The exceptions to this have been by some tea-party candidates, but even these candidates have largely been bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other ultra-conservative PAC’s. Sometimes a celebrity will be elected on name recognition, but usually these people aren't very effective.

The political sector isn't the only sector where people feel this helplessness. Still, it is a very important part of any chance of change in this nation, but it is probably the most important, and I'll come back to this later.
A student told me at a fried chicken joint that he had recently graduated from Clemson. I asked him if he had any job prospects lined up. He said he was looking. It was hard for him to launch a full-time job search because he was working two jobs and was paying off medical bills for recent back surgery. I told him that the medical bills could wait and he told me that his student loans couldn’t. It was hard enough trying to get a job in his engineering field, and with a bad credit report, it would be even more difficult. So, two part-time jobs and no medical insurance and a degree to boot, this is the “new normal”.

When I went to Summerville, outside of Charleston, SC for a political meeting, I met a nurse, in scrubs, who told me that he had to leave for a few minutes to pay the title loan on his car. When the meeting was over, I asked him why he had taken out a usurious title loan at 150% interest when he was an RN (how very rude of me, I know). He told me that he was only working ten hours a week and it was either take out the loan or not pay his mortgage. We had quite a discussion that was a real eye-opener for two reasons.

One of the reasons he lost his full-time job was because an old shrapnel wound he received from Desert Storm (He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve) had led to gangrene in his foot and had led to his foot being amputated. When he went back to his job after his recovery, there was no job waiting for him. He went to State and filed charges. They brought him back on but changed his job to where he had to be on his feet 8 out of every 10 hour shift. This was impossible for him, he had to quit.

This time he leveled a discrimination claim against his former employers (a large hospital/healthcare corporation) and they refused to settle with the State. Now it must go to arbitration and he told me that the process could take years. This is not the end of his story.

He made a claim at the VA over his foot injury from Desert Storm that he believed led to the amputation. The infection started in the same place as the injury that caused the gangrene. The VA denied his claim because he now had diabetes and they claimed that the diabetes was the cause of the infection that led to the amputation. This may be so, but now he is going to the DAV with his medical records from his Doctor’s. Since the VA is so backlogged because of funding deficits’ due to budget cutbacks (and the sequester), that could take years.

Meanwhile, he is looking for full-time work. Hospitals say that they can't hire him because of his experience; they would have to pay him too much. Recent nursing school grads are much more inexpensive. Instead of paying him 36 dollars an hour, they can get a new nursing grad for 24 dollars an hour. When he replied that he would work for 24 dollars an hour, they told him that it is against corporate policy. They must pay people what they are worth, it’s corporate policy. After all, it’s only fair.

Then there is the family that finally gets the knock on the door that they have been expecting and dreading since Dad lost his job. Dad has been working two part-time jobs and Mom has been trying to be a homemaker while working 20 hours a week at a large department store. Neither of them can get medical insurance from their jobs and their premiums are running almost 1600 dollars a month for Dad, Mom and the two kids (and they feel lucky to have it). The house is 65,000 dollars under-water but it doesn't matter, they can’t keep up their mortgage payments anyway.

Now the Sheriff is here and he hates to do this, he’s been doing it three or four times a day since this “economic downturn” started. They are all pretty must resigned to the fact that they must do what they all have to do. Most of the family’s things are already in storage and luckily for them they have relatives that will take them in temporarily. This is another “new normal” situation, even though they are living in the most prosperous nation on Earth.
The Meme
I could go on, and I’m sure that anyone reading this could recant similar stories or experiences. Is there anything we can do or is this just life? Do these examples show as some of our leaders have insinuated that somehow these people didn’t work hard enough or plan ahead for unexpected misfortune? Are the wealthiest amongst us really smarter and better prepared to face any challenges that life places before us? Is it, or should it be, an ethos of survival of the fittest here in America, or should the government have an obligation to look out for the welfare of its citizens? 

The hard-liners in the Republican Party say that it isn't the government’s job to coddle people that can’t make it in today’s society. They have nurtured and reinforced the meme that everyone in America has an equal chance at grabbing that big brass ring, and if they can't  then it is their own fault, any other reason that is given is just an excuse.

The sad part about this is that a majority of Americans have bought into this notion. It’s easy to understand why. The media portrays most of our heroes as having come up through poverty or adverse situations to triumph over their enemies and their environment. But that is what makes up a successful story, book or movie. If it were the norm, it would not interest people. It’s the fact that it very rarely happens… that’s what fascinates people! Still, some Republicans and Democrats would have you believe that everyone who tries will eventually make it into the upper echelons of the economic class. The worst thing about this is that many Americans believe it!

They did until they lost their shirts in this great recession. Some still believe it, but many are feeling powerless and helpless. What can we do? Well for one thing, we can stop believing in fairy tales! We are all not going to make it to Beverly Hills and shop on Fifth Avenue and vacation in Mali or Costa Rica every winter. Sometimes no matter how hard we work, no matter how hard we plan, it’s just not going to happen.

A Solution to Helplessness

We as a people must make smarter and better decisions on how to survive in the future. One of the first and foremost things we must remember is that we are living in a nation that has the greatest economy on Earth! How does that help the average citizen?

Now we get back to politics. No, I'm not talking about stripping the rich of its wealth. It would be nice for a while, but after their money is gone, what do we do then? No, the key is to stop spending money on perishable things like the 53% of our discretionary spending on war machines and ordinance. To stop spending money on maintaining almost 1,000 overseas military bases. To stop spending money trying to secretly overthrow governments we don't like or fighting real and proxy wars in places most people couldn't point out on a map.

There are hundreds of other ways like fixing the infrastructure that would add 10’s or 100’s of thousands of jobs so that people could buy things that would spur the economy. Ideas like this are only common-sense. But how do we do it? The government shows neither the will nor the way to make any of this happen. We can't change the government because we can't change the way elections are run, and they are run by people and organizations with very big pockets. It appears that no one not controlled by money can even run in an election with any chance of winning.

There is a way to circumvent the current political system

. There is a way but the time must be right and I think the time is right now. I'm not talking about revolution or violence. That will get us nowhere but destruction, loss of life and even more unemployment and economic chaos than we have now. I’m talking about people working together to change things through the system we have now by replacing all of the corrupt people that control the two major political parties.

In order to accomplish this, we first of all must render these two political parties obsolete. The first way to do this is to understand how they have managed to keep us tame and docile with respect to their interests. They have done this by fomenting division. We are a divided people. We label each other. We don’t look at each other as people in the political arena anymore. We are liberal or conservative, right or left, pro-life or pro-choice and so on and so on. We have progressive Democrats and tea-party Republicans and blue-dog Democrats along with centrists (whatever they are).

We have issues that affect maybe just a small minority of us that they use to fan the flames of dissent to keep us firmly in their grasp. They keep us divided so that we will never unite, even when it is apparent that in some way we are all being locked out of the benefits of living in the richest nation on Earth. We must, above all else, throw out this label mentality. We are liberal in some beliefs and conservative in other beliefs and that includes all of us. Nobody is all liberal or all conservative. As far as left or right, what does that really mean when you think about it? They keep us fighting with each other so we don't see the big picture, and that picture shows a rapidly disappearing middle-class that is being replaced with the working poor.

If the Egyptians can overthrow a military dictatorship that had been in place for decades, without resorting to full scale violence, why can't we get people into office that aren't bought and paid for by special interests? Furthermore, how did they do it?

They did it by using their heads and using social media. That’s the same way we can win elections against multi-million dollar budgets and media control by the duopoly. The way we overcome the media is to circumvent it. Just because a candidate spends millions on ads doesn't mean he wins. People can only take so much of that anyway.

What we need are candidates that will put in the time to tour the Districts and the States that they seek election in, sharing their twitter feed and their campaign webpage with everyone that they talk to. The candidate needs to garner each supporter’s e-mail address by having a tablet where people can enter it. Attached to that tablet needs to be a square reader so that the campaign can take donations on the spot.

Precinct and block captains need to be recruited and talked to a regular basis. Staffers can work out of their homes. The key to a successful grassroots campaign however isn't just the logistics. The key to a successful campaign is to transform it into a movement and include everyone that participates so that it also becomes a fellowship that binds people to something greater than what they experience on a day to day basis. People need to feel like they are a part of something and that they are changing history instead of just watching talking heads on TV through incessant political ads (nausea).

We need to get back to the old model of when we had candidates out and about among the people exchanging idea and actually interacting. Social media makes that all possible once again. It could also be the death knell for the major political corporate parties.