War is the Health of the State
by Claudio Grass
Posted September 19, 2015
In an essay titled “The State”, Randolph Bourne, an American writer, made a distinction between a country and a state that I find crucial. He described one’s country as “an inescapable group into which we are born”. In his view, a country is “a concept of peace, tolerance, of living and letting live. But the State is essentially a concept of power, of competition; it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects. And we have the misfortune of being born not only into a country but into a State, and as we grow up we learn to mingle the two feelings into a hopeless confusion”.
Most people don’t question what their government does, especially when it comes to foreign policy. This gives power-hungry politicians the opportunity to lie to the public, so that people willingly accept a war in a foreign country. A recent example is the Iraq war, where the public was led to believe that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction and was an imminent threat to the United States. After the invasion, however, it turned out that Iraq had no WMDs and the threat was exaggerated to gain public support for the war. More…
Self-Governing Association in El Salvador Offers Local Solutions to Global Problems
By Jeff Haas
Posted September 14, 2015
While many fret over escalating violence, and others in Washington pay lip service to Central America’s dire social situation, local communities are doing something to address the root causes of poverty and violence, from the lack of educational and economic opportunities to environmental degradation. Indeed, local actors are taking the reins and are tackling climate change as they live it. There is a growing grassroots movement that is working toward finding solutions to the problem of rural development and environmental conservation and promoting democracy and youth leadership.
Communities in the global South have already organized movements and implemented practices to save their environment and confront the impact of climate change. One such movement, headed by a network of communities in coastal El Salvador, shows what can be done. More…
The High Cost of Private Prisons
by Beryl Lipton
Posted September 11, 2015
We do know that millions of dollars have been poured into elections and lobbying to in order to make private operators an integral part of many state Departments of Correction and the immigrant detention machine. It’s difficult to quantify the effect that private interest can have on the systems for the public good, like criminal justice. But, in Louisiana, for example, where Winn shares the honor of being one of just two major state private prisons, dozens of locally-incentivized lock-ups have created so many mini-economies and a monstrous prison population – the highest per capita of any state in the country with the highest per capita in the world.
Which is why an eyebrow might be raised at the fact that a place like Correction Corp’s Winn Correctional averages about one grievance per prisoner a year. The majority of those, about 60 percent, are regarding issues of time computation, according to an LA DOC representative — implying it would be worse if they involved assaults or medical care. But concerns about time computation become more curious when there’s an incentive to keeping low maintenance prisoners for as long as possible. More…
Escape from New Orleans: As waters rose, a white suburb across the Mississippi closed a key bridge to fleeing residents
Escape from New Orleans: As waters rose, a white suburb across the Mississippi closed a key bridge to fleeing residents
By Gary Rivlin
Posted September 1, 2015
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana at 6:10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, 2005. Within hours, the catastrophic collapse of levees would cause water to pour into New Orleans. Within days, New Orleans would be 80 percent covered in water.
A group of around 300 were trapped by the rising water in the headquarters of the city’s Regional Transit Authority. Their numbers included around 100 RTA workers who had volunteered to remain in New Orleans — the bus drivers needed to transport people to the Superdome on the Sunday before Katrina struck the New Orleans area, and the staff they would need to resume transit service once the winds died. The remainder were family members and friends who had hunkered down in the “Canal Street barn,” a seemingly secure brick edifice in a part of town that never flooded. More…
What We Know About the NSA and AT&T’s Spying Pact
by Kim Zetter
Posted August 18, 2015
NEW EDWARD SNOWDEN documents revealed on Saturday in the New York Times detail a decade-long secret partnership between the NSA and AT&T, which provided the spy agency with metadata on billions of emails. Although the Times story has garnered a lot of attention, it offers few details about how the telecom conducted the siphoning and spying for the NSA.
AT&T isn’t identified by name in the Snowden documents, but the Times notes that “a constellation of evidence” points to AT&T as the primary company mentioned in them, which several intelligence officials have confirmed to the paper. According to the Times piece, the siphoning of internet data from AT&T began in 2003 and continued for a decade in a relationship that the NSA called “highly collaborative.” The telecom giant, according to one Snowden document, was extremely willing to help out the spy agency, and its engineers “were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.” More…
Acoustic Cannon Sales to Police Surge After Black Lives Matter Protests
by Lee Fang
Posted August 16, 2015
During a company conference call with financial analysts last week, Tom Brown, the chief executive of LRAD, a military contractor, informed investors that sales were rolling in, not just from Chinese government agencies and the U.S. Navy, but also from American law enforcement. LRAD manufactures an acoustic cannon that can be used either as a mounted loudspeaker or as a weapon to fire deafening noises at crowds of people.
Over the last year, following a wave of protests over officer-involved killings of black Americans, LRAD has seen an uptick in inquiries from police departments around the country. The LRAD device can reach 152 decibels, a level that can cause permanent hearing damage. In December, Vice reported on the potential dangers of the LRAD cannon, noting, “Permanent hearing loss begins with a sustained sound that’s louder than 90 dB SPL — for example, a subway train 200 feet away — but you won’t start to feel immediate pain until 120 decibels, about the loudness of a shotgun blast. At 160 dB — a little less loud than a rocket launch — your eardrum will burst.” More…
Schools as Punishing Factories: The Handcuffing of Public Education
By Henry A. Giroux
Posted August 8, 2015
If one important measure of a democracy is how a society treats its children – especially children of color, poor and working-class youth, and those with disabilities – there can be little doubt that the United States is failing. Half of all public school children live in near poverty, 16 million children receive food stamps and 90 percent of Black children will be on food stamps at some point during childhood. Moreover, too many children are either incarcerated or homeless.
As we move into the second Gilded Age, young people are viewed more as a threat than as a social investment. Instead of being viewed as at-risk in a society that has defaulted on its obligations to young people, youth today are viewed as the risk itself. One consequence is that their behaviors are increasingly criminalized in the streets, malls, schools and many other places once considered safe spaces for them. As compassion and social responsibility give way to punishment and fear as the most important modalities mediating the relationship of youth to the larger social order, schools resort more and more to zero-tolerance policies and other punitive practices. Such practices often result in the handing over of disciplinary problems to the police rather than to educational personnel. More…
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
by Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume
Posted August 3, 2015
As has been well-documented, Royal Dutch Shell has plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, despite their knowledge that such extraction will exacerbate Climate Change (see here, here or here). President Obama has given these plans his blessing, as could be expected of a politician beholden to the extraction industries. In order to commit such an ecocidal act, Shell has to transport many different resources to the area by ship, and activists have attempted to slow the process by blocking, if only temporarily, a couple of these key transports. In Seattle, kayakers delayed the departure of a Shell oil rig in June.
In Portland, the Fennica, a Shell ship carrying a key piece of equipment that is needed on site before drilling can legally begin, docked for repairs about ten days ago, giving local activists some time to put together a response. Another kayak blockade was quickly planned, and to the surprise of most locals, Greenpeace pulled a surprise action a little after 3:00 a.m., early on the morning of July 29th. Thirteen people with climbing equipment lowered themselves off the St. John’s Bridge, downriver from the Fennica, and positioned themselves in harnesses about a third of the way down, with ropes strung between themselves. This simple, even elegant, set-up made passage of the Fennica impossible without injuring the climbers. They were provisioned with enough food and water to stay there for days. More…
Creating New Systems to Replace Dysfunctional Systems
By Michael Richards
Posted July 22, 2015
At our present time in human history we are rapidly coming to the endgame of the social, economic and political structures that grew out of the industrial revolution. These systems have defined human life on our planet for the last 400 years. We are now in the process of unprecedented systems breakdown of the core components that make up industrial/consumer society.
All core components of the collapsing industrial/consumer society are in a state of diminishing effectiveness and they are in fact decaying rapidly. These systems are thus sick. A medical doctor that provides a clear diagnosis of a dying human body is not being negative, they are simply stating the facts. As a lifelong researcher of the human condition, I study and write about the breakdown and dysfunction of the core components” the organs of our present body politic. More…
Banksters vs Humanity: Round 14
By Derryl Hermanutz
Posted July 10, 2015
Progressives, socialists, radicals, revolutionaries, typically rail against the excesses of corporate industry; and against co-opted governments that serve corporate commercial and financial interests over human social and economic interests. Even classical free enterprise liberals, and free market libertarians, oppose corporate monopolists who enjoy state-supported market power, in violation of the ideal of independent businesses competing on a level playing field.
All of these well-intentioned critics, idealists and reformers are — if not exactly tilting at windmills — at least attacking symptoms rather than attacking the root cause that drives them. You could cure all of the symptoms, but they will reappear as long as the root cause remains in place.
The root cause is the world’s privately owned money issuance and allocation system, otherwise known as “banking”. Private commercial banks enjoy a near absolute monopoly on the initial creation and the primary allocation of the world’s supply of “money”. Very large scale transnational banks exercise this “money power”, and have been doing so for centuries. The Money Power is the “invisible hand” that builds and manipulates all of the other structures of power in capitalist civilization. In the capitalist world, everything is bought and sold for money. The issuance and allocation of money assigns the power to “buy and own” everything. More…