Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* RISE UP OR DIE
By Chris Hedges, CommonDreams
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. […]
[…] 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 West, James 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.” […]
* CENTRALIZATION AND SOCIOPATHOLOGY
By Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Concentrated power and wealth are intrinsically sociopathological by their very nature.
I have long spoken of the dangers inherent to centralization of power and the extreme concentrations of wealth centralization inevitably creates.
To Fix Healthcare, Let 100 Solutions Bloom (February 26, 2013)
Longtime contributor C.D. recently highlighted another danger of centralization: sociopaths/psychopaths excel in organizations that centralize power, and their ability to flatter, browbeat and manipulate others greases their climb to the top.
In effect, centralization is tailor-made for sociopaths gaining power. Sociopaths seek power over others, and centralization gives them the perfect avenue to control over millions or even entire nations.
Even worse (from the view of non-sociopaths), their perverse abilities are tailor-made for excelling in office and national politics via ruthless elimination of rivals and enemies and grandiose appeals to national greatness, ideological purity, etc.
As C.D. points out, the ultimate protection against sociopathology is to minimize the power held in any one agency, organization or institution:
After you watch these films on psychopaths, I think you’ll have an even greater understanding of why your premise of centralization is a key problem of our society. The first film points out that psychopaths generally thrive in the corporate/government top-down organization (I have seen it happen in my agency, unfortunately) and that when they come to power, their values (or lack thereof) tend to pervade the organization to varying degrees. In some cases, they end up creating secondary psychopaths which is kind of like a spiritual/moral disease that infects people.
If we are to believe the premise in the film that there are always psychopaths among us in small numbers, it follows then that we must limit the power of any one institution, whether it’s private or public, so that the damage created by psychopaths is limited.
It is very difficult for many people to fathom that there are people in our society that are that evil, for lack of a better term, and it is even harder for many people in society to accept that people in the higher strata of our society can exhibit these dangerous traits.
The same goes for criminal behavior. From my studies, it’s pretty clear that criminality is fairly constant throughout the different levels of our society and yet, it is the lower classes that are subjected to more scrutiny by law enforcement. The disparity between blue collar and white collar crime is pretty evident when one looks at arrests and sentencing. The total lack of effective enforcement against politically connected banks over the last few years is astounding to me and it sets a dangerous precedent. Corruption and psychopathy go hand in hand.
A less dark reason for avoiding over centralization is that we have to be aware of normal human fallibility. Nobody possesses enough information, experience, ability, lack of bias, etc. to always make the right decisions.
Defense Against the Psychopath (the many photos of political, religious and secular leaders will likely offend many/most; if you look past these outrages, there is useful information here)
READ / VIDEOS @ http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay13/centralization5-13.html
* WASHINGTON GETS EXPLICIT: ITS ‘WAR ON TERROR’ IS PERMANENT
By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian
Senior Obama officials tell the US Senate: the ‘war’, in limitless form, will continue for ‘at least’ another decade – or two
Last October, senior Obama officials anonymously unveiled to the Washington Post their newly minted “disposition matrix”, a complex computer system that will be used to determine how a terrorist suspect will be “disposed of”: indefinite detention, prosecution in a real court, assassination-by-CIA-drones, etc. Their rationale for why this was needed now, a full 12 years after the 9/11 attack:
Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaida continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight. . . . That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on whether the statutory basis for this “war” – the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) – should be revised (meaning: expanded). This is how Wired’s Spencer Ackerman (soon to be the Guardian US’s national security editor) described the most significant exchange:
“Asked at a Senate hearing today how long the war on terrorism will last, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, answered, ‘At least 10 to 20 years.’ . . . A spokeswoman, Army Col. Anne Edgecomb, clarified that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today – atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted. Welcome to America’s Thirty Years War.”
That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat. […]
* MARCHING IN CHICAGO: RESISTING RAHM EMANUEL’S NEOLIBERAL SAVAGERY
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout
Across the globe, predatory capitalism spreads its gospel of power, greed, commodification, gentrification and inequality. Through the combined forces of a market driven ideology, policy and mode of governance, the apostles of free-market capitalism are doing their best to dismantle historically guaranteed social provisions provided by the welfare state, define the accumulation of capital as the only obligation of democracy, increase the role of corporate money in politics, wage an assault on unions, expand the military-security state, increase inequalities in wealth and income, foster the erosion of civil liberties and undercut public faith in the defining institutions of democracy.1. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish – from public schools to health-care centers – there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values and the common good. One does not have to look too far to see what happens in America’s neoliberal educational culture to see how ruthlessly the inequality of wealth, income and power bears down on those young people and brave teachers who are struggling every day to save the schools, unions and modes of pedagogy that offer hope at a time when schools have become just another commodity, students are reduced to clients or disposable populations, and teachers and their unions are demonized.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s current attempt to close down 54 public schools largely inhabited by poor minorities is one more example of a savage, racist neoliberal system at work that uses the politics of austerity and consolidation to further disenfranchise the unskilled young of the inner city. The hidden curriculum in this instance is not so invisible. Closing schools will result in massive layoffs, weakening the teachers unions. It will free up land that can be gentrified to attract middle-class voters, and it will once again prove that poor minority students, regardless of the hardships, if not danger, they will face as a result of such closings, are viewed as disposable – human waste to be relegated to the zones of terminal exclusion. Not only are many teachers and parents concerned about displacing thousands of students to schools that do not offer any hope of educational improvement, but they are also concerned about the safety of the displaced children, many of whom “will have to walk through violent neighborhoods and go to school with other students who are considered enemies.” 2. This is not simply misguided policy, it is a racist script that makes clear that poor black youth are disposable and that their safety is irrelevant. How else to explain the mayor’s plan to produce a Safe Passage Plan in which firefighters would be asked to patrol the new routes, even though they have made it clear that they are not trained for this type of special duty. That many of these children are poor black children trapped in under-resourced schools appears irrelevant to a mayor who takes his lead from politicians such as Barack Obama and Arnie Duncan, two educators who have simply reproduced the Bush educational reform playbook, i.e., more testing, demonize teachers, weaken unions, advocate for choice and charter schools, and turn public schools over to corporate hedge-fund managers and billionaires such as Bill Gates. Emanuel’s passionate zeal to downsize schools in impoverished black neighborhoods is matched only by his misdirected enthusiasm to lay out $195 million “on a basketball arena for DePaul University, a private Chicago university.” 3.
Emanuel’s policies are symptomatic of a much larger war against teachers, public goods and the social contract. We increasingly live in societies based on the vocabulary of “choice” and a denial of reality – a denial of massive inequality, social disparities, the irresponsible concentration of power in relatively few hands and a growing machinery of social death and culture of cruelty. 4. As power becomes global and is removed from local and nation-based politics, more and more individuals and groups are being defined by a free-floating class of ultra-rich and corporate power brokers as disposable, redundant, and irrelevant. Consequently, there are a growing number of people, especially young people, who increasingly inhabit zones of hardship, suffering and terminal exclusion. Power has lost its moorings in democratic institutions and removes itself from any sense of social, civic and political responsibilities. Mayor Emanuel, along with his neoliberal political allies, occupies the dead zone of capitalism – a zone marked by a ruthless indifference to the suffering of others and self-righteous coldness that makes human beings superfluous and unwanted. At the same time, this zone of capital accumulation and dispossession destroys those public spheres and collective structures such as public and higher education that are capable of resisting the logic of the pure market and the anti-democratic pressures it imposes on American society. Peter Brogan sums it up well in his analysis of the forces behind the current attacks on teachers and public education. He writes that the neoliberal agenda behind such attacks has:
been outlined in numerous planning documents from different city administrations, some of which have been drafted by the Commercial Club and have at the center an urban development strategy based on revitalizing the downtown core and prioritizing the financial, real estate and tourist sectors of the economy while at the same time demolishing public housing and schools in order to gentrify historically African American and Latino working class neighborhoods. These transformations are deeply related to the larger structural crisis of capitalism. The background to this is the crisis of profitability that comes to a head in the early 1970s, and the ushering in a period of capitalist regulation known as neoliberalism, marked by savage attacks on unions, workers and working class living standards. Reconstructing the built environment of the city has been absolutely central to all of these changes. This is one attempt to deal with the structural crisis of capitalism at this critical juncture. And destroying unions, and teachers’ unions in particular, have been key to that attempt. 5. […]
* WAL-MART, BANGLADESH AND THE REAL COST OF CHEAP CLOTHES
By Suzanne McGee, The Fiscal Times
The online petitions are multiplying, as consumers worldwide react with shock and horror to last month’s deaths of more than 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh toiling in conditions that might have made a Victorian-era chronicler cringe. Several of the world’s largest retailers – at least, those of them that happen to be based in Europe – have lined up to sign a legally binding agreement to underwrite the cost of bringing other such factories up to an acceptable workplace standard, and to oversee those repairs and monitor working conditions on an ongoing basis.
For now, let’s work on the assumption that companies like H&M, Primark and the Dutch chain C&A are motivated by the same kind of distress that you and I feel when we see the images from Dhaka’s collapsed Rana Plaza building or read reports of working conditions there. Give them credit – rightly or wrongly – for being motivated by of a desire to ensure that such a catastrophe never happens again and not by fear that consumers will realize that their suppliers worked in buildings like Rana Plaza – or others not too dissimilar throughout Southeast Asia and other garment industry hubs – paying employees a minimum wage of $37 a month.
Even so, the faceoff between activists and socially responsible investors on the one hand and companies like Wal-Mart Stores and Gap (both of which chose not to go along with the legally-binding pact among retailers) sheds new light on a problem that has bedeviled thousands of other publicly-traded companies over the decades: how to deal with what are known as “externalities.”
An externality, in the jargon of economists, is what happens when a company makes a business decision that has positive or negative consequences for the broader world. A company that pollutes, for instance, is creating a negative externality for those that live near the plant that is destroying the air quality or that draws water from the sources that have been contaminated by its mining operations, for instance. A company that voluntarily takes on extra safety costs that exceed the standards its competitors adhere to or that underwrites the cost of education and training for its workforce when its rivals don’t, is an example of the flip side of the coin.
* I UPSET MY LEAST FAVORITE BIG FAT GREEK MINISTER
By Greg Palast
Minister Pangalos is much loved by Europe’s banking chieftains, by vulture speculators and by Prussian President Angela Merkel because they’ve got themselves a gigantic Greek who will mouth their mantra: that his nation’s sudden collapse can be blamed squarely on olive-pit-spitting, lazy-ass Greeks who won’t work more than three hours a week, then retire while they’re still teenagers to swill state-subsidised ouzo.
Pangalos leads the Fifth Column of Greeks calling to accept Germany’s terms of economic surrender: austerity, meaning cuts in food allowances, in pensions, in jobs. As of this week, more than one in four Greeks (27 percent) are out of work.
While we hunted for caffeine, Fat Bastard told me that anyone who complains about the austerity diktat, “Is a fascist or a communist or a conspiracy theorist.” He didn’t tell me which of these three categories the 11-year-old kids complaining of hunger pains fell into.
Just for the record, Greeks who can get a job work 619 more hours per year (see table) than the average German (and way, way more than Britons or Americans, as well).
But in the world according to Pangalos, Merkel and poobahs of the media, Greece went to hell in a handbag because the entire nation suddenly turned into work-shirking grifters.
But there’s another explanation for wrack and ruin: Greece is a crime scene. And its working people are not the perpetrators of the crime, they are the victims – scammed, defrauded, their national industries looted and their treasury drained by financial flim-flam. […]
* TERRIFYING TIME-LAPSE VIDEO SHOW MOORE TORNADO’S PATH
This time-lapse video posted by NBC affiliate WMC-TV shows the path of the storm that ripped through the area south of Oklahoma City until it finally dissipated and elevated back into the clouds. You can see how big the funnel got, estimated to be at least two miles wide at one point. ” It’s devastating in Moore, Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb told ABC Radio. “It is absolutely devastating, this is horrific. The ferocity of the tornado. We’re going to have fatalities. We’re going to have significant injuries. We just don’t know what those numbers are.”