Fear vs. Fear, by Chris Hedges

Rise Up Times

The old rules of politics no longer apply. The only language understood by Donald Trump and his coterie of con artists, billionaires, generals, misfits and Christian fascists—and a Democratic Party that has sold us out—is fear.

By Chris Hedges  Truthdig  August 12, 2019

Fear vs. FearMr. Fish / Truthdig

Calling out Trump’s lies and racism does not matter. Calling out his nepotism and corruption does not matter. Calling out the criminality of his administration does not matter. Calling out its incompetence and idiocy does not matter. Calling out the abject subservience of the ruling elites to corporate power does not matter. Trump and his Democratic Party opponents are immune to moral suasion. The more we engage in this empty kabuki theater with its predictable outlandish outbursts, usually from Trump, and predictable outraged responses, usually from Democrats, the more certain are government paralysis and corporate tyranny. The drivel and invective that passes…

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The World’s Largest Oil Reserves By Country

Rise Up Times

…as our world’s appetite for fossil fuels grows, the questions of whether there are enough petroleum oil reserves to satisfy demand, and what the consequences of its extraction will be, have never been more pertinent.

World Atlas  January 2019

Proven oil reserves are those that have a reasonable certainty of being recoverable under existing economic and political conditions, with existing technology.

The volatility in oil prices over the past decade has created plenty of concern for business people, national governments, and global policymakers alike. With such uncertainty in pricing, coupled with environmental concerns as our world’s appetite for fossil fuels grows, the questions of whether there are enough petroleum oil reserves to satisfy demand, and what the consequences of its extraction will be, have never been more pertinent. In order to shed more light into a somewhat ambiguous subject…

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Big corporations pay no income tax, unlike you

Systemic Disorder

Telling you that Donald Trump lied, or that the one percent continue to succeed in their incessant class warfare, ranks in the astonishment department with being told the Sun rose in the east this morning. Do we really need more evidence?

Necessary or not, more evidence continues to be delivered. The latest delivery comes courtesy of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which has found that 60 of the largest corporations in the United States paid no income taxes for 2018 despite earning a composite $79 billion in net income. Worse, these companies actually received $4.3 billion in tax rebates.

Had these companies paid taxes at the newly reduced corporate tax rate of 21 percent, these companies would have paid $16.4 billion in taxes. So we have a difference of more than $20 billion — quite a nice return on their lobbying expenses and donations to the Trump campaign.

Heading…

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Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and The Deepwater Horizon

Desultory Heroics

By Greg Palast

Source: GregPalast.com

Five years ago this month, on the 20th of April, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew itself to kingdom come.

Soon thereafter, a message came in to our office’s chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, from a person

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Fresh audio product

LBO News from Doug Henwood

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 14, 2019Cinzia Arruzza and Tithi Bhattacharya, authors (along with Nancy Fraser) of Feminism for the 99%, on a truly transformative feminism • Sam Stein, author of Capital City, on bourgeois urban planning, with an emphasis on NYC

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In the tweets…

I usually try not to, but I tweeted.

This: “If you’re a liberal or a self-described centrist, you do not understand our current situation, or you callously think you’ll continue to be fine as the world crumbles around you. You are the problem. You are blocking any possibility of the fundamental change we need.”

Most responses have been people hitting the like button, but most, I speculate, were too afraid to retweet.

I also got this response: “So war is the answer?? Or a collapse into servitude of a different kind than what we experience now? Actin [sic] needs to be taken, but what??”

I started writing a reply – and it quickly became longer than any thread should be, so I’m putting the reply here and will give the guy a link. If it helps some people or angers some liberals, then I’ve done my job. Without further introduction:

Well, here’s the short answer (because twitter): We’re already at war. In addition to the actual wars they are conducting and profit from, the right/corporations/rich launched (the current iteration of) class war against most of the world around 1980 (some say earlier) by exacerbating capitalism with a project (and so-called ideology) referred to as neoliberalism. They decimated the left (unfortunately, sometimes along w/the help of the left [internecine fights, defections to liberalism, anomie, etc…]) and attacked working people, and of course poor people.

Now, by referencing “servitude” I assume you think something people are calling socialism will lead to the next Soviet empire and gulags. If that bears no resemblance to what you were thinking, forgive me – but if that is kinda what you were thinking, well, there isn’t a thread long enough to address that in depth – though there are really long threads. I believe they used to be called books. Oh wait, we still have those. There are many, many, many books that attempt to think through the struggles, wins, and defeats of the left, and many more that are attempting to think about the way forward. I would start with the left wing press if you are curious about these things (@haymarketbooks and @VersoBooks would be fine places to start). The good thing about social media is that you can ask the experts directly where to start and they will give you great recommendations.

Your last question is the perennial question. A person once asked it this way, “What is to be done?” Another short answer: as moribund and fucked up as the left still is, the only chance of a way out is to revive it and make it better than it ever was in the history of the world (oh, and make it international while we’re at it). You can see slight hints of that in things like a renewed strike movement, a push for racial and economic equality, movements to address climate change, etc…Anti-war movements are another thing that has to be revived. But, in the end multiple disconnected movements, will not win. In some concrete way, the left will have to unify. A unified left can do mass organizing, build institutions (its own media for example), fight capitalists (non-violently of course), and win. Win and take power that is. Not as an organization per se, but as citizens of the world through organizations and yes, even parties. And yes, I understand how that sounds. And yes, I’m familiar with the challenges (a big one is that most of the left as it is currently constituted doesn’t believe it’s necessary to have a unified movement and doesn’t spend much time on internationalism. That needs a book all it’s own).

Unfortunately, there is no other way. I wish there was, because I have zero hope. I also have zero fear of some future in which we did everything we could to build a new and better left and it became a Soviet state with gulags, because the u.s. has the biggest gulag in the world right now – as it is conducting at least eight wars around the world, oppressing and repressing its own citizens, to say nothing of horrific, deadly sanctions internationally…and you’re afraid we would what, be wasting our time and risking a Soviet state if we tried to form a unified left that was against the capitalism, imperialism, racism, and colonialism that were the building blocks of our sick society. One that literally puts refugee children in cages and blows up little brown children all over the world? One that denies healthcare to tens of millions – well, the list is endless. Yes, I see that you’re Canadian. I won’t start listing Canadian crimes, but, I could. There are plenty to go around.

People are suffering. They don’t have any power or money, and a lot of them don’t know what to do. Liberals – and it looks like they’re now going to try to take the Progressive moniker for themselves (like the political spectrum hasn’t already been dragged so far right that centrists are on the right) – have some small semblance of political power. Especially the rich ones. They also perform a role in society (if you want a hint of what that is listen to Phil Ochs’, “Love me I’m a liberal”). I’m not saying you are one, but they are always the first people to ask me what to do, but, to a person, they have never looked around their community to see what people are doing and try to lend a hand (I mean to the left, not to some charity). But liberals have an ideology all their own. At the moment it’s one that has led them to cheer on war, coups, the FBI and the CIA, blame Russia for racism (?), and above all else, defend capitalism. And this brings us around to my original tweet.

Whelp, that about does it for my social media time. I’ve only ever responded like this to David Simon – who, it turns out, is a hypocritical douche bag. I’m sure you’re not like David Simon…and I hope you will take this in the spirit it was offered, which is actual, honest communication about real actual life. The one we’re all doing our best to live, and the one people at least say they want to continue.
All the best,
~ Your 21st Century Poet

(Please forgive all typos and awkward sentences as this was quickly typed and edited because this isn’t really how I want to spend my time.)

Union density hits record low

Without democratizing unions and the creation of a unified actual leftwing movement, the recent relatively tiny gains of unionized workers (the majority of whom had to drag their unions into supporting them) are way too little, way too late. For instance, L.A. teachers made it clear a major part of this strike was to save public education from the privatizers/charter school advocates. If the new contract goes through, there is nothing I’ve seen that will stop the privatizers. Also, the majority of the class size agreement offers little to no change. Unfortunately, other recent “wins” from other unions follow this line. In West Virginia, the teachers strike was largely about healthcare costs. Their costs are still going through the roof. Radical (root change) is the only way out. Fundamental change of the world’s economic system. We are nowhere near taking even the first step of that journey. This takes nothing away from the blood, sweat, and tears people are putting into working for change. We have to unify outside these institutions and take over the ones that haven’t been privatized. Teachers can start by democratizing their unions – like they don’t have enough to do already…

LBO News from Doug Henwood

Union density—the share of employed workers belonging to unions—fell to 10.5% in 2018, the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting the data in its modern form in 1964, down from 2017’s 10.7%. (See graph below.) After rising 0.1 point in 2017, private sector density fell back to match 2016’s 6.4%, the lowest since stats began in 1929. Republican governors’ war on public sector unions is having a visible effect: just 33.9% of government workers belonged to unions last year, the lowest since 1978, when membership was on an upswing—an effect that is only going to intensify as the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus case, which forbids mandatory payment of union dues, spreads.

union density over time

There’s an old lie that unions are good for white men and no one else. That’s the opposite of the case. As the graph below shows, black women, for…

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Lewis Mumford: On Automated Society

The Dark Fantastic: Literature, Philosophy, and Digital Arts

At that ‘omega- point’ nothing would be left of man’s autonomous original nature, except organized intelligence: a universal and omnipotent layer of abstract mind, loveless and lifeless. Now, we cannot understand the role that technics has played in human development without a deeper insight into the historic nature of man.

—Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine

Lewis Mumford envisioned how our planetary civilization was evolving into an all encompassing machinic system of ‘megatechnics’ of hypercapitalism in which automation would be the guiding motif, shaping our desires to those of a machinic existence in a collective world ruled and governed by algorithmic necessity. The assault on philosophical individualism and passion by various trends in the neurosciences and neo-rationalism is pushing us into a collective enterprise in which humans are being re-engineered to serve a collective intelligence, hooked both spiritually and physically to a system of normative regulatory processes of domestication…

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The Evidence Pours In: Poverty Is Getting Much Worse In America

Desultory Heroics

By Paul Buchheit

Source: Occupy.com

A White House report recently proclaimed that the “War on Poverty is largely over and a success.” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said it was “ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America.”

Well-positioned Americans must talk like this, of course, because admitting the debilitating state of poverty in America might provoke feelings of guilt for 35 years of oppressive economic policies. Wealthier people need to take an honest look at the facts. They need to face reality as it sadly exists in America today.

1 in 7 Americans is Part of the World’s Poorest 10%

According to the Credit Suisse 2018 Global Wealth Databook, 34 million American adults are among the world’s poorest 10%. How is that possible? In a word, debt. In more excruciating words: stifling, misery-inducing, deadly amounts of debt for the poorest Americans. And it goes beyond dollars to…

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Art From A Mirror Obscura Site Now Available In Greeting Card Form

K.A. Bryce over at A Mirror Obscura just started selling his collage art, which I have been enjoying for years now, in greeting card form. His message: “I’m now selling my collages as greeting cards on Etsy. Please stop by and let me know what you think. Smiles>KB” Definitely worth your time to check them out. Some samples above.

Pages purged by Facebook were on blacklist promoted by Washington Post

Desultory Heroics

By Andre Damon

Source: WSWS.org

Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016.

The organizations censored by Facebook included The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist.

In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy, and up to then largely unknown, organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were part of a “sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign.”

The Post said the report “identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans.”

The publication of the blacklist drew widespread…

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Chris Hedges: American Anomie

Rise Up Times

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

This facade of democratic process eviscerates one of the primary social bonds in a democratic state and abolishes the vital shared belief that citizens have the power to govern themselves, that government exists to promote and protect their rights and interests.

By Chris Hedges  Truthdig  TD ORIGINALS  September 24, 2018

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his classic book “On Suicide” examined the disintegration of social bonds that drive individuals and societies to personal and collective acts of self-destruction. He found that when social bonds are strong, individuals achieve a healthy balance between individual initiative and communal solidarity, which he called a “life-sustaining…

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Facebook’s New Propaganda Partners

Desultory Heroics

By Alan Mcleod

Source: FAIR

Media giant Facebook recently announced (Reuters, 9/19/18) it would combat “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations founded and funded by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The social media platform was already working closely with the NATO-sponsored Atlantic Council think tank (FAIR.org, 5/21/18).

In a previous FAIR article (8/22/18), I noted that the “fake news” issue was being used as a pretext to attack the left and progressive news sites. Changes to Facebook’s algorithm have reduced traffic significantly for progressive outlets like Common Dreams (5/3/18), while the pages of Venezuelan government–backed TeleSur English and the independent Venezuelanalysis were shut down without warning, and only reinstated after a public outcry.

The Washington, DC–based NDI and IRI are staffed with senior Democratic and Republican politicians; the…

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American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism. Project Censored interviews Henry A. Giroux.

Rise Up Times

Are we in the beginning of a new fascist era?   

This week on the Project Censored Show Mickey Huff welcomes new co-host Chase Palmieri as they welcome back world-renowned educator, author, and public intellectual, Professor Henry Giroux. They discuss Giroux’s latest book from City Lights Books Open Media Series, American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism.   

“In this current era of corporate media misdirection and misinformation . . . Henry Giroux is one of the few great political voices of today, with powerful insight into the truth.   

Henry A. Giroux  City Lights Books
June 18, 2018

Are we in the beginning of a new fascist era?

As white supremacy, ultra-nationalism, rabid misogyny and anti-immigrant fervor coalesce, a new and uniquely American form of fascism looms. Could our current moment actually bring about the end of democracy in…

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Assets of world’s “high net wealth” millionaires surged to $70 trillion in 2017

Desultory Heroics

By Barry Grey

Source: WSWS.org

The concentration of the planet’s wealth in the hands of a narrow financial elite is growing by leaps and bounds. A new report published Tuesday reveals that the wealth of the world’s 18.1 million “high net worth individuals”—those having investable assets of $1 million or more—shot up by 10.6 percent last year to top $70 trillion for the first time ever.

The “World Wealth Report 2018,” issued by the consulting firm Capgemini, revealed that the combined wealth of the world’s millionaires rose for the sixth consecutive year in 2017 to reach $70.2 trillion. It is on target to surpass $100 trillion by 2025.

Capgemini defines a high net wealth individual (HNWI) as someone with assets above $1 million, excluding his or her primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables. This defines a wealthy elite that owns more than $1 million in stocks, bonds, real estate…

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Veterans’ Group Says “No” to Emmy for PBS Vietnam War Series

Rise Up Times

“In this war-torn world, what is desperately needed – but what Burns and Novick fail to convey – is an honest rendering of that war to help the American people avoid yet more catastrophic wars.”   

By  Common Dreams  May 31, 2018

Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s “Vietnam War” series does not deserve a “Best Documentary” award. (Photo: Getty)

Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s “Vietnam War” series does not deserve a “Best Documentary” award. (Photo: Getty)   

A national veterans’ organization is weighing in on this year’s Emmy awards with a full-page ad in Variety, saying Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s “Vietnam War” series does not deserve a “Best Documentary” award.

Veterans For Peace (VFP), headquartered in St. Louis, with 175 chapters in the U.S. and six overseas, will run the Variety ad prior to the awards on September 17, to generate discussion about the series and the lasting impact it will have if “crowned with an Emmy.”

The ad says that because “The Emmy…

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Fascism

tressiemc

This week we have witnessed a phenomenal act of social movement-making in an era when many, myself included, have wondered if meaningful change in the U.S. still possible.

Some of that worry is about aging, I’m sure. As you get older and the people around you get older you are inclined to wonder if the kids can ever be as alright as the kids you were.

We overstate our youthful courageousness. Then, because we are wily from age, we defend that overstatement by understating the courage of the youth who displace us. That may be natural. But when a cross-campus coalition of student-athletes and student-citizens at the University of Missouri organized to force the retirement of the college president (and future “transition” of the university system chancellor) they did something remarkable.

These young people took on the growing, well-paid, powerful administrative class in corporate higher education and actually won a…

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