Archive for January, 2014


Tony Abbott wants to shred the landmark agreement to protect Tasmania’s forests, demanding that the World Heritage Committee strip this ecological oasis of protection.

Here’s a reflection from the late, great Krishnamurti on losing our relationship with nature… 

The death of a tree is beautiful in its ending, unlike man’s. A dead tree in the desert, stripped of its bark, polished by the sun and the wind, all its naked branches open to the heavens, is a wondrous sight. A great redwood, many, many hundreds of years old, is cut down in a few minutes to make fences, seats, and build houses or enrich the soil in the garden. The marvellous giant is gone. Man is pushing deeper and deeper into the forests, destroying them for pasture and houses. The wilds are disappearing. There is a valley, whose surrounding hills are perhaps the oldest on earth, where cheetahs, bears and the deer one once saw have entirely disappeared, for man is everywhere. The beauty of the earth is slowly being destroyed and polluted. Cars and tall buildings are appearing in the most unexpected places. When you lose your relationship with nature and the vast heavens, you lose your relationship with man.

If you feel like telling Abbott to take a hike, why not sign the petition @ SumOfUs:

http://action.sumofus.org/a/tasmania-forests-abbott/?sub=taf

the interpretOr has posted recently on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that’s being negotiated in secret by 12 countries across the Pacific. It has 29 chapters covering all kinds of regulations, and we only know what’s in it because of outdated leaks and government statements – (Bill Moyers: The Corporate Plot That Obama and Corporate Lobbyists Don’t Want You to Know About (AlterNet)

tpp

A huge number of groups and individuals are opposed to the TPP and other agreements like it for all kinds of different reasons. That’s because only a small part of these agreements deal with traditional “trade” issues like tariffs and market access. They cover regulations on everything from food labeling, labor standards, access to medicines, copyright enforcement, and cross-border investments. The problem is that the only interests that are represented at the negotiating table are corporate advisors—no public interest groups, no elected representatives, and no members of the public. That means that the rules that are in TPP are designed to give new rights and privileges to major corporations, while users, consumers, and everyone else get the worst end of the deal.

Now the White House and the US Trade Representative want the power to “fast track” TPP through Congress. The US Constitution gives Congress members the sole authority to regulate trade. But a new bill that was introduced would let Congress hand their powers over to Obama and the trade office, making this whole process even less transparent and less democratic. It’s called the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act” (HR.3830/S.1900) or TPA 2014 for short. If passed, it would severely curb Congress’ ability to conduct hearings and limit their power to solely an up or down, Yes or No vote. Stopping this fast track bill is a major part of the fight to block the passage of TPP and other secretive trade agreements.

Today, 10 days of action commence to stop this bill from passing. We’re here to share what we know about TPP, and answer your questions about why such a broad range of groups are opposed to this fast track bill. We need you to help us stop these toxic trade agreements, because mass public pressure is the most effective way to make the US government accountable.

Take Action:

Outside the US? Learn more about the impact of trade policy from these organizations:

Learn more and take action here: Stop Fast Track

As a sweltering Australia struggles to contain nationwide bushfires, two new reports from reputable US organizations published in Bloomberg news.com, signal further alarming developments for the country to cope with.

Bloomberg reports that “Dangerous rises in the sea level or heat waves that kill crops can arrive quickly and leave little time to put preventative measures in place, according to a study from the National Research Council, a group of scientists providing information for U.S. government decision-makers.”

“The report — one of two issued today on climate change — calls for an early warning system to monitor climate conditions and improved models for predicting changes that impact the way people live. The alerts could be modeled on such programs as the National Integrated Drought Information System created by Congress in 2006 or the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning System Network.

“In a separate report today, James Hansen, who warned of the dangers of global warming as early as 1988, said a United Nations-endorsed target of capping global warming is too high and will ensure future generations suffer “irreparable harm.”

Even limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times would submerge coastlines, cause the mass extinction of species and trigger extreme weather, according to Hansen, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and co-author of the report published today in the journal PLOS One.

“Two degrees Celsius warming above pre-industrial, which would mean about 1 degree Celsius warming above the present, creates a significantly different planet with enormous consequences, including eventually the un-inhabitability of coastal cities,” Hansen, adjunct professor at New York’s Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said at a briefing. “There’s no recognition of this in government policies.”

Australians have to sit out another 3 years of a government hell bent on ignoring these massive impacts on our climate our ecosystems and our coastal cities. Prime Minister Abbott studiously ignores the current climate extremes that are causing death and destruction in every state. To do so for much longer will ensure the death of his political party in the medium term.

Read more at.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-03/sea-level-rise-too-fast-to-reverse-climate-change-study.html?cmpid=otbrn.sustain.story

Humanity at the Crossroads by Jim S…

In the furore surrounding the Edward Snowden and Wiki leaks revelations it is easy not to notice the connection to three other huge issues that are bearing down on humanity like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

These issues threaten every system that currently supports human existence and happiness on this planet.

The first system is democratic governance, the system of government where power is placed in the citizens to elect their peers to sit in a house of representatives to make rules that are in the best interest of the people that is government of the people by the people.

This is no longer the case in most Western democracies. Many Governments represent sectional interests who in turn fund their election and campaigns. These sectional interests undermine and take over the role and functions of government. Furthermore government departments have modelled themselves on corporations because they use corporate advisors to shape the management and ethos of government departments.

The second issue is the market economy that was designed as utilitarian system to benefit the whole of society by making finance available to build businesses and to provide fairly paid jobs. However, it has been undermined and has lost all sense of equity and balance. Furthermore the lack of sensible regulation has changed its main purpose to speculation with little regard for the production and sale of goods.

Having more and more wealth in fewer and fewer hands is bad for the economy overall and although the economic rise of Asia has seen many more people move from poverty to a middle class lifestyle, the trend in older market economies to less equality of wealth is accelerating.

The third problem area is the growing imbalance between the wealth and power between nation states and giant corporations. Corporations like the giant banks are seen as so integral to the economic basis of national economies they cannot be allowed to fail. These corporations however have no such loyalty to the governments that prop them up with taxpayer’s money and bank guarantees. They quite happily campaign against the same governments and against the interest of the people.

The most significant corporate sector in this power imbalance is the corporate media which the Leveson inquiry in the United Kingdom found that

…the evidence clearly demonstrates that, over the last 30-35 years and  probably much longer, the political parties of UK national Government and of UK official. Opposition, have had or developed too close a relationship with the press in a way which has not been in the public interest.

The inquiry heard leading political witnesses say they feared the Murdoch press and courted its favour and that they were heavily criticised and crushed by his papers if Rupert Murdoch felt he could get a better deal from another party or politician.

Finally the most important issue, that of the rapid destruction of the earth’s biosphere and ecosystems has reached the point of mass extinction of species of plants and animals with no strong action or even agreement for action by national governments. Again this is because of dishonest campaigns by giant corporations using anti-environmental front groups to create division and confusion in the public mind about the reality and cost of climate change and its amelioration.

So what has this to do with the revelations of Edward Snowden?

Edward Snowden worked for a private corporation that spied on the online interactions of almost everyone on the planet. He was a just one part of a massive intrusive operation carried out supposedly for the USA Government to keep all Americans safe from terrorism “in the war against terrorism”.

In fact much of this information was being used against law abiding citizens and for the benefit of US corporations. An example of this was the spying on the Occupy movement who were peacefully protesting against the powerful corporations whose grubby share dealing bought about the world financial crisis and who wilfully mislead investors to induce them to buy worthless stock.

That the Occupy movement was spied on by the government may be excusable but their passing on of the information to the bankers and traders was not. This is and was an elected Government acting against the 99% of the people on behalf of the wealthy corporate 1%.

Of the incidents so far revealed, the most shocking instance of a government spying on the CMD (Campaign for Media and Democracy) an organisation that is fighting against the corporate takeover of government in the USA. This takeover has been done through ALEC ( the American Legislative Exchange Committee). ALEC consists of a group of large companies most of which are desperate to replace laws and regulations that might reduce their profits such as environmental protection, anti-smoking and health, workplace safety and gun laws.

ALEC also recruits and funds state and federal politicians to help them promulgate model laws which they then lobby heavily to push through state and federal legislatures.

After a recent rally protesting outside an ARLEC conference the CMD discovered that state based federal anti-terrorist agencies spied on the protest movement and passed on this information to ALEC. To make matters worse it was found that the uniformed police who had violently assaulted protest leaders had been off duty and were being paid by ALEC.

What this clearly signifies is that the US Government and many US State Governments are sharing security information and working with large corporations against peaceful community organisations and colluding in passing legislation that is against the interest of the American people.

How far this has spread into other Western democracies is not yet clear but there is evidence that police in the United Kingdom were being paid by the Murdoch press and this is possibly true of Australia where it has been reported that the Murdoch press reporter was tipped off about an impending anti- terrorist raid by a security officer.

What is most important about Snowden, Assange, Manning and the CMD,  is not that they made public the invasive level of security in the USA and elsewhere, but that Governments are using the information against ordinary law abiding citizens and that the security apparatus is not only being operated by private companies but it is sharing that information with large corporations often against the public interest.

Citizens, the corporate state has arrived. It is in our bedrooms and on our private communication systems and you and democracy are its enemy.

In These Times, an independent, nonprofit magazine, is dedicated to advancing democracy and economic justice, informing movements for a more humane world, and providing an accessible forum for debate about the policies that shape our future.

Forever Temp?
Once a bastion of good jobs, manufacturing has gone gaga for temps.
By Sarah Jaffe

A Brief History of Anarchism
The struggle for the common good has a long past.
By Noam Chomsky

‘Sorry’ Not Good Enough for Chicago Torture Survivors
Rahm Emanuel needs to put his money where his mouth is.
By G. Flint Taylor and Joey L. Mogul

The Roots of the Tea Party
How conservatives came to dominate U.S. politics.
By Melvyn Dubofsky

Republicans (Still) Have a ‘Female Problem’
In the 2014 midterms, women will be the battleground. And one party has a leg up.
By Ruth Rosen

COMMENTARY

Weed Is Legal And Nobody Died
Washington’s fears of reefer madness haven’t come to pass in Colorado.
By David Sirota

WORKING IN THESE TIMES

Employees at Koch-Owned Georgia-Pacific Can Now Tweet About Work Without Fear
A new decree by the NLRB will allow employees of a Koch brothers owned company to post freely about their jobs to Facebook or Instagram without fear of retribution.
By Mike Elk

THE PRISON COMPLEX

Study funded by private prison dollars praises private prisons; no comment, says public university
A none-too-surprising finding.
By Matt Stroud

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pyneful

“My wife sometimes says, ‘I don’t think that person likes you.’ And I say, ‘How could they not like me? What are you talking about?’ And she says, ‘I think you’re missing the social signals.’

::: click here for piece in full @ the Monthly :::

…Christopher Whyne???

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Current issue: January 2014

France, political void at the top; EU,Bulgarians on the move; Iran, open for business; IraqSyria’s conflict spreads; Egypt, new script for young writers; acquiring nationality, special report ; Yugoslavia’s nationalist pop music; the road to Amazoniavideo games, social control and big business; supplement, universal health cover… and more…

::: just click pic to access :::

the interpretOr

The sentence above serves as an indictment of the further and intensive financial deregulation that characterised the Bush/Cheney years.In Australia, the Abbott Junta phurphy of business can do no wrong is punctured by the reality check of the US experience for ordinary Americans:

“It bears repeating one last time that average compensation (wages) never grew as slowly in American industrial history than it did over the course of the age of greed.”

Jeff Madrick (Roosevelt Insitute Snr Fellow and NY Times contributor) Age of Greed, Random House, 20011

In reality, as worker productivity rose, the ensuing gains went to…CORPORATE PROFITS.

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A new treaty being negotiated in secret between the US and the EU has been specifically engineered to give companies what they want — the dismantling of all social, consumer and environmental protection, and compensation for any infringement of their assumed rights.
by Lori M Wallach

Imagine what would happen if foreign companies could sue governments directly for cash compensation over earnings lost because of strict labour or environmental legislation. This may sound far-fetched, but it was a provision of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a projected treaty negotiated in secret between 1995 and 1997 by the then 29 member states of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) (1). News about it got out just in time, causing an unprecedented wave of protests and derailing negotiations.

Now the agenda is back. Since July the European Union and the United States have been negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) or Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), a modified version of the MAI under which existing legislation on both sides of the Atlantic will have to conform to the free trade norms established by and for large US and EU corporations, with failure to do so punishable by trade sanctions or the payment of millions of dollars in compensation to corporations.

Negotiations are expected to last another two years. The TTIP/TAFTA incorporates the most damaging elements of past agreements and expands on them…

::: click here for piece in full @ Le MondeDiplomatique :::

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