Monthly Archives: October 2016

Before the Flood Needs a Sequel

earthrisekillingmemeI just watched Before the Flood on National Geographic, hoping that the filmmakers dug deep enough to get to the root of the problem. Although the film is a strong call to action, I was disappointed that it didn’t follow the story far enough to locate and identify the source of political inaction in America.  The sad truth is that corruption is so extensive, and the political institutions so compromised that voting will not fix this problem unless and until anti-corruption ballot initiatives are passed in every state and eventually in Washington to get fossil fuel money out of the political process.

One of the saddest moments of the film was scientists blaming themselves for failing to inform the public, but that failure cannot be laid at their feet. The fourth estate – the news media – has failed spectacularly, an there is little hope for improvement now that corporate ownership is more concentrated than ever. The mainstream media frames issues and shapes public opinion. Algorithms on social media and Google are manipulated to promote the same narrow view of what is possible. Noam Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” exposed the Propaganda Model but having accused the media of complicity, that understanding of power was  never allowed to bubble to the surface of public consciousness in America. It is time to wake up and connect the dots between political corruption, corporate malfeasance, and media complicity. We need to lay the blame where it properly belongs. As Utah Phillips said:

The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.

This is no time for blind optimism, but fear of the future won’t help either. The time has come to get angry at the crimes fossil fuel companies commit, especially in North Dakota. We need to recognize that what is ‘legal‘ and what is ‘right’ may be very different, in a world where corporations have been allowed to write laws that members of congress often don’t even read.

Before the Flood is a great documentary, but like the Paris Accords, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I strongly recommend that in his next film, DiCaprio focus on the obstructionist fossil fuel corporations, even if they threaten to sue. If we’re too afraid to step on the toes of the oil giants, we cannot hope to stop them from destroying the biosphere. They have too much power and they are not going to give it up voluntarily. The world would be a better place if the biggest multinationals were broken up into smaller units.

The next film I want to see will focus on the current DOJ investigation of the horrifying fact that EXXON KNEW about man-made climate change in 1981 and spent decades hiding the truth and lying about it. A crime of that magnitude should result in prison for perpetrators and the company should be liquidated.  Ecocide should be recognized as an International Crime Against Humanity under the Rome Statute and people of all nations should demand that their governments ratify the treaty. We need to fight to take back control of our governments and hold the fossil fuel giants to account. We can all begin by standing with Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline.

TPP = TREASON

chomskytpp

I attended the town hall meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Toronto on June 15, 2016, along with hundreds of other concerned citizens, despite a lack of publicity. I recall only two people standing up to say anything in favour of the TPP and they both represented ‘industry groups’ which is a nice way of saying they were corporate shills. Everyone else was vehemently opposed, citing a variety of serious problems with the deal, particularly the odious Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which would allow even more transnational corporations to sue Canada than they already do under NAFTA.  This 6000-page agreement was negotiated by corporate lobbyists in secret  and isn’t about trade so much as consolidating even more money and power in the hands of the billionaires who hide behind opaque, undemocratic, unaccountable transnational corporations while they rape the planet to death, destroy democracy and shove more and more people into poverty. The TPP is NOT the ‘New Deal’ we’re looking for, and it is so clearly contrary to the interests of our nation that ratification should be considered an act of treason.

The Honourable Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote a book about Plutocrats, so she understands as well as anyone how the ultra-rich control public policy. Although we pride ourselves on being ‘better off’ than Americans whose government has been so corrupted by money they don’t even have a democracy anymore the truth is Canadians should be worried about the state of our democracy too. In our Westminster system we have this odd feature called ‘party discipline‘ which means elected representatives, with rare exceptions, have to vote the way the leader of the party says, no matter what their constituents want. This means plutocrats don’t have to bribe loads of MPs, just use the access money affords in order to influence the handful of people at the top of the party in power.

The billionaires behind the corporations that are trying to shove the TPP down our throats travel in the same circles as the Prime Minister, his cabinet and other influential advisers who are not elected. These people often have connections that are not transparent. They may have gone to school together, their spouses may be friends, they play golf together. Plutocrats have access to power and opportunities to exert influence that the rest of us cannot even see. This is the reason that our politicians don’t keep their promises.

In her 2013 TED talk about plutocrats,  Chrystia Freeland placed blame for rising income inequality on abstract factors like technology and globalization, exonerating the “new global super-rich.” No wonder her Rosedale neighbours elected her to parliament. Although she calls for a “new New Deal” Freeland fails to recognize that the gains in working conditions and living standards were not gifts from politicians or generous plutocrats.

Workers fought for decades in the struggle for dignity and justice. Thousands were beaten and jailed, well over a thousand died in America, including some striker’s wives, as well as 62 children murdered in the Italian Hall disaster.  The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, resulted in 2 deaths, over 30 injuries and a virtual city-wide military occupation, in which the striker’s newspaper was shut down and it’s editors arrested. History makes it clear that the ultra-rich are not going to give up their ill-gotten gains voluntarily.

American billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer issued a warning in his 2014 TED talk:

“I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality. It has never happened. There are no examples. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state or an uprising. The pitchforks will come for us if we do not address this. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.”

Reports out of North Dakota suggest America is morphing into a dystopian Police State, not unlike Toronto’s experience during the G20. Canadians are notoriously tolerant and polite and we really don’t want to light torches or raise pitchforks, but we do need to teach plutocrats the meaning of the word “ENOUGH.” We have to take back our power so we can solve income inequality, the climate crisis and a host of other problems.

If the landmark study “Testing Theories of American Politics” by Gilens and Page was replicated in Canada, I believe the results would be the same. Canadian voters have no hope of having our voices heeded unless and until we reclaim democracy through meaningful electoral reform. I am sick and tired of my vote being wasted in a first-past-the-post system and sick to death of having my trust betrayed by elected representatives who serve the interests of plutocrats. I know I’m not alone in this, as evidenced by the volume of applause and cheering at the TPP town hall for the many speakers who trashed the TPP in no uncertain terms.

The gist of this message was originally sent to the parliamentary committee charged with ‘consulting Canadians’ about the TPP. I’ve lived long enough to have seen so many broken promises that I do NOT trust the government to heed the clearly expressed wishes of the electorate. Although the official consultations have now closed, I REFUSE to shut up about this. The more you learn about the potential impacts of the TPP on your life, the more horrified you will be. We need to tell our elected representatives LOUDLY AND OFTEN that ratification of the TPP would be considered an act of TREASON and that party discipline is no excuse. You can help by sharing this, emailing your own MP and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

(Updated Nov 7, 2016)

 

Climate Crisis Solution: Reclaim Democracy

earthrisekillingmemesmall

I just watched the trailer for “Before the Flood” and spotted a serious error made by one of the talking heads interviewed in Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest documentary. The interviewee says:

“Politicians will do what the people want them to do. Once the American people are convinced, the politicians will fall in line very quickly.”

This fundamental error is the reason climate change is still getting worse. Gilens and Page wrote a paper that demonstrated in 2014 that although politicians respond well to the wishes of billionaires, the average voter has “little or no independent influence” on public policy. This is a difficult fact to accept, as is the reason people have not been shouting louder about the climate crisis.

Ten years ago Al Gore tried to convince us of “The Inconvenient Truth” (2006) that climate change was the most pressing issue of our time. Gore was correct, but his ideas were attacked and marginalized by organized right-wingers. The documentary “Merchants of Doubt” (2015), based on a book of the same name, unmasks the climate deniers, but fails to appreciate the role the corporate media plays in controlling the narrative. For that you have to go back to “Manufacturing Consent” (1992), to learn how the Propaganda Model works. The consolidation of media ownership is part of an even larger problem described in “The Corporation” (2003) which makes the case that if  a corporation was a person, they would be considered a psycho.

This is the fundamental root problem of climate change. The biosphere is not under threat because you ate a hamburger this week (although it would be better if you didn’t). The problem is that the greed of billionaires is out of control. The climate scientists are not experts in the politics of power. The mainstream media produces propaganda instead of journalism. Corporations are abusing eminent domain not for public good, but for private profit because the Supreme Court condoned their behaviour. Politicians on both sides of the party divide are beholden to their major corporate donors. The average voter is learning that, worse than being ignored by  elected representatives, even if their vote is accepted, it may not even be counted at all. Once we finally realize that the root cause of climate change is a lack of democracy, the way forward becomes clear.

When a critical mass of people wakes up, our peace officers will stop acting like rent-a-cops doing dirty deeds for greedy billionaires. Anti-corruption laws, driven by grassroots action and ballot initiatives, can take government out of the hands of corporations and Wall Street banks, and restore it to the people. Electoral reform can break the corrupt two-party system and ensure that paper ballots are used to audit electronic voting machines. The debate system can be opened up so smaller parties are not unfairly marginalized. When the people take back their power they can stop greedy corporations from destroying the biosphere and solve all kinds of problems.

Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. If you want to be part of the solution, share these ideas with your friends, family, co-workers, clients, classmates and neighbours. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

 

 

Important Links #WorthSharing

Opinions are like arseholes – everybody has one. Facts are more useful, but can be manipulated, spun and suppressed. If you feel something is going very wrong in the world, you’re not alone. Opinions differ on which of the many problems we face is the most important, but consider this: problems like gun control, political corruption, poverty or climate change will not be solved unless and until the electorate reclaims the power to do so. Too few realize the extent to which a handful of greedy billionaires control both the social/cultural narrative and public policy. We live in a world that increasingly resembles the Matrix: a web of lies and fabrications designed to keep the rich and powerful, well, rich and powerful. Manipulation of thought and public opinion is becoming somewhat more transparent, but also more dangerous.

I don’t have all the answers, but I try to understand where things go off the rails by seeking the views of some of our greatest thinkers. I hope this ‘starter set’ of links will help people with their own learning.  As you review these links, notice that I put this list together BEFORE Trump stacked every department and regulatory agency with billionaires who will benefit by further dismantling the checks and balances that used to safeguard the democracy you no longer have.  Threats to the working poor and the biosphere have never been greater.

  1. AMERICA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY:

Great video explains the problem: ‘Corruption is Legal in America’ : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tu32CCA_Ig

Evidence for the video above and proof you don’t live in a democracy – ‘The Princeton study’:  https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

Politicians admit it: https://theintercept.com/2015/07/30/politicians-admitting-obvious-fact-money-affects-vote/

Income Inequality chart (outdated – was already horrifying but now its MUCH worse!):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

6 men have more wealth than half the planet: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/02/20/morbid-inequality-now-just-six-men-have-much-wealth-half-worlds-population

What people want:   http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/norton%20ariely%20in%20press.pdf

Important Documentary “The Corporation”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y888wVY5hzw

Very important documentary (also on Netflix):  https://vimeo.com/ondemand/requiemfortheamerican

Warning from a Billionaire:  https://www.ted.com/talks/nick_hanauer_beware_fellow_plutocrats_the_pitchforks_are_coming?language=en

How they get away with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RPKH6BVcoM

What they’re getting away with;  http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2014/11/17/fixed-fortunes-biggest-corporate-political-interests-spend-billions-get-trillions/

Lobbying facts: https://represent.us/action/5-facts-lobbyists/

and finally, here is a brilliant NON-PARTISAN solution to the problem (the American Anti-corruption Act): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhe286ky-9A

Canada isn’t much better, because if you replicated Gilens & Page here, you’d get the same results despite 2 unique features:

1. First-past-the-post elections often give 100% of the power to a party that earned less than 40% of the votes. That’s how we ended up with NAFTA.

2. ‘Party discipline’ tells MPs to vote the way the ‘leader’ tells them regardless of what their constituents want.

2. VOTING ISSUES – cheating happens, just not like the GOP thinks:

Florida’s Implausible Primary Results:  http://www.hollerbackfilm.com/blog/wass-can

Strip & flip: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/is_the_2016_election_already_being_stripped_and_flipped_20160404

Whistleblower video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEzY2tnwExs

DNC primary:  http://hubpages.com/politics/Election-Fraud-Report-Seeks-to-Decertify-Primary-Results-for-Hillary

Gerrymandering;  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/03/01/this-is-the-best-explanation-of-gerrymandering-you-will-ever-see/

State corruption rankings; https://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/11/09/18822/how-does-your-state-rank-integrity

Better voting system:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-to-end_auditable_voting_systems

Electoral Reform; why first-past-the-post is unfair:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo&feature=youtu.be&list=PLrWOPUJBrn62lagQRxaMcsOPi4bhXttP_

*new* NY Democrats admit illegal primary purge:  https://gritpost.com/nyc-board-of-elections-violated-law/

3. The “DEEP STATE” governs (why Obama promises were not kept) :

Vote all you want, the secret government won’t change; https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/10/18/vote-all-you-want-the-secret-government-won-change/jVSkXrENQlu8vNcBfMn9sL/story.html

https://theintercept.com/2016/10/27/when-cia-and-nsa-workers-blow-the-whistle-congress-plays-deaf/

Police State:  https://theintercept.com/2016/10/12/do-not-resist-the-police-militarization-documentary-everyone-should-see/

Shadow Government: http://www.salon.com/2016/01/05/controlled_by_shadow_government_mike_lofgren_reveals_how_top_u_s_officials_are_at_the_mercy_of_the_deep_state/

Foreign policy; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw

Ron Paul; http://anonhq.com/ron-paul-vote-want-secret-government-wont-change/

Double Government: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-double-government-…/5411785

Glennon Article: http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/…/2014/01/Glennon-Final.pdf

War is a racket:  https://archive.org/stream/WarIsARacket/WarIsARacket_djvu.txt

Inverted totalitarianism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_totalitarianism

4. CORPORATE MEDIA FAILURE:

Great conversation about the failure of the fourth estate:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnqfYKdC1_8

“Manufacturing Consent”:

Chomsky explains the ‘propaganda model’  in less than 7 minutes  (I know his voice is as exciting as listening to paint dry, but that last sentence really ties it up and puts a bow on top): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RPKH6BVoM

Military/NFL propaganda: http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/the-super-bowl-promotes-war/

5. “TRADE” AGREEMENTS:

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS);  http://www.citizen.org/investorcases

TPP is the dirtiest deal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnC1mqyAXmw

TPP rules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhJ_2Nx-e9Q&feature=youtu.be

TPP, TTIP & TISA:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw7P0RGZQxQ

Essential documentary ‘The Corporation’ should be show to EVERY student in high school:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y888wVY5hzw

Universal Basic Income – because a) We’ll still need to eat when all the jobs not shipped overseas are done by robots, and b) rich people don’t create jobs – consumers do.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqESogRgrYw

6. ECOCIDE is a Crime Against Humanity:

http://eradicatingecocide.com/the-law/what-is-ecocide/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/apr/09/ecocide-crime-genocide-un-environmental-damage

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2010/may/04/top-10-ecocides

https://www.endecocide.org/examples/

Water crisis documentaries list; http://www.watercache.com/blog/2011/10/must-see-water-documentaries-provide-insight-into-future-water-crisis/

Pipeline Spill Stats map/video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rxqUXqPzog

Great lakes threat;  http://www.ecowatch.com/first-ever-footage-of-aging-tar-sands-pipelines-beneath-great-lakes-1881801621.html

Funny #NoDAPL video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9TR9G5bd7w

Abuse of Eminent Domain threatens EVERY American homeowner:    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/03/12/the-devastation-caused-eminent-domain-abuse/yWsy0MNEZ91TM94PYQIh0L/story.html

7. CORPORATE CRIMES (a very small sample) :

(Thanks for some excellent links, Shane Alg)

– Exxon knew about the catastrophic effects of anthropomorphic CLIMATE CHANGE by the 1980’s, buried the knowledge and lied about it. See pg 13 of this document: http://insideclimatenews.org/sites/default/files/documents/AQ-9%20Task%20Force%20Meeting%20%281980%29.pdf

– Merchants of Doubt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8ii9zGFDtc

– Lead in Flint’s water:  http://www.detroitnews.com/…/epa-stayed…/78719620/

– Chromium 6 (toxin) may be in your water:
https://www.theguardian.com/…/chromium-6-erin…

-Valeant raises price on lead poisoning drug 2700% after Flints criminal disaster
https://www.statnews.com/…/valeant-drug-prices-lead…/

-Pesticides driving bees to extinction
https://independentaustralia.net/…/epa-confirms…

-Dupont knowingly poisons our water, spreading cancer
http://www.nytimes.com/…/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts…

-Hydraulic fracturing turns Oklahoma into the earthquake nightmare
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/induced/

-Unprecedented gas leak in California town makes neighborhood uninhabitable
http://m.csmonitor.com/…/Huge-gas-leak-undermines…

-Neighborhood explodes in flames, killing eight, due to poorly maintained gas lines
http://www.mercurynews.com/…/pge-found-guilty-on-six…/

-Oil companies allowed to inject toxic waste into California aquifers
https://www.propublica.org/…/ca-halts-injection…

– Koch Brothers poison a town:  http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-whistle-blower-accuses-the-kochs-of-poisoning-an-arkansas-town

– Cheney Loophole:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-grandia/how-cheneys-loophole-is-f_b_502924.html

– More reasons Cheney should be in prison:  http://wakeup-world.com/2015/03/17/revealed-fracking-used-to-inject-nuclear-waste-underground-for-decades/

– Prison slavery: https://news.vice.com/article/prisoners-all-over-the-us-are-on-strike-for-an-end-to-prison-slavery

– Fluoride & cancer?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClqK7XvfLg0

– Fluoride as a neurotoxin; https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/fluoride-childrens-health-grandjean-choi

– Geneticist David Suzuki explains why GMOs should be labelled: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl0-Ds6Cioc

– et tu Disney?  https://splinternews.com/disney-retaliates-against-the-la-times-after-damning-ex-1820120649

– owned by one of the richest men on the planet:  http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/zara-istanbul-unpaid-workers-inditex-bravo-clothing-tags-notes-a8037256.html 

 

8. IMPORTANT NEW LINKS:

If there is one dynamic we need to understand it is how the ruling class uses divide & conquer tactics to prevent us from finding common cause and working together on solutions to the most fundamental problems. One way they do this is to play the polarization game by using identity politics to split people who suffer into the smallest demographic groups possible in order to prevent them from finding common cause and organizing to solve the most fundamental problems that underlie the suffering of many different groups. This article uncovers a clear example of how this works:  https://www.truthdig.com/articles/black-panthers-think-black-lives-matter/

Divide and conquer is such an effective tactic, its not just the ruling class that uses it: http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/31/media/russia-facebook-violence/index.html

You can be anti-unfettered-capitalism without being literally Stalin: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/10/how-to-be-a-socialist-without-being-an-apologist-for-the-atrocities-of-communist-regimes

Finally, an obscure bit of history we can learn from:  https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/10/anti-rent-war-movement-feudalism-new-york

Please let me know in the comments if any links are broken and need fixing or if you have good links to share.

Thanks!

ps: ‘Murica needs a new hat: