Blog Archives

TPP is only Mostly Dead

mostly-dead

You may have been under the mistaken impression that the wolf in sheep’s clothing known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was dead. Unfortunately, the TPP isn’t all dead, its only mostly dead, and mostly dead is slightly alive. The TPP is not a lone wolf, there are others in the pack.  The TTIP and TISA are still lurking in the dark, waiting to pounce on what little is left of democracy and tear out its throat.

This video, made by Wikileaks in 2015, is only 8 minutes long, but what it says is terrifying and so difficult to digest that I had watch it more than once in order to comprehend the massive scope of the danger we face. The information it contains is so important it should have 7 billion views, and yet it hasn’t cracked a million yet.

World War Three is underway right now and we can’t even see the weapons used against us in boardrooms we have no access to. Einstein had no idea how hard he nailed it when he said:

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

 

Advertisements

COVERT REVOLUTION 2016: CORPORATIONS VS. DEMOCRACY AND THE PLANET

chomskybusinessTHE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. IT WILL NOT APPEAR IN MEDIA POLLING.

Evidence is emerging that there has been a quiet coup and counter coup in the United States, quite apart from the corporate coup that has already turned the former democracy into an inverted totalitarian Oligarchy.

Corporate “news” outlets lie like rugs and their election predictions cannot be trusted. This is the year that a third-party vote matters the most and can really make a difference. However, you cannot expect the media to give any indication that there is a groundswell of support for alternatives to the two-party system.

Trump is a climate denier, but Clinton has failed to speak out against fossil fuel extraction and will also allow fossil fuel companies to continue destroying the biosphere. This is why it is so important to vote for somebody, else in this election if you can do that without causing worse damage.  However, it is important to understand that if you want your vote to count, you have to consider political demographics. Where you live has an impact on whether your 3rd party vote would be wasted.

Bernie Sanders’ supporters can hope that he is appointed the nominee, in the unlikely event Clinton resigns prior to the election. Depending on where you live, writing in Bernie Sanders might take electoral college votes away from Clinton and Trump, in several states including California. However, if Sanders supporters split the vote in California, they may regret it.

The Green Party is the ONLY one to prioritize saving the biosphere and the ONLY one to stand with Standing Rock and Jill Stein has picked up a large slice of Bernie Sanders’ supporters who are angry that the Clinton camp cheated.

If you not in a swing state, you can help boost a third party over 5% in the popular vote, which gives them ballot access in 2020.  If you believe the whole game is rigged, voting for a third party is even more important because a solid showing in the popular vote now can send a message to the “duopoly” that their days are numbered.

The most important thing is to STAY AWAKE after the election, no matter who wins, and demand ANTI-CORRUPTION laws that will give the people enough power to stop corporations from destroying the planet.

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.

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 Worth Sharing #ILWS

Everybody wants to save the world, and we all have our own gifts to offer. I have more time than most to do research. As a university student, I also have access to academic and scientific journals that the public may find hidden behind a paywall.  I want to build a searchable database to collect the best information I can find from the most credible sources. When evaluating credibility it is important to understand the complex relationships and revolving door between academia, government regulators and the corporations who profit from the research they fund. The public has been lied to for so long that people who speak the truth sometimes sound ‘crazy’ but it is important to evaluate the EVIDENCE instead of buying common assumptions. For people who are ready to wake up and look at things from different angles, I’m developing a searchable database – AWAKEupedia – to help people research issues ignored on the evening news. Meanwhile, here is a ‘starter set’ of links to help you with your own research. This is a work in constant progress, so these will evolve over time. I welcome your suggestions for additions/improvements in the comments.

AMERICA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY:

Corruption is Legal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tu32CCA_Ig

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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

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/

Obama’s cabinet;  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QhPaCu0NzY&feature=youtu.be

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

and finally, HERE is a brilliant solution to the problem:

 

PIPELINE LINKS:

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

wikipedia on supreme court decision; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Sioux_Nation_of_Indians

 

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/

 

VOTING ISSUES:

Ryan stumps for Sanders (funny) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbsR4rKEyiI

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_

 

“DEEP STATE” (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

 

“TRADE” AGREEMENTS:

ISDS;  http://www.citizen.org/investorcases

TPP dirtiest deal:

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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y888wVY5hzw

Universal Basic Income:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqESogRgrYw

 

ECOCIDE is a Crime Against Humanity:

WHAT IS ECOCIDE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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; http://www.watercache.com/blog/2011/10/must-see-water-documentaries-provide-insight-into-future-water-crisis/

 

CORPORATE CRIMES:

(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/

See my previous blog posts for links on genetically modified organisms.

 

I put this together quickly and will probably keep modifying it to make improvements.

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

Please consider the great value of sharing good information with your circles of friends to help raise public consciousness around important issues.

Thanks for participating in the ‘boss fight’ to save the biosphere!

 

U.S. IS NOT A DEMOCRACY

“He never let the truth get in the way of a good story” was a line of dialogue from TV show that probes the depths to which the human mind can sink. A good narrative is so compelling it can blind us to the truth. This quirk of human nature has been exploited by con men for centuries and Maria Konnikova’s “Born to be Conned” in the New York Times provides some interesting examples of smart people who fell prey to con men. The other key to a successful con game is that people want to believe in good; that the bad guy will get his comeuppance and that hard work will be rewarded. This is the narrative our culture trumpets via books, film and television, but we’ve been conned.

Consolidation of media ownership has enabled the cultural narrative to be controlled by a shrinking group of players. The occasional mea culpa, like Bill Moyers’ Buying the War, is supposed to satisfy the masses that the free press is still working, but the conclusions reached in the documentary contradict that view. Although the producers don’t pretend that the media’s failure to challenge the evidence leading up to the war in Iraq was unique, they fail to explore any potential solutions. This supports the spreading view that mainstream news is nothing more than corporate propaganda.

The mainstream media is no longer the free press that is necessary for a functioning democracy. The stories that don’t get told are often the ones that citizens in a functioning democracy most need to hear. Moyer’s documentary tells one such story about the unheard reporters who were correct that the Bush Administration was lying like a rug. Another important story that is getting short shrift is that the United States is no longer a democracy. It’s worth repeating: your Federal Presidential Constitutional Republic is no longer a democratic institution, but an Oligarchy. Government “of the people, by the people, for the people” as Lincoln put it, has largely perished in the United States.

The influence the average American voter has is so small it has a statistical significance “near zero.” This is from an academic study published in 2014 and was ignored in the mainstream media. In a functioning representative democracy, the knowledge that your democracy isn’t representative of the vast majority of people and therefore doesn’t function would be considered newsworthy. While MSNBC was almost the only mainstream outlet to run the story, they did so under a limp headline and let the story die of neglect. The flip side of the story is that if you’re a billionaire, you still have all the representation money can buy.

“Democracy” and “Freedom” are as American as apple pie, and represent core beliefs that citizens embrace as part of their identity. Presenting evidence that their core beliefs are untrue doesn’t go over well because of the psychological phenomenon called “cognitive dissonance.” This refers to the same mental discomfort a child feels when an older sibling first spills the beans about Santa Claus. Our natural human habit of avoiding pain means we tend to cling to false beliefs if the truth contradicts our long-held worldview or core values.

The pain of cognitive dissonance, the unwillingness to accept that the Bush Administration deliberately lied in order to start a war which killed thousands of Americans, contributed to the outcome that the perpetrators got away with it. That kind of massive injustice isn’t supposed to happen in America, but there are other examples. The Vietnam War, which killed over 58,000 Americans, was triggered by an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin that didn’t happen. During the Gulf War 30 years later, columnist Sydney Schanberg reminded journalists that they’d been “bamboozled” by President Johnson about Vietnam, but also lamented “the apparent amnesia of the wider American public.” Liars keep getting away with it because people prefer a soothing lie to a painful truth.

The media could do things differently, in theory, but how many reporters are willing to speak truth to power in the current climate of corporate consolidation and downsizing? What does that say about the news we see today about ISIL in Syria? The fact that the CIA largely created ISIL doesn’t get much play in the U.S., but the Guardian ran the story in the U.K. back in June. Today the drums are beating for Americans to risk their lives in a futile effort to solve a problem created by their own government. The OrwellianWar on Terror” not only cannot be won, but winning arguably isn’t even the endgame. The military-industrial complex that outgoing President Eisenhower warned of benefits enormously from ongoing conflict. Peace doesn’t pay, even for reporters.

President Obama recently gave a speech on terrorism and gun control, asking Congress to support the bombing of ISIL in Syria. He looked as grey and weary as any U.S. president approaching the end of his term. It could be that his administration, like the media and the public, are being swept along by forces beyond their control. It could also be true that the owners of major defense contractors are quite pleased with the direction things are going. The gun dealers enjoy increased sales in the wake of mass shootings as they warn America to arm themselves against the threat of home grown terror.

If the news media had fulfilled their traditional role, members of the Bush Administration would likely be in jail for war crimes by now and the 9/11 Commission might have reached very different conclusions. It used to be said that knowledge is power, but even though knowledge is more freely available than it has ever been, the game doesn’t seem to have changed much. In the 2016 elections, the U.S. may reach a significant tipping point where the population finally catches on and takes a course not charted by the establishment. President Bernie Sanders may be a game changer, as he seems to be the only candidate willing to acknowledge the truth about the serious flaws in the system, let alone fix them. Pay attention to the media bias against Sanders and towards the establishment’s choice, but don’t expect to see coverage of the Democracy Spring event or the represent.us anti-corruption campaign. If you want to live in a functioning democratic republic, use social media to share important knowledge while you still can.

 

Click the embedded links to find sources and/or interesting supporting material, some of which is rather offbeat.

Also recommended:

Corporations can edit Wikipedia too, but SourceWatch is an awesome website to help you figure out the agenda behind a press release. Here are a few of their portals;

Wage Crushers

ALEC Exposed

A Wiki on the Koch brothers

This interview, in two parts, with Noam Chomsky. It from about 25 years ago, but stands the test of time.

This Ted Talk about who rules the world.

puppets

Cognitive Dissonance is a Killer

Middle-aged white guys are killing themselves at alarming rates and the experts don’t know why. The suicide rate for men in their 50s increased 49% in the decade ending 2010. According to the CBC;

A recent study, co-authored by this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, Angus Deaton, found that a long-term decline in death rates changed direction in 1999 for middle-aged, non-Hispanic white Americans, especially for the segment of that population with only a high school degree or less.

I don’t think the trend is surprising nor the reasons mysterious and, despite what the “men’s rights” windbags contend, it is not the fault of women or feminism. These men who are failing to thrive were brought up in a kinder, gentler world, where income inequality was considerably less. When they were growing up, the middle class was booming and every generation seemed to be better off than the one before. That is clearly no longer the case. Working class Joe did what society expected him to do, but the rewards that were promised have not been not forthcoming.

The new reality of low economic mobility coupled with extreme income inequality grinds against the deeply entrenched, but now mostly false, belief that the “American Dream” is possible. Millions of Americans have been shoved out of the middle class into poverty, and the depth of that poverty is getting worse. In short, the working class white guy has finally figured out that he’s been lied to, and he feels duped and powerless. He didn’t see it coming, so he feels he’s failed to protect and provide for his family. That is a heavy burden to carry alone, and traditionally, men have been socialized to be stoic and not reach out for help, so they suffer in silence until it becomes too much for some of them to bear.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. – Wikipedia

If we’ve been lied to all these years about the American Dream, what other core beliefs are just delusions? Here’s a hard one to swallow: America is no longer a democracy. Let that sink in. The ideal that Lincoln put forth in the Gettysburg Address of government of the people, by the people, for the people has indeed perished in the United States of America. The government is now more accurately described as a corporate-controlled Oligarchy. An academic study done by experts at Princeton and Northwestern concluded in September 2014 that policy decisions are driven by the economic elite and the average voter has a level of influence on public policy that is “near zero.” That’s right, the average voter has no power, no influence on the legislative process. Let. that. sink. in. This is a really tough truth to absorb. That uncomfortable feeling – a painful sense of betrayal – is called cognitive dissonance.

It not news that money is power and power is money. What many failed to notice is that there has been a massive transfer of wealth into the pockets of the 1% from the rest of us.  The ultra-rich are hoarding vast amounts of capital and passing it down to their children, so the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid are using and abusing inherited wealth to buy influence and control politicians and policy. The game is rigged. The concentration of media ownership means that mainstream media does not distribute truth, but propaganda that shapes public opinion to keep people distracted from the fundamental shift of power into the hands of the economic elite. We could solve the energy crisis by hooking up a generator to George Orwell spinning in his grave.

Middle-aged, working class white guys are now on a level playing field for the first time with millions of others from marginalized groups who can’t help but think “karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?” The powers that be have always used our differences to divide us with the political weapons of fear and anger. Even the poorest white people considered themselves better off (or just ‘better’) than their black neighbours. There is certainly a tradition of dis-empowered men building up their own egos at their wives’ expense. If even the formerly privileged white guy finally realizes he’s just as screwed as everyone else, what is left to divide us with? Many men still cling to the idea that competition is better than cooperation. When a critical mass of people understand that compassion is more likely to lead to happiness, we may see a shift in consciousness that leads to greater social justice, reduced inequality, and greater prosperity for the 99%. However, that isn’t going to happen in an Oligarchy.

The way out of this mess isn’t rocket science. The same forces at play in the U.S. have been at work in Canada, where we finally kicked out a right-wing Prime Minister in favour of one who promises to reform the electoral system to make it more fair to voters. Electoral reform is the key to taking democracy back. In Canada it means getting rid of first-past-the-post so our votes aren’t wasted. In the U.S. the biggest issue is campaign finance.  Now that Americans are learning that they don’t live in a democracy anymore, what are they going to do about it?

Edit: Bernie Sanders could have done amazing things.  Perhaps people will wake up by 2018.

 

Here are some links to some other interesting ideas;

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/03/financial-crisis-corporate-power-george-monbiot

 

GMO Apologist Funding and the End of Democracy

I’ve been poking around for information on how the money flows from the GMO Lobby to the relatively small cadre of apologists who defend them. When clicking through links about genetic engineering (GE), the same names keep popping up. If you follow the pro-GMO money it tends to lead back to the very corporations who stand to rake in massive profits by keeping people ignorant about what goes into their food supply.

taylor

As a starting point, let’s look at Kellogg’s funding of a recent study suggesting that 100 billion cows were healthy right before they were slaughtered for food after ingesting GE feed for only 90-120 days. The study came out of the University of California at Davis, which gets lots of research funding  from ‘industry partners’ .

When I started clicking links to the Kellogg Foundation I found some rather odd data. The branding on their website is all about helping children. Nothing in the mission statement about the quality of cow feed. So I searched their grants page for UC Davis and found a number of awards adding up to over six million dollars, only a pittance of which went to grants that had anything to do with children. I fail to see how grants to livestock feed studies mesh with the stated mission of the Kellogg fund.

psychopaths

This sort of inconsistency leads to accusations of corruption and money laundering akin to what the Grocery Manufacturers Association did during GMO labeling campaigns in California and Washington state. Kellogg’s funnelled money into both of those campaigns due to concerns that GMO labeling will eat further into their profits, down 16% in the 2nd quarter. This setback was attributed to changes in eating habits rather than the boycott of Kellogs products to protest their opposition to labeling their GE foods.

trickle

I’m not attacking the scientists involved in pro-GE studies. They probably believe that they’re doing good work for the benefit of mankind. Noam Chomsky explained in Manufacturing Consent how the systemic filters ensure that the people who get ahead in the media are the ones whose outlook meshes with that of their corporate masters. There are similar filters operating in academia.

foxguard

Let’s turn our attention to the cozy group of GMO cheerleaders who jumped on that feeding study like a duck on a junebug and started sharing the shit out of it. I first found it on a Facebook page and followed the links to an article in Forbes by Jon Entine. He’s head of an outfit called the Genetic Literacy Project. Sourcewatch follows the funding through front groups and networked organizations that are funded by right-wing think tanks and ultimately the Koch Brothers, who also support anti-labeling laws.

When I started sharing my views on Twitter, I got into a lengthy exchange with Kevin Folta at the University of Florida. I didn’t find any links to Kellogg’s there, but I did stumble onto some fascinating reports on how the Koch Brothers bought a department and tried to buy the presidency of another of Florida’s state universities. Of the 12 institutions in Florida’s state system, UFlorida has the largest endowment and enrollment and also appears on the list of recipients of Koch brothers’ largesse. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency makes it impossible to determine how much Koch influence might be exerted at UF.  Regardless, it is clear that Folta has solid connections to the Genetic Literacy Project and other GMO cheerleaders who present at the same conferences.

occupytea

Why should you care who funds whom? It’s not just that a handful of corporations are trying to get a stranglehold on the world’s food supply. You should care that YOU DON’T LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY ANYMORE. Let that sink in. This is not just my opinion. Princeton academics have documented this fundamental shift to oligarchy. Predictably, this story received almost no coverage in the mainstream mediaChris Hedges  describes what has happened as a corporate coup d’etat. The same kind of stealth tactics that Big Ag pursues have also been used with great success by Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Tobacco and Wall Street took it to a whole new level.  Naomi Klein‘s new book, does a great job of explaining how capitalism is destroying the biosphere.

let that sink in

If the corporations have already won, as Hedges and a great deal of evidence suggests, what are the people to do?  Citizens in the U.S. and Canada will have to take back democracy from the ground up, starting at the municipal level. (Take a look at what they’re doing in Seattle if you need some inspiration.) In every election at the provincial/state or federal level the number one issue we need to demand accountability on in Canada is ELECTORAL REFORM. In the U.S., campaign finance needs reform to address the corruption and legal bribery that has quietly robbed the people of their power.

people

Expect the bullshit machine try to scare you with all manner of reasons to keep the status quo. Don’t drink their kool-aid. An estimated 400,000 people who hit the streets of New York on September 21st to demand action on climate change were just the tip of the iceberg.  As more North Americans realize their country has been stolen by the .001%, I predict we will see even larger crowds in the street. The police state cannot prevail against a populist uprising.

permit

Billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer points out that when economic inequality reaches the record levels we are seeing, the result tends to be an uprising or a police state. Then Ferguson happened and showed America the police state had already arrived. Peace is a good thing. Nobody wants a violent revolution, but maintaining the status quo is not an acceptable option to anyone who values their civil rights or the biosphere we depend on for survival. If you don’t get off your arse and demand your democracy back, you will condemn your children to live as serfs on a poisoned planet, who think they are ‘free’ because the media told them so.

feudalism

ps; If you found this enlightening, please consider sharing it with others.

The GMO Lobby Loves Lazy Journalists

suzuki

I found a facebook post today claiming that a “Study of 100 Billion Animals Finds GMOs Safe.

First of all, I consider the source.  Here’s what the “I fucking love science” page says about itself:

We’re here for the science – the funny side of science. Quotes, jokes, memes and anything your admin finds awesome and strange.  If you take yourself seriously, you’re on the wrong page.

That tells me I need to dig deeper, so I go read the article and click on the source that the writer cited, which purported to be an academic study, but instead I found an article in Forbes, which used to be a credible business magazine for the one percent.  The headline confidently proclaimed  “The Debate About GMOs Safety is Over, Thanks to a New Trillion-Meal Study” but nothing could be further from the truth.  The article was written by Jon Entine, whose bio says:

I’m executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project (www.GeneticLiteracyProject.org), an independent NGO, and Senior Fellow at the World Food Center’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California-Davis.

That sounds harmless enough, but a quick look at his wiki says he’s also the author of “Crop Chemophobia: Will Precaution Kill the Green Revolution?” and is connected to the American Enterprise Institute – a right wing think-tank.  Alright, so I’m sensing there might be a wee bit of bias here, but lets give him the benefit of the doubt by looking at his evidence for the alleged safety of GMOs.  Here’s a quote:

Writing in the Journal of Animal Science, in the most comprehensive study of GMOs and food ever conducted, University of California-Davis Department of Animal Science geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam and research assistant Amy E. Young reviewed 29 years of livestock productivity and health data from both before and after the introduction of genetically engineered animal feed. [NOTE: article is behind a paywall until October 1.]

That bit about the paywall would discourage people from seeking it out, but when I read the abstract, it looked very similar to another article published last year by the lead author in the new article.  You can read the entire earlier article here.

The study Entine refers to is a review article in a scholarly journal, not original peer-reviewed research.  For those of you unfamiliar with academic jargon, that means instead of solid evidence, we’re looking at someone’s interpretation/opinion of other scientists’ work. Entine gives some quotes clearly cherry-picked to support his opinion that GMOs are safe, but for the sake of balance, here are some other direct quotations from Van Eenennaam’s 2013 article:

From the Abstract:

Requiring long-term and target animal feeding studies would sharply increase regulatory compliance costs and prolong the regulatory process associated with the commercialization of GE crops.

From the conclusion:

Regulatory frameworks should formally evaluate the reasonable and unique risks and benefits associated with the use of both GE plants and animals in agricultural systems, and weigh them against those associated with existing systems, and the opportunity costs associated with regulatory inaction.

From the Acknowledgements:

Preparation of this manuscript was supported by funds from the W.K. Kellogg endowment to the UC Davis Department of Animal Science.

Yes, folks, the same Kelloggs who donated an undisclosed amount to fight against the implementation of  labelling laws that would allow people to know whether they’re eating and feeding their children a product that has never been proven safe for human consumption.

Here’s the entire text of the Abstract (summary) of the new article:

Globally, food-producing animals consume 70 to 90% of genetically engineered (GE) crop biomass. This review briefly summarizes the scientific literature on performance and health of animals consuming feed containing GE ingredients and composition of products derived from them. It also discusses the field experience of feeding GE feed sources to commercial livestock populations and summarizes the suppliers of GE and non-GE animal feed in global trade. Numerous experimental studies have consistently revealed that the performance and health of GE-fed animals are comparable with those fed isogenic non-GE crop lines. United States animal agriculture produces over 9 billion food-producing animals annually, and more than 95% of these animals consume feed containing GE ingredients. Data on livestock productivity and health were collated from publicly available sources from 1983, before the introduction of GE crops in 1996, and subsequently through 2011, a period with high levels of predominately GE animal feed. These field data sets representing over 100 billion animals following the introduction of GE crops did not reveal unfavorable or perturbed trends in livestock health and productivity. No study has revealed any differences in the nutritional profile of animal products derived from GE-fed animals. Because DNA and protein are normal components of the diet that are digested, there are no detectable or reliably quantifiable traces of GE components in milk, meat, and eggs following consumption of GE feed. Globally, countries that are cultivating GE corn and soy are the major livestock feed exporters. Asynchronous regulatory approvals (i.e., cultivation approvals of GE varieties in exporting countries occurring before food and feed approvals in importing countries) have resulted in trade disruptions. This is likely to be increasingly problematic in the future as there are a large number of “second generation” GE crops with altered output traits for improved livestock feed in the development and regulatory pipeline. Additionally, advanced techniques to affect targeted genome modifications are emerging, and it is not clear whether these will be encompassed by the current GE process-based trigger for regulatory oversight. There is a pressing need for international harmonization of both regulatory frameworks for GE crops and governance of advanced breeding techniques to prevent widespread disruptions in international trade of livestock feedstuffs in the future.

Let me translate to plain English and summarize what those journal articles actually said to me. “Let’s not bother to do a proper assessment of risk to human health because it’s just so darn expensive.”

Forbes says GMOs are safe.

bsblackboard

Here’s the problem. Feedlot cattle are fed grain and other concentrates for usually 90-120 days. There are many reasons that feedlot beef isn’t the healthiest or most ethical choice, but that’s not the issue. After 90-120 days, feedlot cattle are sent to the slaughterhouse. How likely is it that they would manifest illness that soon as a result of genetically engineered feed?  It may be impossible to determine whether eating GMO-fed beef has a negative impact on human health but, again, that’s not the question that concerns me.

Genetically modified corn is already in foods that are produced for direct human consumption and we don’t send our children to the slaughterhouse after three months. They keep eating these products year after year.  There are no long-term feeding studies on human health. The producers are not doing them and the government isn’t telling them to. We cannot choose between GMO and non-GMO foods unless they are labelled. The Grocery Manufacturers Association is fighting tooth and nail to prevent citizen-driven initiatives to label GMO products.  I have the right to know what I’m feeding my child.  My child’s right to safe food trumps Kelloggs’ right to huge profits.  A billion cows sent to the slaughterhouse after three months of GMO feed have absolutely nothing to tell us about how genetically modified corn and soy products affect the health of humans who have been eating them, unwittingly, for years.

But wait, there’s more!  I looked up the author of the article, Alison Louise Van Eenennaam and found biographical data and a C.V. submitted to the FDA that indicate she was hired by Monsanto in 1998.  This isn’t the first time scientists have been called out for hidden connections to corporate interests.

Others have written extensively on how huge corporations use their money to influence not just politicians, through lobbyists and political donations, but also to corrupt the practice of scholarly research and scientific inquiry. Whenever you read some mainstream media article telling you not to worry about some issue that you’re hearing other people voice concerns about, consider the following questions:

Who is the author? What else has s/he written? Who pays him/her? What do this person’s professional connections tell you about his/her point of view?

Who is the publisher? What corporation owns the publication and what are their other corporate affiliations?  Who are the major advertisers?

What about scholarly articles? Can you access it directly online?  Does the source material cited really say what is stated in the article? What does the sections on conflicts and acknowledgements say about sources of funding or professional affiliations?  Can you find a C.V. that tells you about the author’s previous employers?

Read critically. Seek the truth. Don’t take any so-called expert’s word for it. Lets use the internet to expose the Matrix of lies that surrounds us before greedy corporations destroy the biosphere.

Finally, if you want to gain a better understanding of how the “Matrix” of lies is constructed, I recommend reading the following books:

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, and

Understanding Power: The Indespensible Chomsky

 

References;

Alison L Van Eenennaam. (2014). GMOs in animal agriculture: time to consider both costs and benefits in regulatory evaluations. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, 2013, 4:37 http://www.jasbsci.com/content/4/1/37

A Love Letter to the One Percent

Earth_Western_Hemisphere“The rich are always afraid.”- Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth 

Dear One Percent,

I can understand why you might be a tad nervous these days. Your lofty penthouses must offer spectacular views of the collapse of western civilization. We have reached a fork in the road and there is a real struggle about which way to go. Since you’ve usurped most of the power in the world and your vote counts for more than mine, I’m asking you to please use it wisely.

If we continue down the broad path of globalization, unfettered corporate pillage and the continued massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the super-rich, we are all going to have a bad time. History repeatedly demonstrates the resilience of what a former employer of mine actually called “the great unwashed masses.” The stronger the downward momentum when the people hit bottom, the higher they will bounce. There were no gates high enough, or walls thick enough to resist this force when it erupted in France, Russia, China, or countless other “civilized” nations that didn’t share resources fairly. What’s worse, if ecocide is allowed to continue, there won’t be a world worth living in when the dust settles.

Nobody wants that to happen in America except Fox News. Bloody violence would be a wet dream for both Rupert Murdoch and the pundit class who are employed by the military-industrial-prison-complex. The vast majority of sentient beings on this planet, perhaps especially the cops and soldiers, want peace. However, we all have the right to defend ourselves and our families from abuse. More of us are recognizing that the planet we live on should also be inside our circle of concern, because if she dies, we do too and so more of us than ever are willing to put ourselves in harm’s way to defend the earth.

We are hearing the term ‘revolution’ being tossed around in a less figurative context these days. We are approaching a tipping point and none of us knows for certain what lies on the other side. Let’s take a moment to think about what we want to find there. I expect to see small communities building their own sustainable economies, growing more organic food in more shared spaces. We already see the growth of free-cycling, tool libraries, seed libraries, maker spaces and other alternatives to consumerism. We will see increasing engagement in governance, beginning particularly at the local level and, if necessary, increased civil disobedience in the prevention of ecocide. We will see a new economy growing to fill the void as our current unsustainable house of cards slowly but surely collapses down to a manageable size.  The whole fossil fuel industry will gradually subside, while clean, renewable energy companies rise to replace them. Institutional pressure to divest from fossil fuels will accelerate this process. At the same time, we can also expect to see a number of democratic movements coalesce in order to find a way to bring power back to the people from whom it was stolen. Checks and balances on the power of transnational corporations must be restored if we are to save this planet. Please keep in mind that we don’t have another one to go to.

The massive chasm of income disparity represents a threat to everyone, no matter how much or how little money they have. Change is inevitable and its up to you, dear one percent, to make sure the transition goes smoothly. We all need you to become part of the solution by defecting from the forces of unmitigated greed and join our common cause as Terrestrials. We all breathe the same air, and so will all of our children, even yours.

Love,

Some of the rest of us.

Some handy links;

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19658-our-invisible-revolution

http://sacred-economics.com/

https://www.facebook.com/solvealltheproblems

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Connect-ALL-the-DOTS/244043472413348