Aug 29 2016

The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age | Science | The Guardian

Human activity has:

  • Pushed extinction rates of animals and plants far above the long-term average. The Earth is on course to see 75% of species become extinct in the next few centuries if current trends continue.
  • Put so much plastic in our waterways and oceans that microplastic particles are now virtually ubiquitous, and plastics will likely leave identifiable fossil records for future generations to discover.
  • Doubled the nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with fertiliser use. This is likely to be the largest impact on the nitrogen cycle in 2.5bn years.
  • Left a permanent layer of airborne particulates in sediment and glacial ice such as black carbon from fossil fuel burning.

via The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age | Science | The Guardian.

Aug 26 2016

5 Things the Media Isn’t Telling You About the Olympics

http://theantimedia.org/5-things-media-isnt-telling-olympics/

Aug 26 2016

A Scandal A Day: Emails Reveal State Department “Favors” To Clinton Foundation & Donors

http://theantimedia.org/clinton-foundation-top-donors-favors-state-dept/

Aug 25 2016

WhatsApp privacy backlash: Facebook angers users by harvesting their data | Technology | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/25/whatsapp-backlash-facebook-data-privacy-users

Aug 25 2016

The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/25/the-broken-chessboard-brzezinski-gives-up-on-empire/

Aug 25 2016

Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana

Between 1997 and 2002, hundreds of Bushman families were brutally evicted from their land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Their homes were destroyed, their wells were capped, their possessions were confiscated, and they were moved to government eviction camps en masse. Any who tried to resist were beaten, or even shot with rubber bullets.

There are close ties between the Botswana government and the infamous De Beers diamond corporation, and both have grown rich from the gemstones. Nevertheless, the government was savvy enough to know that diamonds alone would be an ugly excuse for wiping out an entire people, so they circulated absurd rumors.

The Bushmen were ‘poachers’, they said. They rode around in jeeps, they shot game on a massive scale with rifles, and posed a threat to the environment they had been dependent on and managed for millennia. They had to change, for the sake of ‘civilization’.

Despite a landmark court ruling in 2006 which the Bushmen won with the support of Survival International, the situation is still pretty terrible. Most of the Kalahari Bushmen are still living in government camps, and access to the Reserve has only been granted to a limited number of individuals. It is enforced under a brutal permit system, which sees children born in the reserve forced from their homes and family at the age of 18.

The permits are not heritable, and so when the present generation of Bushmen dies, their people will have effectively been legislated into extinction. The system was compared to the apartheid-era South African pass laws by veteran anti-apartheid activist and former Robben Island prisoner Michael Dingake.

via http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/25/genocide-in-plain-sight-shooting-bushmen-from-helicopters-in-botswana/

Aug 23 2016

ZCommunications » Who Profited From the $440 Billion Greek Bailout? Not Greeks

By imposing austerity to pay for the debt the Troika since 2010 has forced the Greek government to extract income and wealth from its workers and small businesses-i.e. to exploit its own citizens on the Troika’s behalf-and then transfer that income to the Troika and Europe bankers and investors. That’s imperialism pure and simple-albeit a new kind, now arranged by State to State (Troika-Greece) financial transfers instead of exploitation company by company at the point of production. The magnitude of exploitation is greater and far more efficient.

What’s happened, and continues to happen in Greece, is the emergence of a new form of financial imperialism that smaller states and economies, planning to join larger free trade zones and ‘currency’ unions, or to tie their currencies to the dollar, the euro, or other need to avoid at all cost, less they too become ‘Greece-like’ and increasingly debt-dependent on more powerful capitalist states to which they decide to integrate economically.

Neoliberalism is constantly evolving and with it forms of imperialist exploitation as well. It starts as a free trade zone or ‘customs’ union. A single currency is then added, or comes to dominate, within the free trade customs union. A currency union eventually leads to the need for a single banking union within the region. Central bank monetary policy ends up determined by the dominant economy and state. The smaller economy loses control of its currency, banking, and monetary policies. Banking union leads, of necessity, to a form of fiscal union. Smaller member states now lose control not only of their currency and banking systems, but eventually tax and spending as well. They then become ‘economic protectorates’ of the dominant economy and State-such as Greece has now become.

via ZCommunications » Who Profited From the $440 Billion Greek Bailout? Not Greeks.

Aug 23 2016

Media Worried Too Many Americans Will Question Legitimacy of 2016 Election

As of October of 2015, only 7 percent of the country had a “great deal” of trust in the mainstream media — but this must be Trump’s fault. Or maybe we can pin this on Russia, too.

Another recent development that in my opinion doesn’t prove the elections are rigged per se — but rather, that they are illegitimate — is the overwhelmingly small turnout of voters who nominated both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The two of them combined only attracted nine percent of the general public to vote for them in the primaries, meaning less than a tenth of the U.S. population anointed the nominees, one of whom will eventually be ruling over all Americans. Americans are hardly excited to get out and vote in elections nowadays — possibly because after years of believing unrepresentative politicians’ empty promises, they think the whole process has become futile.

But none of this really matters, anyway, since the U.S. is no longer a democracy or constitutional republic. It’s an oligarchy. In short, as a 2014 Princeton University study concluded, “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”

But again, as POLITICO notes, it’s not the actions of the oligarchy or the corporate media that have led voters to question the legitimacy of the system — it’s Trump’s words.

“…[M]any Republicans [elites] fear that Trump’s efforts to diminish people’s confidence in mainstream media, fair elections and politics itself will have a lasting impact,” POLITICO observes.

“‘The damage this is going to do to various institutions is going to be long term,’ said Charlie Sykes, a prominent conservative radio host in Milwaukee who has been one of the country’s most outspoken and consistent anti-Trump voices. ‘How do you restore civil discourse after all of this? He is a postmodern authoritarian who’s in the process of delegitimizing every institution — the media, the ballot box — that can be a check on him.’”

But what if it’s the oligarchic political system and the corporate media that have delegitimized themselves, and not some manufactured Trump conspiracy that has suddenly turned half the country into skeptical anti-establishment rebels? Maybe the corporate media’s collusion with the corporate government is the real conspiracy. Or maybe we should stop complaining and just blame Russia and Julian Assange — that seems a lot more convenient to the New York Times.

via http://theantimedia.org/media-americans-legitimacy-2016-election/

Aug 23 2016

Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine

Euromaidan did not bring a European future to Ukraine. It brought economic downfall and a fratricidal war. Ukrainians allowed external players in the West to play Ukraine as a pawn in their geopolitical rivalry against Russia. The tragedy of Ukraine is that it does not have mature, self-reliant political elite that would place the interests of the country ahead of their narrow economic interests and put aside ‘court’ squabbles for the sake of national unity.

Ukraine will survive only if its people and politicians understand that democracy is about respecting the Other, trusting the Other, compromising with him or her. Myroslava Berdnyk’s voice is very important for today’s Ukraine because she personifies a Ukraine that existed before Euromaidan: bilingual, divided but not split, a Ukraine which feels close to Russia and at the same time values what it considers Western democratic freedoms. This Ukraine could return if Myroslava and others like her are able to continue living, writing and speaking out.

via http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/23/political-writer-daughter-of-ukrainian-dissident-detained-and-charged-in-ukraine/

Aug 23 2016

As She Rakes in the Cash, Clinton Fundraisers Still Shrouded in Secrecy

Hillary Clinton spent the weekend fundraising in affluent New England communities, speaking to more than 2,200 donors at private brunches and gatherings in Nantucket and Cape Cod—but what she told them “remains a mystery,” the Associated Press reported Monday.

The fundraising effort—which follows her campaign’s most lucrative month so far with a $63 million gain in July—underscores Clinton’s continued evasion of transparency over her ties to wealthy elites. In fact, of the roughly 300 fundraising events she has held since announcing her White House run in April 2015, only five have allowed any press coverage, and Clinton has attempted to ban the use of social media among guests, according to the AP.

via http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/22/she-rakes-cash-clinton-fundraisers-still-shrouded-secrecy

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