Puppet MastersS

Gold Coins

When democracy Is trumped by the excesses of capitalism

© Photo: Haymarket BooksRichard D. Wolff
"Ideas of economic democracy are very much in the air, as they should be, with increasing urgency in the midst of today's serious crises. Richard Wolff's constructive and innovative ideas suggest new and promising foundations for much more authentic democracy and sustainable and equitable development, ideas that can be implemented directly and carried forward. A very valuable contribution in troubled times." - Noam Chomsky
In his new book, "Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism," Richard Wolff makes the compelling argument that modern capitalism has undermined democracy, replacing it with a plutocracy. All the props of a democracy remain intact - elections, legislatures, media - but they predominantly function at the service of the oligarchy.

Truthout readers can get "Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism" free with a minimum contribution by clicking here.

The following excerpt is entitled "Private Capitalism and Democracy":

Gold Seal

Chris Hedges on gun rights, Obama's empire, and serious revolt

Abby Martin interviews Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Chris Hedges, about activism and journalism, Obama's presidency, the death of the liberal class and the second amendment.

Bizarro Earth

We have created a world of 'civilised savages'

Our modern society lacks the moral compass of civilisation.
The year 2012 seemed to pass like a flash but in terms of human suffering, it might as well have lasted a decade, leaving a series of enduring problems to be tackled in 2013. The ''Arab Spring'' not only did not live up to expectations but has forecast a gloomy future for the Middle East and the world. Civil war in Syria has intensified, according to the United Nations, causing more than 60,000 deaths since Syria's uprising began in March 2011. Afghanistan and Iraq do not offer any consolations either; security conditions have gotten worse in these countries with no improvements in sight. Sanctions against Iran have intensified; however, it still continues its nuclear program undeterred.

Our humanity is suffering from its misdeeds and the start of 2013 is a prime time to reflect on our global civilisation.

Looking at the status of humanity there are many contradictions, but very few are more prevalent than the concept of civilisation. If by ''civilisation'' we mean an advanced state of human society in which human beings have achieved a high level of culture, science, industry and more complex organisational capacity, we might have accomplished some form of civilisation over the millennia.

Yet the concept of modernity may be a better way to describe these accomplishments. Modernity provides human beings with the technological means to establish complex institutions. It offers scientific knowledge and logistical advancement for human beings to dominate nature and exploit their environment. Modernity itself is devoid of morality. Thus, if detached from civilisation, it could provide the means to commit many actions that we would not hesitate to describe as forms of savagery.


U.S. spy law authorizes mass surveillance of European citizens: report

© Photo by Patrick Lux/Getty ImagesParticipants work at their laptops at the annual Chaos Computer Club computer hackers' congress in Hamburg, Germany. They probably would not be pleased with FISA.
Europeans, take note: The U.S. government has granted itself authority to secretly snoop on you.

That's according to a new report produced for the European Parliament, which has warned that a U.S. spy law renewed late last year authorizes "purely political surveillance on foreigners' data" if it is stored using U.S. cloud services like those provided by Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

Europeans were previously alarmed by the fact that the PATRIOT Act could be used to obtain data on citizens outside the United States. But this time the focus is a different law - the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Amendments Act - which poses a "much graver risk to EU data sovereignty than other laws hitherto considered by EU policy-makers," according to the recently published report, Fighting Cyber Crime and Protecting Privacy in the Cloud, produced by the Centre for the Study of Conflicts, Liberty and Security.

The FISA Amendments Act was introduced in 2008, retroactively legalizing a controversial "warrantless wiretapping" program initiated following 9/11 by the Bush administration. Late last month, it was renewed through 2017. During that process, there was heated debate over how it may violate Americans' privacy. But citizens in foreign jurisdictions have even greater cause for concern, says the report's co-author, Caspar Bowden, who was formerly chief privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe.

Eye 2

Our killer president

The killer said:

"Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who've been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement," the president fired back at an impromptu news conference at the White House.

"Or whoever's left out there," he added. "Ask them about that."

Watch the video. It's instructive, particularly Obama's expression when he adds, "Or whoever's left out there." He speaks of murder, yet the words are breezy and casual: this is a murderer so used to killing that he talks of his past and future victims interchangeably, and in terms of approximation. Just "whoever's left out there." He wants to be sure you know he'll order all of them killed in time. His face is expressionless, the eyes dead. This is a man without a soul in any healthy, positive sense. He murders -- and he's proud of it.

More than a million innocent Iraqis were murdered as the result of the United States' criminal war of aggression on that country. Obama has heralded America's "success" in Iraq as "an extraordinary achievement."


Anger as Norway police drop Breivik response probe

The family of a teenager killed by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik reacted angrily Friday after a probe into police's slow response to the July 2011 twin attacks was dropped.

"Apparently, no one will ever learn from the grave mistakes that were made on July 22, not the police nor anyone else," lamented Alf Vederhus who lost his son Haavard in Breivik's mass shooting on the island of Utoeya.

The Norwegian police's internal affairs unit said in a statement Thursday that while there were serious shortcomings in the police's response, it had dropped its investigation into complaints filed by the families of two victims because there was no evidence police had broken the law.

"I think internal affairs looked too lightly on the mistakes that were made," Vederhus told the daily Dagsavisen.

Cowboy Hat

UN calls for 'rapid deployment' of international troops in Mali

© AFP Photo / Serge DanielMalian troops patrol on a pick-up car
The UN Security Council has called for "rapid deployment" of international forces in Mali to combat Islamist militants in the north of the country. It comes as insurgents have seized the key city of Konna as they move south.

"This serious deterioration of the situation threatens even more the stability and integrity of Mali and constitutes a direct threat to international peace and security," Security Council President Masood Khan said in a statement following an emergency meeting on Thursday evening.

Given the latest developments in the West African country, the members of the UNSC "expressed their determination to pursue the full implementation" of its resolutions on Mali, in particular Resolution 2085, adopted in December, which authorizes the deployment of over 3,000 African-led international troops.


Pakistan bombings: Blasts in Quetta and Mingora kill more than 100

© The Associated Press/Arshad ButtPakistani volunteers rush an injured victim from a bomb blast to a local hospital for treatment in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013.
Quetta, Pakistan - A series of bombings killed 115 people across Pakistan on Thursday, including 81 who died in twin blasts on a bustling billiards hall in a Shiite area of the southwestern city of Quetta.

Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and a militant Sunni group claimed responsibility for Thursday's deadliest attack - sending a suicide bomber into the packed pool hall and then detonating a car bomb five minutes later.

It was one of the deadliest days in recent years for a country that is no stranger to violence from radical Islamists, militant separatists and criminal gangs.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned Thursday's multiple attacks and the ongoing terrorist violence in Pakistan, saying "these heinous acts cannot be justified by any cause" and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Violence has been especially intense in southwest Baluchistan province, where Quetta is the capital and the country's largest concentration of Shiites live. Many are ethnic Hazara who migrated from neighboring Afghanistan.

The billiards hall targeted Thursday was located in an area dominated by the minority sect. In addition to the 81 dead, more than 120 people were wounded in the double bombing, said police officer Zubair Mehmood. The dead included police officers, journalists and rescue workers who responded to the initial explosion.

Comment: Whenever you read that "no group claimed responsibility" or "a previously unknown group claimed responsibility", note that this is the hallmark of state terrorist activities:

The British Empire - A Lesson In State Terrorism

Brick Wall

Catholic bishops slam Israel's security barrier

A delegation of Roman Catholic bishops from Europe and North America pledged on Thursday to press their governments to act against the "injustice" of Israel's West Bank separation barrier.

During a three-day trip ending on Thursday, the eight prelates visited Christian congregations in the Gaza Strip, Bethlehem, the West Bank town of Beit Jalla and Madaba and Zarqa, in neighbouring Jordan.

"In the Cremisan Valley we heard about legal struggles to protect local people's lands and religious institutions from the encroachment of the security barrier ('the wall')," they said in a joint statement at the end of the annual Holy Land Coordination visit.

In the valley, near Bethlehem, the barrier threatens to separate Palestinian communities from one another and from the land they till.


Syrian rebels seize parts of strategic air base

© AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP videoIn this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises due to heavy shelling in Taftanaz, Idlib province, northern Syria, on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013.
Hundreds of Islamic militants fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad seized parts of a strategic northwestern air base Thursday after weeks of battling government troops for control of the sprawling facility.

At stake is the biggest field for helicopters used to bomb rebel-held areas in the north and deliver supplies for regime forces.

Opposition fighters and activists said rebels broke into Taftanaz air base in the northern Idlib province Wednesday night and by Thursday had seized control of more than half of it. Intense battles were still raging, and one activist said rebels had suffered losses.

On Thursday evening, an activist near Taftanaz said the government bombed the air base from warplanes in a desperate attempt to push back rebels who seized several helicopters. The account from the activist, who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals, could not immediately be confirmed.

An amateur video posted by activists online showed smoke rising from behind helicopters parked at the Taftanaz tarmac, and a narrator said it was the result of an airstrike. The video appeared consistent with Associated Press reporting.