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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
May 1, 2012

A powerful paragraph from Chris Hedges.....


[font size="4"]Walter Benjamin argued that capitalism is not only a formation “conditioned by religion,” but is an “essentially religious phenomenon,” albeit one that no longer seeks to connect humans with the mysterious forces of life. Capitalism, as Benjamin observed, called on human societies to embark on a ceaseless and futile quest for money and goods. This quest, he warned, perpetuates a culture dominated by guilt, a sense of inadequacy and self-loathing. It enslaves nearly all its adherents through wages, subservience to the commodity culture and debt peonage. The suffering visited on Native Americans, once Western expansion was complete, was soon endured by others, in Cuba, the Philippines, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The final chapter of this sad experiment in human history will see us sacrificed as those on the outer reaches of empire were sacrificed. There is a kind of justice to this. We profited as a nation from this demented vision, we remained passive and silent when we should have denounced the crimes committed in our name, and now that the game is up we all go down together.[/font]

The entire article is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/welcome_to_the_asylum_20120430/

May 1, 2012

Workers Strike at Joliet's Caterpillar Plant

Hundreds of workers at Joliet's Caterpillar facility went on strike Tuesday morning after they turned down a proposed contract offering no pay raise and more expensive health benefits.

The union workers told NBC Chicago the contract offer was so unfair they'd rather be picketing outside the plant's main entrance. They reported for work at 11 p.m. Monday then walked off the job at 12:01 a.m.

Union leaders said 94 percent of the approximately 780 machinist union workers voted to strike after the contract offer was voted down Sunday.

The deal was six years with no pay increases, and workers would be required to pay twice as much for health care. The workers say it's unfair, especially given Caterpillar's $1.5 billion first-quarter profit. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Workers-Strike-at-Joliet-Caterpillar-Plant-149630455.html#ixzz1te5Y988e

May 1, 2012

Cetacean Bullying

A lone dolphin has spent the past several days residing in a California coastal bay after several reports suggest it was "bullied" by a pod of fellow dolphins that were blocking its return to the open sea.

"He was scared, he was intimidated, he was bullied," Peter Wallerstein of the Marine Animal Rescue told the Los Angeles Times.

At first, wildlife officials tried encouraging "Bolsa Chica Bob" to return to sea. But when the dolphin, who is nicknamed after the section of wetlands he has been taking shelter in, tried returning to the ocean he was met by two other dolphins who blocked his path.

"There could be tension among the dolphin pod, and dolphins can be very aggressive, even among themselves," Wallerstein said. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/bullied-dolphin-hiding-pushy-pod-officials-165111005.html

May 1, 2012

Vatican Declares Gay Marriage Holy War, Forms Worldwide Religions Coalition

A top Vatican representative and Roman Catholic Archbishop is reaching out to form a coalition with other religions and has called on them to join the Vatican in a worldwide holy war against same-sex marriage, claiming that proliferation of equality “is not a good thing for society,” and will lead to “confusion.”

“I wonder if we shouldn’t ask for and look for more support among other Christian confessions and indeed, persons of other faiths,” Archbishop Antonio Mennini, who represents Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican in Great Britain, said in an address to Catholic bishops from England and Wales.

“It seems to me that, concerning the institution of marriage, and indeed the sanctity of human life, we have much in common with the position of the Jewish community, the Chief Rabbi and many of the more significant representatives of Islam,” Mennini added.

Mennini, 64, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain 2010, and also served the Pope in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Bulgaria. He speaks Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Bulgarian, and Russian. (The image above shows Archbishop Mennini with Valdimir Putin in 2003.) .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/vatican-declares-gay-marriage-holy-war-forms-worldwide-religions-coalition/politics/2012/04/30/38744

May 1, 2012

AAA: Inadequate guardrails at NY site where 7 died

NEW YORK — The section of highway where an accident sent seven members of a Bronx family flying over a guardrail and plummeting to their deaths has narrow lanes, steep hills, tight turns, inadequate guardrails and no breakdown lane, an auto safety group said Monday.

The Bronx River Parkway "lacks modern transportation engineering features," said Robert Sinclair, spokesman for the American Automobile Association's New York City affiliate. He said it was conceived in 1907 and opened in 1925 as "the first limited access multilane highway in the U.S."

Three sections of the parkway in the Bronx, including one at or near the accident site, are on the state Transportation Department's 5 Percent List, a federally mandated report of locations "exhibiting the most severe highway safety needs."

The driver, Maria Gonzalez, clipped a highway divider and damaged a tire Sunday afternoon before her SUV plunged off a highway and six stories down into a ravine on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo, killing three generations of a family, including three children, police said. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20120429/US.Highway.Plunge.NYC/?cid=hero_media

May 1, 2012

Bill Moyers: Big Money, Big Media, Big Trouble


from Moyers & Company:

Marty Kaplan on Big Money’s Effect on Big Media
April 27, 2012

Big money and big media have coupled to create a ‘Disney World’ of democracy in which TV shows, televised debates, even news coverage is being dumbed down, just as the volume is being turned up. The result is a public certainly more entertained, but less informed and personally involved than they should be, says Marty Kaplan, director of USC’s Norman Lear Center and an entertainment industry veteran. Bill Moyers talks with Kaplan about how taking news out of the journalism box and placing it in the entertainment box is hurting democracy and allowing special interest groups to manipulate the system.

“It’s all about combat. If every political issue is [represented by] combat between two polarized sides, then you get great television because people are throwing food at each other,” Kaplan tells Moyers. “And you have an audience that hasn’t a clue at the end of the story, which is why you’ll hear, ‘Well, we’ll have to leave it there.’”

“The problem is that there’s not that much information out there if you’re an ordinary citizen. You can ferret it out, but it ought not be like that in a democracy,” Kaplan says. “Education and journalism were supposed to, according to our founders, inform our public and make democracy work.”

May 1, 2012

What Merkel's Isolation Means For the Euro Crisis

from Der Spiegel:

Angela Merkel's euro crisis strategy is unpopular and she has lost a number of allies. Worse yet, French presidential candidate François Hollande has pledged a change of course from the strict austerity measures she supports. But in the end, the Paris-Berlin alliance will likely survive and austerity will continue, albeit with a few growth initiatives thrown in.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood behind a podium at the DZ Bank at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, gazing sullenly into the cameras. She had just received the wrong prop for a photo op, and she needed to get it out of sight as quickly as possible.

To thank her for her speech marking the International Year of Cooperatives, a gray-faced official had thrust a porcelain piggy bank into her hands -- an ugly thing with a milky sheen that appeared to reflect the very coldness said to characterize her policies.

Merkel reflected momentarily, then had the gift quickly tucked away in a box. Photos of the piggy-bank chancellor are not exactly what she most urgently needs right now. In fact, for the past few days, she has endeavored to put a more friendly face on her image as the strict belt-tightening politician who is forcing Europe to adhere to Germany's budgetary discipline dictates. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,830594,00.html

May 1, 2012

Chris Hedges on Oligarchy and the Global Collapse

Published on Apr 30, 2012 by munderlarkst

Chris Hedges: "I think if the Occupy movement organizes around raising the minimum wage...to $10 an hour...it can galvanize around an issue. In order to keep labor with it, it has to latch onto issues such as the raising the minimum wage that will bring labor out into the street and keep it as the vanguard movement of the mainstream. Whether it can do that or not I don't know. We'll have to see." -- 4/30/12 in interview on RT.com.

May 1, 2012

May Day in Context

from YES! Magazine:

May Day in Context
How do this year's May Day demonstrations fit into the international movement for economic justice?

by Marina Sitrin, Dario Azzellini
posted Apr 30, 2012

This article is based on May Day—The Secret Rendezvous with History and the Present, by the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series, and the forthcoming book, Occupying Language.

New Social Relationships and a New Common Language

2011 has been a year of uprisings, movements and moments—all against an economic crisis and the politics of repression. Kefya! Ya Basta! and Enough! are shouted by millions against an untenable situation—and simultaneously they are met with Democracia Real Ya! and We are the 99%!—powerful affirmations. The use of the exclamation point reflects the passion—It is the shout of anger, the manifestation of collective power and the strength of people’s voices in the songs of joy in finding one another.

There have been numerous historical epochs where something massive and “new” sweeps the globe—moments such as the revolutions and revolts of the mid 1800s, the massive working class struggles of the early 1900s, and the massive political and cultural shifts and anti-colonial struggles of the 1960s, to name only three. We believe we are in another significant historic epoch.

This one is marked by an ever increasing global rejection of representative democracy, and simultaneously a massive coming together of people, not previously organized, using directly democratic forms to begin to reinvent ways of being together. These global movements are connected in ways not possible in the past with the use of immediate technology, such as the Internet, Twitter, and Facebook. These new technological forms have helped form something that in Latin America is often referred to as “contagion”, a spreading of an idea in a horizontal way, more like a virus than a political program. This should not be confused with a “social network revolution,” a description many in the media have used. The communication tools helped, but the essence and the new in the movements is the collective construction of new social relationships—creating new territory—and the similarities of this phenomenon globally.

Also new, with the directly democratic forms, are similar global ways of speaking about this new social creation. The word horizontal for example is used in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Greek, all as a way of describing aspects of these new relationships. People organize in assemblies, calling them assemblies and gatherings instead of terms such as "meetings"—and use similar forms in these assemblies, as well as all share the experience of doing so in public space, often taking it over and occupying it—even if for only a period of time. Many of these occupied spaces then organize internal forms of conflict resolution, from the mediation group in OWS to the “security” teams in Egypt and Greece, and a group with a very similar intention called “Respect” in Spain. To look at the images from Tahrir Square in Cairo, Syntagma Square in Athens, Zuccotti/Liberty Plaza in New York, or Puerta del Sol in Madrid, to name only a few of the thousands, is to see a very similar occupation, including everything from libraries, child care, health services, food, legal, media and art. The forms of organization and relationships created in the space, all using direct democracy are massive, growing and globally consistent—not the same of course—but so similar as to be a new global phenomenon. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/may-day-in-context

May 1, 2012

Taking Monsanto to the People’s Court

from YES! Magazine:

Taking Monsanto to the People’s Court
The legal system may be unwilling to hold the biotechnology giant accountable for what they've done, but the court of public opinion has no such hesitations.

by Blair Braverman
posted Apr 30, 2012

On April 21, approximately 100 people came to a courtroom in Iowa City to attend a mock trial called the Monsanto Hearings, the second of five such events scheduled nationwide. The trial was modeled after a preliminary hearing, an attempt to collect stories about harm caused by agribusiness giant Monsanto and determine if further public scrutiny is warranted.

The court’s five presiding judges—including a professor, a graduate student and an organic farmer —made no pretense of impartiality. “We are under no obligation to be even-handed,” they announced early on, “because in the court of public opinion, Monsanto is not even-handed. They have money for lobbyists, advertisements, corporate-funded research and media campaigns. The influence of this hearing, by contrast, depends on the power and truth of what is said.” The court, they explained, would not be considering legal violations, but rather violations of nature, ethics and human rights.

Untraditional as it might be, the hearing had an air of formality—the judges looked smart in their black robes, and witnesses swore to the truth before testifying, some in person and some over video. The first witness was a Vietnam veteran, trembling in a Hawaiian shirt, suffering from Hepatitis C linked to exposure to Monsanto’s Agent Orange (of which an active ingredient, 2,4-D, is a common lawn pesticide today); then a small farmer whose neighbor lost acres of organic crops due to pesticides drifting on morning fog; later, a garden and soil educator who brought a wooden box of soil and worms to the witness stand.

Other witnesses included professors, farmers, scientists and local activists. Their testimonies ranged from personal to technical, from stories of the approximately 200,000 Indian farmers who, indebted after Monsanto’s cotton seed prices rose from 7 to 17,000 rupees/kg, have committed suicide, to explanations of the influence of corporate agribusiness on U.S. land-grant universities and how minute manipulations of chemical structure have allowed Monsanto to sidestep health regulations. One man came dressed as a “superweed”—a plant that developed pesticide resistance after exposure to the chemical glyphosate—and lounged with his feet on the edge of the witness box. “I don’t give a fuck about Monsanto,” he said, swigging from a bottle marked “Roundup,” “though they do make a good drink.” ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/taking-monsanto-to-the-peoples-court

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