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Atlantic Free Press Book Reviews
Book Reviews from Atlantic Free Press Writers and Bloggers 


Sun

07

Mar

2010

Barry C. Lynn's "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and Economics of Destruction" Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Sunday, 07 March 2010 12:39

by Stephen Lendman

Lynn is director of the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of "Too Big to Fail" about the dangers of monopoly capitalism.

He expands on the threat in his newest book titled, "Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction," explaining today's peril given the power of predatory giants.

They control governments, the courts, war and peace, dominant information sources, and essential services, including health care, air and water, what we eat and drink, where we live, what we wear, and school curricula to the highest levels. They own genetic code patents, basic human life elements to be commodified the same as toothpaste, tomatoes or toilet paper.

Omnipotent, they plunder recklessly, ruthlessly at our expense. They're private tryannies, endangering humanity, basic freedoms, environmental sustainability, and planetary survival. Without exaggeration, they're unaccountable, unchecked "weapons of mass destruction."

In "Cornered," Lynn explains the danger and urgency to address it. Our lives and futures depend on it.

It might have been different had Thomas Jefferson and James Madison prevailed over John Adams and Alexander Hamilton in crafting America's Bill of Rights. They wanted 12, not 10, including "freedom from a permanent military (and) monopolies in commerce."

Imagine the possibilities had they prevailed, or if early leaders agreed with Jefferson in 1816, seven years after his presidency, saying in a letter to a friend:

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
 

Tue

26

Jan

2010

The Israel-Palestine Conflict - Contested Histories - Book Review by Jim Miles
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 06:38
by Jim Miles

The Israel-Palestine Conflict - Contested Histories. Neil Caplan. Wiley-Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons), Malden, MA. 2010.

There are obviously multiple stories concerning any act or incident, and any series of acts or incidents, until the overall view becomes large enough that they are distilled into a national or international narrative. These national narratives often serve as rationalizations of not so much the particular occurrence of any given event, but the reasons behind the event, with the reasons stretching from a basic cause and effect (he hit me back first) to the more irrational rationalizations of cosmic mythology.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict

attempts to work history within a discussion of how the two narratives of Israel and Palestine conflict with each other. As such, it serves more as a university level text with some history, some philosophy of history, some discussion of different perspectives taken by writers without satisfying any of these. For himself, Neil Caplan says he has worked generally from English language “accounts of what happened from people who were actually present when it happened.” He sees himself in the genre of the “sometimes criticized…ivory tower intellectuals…content to provide useful and credible raw material, leaving it to other academics and commentators to explore and exploit. They prefer to keep a low profile and not venture into public debates or take stands on controversial issues.”

For those of you who have read my work, you can see that is not the tack that I would advocate - and advocacy for me is the very essence of scholarly work, an advocacy that may change positions from time to time as new material is presented, but always advocating for basic humanitarian and common sense positions. Yes, we all have “fallible perceptions” but that should not stop us from advocating as long as we are willing and able to change when presented with new information and insights. At times it should lead us into a position of challenging, ‘going fishing’, to see what kind of results arise from a certain turn of phrase or juxtaposition of ideas in order that some kind of feedback creates further understanding. Caplan recognizes the need to “revise frequently with sensitivity to subtleties of wording and tone,” not to challenge and advocate, however, but to not affront anyone.

As Caplan recognizes, no account is neutral, no account truly allows “letting the facts speak for themselves” as the very choice of facts in itself limits perceptions of what is happening. Tangle that up with ongoing national biases and the fallibility of human memory and the task becomes very difficult. This accounting succeeds to a certain degree in its goal of following the two contrasting ideologies between the Israeli perspective and the Palestinian perspective, but it does have some difficulties.
 

Sun

24

Jan

2010

Israel and Palestine - Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations - Book Review by Jim Miles
Sunday, 24 January 2010 07:42
by Jim Miles

Israel and Palestine - Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations. Avi Shlaim. Verso, London, 2009.

This is a thought provoking if not fully developed work on the ongoing situation in Palestine/Israel. Avi Shlaim has compiled a set of his writings from previous publications that in a broad way cover the events of the region, with a brief look at the Balfour Declaration before jumping forward to look at the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and its resulting sequence of events.

Avi Shlaim self professes to be of the school of revisionist historians and his writing fully supports that claim. Throughout the writing one of the themes is the Israeli use of military power to solve its problems, a solution much preferred to negotiations and compromise. A corollary of this is that when negotiations were used, they were mainly as a mask to delay a solution while the ongoing status quo built more settlements and evicted more Palestinians from their homes and farms, especially after the 1967 war.

Another thematic reminder that reiterates throughout the work is that of the asymmetric power - mainly military - that reinforces the previous idea, but also adds the knowledge that there is no balance in the situation, that Israel holds all the power, to the point that “a voluntary agreement between the parties is simply unattainable;” and as seen within the Oslo agreement the Palestinians would have been “subject to the provisions of Israeli law…and military orders… rather than international law.”
 

Fri

08

Jan

2010

Film Review: Avatar, A Humanist Call From Mt. Hollywood By Gilad Atzmon
Friday, 08 January 2010 14:23
by Gilad Atzmon

Avatar may well be the biggest anti War film of all time. It stands against everything the West is identified with. It is against greed and capitalism, it is against interventionalism, it is against colonialism and imperialism, it is against technological orientation, it is against America and Britain. It puts Wolfowitz, Blair and Bush on trial without even mentioning their names. It enlightens the true meaning of ethics as a dynamic judgmental process rather than   fixed moral guidelines (such as the Ten Commandments or the 1948 Human Right Declaration). It throws a very dark light on our murderous tendencies towards other people, their belief and rituals. But it doesn’t just stop there. In the same breath, very much like German Leben philosophers (1), it praises the power of nature and the attempt to bond in harmony with soil, the forest and the wildlife. It advises us all to integrate with our surrounding reality rather than impose ourselves on it. Very much like German Idealists and early Romanticists, it raises questions to do with essence, existence and the absolute. It celebrates the true meaning of life and livelihood.

It is pretty astonishing and cheering to discover Hollywood paving the way to the victorious return of German philosophical thought.

To view trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyDQoXEBkGw

The year is 2154 and the RDA corporation is mining planet Pandora digging for Unobtanium, a unique mineral that defies gravity and sells for top cash. Pandora is a remote planet inhabited by the Na’vi, a species that shares some human features. Like humans the Na’vi have their own developed language and high culture. Yet unlike westerners they integrate with their surrounding reality searching for harmony in nature rather than looking for a means to exploit it. The Na’vi are a few feet taller than humans, they are extremely strong, they also possess a long impressive tail and a long plait with a unique  bond at its end that operate as an organic USB connection. The bond allows the Na’vi to form a mental and spiritual union with their surrounding organic reality. The Na’vi cherish their planet, they look after it. They also worship a mother goddess called Eywa, who encompasses the integrated spiritual and physical centre of their universe and it’s past.

In order to penetrate into the Na’vi, human scientists genetically engineered human-na’vi hybrid bodies called Avatars. Like in all Western  interventionalist and colonial wars, the foreign invader insists on convincing itself that it can create some false needs amongst the indigenous population. The RDA corporation takes pride in its attempt ‘to bring culture to Pandora’. The Avatars are there to communicate with the Na’vi. They are there to teach them English and Western values. They are there to maintain order so that the Na’vi fail to notice that their soil is raped and robbed by the Humans. But as we soon learn, such an attempt is in vein. The Humans have nothing to offer which the Na’vi are willing to take.
 

Fri

08

Jan

2010

The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global.. Book Review by Jim Miles
Friday, 08 January 2010 14:04
by Jim Miles

First published in 2005, this text still stands the test of time for the theses that it presented then. In this new edition, Fawaz Gerges writes hopefully and expectantly that the new U.S. President, Barak Obama, can overcome the mistakes he sees that the U.S. has made in its “war on terror.” His hopes will obviously have dimmed somewhat if not greatly in consideration of Obama’s actions in the Middle East, but Gerges’ essential thematic message remains important.

The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. Fawaz A. Gerges. Cambridge University Press. N.Y. 2009.

Two main themes underlie the ideas in the book. The first tells of the relationship between bin Laden and Zawahiri and how their ideas interacted and reacted to turn the jihadis from the ‘near’ enemy - the local regional governments - to the ‘far’ enemy - the United States. The second theme is the poor manner in which the U.S. has understood essential differences between ‘near’ and ‘far’ jihadis, the history of their development, and the major divisions within the jihadi proponents. Following from the latter theme, a missing context of Gerges arguments concerning U.S. actions in the Middle East is readily discerned.

bin Laden and Zawahiri

Osama bin Laden is the iconic anti-hero of the al-Queda movement, shooting to prominence in the western media with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Still at large presumably somewhere in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, bin Laden remains the iconic reviled evil of the Muslim world. Although active before 9/11 it was this singular act that brought him to global media attention. Considered to be the mastermind behind the attacks and all other atrocities designated to be by al-Queda, Gerges’ arguments present the al-Queda top echelon to be structured as much by Ayman al- Zawahiri, a prominent Egyptian jihadi gone global.
 

Fri

06

Nov

2009

Sacred Activism: An Unprecedented Marriage, Book Review by Carolyn Baker
Friday, 06 November 2009 06:36
by Carolyn Baker

When I was a young activist in the late 1960s and early 70s, simultaneously finding myself engaged in a burgeoning metaphysical quest, I sometimes felt nearly schizophrenic as I encountered other activists who disparaged the metaphysical, even as I engaged with other students of the metaphysical who had no interest in social or political issues. For years, it was challenging and frustrating to integrate these two poles of reality in my own life, and I noticed that I was not alone in my frustration. Increasingly, however, I saw activists pursuing spiritual quests and spiritual practitioners becoming more engaged in championing social justice causes. Nevertheless, it was not until 2009 that the exquisite union of activist passion and spiritual ardor was articulated by the brilliant author, activist, spiritual teacher, and Rumi scholar, Andrew Harvey, in his extraordinary book, The Hope: A Guide To Sacred Activism.

The Hope is above all, a vision of a marriage-a union of radical action on behalf of social justice and human dignity complemented by a spiritual quest for meaning and purpose in a world that all too often feels excruciatingly absurd. More specifically according to Harvey:

When the inner joy Mother Teresa spoke of, the joy of compassionate service, is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing economic, social, and political institutions, a radical and potentially all-transforming holy force is born

A Sacred Activist is someone who is starting to experience the inner joy and outer effectiveness of this force, who knows that the profound crisis in the world is in is challenging everyone to act from our deepest compassion and wisdom, and who is committed to being, in the face of growing chaos, suffering, and violence, what Robert Kennedy call "a tiny ripple of hope" and a "center of energy and daring."
 

Wed

04

Nov

2009

In The Jaws of the Dragon - America’s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Dominance - Book Review by Jim Miles
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 06:02
by Jim Miles

In the Jaws of the Dragon: America's Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese HegemonyIn the Jaws of the Dragon - America’s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Dominance. Eamonn Fingleton. Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Press), New York, 2008.

A book about the future published in 2008, with information preceding the publishing date, could well be considered out of date - or at worst in error - after a couple of years of passing current events. Eamonn Fingleton’s ‘old’ work - In the Jaws of the Dragon - defies this, and is just as important a read as it should have been when first published. Perhaps even more so because of its accuracy and depth of research fully supporting his thesis that the U.S. is now in the maw of the Dragon - if not more accurately on the slippery slope into the belly of the beast.

At first, while setting up the philosophy behind his thesis I needed to suspend my thoughts on Confucianism until he had fully stated his case. Similarly, I had to remember that events that occurred within the past year - the huge economic downturn - had not yet occurred when this book was written, but the more one reads the book, the more it seems prescient to the current financial situation between the U.S. and not just China but the other Asian tigers as well.

After reading just the first introductory chapter in which Fingleton out lines his overall thesis, I noted that the arguments seemed reasonable, but had not included the U.S. personal debt/credit levels vis a vis his arguments on the “advanced manufacturing” loss to China and the bubble economies that have replaced them. It becomes obvious later that while perhaps not central to his thesis, it is certainly a given part of it that is recognized within the overall structure of a “finance economy.”

Another note I made related to the corporations that are part and parcel of the U.S. entry into the Dragon’s jaw. Fingleton continually reiterates that China is not a democratic country and is quite intrusive and controlling within its many societal functions. He argues the same for South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, all nominally democratic, but designed to heighten local businesses, guarding them against foreign competition, and within that, having the corporations and businesses having much more say in the political realm than the average citizens do. As for the U.S. corporations, they are like all other corporations, decidedly non-democratic, top down command structures that will seek out wealth at the expense of democracy, human rights, and freedom.

In short, in China the U.S. corporations have made adaptations to the local business/political climate that fits into their natural corporate ethos and that have and are in process of destroying the U.S. economy. There is more than one way to win a war:

“To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill,” wrote the Chinese military commander Sun Tzu, in the 6th century B.C.

Advanced Manufacturing.

The big item in the argument is the loss of “advanced manufacturing” to the Chinese (and the Japanese). This is not the manufacturing that receives parts and then turns nuts and bolts and puts the pieces together, but the high end technologically innovative manufacturing processes that are front and centre in the aerospace, airline, computer, communications and other modern instruments of business and war. In order to invest in China “American corporations are generally expected to transfer their most advanced production technologies to their Chinese factories….once they are transferred, American workers are vulnerable to layoffs.” The essential argument is that the U.S. has lost most of their production technologies to either the Japanese or Chinese.

Convergence towards democracy

An over riding political sentiment expressed in the U.S. and frequently elsewhere says as China becomes increasingly wealthier, it will only naturally become increasingly more democratic. Fingleton dissects Thomas Friedman on this account, and defines Friedman’s pattern as “the more controversial or implausible his conclusions, the less substantiation he feels is needed.” [At this point, I began to appreciate Fingleton much more.] Within what Fingleton labels the Confucian work ethic, this will not happen, as the workers remain compliant to the authorities through many devices of blackmail, bribery, threats, and a system of law that is complex and used mainly for control of the population.

That in itself should be no surprise to those who watch how China operates within its domestic realm, but the U.S. corporations continue to foster the line that China is opening up, that things are getting progressively better, that more companies should operate in China - in essence becoming compliant themselves to the political demands of the Chinese hierarchy.

Savings and Debt

Another feature of Fingleton’s thesis is the comparison of the forced savings - or “suppressed consumption” - domestically in China, and the all too eager and gross consumption of the U.S. The savings domestically are forced by trade tariffs against cheap imports, the guarded lower evaluation of the currency, the high cartel prices put on local sales, and a banking system that denies credit for property and consumer goods. In other words, in order to buy something, the Chinese have to save long and hard for it, thus providing large amounts of capital for investment in local businesses as well as guaranteeing high profits for businesses making them more competitive abroad.

The U.S. domestic market operates conversely to this, allowing huge - and obviously unmanageable or at best barely manageable - credit in order to keep the consumptive bubble going. The saving rate is zero or negative (depending on sources), the consumers continue to buy huge quantities of imported goods and the trade deficit balloons. Written before the current debt crisis, the trade deficit and the budget deficit have placed the U.S. in a position in which “The reality is that every dollar America spends in projecting power abroad - indeed every dollar it spend on defense - has to be borrowed abroad.”

We now have this amazing intersection of events in which China (and Japan) ‘own’ the U.S. and have ever increasing power to control it through its financial channels, its “foreign policy will be subject increasingly to a veto in Beijing.” While Beijing will not flaunt this, they are certain to use it.

Japan (and Taiwan and Korea)

Fingleton examines the myth of Japanese “Americanization” at the end of World War II, and argues that while Japan superficially ordered its house similar to the U.S., they made sure that political and economic power remained in the hands of the keiretsu, the large business conglomerates and that the population at large, while able to vote, had little to say about the direction of the economy and society in general (which reminds of a saying I heard from several groups of Japanese ESL students that the “nail that stands out gets pounded back down.”) Fingleton argues that the Japanese were leaders in exploiting U.S. ignorance and gullibility during the post war years.

He makes several critical points:

Contrary to stereotyping the Japanese character is hardly militaristic.

The ultimate goal of their empire “was to eject the Western powers from East Asia”

Japan would “Be granted specially privileged access to the American market.”

Democracy revival was “largely cosmetic” and “Japan’s elite bureaucrats quietly arrogated to themselves sweeping powers to set the rules for Japan’s electoral system” creating a “fatally divided” and “utterly ineffectual” one party state.

Free speech is “highly attenuated….guided by Confucian ethics, they [the media] glory in a role as the Japanese system’s propaganda department.”

Finally:

“the reality of postwar Japan has been of an authoritarian society with a strongly nationalised agenda.”

This system follows from their adventurism into Manchuria and the Koreas, and, after the war, is imitated in South Korea and Taiwan, two avowedly free market economies competing with the west. The latter is true, but even more importantly they are cooperating with China, and more importantly economically, hold significant amounts of U.S. debt, have a good balance of payments between themselves, and are controlling U.S. corporations for their own benefit.

Confucian America

Having recognized the extent of Chinese influence on U.S. corporations, or more correctly western corporations, Fingleton extends that in the surprising statement, “It is a reasonable inference that China’s agenda is being supported at very high levels almost right across the board in corporate America.” Several examples are explored demonstrating the control China has over U.S. corporations setting up business in China. From their the case is presented on how China has increasing influence within U.S. politics via various think tanks and lobbying groups, academia, university research, and the media.

The speed and ease with which this has happened returns back to Japan, which has “pursued trade policies deeply damaging to American interests but has consistently lied about these policies,” and “have been equally well informed on China’s strategy.” Japan and China are working together and “in almost every area of policy, Japan has consistently helped China.”

In closing - U.S. loses

The book ends on many disparaging notes for the U.S.

“there is no solution in sight to the American trade problem.”

At its root “is an implosion in America’s once world dominating manufacturing base.”

In the last twenty years, total manufacturing jobs “have fallen by about two-thirds” remembering this was before the recent employment crash.

The trade problem “is being exacerbated by the increased outsourcing of advanced services.”

Economic leadership is passing to non-democratic governments. [while the U.S. is becoming less and less democratic itself.]

Finally:

“the pattern for the United States to depend on Beijing for credit is already beginning to resemble the relationship between a colony and the imperial capital.”

Finally, finally.

The case argued by Fingleton is well presented even to his footnote on the efforts made by other sources to discredit his work, much in the manner in which China handles its own dissent. This is a rich, well referenced work, highly thought provoking with a solid basis in current events as the wars in Central Asia continue to unfold, and as the U.S. economy continues to shed jobs and wealth, while the corporations supported with much government printed wealth start to rise even more above the masses. Only time will tell the true course of events globally, but the influence of China on the U.S. will certainly alter many of the thought processes - and thus the actions - within the U.S. political/business/ military sphere.

 

Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles' work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

 

Wed

04

Nov

2009

Preview of Ramzy Baroud's 'My Father was a Freedom Fighter'
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 05:37
by Stephen Lendman

My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold StoryRamzy Baroud is a veteran Palestinian-American journalist and former Al-Jazeera producer. He also taught Mass Communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, is a frequent speaker, a regular media guest, and is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle, a leading resource for information on Israel/Palestine and much more.

He's also written numerous articles, commentaries, short stories, and authored several books, including "The Second Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle," and his latest and topic of this introductory review, "My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story."

Baroud knows his subject well, having been born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp where he saw Israeli soldiers regularly oppress, harass, humiliate, and attack young Palestinians like himself in an attempt to crush their spirit and break their will to resist, to no avail no matter how hard they tried.

What follows is a snapshot of Baroud's forthcoming book titled, "My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story." As distinguished Palestinian author, historian, activist and founder and president of the London-based Palestine Land Society, Salman Abu Sitta, explained in the forward:

Ramzy is Mohammed Baroud's son, a heroic "freedom fighter, (and himself) a gifted writer (who) eloquently unearthed the recent history of Beit Daras" village, chronicled his family's struggle in exile, and recounted their determination to survive and endure under siege and assaults that continue to this day.
 

Wed

28

Oct

2009

Carolyn Baker Reviews Duane Elgin's "The Living Universe"
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:43
by Carolyn Baker

A critical step in this supercharged setting is to imagine together the world of our vision. All current signs point to a future of catastrophe and ruin, and it is easy to envision many such scenarios but much harder to visualize a future of opportunity and renewal. The latter is still a vague and unformed possibility in our collective imagination. The bigger the challenges, Elgin implies, the larger the vision required to transform conflict into cooperation and thereby facilitate a more promising future. Not only must we hold an expansive vision, but that vision must be informed by a commitment to a larger story of humanity than civilization has provided.

Article Reprinted from TRANSITION TIMES (COLORADO EDITION)

In the current moment it is nearly impossible to trust many of the voices in our world that issue from the field of economics. It is safe to say that none of the most esteemed in the field has the slightest idea how to address the global economic crisis. So when I picked up Duane Elgin’s book The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going?, I was a bit wary when I read about his MBA from Wharton Business School—that is, until I realized that he is also the author of Voluntary Simplicity: Toward A Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich. Even more reassuring is Elgin’s work as a social research scientist at SRI International and his work with Joseph Campbell alongside his lifelong commitment to integrate science, economics, and the world’s greatest wisdom traditions.

Elgin asserts that on the other side of our growing systems crisis, the world will be a decidedly different place depending on our actions now. We will either have an Earth ruined through conflict or an Earth restored through cooperation. Echoing the perspective of geologian and eco-scholar, Thomas Berry, Elgin states that:
The universe is deeply alive as an evolving and learning system and we humans are on a journey of discovery within it. We are learning to live within a living universe. If we lose sight of where we are (living in a living universe) we profoundly diminish our understanding of who we are…and where we are going….
The book is divided into the three categories above, with a final section on “Actions For The Journey Ahead.” Realizing that many readers may not espouse the living universe perspective, Elgin goes to great lengths in the book to establish a rational foundation for his assertion, skillfully marrying the principles of modern science with ancient wisdom. Although I read the entire book, I found the first two sections onerous since I needed little persuasion regarding the scientific basis for arguing the case of a living universe. However, for those who do, Elgin’s arguments are intellectually sound and powerfully compelling.
 

Wed

28

Oct

2009

It's too late Baby, Time's UP! Book Review By Carolyn Baker
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 19:20
by Carolyn Baker
“In short, we are prepared to die in order to live a life that is killing us.”
–Keith Farnish from Time’s Up: An Uncivilized Solution to A Global Crisis
I live in Boulder, Colorado where the buzz among eco-activists who attended a recent lecture by Vandana Shiva is her chilling statement that if the human species continues on its present destructive trajectory, it has no more than 100 years of life on this planet. At about the same time this bomb was dropped on Shiva’s audience, Keith Farnish’s amazing book Time’s Up: An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisisarrived in my mailbox for review which was about the same time that Keith reviewed my book, Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse. I visit my local movie theater and see trailers for the next series of post-apocalyptic movies such as “2012” and “The Road”. Five years ago the notion of “endings” was not reverberating in the collective unconscious with the fever pitch we’re witnessing today. What’s up? Quite simply: Time is up.

I would say that the real crux of Time’s Up is the challenge of how to keep the human race from continuing to commit suicide. The first 82 pages of the book are devoted to a painstaking explanation of the inextricable connection between humans and all other life forms. The fundamental reality of the connection is that “nothing is so dependent upon other forms of life as humans, the ultimate consumers.” Likewise, “everything we do has the potential to disrupt something, knock if off balance as we negotiate the finest of lines; yet that line we are repeatedly stepping over.”

Anyone who argues that humans have nothing to do with climate change needs to read these 82 pages because they unequivocally silence that illusion.

Central to Farnish’s book is the premise that everything hinges on connection—the human species’ connection with everything else. Unfortunately, it is something we must be taught—something that must be explained in words, but something that indigenous peoples know instinctively and need not spend years thinking about.
 

Thu

22

Oct

2009

A Choice of Enemies - America Confronts the Middle East. Book Review by Jim Miles.
Thursday, 22 October 2009 05:51
by Jim Miles

The subtitle to this text carries an interesting choice of active verb, “confronts”. It signifies “coming face to face in hostility or defiance.” That alone brings to question the U.S. perspective, generally expressed in most U.S. media that U.S. intentions are generally positive or at best benign (“kind or gracious to inferiors”) and are done to assist the others involved within U.S. actions.

Preface

The preface and last chapter of Lawrence Freedman’s A Choice of Enemies expresses this same double standard of how the U.S. explains itself in association with whatever action it takes on a given issue. Freedman’s “amero-centric” viewpoint (with apologies to all the other citizens of the Americas not living in the U.S.) is clearly expressed in the preface and last chapter of the book. He writes that the wars, the confrontations are “not the result of avarice…nor for a want of beneficence,” but “with genuine conviction, commitments were made to work to improve the lives of ordinary people in the region.”

The U.S. is “not the first external power to struggle in this part of the world,” a part of the world that “contains multiple sources of tension.” The obvious disconnect here is that some of the major “sources of tension” happen to be all the imperial forces that have invaded and occupied the lands over that past couple of centuries. Yes, “the Middle East has lacked the economic and political integration that has worked to encourage more cooperative relationships in other parts of the world,” but again, that task becomes difficult with external empires fighting for control over the area, for resources, for guarding routes of transport, and for providing spheres of influence to control other empire’s interests.

For all its problems, it is not possible for the U.S. to ignore the area because “they get drawn back in” with oil listed as the first reason, its anti-western militancy as the second reason, and trade routes coming third (with much of that trade related to oil transportation). Once again, this only highlights a great disconnect between stated intentions and the geo-strategic reasons for being involved in the area. Freedman reflects on his subtitle and says that the U.S. engagement in the Middle East has “appeared rather confrontational” but that the “aspiration is for complete harmony.” It can readily be argued that the confrontation is way beyond “appearances” and that the “aspiration” for harmony can only be interpreted as harmony within total dominance by the U.S. empire, an empire based on military control and resource extraction. The will of the people has never been of prime concern for U.S. political structures (inclusive of the government, corporations, and the military).
 

Sat

17

Oct

2009

Danny Schechter's The Crime of Our Time Book Review by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, 17 October 2009 14:29
by Stephen Lendman

Danny Schechter is a media activist, critic, independent filmmaker, and TV producer as well as an author of 10 books and lecturer on media issues. Some call him "The News Dissector," and that's the name of his popular blog on media issues. He's also the co-founder of Media Channel.org that covers the "political, cultural and social impacts of the media," and provides information unavailable in the mainstream.

Schechter's books include The More You Watch The Less You Know, Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal, and his newest and subject of this review, The Crime of Our Time: Was the Economic Collapse "Indeed, Criminal?"

As a form of economic terrorism, indeed so says Schechter and many others. Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt, writes: Schechter "establishes the crime's elements, identifies the players, and exposes the weapons that have turned free markets into vehicles for mass manipulation and control."

More still, according to former high-level government and Wall Street insider Catherine Austin Fitts in describing a "financial coup d'etat" that includes inflating multiple market bubbles, pump and dump schemes, naked short selling, precious metals price suppression, and active market intervention by Washington and the Fed that lets powerful insiders game the system, commit massive fraud, and be able to transfer trillions of public wealth to themselves, then get open-ended bailouts when the inevitable crisis surfaces.

In his last book, Plunder, Schechter deconstructed one element of the economy's financialization - the outlandish amounts subprime lending, instrumental in inflating the housing bubble and the economic crisis that followed.

The Crime of Our Time is his latest attempt to explain "the financial collapse as a crime story (and) the high status white-collar crooks" who wreak havoc on "the lives of hundreds of millions worldwide." He quotes from author and labor activist Jonathan Tasini in his new book, The Audacity of Greed, saying:

"Over the past quarter century, we have lived through the greatest looting of wealth in human history." While an elite few profited hugely, "the vast majority of citizens have lived through a period of falling wages, disappearing pensions, and dwindling bank accounts, all of which led to the personal debt crisis that lies at the root of the current financial meltdown."

The fallout cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, savings, and futures, the result of a Washington - Wall Street criminal cabal and their scandalous conspiracy against the US public. In the Crime of Our Time, Schechter, once again, does a superb job explaining it astutely, thoroughly, and clearly.

Introduction - Our Time and Financial Crime


(1) In Wall Street We Trust

Once again, the major media betrayed the public by cheerleading the inflating market bubbles, ignoring the cause and Wall Street/Washington's role, then downplaying the severity of the crisis that has a long way to run. Instead their reasoning goes: "we are all to blame, guilty of greed, over-spending and under-saving," so "when everyone's at fault, no one can be held responsible."
 

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Project Humanbeingsfirst Ebook 2009
Saturday, 10 October 2009 06:30

Project Humanbeingsfirst Ebook 2009

Project Humanbeingsfirst Ebook 2009 Edition

Foreword

Project Humanbeingsfirst Ebook 2009 contains all PHBF published reports and letters between 2007 and 2009 in a hyper-linked browsable PDF. This self-contained Ebook built directly from the website http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com on October 08, 2009, will be useful for both offline perusing, as well as for archiving in a single place the detailed analyses of the myriad global crises, global financial collapse, global warming, global pandemics, global war on terror, or by their real name, imperial mobilization and one-world government of the oligarchs, plaguing mankind today.

We are headed for far worse times... What can ordinary plebeian people realistically do about it? Apart from shutting one's eyes and leaving it all to fate, minimally, learn to survive the maelstrom which will likely outlive this generation, by informing oneself of the real agendas.

This Ebook teaches how to interpret tumultuous events that are rapidly putting ordinary people in servitude, without either getting fooled by the Mighty Wurlitzer's all encompassing propaganda machinery, or by one's own myopic worldview and prejudices.

While Project Humanbeingsfirst teaches one to think in self-defense when matters are cloaked in deception and social engineering, it does not dispense advice. As always, one is responsible for one's own decisions.

Zahir Ebrahim

October 2009

Download PDF (20 MB) here, here, or here

Please download and save a local copy. These things might not be available for very long with what's rapidly coming down the pipe. President Obama has already WON the Nobel Peace prize and Says He’s ‘Surprised and Humbled’! (NYT)
 
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