Occupy = Zapatistas

“The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and security policy.” Mexico, Political Update, Chase Manhattan Bank.

“It is time for us to see this in a larger context. Decisions are made in place like Geneva that impact on the poorest of the poor in Mexico. They decide that the conditionality of a loan to Mexico is going to include the export of meat from Mexico, that means that the land that the Mexicans have used to grow corn is now used to grow cattle. And that cattle is sold to make fast food in the United States. That’s a decision not made by the Mexicans, it’s made by a world trade organization. Who is the enforcer of this? Well of course, the US military becomes the enforcer of a non-democratic, even anti-democratic, corporate effort to control the world economy.” Blasé Bonpane, Director, Office of the Americas.

“We are in this era of a global economy. We are in this era where corporations want to be able to go anywhere in the world, pay as little as they can pay, exploit workers as much as they can exploit them, then move on to the next place. It is very, very convenient to have this big body of dispensable workers right across the border. So I think Mexico is a goldmine for US corporations, and they’re still in the process of figuring out how to tap that goldmine. And the things like the uprising in Chiapas become a real inconvenience for them. “   Medea Benjamin, Co-director, Global Exchange.

“The day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes into effect, several thousand soldiers take over half the state of Chiapas, declaring a war against the global corporate power they say rules Mexico. They call themselves the Zapatista National Liberation Army. Zapatista shows this uprising, the story of a peasant rebellion, armed and up against the first world military. It is the story of a movement that transformed Mexican and international political culture forever …”  thoughtmaybe.com

Watch the nearly one hour video here.


Growth, Inequality, Policy, and Power: Connecting the Dots

Another new Teach-In addition comes by way of a slideshow presentation given by Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities during a talk in the Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice Lecture series at the University of Maryland in March 2012. This is an easy to follow discussion of the causes of our present inequality and how the prevalent economic policy agenda is exacerbating inequality, a growth in poverty as opposed to fair economic growth, and a rise in children living in poverty.

The Story of Citizens United v. FEC

The latest addition to the Teach-In Page is the excellent resource found on The Story of Stuff website telling the story of the Citizen’s United v FEC decision, the abysmal decision reached about two years ago by the activist Roberts Supreme Court, the most activist Supreme Court in decades. Joining the movement to overturn this disasterous decision begins with understanding what the problem is. Efforts to pass local and state resolutions, and Constitutional amendments to win back control of our government are under way. This primer gives a great description of the problem all of the efforts being taken are meant to address.

The Top Ten (that profit from war… and why state and local budgets are in depression)

Military contractors lobby Congress and the Pentagon for contracts, and once they win the contracts they use some of that money to lobby Congress and the Pentagon for contracts, and once they win the contracts they use some of that money to lobby Congress and the Pentagon for contracts, and once they…

The Top Ten.

Haven’t we been warned that this might happen?

Fun with Nukes

No, seriously. Want to see what damage you could do with a “Little Boy,” the Hiroshima 16kiloton device, or a “Fat Man,” the Nagasaki and Trinity test 20kiloton bomb? How about Pakistan’s largest weapon (45kt), or India’s (60kt), or perhaps France’s TN80/81 (300kt), or the US’s W-59 (Minuteman I warhead at 1Megaton), or perhaps the 1.2Megaton B-83, the largest bomb in the US arsenal. You can test out the largest bomb developed in the USSR, the Tsar Bomba weighing in at a whooping 100Megaton, for kicks. (This one is a dousy. Drop this one on my apartment in Portland, Maine and the thermal radiation would extend from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to almost Augusta, while fatalities from just the air blast effects with overpressure values of 20 pounds per square inch would be at about 100% in a 14 mile diameter around ground zero. That takes in all of Portland, South Portland, Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth, most of Falmouth, Westbrook, Cumberland, and Yarmouth. More or less, most of Cumberland County would be dead or dying within days.)

But, no, sorry you won’t be able to see the damage that could be inflicted by any of Israel’s 200 or so nuclear devices on Israel’s neighbors. Israel’s undeclared, unmonitored, non-Non-proliferation Treaty nuclear arsenal is still a very well kept open secret that nobody is inclined to talk about, especially in light of the possibility of it engendering an arms race in the Middle East. (Move along, Iran, nothing to see here…)

And then once you’ve gotten a sense of the destruction the world’s nuclear arsenals can inflict upon humankind, you can visit Global Zero to see the who, how, and why of the effort to rid the world of nuclear devices.

When A Very Profitable Business Model Doesn’t Make A Lick of Sense: Big Food

Robyn O’brien speaks at a TED event in Austin, Texas in 2011 regarding the food industry’s introduction of foreign proteins into food products to boost production and profits, and the appearance of an upward trend in food allergies concurrent with the food modifications. As a former financial and food analyst Ms. O’brien understands that from a profit standpoint, the modifications make perfect sense. The problem with this business model, however, is the modifications are untested, and a consequence of “proving harm” rather than “proving safety” is to shift the burden of proof onto those least able to provide proof. Instead of proving the profits being made are from a safe product, the industry capitalizes on patented modifications that most industrialized nations consider patently unsafe. And while those nations of the world that monitor and regulate their food supplies have rejected these modifications because of unproven safety, we in the US are made to accept these modifications on the basis that they haven’t been proven harmful; this is “proving harm” or “proving safety.” On whom does the risk and cost lie in this arrangement? And who reaps the benefits?

Our situation today is also that modified proteins are in products not labeled as containing such modifications – untested foreign proteins from modified genes in unlabeled foods such as milk and corn – coupled with a stark correlation of rising cancer rates, food allergies, the cost of health care in general in the US and the introduction of modifications that increased profitability in every step of the food production chain. To add insult to injury, the organic farming community, producers that don’t use these clever modifications, is overburdened with regulation and labeling requirements that put the organic food industry at a disadvantage, driving up costs for those seeking real, unmodified food.

This is an 18 minute clip that succinctly describes a business model that pays extremely well, keeps the competition at bay through preferential public policy benefits, and operates at the taxpayer’s expense with subsidies and tax considerations. Big Agriculture’s version of Profits over People.

The Most Dangerous Man in America

The latest addition to the Video page is a film entitled, The Most Dangerous Man In America, directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. This is what Henry Kissinger called Daniel Ellsberg in the followup of Ellsberg’s leaking the Pentagon Papers to Congress and the press describing the consistent, systematic lying about Vietnam coming from the administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and later by extension, Nixon. Ellsberg was a devoted cold war numbers crunching analyst working at the Rand Corporation completely in the thrall of the idea that the spread of communism was antithetical to democratic Western ideals and needed to be stopped by force of arms. After witnessing first hand the fabrication of evidence supporting a scale up of involvement in Vietnam by Johnson, Ellsberg began questioning the entire house of cards.

This discovery came first by remotely collecting data from military personnel on the ground in Vietnam, and then by participating as a civilian in full uniform and with arms in the conflict. Ellsberg eventually saw that the manufactured crises reported to the public were by and large ruses giving cover for what amounted to mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians by eventually the hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs dropped indiscriminately on the countryside of North Vietnam.

When the truth of this became understood, Ellsberg weighed his options and after witnessing the resolve of draft-dodgers willing to go to prison rather to an unjust war, he sought to “cast his whole vote,” as Thoreau had advised in Civil Disobedience, and find a way to exert his maximum influence on stopping the war. The Rand report that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers was the top secret history of the Vietnam War documenting the US involvement in the war from Truman through Johnson, and became the means by which Ellsberg would accomplish this. Leaking this report first to members of Congress, who largely ignored it, and then to the press, most notably the New York Times, the entire course of the war took a turn.  Nixon’s overstep trying to bring Ellsberg down played a role in Nixon’s own downfall. (Kissinger’s advice to Nixon, revealed in the Nixon tapes and captured in this film, was for me shocking. Kissinger told Nixon in no uncertain terms, Nixon should seek to de-escalate and end the war honorably to avoid being seen by the world as “a butcher.” Nixon escalated the war.)

This latest addition to the video page is an excellent rendition of this history. Howard Zinn, Richard Falk, Daniel Ellsberg, Anthony Russo, and a slew of interviews by many others involved in the work being conducted at Rand, in the government, or close to the participants in the leak tell the story of Ellsberg’s defection from the calculated brutality of cold war analytics that supported the deaths of tens of thousands of American soldiers and uncountable Vietnamese civilians to dedicated peace activist. It is a tale with deep relevance to our present state of affairs with our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proliferation of deception, torture, profiteering, and official state lies.

I think one thing the people will conclude when they’ve read it is that they have not asked enough, they have not expected enough or demanded enough in the way of fullness, in the way of responsibility, from their public servants. Make that known and I think that our Constitution will continue to function better than it has been in the past. (Daniel Ellsberg in a nationally broadcast interview with Dick Cavett)


The courage we need is not the courage, the fortitude, to be obedient in the service of an unjust war, to help conceal lies… … it is the courage at last to face honestly the truth and the reality of what we are doing in the world and act responsibly to change it. (Daniel Ellsberg)

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