Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Welcome....

 Introducing Crumbling Empire

Glad you're here. This blog, like the former Mills River Progressive, will focus on current events, primarily in the arenas of politics, economics, and the environment. Yet the focus here will be that which speaks to (and of) the ongoing societal disintegration happening all around us.

 Judging from the conversations some of us have been having with each other online, most of us are experiencing that the systems we grew up surrounded by have gone terribly wrong. We feel the chaos, the discord, and the tension, even if unconsciously. And in daily life, it feels like we're surrounded by people who don't have a clue about what's actually going on - and worse, have no interest in finding out. Whatever the MSM is blathering about on any given day is the extent of their information.

 That can feel alienating, adding to the undercurrent of tension that's already there. So the point of this space is, in addition to (hopefully) becoming a forum for sharing info and expressing yourself, it will also be a reminder that you have companeros out there. The goal here isn't a huge readership, but an ideal one, for individuals who question everything and don't fit into the mainstream paradigm.

Please follow this blog, so that you'll be emailed whenever a new post comes out. You will not be asked for donations, nor subjected to ads.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

WTF??!!

Why Are Americans Paying to Be Searched, Spied On, Shot At and Robbed Blind by the Government?
By John Whitehead
RINF.com:

"If they can just take from you what they want, when they want, and then use it however they want, you can’t claim to be anything more than a serf in a land they think of as theirs. This was the case in the colonial era, and it’s the case once again."

The State Department wants $400,000 to purchase a fiberglass sculpture of a camel looking at a needle for its new embassy in Pakistan. They’ve already spent their allotted $630,000 to increase the number of “likes” and fans on their Facebook and Twitter pages. The NATO ambassador for the U.S. needs $700,000 for landscaping and gardening, the National Science Foundation would like $700,000 to put on a theatrical production about climate change, and the Senate staffers need $1.9 million for lifestyle coaching. Also, Yale University researchers could really use $384,000 so they can study the odd cork-screw shape of a duck’s penis.

I promise this is no belated April Fools’ joke. These are actual line items paid for by American taxpayers, whose tax dollars continue to be wasted on extravagant, unnecessary items that serve no greater purpose than to fatten the wallets of corporations and feed political graft (such as the $1 million bus stop, complete with heated benches and sidewalks which can only shelter 15 people and provides little protection from rain, snow, or the sun).

Case in point: despite the fact that we have 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line16 million children living in households without adequate access to food, and at least 900,000 veterans relying on food stamps, enormous sums continue to be doled out for presidential vacations ($16 million for trips to Africa and Hawaii), overtime fraud at the Department of Homeland Security (nearly $9 million in improper overtime claims, and that’s just in six of the DHS’ many offices), and Hollywood movie productions ($10 million was spent by the Army National Guard on Superman movie tie-ins aimed at increasing awareness about the National Guard).

This doesn’t even touch on the astronomical amounts of money spent on dubious wars abroad. Consider that since 2001, Americans have spent $10.5 million every hour for numerous foreign military occupations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s also the $2.2 million spent every hour on maintaining the United States’ nuclear stockpile, and the $35,000 spent every hour toproduce and maintain our collection of Tomahawk missiles. And then there’s the money the government exports to other countries to support their arsenals, at the cost of $1.61 million every hour for the American taxpayers.

Then there’s the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which reinforces a government mindset in which the rights of the wealthy are affirmed by the courts, while the rights of average, working class Americans are routinely dismissed as secondary to corporate and governmental concerns. Under the guise of protecting free speech, a divided 5-4 Court did away with established limits on the number of candidates an individual can support with campaign contributions.

In doing so, the justices expanded on the Court’s landmark 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which not only gave unfettered free speech rights to corporations but paved the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money promoting candidates, especially presidential candidates. What this does, of course, is turn the ballot box into an auction block, wherein those who are “elected” to public office are bought and paid for by those who can afford to support their campaigns–namely, lobbyists, corporations and high-dollar donors. (Then again, perhaps it will remain status quo. According to a 2013 study by Trinity University, U.S. Senators do not take into account the opinions and wishes of their lower class constituents. Rather, their voting was aligned with their upper class constituents. This dismissal of lower class opinion held true for both Republican and Democratic Senators, themselves made up of millionaires.)....MORE HERE.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Top 20 Ways that Fire Ants Are Better than Republicans

You might not be able to relate if you've never lived out west, but I found the following to be very apt! It's from OutSmart, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Here are a few examples of how fire ants are better than repugs:

*Most fire ants do not have their own radio talk show.

*Fire ants are happy even if they haven’t starved all the other ants and taken their homes.

*Fire ants don’t seem to care what I do with my uterus.

*Fire-ant bites go away after a few weeks.

*Fire ants haven’t produced any great thinkers either, but you don’t notice because they can’t write or talk.

More ways here...
(Bonus Question: What's the one way repugs are exactly like fire ants?)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A (nother) Supreme Sell-Out


As we all know, the Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court was a travesty for democracy. Well, meet Part Two, fresh from the Court's oily little hands...

From Op-Ed News:

Today the five Supreme Court psychopathic scum who vote together for corporations and against people, for big money and against democracy vomited out a decision that could be the one that irreversibly puts the nail in the coffin of American democracy and the middle class.

Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy are florid traitors who have opened up the floodgates for total debasement of the political system. While Citizens United made it easier to funnel money from outside the US, today's McCutcheon decision will enable any wealthy person to funnel money from foreign people, companies, agencies and governments, including Al Qaeda, including BP, including North Korea and Iran and Israel, into any election. 

It's simple. Say I'm a billionaire. I open an account in, for example, Germany. The government of Iran wires $5 million to my account, or, they use a few intermediaries to hide the source of the transfer.  I make donations totalling $5 million, from a different US account, to four senatorial campaigns, ten house of representatives campaigns, six gubernatorial campaigns and half a dozen judicial campaign.

There is no way to stop such a process. It will happen. It has happened. The only way to stop it is to put limits on  how much an individual can give and to not allow corporations to influence elections at all.. More here.

**Also see THIS from Common Dreams.

Outrageous!

This is yet another thing that pisses me off about the austerity bullshit trotted out by politicians and policymakers: They totally IGNORE the corporate tax dodgers, and pretend there are no other options but to stick it to Main Street. And we're told that we can't have a $10.00 an hour minimum wage because it would hurt these *poor* companies. Gimme a break! From Common Dreams:

Tax Dodging Companies Hoarding Nearly One Trillion Overseas
By Andrea Germanos

Profits for U.S. companies are at a record high, yet companies have hoarded nearly one trillion overseas to dodge U.S. taxes, a new Moody's analysis shows.

 The findings, based on an analysis that looked at U.S. non-financial, Moody’s-rated companies, also reveal that these companies had stockpiled $1.64 trillion in cash at the end of 2013. That's about up about 12 percent from the year before.

Leading the pack of cash hoarders is Apple, which stockpiled $158.8 billion last year. More here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Here is Climate Change in Concrete Terms

This is something all of us will be coming to understand - food scarcity. This isn't theoretical, and there is no dispute among credible scientists. It's real, and it is happening now. Even corporate-backed repugs and dims no longer have the option of ignoring this. The thing that infuriates me is that I'm quite certain that in private, these do-nothing deniers see the writing on the wall, but for the sake of campaign contributions from industry and political support, they proclaim that human-induced climate change is all a hoax. And funding from billionaires like the Kochs helps build their disinfo campaigns.

Clearly many in government must be aware of our dire situation, based on the weapons/ammo stockpiling they are doing, and the fema camps they've built. Not to mention having military operations on domestic soil, and the militarization of local police forces nationwide. What are they getting ready for? This is probably it. Climate-induced natural disasters, coupled with widespread crop failures. Or economic collapse. And the resulting riots, looting, and breakdown of social controls.

As Richard Schiffman of The Guardian points out, there are few climate-change skeptics amongst those who grow the world's food – if any. Farmers don't have to  read UN reports to know how radically their weather is changing. And consumers don't need academic studies or  bullet points to know that food prices are steadily rising. 

And Lester Brown of Earthwatch Institute observes that we face a looming "food crisis" not just from climate change – there are also escalating water shortages and the conversion of farmland to non-food uses. The vast amounts of land being used to produce biofuels and grain to feed livestock are also cutting down on the staple grains that people need to survive. 

There has to be a global effort, a dramatic one, in order to at least slow or reduce the impact on the planet. It's probably already too late to avert widespread climate-based disasters, as they are are already happening. But perhaps the harm can be reduced by concerted, worldwide action. I guess it's pointless to dwell on what might have been if such actions had begun in earnest decades ago.

We need to begin planning how we are going to get by when the shelves at the grocery store have much less to offer. What will you do?

Friday, March 28, 2014

"Kansas is a study of a state hurtling toward total failure..."

Why? Austerity. Here's even more concrete evidence which guts the theory that cutting taxes (especially for corporations) increases prosperity. It doesn't. But the cons keep clinging to their beloved trickle-down fantasies, in spite of its abject failures, well, everywhere.

A new perspective on Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court



Hat tip to Daily Kos.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wow.

We all knew the special people (certain collegiate athletes) skated through college while the rest of us actually had to complete the coursework, but this is ridiculous!

Sommecards ran the snapshot below of what a UNC athlete had to do to get an  "A-" in his paper course. That's the term for the special "classes" in which only athletes enroll, which don't even meet - only a short paper is required to pass, much like the following (click to enlarge):












I'd expect more from a fifth grader. This is just pathetic. Read more here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A portent of what's to come?

Guess what the best performing asset is in 2014? U.S. food items, which are up 14% in price this year alone. So no, it isn't your imagination - your groceries really are costing more!

As ZeroHedge points out, this may be due to weather, but the drought conditions in the West aren't going away in the near future. The food producers on the left coast are unlikely to be able to meet the demands of consumers elsewhere this year.

And based on the erratic weather which seems to be the new norm, we can likely expect more of the same and worse from now on. Climate change IS a serious new reality that will impact us all, corporate-funded science deniers notwithstanding.

Hate to sound like a broken record, but isn't it time you looked into doing some gardening?? 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Good Riddance!

Well, there was some positive news this week. Hate-monger Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist "church", died yesterday.  You might recall WBC as the outfit that tries to ruin the funerals/memorials of military folks and others whom they believe to be supporting The Homosexual States of America. The twittersphere was aglow with excellent responses. Like this one from Danny Zuker: "Dude, seriously. What the fuck?" said God to Fred Phelps before opening a trap door to hell.

And this spot-on remark from Trevor S: Please respect the privacy of the Phelps family as they take time away from tormenting grieving families. 

Karma's a bitch, my friends. Yes, indeed. Sooner or later, we reap what we sow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

US Foreign Policy Blowback

"...In an editorial by The Nation posted Wednesday, the magazine's editors also invoke US transgressions in the context of Ukraine. "Yes, Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea trespasses on international law," they write, but it's "difficult to bear US officials’ invocation of a principle that Washington itself has often violated (see, most recently, Kosovo and Iraq, the latter now marking the eleventh anniversary of an illegal US invasion and occupation)."

And author and historian Howard Friel, also at Common Dreams, defies the western media's dominant anti-Putin line not to defend Russian motives or actions, but to cast a light on U.S. violations that now make it impossible for Washington to stand as a moral authority on issues of international law. In a string of rhetorical questions, Friel asks:
Did Putin invade Iraq and destroy that society?
Did Putin lie to the American people about the reasons for that invasion?
Did Putin kill one million Iraqis?
Did Putin spend $1 trillion of the American public’s money on the Iraq invasion?
Did Putin invade Afghanistan?
Did he spend $700 billion on the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan?
Does Putin have a “kill list” to murder suspected terrorists without due process and outside any field of battle?
According to The Nation editors, the only thing that can now resolve the crisis in Ukraine and the brewing 'Cold War' redux between Russia and the western powers is a true and meaningful focus on diplomacy. Threats of military escalation must be averted, they say, and the "war parties" on all sides must be pushed aside in the name of a peaceful agreement going forward..."

Read entire piece at COMMON DREAMS.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wake UP!!!

Our consumption-based, energy and pollution-intensive way of life is unsustainable. Americans as a whole are doing a great job of ignoring that fact, as is much of the developed world. Industry rules, and big oil, big ag, big chemical, etc, etc, have no interest in changing a thing. As long as profits are high, everything is A-okay.  And untold amounts have been spent by billionaires to convince a gullible public that climate change is a myth.

 But as reported by the Guardian UK, "The world is at growing risk of “abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes” because of a warming climate....In a rare intervention into a policy debate, the American Association for the Advancement of Science urged Americans to act swiftly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and lower the risks of leaving a climate catastrophe for future generations."

Meanwhile, an astounding piece in The Altlantic details the disturbing barrage of toxins we're bombarded with (thanks to the aforementioned industries), and how these toxins are creating disease, mental impairment, and developmental disabilities - not to mention poisoning the planet.

Nothing is going to change unless people wake up and start demanding that the tools we send to DC (ostensibly on our behalf) take real, concrete actions to reverse the ongoing ruination of the planet and its inhabitants. And this would include industry lobbyists not being appointed to leadership positions in the agencies that are supposed to regulate their industries.

Are the brains of the citizenry already too addled by toxins and chemicals to perceive the danger to the continued existence of our species and countless others? Or are our electronic devices and the endless stream of immediate trivia just too entertaining to break away from long enough to actually grasp reality and act?

Monday, March 17, 2014

"The world is learning what U.S. senatorial candidate Barack Obama meant on October 2, 2002, when he told a Chicago crowd that he did not oppose all wars. “What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” We now know that President Obama is committed to full spectrum, no-holds-barred, war-without-boundaries against all potential resistance to U.S. imperial rule, anywhere on the planet — a project he considers neither rash nor dumb. At stake is survival — not of the people and government of the United States, which face no existential threat from any quarter, but of an empire whose self-defined strategic interests encompass the entire globe. There is a terrifying logic to Washington’s frenzy: when the systemic structure is collapsing, it must be propped up everywhere..."

-Glen Ford, RINF
Obama's War Against Civilization

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is Washiington setting the world on the path to war?

From Paul Craig Roberts, Op-Ed News:

Why is Washington so opposed to Crimean self-determination? The answer is that one of the main purposes of Washington's coup in Kiev was to have the new puppet government evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base in Crimea. Washington cannot use the government Washington has installed in Ukraine for that purpose if Crimea is no longer part of Ukraine.

What Washington has made completely obvious is that "self-determination" is a weapon used by Washington on behalf of its agenda. If self-determination advances Washington's agenda, Washington is for it. If self-determination does not advance Washington's agenda, Washington is against it.

The Washington-initiated UN Security Council resolution, vetoed by Russia, falsely declares that the referendum in Crimea, a referendum demanded by the people, "can have no validity, and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea; and calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of Crimea on the basis of this referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status."

Washington could not make it any clearer that Washington totally opposes self-determination by Crimeans.

Washington claims, falsely, that the referendum cannot be valid unless the entire population of Ukraine votes and agrees with the decision by Crimeans. Note that when Washington stole Kosovo from Serbia, Washington did not let Serbians vote.

But overlook Washington's rank hypocrisy and self-serving double-standards. Let's apply Washington's argument that in order to be valid, any change in Crimea's status requires a vote on the part of the population of the country that it departs. If this is the case, then Crimea has never been a part of Ukraine....MORE HERE.

**Monday a.m. Update - see THIS.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Friday!