Saturday, June 29, 2013

 

Unusual Suspects

As reported at AC this week, the NSA domestic spying scandal is significant for two facts: 1. There are now no secure electronic or digital communications, and 2. Unlike the CIA and FBI, there is no oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. Which, as AC reminds readers, is what U.S. Senator Frank Church warned about in the 1976 Congressional hearings. As AC observes, this is already a functioning system, with some eight million Americans listed as suspect for such activities as opposing war or protesting austerity.

Friday, June 21, 2013

 

Prototype of Hate: Pandering has Consequences

In December 2008, when Obama selected the homophobic pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his presidential inauguration, progressive Christians were rightly concerned that Obama's pandering to Far-Right Christian bigotry might have consequences. Indeed, as Bruce Wilson noted in his January 2009 article on Warren's fanatical mission in Uganda, radical devotion to violent Christian revolution resulted in genocidal behavior by the Ugandan military. As Chris Rodda observed, the pressure to conform to radical Christian tenets promoted by Warren -- thanks in part to Obama's lack of judgment -- even extended to members of the U.S. military.

As Rachel Tabachnik remarked in October 2010, missionaries of hate who advocate murdering gays have adopted the Ugandan model -- designed by Rick Warren -- as a prototype to be replicated in countries around the globe. While merging church and state is always dangerous, merging state powers with churches like Warren's leads to crimes against humanity.

In May 2012, Kapya Kaoma examined the U.S. Christian Right and the attack on gays in Africa, with a special focus on the anti-gay Rick Warren's role in exporting homophobia. As Frederick Clarkson reported yesterday, the acclaimed documentary God Loves Uganda -- which depicts the role of American conservative evangelicals in generating vicious anti-gay campaigns there -- premiers in New York on June 25.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

 

Wasted Energy: Fossil Fuel Divestment

In my comment on the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign, I noted that divestment won’t change a thing environmentally. It will only change ownership of some shares from public institutions to private ones–like the banks we bailed out with our tax dollars. Given the money to be made on the booming fossil fuel industry, I’m sure the banks will be delighted to acquire these shares, and in turn leave the public with no voice at future shareholder meetings.

Moral theatrics like this divestment campaign might make activists and students feel virtuous, but they do nothing for the environment. They bring big bucks into the coffers of NGOs like 350.org, but they do not change public policy. Nor do they influence corporate behavior, other than in public relations and marketing. I guess that’s why corporate foundations fund NGOs that promote such nonsense.

To date, students on 300 campuses across the US are organizing fossil fuel divestment campaigns. That’s a lot of wasted energy, especially when we need that energy to change the political system that awards fraud and punishes honesty.

As Cory Morningstar observed in her article on 350.org’s divestment tour, launched by Bill McKibben, “Such sophisticated public relations campaigns as this one are quite genius in a multitude of ways. Cloaked under the guise of tackling the root causes of the global climate crisis, such campaigns change nothing. Rather, they ensure the populace is participating in what it has been convinced is meaningful action – and nothing more.” As noted in her article, all market investing is about exploiting people and dismantling ecosystems. If students want to save the planet, they should start organizing for political power to change the market system, not rally to switch investments from one exploiting portfolio to another.

Given the influence such high profile campaigns have on the naive, one might return to the simple maxim of follow the money for guidance. In the case of McKibben and 350.org, one has to ask why such capitalist titans as Rockefeller would fund an NGO that might threaten the power of the oligarchy they symbolize. As Morningstar illustrates, the answer is they don’t.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

 

Aid to Raid: Tax Justice History

Tax Justice Network recounts the history of the tax justice movement and its emphasis on poverty reduction through taxation. Focusing on the issue of tax havens and the offshore industry where corporate wealth avoided paying its fair share, the architects of the intellectual framework behind tackling systemic poverty by eliminating tax avoidance shifted public thinking from aid to raid. Once NGOs like Christian Aid saw the light, the global economy that creates poverty became a target for campaigns to force banking transparency and global regimes to collect taxes due. It's a fascinating story, partly for its insight into scholarly activism, and partly for the inspiring message that a few good and determined people can indeed make a big difference.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

 

Catholic Coup

In her article How the Catholic Bishops Outsmarted Washington Voters, Valerie Tarico exposes the hostile takeover of Washington State's healthcare delivery system by the Catholic Church, despite these services being overwhelmingly taxpayer-funded. More importantly, Tarico notes the services now available or unavailable are dictated by the Vatican.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

 

People Land Truth 2013

Intercontinental Cry's 9th anniversary magazine. Check it out.

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