As Syria Free-Falls . . . A Return to the Basics: Some Structural Causes (Part 2)

As Syria Free-Falls . . . A Return to the Basics: Some Structural Causes (Part 2).


Chomsky on the Western Sahara and the “Arab Spring”

Chomsky on the Western Sahara and the “Arab Spring”.

Dealing with the Healthcare Bureaucracy

I work in the field of Adult Foster Care.  Part of my job is to help administer medication to the residents that cannot manage it themselves.  Most of the residents receive benefits from social security and Medicare or Medicaid and various wavers for metal of physical disabilities they suffer from.  They therefore have their medications paid for by the various government programs that provide them with the support they need to survive.  Sometimes the decisions made by some unaccountable administrator somewhere in the bureaucracy of it all is mind numbing in its logic (or lack thereof). 


Example: I work with a resident that is prescribed a particular medication three times a day at three mg dose each time.  For the first two times of the day, her insurance covers the medication in a three mg pill.  But for the final time of the day the insurance will not cover the same exact pill.  Instead, it will cover a one mg pill and a two mg pill of the same medication, thus equalling three mg.  But why would it cover the dosage in a three mg pill twice per day and then not cover the same pill for the third and final time, instead requiring the resident to take two pills of the same medication to reach the required dosage?


This has perplexed me for sometime now.  Perhaps someone can provide me with a reasonable answer, but frankly I do not see one forthcoming.  The level of administrative bureaucracy needed to even reach a decision like this is a sad sign of how dysfunctional our healthcare systems are in the country – the U.S. for those residing elsewhere.  The bottom line for the richest and most profitable industries certainly take priority over human beings and any rational attempt at having a system that puts their care and well-being first. 

Letter to PBS’s NewsHour

Dear NewsHour,

I am writing to express my profound concern with your recent reporting regarding the disputed Iranian nuclear program and how it relates to U.S. foreign policy. On two recent occasions your reporters have refered to Iran’s, “Nuclear weapons program” (Jeff Brown, October 22) and Iran’s, “Pursuit of nuclear weapons”, (Ray Suarez,10/5/12 ). No is no evidence for this, as repeated statements by various Iranian officials, many reports and inspections by the IAEA, and even the most recent U.S. government NEI report concludes that Iran has not yet decided whether or not it will pursue a weapons program in the future. On top of all this, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon on Face The Nation, 01-08-12.

It is the responsibility of journalist to investigate the claims made by power and report on what is known versus claims that are made. In this case, the careless reporting of a set of claims about a supposed Iran nuclear weapons program is presented as established fact, a dangerous and irresponsible folly in light of past history, most notably the WMD claims that led to the Iraq War. If anything, journalist should be extra critical of similar claims made about Iran due to there lack and complicit role in the run up to the destruction of Iraq.

I look forward to hearing back from you and seeing a correction made in your reporting in regards to Iran.

Theodore Johnson
Duluth, MN

Open Letter from Chomsky, Shiva, Pilger, Santos, and 40 more… Monday, July 23, 2012

Open Letter from Chomsky, Shiva, Pilger, Santos, and 40 more…

Monday, July 23, 2012


We the signers of the open letter from Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Boaventura de sousa Santos, John Pilger, and 40 other members of the interim decision body of the new International Organization for a Participatory Society, hope that you will republish our letter, and, even more, that you will publish commentary regarding the organization’s purpose, implications, prospects, etc.

Please reply to let us know your personal reaction, and whether you will be recirculating this, or perhaps taking some other related steps.

An Open Message to All Who Seek A New and Better World

We are members of what is called the the Interim Consultative Committee of the International Organization for a Participatory Society – or IOPS for short.

IOPS is actually an interim entity, pending a future founding convention. IOPS was convened just a few months ago and already has over 2,100 members from 85 countries and a ten language site, despite that it is barely known publicly. IOPS is currently building local chapters, which will unite to form national branches that in turn will compose an international organization.

We send this open letter to invite you to please visit the IOPS Site to examine its initial features – including especially and most importantly its Mission and Visionary and Programmatic Commitments.

The IOPS commitments emerged from a long process of discussion and debate. We believe they correspond closely to the most prevalent, advanced, and widely accessible political beliefs on which to build an organization for winning a better world.

We also hope and even believe that if you read and consider the IOPS commitments, you will likely find that they are congenial to your interests and desires and that they provide reason for great hope that IOPS can become a very important organization in the coming years.

If we had to summarize the IOPS commitments, we would note that they emphasize:

that IOPS focuses on cultural, kinship, political, economic, international, and ecological aims without a priori prioritizing any of these over the rest;
that IOPS advocates and elaborates key aspects of vision for a sustainable and peaceful world without sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, and authoritarianism and with equity, justice, solidarity, diversity, and, in particular, self-management for all people
and that IOPS structurally and programmatically emphasizes planting the seeds of the future in the present, winning immediate gains on behalf of suffering constituencies in ways contributing to winning its long term aims as well, developing a caring and nurturing organization and movement, and welcoming and even fostering constructive dissent and diversity within that organization and movement and based on its commitments.

We think hundreds of thousands of people, in fact, millions of people, will, on reading the commitments, overwhelmingly agree with them. We hope that if you look at the commitments and feel that way, you will join and advocate that others join as well. If you instead have problems with the IOPS commitments, we hope you will make your concerns known so a productive discussion can ensue.

On the other hand, we also understand that agreeing with the IOPS commitments will not alone cause those same hundreds of thousands and even millions of people to join IOPS. There are numerous reasons why a person might support the IOPS commitments and even hope that IOPS grows and becomes strong and effective at the grassroots, in every neighborhood, workplace, and social movement, and yet, at the moment, not join. Our best effort to summarize obstacles people may feel to joining even while they like the IOPS commitments, and to address those obstacles also appears on the IOPS site, in a Why Join IOPS Question and Answer format. Essentially we argue: If not now, when? If not us, who?

Asked to provide a succinct summary paragraph for the IOPS site about his involvement, Noam Chomsky wrote: “Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear appeals – often laments – from people deeply concerned about the travails of human existence and the fate of the world, desperately eager to do something about what they rightly perceive to be intolerable and ominous, feeling helpless because each individual effort, however dedicated, seems to merely chip away at a mountain, placing band-aids on a cancer, never reaching to the sources of needless suffering and the threats of much worse. It’s an understandable reaction that all too often leads to despair and resignation. We all know the only answer, driven home by experience and history, and by simple reflection on the realities of the world: join together to construct and clarify long-term visions and goals, along with direct engagement and activism shaped by these guidelines and contributing to a deepening of our understanding of what we hope to achieve… IOPS strikes the right chords, and if the opportunities it opens are pursued with sufficient energy and participation, diligence, modesty, and desire, it could carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and combining them into a powerful and effective force.”

And as Cynthia Peters wrote: “You hear it all the time. There is always another urgent crisis. They don’t just come in a steady stream, they seem to multiply geometrically. More draconian policies with life-threatening consequences, more corporate control, more prisons, more bombs, more funerals. With so many immediate fires to put out in our day-to-day organizing work, how can we make time to attend to larger issues, such as long-term strategy, vision, and movement building? IOPS creates the space for us to do the essential work of movement building and envisioning and then seeking a better world. Without these elements, we’ll continue to work in isolation. By enlivening and enriching IOPS with your presence, you will both give solidarity to and receive solidarity from so many others — across the world — in the same situation — up to their necks in the daily fight, and at the same time turning their creativity and energy towards revolutionary social change. That is not just good company. It’s the solid beginnings of another world being possible.”

We hope you will join us as we try to make it so.


Ezequiel Adamovsky – Argentina
M Adams – U.S.
Michael Albert – U.S.
Jessica Azulay – U.S.
Elaine Bernard – U.S.
Patrick Bond – South Africa
Noam Chomsky – U.S.
Jason Chrysostomou – UK
John Cronan – U.S.
Ben Dangl – U.S.
Denitsa Dimitrova – UK/Bulgaria
Mark Evans – UK
Ann Ferguson – U.S.
Eva Golinger – Venezuela
Andrej Grubacic – Balkans/U.S.
Pervez Hoodbhoy – Pakistan
Antti Jauhiainen – Finland
Ria Julien – U.S./Trinidad
Dimitris Konstanstinou – Greece
Pat Korte – U.S.
Yohan Le Guin – Wales
Mandisi Majavu – South Africa
Yotam Marom – U.S.
David Marty – Spain
Preeti Paul – UK/India
Cynthia Peters – U.S.
John Pilger – UK/Aus
Justin Podur – Canada
Nikos Raptis – Greece
Paulo Rodriguez – Belgium
Charlotte Sáenz – Mexico/U.S.
Anders Sandstrom – Sweden
Boaventura de sousa Santos – Portugal
Lydia Sargent – U.S.
Stephen Shalom – U.S.
Vandana Shiva – India
Chris Spannos – U.S.
Verena Stresing – France/Germany
Elliot Tarver – U.S.
Fernando Ramn Vegas Torrealba – Venezuela
Taylon Tosun – Turkey
Marie Trigona – U.S.
Greg Wilpert – Germany/Venezuela/U.S.
Florian Zollman – Germany

It’s not about just them not wanting you to know. It’s profitable for you not to know.

TAYLOR: It has a lot to do the school system. But I want to go back to the earlier point that I’m making. The question is why. It’s not that they just don’t want you to know.

Right now we’re dealing with a graduation rate in a number of places under 60 percent. These are the kids that graduate from high school. We know that these kids that do not graduate are doomed to a life on the economic margins. You can predict on the basis of these graduation rates the number of people that are going to be a part of the prison-industrial complex, the number of people who are going to end up in various aspects of these prison and these misery industries.

What I am saying specifically:

it’s not about just them not wanting you to know. It’s profitable for you not to know, it’s profitable for them to have segments of a society that are not functioning, because they have figured out how to generate profits on it.


And the fact that they’re not teaching these higher-level intellectual skills has a lot more to do with the elite schools, because—and when I say the elite, I’m talking about the suburban schools, I’m talking about the high-performing public schools, because we’re turning out kids who have technical skills but could not analyze and understand anything, in the sense that they have no levels of critical consciousness. And my own program at the University at Buffalo, in our planning and architectural schools, we have a requirement that anybody that gets into this program has to come out of college with around a 3.45. Yet, the students I’m seeing today with these higher GPAs have less consciousness in terms of understanding the realities around them than students that I saw ten years ago.

So you have these two things occurring: kids that are completely turned off by the educational process that end up in the misery industries on the one hand, and on the other hand, kids in these schools that do not have the consciousness and the understanding to produce a very different set of policies.

Public education in the United States is not broken. Our social system is broken.

JAY: So what’s wrong with that? I mean, Mitt Romney would probably argue that the government-run system’s dysfunctional, so why not let the parents pick winning and losing schools and let schools kind of be run by a marketplace that parents get to run?

NAISON: Well, my argument is public education in the United States is not broken. Our social system is broken. If you look at—if you take out poverty as a factor, our public schools compare favorably with those—with almost any other nation in the world. It’s our unconscionably high child poverty rates, it’s our high rates of imprisonment, it’s our astronomical rates of youth and minority unemployment which create a context where schools in poor neighborhoods are under intolerable pressure. And by decentralizing education money, you’re going to make the problem worse, because whenever you privatize in the United States, what you do is de-skill professionals and increase the wage gap between CEOs and workers. So in communities which desperately are trying to hang on to their middle class, you destroy public education and privatize and you’re going to end up with the black and Latino middle class further diminishing, with wages and work conditions for all teachers to diminish. And that produces not only bad consequences for those neighborhoods; it produces bad consequences in terms of consumer demand for the whole of society. [Italics added]