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I found the following story pathetic, predictable, and a microcosm of America’s inverted totalitarianism. This is the corporate state flexing its fascist muscles with for-hire private armies, replete with the latest face-stomping boots and weaponry from Homeland Security. You can never have too much police intimidation in the land of the fearful and home of the paranoid.

Basic rights are what the workers were requesting, but the corporations are working hard to ensure American workers are on the same footing as laborers of Third World sweatshops.

…and don’t forget the sonic cannons to completely suppress the oppressed:

Criminalizing dissent extinguishes free speech. The threat of a nightstick cracking open your head is a good silencer. I fail to see much difference between America and China at this point. A lot has been written recently about the rise of America’s ‘Security and Surveillance State’. Let’s recap:

Why Don’t Americans Care About Democracy at Home?

…the financialization of the economy and culture has resulted in the poisonous growth of monopoly power, predatory lending, abusive credit card practices and misuses of CEO pay. The false but central neoliberal tenet that markets can solve all of society’s problems has no way of limiting the power of money and has given rise to “a politics in which policies that favor the rich … have allowed the financial sector to amass vast economic and political power.”[24] As Joseph Stiglitz points out, there is more at work in this form of governance than a pandering to the wealthy and powerful: There is also the specter of an authoritarian society “where people live in gated communities,” large segments of the population are impoverished or locked up in prison and Americans live in a state of constant fear as they face growing “economic insecurity, health care insecurity [and] a sense of physical insecurity.”[25] In other words, the authoritarian nature of neoliberal political governance and economic power is also visible in the rise of a national security state in which civil liberties are being drastically abridged and violated.

As the war on terror becomes a normalized state of existence, the most basic rights available to American citizens are being shredded. The spirit of revenge, militarization and fear now permeates the discourse of national security. For instance, under Presidents Bush and Obama, the idea of habeas corpus with its guarantee that prisoners have minimal rights has given way to policies of indefinite detention, abductions, targeted assassinations, drone killings and an expanding state surveillance apparatus. The Obama administration has designated 46 inmates for indefinite detention at Guantanamo because, according to the government, they can be neither tried nor safely released. Moreover, another “167 men now confined at Guantanamo … have been cleared for release yet remain at the facility.”[26]

With the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2012, the rule of legal illegalities has been extended to threaten the lives and rights of US citizens. The law authorizes military detention of individuals who are suspected of belonging not only to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda but to “associated forces.” As Glenn Greenwald points out, this “grants the president the power to indefinitely detain in military custody not only accused terrorists, but also their supporters, all without charges or trial.”[27] The vagueness of the law allows the possibility of subjecting US citizens who are considered in violation of the law to indefinite detention. Of course, that might include journalists, writers, intellectuals and anyone else who might be accused because of their dealings with alleged terrorists. Fortunately, US District Judge Katherine Forrest of New York agreed with Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and other writers who have challenged the legality of the law. Judge Forrest recently acknowledged the unconstitutionality of the law and ruled in favor of a preliminary barring of the enforcement of the National Defense Authorization Act.[28]

The anti-democratic practices at work in the Obama administration also include the US government’s use of state secrecy to provide a cover or prevent being embarrassed by practices that range from the illegal use of torture to the abduction of innocent foreign nationals. Under the rubric of national security, a shadow state has emerged that eschews transparency and commits unlawful acts. Given the power of the government to engage in a range of illegalities and to make them disappear through an appeal to state secrecy, it should come as no surprise that warrantless wiretapping, justified in the name of national security, is on the rise at both the federal and state levels. For instance, the New York City Police Department “implemented surveillance programs that violate the civil liberties of that city’s Muslim-American citizens [by infiltrating] mosques and universities [and] collecting information on individuals suspected of no crimes.”[29] And the American public barely acknowledged this shocking abuse of power. Such anti-democratic policies and practices have become the new norm in American society and reveal a frightening and dangerous move toward a 21st century version of authoritarianism.

This police state the über wealthy are building better live up to all the hype that’s been advertised about it. There are too many horsemen (Climate Change, Peak Oil, Neoliberal Economic Policies, 6th Mass Extinction, Water Scarcity, Ocean Acidification) bearing down on humanity to even entertain the idea that the starving masses will go die quietly in some dark corner.

If There Are Riots In New York, You Can Blame Ethanol And Index Funds

Yaneer Bar-Yam, a physicist, complex systems theorist and general man-about-town with a pleasing CV that includes writing a book called “Making Things Work” and telling Slate that “the shortcomings of the U.N. humanitarian-response system in Haiti have a lot to do with a 50-year-old mathematical theorem known as Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety.”

He and some friends wrote a paper, released yesterday, arguing that increases in food prices over the last few years can be explained almost entirely by two factors: financial market speculation and the growing use of corn for ethanol production rather than food.

Now these arguments have been made before, and also disputed or minimized. The new paper rejects a lot of those criticisms; more interestingly, it constructs a fairly simple four-parameter model that can pretty closely match the actual trends in food prices over the last few years:

So, neat. Also disturbing. And more disturbing is this:

That’s from their companion, non-mathy paper that proposes “that protests may reflect not only long-standing political failings of governments, but also the sudden desperate straits of vulnerable populations. If food prices remain high, there is likely to be persistent and increasing global social disruption.” The main graph is food prices, the red dotted lines are incidents of rioting. Charmingly the numbers in parentheses are death tolls. They predict global doom in 2012-2013.

We apparently value feeding our cars over alleviating worldwide hunger and misery as well as preventing global unrest. A little unrest is always good for the bottom line of the Military Industrial Complex.

“Food prices (blue) and food price model (red) including projected increases in coming months. The social unrest threshold, corrected for inflation (purple dashed line) is a level of food prices that is likely to cause food riots of impoverished populations and social disruption. Parameters as in July update, modified to include larger recent reported FAO food price index increase of 6%.” – link

And a new report buy Oxfam, Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices, looks into the grim future of food production in a world of extreme climate change:

  • Even under a conservative scenario, another US drought in 2030 could raise the price of maize by as much as 140 per cent over and above the average price of food in 2030, which is already likely to be double today’s prices.
  • Drought and flooding in southern Africa could increase the consumer price of maize and other coarse grains by as much as 120 per cent. Price spikes of this magnitude today would mean the cost of a 25kg bag of corn meal – a staple which feeds poor families across Africa for about two weeks – would rocket from around $18 to $40.
  • A nationwide drought in India and extensive flooding across South East Asia could see the world market price of rice increase by 25 per cent. This could see domestic spikes of up to 43 per cent on top of longer term price rises in rice importing countries of such as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

My prediction is that we will continue to sacrifice land and human lives at the altar of American, and now Chinese, car culture. Walmart, the enduring symbol of happy fascism in America, will enjoy a growing pool of cheap labor amid cut-throat competition to ensure stellar profit margins. And a new reality TV series featuring climate change survivors will air on America’s propaganda box. Why not? We’ve already got a reality TV series to promote our perpetual war economy.