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Daily Pickings is a blog on issues and events related to the work of the Critical Thinking project and invariably references videos, articles, books and academic papers. Accumulation of these materials adds to the "Critical Thinking reference library". Use the search facility to find articles on specific topics or you can browse the titles of every Dailly Pickings article since inception via the Site Map for which you need to be registered.
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Lessons of history

In this short talk, economist Jeffrey Sachs explains the parallels between the Treaty of Versailles in the aftermath of WWI and belligerence towards Russia in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. He does rehearse the obligatory "bogeyman" Putin même but acknowledges NATO's culpability in provoking Russia.

The Shadow of the Cold War - Four Thought, Series 4 - Jeffrey Sachs (15 minute podcast) (H/T)

But while Russia is the object of unjustified aggression to satisfy the geopolitical ambitions of the ruling clique (RC), Vladimir Putin has, thus far, outmanoeuvred the FUKUS (France, UK, US) alliance at every step: Syria (with the diplomatic solution to the false flag chemical attack), Ukraine (by facilitating the federation of Crimea by popular vote) and now in the economic war where the west is shooting itself in the foot in its desire to bring down Putin. Not that the RC care about the resulting impact on people across Europe.

What Putin Is Not Telling Us By Pepe Escobar


Friction to Stop the Machine

This video is a brief history of how the American people have been indoctrinated to believe in their exceptionalism, to justify US imperial aggression while the ruling clique (RC) increase their wealth and power. The US is the current conduit of power for the RC - in the same way as the British empire crumbled, so will the US empire. But what damage will it inflict on humanity and the planet in its death throes?

One who let his life be a friction to stop the machine was Michael C Ruppert who exposed CIA involvement in the international drugs trade in the 1990s and insider trading in the lead up to the attacks on 9/11. Abby Martin pays tribute to Michael who allegedly committed suicide early this year.

Ruppert was waiting for the 100th monkey, ie. for enough influential people to acknowledge the truth. That will create the desire and momentum for change. All protest and dissent needs to highlight the system which drives inequality, war, oppression and environmental destruction. We need to address the cause of the "disease" within our civilisation, as well as treating the "symptoms".

Occupy Democracy is in Parliament Square, London again this weekend, in the face of harsh cold winter weather and intimidation and aggression from a police force which serves the interests of the RC rather than people. Those who do this on our behalf are fighting for our future and are friction to stop the machine.

Strength in unity

Yesterday was marked in Brussels with demonstrations against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also known as TAFTA (TransAtlantic Free Trade Agreement). Farmers and trade unionists planned to encircle the meeting of 28 European leaders discussing the agreement but they'd left a day early. The protest went ahead anyway, bringing the city to a standstill.

TAFTA protesters mass outside EU Council in Brussels

The few mainstream reports predictably rehearsed the claimed benefit of the proposed treaty, economic growth. But as we know, even the EU's own projections for increased GDP, amount to very little per person. Against which our leaders are trading away health, social and environmental protections while handing over the last vestiges of democracy to corporations and our justice system to corporate lawyers through the mechanism of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

People across Europe (and beyond) will be adversely affected by this and other trade agreements (CETA, TiSA, TPP and more) and need to unite to face down this threat to our future. TTIP/TAFTA is bringing together campaigns and groups to stop this agreement.  An alliance of nearly 300 European organisations is running a self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP and CETA (ECI) which has gathered over 1.2 million signatures in support so far.

Imagine the possibility to change the world if we unite against the root cause of these abusive, anti-democratic trade agreements, the structural flaws in political economy.

Deeper threats

The exaggerated terrorist threat and unjustified alarmism over over human-induced global warming eclipse much deeper threats to our civilisation, not least the ruling clique (RC) itself. In his book, Collapse, Jared Diamond (anthropologist) explains why civilisations in the past collapsed. Invariably it was erroneous, short term, selfish decisions made by ruling elites in response to internal or external threats which led to collapse.

The RC controlled media dictate what people should be afraid of. Fear is an effective tool to suspend rational thought and exert control. Our defence is the internet and email.

What distinguishes the current wave of protest and activism from the past is that we have unfettered access to information and the ability to communicate globally. Achieving real change on a global scale is now a possibility but the freedom of the internet, on which we all rely, is under constant threat. We need to protect the source of people power. Equal, neutral access to the internet is essential.

Web is becoming 'less free and more unequal', warns Sir Tim Berners-Lee by Dan Worth (H/T)

The web is becoming less free and more unequal as censorship, surveillance and cyber violence undermine what should be an open and equal platform.