From the Keyboard of Surly1
Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 12, 2013
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.
Plenty of doom and doom-related happenings on the domestic and international front this week, so let’s go right to the videotape:
Across the pond in Greece, where Question Mark and the Austerians are administering the same sort of save-the-rich economic policies that plutocrats like Pete Peterson so dearly wants to bring to the FSA, youth unemployment has reached a staggering 60 per cent.
While the overall unemployment rate rose to 27 percent, according to statistics service data released on Thursday, joblessness among those aged between 15 and 24 jumped to 64.2 percent in February from 59.3 percent in January. Youth unemployment was 54.1 percent in March 2012.
“It is by far the highest youth unemployment rate in the euro zone, highlighting the difficulties young people face in entering the labor market despite government incentives to create jobs,” said economist Nikos Magginas at National Bank.
Athens has lowered the minimum monthly wage for those under 25 years by 32 percent to about 500 euros to entice hiring.
Note that last succulent little datapoint, and keep it in your pocket when the solons in DC look up from Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!! long enough to recommend a lowering of the minimum wage, or pass a bill to eliminate overtime wage payments.
As our friend Joe P. posted earlier in the week, researchers have once again discovered the glaringly obvious, a link between racism and stupidity. Whouda thunk it?
Findings taken from numerous research projects strongly indicate that prejudice, racism and intolerance are more likely to be present in individuals with greater cognitive rigidity, less cognitive flexibility and lower integrative complexity.Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice.
We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology.
A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status.
Original here. This is well known by those in power, who have thoughtfully provided these people their own reality-free 24-hour Cable News Network.
“If voting changed anything they would make it illegal”
Although I am a pretty political creature, I tend to eschew politics on the Diner blog. The reasons for that are that there is a time and place for everything, and secondly, I share the apparent presupposition of most Diners that electoral politics is a sham and dumb show conducted every four years to keep we muppets amused. With that in mind as background, I proudly ginned up the following segue, citing as additional evidence of mass stupidity the reelection of Terry Sanford in South Carolina this week. South Carolina has been the crazy uncle living in the attic of American politics ever since, oh, say 1859. But it never trotted out its stuff more aggressively than it did this week, and elevating the serial philanderer, trespasser, liar, adulterer, and misuser of state funds to noble office. Proof positive that debating cardboard cutouts of Nancy Pelosi in. the absence of having anything to say for yourself is really all you need to be elected in South Carolina. This person says it best, the unvarnished, unpolished, wholly unedited letter from a mad-as-shit South Carolinian:
Dear Fellow South Carolinians of the First District,
What the fuck are you people thinking? Mark Sanford, really? Way to keep us in the running, as the shitass craziest state of the nation. One more fuck-up like this and we’ll surpass even Florida — home of child killers, cannibals and roach eaters! The “Palmetto State”, my ass. I think the “Facepalm State” is becoming increasingly more accurate here.
I have to hand it to you though–go big or go home, right? On the same ballot where you elected Mark Sanford, that two-timing turd, you also voted–by a majority of 65%, no less–to protect the sanctity of marriage from scary gay people. Why shart quietly when you can shit the whole bed, am I right? The irony is intoxicating and it makes me puke.
We all know that South Carolina is a conservative bastion–no Democrat has won here in 30 years. Elizabeth Colbert Busch had the qualifications, ran a strong campaign and was leading Sanford in the polls late into the campaign. Realizing that Sanford couldn’t beat Colbert Busch, one-on-one, he had to invoke the name of that Satanist Minx, Nancy Pelosi as the straw man to gain traction. And with all of the cognitive skills of Pavlov’s dogs, you clownfuckers fell for it.
Where is the outrage of 1998, when the Clinton administration was nearly tanked over a blow job? And who was leading the charge in the furor against Clinton’s infidelity back then? None other than fucking white Grimace, himself, Newt Gingrich–you know, that other adulterous goat diddler that you elected as Republican presidential nominee last year.
So what gives, South Carolina? Is this insanity a cry for help or is it, more likely, a stunt for more attention? Were we paying too much attention to Mississippi again? You’re like the pretty blonde with the dazzling smile that boils the pet rabbit at the first hint of rejection.
And don’t pretend like this recent spate of cray-cray is a fluke, either. We also have you to thank for Joe “You lie!” Wilson, and racist hypocrite Strom Thurmond who fathered a child with his parents’ 16 year old black housekeeper. “There’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches” But you’re totally down with porking them ain’t ya, eh, Strom?
There is much to love about South Carolina: the food, the gentility of its people, the mellifluous accent, and we can certainly appreciate colorful characters. We dig eccentricity! But hypocrisy is unbecoming, and so is stupidity in the face of facts.
Too bad Congressman-elect Sanford won’t be able to luxuriate in the after-glow of his win. He’ll be tied up in court defending the charge of trespassing onto his ex-wife’s property. I wonder if he’ll repay the state of South Carolina the money he used for his Argentinian booty call. Surely he will because he’s all about “family values” and responsible government spending.
I just snorted mint julep through my nose! You know what, First District? All y’all can kiss my motherfucking ass– that’s right, all y’all ignorant motherfuckers!!
A Formerly Proud South Carolinian
A truly well done rant. Wish I had said that.
As the journalists would say, “add stupidity.” We offer up this article on the overreach of law enforcement. Free Lilly-May Allen!!!
A girl aged ten was told by police that she could be arrested for causing criminal damage – over a game of hopscotch.
Lilly-May Allen was playing with a friend on a grid she had chalked on the pavement in front of her home when a marked police van pulled up.
An officer warned the girls that using chalk on the pavement was criminal damage and they could be arrested for it, before driving off.
But the girls did not understand what they had done wrong and Lilly-May is now reluctant to play outside, according to her father.
After Lilly-May told her parents about the incident, they called the police to clarify the law, but officers refused to confirm whether drawing a hopscotch grid in chalk on the pavement was an offence – even though it washes away in the rain.
The girl’s father, Bob Allen, 51, who runs his own karaoke business, said: ‘The policeman said to her that what she had done was criminal damage and she could be arrested. He then drove off.
‘She didn’t come into the house for a while and didn’t tell us straight away because she thought I was going to tell her off for being naughty.
‘She couldn’t even remember what the policeman had told her it was – only criminal something.’
He added: ‘She is only ten and didn’t know what she had done wrong.
‘I rang up the police and asked if chalking up a hopscotch grid was an offence and they wouldn’t say yes or no and said it was a grey area.
‘I’m angry and upset and if it was against the law then the policeman should have knocked on our door and said something.’
Mr Allen, who lives in a three-bedroom semi-detached home in Ramsgate, Kent, said the incident on Monday had knocked his daughter’s confidence about playing outside.
As as long as we’re piling on the gobshites in what is rapidly becoming the “stupidity” edition of The Week That Was in Doom, let us turn to that gift which keeps on giving, Sen. James Imhofe (R-Saturn):
“The Obama Administration’s cover up of Benghazi is the greatest conspiracy of all time, even greater than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which happens to be totally true by the way.”
All this in a week where the Heritage Foundation managed to put out a factually laughable report attributing trillions of dollars to the future costs of immigration. The fact that the report was a tissue of bad assumptions lashed together by a proven bigot seemed to be no impediment.
James DeMint resigned from the Senate (as a representative of South Carolina) some months ago — so he could get a big pay raise to be the head of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
What better place to be rewarded with seven-figures at a think tank, when this is your big thought:
DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.
Naturally as head of the Heritage Foundation, DeMint used his first big project — critiquing immigration reform to keep those big “ideas” flowing.
One of the co-authors of the Heritage Study claming immigration reform would add $6.3 trillion to the deficit, Jason Richwine, advocated barring immigrants from entering the United States based on their IQ in 2009.
Really getting their Confederate Dollars’ worth the Heritage Foundation.
Yesterday I posted about how former Senator, freak, and current Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint managed to put out a factually laughable immigrant bashing report put together in large part by a bigot.
But the bigot, Jason Redwine, is so much, so very much more:
The Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine, who co-authored the think tank’s study claiming immigration reform will cost trillions of dollars, contributed two articles to a “nationalist” website about Hispanic incarceration rates, Yahoo News reported Thursday. Richwine came under fire after the Washington Post reported Wednesday that his Harvard dissertation argued Hispanics have lower IQs than Caucasians and that the United States should screen immigrants based on their IQ scores.
Meanwhile in reality, which is NOT a whiter shade of pale:
A record seven-in-ten (69%) Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college that fall, two percentage points higher than the rate (67%) among their white counterparts, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Looks like it is time for resign again Jim DeMint.
South Carolina again. Caveat emptor.
In other doom-related news this week, the Center for Food Safety has caught the FDA admitting that chicken meat contains arsenic. Skip the chicken when taking mom to Sunday afternoon dinner for Mother’s Day today.
Attorneys at Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit on behalf of CFS, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and seven other U.S. food safety, agriculture, public health and environmental groups to compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to the groups’ three year-old petition which calls for immediate withdrawal of FDA’s approval of arsenic-containing compounds as feed additives for food animals. Filed the same day Consumer Reports released an alarming study on antibiotic resistance in turkey, the lawsuit highlights yet another gaping hole in FDA oversight of animal feed additives.
Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. Yet new studies increasingly link these practices to serious human health problems.
. . .
“FDA leadership is asleep at the switch, if not turning a blind eye to public health,” said David Wallinga, MD, a physician with the IATP. “Seven years ago, IATP blew the whistle on FDA’s indifference to arsenic being needlessly fed to chickens and turkeys. More than a decade ago, we sounded the alarm on how FDA let the routine feeding of drugs to chickens and turkeys help ensure that Americans would eat meat often contaminated with bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics. We are filing suit because nothing much has changed.”
Some years ago I read a biography of Rasputin, who reportedly dosed himself with arsenic every day as a preventative against assassination. Rasputin was astute enough to realize that his proximity to the Czarina placed him in mortal danger from opportunists in the Czar’s court. In the fullness of time, they did indeed assassinate Rasputin, but he shrugged off the initial doses of poison like after dinner brandy. Disposing of Rasputin required the assassins to shoot him multiple times, wrap him in chains and throw his body into the river. I offer this anecdote in the hopes that regular dosings of arsenic will have a similar salutary effect for those of us who dine regularly at the Doomsday Diner. Bon appetit!
Elsewhere, in a thoughtful and detailed look at the excesses of the FSA Security State, Peter Van Buren writing for Tom dispatch describes appalling detail just how deep the Washington rabbit hole really goes with respect to whistleblowers. A truly Kafkaesque tale.
Robert MacLean is a former air marshal fired for an act of whistle-blowing. He has continued to fight over seven long years for what once would have passed as simple justice: getting his job back. His is an all-too-twenty-first-century story of the extraordinary lengths to which the U.S. government is willing to go to thwart whistle-blowers.
First, the government retroactively classified a previously unclassified text message to justify firing MacLean. Then it invoked arcane civil service procedures, including an “interlocutory appeal” to thwart him and, in the process, enjoyed the approval of various courts and bureaucratic boards apparently willing to stamp as “legal” anything the government could make up in its own interest.
And yet here’s the miracle at the heart of this tale: MacLean refused to quit, when ordinary mortals would have thrown in the towel. Now, with a recent semi-victory, he may not only have given himself a shot at getting his old job back, but also create a precedent for future federal whistle-blowers. In the post-9/11 world, people like Robert MacLean show us how deep the Washington rabbit hole really goes.
The Whistle Is Blown
MacLean joined the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) in 2001 after stints with the Air Force and the Border Patrol. In July 2003, all marshals received a briefing about a possible hijacking plot. Soon after, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which oversees FAMS, sent an unencrypted, open-air text message to the cell phones of the marshals cancelling several months of missions for cost-cutting reasons. MacLean became concerned that cancelling missions during a hijacking alert might create a dangerous situation for the flying public. He complained to his supervisor and to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, but each responded that nothing could be done.
It was then that he decided to blow the whistle, hoping that public pressure might force the TSA to reinstate the marshals’ flights. So MacLean talked to a reporter, who broadcast a story criticizing the TSA’s decision and, after 11 members of Congress joined in the criticism, it reversed itself. At this point, MacLean had not been identified as the source of the leak and so carried on with his job.
A year later, he appeared on TV in disguise, criticizing the TSA dress code and its special boarding policies, which he believed allowed marshals to be easily identified by other passengers. This time, the TSA recognized his voice and began an investigation that revealed he had also released the 2003 text message. He was fired in April 2006. Although the agency had not labeled that message as “sensitive security information” (SSI) when it was sent in 2003, in August 2006, months after MacLean’s firing, it issued a retroactive order stating that the text’s content was indeed SSI.
A Whistleblower’s Catch-22
That disclosing the contents of an unclassified message could get someone fired for disclosing classified information is the sort of topsy-turvy situation which could only exist in the post-9/11 world of the American national security state.
The full story will reward the reader. Suffice it to say that at the same time Guantanamo now holds “86 prisoners who have been carefully vetted by the U.S. military, the FBI, the CIA, and so on, and found to have done nothing for which they could be charged or should be imprisoned and who have been cleared for release– there is no place to release them to, especially since the majority of them are Yemenis and President Obama has imposed a moratorium on transferring any prisoner to Yemen.”
Thus indefinite detention, which is constitutionally prohibited, and which should properly be anathema to the American justice system, is the legal legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren. That relatively few Americans are aware of or care about this should be startling. “No charges, no trials, but never getting out of prison: that would once have been associated with the practices of a totalitarian state.”
“At the same time no one, not George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, or other top officials involved in setting up such a global system of injustice, sweeping up the innocent with the guilty, and subjecting them to horrors without end (including now force-feeding) will ever be brought to justice in an American court, nor will anyone involved in the system of rendition, torture, or abuse.” The Obama legacy will be that of having institutionalized the worst anti-constitutional excesses of the Bush years, and having sold them with a charming, intelligent brown face. Had John McCain as President tried to do the same thing, liberals and fellow travelers would have stopped this country in its tracks. In 2008 people went to the ballot box to elect Obama as a repudiation of the Cheney-Bush regime. Upon leaving offoce Obama will not only have institutionalized the incursions of the Bill of Rights to which we most objected, but also having insured that no accountability will ever be visited upon the neocons who let us into a pointless, illegal, and immoral war.
And then Carl Herman, or whoever posts things up over at the estimable Washington’s Blog, wraps it all up in a ball for us in a post sure to appeal to doomers of all stripes with Why America Fell So Far … So Fast.
All Empires Crash Soon After They Reach Their Peak
Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” And because I love my country, I frequently criticize America’s shortcomings in the hopes of making her better.
But the truth is that the United States is not unusual … it is just like all other empires which have hit their peak and then quickly crashed.
. . .
The indications are always the same:
- The financialization of the economy, moving from manufacturing to speculation;
- Very high levels of debt;
- Extreme economic inequality;
– And costly military overreaching.
. . .
PhD economist MarcFaber states:
How [am I] so sure about this final collapse?
Of all the questions I have about the future, this is the easiest one to answer. Once a society becomes successful it becomes arrogant, righteous, overconfident, corrupt, and decadent … overspends … costly wars … wealth inequity and social tensions increase; and society enters a secular decline.
[Quoting 18th century Scottish historian Alexander Fraser Tytler:] The average life span of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years progressing from “bondage to spiritual faith … to great courage … to liberty … to abundance … to selfishness … to complacency … to apathy … to dependence and … back into bondage”
[Where is America in the cycle?] It is most unlikely that Western societies, and especially the U.S., will be an exception to this typical “society cycle.” … The U.S. is somewhere between the phase where it moves “from complacency to apathy” and “from apathy to dependence.”
In other words, America’s rapid fall is not really that novel after all.
This article also cites Jared Diamond’s excellent book “Collapse”, whose conclusions I will not discuss here, is that will be the subject of another post that I had been planning for quite some time. The article over on Washington’s blog is quite good. Don’t miss it.
Closer to home, Tamerlan Tsarniev has reportedly been interred at a burial site in a Muslim cemetery outside of Richmond Virginia. You might well think the dead are dead, let them rest in peace, whatever their transgressions in this life.
The Virginia woman whose actions led to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev being buried about 30 miles north of her Richmond home said the angry backlash from local officials, some cemetery neighbors and online critics has been unpleasant, but she has no regrets.
“I can’t pretend it’s not difficult to be reviled and maligned,” Martha Mullen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. “But any time you can reach across the divide and work with people that are not like you, that’s what God calls us to do.”
Some of my neighbors think otherwise. A so-called “friend” opened up a thread on his Facebook page in criticism that allowed the butt-picking-finger-sniffing contingent to reveal its howling id. Stunning. As HL Mencken once observed, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” The reflexive hysteria even manifests itself on the local Craigslist site. I found myself yesterday shopping for an old beater truck, which I could use to haul mulch for Contrary. Under the “rants and raves” section I found these offerings from my esteemed fellow citizens:
- That piece of shit deserves to be dug up and tossed in a trash pile like every other man, woman, and child that worships islam
- Now that we know he’s buried so close to here (a 2 hour drive), I know what I will do. I’m gonna eat me a big slab of pork baby back ribs and a laxative. Then I’m gonna drive up there, drop my pants and shit my bowels on his grave.
- people they brought that pig shit that bombed Boston to Virginia and secretly buried him on OUR SOIL!!!!!!!!
I say we start a petition to have him and every other muslim UNBURIED and thrown in the trash dump of any state EXCEPT Virginia
Muslims are pissed cause he wasn’t buried in the place he died in? fuck islam, fuck muslims, I’m pissed cause that pig shit is buried here in Va.
- its our new slogan Welcome to Virginia where we will handle other states garbage
All above (sic).
In closing, I offer you this piece of wisdom: never think it can’t get worse. It can, and will. Your neighbors will insist.
Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman
Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on May 3, 2013
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
- a fake shoe bomber;
- fake underwear bomber;
- fake Times Square bomber;
- an earlier one there;
- fake shampoo bombers;
- fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake mass casualty attacks on New York landmarks;
- fake Oregon bomber;
- fake armed forces recruiting station bomber;
- fake synagogue bombers;
- fake Chicago Sears Tower bombers;
- fake FBI and other building bombers;
- fake National Guard, Fort Dix and Quantico marine base attackers;
- fake 9/11 bombers;
- fake Boston bombers; and
- numerous others.
From the Keyboard of Surly1
Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 5, 2013
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.
Given the various vectors of Doom for which we at the diner keep track, and the relative noise made in each one of those vectors, it occured to me to stand up a semi-regular summary called “This Week In Doom,” in which we survey the big breaking issues in the Wide World of Doom. Think of it as “The Wide World of Sports” for doom; certainly not all inclusive, and invested with a particularly Surly point of view.
First on the docket is Fukushima, the gift that keeps on giving. Even Charlie Pierce, Esquire’s redoubtable political blogger, felt obliged to weigh in on the subject.
Remember Fukushima? That was our Environmental Tipping Point two years ago, when a tsunami caused a catastrophic event at a Japanese nuclear power plant, a triple meltdown that resulted in, among other things, all kinds of noxious debris continuing to wash up in Alaska, in Hawaii and, just the other day, in California, Perhaps to celebrate the arrival of this dubious flotsam to the continental 48, we discover that the Fukushima disaster is not yet done poisoning things.
Groundwater is pouring into the plant’s ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute. It becomes highly contaminated there, before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system. A small army of workers has struggled to contain the continuous flow of radioactive wastewater, relying on hulking gray and silver storage tanks sprawling over 42 acres of parking lots and lawns. The tanks hold the equivalent of 112 Olympic-size pools. But even they are not enough to handle the tons of strontium-laced water at the plant – a reflection of the scale of the 2011 disaster and, in critics’ view, ad hoc decision making by the company that runs the plant and the regulators who oversee it. In a sign of the sheer size of the problem, the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, plans to chop down a small forest on its southern edge to make room for hundreds more tanks, a task that became more urgent when underground pits built to handle the overflow sprang leaks in recent weeks.
Surely in the wake of such an accident, people the world over would clamor for a time out and a fundamental rethink of nuclear 60 year old reactor designs at the very least, let alone the viability of nuclear as a fuel source, yes? That Big Think that we were supposed to have either hasn’t occurred, or has been sotto voce:
WASHINGTON — All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives.
The position of the former chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, is not unusual in that various anti-nuclear groups take the same stance. But it is highly unusual for a former head of the nuclear commission to so bluntly criticize an industry whose safety he was previously in charge of ensuring.
Asked why he did not make these points when he was chairman, Dr. Jaczko said in an interview after his remarks, “I didn’t really come to it until recently.”
Perhaps that was after the checks quit clearing. Charlie Pierce brings the point home:
How anyone, even the most profit-hungry plutocrat on the planet, can look at what is still happening at Fukushima two years later and determine that financial concerns remain in any way relevant to the discussion of what has to be done about a steadily spiraling catastrophe — I mean, chopping down a forest to build more storage tanks is Plan A? Really? Where do they build the next hundred tanks? Downtown Osaka?
Deeply reassuring to know we have our best investigative minds on the subject.
Speaking of our best minds, and closer to home, those in charge of ferreting out answer to the Boston Bombing have extended their investigation to corral three more seriously judgment-impaired college students. Pierce again:
Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are under arrest, suspected of removing items from his dorm room after the April 15 attack, sources said Wednesday. Two of the pals were detained April 20 on immigration charges and a third has now been taken into custody, sources said. They are expected to face obstruction of justice charges, the sources said.
Even by the standards of college buddies, this is remarkably stupid behavior, and my opinion of it will remain that until I see some evidence as to why we should now not expand our list of shorthand references to the people involved in this awful crime from Murderous Dipshits 1 and 2, to Murderous Dipshits 1 and 2 Plus Accessorial Dipshit 3 through 5.
NPR did a pretty spirited report read by Corey Flintoff that purports to investigate the Boston Bombing… in Southern Russia.
The search for the motivations of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers stretches from New England to Central Asia, but a lot of attention has been focused on Dagestan.
The mostly Muslim republic is located in the southernmost part of Russia, and it’s been the battleground in a low-level insurgency that takes lives nearly every day.
One of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, traveled to Dagestan twice in recent years, and investigators want to know whether that experience led him toward a radical and violent form of Islam.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s parents and other relatives lived in the republic’s capital, Makhachkala, a city of nearly 600,000 that sprawls along the Caspian Sea. The city backs up against the North Caucasus, the blue-green mountains that have made places like Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya havens for bandits and rebels for centuries…
Which you are free to read at your leisure. My response when listening was that, like CNN, Howard Kurtz, et al, NPR will dutifully keep “catapulting the propaganda” that there is an Islamic connection, the better to help fuel the next neocon cry for the next useless neocon war, as always fought with the blood of the children of the working class. They are working overtime to affix an Islamist motivation to this crime; wherein you probably have Dylan Klebold in a ballcap and without the long coat.
Also rapidly disappearing down the Tsarniev memory hole is the allegation that Tamerlan became sour on the US after the Golden Gloves Changed elegibility rules on him.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, right, lost at the Golden Gloves championships in 2009. A year later, a new citizenship rule blocked him from competing again for a title.
The cocksure fighter, a flamboyant dresser partial to white fur and snakeskin, had been looking forward to redeeming the loss he suffered the previous year in the first round, when the judges awarded his opponent the decision, drawing boos from spectators who considered Mr. Tsarnaev dominant.
From one year to the next, though, the tournament rules had changed, disqualifying legal permanent residents — not only Mr. Tsarnaev, who was Soviet-born of Chechen and Dagestani heritage, but several other New England contenders, too. His aspirations frustrated, he dropped out of boxing competition entirely, and his life veered in a completely different direction.
Mr. Tsarnaev portrayed his quitting as a reflection of the sport’s incompatibility with his growing devotion to Islam. But as dozens of interviews with friends, acquaintances and relatives from Cambridge, Mass., to Dagestan showed, that devotion, and the suspected radicalization that accompanied it, was a path he followed most avidly only after his more secular dreams were dashed in 2010 and he was left adrift.
As it happened, Golden Gloves of America was just then changing its policy. It used to permit legal immigrants to compete in its national tournament three out of every four years, barring them only during Olympic qualifying years, James Beasley, the executive director, said. But it decided in 2010 that the policy was confusing and moved to end all participation by noncitizens in the Tournament of Champions.
So Mr. Tsarnaev, New England heavyweight champion for the second year in a row, was stymied. The immigrant champions in three other weight classes in New England were blocked from advancing, too, Mr. Russo said.
Mr. Tsarnaev was devastated. He was not getting any younger. And he was more than a year away from being even eligible to apply for American citizenship.
Neighbors and some close to the brothers doubt that they were “radicalized” in Dagestan. It could be that Tamerlan, at least, was radicalized by that most American of institutions: a change in the rules of the game.
And closer to home—much closer, for me, we have some archaeological “proof” that Jamestown settlers turned to cannibalism during the difficult “Starving Time” endured by the first wave of Jamestown colonists.
Newly discovered human bones prove the first permanent English settlers in North America turned to cannibalism over the cruel winter of 1609-10, US researchers have said.
Scientists found unusual cuts consistent with butchering for meat on human bones dumped in a rubbish pit.
The four-century-old skull and tibia of a teenage girl in James Fort, Virginia, were excavated from the dump last year.
James Fort, founded in 1607, was the earliest part of the Jamestown colony.
The Starving Time was one of the most horrific periods of early colonial history. The James Fort settlers were under siege from the indigenous Indian population and had insufficient food to last the winter.
First they ate their horses, then dogs, cats, rats, mice and snakes. Some, to satisfy their cruel hunger, ate the leather of their shoes.
Which goes to show nothing so much as what human beings will resort to do when sheer survival is at stake. It is reasonable to assume that the cultural prohibition against consuming human flesh was as strong among 17th century British colonist as it is among us today. Another cautionary tale for those of us who have watched and read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and/or seen the film, when considering the near-term implications of what Full Doom might look like for those of us not ensconced in some Federally constructed and provisioned underground bunker.
In an article posted by JoeP in the forum and reposted on my news channel, biologist Paul Ehrlich
Believe(s) that we are on a straightforward course to a collapse of our civilization.” He cited signs, such as diminishing returns from natural resources, that he said were recognizable from studying the collapse of other civilizations throughout history.
Reasons for that are baked into our DNA, says Ehrlich:
“We’re a small-group animal, both genetically and culturally. We have evolved to relate to groups of somewhere between 50 and 150 people,” he said. “And now suddenly we’re trying to live in a group not of 150 or 100 people, but of seven billion people, somewhat over seven billion people at the moment, and that is presenting us with a whole array of problems.”
Those problems include an inability to recognize gradual, large-scale changes in our environment as dangerous.
“Another thing that’s related to that, that’s presenting us with a whole array of problems, is that most of our evolution going on now is cultural evolution,” Ehrlich went on. “And the problem is cultural evolution has not gone on at the same rate in every area of human endeavor. Where has it gone on most rapidly? It’s gone on most rapidly in the area of technology.”
He cited signs, such as diminishing returns from natural resources, that he said were recognizable from studying the collapse of other civilizations throughout history.
It will come as no surprise to readers of the Diner Blog and forum that technology has outstripped our capacity for judgment and our moral dimension. As discussed elsewhere in the Forum, the nominal group size of a viable community is about 150. Something to consider as we track the various vectors of doom.
Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman
Published on the Steven Lendman Blog on May 1, 2013
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Big Brother no longer is fiction. It hasn’t been for some time. It’s official US policy. According to ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program director Barry Steinhardt:
“Given the capabilities of today’s technology, the only thing protecting us from a full-fledged surveillance society are the legal and political institutions we have inherited as Americans.”
“Unfortunately, the September 11 attacks have led some to embrace the fallacy that weakening the Constitution will strengthen America.”
Manufactured national security threats matter more than fundamental freedoms. Domestic spying is institutionalized.
Anyone can be monitored for any reason or none at all. Privacy rights are lost. Patriot Act legislation authorized unchecked government surveillance powers.
Financial, medical and other personal information can be accessed freely. So-called “sneak and peak” searches may be conducted through “delayed notice” warrants, roving wiretaps, email tracking, and Internet and cell phone use.
The FBI, CIA, NSA, and Pentagon spy domestically. So do state and local agencies. Spies “R” us defines US policy. America is a total surveillance society. It’s unsafe to live in. Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise.
The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying. It passed with little debate. On Sunday, December 30, 2012 Obama signed it into law. Doing so largely went unnoticed.
These type disturbing measures usually slip below the radar. Weekends and holiday period enactments conceal blows to freedom. Warrantless spying became law for another five years.
Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization. Probable cause isn’t needed. So-called “foreign intelligence information” is sought. Virtually anything qualifies. Vague language is all-embracing.
Months after 9/11, Bush secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans lawlessly. Sweeping surveillance followed without court-approved warrants.
Doing so violates core constitutional protections. Major US telecommunications companies are involved. They have been since 9/11. Things now are worse than then.
It headlined “Panel seeks to fine tech companies for noncompliance with wiretap orders,” saying:
“A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Facebook and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur, according to current and former US officials familiar with the effort.”
At issue is alleged FBI concerns about “Internet communications of terrorists and other criminals.”
FBI spying is longstanding. So are other lawless practices. Throughout its history, the agency operated within and outside the law.
J. Edgar Hoover ran it from 1924 – 1972. He waged war on communists, anti-war, human and civil rights activists, the American Indian Movement, Black Panther Party, and other groups challenging rogue state policies.
He ordered agents to infiltrate, disrupt, sabotage, and destroy them. Anyone advocating ethnic justice and racial emancipation, as well as economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines became vulnerable.
Post-9/11, FBI abuses escalated. Intrusive surveillance tools now target ordinary Americans. Unchecked authority and other abusive practices are widespread. America’s war on terror matters most.
Disturbing tactics include greater physical surveillance, commercial database data retrieval, paid informants infiltrating groups (or targeting individuals) on false pretenses, and letting covert unidentified agents conduct “pretext” interviews for information.
Muslims are America’s target of choice. So are anti-war and social justice activists. A gloves off, no-holds barred approach is followed. Virtually anything is fair game. Innocent people are vulnerable.
The Patriot Act authorized so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). FBI agents take full advantage. They do so by demanding personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.
The FBI wants more. According to the Washington Post, it wants companies failing to heed wiretap orders penalized.
In February 2011, then FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni told House Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee members about a “Going Dark” problem.
She explained the agency’s inability to access comprehensive “communications and related data.” She claimed a “public safety” threat when critical information is missed.
In March 2013, current FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann addressed an American Bar Association discussion. He did so on legal challenges new technologies pose, saying:
“We don’t have the ability to go to court and say, ‘We need a court order to effectuate the intercept.’ Other countries have that. Most people assume that’s what you’re getting when you go to a court.”
Under current law, Internet communications companies can refuse to comply with court-ordered wiretaps. They can claim no practical way to do so.
Proposed legislation would change things. It would force companies to rebuild their capability to allow government monitoring.
Weissmann calls doing so a “top priority.” Proposed legislation is being drafted. It’s an extension of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).
It grants federal authorities sweeping surveillance powers. Doing so lets them spy on Americans more intrusively.
CALEA originally applied only to digital telephone networks. It forced telephone companies to redesign their network architectures to make wiretapping easier.
In 2005, online communications were added. Broadband providers had to rebuild their networks accordingly.
At issue was permitting access to Internet “phone calls” through VOIP applications, as well as online “conversations” by instant messaging programs.
Law enforcement wiretapping is longstanding. Existing laws permit tapping phone or online communications regardless of what programs or protocols are used.
Industry largely cooperates. Digital age surveillance is easier than authorities claim. They want greater ease than currently permitted. Expanding CALEA is overkill. Doing so enhances police state powers.
The FBI cites its “tappability principle.” It does so to justify its demands. It claims whatever is legally searchable sometimes should be physically searchable all times.
Applied to phone and Internet communications, it would require designing phones and computers with built-in bugs. Doing so would elevate surveillance powers. Everyone could be spied on at all times. Private communications no longer would exist.
Expanding CALEA is the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps software companies are next. Enhanced legislative authority may force them to create surveillance-ready programs. Doing so may compromise innovation.
Applying phone system rules to software development and online communications assures trouble. What’s longstanding policy for one compromises innovation for the others. It also more greatly undermines freedom.
Police state powers are enhanced. Companies are forced to comply. Under draft legislation, courts could levy fines. Judicial inquiries could impose additional ones. After 90 days, unpaid amounts would double daily.
According to Center for Democracy and Technology senior counsel Greg Nojeim:
“This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs. They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act.”
Former federal prosecutor Michael Sussman added:
“Today, if you’re a tech company that’s created a new and popular way to communicate, it’s only a matter of time before the FBI shows up with a court order to read or hear some conversation.”
“If the data can help solve crimes, the government will be interested.”
In 2010, after its networks were hacked, Google began emails and text messages end-to-end encryption. Facebook followed suit.
Doing so compromises FBI monitoring. Agency officials want enhanced CALEA authorization permitting it.
They claim doing so only extends current law to new technologies. It requires phone and online companies to allow wiretapping.
It’s much more than that. It elevates mass surveillance to a dangerously higher level. It’s another step toward full-blown tyranny.
On April 29, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) headlined “Feds Push for Backdoor Wiretap Capabilities.”
According to CDT Senior Staff Technologist Joe Hall:
“A wiretapping mandate is a vulnerability mandate. The unintended consequences of this proposal are profound.”
“At the very time when the nation is concerned about cybersecurity, the FBI proposal has the potential to make our communications less secure.”
“Once you build a wiretap capability into products and services, the bad guys will find a way to use it.”
CDT President Leslie Harris added:
“What the FBI is proposing sounds benign, but it comes with such onerous penalties that it would force developers to seek pre-approval from the FBI.”
“No one is going to want to face fines that double every day, so they will go to the FBI and work it out in advance, diverting resources, slowing innovation, and resulting in less secure products.”
“The sad irony,” said Hall, “is that this is likely to be ineffective. Building a communications tool today is a homework project for undergraduates.”
“So much is based on open source and can be readily customized. Criminals and other bad actors will simply use homemade communication services based offshore, making them even harder to monitor.”
Media scholar/critic/activist Robert McChesney told Progressive Radio News Hour listeners how Internet freedom has been compromised.
His important new book “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy” explains what should concern everyone.
“The corporate media sector (did) everything in its immense power to limit (its) openness and egalitarianism…., he said.”
“….corporate and state surreptitious monitoring of Internet users” compromises fundamental freedoms.
Doing so is “inimical to much of the democratic potential of digital communication.”
Internet freedom depends on “arrest(ing) the forces that promote inequality, monopoly, hypercommercialism, corruption, depoliticization, and stagnation.”
It requires ending mass surveillance powers. It’s about restoring lost democratic principles. America’s heading the wrong way. It’s perilously close to ending freedom altogether.
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog beginning April 2013
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Note from RE: The first 2 installments of this new Series by John in this article. We’ll feature the rest in Chunks as John whacks them out off his Keyboard.
In the Red
This picture was taken, unstaged, at 3.43 pm on Friday 19th April 2013 in Athens, a eurozone capital.
It shows a young Greek male, his arm outstretched to beg…but with a face hidden by the shame of being reduced to such a state. As I passed this hapless figure today – and I have encountered a great many similar sights since arriving here – what struck me was the tragic rigidity of rigor mortis in this quasi-crucifixion: a boy barely mature condemned to living like the Undead. He is a victim of eurocrat hubris and the selfish lies of feral neocon gargoyles – walking obscenities who recognise nothing beyond the business bottom line and the Sovereign banking balance sheet.
At one level, this is just a young kid who deserved better. At another, he represents both a horribly wasted resource for social capitalism….and more fuel for the furnace of extreme and destructive politics.
Throughout this weekend, The Slog will be entirely devoted to showing and explaining a side of Clubmed the Western European business and mainstream press titles seem largely unwilling to examine: the disgraceful tableau of business decimation and social destruction being wreaked by scorched-earth austerity.
CRISIS ATHENS begins tomorrow and will run through to Sunday evening
These pictures are of a main Athenian thoroughfare, Stadiou. Think ‘Tottenham Court Road’, and then imagine every kiosk, stall, shop and indoor precinct closed down, every small shop empty and impossible to rent, and the once-bustling pavements half empty.
The Greek media that care run endless stories about starving children, lack of medication, old people dying because they cannot afford heating, and huge cuts in welfare relief.
These are all worthy topics for anyone still unclear about the catastrophic social effects of repayment-focused austerity in ClubMed. But if nobody buys in shops, eats in restaurants, sits in cafes or furnishes homes, businesses die in very short order.
In three short years, the banks of the world, the bureaucrats of the EU, and the Central Bank of Mario Draghi have wiped out Stadiou. Like the American South after the Civil War, it is a culture gone with the wind. All that remain are kids shooting up in the darkness of formerly thriving alleyways, and bill posters advertising things nobody has the money to buy.
Behind much of Athens’ attraction as a tourist centre lies another layer of self-sustaining business: the wholesale trade. This above any other is small family business, where honesty, trust and quality are the basis of commerce. It too has been decimated, as both domestic and tourist consumption of goods plummeted after 2010.
Everywhere are grills, graffiti, parked scooters, litter, and locks. Nowhere is any business being done. An entire sector of the City’s economy has been surgically removed. But nobody bothered to stitch up the open wound afterwards.
What you can see in Athens is the death of independent small business competition, the desecration of families that depended on it, and the reassuring certainty for the fat cats that in future, where once there was community liberty and self-reliance, there will before too long be imported global goods produced by multinational companies, cheap property ready to be torn down by developers, and the State enjoying control over a demoralised population totally dependent on it.
Some of the commercially naive bureaucrats and anthropologically ignorant political ‘leaders’ behind this policy represent yet more examples of what is wrong with European establishments throughout the continent. But for others – the Stateists, the neocon social engineers, the bourses, and the banks – all of this lost human energy is seen as the logical (and desirable) consequence of driving the Great Global God of Growth.
In the vicious circle that is hard-sold debt >> government overspending and embezzlement >> high-tax austerity >> economic collapse >> social misery >> drastic political change, the Far Right is getting 1 vote in 8, and the Radical Left looks like having the largest number of Deputies after the next election. Both have reached these positions from having been tiny (<4%) Parties three years ago.
But now at last, the focus is beginning to move away from corrupt old Parties and polemic ideologues towards a sort of patriotic pragmatism that no longer wants the euro. I spoke to several business people during my stay in Athens; most of them were not politically radical, but they recognised the need for a radical change to the economic model.
“The austerity programme is counter-productive because it destroys economic consumption in order to pay off State debt,” said a middle manager in a larger foreign-owned Greek furniture business, “this is like asking Berlin to pay off French municipal debt. It is resented, but more importantly it is sacrificing recovery to the lenders’ needs. The lenders may get their pound of flesh, but afterwards the patient is paraplegic.”
“The euro is the problem, no doubt,” said the co-owner of a medium-sized hitech business, “but if Greece were to go it alone and quit the euro, our business would be destroyed by a loss of credit confidence internationally. People like us want the euro to fail completely, so everyone will have to start again”.
His partner agreed. “The biggest problem we have right now is liquidity with which to expand, and credit so we can close deals with customers. Every week we work more and more to make less and less”.
“These fantasies of the Troika,” one CEO of a rapidly-growing political lobbying consultancy began, “they are all bullsh*t. The New Democracy and Pasok go along with it because they are weak and corrupt. But now things are far too serious for this to continue. The threats to Greek business and national sovereignty will get worse as the lenders’ demands get more and more crazy. We have to elect commercial people now who will gain public respect, and say “No” to the EU.”
Resentment towards the State sector and powerful bureaucrats is every bit as visceral as the disdain felt about the Troika.
Said one small entrepreneur, “These Troika people, so well dressed, such nice attache cases. They stay in the Hilton at Greece’s expense. None of them has any idea about business – only debt and repayment schedules. Now they insist that 150,000 civil servants be fired. Hah! That’ll be the day. Now they try to retire them off with fat pensions, but still they demand that the empty desks are filled with young recruits. They will cling onto our skin until we are all dead.”
There is a lot for the body politic to change here. The attitude to the euro, the weak resistance of Troika demands, fear of the bureaucrats, and the development of under-appreciated export businesses such as olive oil and wine. Nobody I met thinks the current crop of MPs is ever going to be capable of it. But there are endless scenarios in play as to how drastic change might come.
Of which, more later today.
Acropolis Now: Athens may be in slavery, but it is not in chaos
One thing I just love about the Brussels-am-Berlin approach to repression is the way that, the instant an ice-pick has been thrust into the heart of a ClubMed economy, in bounds Olli Rehn to tell the cadaver how keen the EU is to help with the funeral expenses.
Pretty much since the start of the Greek debt crisis, the Troika’s agents of mass distraction have been putting out a commentary about Greece which runs as follows:
“The Greeks are dishonest donkeys who sit around in string vests drinking Ouzo all day and dreaming up new ways to cheat the taxman. Now that they have descended into self-inflicted debt, their social systems are chaotic, their false accusations against Germany are nothing more than self-pity, and the Greek economy is revealed to be dysfunctional.”
This approach has been honed over time, a truth clearly visible in the bullying EC’s approach to Cyprus. Allegedly, the Cypriot banking system was based on an unsustainable model of offering high interest-rates to Russian crooks, and thus had to be ‘rescued’ by Brussels.
The truthful alternative to that Spin From Berlin is, ‘Cyprus banks 0bserved EU rules at a far higher rate than Germany, and at a level of total gdp half that of Luxembourg. Far from being unsustainable, the model was going from strength to strength until the Eunatics begged Cyprus to back the Greek bailout. From that moment on, Cyprus was doomed. Not only has it not been rescued by B-am-B, Nicosia’s reward for backing the Troika over Greece has been to have its depositors and taxpayers forced to pay for their own bailout’.
But setting this aside, allow me to explain (with pictures too) that despite all this, Athens is not remotely chaotic…and its sights are more wonderful than ever.
I call these next few pictures ‘Work in Progress’. if only because Athens sites don’t look after themselves…but while preservation and further archaeology continue, good local planning rules ensure that good sight of the tourist sights continues.
Hadrian’s Arch for instance (left) has a timeless sweep to dwarf the contemporary crane. But equally (below) the humble scaffold is vital for the restoration of noble arches. The ‘architectural’ paving and street lights that surround the overall structure, however, complement the original perfectly.
There truly is something of a grey/beige softness to the natural stone here that is quintessentially Greek. The classic postcard from Greece shows a stark white of a church dome, but the Acropolis in Athens has every couleur doux on offer, from sand to lime
There is virtually nowhere in Athens where you can’t see the Acropolis. Even from the far side of a three-lane highway (below) well to the north east, it still stands out as a monument to ancient Greek civilisation.
The Olympic ideal was revived by the Greeks in 1898, after which the modern Olympiad began. The symmetry of the stadium built at that time is a joy to behold from every angle.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus provides perhaps the best site from which to get a sense of Athens in its setting. There can be few cities on the planet with a more breathtaking location, taking in mountains and sea beneath: any shot taken on the open ground of this site gives away that location superbly.
But away from the monuments, Athens is a place of secret surprises wherever you wander. Parkland, forests, small oases of restoration
The smells, meanwhile, are dizzying at this time of year: the heady scent of orange blossom, and – in many of the coniferous woods – that flinty smell of pine-sap that makes you long for a glass of Retsina. (And the next morning, makes you wish you hadn’t)
That’s not to say Athens lacks its fair share of ghastly mistakes in sculpture and architecture. There is, for instance, the running green man sculptural monstrousity to commemorate the last Olympics on the Vassileos Konstantinou: it looks like a veg-humaan grafting failure from the botanical garden of Dr Moreau. And there is in turn a hotel where black-smoked windows must’ve seemed to someone like the perfect backdrop to five gigantic kitsch terra-cotta window-boxes. I didn’t photograph either eyesore, for fear of putting you off.
In truth, with the right – that is to say, fair – publicity, it would be hard to put anyone of discernment who likes cafe society, good food and warm people off Athens. But somehow, those beautiful people who brought you the euro, apple mountains, wine lakes, bailouts, bailins, Wolfgang Schäuble and the Troika seem dead set on doing so. All the more reason, then, to come here anyway.
Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall
Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on April 13, 2013
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Thatcher: The Oily Lady
There has been an awful lot of debate raging since former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher died last week. And like many debates that raise the emotional tempo this one is crystalizing nicely into two competing camps, namely the camp that says she ‘saved’ the UK from decline and the camp that says she left it a scorched moral wasteland where only the greedy and the bigoted flourish.
Off the keyboard of John Ward
Published on The Slog on March 23, 2013
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Robbing banks, reducing wages, increasing hours worked: the lessons to take from the Cyprus bailin.
What is the American State Department up to? What will Turkey do? Why didn’t things develop in Moscow? Where is Mario Draghi? WTF is this really all about?
How do you tell if a eurocrat is short-sighted? You ask him to spot the difference between a Russian billionaire’s pocket money and a Cypriot’s life savings.
That gag doing the rounds in southern Europe sums up the perfectly natural focus of most people in ClubMed: this is just more of the same old same old Brussels-am-Berlin bullying cock-up, followed by mealy mouthed denials and a screwed up financial system. As indeed it is. Put with less humour but equal bluntness is this verdict from the OECD Director General’s adviser Adrian Blundell-Wignall:
‘The Cyprus crisis is the result of policy mistakes and a failure of collective responsibility, as well as an illustration of what bad policy can do and could do if it’s not corrected.’ Quite. But not everyone is as stupid as they pretend to be.
Type ‘Cyprus’ and ‘Putin’ into The Slog’s search engine, and you can see that this small island is, and always has been, of pivotal strategic importance in relations between Europeans and Arabs. The energy and rare-earth mineral finds of recent years have merely accentuated what was already a place of obvious military importance: access to the Med for Moscow, and a jumping-off point for the US and its obsessive concern with securing energy supplies and the ever-more tenuous Al Qaida.
What very few people do for starters is just look where the hell Cyprus is. As you can see from this map, it is a long way east of Rhodes. That country it appears to be pointing a finger at is Syria. Just after that comes Iraq and Iran. A spit and a throw to the north is Erdogan-run Turkey. Every one of these countries is in one form or another the victim (willing or otherwise) of Islamist advance.
Since 9/11, the so-called War on Terrorism plus Peak Oil theories have had the Americans in a fit of manic focus on this entire area.
Erdogan has always wanted Cyprus ‘back’ (although it was never his in real terms) but more especially he wants the energy fields reconfigured to favour Turkey. Being a NATO ally, he is more than capable of making this mess even more complicated – and the Turks confirmed two days ago that they’d challenge any move by Cyprus to speed up offshore natural gas exploration. Yet there seems to be no pressure from NATO to shut Erdogan up. Why?
For Moscow, the stakes are very high both strategically and in relation to the energy reserves.
In a number of key areas of the region, one of the biggest prospectors in Noble Energy. Former employee Jim Cramer explains:
“…about the nexus between the Cyprus bank bailout deal and the natural gas and oil development in the western Mediterranean…I believe there are some places where these two seemingly unconnected events meet. Since 2010, Noble Energy has been on the front line in exploring the massive Levant basin, including large potential deepwater fields located in both Israeli and Cypriot waters. At every turn, enthusiasm has grown, and it is now thought that the many fields inside the Levant basin could change the natural gas supply dynamic in the entire Western Mediterranean, including both Greece and Italy. Eastern Europe has been forced to depend exclusively on very undependable Russian gas supplies, periodically cut by the Russians dependent upon prices and their own national demand, as well as their national interest. But the now-nearly ready supply from the Leviathan and Tamar fields might begin to break that Russian hegemony. The Tamar field will begin production in April, promising more than a 1 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas, a small but important start….”
So here is a way for Moscow to escape into the Med, have a finger in both energy pies, and avoid being stitched out of its all-important energy-supply business. But also here is an American company leading the charge. What we haven’t seen is any evidence of the US State Department getting heavy with Brussels, Berlin, or Moscow in public.
Even more mystifying (although there were cold Muscovite feet from the start of the the Russo-Cypriot bailout talks) the sessions came to nothing: Russia walked away. Why?
The EC itself is now admitting (a rarity in itself) that this the Cyprus bailout offer was a cock-up. But the ECB has delivered an ultimatum (anyone remember there being a vote on that?) to Nicosia saying ‘Monday is it guys: if you’re in fine, if you’re not, you’re broke’. Yet of the most powerful financial officer in Europe, Mario Draghi, there is no sign: nothing, in fact, since March 7th. Why?
Former Foreign Minister and losing Presidential candidate of Cyprus George Lillikas said Wednesday last that he was certain a Cypriot eurozone exit would lead to the collapse of the single currency. “I am sure that if one country, no matter how small, leaves the eurozone, the euro will collapse,” he said, “but the troika’s suggestions of imposing a tax on deposits in Cypriot banks would destroy the island’s banking system”. As indeed it would. Yet Berlin turned up the heat on Cyprus yesterday, increasing the amount Nicosia must raise to secure a bailout…despite the mortal injury that Cyrpriot exit could inflict on the eurozone via a mélange of rebellion and financial contagion. Why?
This leaves us with a number of questions to answer. And you must, I’m afraid accept most of what follows for what it is: informed speculation. I’ve been given some steers and hints along the way, but nothing concrete.
I think there’s every reason to suspect that the US is giving Turkey a long leash, because it needs Turkey as a base (and a suitable place to invent fictitious crap about Syria) through which it can neutralise first Assad and then Iran. The American strategy is clear: support the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood against the Shi’ite Iranians and Alhawite Syrian élite, and thus secure energy access throughout the Middle East. As so often with the US, the policy is naive, its consequences haven’t been considered enough, and it has no basis in terms of how the Sunnis will run things as and when Assad finally loses. But America is ultimately selfish in foreign policy, and paranoid about energy and raw materials.
That reality may also partly explain why the US State department has been surprisingly private about this whole affair. There are some who will tell you that the long term Pentagon aim for Cyprus is a shared hegemony over the place with Turkey. So a weak Cyprus in hock to the EU might suit both very well. It would also, of course, remove the legal obstacle Brussels would face in having two members, both claiming the island as theirs. But whatever the EU says in public, several key members remain implacably opposed to Turkish entry.
The bigger mystery at first sight is why Putin looked this gift-horse in the mouth. I think there is probably far more to this than Moscow simply being unwilling to clear up the mess created by Brussels-am-Berlin. At a total bailout cost of €18 billion – small change for Russia these days – the Kremlin could’ve broken out from its perceived encirclement and neutralised any EU/US attempt to stitch it out of new energy reserves. In purely geopolitical terms, this looks like an act of completely myopic idiocy.
But there are other important factors. The Mafia/oligarch axis in Russia is virtually indistinguishable from the energy sector. They might get control of the sub-ocean finds – but they might not. If they didn’t – with Nicosia and Putin heavily involved – then their control over the Russian economy would be reduced. It’s likely that the top blokes applied pressure to the talks on that basis.
The Kremlin was also worried about the British naval presence on Cyprus. They seem to have seen the deal as rather like buying a low-priced house with sitting tenants already in place: it isn’t really your house until they leave. In a military dimension, that sort of thing is very important.
Finally, it is clear that Moscow doesn’t trust Anastasiadi, seeing him virtually as an enemy. Allegedly, at the outset of the discussions very little seemed to be on offer from the Cypriots, and this convinced more than one on the Russian side that Nicosia wasn’t serious: that it was using Moscow’s interest as a bargaining tool against the EC. Others in turn pointed out that the bailout amount seemed hazy (as I showed yesterday, it was worked out on the most facile of bases) and likely to pave the way for more debt until Cyprus became a money pit. On the other hand, a Cypriot source thinks the Russians were never serious either, and wished only to wind up the West.
I still find much of this hard to rationalise. It is just possible that Russia no longer sees military attack as the best way to influence events, so the Med has a lower strategic importance for them: that energy and cyberspace are better weapons. That’s what one source in Washington thinks. I’m not convinced.
The mystery of Mario Draghi the Invisible Man is more disturbing in some ways. I posted about Schäuble briefing bigtime against him the week before last, and I now think it boils down to two serious possibilities. The first is that Berlin has somehow neutralised the ECB boss, and told him to stay out of public and leave it to them. If so, he has managed very well to be AWOL during a classic Brussels-am-Berlin cock-up. But even as the ECB demanded a Nicosia decision by Monday and then demanded more money after the Moscow talks broke down, SuperMario was nowhere to be seen. That is odd.
The second possibility – and one I increasingly favour – is that from the outset Mario Draghi saw Cyprus as a distraction, no more: he knows that via his control over the banking purse-strings, he can bring the island to its knees any time he likes. Either he knew (or guessed) that the Berlin mentality would jackboot into the situation and use it as a test-case for (a) future events where threats are felt to be necessary and (b) setting the precedent for State theft of depositor funds under the guise of bollocks like Open Bank Recontruction (OBR) or fantasy ‘levies’. Of course, he would prefer to be away from that grubby operation, but I return to the key word here – distraction: Germany’s aim is control; Draghi’s aim is the survival of the euro, whatever it might cost. The two need not be the same, and in the long term probably won’t be.
I have heard but one rumour about what is distracting Draghi, but that’s all it is. I can however say with near-certainty he has been genuinely busy in recent weeks on the subject of eurozone exports.
In almost his last public appearance just over a month ago, ECB President Mario Draghi tried to take the heat out of the currency wars debate by dismissing it as a fantasy. That always makes my nose twitch: when any top Wally says never, unique, impossible, poppycock or fantasy, you know you’re onto something. And while Mario worked hard to rubbish the idea, he did quite openly say that the ECB would “still have to assess the economic impact of the euro’s strength”.
His chief concern at the moment is high costs making eurozone exports uncompetitive. This problem doesn’t seem to afflict Germany, but it is at base the fundamental problem with the euro: you can’t devalue it here and revalue it there. It’s all or nobody, as it were. Devalue the whole eurozone currency, and it may help ClubMed for a while: but in the medium term, it will make things even easier for Germany to get richer and richer. Draghi does not, in private, want that at any cost. What he wants is an efficient EU ensuring a stable, respected currency.
While there’s no doubt that on balance the ECB would like a cheaper euro (another reason to have left Germany alone to f**k up the Cyprus bailout?) Mario’s ideas are far more focused on cost reduction in the real world of manufacturing: and the biggest single way to do that is to drive down wages.
Two weeks ago, the ECB boss made a late-night presentation to senior eurocrats and europols about the twin issues of productivity and wages. Six years ago Germany went through the studied process of maintaining a voluntary pay freeze. Draghi thinks the rest of Europe must follow suit, but ClubMed workers tend to be less obedient than Shop Floor Fritz. He has not, in fact, been neutralised by Berlin: he is supporting Berlin’s plan to provide cheap labour working longer hours, but via another, less public, method: helping to make people desperate.
The toughest immediate challenges ahead now are Italy and Spain. Both countries have powerful leftwing Parties unwilling to put up with much more austerity. Draghi’s opinion is strongly towards easing off on the cuts, finding the money for stimulus, and lowering the expectations of those re-entering the job market. It’s a tough circle to square, but he’s on the case.
Equally, Spain, Italy and France could soon find themselves at the epicentre of a european bond market panic…especially if Greek default becomes more likely (it must) and Italian rebellion gains speed (it will). As I reported some time ago, Mario Draghi is keen on the idea of using gold as a bond-backing instrument to overcome this. That’s no easy task either.
The point is this: Draghi may have had his own career reasons for being off the set during the last fortnight. But thinking about it in the round, he is clearly very busy. It may add up to no more than that. Personally, what he plans to do adds up to yet another form of citizen pauperisation alongside the bank robbery approach. I think it is bound to make things worse, but there you are: what do I know?
And so the final question sets itself really: peering out from the helicopter, WTF is going on here? I think there is one further possibility. You may have noticed that President Obama conveniently turned up in Israel this week, talking airily about peace – in that rhetoric-dominated manner he adopts when there’s no beef in the sandwich. In fact, he got Netanyahu to utter some encouragingly nice bromides about America as an ally and the bonds of friendship being unbreakable and so forth. I don’t think Barack Obama was in the region to talk about peace. He was doing the “I’m here to remind you all that I’m keeping a beady eye on this sh*t”.
There is a theory that runs like this. The commitment to Berlin remains strong in Washington, as the only place likely to sort out the eurozone disaster. Merkel’s husband is extremely well-connected in the American security sector. State under Hillary Clinton made it very obvious she was “betting the farm” on Germany, as indeed did Timothy Geithner. Both sides now have a vested interest in a supine ClubMed in general (less threat to Wall Street) and Greco-Cypriot weakness in particular (the EC remains dominant, Berlin gets tough on the euro, the Americans retain their access to mining, energy and military bases, the Russian monopoly on gas supply is broken). That also, of course, suits Turkey.
This may very well be how the interested parties see it. Erdogan mouths off and gets to look macho, Schäuble plays hardball and gets another one over Draghi, and the US President turns up to remind everyone who’s really in control here. I cannot believe that these NATO allies didn’t at least discuss some of the possible outcomes beforehand. Thus I would also assume that all this – and the dangers of messing with it – will also have been politely explained to Moscow. There may even have been a carrot on hand if necessary.
The total picture on Cyprus is on three main levels: Brussels-am-Berlin mendacious control to blame austerity’s failure on nasty billionaires, lazy Greeks, and dumb Cypriot potato-heads; Washington-am-Berlin geopolitical power games; and a deregulating financial élite working along side Major League politicians to find ‘solutions’ to the problems they themselves created. This last dimension is the one I think the most significant: if the Berlin-dominated EC decides it wants a power bulwark against Russia, China, the US or whomever, there’s nothing I can do to stop them, and there are plenty of ways to avoid the effects of it. I’m British, and sixty-five years old. I’ll continue to try and wake people up to it, but I’m past the barricades stage of life. Ditto the likelihood that US Friedmanite mercantilism will wind up blowing us all up. But in the end, most power and almost all misery stems from money.
It’s very clear now – and the catalyst here has indeed been the Cyprus crisis – that most developed countries have a plan in place for buying their way out of self-inflicted trouble, and that we aren’t going to even loan them the dosh: they’re going to find ways to cut out the middle men (the Revenue services) and simply steal it from our bank accounts, bond investments, gold punts, interest on capital, dormant accounts and so forth. What RBS has been doing to SMEs for the last four years is going to happen globally to all of us…..unless we resist. Confirmation of this is, in my view, the main by-product of Nicosia’s collapse at the prospect of Berlin smash-and-grab.
Without money, States cannot fulfil their objectives. On the other hand, money does get people off the sofa in the end. On those encouraging bases, I foresee some change of focus for The Slog from here on.
Off the keyboard of Tomas Young
Published on Truthdig on March 18, 2013
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The Last Letter
A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
|To read Chris Hedges’ recent interview with Tomas Young, click here.|
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.
Off the Keyboard of Surly1 and Contrary
Originally published in the Doomstead Diner February 27, 2013
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From what I see and read on the national or internet level, plus what I find on a local level, much is made about “the death of Occupy” and a vigorous search for who killed it. Given that so much of my writing during the past year has been about Occupy and Occupy-related issues, I thought it might be useful to look back with the perspective of time and distance.
Occupy is an idea. Inspired by Zuccotti Park, Occupy groups sprang up all over the country like dandelion seedlings, sprouting in fertile ground from Maine to California. People often gathered under American flags in revulsion at political and economic outrages:
- Inversion of our national priorities, from preserving the welfare of the populace to one of Imperial War– an eternal war against the idea of a war on terrorism;
- Radically repressive legislation siphoning away the traditional rights of the American people;
- Disproportionate and immoral spending on a rapacious war machine that enriches a Nuclear Mafia at the expense of working people and ordinary taxpayers;
- Outrage at bailouts for “too big to fail” banks, while working people had their wealth siphoned away though upside down, non-negotiable mortgages, and subsequent illegal foreclosures, often abetted by a criminally complicit judiciary;
- Failure to prosecute financial crimes;
- Fury at a non-responsive legislature, wholly captive to multinational corporations and their armies of paid lobbyists, and utterly unresponsive to the will of the people who elected them.
Critics of Occupy like to say that Occupy had “no agenda.” If the above bullet points fail to represent an agenda, then I don’t know what an agenda is.
Contrary to popular belief, and as revealed by subsequent journalism, the majority of Occupiers were ordinary working people exercising their right to freedom of assembly. The movement encompassed the full range of opinion on the political spectrum, but most who came were employed at least one job, and many held college degrees. The prevailing press coverage attempted to portray Occupy as a gaggle of wild-eyed black-bloc anarchists or unemployed hippies, but that was simply untrue.
There were early successes: the “Move Your Money” campaign to get individuals to move accounts from TBTF banks to local banks or credit unions, gained the notice of financiers. The movement to repeal the “Citizens United” decision via a law or an amendment also gained traction.
Outrage came easy; doing something concrete about it was harder. The initial press treatment of the Occupy movement was to ignore it. While thousands of people gathered in Zuccotti Park, the mainstream media remained silent as a tomb. Eventually alternative media got the word out, and the MSM were obliged to cover the Occupy phenomenon, although the slant of the coverage was often predetermined. In our local case, a wholly negative spin was already affixed to the news peg before reporters were assigned. The usual spin occurred: reporters would duly interview Occupy spokespersons, snip a few seconds out of context, and tell a story to belittle the participants and minimize the importance of the fact that citizens had actually left the comfort of their homes to gather in protest. Alt media continued to tell a more objective story, albeit to little effect (and later, with the net result of a series pernicious legislative efforts designed to lock down and cripple the Internet, the better to control it.)
At the beginning, Occupy was studiously non-partisan. At the local level, in southeastern Virginia, we coalesced around issues, not faction. Nevertheless, fault lines soon appeared. Many shared a paranoia about being co-opted by political parties—by the Ron Paul presidential campaign, by Move On, by trade unions. This fear proved to be a practical impediment to those who desired to form coalitions with other groups who shared some of our same goals. Collaboration with these groups could have swollen our numbers and made us more effective, but it was not to be.
On the ground at Occupy camps, the very nature of governance (or non-governance) for a leaderless movement was also a challenge, The business of Occupy was transacted at a General Assembly, which employed specific rules to insure that everybody had the opportunity to participate, with particular care to include members of traditionally underrepresented groups. Meetings were led by a member of the “facilitation team,” which prepared an agenda, as well. The actual work of Occupy was to be carried out through workgroups, who were supposed to report as part of the General Assembly proceedings.
Work groups were where the rubber hit the road. The Community Outreach work group led a food and voter registration drives, the Technology workgroup stood up live streaming, wi-fi, solar panels for power, the Sanitation group for keeping the camp clean, the Kitchen work group solicited food donations from area businesses and individuals, the Security group kept watch at night and provided wake up calls, Direct Action planned events and carried out specific actions, an Arts Workgroup made signs, T shirts, music drum circles and the like.
Proposals for action could be entertained either from the floor or via a workgroup. Admittedly imperfect, the system, was easily susceptible to being hijacked by people with strong or difficult personalities. People unfairly accused members of the facilitation team of being a “secret oligarchy.” Others were frustrated by the consensus process and the amount of time it took to get to a decision. And then there were marginal personalities. In hindsight, it stands to reason that any movement opposed to the status quo would attract those with an odd and singular take on reality. The fates blessed our local group with a few folks whose grasp on reality was tenuous at best.
Nevertheless, during the period of time that Occupy Norfolk had its camp in Commercial Park, good work was done day and night. General Assemblies occurred nightly. Direct actions were planned and executed. One occupier’s father rented and had installed porta-potties for the camp. A Facebook page for Occupy Norfolk quickly grew to over 4400 supporters. Many young people, and older people, stayed in tents on-site. The Occupiers took in—and fed– homeless people as well. (I never stayed in the camp, but attended as many general assemblies as my schedule would allow, often with my daughter in tow.) Almost hourly people would show up with donations of food or needed supplies. And the camp grew and thrived, the occupants exhilarated with a sense of purpose.
What we didn’t know in those heady days was that the FBI and other domestic law enforcement agencies considered the Occupy movement “domestic terrorists”, and had sent agents out as infiltrators. In December of 2012, Naomi Wolf provided U.S. Government documents which revealed that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security had monitored Occupy Wall Street through its joint terrorism task force despite labeling it ‘a peaceful movement.’ And as Jeff Madrick has written in a recent article in Harper’s, “. . . it has become increasingly clear that OWS didn’t fizzle because its objectives were to muddled or its talk too abstract or its organization too chaotic. In fact, the movement was undone by a concerted government effort to undo it.”
Who could forget the OWS action on the Brooklyn Bridge, and the mass arrests that were employed as a strategy by the NYPD? Marchers were arrested, then offered conditional dismissals, which certainly had a chilling effect on their future activities. Police dragged out in 1845 law criminalizing the wearing of masks in public gatherings to justify the arrest of occupiers in bandannas. And who could forget the specter of the aptly named Anthony Bologna who pepper sprayed a group of young women without apparent provocation. You’ll recall the images of police officers in white shirts committing serial brutalities. The use of batons, pepper spray, and disproportionate force became commonplace in dealing with protesters. And the media blackout imposed by the NYPD and observed by the media prevented these outrages from being consumed by a sleeping public.
We had our own issues with agitators and infiltrators. In the early days, there were those exhorting others to acts of violence or anarchy during direct actions. The original organizers of Occupy Norfolk were levelheaded, peaceable young people who saw good relationships with the authorities as being essential to the viability of the movement. So agitators got no traction, and fell away. We knew infiltrators by their actions. In our local movement, one young man showed up virtually overnight, and insinuated himself into our live stream and technical operations, which subsequently failed at critical times. This was a man who, on Facebook and other social media, picked fights with many people (including me) and proved to be a disruptive pain in the ass. It remains an open question for me as to whose payroll he was on. Other people were disruptors of almost professional skill and training.
And they called me paranoid.
Protesters were forced out of Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011. After several unsuccessful attempts to re-occupy the original location, protesters turned their focus to occupying banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings, college and university campuses. In November of 2011, a series of raids rousted many other Occupy camps, apparently at the direction of DHS. We read about conference calls involving mayors of large cities to deploy their forces accordingly. It was thus in Norfolk. Previously cordial relations with the local police and city authorities evaporated overnight, as our camp was to be raided, pre-dawn on November 6. Notice was provided to news stations, but none to the Occupiers. SWAT attired cops and city trash trucks descended upon the peaceful camp. A handful of occupiers were arrested on the sidewalk for “obstructing justice”, my daughter among them. All charged were subsequently cleared, but the fact remained that the accused had to actually be processed through the legal system like ground meat, to no real purpose, but significant aggravation and trouble to the accused, as well as legal expense on the part of the City.
One of the most disappointing aspects of being an occupier was the lack of serious outcry against police brutality and disproportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrators. As Jeff Madrick observed in the Harper’s article, “this reflects how little most Americans appreciate the place of protest as a catalyst of social and economic reform in our own history and throughout the world.” We forget our own history.
I don’t know how it went for other groups, but in the aftermath of the breakup of the camp, the local movement coalesced around different efforts. Several people tried to reboot Occupy Norfolk, and reconstitute it in some way, but those efforts eventually dissipated. Too many personalities, too many people with no respect for the processes of General Assembly and consensus. At the end of the day, it turns out that we all drink from the same poisoned cup of toxic individualism that inhabits the institutions we oppose.
Personality differences also played a huge part in assuring that the center could not hold. I remember one local thought and opinion leader, who openly campaigned to be the regional representative to something called the “99% Declaration,” which was to have a convention of delegates in Philadelphia on July 4th, 2012. She actively sought votes, received them, and was duly elected. When the time came to represent us, rather than discharge the obligation she sought, she decided to go to the annual gathering of Rainbow People in Tennessee, along with a few other souls. Now, I have no quarrel with Rainbow people, but that’s not Occupy as I understood it. But then, I am well known as a hypercritical crank whose watchword is, “Be who you say you are. Do what you say you are going to do.” And I have little patience with those who fail to do so.
While some of us were trying to organize and execute direct actions, there were others who announced, in a voice charged with self-righteousness, that they were going to “take it to the next level.” A subset of people then withdrew from the main group, dropped their work group activities, and took it to the next level with chanting, prayer circles, Mayan horoscopes, crystal worship, and other New Age pursuits in what they called a “Peace Garden.” Let me be clear: gardening is a wonderful thing; establishing and maintaining some sort of food independence from the Matrix remains a remarkable form of nonviolent protest. I admire it. I also respect and honor the amount of labor that it took to take the grounds of a largely abandoned house and turn it into a place of beauty and respite. What I decry is the hypocrisy resident in those loose style themselves peace workers while hastening to talk about others behind their backs. The immaturity was breathtaking.
And then there are the Facebook slackivists. As noted above, the local Occupy page had over 4400 followers. Within the last 2 weeks, I have been accused of being a “liberal–conservative–fascist–communist–statist” by an angry and confused young man whose sole contributions to Occupy included noisily announcing his bisexuality, calling attention to himself, proposing ideas for direct actions that failed consensus, and then loudly quitting in a huff when he failed to get his way. We learn that we are the ones responsible for the “failure” of Occupy, for the crime of being “aging liberal hippies.” (I have little defense against the charge, except to say that in the 60s and 70s I’m not sure I was cool enough to have been a hippie.) Facebook is a pernicious time sink, which allows people to engage in the very worst aspects of human nature in the guise of a quasi-anonymity Or at the very least with some emotional distance. (This is one of the reasons that I had given the gun-control controversy a wide berth on the Diner Facebook page. We no longer have any reasonable way to discuss these issues in our society.)
Locally, Occupy may be recalibrating, but nationally there have been successes. a number of us are in regular communication, and attended the Forward on Climate Change rally on February 17, along with 40,000 of our closest friends.
Many of us aligned with the movement to “Keep The Ban” on Uranium mining in Virginia, and were successful in getting the sponsor to pull his bill when it became apparent it would fail. The above mentioned campaign to “Move your Money” resulted in the movement of four billion dollars from TBTF banks. A $4B number will make even the most sated oligarch sit up and take notice. The “Move To Amend” effort to repeal the hated “Citizens United” decision has led to the introduction of legislation to change the direct purchase of elections by dark money groups. Even though Karl Rove was not successful in purchasing the Presidency for Mitt Romney, the threat remains. Occupy groups have helped via different tactics to delay or stop the illegal foreclosure of homes.
And perhaps the movement’s greatest success was Occupy Sandy, where Occupiers became the true first responders, bringing water, food, blankets, medicines and other supplies. One of Contrary’s favorite photos is of Occupiers feeding FEMA workers.
The grievances remain. The legal noose becomes tighter and the consequences for speaking out become more dear. As Judge Louis D Brandeis wrote in 1927, “those who won our independence believed that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty…” Wouldn’t it have been a wonderful thing if the passion and energy currently devoted to defense of “Second Amendment freedoms” (also known as the movement to keep gun manufacturers harmless from any interruption in their profits) could likewise been devoted to defense of, say the First and Fourth as they left the building?
As the means of redress of grievances becomes more narrow, the idea of Occupy remains ever more dangerous to the powers that be. Expect us.
From the Keyboard of Surly1
Originally published in Doomstead Diner
February 20, 2013
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Contrary and I were proud to part of a large contingent of people form our area of Virginia to travel to the National Mall in DC for the Forward on Climate rally on Sunday. It was a long and extraordinary day.
The Forward on Climate rally, as it was billed by environmental groups Sierra Club and 350.org, called for President Obama to take immediate action on climate change, including blocking further construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Dozens of buses discharged rallyers from all across the country. The assembly massed on the National Mall, where speakers and musicians addressed the crowd. As they gathered for the march, participants listed to a variety of talks from luminaries, including 350.org President Bill McKibben, who tweeted, “Today was one of the best days of my life, because I saw the movement come together finally, big and diverse and gorgeous.”
“I waited a quarter century since I wrote the first book about all this stuff to see if we were going to fight,” McKibben told the crowd. “And today, I know we are going to fight. The most fateful battle in human history is finally joined, and we will fight it together.”
Van Jones was also on the dais. He urged the crowd to put pressure on the President: “This President has the power to achieve the single biggest carbon reduction ever, by holding our biggest carbon polluters – dirty power plants – accountable for what they dump into the air, Cleaning up this pollution and using more clean energy will provide jobs to thousands of Americans, save families real money when it comes to electricity bills and, most important, will make a real difference in our health and the health of our children.”
Other speakers included:
- The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO
- Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
- Van Jones, NRDC Trustee and President Rebuild the Dream
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator from Rhode Island
- Rosario Dawson
- Chief Jacqueline Thomas, native peoples chief and co-founder Yinka Dene Alliance
A chill and biting win gusted on the participants, who stood in the frozen mud of the Mall to brave the elements. Even huddling together like penguins didn’t make it any more bearable. Those in attendance later marched through the streets bearing placards, signs and musical instruments.
In an interesting turn, earlier that week Michael Bruce, President of the Sierra Club, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and others handcuffed themselves to the White House gates in an act of civil disobedience to bring attention to these interrelated issues. This marks the first time in the Sierra Club’s history that it has engaged in acts of civil disobedience.
During his turn at the microphone, Brune addressed the crowd: “Twenty years from now on President’s Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption . . .” “President Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children. Today, we are asking him to use that pen to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and ensure that this dirty, dangerous, export pipeline will never be built.”
Many in the crowd expressed by voice and sign that the pipeline would be stopped “by any means necessary.”
There was also much opposition to fracking, and much support for clean, alternative fuels. Neither Charles nor David Koch was spotted in the crowd. It was also a pleasure to meet Captain Ray Lewis, a true Occupy hero. I was able to thank him for his work.
It remains to be seen what will come of this effort. Stay tuned.
All images Surlyfoto.
Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman
Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on February 11, 2013
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Do it now before it’s too late!
- specifically allowed under Article 51;
- authorized by the Security Council; and
- permitted by constitutional and US statute law provisions.
- the 1965 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;
- the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; and
- the 1974 Definition of Aggression.
Published originally on Doomstead Diner February 11, 2013
Off the keyboard of Surly1
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He sat on the steps, unattended. Dressed in the uniform of the homeless, blue work pants spattered with paint, heavy tan, much worn overshoes. Several layers of sweaters and sweatshirts. Winter coat. Watch cap. Dressed for the elements, yet unable to choose whether he wanted to go to the Salvation Army or the Union Mission, or for that matter to make any statement in his own behalf. Barely able to utter his own name.
On this night, this man would spend a Sunday evening February somewhere on the streets, along with many hundreds like him.
Each year I volunteer to work with the Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team (NEST), a program whose function is to get the homeless off the streets in the dead of winter and into participating area churches, where they can have a hot meal and a warm place to sleep for a night. There are many programs like this, springing up from city to city, each with its own rules. Such programs do help to mitigate the pain of homelessness. It also gives well-intentioned do-gooders the opportunity to do something concrete within the structure of an organized program. Speaking only for my church, NEST engages the direct support of many dozens of volunteers spanning both our congregation and others, who show up, cook meals, do bus duty, check ID, serve meals, clean up, pick up mats and blankets. and spend overnights with our guests.
My chosen function is to participate in bus duty, joined this year by Contrary, whose activist nature enjoys the work. There is a certain amount of paperwork involved. Each guest presents an ID, and gets a colored slip that indicates that they are assigned to our church. We have to check names against a “banned list,” representing those whose past “indiscretions” keep them from participating in the program. There are always more homeless than there are slots. Thus, we conduct a lottery among the men to see who boards the bus (women are always accepted first.). Winners board, others are referred either to the Salvation Army or to the Union mission, where they can at least get out of the weather.
The irony is not lost that, even among these benighted souls, we conduct a lottery to separate winners from losers, a pallid echo from the bottom of an economy whose winners are high-stakes gamblers at the Great American Casino.
You cannot talk with these men and women, lined up against the wall outside the social services building, and fail to be moved by their stories. A sizable minority work. They need to receive a wake-up call, so they can navigate the bus system to get to their workplace on time. Many of them have tumbled out of the middle class, and are trying desperately to claw their way back in. Easier said than done. That said, some of the stereotypes about the homeless are also true. Some are drunk. They won’t be accepted by the Salvation Army or the Mission. Some are minor-league con artists. Every one of them has a story.
A recent article in AlterNet illustrates the depth of the problem. There are over one million homeless in America, and 138 million more who live paycheck to paycheck. And many more NOT living paycheck to paycheck are one major financial catastrophe away from bankruptcy. In a society shaped by 30 years of relentless class warfare first against the least fortunate, and then the middle classes, in a casino intent in a drawing hard, non-crossable line between winners and losers, we should not be surprised that the losers turn up in our streets in such desperate numbers. Conservatives have done a great job of demonizing the poor, and rich people have done a superb job of convincing middle-class people that they should blame the poor and public employees as the undeserving recipients of government largesse, the better to redirect attention away from their own systematic plunder and theft from the commons. But that’s another rant for another time.
Once you fall out of the middle class, it is incredibly difficult to climb back in. Here are a few statistics offered by AlterNet:
• 43.9 percent of Americans — that is roughly 137 million people — are living on the edge of collapse: a job loss, health crisis or income-crushing emergency, and they would not have enough money to cover expenses “at the federal poverty level” for three months.
• Nearly 40 percent of American households — which translates to more than 100 million people — live paycheck to paycheck.
• More than 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty level, which is $23,201 for a family of four. That’s $5,800 per person.
• 6 million people have no income other than food stamps, which means they are living on $6,000 a year.
Consider this last realize that in southeastern Virginia, the average age of the homeless person is 9, according to our local United Way. Think about trying to survive on the streets, raise a family, simply keep your children alive… $6000 a year.
Let that sink in. We are a nation of freshly minted billionaires, fat with bonus checks paid out of the big Casino, and our response is to cut-cut-cut anti-poverty programs and the safety net. It’s not as if we don’t know what to do to address these problems. We do: raise taxes on the wealthy, tax capital gains, quit being the world’s policeman, publicly finance elections to reduce the vigorous commerce in legislators, raise the cap on Social Security to ensure its continued viability, provide universal healthcare. But we lack the political will.
St. Reagan did much to create the homeless problem in the United States when, in the early 80s, mental health funding was severely curtailed and the mentally ill moved from back wards to our back streets. People with untreated psychiatric illnesses comprise roughly one-third, or 250,000, of the estimated 744,000 homeless population. The quality of life for these individuals is abysmal. Many are victimized regularly. One study found that 28 percent of homeless people with previous psychiatric hospitalizations obtained some food from garbage cans and 8 percent used garbage cans as a primary food source. And from all indications this trend is increasing. It is always thus when those without an army of highly paid lobbyists deal with policies created by rabid ideologues or other sociopaths.
And then there are the working poor, who Guy Standing deemed “the Precariat,” who work in a series of short-term or part-time jobs generally without much social protection or benefits. The Precariat represents another generation of people without a voice, without the benefits or even a reasonable expectation of a middle class lifestyle. And this is the new normal, according to our neoliberal elites. Ten years of the Patriot Act has institutionalized it such that our reduction in civil liberties has become normalized. So will “the Precariat” become normalized, an entire generation of barely trained serfs will drag their non-dischargeable student debt along through their adult lives. (Imagine the appeal to this generation for a Man on Horseback, offering the siren song of an extreme political agenda, that will redress all ills and find worthy scapegoats. We’ve seen this movie before.)
Guy Standing offered his notion of “the Precariat” as a cautionary term; others think this is a desirable state, the better to lower the price of labor. And should such social instability fail, there’s always prison labor to keep the proles in line.
So as I look at the faces of the homeless one week in February, I am reminded that even though I am near the end of my working life, I am still only one or two financial catastrophes away from standing in-line with them. It is a way in which a handful of my fellow s can, at least for a week, Save As Many As We Can.
Hard Times, USA: Would You Consider Thinking Differently About Poverty and Poor and Homeless People?
Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder
Published on Economic Collapse on January 29, 2013
Discuss this article at the Conspiracy Table inside the Diner
Does a shadowy group of obscenely wealthy elitists control the world? Do men and women with enormous amounts of money really run the world from behind the scenes? The answer might surprise you. Most of us tend to think of money as a convenient way to conduct transactions, but the truth is that it also represents power and control. And today we live in a neo-fuedalist system in which the super rich pull all the strings. When I am talking about the ultra-wealthy, I am not just talking about people that have a few million dollars. As you will see later in this article, the ultra-wealthy have enough money sitting in offshore banks to buy all of the goods and services produced in the United States during the course of an entire year andstill be able to pay off the entire U.S. national debt. That is an amount of money so large that it is almost incomprehensible. Under this ne0-feudalist system, all the rest of us are debt slaves, including our own governments. Just look around – everyone is drowning in debt, and all of that debt is making the ultra-wealthy even wealthier. But the ultra-wealthy don’t just sit on all of that wealth. They use some of it to dominate the affairs of the nations. The ultra-wealthy own virtually every major bank and every major corporation on the planet. They use a vast network of secret societies, think tanks and charitable organizations to advance their agendas and to keep their members in line. They control how we view the world through their ownership of the media and their dominance over our education system. They fund the campaigns of most of our politicians and they exert a tremendous amount of influence over international organizations such as the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. When you step back and take a look at the big picture, there is little doubt about who runs the world. It is just that most people don’t want to admit the truth.
The ultra-wealthy don’t run down and put their money in the local bank like you and I do. Instead, they tend to stash their assets in places where they won’t be taxed such as the Cayman Islands. According to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.
U.S. GDP for 2011 was about 15 trillion dollars, and the U.S. national debt is sitting at about 16 trillion dollars, so you could add them both together and you still wouldn’t hit 32 trillion dollars.
And of course that does not even count the money that is stashed in other locations that the study did not account for, and it does not count all of the wealth that the global elite have in hard assets such as real estate, precious metals, art, yachts, etc.
The global elite have really hoarded an incredible amount of wealth in these troubled times. The following is from an article on the Huffington Post website…
Rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets in offshore tax havens, representing up to $280 billion in lost income tax revenues, according to research published on Sunday.
The study estimating the extent of global private financial wealth held in offshore accounts – excluding non-financial assets such as real estate, gold, yachts and racehorses – puts the sum at between $21 and $32 trillion.
The research was carried out for pressure group Tax Justice Network, which campaigns against tax havens, by James Henry, former chief economist at consultants McKinsey & Co.
He used data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and central banks.
But as I mentioned previously, the global elite just don’t have a lot of money. They also basically own just about every major bank and every major corporation on the entire planet.
According to an outstanding NewScientist article, a study of more than 40,000 transnational corporations conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich discovered that a very small core group of huge banks and giant predator corporations dominate the entire global economic system…
The researchers found that this core group consists of just 147 very tightly knit companies…
When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.
The following are the top 25 banks and corporations at the heart of this “super-entity”. You will recognize many of the names on the list…
1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
The ultra-wealthy elite often hide behind layers and layers of ownership, but the truth is that thanks to interlocking corporate relationships, the elite basically control almost every Fortune 500 corporation.
The amount of power and control that this gives them is hard to describe.
Unfortunately, this same group of people have been running things for a very long time. For example, New York City Mayor John F. Hylan said the following during a speech all the way back in 1922…
The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation. To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as the international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes.
They practically control both parties, write political platforms, make catspaws of party leaders, use the leading men of private organizations, and resort to every device to place in nomination for high public office only such candidates as will be amenable to the dictates of corrupt big business.
These international bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of the newspapers and magazines in this country. They use the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of office public officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government. It operates under cover of a self-created screen [and] seizes our executive officers, legislative bodies, schools, courts, newspapers and every agency created for the public protection.
These international bankers created the central banks of the world (including the Federal Reserve), and they use those central banks to get the governments of the world ensnared in endless cycles of debt from which there is no escape. Government debt is a way to “legitimately” take money from all of us, transfer it to the government, and then transfer it into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy.
Today, Barack Obama and almost all members of Congress absolutely refuse to criticize the Fed, but in the past there have been some brave members of Congress that have been willing to take a stand. For example, the following quote is from a speech that Congressman Louis T. McFadden delivered to the U.S. House of Representatives on June 10, 1932…
Mr. Chairman, we have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Federal Reserve Board, a Government board, has cheated the Government of the United States and the people of the United States out of enough money to pay the national debt. The depredations and iniquities of the Federal Reserve Board has cost this country enough money to pay the national debt several times over. This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of the United States, has bankrupted itself, and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through the defects of the law under which it operates, through the maladministration of that law by the Federal Reserve Board, and through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.
Sadly, most Americans still believe that the Federal Reserve is a “federal agency”, but that is simply not correct. The following comes from factcheck.org…
The stockholders in the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks are the privately owned banks that fall under the Federal Reserve System. These include all national banks (chartered by the federal government) and those state-chartered banks that wish to join and meet certain requirements. About 38 percent of the nation’s more than 8,000 banks are members of the system, and thus own the Fed banks.
According to researchers that have looked into the ownership of the big Wall Street banks that dominate the Fed, the same names keep coming up over and over: the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Warburgs, the Lazards, the Schiffs and the royal families of Europe.
But ultra-wealthy international bankers have not just done this kind of thing in the United States. Their goal was to create a global financial system that they would dominate and control. Just check out what Georgetown University history professor Carroll Quigley once wrote…
[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.
Sadly, most Americans have never even heard of the Bank for International Settlements, but it is at the very heart of the global financial system. The following is from Wikipedia…
As an organization of central banks, the BIS seeks to make monetary policy more predictable and transparent among its 58 member central banks. While monetary policy is determined by each sovereign nation, it is subject to central and private banking scrutiny and potentially to speculation that affects foreign exchange rates and especially the fate of export economies. Failures to keep monetary policy in line with reality and make monetary reforms in time, preferably as a simultaneous policy among all 58 member banks and also involving the International Monetary Fund, have historically led to losses in the billions as banks try to maintain a policy using open market methods that have proven to be based on unrealistic assumptions.
The ultra-wealthy have also played a major role in establishing other important international institutions such as the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. In fact, the land for the United Nations headquarters in New York City was purchased and donated by John D. Rockefeller.
The international bankers are “internationalists” and they are very proud of that fact.
The elite also dominate the education system in the United States. Over the years, the Rockefeller Foundation and other elitist organizations have poured massive amounts of money into Ivy League schools. Today, Ivy League schools are considered to be the standard against which all other colleges and universities in America are measured, and the last four U.S. presidents were educated at Ivy League schools.
The elite also exert a tremendous amount of influence through various secret societies (Skull and Bones, the Freemasons, etc.), through some very powerful think tanks and social clubs (the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Grove, Chatham House, etc.), and through a vast network of charities and non-governmental organizations (the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, etc.).
But for a moment, I want to focus on the power the elite have over the media. In a previous article, I detailed how just six monolithic corporate giants control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day. These giant corporations own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites.
Considering the fact that the average American watches 153 hours of television a month, the influence of these six giant corporations should not be underestimated. The following are just some of the media companies that these corporate giants own…
Home Box Office (HBO)
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
ABC Television Network
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Country Music Television (CMT)
Nick at Nite
The Movie Channel
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
My Network TV
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
CBS Television Network
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CW Network (50% ownership)
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network
NBC Television Network
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Studio Home Video
And of course the elite own most of our politicians as well. The following is a quote from journalist Lewis Lapham…
“The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas.”
Have you ever wondered why things never seem to change in Washington D.C. no matter who we vote for?
Well, it is because both parties are owned by the establishment.
It would be nice to think that the American people are in control of who runs things in the U.S., but that is not how it works in the real world.
In the real world, the politician that raises more money wins more than 80 percent of the time in national races.
Our politicians are not stupid – they are going to be very good to the people that can give them the giant piles of money that they need for their campaigns. And the people that can do that are the ultra-wealthy and the giant corporations that the ultra-wealthy control.
Are you starting to get the picture?
There is a reason why the ultra-wealthy are referred to as “the establishment”. They have set up a system that greatly benefits them and that allows them to pull the strings.
So who runs the world?
They do. In fact, they even admit as much.
David Rockefeller wrote the following in his 2003 book entitled “Memoirs”…
“For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
There is so much more that could be said about all of this. In fact, an entire library of books could be written about the power and the influence of the ultra-wealthy international bankers that run the world.
But hopefully this is enough to at least get some conversations started.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman
Published originally on the Steve Lendman Blog
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
- turns a blind eye to fraud and abuse;
- protects Wall Street, not investors;
- neutered its enforcement staff’s authority;
- adopted voluntary regulation; and
- lets investment banks hold less reserve capital, as well as freely use leverage speculatively.
I would like to pause this investigation for a moment to discuss a matter possibly related to it.
The world recently suffered a great loss, when it lost Aaron Swartz to suicide?
Aaron was like a beacon of shinning light in a mostly gray and foreboding world. He was highly intelligent and principled. He made all of our lives brighter. He was in the forefront of the fight to keep the internet a place of openness and honesty rather than let it become a closed tool, only beneficial to powerful interests such as the mass media now is.
Aaron was directly responsible for helping create the RSS newsfeed standard that caused document 1, referred to in the investigation, linked to at the top of this article, to be discovered.
We do not know for sure who first discovered the existence of this document. However it happened, the discovery was a massive win for internet openness and freedom. Whoever that person was would need to have a deep understanding of how and where information is stored on the internet. Also of how information is indexed for easy retrieval.
Aaron was that type of individual. He also had the intent to serve Truth and Justice, particularly on the Internet.
If I had to pick just one person capable of making such a discovery I would pick Aaron.
The events at Sandy Hook likely attracted his attention. He would then start researching on the internet to find the truth, using the needed tools, which he was intimately familiar with.
RSS feeds, the standards of which he helped put in place, allow search engines to report news items created on the internet, about important events, almost instantly. Being an expert on how RSS feeds function, and where the records that such feeds create are stored, he then likely started to search through those records to see what he could find.
Aaron likely discovered the RSS feed record the Arlington Schools Website sent out that announced, rightly or wrongly, that the horrendous events at Sandy Hook School occurred on December 10th, 2012, 4 days before they actually happened on December 14th 2012. Discovering the RSS record would have allowed Aaron to find the Google cache record displayed as evidence in our investigation, with only one click.
In the normal course of events it is highly unlikely anyone would ever have found that cache record. Only the RSS record would publicly show it existed. To initially find the record directly in the cache would require someone knowing the document’s exact URL and name. If no one knew of the documents existence, they could not know what to look for.
Whoever the person was that first found the document in Google’s cache, we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I strongly suspect Aaron was actually the one to discover that record at Google. He likely paid for that discovery with his life.
With that highly likely possibility in mind I would like to dedicate this Investigation to Aaron. Whether or not he was the one who first found this record, his efforts in developing RSS feeds were instrumental in their being discovered.
We all owe it to Aaron to make sure that his efforts to make the world a better place were not in vain. We must continue the struggle he was engaged in, and attempt to build upon his efforts, until the world is a place of justice and honor such as he attempted to create.
This investigation would not be taking place without principled people like Aaron struggling to protect everyone’s rights.
Aaron, Thank you.
HOW TWO GOOGLE CACHE RECORDS WITH PUBLISHED DATES PREDATING THE EVENTS AT SANDY HOOK SCHOOL CAME INTO BEING.
I will refer to 3 images in this document that show the anomalies in the Google cache records of The Arlington School’s News Items.
Document 1 is an image of a google cache record showing a published Date of Dec 10, 2012 which states Google recorded it on Dec 18, 2012.
The url below used to access the page imaged below – it now returns a 404 page error. Anyone that has copies of the image please keep it safe.
it could also be accessed from
by selecting to view the page.
It now returns….
Your search – inurl:http://www.arlingtonlocalschools.com/news/2012/12/10/talking-with-your-child-about … – did not match any documents. Reset search tools
DOCUMENT 2 below is an image of a google cache record showing a published Date of Dec 13, 2012 which states Google recorded it on Jan 12, 2013.
As of this writing, January 25, 6:21pm PT it is still available at the url below.
DOCUMENT 3 is an image of a google search return to a document Published Date of December 13, 2013 the same as in Document 2.
The link to this page has been disappeared by google as of today.
I am going to explain to you in this article how those document came to appear on the internet on the Published Dates shown, December 10, 2012 and December 13, 2012. I will also explain how the search return came into being.
In order to do this I am going to ask you to suspend disbelief so you can follow the timeline explaining the documents.
Events like 9/11 have demonstrated that news items about them appear almost instantly after such events. Many are complex documents that would be impossible to create in that short a period of time. If someone is preparing a false flag the most effective period to introduce your desired interpretation of the event is immediately after the event while people are still in shock. In order to meet a tight deadline there are many trusted people working in the background preparing documents and then sitting and waiting to pull the trigger and make them public the moment the event is planned to occur. These people are scattered all over and working off their own script with a time to make their information public.
CMI (Crisis Management Inc) which had author permissions on The Arlington School Website as a contractor to upload Their material to the website as needed. They could upload, create links to their material, and publish news announcements all from their own offices without anyone from the School being involved.
The School shootings that took place in sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, were originally planned to happen on December 10, 2012.
If you check on a calendar you will see Dec 10 was a Monday and a school day so the event could have been planned for that date.
DECEMBER 10, 2012
Everyone involved with media media material had the material prepared referring to the Date Dec 10, 2012.
On December 10, 2012 someone at CMI was waiting to pull the trigger and publish the news item (Document 1) and related documents such as the pdf the news item announces.
For some reason the event was called off at the last moment.
Everyone planned to submit material was frantically called to NOT submit their material.
The message for some reason didn’t get through to CMI in time and they submitted the pdf, created the link to it, and published the news item shown in Document 1 .
The other anomalous documents predating Dec 14, 2012 that appeared all over the internet originated the same way.
Because of a technicality (RSS Feed) that is explained by the developer of the program that manages the Arlington Schools site a record of the document immediately left the site and was submitted to people hooked up to the feed as well as to google which published the item for availability in their search engine. (see document 3)
Google took the opportunity while going to the site to capture the thumbnail of the page seen on the right of document 2 to also put it into their cache database.
In the Technical Discuss Thread at http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/sandy-hook-phony-documents-open-thread/#comment-164225
Jeremy the developer of the software SpireCMS which the School uses to manage their website stated
“JEREMY… When a news item is created in our system, it is pushed out via an RSS feed and, Google has it indexed usually under 24 hours.”
The above means the article could be found on the google search engine on that date and also in their cache shown in Document 1.
The search record was scrubbed by google for this Dec 10, 2012 item, but events that took place on Dec 13, 2012 caused an identical entry to be made only with a published date of December 13th. I’m not sure why it wasn’t scrubbed by Google before today. It is shown in (document 3)
DECEMBER 13, 2012
The Sandy Hook Shooting event was rescheduled to this date and was again scrubbed. It Was a Thursday, also a viable date.
It was again scrubbed for some reason.
CMI again did not get the word to not publish in time.
They published the news item again but this time with a published Date of Dec 13, 2012 causing another RSS submission creating (document 3) and also a second cache record (document 2)
Jeremy stated above “Google has it indexed usually under 24 hours” which means (document 1) would originally have shown either “as it appeared on 10 Dec 2012 or possibly 11 Dec 2012.”
The December 13, 2012 (document 2) would originally have shown either “as it appeared on 13 Dec 2012 or possibly 14 Dec 2012.”
No one in the loop realized there was an RSS feed on the news items at Arlington School and that the 2 pages (document 1 &2) where recorded in the google cache.
AFTER DECEMBER 14
Some bright internet users discovered the cache records predating the actual events and all hell broke loose.
The people behind the false flag frantically tried to cover up these incriminating cache records and the search return.
For technical reasons too complex to explain here it was impossible to erase the records.
Publicly removing the cache document after they were found would also be suspicious.
As a temporary fix someone authorized by google edited the records as below.
(Document 1) which first read “as it appeared on 10 Dec 2012 or possibly 11 Dec 2012 was changed to read 18 Dec 2012.”, a date after the events of December 14th. This document was still suspicious but at least is showed it was recorded after the event it announced.
(Document 2) which first read “as it appeared on 13 Dec 2012 was changed to read “as it appeared on 12 Jan 2013.”, a date after the events of December 14th. This document was still suspicious but at least is showed it was recorded after the event it announced.
To make these changes at google would take no more than about two minutes. All that needed to be done is to select the records in the database and edit the field that holds the date google recorded the record.
JANUARY 25 2013
Today google decided that the evidence implicating them in these events very getting to dangerous to leave available and removed them from public view even though that looks very suspicious.
This happened because I stated publicly that it is impossible for a document published with an RSS feed request to google could take 30 days as shown in (Document 2) and 8 days as shown in (Document 1) after the developer publicly stated at http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/sandy-hook-phony-documents-open-thread/#comment-164225
“JEREMY… When a news item is created in our system, it is pushed out via an RSS feed and, Google has it indexed usually under 24 hours.”
There is an enormous amount of corroborating evidence that I described before at Fellowship of the Minds.
If you find the information above compelling enough to look further, and if I survive to tell about it, this discussion will be continued.
That google is currently scrubbing the evidence does not bode well for those publicly explaining it. Although google can hide the incriminating evidence from the public, they cannot remove the internal traces from their servers. We who made screencaptures and didn’t clear our browser histories have evidence they existed to the last date we accessed it. Guard that information well.
I am going to stop here to let you consider what I said.
Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci
Published on Land Destroyer on January 17, 2013
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
January 17, 2013 (LD-Tony Cartalucci) – Exactly as predicted, the ongoing French “intervention” in the North African nation of Mali has spilled into Algeria – the next most likely objective of Western geopolitical interests in the region since the successful destabilization of Libya in 2011.
In last week’s “France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali” report, it was stated specifically that:
“As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.
And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.”
Now, it is reported that “Al Qaeda-linked” terrorists have seized American hostages in Algeria in what is being described by the Western press as “spill over” from France’s Mali operations.
The Washington Post, in their article, “Al-Qaida-linked militants seize BP complex in Algeria, take hostages in revenge for Mali,” claims:
“As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in a natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France’s intervention in Mali.”
The Wall Street Journal, in its article, “Militants Grab U.S. Hostages in Algeria,” reports that:
“Militants with possible links to al Qaeda seized about 40 foreign hostages, including several Americans, at a natural-gas field in Algeria, posing a new level of threat to nations trying to blunt the growing influence of Islamist extremists in Africa.
The WSJ also added:
“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. would take “necessary and proper steps” in the hostage situation, and didn’t rule out military action. He said the Algeria attack could represent a spillover from Mali.”
And it is military action, both covert and incrementally more overt, that will see the West’s extremist proxies and the West’s faux efforts to stem them, increasingly creep over the Mali-Algerian border, as the old imperial maps of Europe are redrawn right before our eyes.
Image: The French Empire at its height right before the World Wars. The regions that are now Libya, Algeria, Mali, and the Ivory Coast all face reconquest by the French and Anglo-Americans, with French troops literally occupying the region and playing a pivotal role in installing Western-friendly client regimes. Also notice Syria too, was a French holding – now under attack by US-British-French funded, armed, and backed terrorists – the same terrorists allegedly being fought in Mali and now Algeria.
Meanwhile, these very same terrorist forces continue to receive funding, arms, covert military support, and diplomatic recognition in Syria, by NATO, and specifically the US and France who are both claiming to fight the “Free Syrian Army’s” ideological and very literal allies in North Africa.
In reality, Al Qaeda is allowing the US and France to intervene and interfere in Algeria, after attempts in 2011 to trigger political subversion was soundly defeated by the Algerian government. Al Qaeda is essentially both a casus belli and mercenary force, deployed by the West against targeted nations. It is clear that French operations seek to trigger armed conflict in Algeria as well as a possible Western military intervention there as well, with the Mali conflict serving only as a pretense.
Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall
Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on January 13, 2013
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
|A roadside stall in Nairobi selling signs|
|A typical street in Africa’s second largest slum, Kibera|
|Grinding bones to make jewellery in Kibera|
|The new apartments in the distance were ‘too expensive’ at 10 dollars a month|
|A typical headline from the Daily Nation|
|A container heading north from Mombasa|
|‘Wildlife’ spotting in the Masai Mara|
|Barack Obama’s compost throne|
Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder
Published on Economic Collapse on December 23, 2012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Agenda 21 Is Being Rammed Down The Throats Of Local Communities All Over America
Have you ever heard of Agenda 21? If not, don’t feel bad, because most Americans haven’t. It is essentially a blueprint for a “sustainable world” that was introduced at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Since then, it has been adopted by more than 200 counties and it has been modified and updated at other UN environmental summits. The philosophy behind Agenda 21 is that our environmental problems are the number one problem that we are facing, and that those problems are being caused by human activity. Therefore, according to Agenda 21 human activity needs to be tightly monitored, regulated and controlled for the greater good. Individual liberties and freedoms must be sacrificed for the good of the planet. If you are thinking that this sounds like it is exactly the opposite of what our founding fathers intended when they established this nation, you would be on the right track. Those that promote the philosophy underlying Agenda 21 believe that human activity must be “managed” and that letting people make their own decisions is “destructive” and “dangerous”. Sadly, the principles behind Agenda 21 are being rammed down the throats of local communities all over America, and most of the people living in those communities don’t even realize it.
So how is this being done? Well, after Agenda 21 was adopted, an international organization known as the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives” (ICLEI) was established to help implement the goals of Agenda 21 in local communities. One thing that they learned very quickly was that the “Agenda 21″ label was a red flag for a lot of people. It tended to create quite a bit of opposition on the local level.
As they try to implement their goals, they very rarely use the term “Agenda 21″ anymore. Instead, they use much more harmless sounding labels such as “smart growth”, “comprehensive land use planning” and especially “sustainable development”.
So just because something does not carry the Agenda 21 label does not mean that it is not promoting the goals of Agenda 21.
The goals of Agenda 21 are not only being implemented in the United States. This is a massive worldwide effort that is being coordinated by the United Nations. An article that was posted on RedState.com discussed some of the history of Agenda 21…
In simplified terms, Agenda 21 is a master blueprint, or guidelines, for constructing “sustainable” communities. Agenda 21 was put forth by the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development, and was adopted by over 200 countries (signed into “soft law” by George Bush Sr.) at the United Nations Rio Conference in 1992. In 1994 the President’s Council for Sustainable Development was created via Executive Order by Bill Clinton to begin coordinating efforts at the Federal level to make the US Agenda 21 compliant.
The same year that Bill Clinton established the President’s Council for Sustainable Development, the International Code Council was also created.
The International Code Council has developed a large number of “international codes” which are intended to replace existing building codes all over the United States. The following is a list of these codes from Wikipedia…
- International Building Code
- International Residential Code
- International Fire Code
- International Plumbing Code
- International Mechanical Code
- International Fuel Gas Code
- International Energy Conservation Code
- ICC Performance Code
- International Wildland Urban Interface Code
- International Existing Building Code
- International Property Maintenance Code
- International Private Sewage Disposal Code
- International Zoning Code
- International Green Construction Code
These codes are very long and exceedingly boring, and those that write them know that hardly anyone will ever read them.
And for the most part, they contain a lot of things that are contained in existing building codes or that are common sense.
But a lot of poison has also been inserted into these codes. If you read them carefully, the influence of Agenda 21 is painfully obvious.
Unfortunately, even most of the local politicians that are adopting these codes don’t take the time to read them. Most of them just assume that they are “updating” their existing building codes.
So what often happens is that there will be fights in local communities between citizens that are concerned about the encroachment of Agenda 21 and local politicians who regard such talk as nonsense. The following is an example of what is happening all over the nation…
Summit Hill Borough Council last night unanimously adopted the “2012 edition of the International Property Maintenance Code,” but not before some audience members expressed vehement opposition to it.
An overflow crowd of 34 people attended the meeting, with some there to specifically voice their displeasure.
Sandy Dellicker, a borough resident, said she was against using an “international” maintenance code, arguing that it falls under the plan of Agenda 21 of the United Nations; an agenda for the 21st Century.
She said, “UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is the action plan to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all information, all energy, and all human beings in the world.”
“This is not a conspiracy theory,” she told the council. “This is for real.”
She said the International Property Maintenance Code had been adopted in Montgomery County, but the county “has already gotten rid of it” because of its dictatorial direction.
“This is not what Summit Hill and the United States is about,” she said.
Council members pooh-poohed her assessment. “In my opinion, the International Property Maintenance Code is to protect citizens,” said Council President Michael Kokinda.
It would be great if these codes were just about public safety. But that is simply not the case. Sadly, these codes are often used to fine or even imprison homeowners that haven’t done anything wrong. Sometimes “code violations” are even used as justification to legally steal property from law-abiding homeowners. A post on the Freedom Reigns Radio blog detailed some of the things that are often done in the name of “code enforcement”…
1) The ‘Code Official’ – anybody the jurisdiction calls – a ‘Code Official’ – is the sole interpreter – no due process – Gestapo!
2) Every day an offense occurs is a separate mandatory misdemeanor – $555/day and/or a month in jail in Charleston, W.Va. They can fine you out of your home and jail you at their whim!
3) Anything the ‘Code Official’ says is not in good working condition – sticky window, dented or plugged gutter, torn window screen – whatever he says is not in good working order – hundreds of dollars of fines per day and/or jail time – usually a month – for every day the offense occurs.
4) Any unsanitary condition – whatever the ‘Code Official’ says is an ‘unsanitary condition’ – empty pop cans – puddles – dog droppings on your property – same deal – same fines and/or jail time – every day.
5) Any plant that the ‘Code Official’ says is a ‘noxious weed’ – same deal – same fines and/or jail time – every day. He can steal raw land.
6) He can fine you out of your home and jail you with no due process. Any court proceedings are window dressing as there is no remedy associated with this ‘code.’
7) It can be ‘adopted’ – just by an ‘administrative decree.’
WITHOUT COURT ACTION OR NOTICE THE CODE OFFICIAL CAN:
1) Enter your house whenever he – the sole interpreter – deems reasonable.
2) Prevent you from entering your house.
3) Tear your house down with your stuff in it.
4) Bill you for the demolition.
5) Place a lien on it for fines and/or demolition charges – steal it.
6) And ‘best’ of all, no insurance I know of will cover your losses.
You’re left w/a house and your ‘stuff’ in a landfill – and any remaining unpaid mortgage, any remaining fines, any remaining taxes, and any remaining demolition charges after they steal your property
These codes restrict what homeowners can do with their own properties in thousands of different ways. If you rebel against one of the codes, the penalties can be extremely harsh.
And there is often “selective enforcement” of these codes. That means that they will leave most people alone but they will come down really hard on people that they do not like. You could even end up with a SWAT team on your doorstep.
Just ask some of the people who have been through this kind of thing.
Even if you have your mortgage completely paid off, that doesn’t mean that you really “own” your property. If you don’t pay your taxes and obey the “codes”, you could lose your property very rapidly.
The philosophy behind all of this is the same philosophy behind Agenda 21. The elite believe that you cannot be trusted to do the “right thing” with your own property and that your activity must be “managed” for the greater good. They believe that by controlling you and restricting your liberties that they are “saving the planet”.
Unfortunately, you can probably expect this to get a whole lot worse in the years ahead. Our society is shifting from one that cherishes individual liberties and freedoms to one that is fully embracing collectivism. So our politicians will likely be making even more of our decisions for us as the years move forward.
Do any of you out there have any “code violation horror stories” to share? If so, please share them with us by posting a comment below…
Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci
Published on Land Destroyer on December 1, 2012
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Image: New York Times depicts what is called a “mesh network,” or an independent internet that uses computers and phones not only as interfaces, but as actual nodes to create the network Imagine in this case, that the “country border” is that of Turkey and Syria. Such networks can be set up virtually anywhere, and the development of methods and software to do so have been the subject of US State Department funding and implementation.
The New York Times in their article, “U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors,” stated in June, 2011 that:
The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.
The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”
Therefore, the Syrian government would gain very little by shutting off the Internet to neutralize networks working entirely independent of infrastructure within state control. Conversely, if NATO has shut the Internet off at nodes leading into Syria, as appears to be the case, NATO and their proxies operating inside of Syria can begin spreading false information, uncontested, via radio, SMS, and even ad hoc WiFi networks.
With NATO’s proxies possessing their own communication networks, their own ability to co-opt and control signals in and near their areas of operation, in particular along the borders where NATO forces themselves are directly involved in disrupting and controlling communications, according to Reuters, a disruption in Syria’s communication networks would only serve to blind, hinder, and disrupt the government and the vast majority of Syria’s civilians.
The control of information, the ability to communicate and coordinate one’s forces, whether they are forces of a military or economic nature, is essential to the survival and prosperity of any nation. The neglect of improving and protecting the means of communication and the control of information within one’s borders is the modern equivalent of letting a castle’s walls crumble, its moat dry up, and to leave its towers without archers.
Syria is not entirely unprepared, however, and its ally Iran is actively building a model that could serve as an example for other nations to follow in securing their information and communication networks. Additionally, the measures used by NATO to subvert sovereign nations in their pursuit of corporate-financier motivated regime change across the planet, can just as easily boomerang back at these very corporations and financial institutions, slaying them with their own sword.
Countermeasures and Defensive Initiatives.
One of the many considerations and motivations behind the very creation of the Internet was its decentralized nature, and its ability to survive catastrophic attacks and still function. A subject of study by the RAND Corporation, the distributed nature of the Internet was seen as being superior to that of conventional, centralized communication architectures. However, the utility of such a network is still determined by who controls the flow of information at nodes and bottlenecks within the system.
Iran has been working on the creation of a nationwide intranet, independent of the Internet, in a bid to break the monopoly the West has been increasingly building over the years. By developing an indigenous network, Iran has the ability to isolate the country from attempts to use the Internet to undermine the nation politically and economically and control the nodes and bottlenecks within its borders.
While the Western media portrays Iran’s move as unreasonable, Western tech-firms are confirmed to be openly collaborating with Western governments in their bid to manipulate, undermine, and overthrow targeted nations, especially Iran. When we consider the disingenuous reasons behind the West’s confrontation with Iran, best articulated in Washington’s own policy think-tank, the Brookings Institution and their “Which Path to Persia?” report, the danger Iran truly faces becomes all the more obvious.
Image: Movement.org’s 2011 sponsor page. Since then, Google and the US State Department have since removed mention of their involvement, but Movement’s own annual reports (2008, 2009, 2010) still retain mention their sponsorship and role over the years.
Internet giant Google, for instance, has been openly working with the US State Department in their corporate-financier motivated interventions around the world, from Egypt to Tunisia, from Libya to Syria. It was revealed that as early as 2008, Google, along with AT&T, Howcast, and Facebook were collaborating with the US State Department via Movements.org to train, equip, and organize protesters ahead of the “Arab Spring” in 2011. The West’s governments and media would feign ignorance and surprise when widespread unrest finally swept the Arab World, when in reality it had been meticulously planned for years.
Image: The US State Department has used Google Ads to spread propaganda. This ad featured (in Farsi) the Twitter account @USAdarFarsi of the “Virtual Embassy of the United States” and reads, “Obama to the Iranian youth: I want you to know that I’m with you.” (click image to enlarge)
The US State Department regularly uses Google Ads to target Farsi speaking readers with messages to undermine the Iranian government – the modern equivalent of US Army Psychological Operations broadcasting propaganda over loudspeakers in a US theater of war, or the US State Department’s Voice of America for decades broadcasting propaganda via radio.
Additionally, Israel has openly admitted to waging “consistent and relentless” cyber warfare, just days after accusations were leveled against it regarding attacks on Iran’s infrastructure, both physical and digital.
Iran’s move, seen in this context, is not only reasonable, but would indicate negligence on the Iranian government’s part had it not begun taking more drastic measures to secure, defend, and isolate networks under constant, verifiable attack.
While Iran works to build technical solutions to adapt and overcome Western efforts to use the Internet as a weapon against them, Syria appears to be fighting with a much more hastily assembled defense, the Syrian Electric Army, to counteract torrents of propaganda emanating from similar organizations put together by the Pentagon, the Israeli IDF, as well as Saudi and Qatari propaganda machines.
The true story behind the Internet blackout in Syria may never be known, but simply countering propaganda online may not be enough to combat the full-spectrum warfare waged by NATO upon Syria, including cyber warfare. And surely such measures will not win the wars of the future. Iran’s approach, involving infrastructure as well as countering Western propaganda with their own professional, international news agency PressTV, provides nation-states with a model for confronting foreign hegemonic ambitions on and within their borders.
US State Department’s “Suitcase Internet” – a Double Edged Sword.
It is difficult to say what sort of people were actually behind the US State Department’s “Suitcase Internet.” There is Sascha Meinrath of the corporate-financier foundation-funded New America Foundation, who despite his affiliations and his role in facilitating American hegemonic ambitions across the Arab World, claims to promote “community wireless networks.” In this case, his deeds and the company he keeps, certainly don’t match his alleged desires. (read Meinrath’s US State Department RFERL interview here)
It is clear by now, with the so-called revolutions in Libya, Egypt, and Syria turning out to be textbook cases of “color revolutions” premeditated and carried out by and exclusively for a myriad of Western organizations, corporations, and institutions for the sole purpose of installing more obedient (not more democratic nor more humane) client regimes, that all those involved, along with their good intentions, were simply exploited.
Most likely, this technology will be outlawed or regulated into extinction across the West, even as it is used to overrun nations across the rest of the world.
Image: A visual depiction of Project Byzantium’s ad-hoc wireless mesh network. More information can be found on their website here. Such networks have been used by corporate-financier interests, acting through the US State Department and couching their intentions behind “democracy” and “freedom” to execute the so-called “Arab Spring.” By doing so, they have managed to co-opt the talent and intentions of people to accomplish the very opposite of their stated goal. Instead of freeing nations, they’ve only been burdened with worse oppressors with infinitely stronger backers – Wall Street and London.
Software similar to what is described as being used for the “Internet Suitcase,” also known as an ad-hoc wireless mesh network, can be found at Project Byzantium, and was produced by Washington D.C.-based hackerspace, HacDC. It is described as being made specifically with “activists” in mind. While hackerspaces and local innovation stand the greatest chance at leveling the playing field, reducing both disparity and the exploitation it invites, it appears that in this case, special interests have leveraged this phenomenon to its advantage.
But the concept of mesh networks themselves, along with the work of HacDC are like any tool or weapon – everything depends on whose hands it is in, and how it is used.
Across the Arab World, these mesh networks have allowed proxies of US corporate-financier interests (wittingly and unwittingly) to undermine and overthrow the governments of sovereign nation-states and have lead to the ascent of tyrannies not only many magnitudes worse, but their true nature concealed by a complicit Western media and diplomatic corps. But what if these mesh networks (combined with locally implemented broadband lines to guard against threats like these) were used to set up permanent networks in local communities, with permanent links between communities – and other locally produced and maintained solutions for connecting groups of communities in one country, with those in another?
The potential for upsetting telecommunications monopolies with open source, local networks, independent of both corporate and government control, rules and regulations is precisely how this sword cuts the other way. Local telephone networks, like those created and deployed by the US State Department against targeted and occupied nations could also likewise be deployed against the very corporate-financier interests using these tools today to achieve their geopolitical objectives.
Localizing these networks, and connecting them as local initiatives would not only supplant large, centralized corporate-financier interests, but in the process of supplanting them, would distribute the vast amounts of unwarranted wealth and influence they’ve accumulated, across thousands, perhaps millions of local entrepreneurs – in other words, wealth redistribution through innovation and local entrepreneurship – the eradication of monopolizing special-interests by globally boycotting them, and locally replacing them.
Syria and 4th Generation Warfare.
In Syria’s case, and any sovereign nation-state wishing to stave off the threats wars of the future will bring, a careful study of today’s technology and how it can be implemented as weapons tomorrow should form the driving force behind the formation of defense strategies – not just past successes and today’s current threats. Having both electronic armies and professional international media agencies communicating a nation’s interests to the world, as well as developing and deploying indigenous communications, manufacturing, and defense infrastructure are, and will continue to be, the keys to successfully defending a nation against 4th generation warfare.
Conventional armies and nuclear forces both still serve a valuable role as deterrents, but large contingents of counter-terrorism/counterinsurgency special forces in combination with serious telecommunication and information warfare strategies are essential. The forces of Wall Street-London corporate-financier capital have made it clear they favor 4th generation warfare to build their modern empire. Those that are being targeted must then prepare to fight 4th generation wars.