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Medicare Madness – How Americans Can Lose Benefits In A Hospital

March 14, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Tuck away the many horror stories of the wrong limbs being amputated, things being left in surgery patients, terrible infections picked up in hospitals and totally wrong diagnoses. More relevant is a bureaucratic hospitalization horror that far too few Americans covered by Medicare are aware of.

Odds are that you do not know a key question to ask if you ever find yourself in a hospital for an overnight stay that could last from one or two days, or perhaps much more.  What you and anyone accompanying you want to know is whether you are being classified as “under observation.”   This means that legally you are not an inpatient.  If the former, then you are likely to find yourself owing the hospital a large amount of money, because your Medicare or other health insurance will not provide the benefits associated with inpatient status.  Many, many Americans nationwide that were classified as under observation have faced unexpected bills of many tens of thousands of dollars.

So pay very close attention to what you are about to read.

If you in a hospital, possibly in an emergency room, then you or family or friends should ask some tough questions of hospital staff if you are kept in the hospital after being handled in the emergency room.  Ask if you will be kept in as an inpatient.  If told that you will be in the observation category, then you might seriously consider whether you should stay in that hospital, or perhaps seek another one if you are not in immediate need of medical attention beyond what was received in the emergency department.

Indeed, ordinary Americans should recognize what Medicare does, namely that the decision made by the hospital to classify a patient as under observation for billing purposes is a “complex medical judgment.”  What that means is that different interpretations and decisions can be made, either by someone else in the hospital or professionals in a different hospital.  The critical decision to use the observation classification, with so much potential negative impact for patients, is “open to widely variable interpretation” as physician Steven J. Myerson has noted.

Because you may be in a very stressful state resulting from facing some medical condition, it is imperative that family and friends also need to become educated.  Realistically, you may not be in a clear enough mental state when you enter a hospital to ask questions and demand good answers about how the hospital is classifying your stay.

Understand this: Nothing is crazier than entering a hospital for one or more nights and being designated as under observation, which amounts to being an outpatient, rather than an inpatient.  Despite coverage by Medicare you will not have expected benefits.

Beyond hours in the emergency department, you can spend days in a hospital bed, receive regular nursing care, be given drugs and all kinds of tests.  You might even spend time in a critical care or intensive care unit.  But you can still be officially designated an outpatient in observation status.  Even though you might stay in the hospital for more than just one or two nights, unless officially designated an inpatient you face major financial liability.

Under Medicare this means you are not covered by Part A which provides the best hospital coverage, but rather covered under Part B with far inferior coverage.  This practice is as bad as anything you have ever heard about awful health insurance coverage.  Furthermore, Medicare does not cover post-discharge care for Part B observation stays. For example, a patient in observation status for a broken bone will have to pay the full cost of rehabilitation or a nursing home.  But for an inpatient Medicare pays for skilled nursing care following at least three consecutive inpatient days.  Also, observation patients pay out-of-pocket for the medication they receive in the hospital and Subtitle D drug coverage may not cover these costs.

Hard to believe but your personal physician may not know that their patient has been classified by the hospital as outpatient or under observation.  Though it would be very smart for you to raise this issue and make it clear that you do not want to stay in a hospital unless you are being admitted as an inpatient.  But starting in an emergency room makes it difficult to push this issue, but not impossible.

Even the key public document from Medicare makes clear that “You’re an outpatient if you’re getting emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient.”  Regardless of what a doctor has said, however, hospitals have the power to classify you as under observation.  The government advises “If you’re in the hospital more than a few hours, always ask your doctor or the hospital staff if you’re an inpatient or an outpatient.”  Note the word “always.”  That is terrific, critically important advice.

You or your accompanying relative or friend must be prepared to challenge a decision of observation status and even raise the possibility of immediately leaving the hospital. Remember, this is after any actions given in an emergency department.  Being prepared to challenge an observation status decision requires that you fully understand the considerable downside of this hospital classification.

Actually, Medicare maintains a one way communication street.  Medicare doesn’t require hospitals to tell patients they are “under observation,” though many will do so.  It only requires hospitals to tell patients they have been downgraded from inpatient to observation.

To be clear, if you are not classified as an inpatient, then you officially have not been admitted to the hospital though you have entered it.  Toby Edelman of the Center for Medicare Advocacy has noted that “People have no way of knowing they have not been admitted to the hospital.  They go upstairs to a bed, they get a band on their wrist, nurses and doctors come to see them, they get treatment and tests, they fill out a meal chart – and they assume that they have been admitted to the hospital.”

How much of a problem is observation status?  In recent years, hospitals have increasingly classified Medicare beneficiaries as observation patients instead of admitting them, according to a Brown University nationwide analysis of Medicare claims.  From 2007 through 2009, the ratio of Medicare observation patients to those admitted as inpatients rose by 34 percent.  Worse, more than 10 percent of patients in observation were kept there for more than 48 hours, and more than 44,800 were kept in observation for 72 hours or longer in 2009 — an increase of 88 percent since 2007.

A recent New York Times article noted that under Medicare: “the number of seniors entering the hospital for observation increased 69 percent over five years, to 1.6 million in 2011.”  And from 2004 to 2011, the number of observation services administered per Medicare beneficiary rose by almost 34 percent, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, while admissions per beneficiary declined 7.8 percent.  In other words, this observation issue is not a trivial or minor issue affecting just a few people.

Data showing far greater use of the observation status option than widely reported were in a 2013 report to Medicare by the Health and Human Services Inspector General for 2012 hospitalizations.  Some 2.1 million hospitalizations were designated observation status with 11 percent three nights or more and 80 percent originating in emergency departments, but another 1.4 million were long term outpatient stays that could and perhaps should have been coded as observation status.  There were also 1.1 million short term inpatient stays (less than two nights) that also could have been coded as observation status.  With increased enforcement by Medicare and penalties for hospitals, therefore, there is the possibility of 4.6 million or more annual observation status stays.  Medicare patients should be aware of large differences among hospitals.

AARP did its own study and found that from 2001 to 2009 both the frequency and duration of observation status increased.  Although only about 3.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were in this class in 2009, Medicare claims for observation patients grew by more than 100 percent, with the greatest increase occurring in cases not leading to an inpatient admission.  The duration of observation visits also increased dramatically.  Observation service visits lasting 48 hours or longer were the least common, but had the greatest increase, almost 250 percent for observation only and more than 100 percent for observation with inpatient admission.

According to a survey by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) in 2013 more than 80 percent of US geriatric care managers reported that “inappropriate hospital Observation Status determinations were a significant problem in their communities and 75 percent noted that the problem was growing worse.

A University of Wisconsin study found that 10.4 percent of hospitalizations in 2010 and 2011 were in the observation status category and 16.5 percent of them exceeded 48 hours and concluded “observation care in clinical practice is very different than what CMS [the Medicare agency] initially envisioned and creates insurance loopholes that adversely affect patients, health care providers, and hospitals.”  In an Invited Commentary on the Wisconsin study, physician Robert M. Wachter of the Department of Medicine at the University ofCalifornia, San Francisco, summed up the observation issue as having “morphed into madness.”

Note that Medicare guidelines recommend that observation stays be no longer than 24 hours and only “in rare and exceptional cases” extend past 48 hours.   Obviously, this is nearly meaningless in the real world.

Why are hospitals placing more patients in observation status?

Like so much in American society, the answer is money.

Hospitals are at risk from Medicare audits that declare patients wrongly defined as inpatients.  Payment is then rejected, potentially large amounts of money.  The government has increased audits to such a degree that since 2009 four recovery firms have reviewed bills from hospitals and physicians nationwide and recuperated $1.9 billion in overpayments. Billion!

Two physicians writing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine said: “When observation is used as a billing status in inpatient areas without changes in care delivery, it’s largely a cost-shifting exercise – relieving the hospital of the risk of adverse action by the RAC [Recovery Audit Contractor] but increasing the patient’s financial burden.”

To cut its spending, Medicare has accused hospitals of over-charging by “admitting” patients instead of putting them on “observation” status.   For example, in July 2013, BethIsrael New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston paid Medicare $5.3 million to settle claims over this issue.

A new wrinkle under Obamacare is that hospitals can be penalized for readmitting patients in less than 30 days.  But observation patients cannot be counted as readmissions if they happen to return because they were not officially admitted in the first place.  To avoid this risk of financial loss, more patients can be classified as under observation.

A new Medicare rule taking effect April 1, 2014 requires doctors to admit people they anticipate staying for longer than two midnights, but to list those expected to stay for less time as observation patients.  Many medical professionals doubt that this will improve things.  Physician Ann Sheehy of the University of Wisconsin closely examined how this rule will work and concluded: “We found that four of five diagnosis codes were the same across length of stay, indicating that the cut point is arbitrary and really does not distinguish different patient groups, even though insurance benefits will be different based on length of stay.”  Time, not medical condition or hospital actions, is being used.  She also noted that the government will not count nights spent at different hospitals, and that 9 percent of their observation were transfers.

Dr. Sheehy made this great point: “Observation is an outpatient designation, which implies all services delivered could be done in an outpatient setting. This is totally not the case, which is why observation status is so frustrating.”

Because there is essentially no upside to being put into observation status, it is critically important for you or your advocate to be very assertive when entering the hospital.  What actions can you take after you are in the hospital and you are likely in a better mental state to address this problem?  Nothing that is likely to work for you.

The imperative is to check your status each day you are in the hospital and remember that it can be changed (from inpatient to observation, or vice versa) at any time by various hospital doctors or officials.  Sadly, in many cases a patient may not be informed that they have been in observation status until the discharge process.  That is why it is very important to ask the hospital, either through a doctor or nursing staff, what your status is and, if observation, to formally reconsider your case.  Ask if there is a hospital committee that could review your status.  Definitely ask your own doctor whether they are willing to press your case for inpatient status based on medical factors.  In theory, you could appeal observation status with Medicare after you leave the hospital, but that is difficult and few have succeeded.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy makes available a Self Help Packet for Medicare “Observation Status.”  This is definitely worth keeping handy and it would be great if hospitals distributed it.  This group has an active legal case challenging the government’s policy of allowing hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries to be placed in “observation status,” rather than formally admitting them, and depriving them of their Part A coverage in violation of the Medicare statute and other laws.  This group makes this important observation: “Neither the Medicare statute nor the Medicare regulations define observation services.  The only definition appears in various CMS manuals.”

What is really needed is action by Congress to eliminate observation status for any overnight stay, but this is unlikely unless many millions of Medicare beneficiaries demand it.  The ugly truth is that this observation status was a bureaucratic tactic to reduce Medicare spending.  It puts hospitals in the difficult position of putting their patients in a very bad financial situation.  In a real sense hospitals are being blackmailed into serving as agents to implement this awful observation policy.  A vigorous national campaign by AARP demanding congressional action is needed.


Joel S. Hirschhorn is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

He can be reached through www.delusionaldemocracy.com

Connecticut Politicians Inch Closer to War on Gun Owners

March 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

No, I don’t mean some place in the Ukraine.  For some of you who went to public school, Connecticut is in the north-eastern corner of the US, but barely.

I understand your confusion since Connecticut is closer to New York City than to the US.  Let’s see how Connecticut politicians constructed a situation where honest gun owners could get shot by police.  We can also prescribe a peaceful solution.

How did they get themselves into this mess?  There was a huge outcry of public anguish and frustration after a crazy man murdered children at a public school in Connecticut.  The media used that emotional reaction to sell its anti-gun bigotry.  The media falsely claimed that mass murder by honest gun owners was increasing.  Yes, it is bigotry.  Bigotry is blaming the innocent, and a hundred million honest gun owners are innocent.  They don’t shoot school children, but that didn’t stop the media from blaming them.  The media blamed people like me.  Maybe they blamed you.

-Politicians used a public tragedy for political gain.  In an equally crazy reaction, politicians said they would do something, do anything, even if it made us less safe.  They outlawed common firearms.  Connecticut politicians ignored the rights of the voters in doing so.  They also ignored the facts about mass violence.  The reason is simple.

Connecticut politicians put their political careers ahead of public safety.

  • Connecticut gun owners protested as the anti-gun bill went through the legislature, but they were ignored by the Democrat majority.  After the Democrat politicians outlawed common firearms, the citizens returned the favor.  Connecticut gun owners largely ignored the new laws.
  • Politicians exposed their ill will.  Some gun owners registered their guns as dictated.  Others ignored the new regulations.  Those who registered their firearms late were rejected and ordered to sell their firearms out of state or surrender them to police.  That proves gun registration was never the point of the anti-gun legislation.
  • Gun owners asked the state police if they would go door to door and seize firearms.  The police said they would follow orders.  Police spokesmen also questioned the patriotism of Connecticut gun owners.  Wise policemen do not deliberately alienate and frighten honest citizens.  Some Connecticut police are not that smart.
  • Connecticut newspapers called for door-to-door searches and gun confiscation.  That further frightened Connecticut gun owners.  The idea of midnight no-knock raids frightens me too.  It should frighten you.
  • -The gun law was challenged in court, but lower courts refused to enjoin the legislation until the appeal is completed.  This means the legislature and police can trample the rights of Connecticut gun owners for years to come.

In total, legislators, judges and the media showed stunning bigotry and lack of respect for political minorities.  Their bias is as blatant as watching a southern judge during the Jim Crow era.

Where we are today?  Connecticut has an unenforceable law on its books.  So many gun owners refused to follow the law that Connecticut does not have the physical or fiscal means to enforce their law.  The ranks of law enforcement, the number of courts, and the number of prisons would have to grow ten fold.  The costs of court trials and prison incarcerations are enough to bankrupt the state.  There are other costs as well.

How could the situation get worse?  Police have murdered innocent civilians during no-knock raids.  It is a sad fact, but it has happened.  Examples are here 1 and here 2 and a video here 3.  Though the media will try and cover for them, police and politicians will have blood on their hands if they injure civilian gun owners during firearm confiscation.  Police violence will further heighten the fear felt by honest gun owners in Connecticut.  Connecticut gun owners could try to defend themselves if people violently break into their homes.  This could lead to further bloodshed for all concerned.  Police and politicians would then be seen as murderous oppressors rather than defenders of a fair and impartial justice system.

Respect for Connecticut law enforcement and politicians would plummet even further.  Law enforcement officers would lose community support.  Crime and violence would increase.

That is bad.

The police could conduct door to door sweeps with armed and armored personnel carriers rolling down the street as they did after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Yes, Connecticut could become a police state over this politicized issue.

That is worse.

Is forced disarmament necessary?  Going door to door in no-knock midnight raids is foolishly dangerous.  It is also profoundly unnecessary.  Honest gun owners present no danger to the public.  They never did.  If Connecticut gun owners are a threat at all, they threaten the public image of bigoted politicians who now look politically foolish and publicly inept.

How can this situation de-escalate peacefully?  There are lawsuits in place against the Connecticut gun law.  Let the judicial process work to protect the rights of minorities.  Enjoin the law as the case slowly grinds its way through the courts.

The political solution is to lobby the legislators in person, and some online media have posted lists of legislators who supported gun confiscation.  Some politicians view that publicity with alarm.  They are wrong.  You should not be a politician if you don’t want to see the faces of the people affected by your laws.  An isolated and insulated ruling class is a sure way to violence.

Let the courts settle this.

About Rob Morse:
By day, Rob Morse works in Southern California as a mild mannered engineer for a defense contractor. By night he writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Gun Rights Magazine, www.gunrightsmagazine.com/contributors/rob-morse/ and writes the SlowFacts blog. www.slowfacts.wordpress.com . He also loves the M1911 and shoots combat handgun on the weekends.

Source: Ammoland

Exposed: The Nazi Roots of the European Union

March 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Once upon a time, there was an industrial combine in Nazi Germany called IG Farben. It was the largest chemical/pharmaceutical octopus in the world. It owned companies, and it had favorable business agreements with companies from England to Central America to Japan.

As I mentioned in a recent article, the author of The Devil’s Chemists, Josiah DuBois, traveled to Guatemala in the early days of World War 2, and returned with the comment that, as far as he could tell, Guatemala was “a wholly owned subsidiary of Farben.”

The pharmaceutical empire was and is one of the major forces behind the European Union (EU). It is no accident that these drug corporations wield such power. They aren’t only involved in controlling the medical cartel; they are political planners.

This is how and why Big Pharma fits so closely with what is loosely referred to as the New World Order. The aim of enrolling every human in a cradle-to-grave system of disease diagnosis and toxic drug treatment has a larger purpose: to debilitate, to weaken populations.

This is a political goal. It facilitates control.

IG Farben’s component companies, at the outbreak of World War 2, were BayerBASF, and Hoechst. They were chemical and drug companies. Farben put Hitler over the top in Germany, and the war was designed to lead to a united Europe that would be dominated by the Farben nexus.

The loss of the war didn’t derail that plan. It was shifted into an economic blueprint, which became, eventually, the European Union.

The European Commission’s first president was Walter Hallstein, the Nazi lawyer who, during the war, had been in charge of post-war legal planning for the new Europe.

As the Rath Foundation reports: In 1939, on the brink of the war, Hallstein had stated, “The creation of the New Law [of the Nazis] is ONLY the task of the law-makers!”

In 1957, with his reputation sanitized, Hallstein spoke the words in this manner: “The European Commission has full and unlimited power for all decisions related to the architecture of this European community.”

Post-war, IG Farben was broken up into separate companies, but those companies were following a common agenda. If, for example, you want to know why the endless debate over labeling GMO food rivals the real issue—banning GMO crops altogether—you can look to these Farben allies: Bayer, BASF, and Sanofi, among others.

They are among the leaders in GMO research and production. BASF cooperates withMonsanto on research projects. Sanofi is a leader in GM vaccine research.

The original IG Farben had a dream. Its executives and scientists believed they could eventually produce, synthetically, any compound in a laboratory. They could dominate world industry in this fashion.

The dream never died. Today, they see gene-manipulation as the route to that goal.

I refer you to the explosive book, The Nazi Roots of the Brussels EU, by Paul Anthony Taylor, Aleksandra Niedzwiecki, Dr. Matthias Rath, and August Kowalczyk. You can read it at relay-of-life.com. It is a dagger in the heart of the EU.

At the Rath Foundation, you can also read Joseph Borkin’s classic, “The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben.”

In 1992, I was deeply engaged in researching the specific devastating effects of medical drugs. Eventually, I concluded that, at the highest levels of power, these drugs weren’t destructive by accident. They were intended to cause harm. This was covert chemical warfare against the population of the planet. The Rockefeller-Standard Oil-Farbenconnection was a primary piece of the puzzle.

It was, of course, Rockefeller (and Carnegie) power that forced the birth of pharmaceutical medicine in America, with the publication of the 1910 Flexner Report. The Report was used to excoriate and marginalize Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and other forms of traditional natural practice, in favor of what would become the modern juggernaut of drug-based treatment.

In an article about the FDA, “Medical Murder in the Matrix,” I point out the fact that this federal agency has permitted at least 100,000 deaths of Americans, per year, from the direct effects of drugs it, the FDA, has certified as safe.

The FDA knows these death figures. “Unintended” and “accidental” can no longer be applied to this ongoing holocaust.

The same can be held true for the pharmaceutical industry itself.

People are exceedingly reluctant to come to this obvious conclusion. They prefer to hem and haw and invent excuses or deny the facts.

To understand the dimensions and history of the ongoing chemical warfare against the population, in the form of medical drugs (and of course pesticides), one must factor in the original octopus, IG Farben.

World War 2 never ended. It simply shifted its strategies.

And just as one can trace extensive collaboration between major American corporations and the Nazi war machine, during the military phase of the war, today you see American corporations wreaking destructive havoc on the American people, as Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and others “work their magic for a better life.”

In any fascist system, the bulk of the people working inside the system, including scientists, refuse to believe the evidence of what is happening before their own eyes. They insist they are doing good. They believe they are on the right side. They see greater top-down control as necessary and correct. They adduce reasonable explanations for inflicted harm and death.

This is how and why conspiracies can exist. Only a few people, at the very top, need to know the true motives.

Everyone else tells themselves fairy tales. This deep-seated obsession is an integral part of mind control, and ultimately it is self-inflicted.

The self-created victim calculates: “I would rather stay in my dream than wake up to a nightmare.”

Yes, but acknowledging the nightmare is a step on the road to liberation.

In centuries past, empires conquered foreign lands and made colonies out of them. When that era ended, a less overt style of military and economic conquest was initiated. But there is something most people don’t realize.

When richer nations now go into poorer nations, the so-called incidental goal of bringing “life-saving” medical care with them is a front and a pose.

One of the chief goals of the conquerors is, in fact, pharmaceutical. Changing the habits of populations, so they come to rely on these drugs is high on the to-do list. It rings up profit, of course, for the pharmaceutical empire, and it also poisons the poor into even greater desolation than they are already experiencing. They become even easier to control.

On top of that, the actual untreated causes of the routine desolation—starvation, generation-to-generation malnutrition, contaminated water supplies, lack of general sanitation, overcrowding, and previously stolen agricultural land—are shoved on the back burner of the global media.

Suddenly, we learn that various germ-caused diseases are the real scourges of these countries, and help is coming (slowly), in the form of drugs that kill the germs, along with the medical heroes who will deliver these drugs.

This is a cover story. It’s a preposterous lie. In the conditions of desolation mentioned above, it doesn’t matter what germs are present, and trying to attack them is futile and absurd.

The general desolation weakens and destroys immune systems. At that point, what would normally be completely harmless germs, any germs, can sweep through an area and cause death and severe illness, because the routine processes of the immune system, which would immediately neutralize the germs, are disabled.

The “medical intervention” is meant to defer, for yet another day, the remedying of the actual problems that keep causing disease—and the medical drugs create new and lethal toxicity, leading to more deaths.

This is the standard op of the modern pharmaceutical empire. To know it is proceeding apace, all you have to do is see foreign doctors getting off planes in Third World countries, or read about some drug giant that is undertaking a humanitarian program of supplying medicines and vaccines to “people in desperate need of them.”

The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon Rappoport was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com

Source: Jon Rappoport  |  No More Fake News

Monsanto Causing Extinction of The Monarch Butterfly

March 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As you may know, I bicycled for a year in South America, top to bottom.  I enjoyed the Amazon jungle, the wildlife and especially the insect life.  I took pictures of tens of thousands of butterflies dancing on an endless canopy of flowers.  Many of my columns deal with saving the natural world such as an international 25-cent deposit-return law for all plastic, glass and metal containers.  We must keep plastics from destroying our fellow creatures—especially in our oceans.

Today, I appeal to you to use the links provided to send the chemical giant Monsanto a letter to demand they stop marketing “Round-up” ; “Weed-b-gone” and other poisons that threaten the extinction of the Monarch butterfly.

Monarch butterflies vanish faster with each passing year — and all signs point to Monsanto as the main culprit.

Major press outlets worldwide reported last month that Monarchs face “grave danger”, with their population reaching the lowest numbers ever recorded. Now, an independent study linked the monarch’s decline with Monsanto’s “Round-up” herbicide.

One of the most beautiful phenomena in the natural world — the annual mass migration of 60 million monarchs from Canada to Mexico – stands on the verge of being a relic of history. We need to fight this now, before it’s too late for the butterflies.

Join me and tell Monsanto to pull its butterfly-killing herbicide before it’s too late.

“This corporate giant knows what it’s doing,” said a spokesperson for Sum of Us. “But Monsanto says we should balance the butterfly’s survival with what it calls “productive agriculture”(read: Monsanto’s bottom line equals money not nature.).

Tell Monsanto to pull its butterfly-killing herbicide before it’s too late.

The annual mass migration of 60 million Monarchs from Canada to Mexico represents one of the most beautiful phenomena in the natural world. I know because on one of my many cycle trips along the coast of California, I saw millions of Monarchs hanging from trees during their rest stops.

But Monarchs stand on the verge of being a relic of history, and a key link in our food chain.

“The monarch butterfly is in a serious, decades-long decline,” said the spokesperson.  “The World Wildlife Fund reported that this winter, the monarchs are only occupying an area of 1.7 acres in Mexico, down from 45 acres in 1996. An evolutionary strategy based on eating a common weed seemed smart — until Monsanto came along. Just one state along the monarchs’ migration route, Iowa, is reported to have lost 98 percent of its milkweed.”

Monsanto products like Roundup dominate the agricultural market worldwide. This corporate giant sells matching genetically-engineered plants resistant to its pesticides – and encourages factory farms to douse fields with gallons of Monsanto’s herbicides.

“But sprayed over vast areas, these poisons effect the entire ecosystem,” a spokesperson said. “Monsanto’s Roundup wipes out the monarchs’ primary food source – a plant called milkweed. Scientists have linked the monarch’s rapid population decline to the spread of Monsanto’s pesticides. Losing these butterflies means wiping out insects, birds and small mammals that rely on the monarch and its place in the food chain.”

Take a few minutes to visit the website and send in your letter to Monsanto. Tell Monsanto to save the monarchs by pulling its ecosystem-threatening herbicide.

Every second wasted nails another spike into the butterfly’s coffin leading to extinction. Let’s harness that awareness to save the monarchs from Monsanto!


Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece.

He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at his website: www.frostywooldridge.com

Frosty Wooldridge is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Razing Arizona: Conservatives Succeed At Failing Again

February 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Perhaps Arizona governor Jan Brewer was sincere when saying that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 1062) she vetoed yesterday could “create more problems than it purports to solve.” After all, observers such as Napp Nazworth at The Christian Post contend that SB 1062 might actually — contrary to all the hysteria — have made it harder for most business owners to refuse service to homosexuals. This analysis may have merit and can be read here, but it’s irrelevant to a larger point:

The GOP’s handling of this matter was a good illustration of conservatism’s fatal flaw.

Whatever the legal realities, about something we can be sure: many conservatives believed in SB 1062. And as with the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the bill but turned against it after the heat was turned up,  many of those conservatives caved under great pressure from greedy businesses, limp-wristed neo-con artists (John McCain) and that great leftist public-relations team (the media).

I’ve long lamented that conservatives are conservative; that is to say, they play defense and just try to protect the status quo, which was, though conservatives generally appear oblivious to the fact, created by yesterday’s liberals.

So they never actually try to rescind those efforts at thought control called hate-crime laws, but just hope to limit the scope of new proposals for them. They never really endeavor to eliminate government programs and bureaucracies; they just aim to slow down their metastasizing. They hardly ever try to reduce spending and shrink government, but just seek to limit the rate at which both balloon. And with the Arizona effort, they weren’t really willing to do what was necessary to reclaim freedom of association. They just proposed a half measure and then folded like cheap cameras.

As for the Three Mouseketeers who ran for cover — senators Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce — they wrote in a letter to Brewer that while they wanted “to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance.”

Wow, is that all it takes?

We might as well just bow down and lick the left’s jackboots right now.

How did these three chronologically adult politicians think the left would characterize their effort? Who are these guys, Beaver and Wally Cleaver and Dennis (the Menace) Mitchell? Of course the left is going to call you names! That’s what they do. And now you’ve just confirmed for them, once again, that this is all they have to do to bring you to your knees. Welcome to How to Lose a Culture War 101.

How should conservatives handle such name calling?

Hurl names right back.

Call the leftists what they are: tyrants, socialists and haters of liberty. Explain that they want to destroy freedom of association. Seek to control the language of the debate and to frame the narrative — and use their own Alinsky tactics against them. And we do have one great advantage: we’re right and righteous.

As for strategy, realize that framing this as a matter of freedom of religion makes it seem a special-interest cause, as not everyone considers himself “religious.” What we really need is a Freedom of Association Restoration Act.

For this freedom is increasingly trampled. A photographer in New Mexico being sued and two Oregon bakers forced to close their business — both for refusing to be party to lesbian so-called “weddings” — are just two examples of the phenomenon.

But think about the supposition justifying this kind of government coercion: no one would deny me the right to include in or exclude from my home whomever I please. Why should I lose this right simply because I decide to erect extra tables and sell food?

It’s still my private property, paid for with my own money and created by the sweat of my own brow. It’s tyranny to give me a choice between relinquishing my rights — and starving.

Likewise, no one would force you to bake cakes for or take pictures of people with whom you didn’t want to consort. Why should this change just because you decide to bake cakes or take pictures for money? The principle is simple: your home, your oven, your camera — your choice.

The hypocrisy here is thick, too. We wouldn’t force a Muslim butcher to deal in pork or a Jewish baker to place Nazi symbols on a cake; in fact, there’s a story about a supermarket that refused to place the name of a neo-Nazi’s son — Adolf Hitler Campbell — on a birthday cake. And even more recently we heard about a bar in California denying service to legislators seeking to protect marriage. Of course, the left will claim there’s no comparison, as pork eaters, Nazis and pro-marriage individuals aren’t protected groups. So let’s get this straight:

They trumpet discrimination as an argument for disallowing discrimination.

And what invidious discrimination theirs is. They somehow think that supporting the granting of just some groups “protected status” — and thus leaving other groups, apparently, “unprotected” — gives them moral high ground in trying to discriminate against yet other groups by forcing them, but not others (e.g., those opposing and denying service to traditionalist legislators), to violate their deeply held convictions. Only a twisted mind could consider this justice. Of course, though, with liberals telling us via a high-school textbook (Magruder’s American Government & Civics) that justice “is difficult to define for justice is a concept, an idea, an invention of the human mind [and that] [l]ike other concepts such as truth, liberty, and fairness justice means what people want it to mean,” this is no surprise.

Some will balk at my argument, saying that my position on freedom of association would allow businesses to discriminate even on the basis of race or sex. The answer to this is illustrated with a simple analogy: does freedom of speech mean anything if only extended to popular speech? It then isn’t freedom of speech at all, but merely the establishment of different prohibitions than may exist in Iran, North Korea or Cuba. Likewise, the true test of whether we really believe in freedom of association is if we’ll extend it to even those who would exercise it in a way we abhor.

As for businesses that must operate in today’s tyrannical, rights-squelching environment, I have a solution. If, for instance, people forced me through law to provide bakery services for them, the trauma just might affect my ability to identify and measure ingredients and follow a recipe. And I would then show them that you can have your cake, but you can’t eat it, too.


Selwyn Duke is a writer, columnist and public speaker whose work has been published widely online and in print, on both the local and national levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show and has been a regular guest on the award-winning Michael Savage Show. His work has appeared in Pat Buchanan’s magazine The American Conservative and he writes regularly for The New American and Christian Music Perspective.

He can be reached at: SelwynDuke@optonline.net

Selwyn Duke is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Foreclosure Filings Jump As Investors Eye Exits

February 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” – John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

It’s too bad Keynes isn’t around today to see how the toxic combo of financial engineering, central bank liquidity and fraud have transformed the world’s biggest economy into a hobbled, crisis-prone invalid that’s unable to grow without giant doses of zero-rate heroin and mega-leverage crack-cocaine. This is exactly what the British economist warned about more than half a century ago in his magnum opus, “The General Theory…”, that you can’t build a vital, prosperous economy on the ripoff, Ponzi scams of Wall Street charlatans, mountebanks and swindlers. It can’t be done. And, yet– here we are again– in the middle of another historic asset-price bubble conceived and engineered by the bubbleheaded crackpots at the Federal Reserve. Go figure?

Just take a look at housing, which is at the end of an astonishing 18-month run that was entirely precipitated by what?

Higher wages?

Nope.

Lower unemployment?

Wrong again.

Consumer confidence, bigger incomes, credit expansion, growing revenues, pent-up demand?

No, no, no, no and no. Economic fundamentals played no part in the so called housing rebound. In fact–as everyone knows–the economy stinks as bad today as it did 4 years ago when the government number-crunchers announced the end of the recession. The reason prices have been rising is because of the Fed’s loosy-goosey monetary policy (fake rates and QE), inventory suppression, bogus gov mortgage modification programs, and unprecedented speculation. (mainly Private Equity and investors groups) Those are the four legs of the stool propping up housing. Only now it looks like a couple of those legs are in the process of being sawed off which is going to put downward pressure on sales and prices. Take a look at this from DS News:

“A majority of experts surveyed by Zillow and Pulsenomics expect large-scale investors will pull out of the housing market in the next few years…

Out of 110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists surveyed in Zillow’s latest Home Value Index, 57 percent said they think institutional investors will work to sell the majority of homes in their portfolios “in the next three to five years.” These investors are largely credited with propping up housing during its recession, helping to keep sales volumes from plummeting too far.

While their withdrawal will most certainly affect today’s still-fragile market—79 percent of those surveyed said the impact would be “significant or somewhat significant” should investor activity curtail this year.”
Experts Predict Level Playing Field as Investors Withdraw, DS News

This is what we were afraid of from the very beginning, that the big PE firms would pack-it-in and move on once they’d made a killing, which they have, since prices soared 12 percent in one year. Now they want to get out while they getting is good, which means that–in some of the hotter markets where investors represented upwards of 50 percent of all purchases–there will have to be a new source of demand. Unfortunately, the demand for housing has never been weaker.

Sales are down, purchase applications are down, and the country’s homeownership rate has slipped to levels not seen since 1995, 18 years ago. The Fed’s $1 trillion purchase of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and zero rates have done nothing to stimulate “organic” consumer demand. Zilch. No “trickle down” at all. All the policy has done is generate a temporary surge of speculation that’s distorted prices and created conditions for another big bust. Get a load of this article from Housing Perspectives:

“Although household growth is the major driver of housing demand, getting an accurate picture of recent trends in this measure is difficult…In its recent release, the HVS reported annual household growth of just 448,800 in 2013. This represents a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession (Figure 1).

021114_mccue_figure1_sm
Source: US Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Repeat: “…a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession.”

Do you really think there are enough firsttime homebuyers in out there in Mortgageland to fill that gap?

In your dreams! Keep in mind, that a lot of firsttime homebuyers are collage grads who want to start a family and put down roots. Regrettably, nearly half of those potential buyers have been scrubbed from the list due to their burgeoning student loans which now exceed $1 trillion. These kids will probably never own a home, let-alone have a positive impact on sales in 2014. Ain’t gonna happen.

Maybe this is why the banks are suddenly speeding up their foreclosure filings, because they want to offload more of their distressed inventory before prices fall. Is that it? Check out this article on Housingwire:

“Monthly foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — reversed course and increased 8% to 124,419 in January from December, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.

This marks the 40th consecutive month where foreclosure activity declined on an annual basis, with filings down 18% from January…

As a whole, 57,259 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in January, rising 10% from December…

…this month’s foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 22 states, including Maryland (up 126%), Connecticut (up 82%), New Jersey (up 79%), California (up 57%), and Pennsylvania (up 39%).

Scheduled foreclosure auctions jumped 13% in January compared to the previous month.”RealtyTrac: Monthly foreclosure filings reverse course, rise 8%, Housingwire

Like most articles on housing, you have to sift through the bullshit to figure out what’s really going on, but it’s worth the effort. The banks have been dragging their feet for 40 months now, slowing down the foreclosure process (and adding to the shadow supply of distressed homes.) in order to push up prices hoping to ignite another boom. Now–after 3 and a half years of blatant collusion–they’ve done a 180 and started speeding up foreclosures. Why?

It’s because they agree with the above-mentioned “110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists” who think that “institutional investors” are going to call-it-quits and move on to greener pastures. That’s going to push down prices, which means they’re going to lose money. So they want to get ahead of the curve and dump more houses on the market before the stampede. That way, they lose less money.

Keep in mind, the banks are up-to-their-eyeballs in distressed inventory. Even conservative estimates of shadow backlog puts the figure of 90-day delinquent or worse, above 3 million homes. But if you review the gloomier prognostications, the sum could easily exceed 6 million homes, enough to suck the entire bleeding banking system into a black hole of insolvency. There was an interesting article on the topic in Bloomberg last week. It seems that, “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach has been warning mortgage-backed security purchasers that they should to pay more attention to underlying collateral in MBSs (vacant homes, that is) which have been “rotting away” for “six years” or more. Here’s a clip from the article:

“The housing market is softer than people think,” Mr. Gundlach said, pointing to a slowdown in mortgage refinancing, shares of homebuilders that have dropped 13% since reaching a high in May, and the time it’s taking to liquidate defaulted loans…

About 32% of seriously delinquent borrowers, those at least 90 days late, haven’t made a payment in more than four years, up 7% from the beginning of 2012, according to Fitch analyst Sean Nelson.

“These timelines could still increase for another year or so,” Mr. Nelson said, leading to even higher losses because of added legal and tax costs, and a greater potential for properties to deteriorate.”
Gundlach Counting Rotting Homes Makes Subprime Bear, Bloomberg

Let me get this straight: The number of “seriously delinquent borrowers” has actually gone up in the last year? Not only that, but many of these people “haven’t made a payment in more than four years”?

That’s a mighty fine recovery you got there, Mr. Bernanke. Sheesh.

Keep in mind, the backlog of unwanted homes could be a lot bigger than most people think. Way bigger. I was reading an article by Keith Jurow the other day, (“The Coming Mortgage Delinquency Disaster”, Keith Jurow, dshort.com) that paints a pretty grim picture of what is really going on behind the faux inventory numbers. Jurow–who has done extensive research on pre-foreclosure notice filings in New York state– says: “The number of monthly foreclosure filings in Suffolk County on Long Island …(were) more than 180,000 (while) fewer than 1,000 foreclosure filings had been served each month in (the last 4 years). By this calculation, Jurow figures that there should have been 1,192,000 foreclosures in New York state while the actual percentage of homes that have been repossessed remains in the single digits. (Read the whole article here.)

Chew on that for a minute. So, that’s a total of 180,000 homeowners who would have faced foreclosure under normal conditions, while less than 48,000 have actually been foreclosed. That’s 132,000 fewer foreclosures than there should have been IN JUST ONE COUNTY IN ONE STATE ALONE.”

The reason the prodigious shadow stockpile continues to balloon is quite simple, as Jurow points out in his piece: “Servicers do not foreclose on seriously delinquent borrowers throughout the entire NYC metro area. Completed foreclosures have actually declined rather dramatically throughout the nation in the past two years. The difference is that in the NYC metro, the servicers have not been foreclosing since the spring of 2009.”

So, there you have it; the banks haven’t been foreclosing because it hasn’t been in their interest to foreclose. Foreclosure sales push down prices which batters balance sheets and scares shareholders. Who wants that? So the game goes on. Only now, the dynamic is changing. Skittish investors are eyeing the exits, QE is winding down, and housing prices have peaked. The recovery has reached its zenith, which is why the bankers want get off on the top floor before the elevator begins its bumpy descent.

People who are thinking about buying a house in the near future, should watch developments in the market closely and proceed with extreme caution. No one wants to get burned in another bank swindle.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Everyone Loves A Police State

January 31, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

A few years ago, Reuters News reported that a nationwide poll conducted of the Russian people found that former dictator Josef Stalin was voted the third most popular historical figure. Over one-third of the Russian population participated in the poll.

See the report here:

Dictator Stalin Voted Third Most Popular Russian

Can you imagine? Stalin just might be the greatest mass-murderer in human history. Estimates of the body count during Stalin’s reign of terror range anywhere from 20-60 million, and that doesn’t include the millions of people who were starved, imprisoned, and tortured but who didn’t die. Only China’s Mao Tse-tung rivals Stalin’s butchery. Then, again, many Chinese people still love Mao Tse-tung, too.

How is it that people can laud and honor tyrants and butchers? How can people so easily submit to slavery and despotism?

No tyrant rises to power calling himself a tyrant. Tyranny is never sold as tyranny. Every tyrannical regime of history considered itself to be patriotic and compassionate; and the people who supported and submitted to such regimes considered themselves to be patriotic and compassionate, as well. The police state is never called that by those who promote it; they call it “law and order,” “keeping the peace,” “protecting the homeland,” etc.

Ask the average American today about the possibility that our country could become a police state and the common response is, “That could never happen here.” But, ladies and gentlemen, it is already happening here. And, furthermore, it seems that the vast majority of the American people are all in favor it. Republicans love it; Democrats love it; Christians love it; politicians love it; police officers love it; pastors love it; school teachers love it; businessmen love it; everyone loves a police state.

Threaten to remove Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, and Christians and conservatives come out of the woodwork in righteous indignation. Threaten to put a Nativity scene on some courthouse lawn, and Democrats and liberals come out of the woodwork in righteous indignation. But propose laws that strip the American people of their God-ordained liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, and conservatives and liberals alike, Christians and unbelievers alike, think it’s just about the greatest thing since sliced bread.

You don’t believe that? Try this news story on for size:

According to a World Net Daily report, “The 2014 NDAA was fast-tracked through the U.S. Senate, with no time for discussion or amendments, while most Americans were distracted by the scandal surrounding A&E’s troubles with ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson.

“Eighty-five of 100 senators voted in favor of the new version of the NDAA, which had already been quietly passed by the House of Representatives.”

The report continued saying, “Section 1021 allows the detention of anyone, including American citizens, by the military, if the president considers that person to have helped with terror.”

The report further said, “Congress specifically expressed its desire for the detention provision to apply to American citizens even on American soil by rejecting multiple amendments that would have exempted them.”

So, where are the notable leaders of the Religious Right? Where are the liberal groups? Where is the national media? Where are the talking heads from the right and the left? With precious few exceptions, they are absolutely silent on the subject. Why? Because they like it.

Liberals never met a big-government program or proposal they didn’t like. If it increases the size and scope of government, liberals love it. Conservatives love anything that smacks of “law and order.” (A word of caution: you never want to be the defendant in a courtroom where the jury is stacked with conservatives. If you do, you’re dead meat, friend.) And Christians get goose bumps up their spine about anything they think resembles Romans 13. Give government more power over our lives and listen to the Hallelujahs ringing out from the all of these 501c3 churches. And ditto for most of the talking heads on radio and television and the vast majority of the pundits and spokesmen from the national news media. Like I said, everyone loves a police state.

Well, not everyone, thank God!

The same WND report mentioned above states, “Some of the nation’s most respected legal teams are asking the Supreme Court to take up a challenge to the indefinite-detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, charging the law has created the framework for a police state.

“The controversial provision authorizes the military, under presidential authority, to arrest, kidnap, detain without trial and hold indefinitely American citizens thought to ‘represent an enduring security threat to the United States.’

“Journalist Chris Hedges is among the plaintiffs charging the law could be used to target journalists who report on terror-related issues.

A friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case states: ‘The central question now before this court is whether the federal judiciary will stand idly by while Congress and the president establish the legal framework for the establishment of a police state and the subjugation of the American citizenry through the threat of indefinite military arrest and detention, without the right to counsel, the right to confront one’s accusers, or the right to trial.’

“The brief was submitted to the Supreme Court by attorneys with the U.S. Justice Foundation of Ramona, Calif., Friedman Harfenist Kraut & Perlstein of Lake Success, N.Y., and William J. Olson, P.C. of Vienna, Va.”

See the report here:

Congress Grants Obama Free Rein For Martial Law

Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when people from both sides of the political aisle believed in freedom. I know it’s hard to imagine, but there was a time in this country when pastors from virtually every denomination believed in freedom. Not only did they believe in it; they fought for it. It seems like a long time ago.

Have you taken a close look at your State and local police agencies lately? More and more, our police officers and sheriff’s deputies resemble soldiers more than they do peace officers. I challenge you to Google “police abuse.” What you will discover will shock you. And, for all intents and purposes, the folks who live in many Northeastern states—along with California and Illinois–are already living in a State that is more controlled than many foreign countries, including some of the countries that we would call oppressive. And even our freer states are feeling the heavy hand of Big Brother more and more each day.

In fact, if you want to really get a taste of a police state, just move into some neighborhoods with their Gestapo-like Home Owner Associations (HOA). I’m telling you, some of these HOA rival anything Adolf Hitler could dream up.

Folks, take a good, hard look at reality: America is already in the beginning throes of a police state. Orwell’s “1984” and Huxley’s “Brave New World” are here. And far, far too many people seem fine with it.

I tell you the truth: I am to the point where I don’t know what to call myself. “Conservative” means nothing today. Nothing! One can be a “conservative” and believe in Big Government, undeclared wars of intervention, debt-driven economics, socialized medicine, increased taxes, and, of course, a police state. Likewise, “Christian” means nothing today. Nothing! One can be a “Christian” and believe in Big Government, undeclared wars of intervention, debt-driven economics, socialized medicine, increased taxes, and, of course, a police state. Oh, many “conservatives” and “Christians” might SAY they don’t believe in these things, but their actions (or lack of them) speak louder than their words.

A big THANK YOU is in order for Bill Olson, Herb Titus, Chris Hedges, et al. And THANK YOU to all of you folks out there who see what’s going on and are actively engaged in “the holy cause of liberty.” (Patrick Henry) I am your brother and compatriot, no matter what you call yourself. At this point, we aren’t conservatives or liberals, Christians or unbelievers; we are freedomists or statists.

Tyrants such as Joe Stalin and Mao Tse-tung might be popular with some people, and a burgeoning police state might be popular with some people, but there is a whole host of us in these United States who aren’t going to the gulags and gas chambers peacefully. And unlike the peasants of Europe and Asia, we aren’t surrendering our means of self-defense, either.

No, not everyone loves a police state.


Chuck Baldwin is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

You can reach him at: chuck@chuckbaldwinlive.com
Please visit Chuck’s web site at: http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com

Demolition Planet – Awaken and Rise

January 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

There comes a time when a coming convergence becomes apparent. But when it spells a very probable major cataclysm people are not too eager to see it.

But see it we must. And sound the alarm we must…as well as prepare.

Funny how that’s another thing “they” minimize and belittle. “Conspiracy freak” leads into “gloom and doomer”, “fear and hate monger” etc., all being cleverly wrapped into the “terrorist” catch-all these fascist, police state days.

They are the authors and manufacturers of terror, always accusing the very ones they’re murdering and manipulating. Sadly, the snooze button has been hit seemingly permanently for some. Nothing rattles them anymore – until the food runs out.

The wake up will hit, one way or another. It’s already happened for very many. The key is to be awake, aware and ready.

Our Surreal News

With multiple extremely serious realities striking home from a possible banking shutdown to Fukushima to martial law and beyond there are more and more people who are catching on. But the hour is late.

That’s not to mention concurrent massive geo-engineering and weather manipulation.

Shrimping was finally banned off the Gulf of Mexico due to horrific deformities and lesions in specimens being found; the arrival of radioactive Japan tsunami debris and massive radiated levels in the Pacific showing high readings in fish and algae and other samples and now even beach conditions on the US west coast; growing concerns about “fracking” causing earthquakes and severe water pollution around the world; GMO toxins and vaccines now known to not only maim humanity but drastically reduce fertility – are all major ongoing concerns that are adding up and causing people to boil over.

And that doesn’t touch on the economic and corporate manipulations, the police state crackdowns, and the massive war machine that’s gobbling up the world with hardly a peep of resistance or protest.

Something’s seriously amiss. And that’s just a sampling.

All of these man made anomalies are outrageous. And of course under or non-reported. And the Fukushima mutation weirdness has hardly begun with the millions of tons of nuclear contaminated water being continually, and dutifully I might add, dumped off of Japan.

The mutations and die-offs have started, but just barely. And as our forests and crops fail from aluminum and barium poisoning from our chemtrail poisoned skies you can be sure it will get very distressing as the days and weeks progress, as evidenced by California’s severe drought that will have devastating repercussions.

The World’s Been Thoroughly Conned…and Set Up

You’d think everyone would start to realize something serious is actually going down. But most can’t begin to fathom the degree to which we’re being attacked. It’s way too horrific to grasp, never mind fully realize and integrate into their lives.

If just one spent fuel rod pool at Fukushima collapses, there will be so much plutonium-based radiation released it would be called a potential Extinction Level Event (ELE). Just that. And if that doesn’t “bake your noodle”, do you know how many hundreds of these types of old dangerous fuel rod pool stocked reactors there are around the world?

Over 800! And all those, built in the 60′s and 70′s, are now due for “expiration”! Never mind the plethora of nuclear bomb manufacturing facilities in the US and around the world. We’re talking insane, people. And most of us had nothing to do with any of this. At least not consciously.

This planet is one large deliberately bomb-ridden Murrah Building or explosive-laden Twin Tower. Earth has been and is being engineered for demolition, whether a man-made or natural disaster triggers it, the charges have been thoroughly and deliberately set in place.

Waiting around and living “business as usual” are no longer options.

The Virtue of Knowledge

This doesn’t have to spell the end of everything, as awful as that sounds. People who love you tell you the Truth.

I’m fully convinced that our number one job here is to wake up, first and foremost, individually, and then wake up everyone around us. It’s imperative people see the vast extent of the perfidy of this parasitic force destroying our planet. And that’s not an easy task…UNTIL someone wakes up! Once the light gets in all will follow to the True in Heart.

The coming cataclysms, in whatever form they take, will work in Truth’s favor. Universe doesn’t fail in anything within any of its realms. How it plays out here is only perceived from our small, limited viewpoint. We will learn, come what may.

But the viewpoint from the heart?!….that’s where the answers reside. All we have to do is listen. And learn. And do.

False Flag Earth and the Plan of the War gods

Anyone reading this knows false flags have been perpetrated by rulers since time immemorial. It’s virtually primordial evil to secretly do some evil deed yourself or have someone do it for you and blame someone else, all for a desired effect.

This huge scam is admittedly off the charts wrong and engineered by the dark side, however you perceive it. The loving and kind-hearted would never consider such acts, which is why many can’t conceive them, yet the controllers use these tactics with abandon.

Earth will survive their puny efforts in some form, if need be. Humanity may not, at least here, until the earth recovers or we take off for new horizons. I don’t know. But to deliberately bring on such catastrophic conditions is not an easy one for the lay unaware earth man to wrap his head around. Very strange indeed, but that’s how they’ve gotten away with it.

They say mega catastrophes, natural and perhaps otherwise, have wiped out previous civilizations and thousands of animal species on earth. They’ve even found evidence of a nuclear conflagration in ancient India, and it’s theorized Atlantis and Lemuria had it out in some sort of nuclear war and that’s how they came to an end.

It seems these warlike “gods” through the ages have a propensity for this type of wanton death-dealing and destruction. They really should find their own already decimated rock somewhere out there and fight it out between themselves and leave us the hell alone.

Wouldn’t you say?

Non Cooperation and Resistance is Essential

Our job is to first wake up to the horrific reality that we’re being deliberately killed off, and then wake up as many others as possible. I don’t know about any cavalry coming to save us but I do know it’s a time of energetic change that will help more and more see what’s going on and hopefully wake up out of slumber.

And when we activate, Universe activates. And I don’t doubt there aren’t “agents of good” who help us from other realms. When we put feet to our new found knowledge things on every level activate. But the responsibility is ours. It will always remain ours. That’s the cycle we’re on. If you don’t get it and respond you’re doomed to repeat it till you do..in one form or another. To me that makes total sense. But then again, I’m just wondering…

The Universe is intrinsically right and just. If we didn’t have free will life would be a drag. And with free will comes a lot of messiness. And responsibility. It’s ours to handle responsibly. Our hearts tell us so.

So let’s enjoy this anyway! But let’s get Love and Truth back in charge here, shall we?

Perspective – They Can’t Win Over Truth and Love

You really wonder how these anti-natural freaks can take themselves seriously. Just look at the magnificence of our Universe. It’s beyond description. Clearly forces play out that we’re only slightly aware of. But one thing we can be sure of…puny man or any other power-crazed entity is nothing to be feared. We’re inter connected with Something so much greater and profound we can rest assured all will come out for the better no matter what happens in the short term.

The current awakening is changing the entire dynamic on our planet by the hour. The matrix is coming down, which is why they’re so frantically trying to slap up structural supports for it everywhere with more laws and draconian regulations. There’s a vibrational change that is exposing the Truth and accelerating drastic life changes all around us. This will no doubt change the course of all of their plans as everyone’s perceptions will be changing as well.

Eternity Rules

If we’re on to their scam, we should identify it, non-comply and rise up in defiance of it and overcome it. Whatever form we take. Even if the whole place blows, you think that’s the end?

Fear of death is possibly the biggest con going. How many parallel dimensional worlds are right now spinning, slipping and sliding around us? Even our so called big brained physicists say at least 11. You think that’s all? (And btw, notice no one’s calling themconspiracy freaks! Ha!)

The biggest lesson we can all learn: Heart trumps brain trumps programming.

Stick to your convictions, come what may.

And go with the flow – synchronicity leads and confirms and encourages.

A final thought from Lao Tzu…

“A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.”

Keep wondering.

Love, Zen

Source:  Zen Gardner  |  ZenGardner.com

Connecticut Gun Owners Fail To Register – Officials Push “Amnesty”

January 28, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

After Connecticut enacted one of the most draconian gun-control regimes in America, official estimates suggest that the overwhelming majority of the citizens targeted by the latest assault on gun rights failed to comply. Indeed, analysts say it appears that most people largely ignored the new statute, which purports to ban numerous non-registered “assault” weapons and standard-capacity magazines. Now, despite resistance by the governor, state lawmakers are reportedly “scrambling” to come up with a possible amnesty plan allowing gun owners to register past the deadline.

According to news reports, some 50,000 newly mislabeled “assault weapons” and 40,000 so-called “high-capacity” magazines (10 or more rounds) targeted under the scheme were registered with state officials by the January 1 deadline. However, estimates and an official report by the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research issued before the new law suggest there are many, many more that went unregistered. Massive non-compliance with gun-registration schemes has been the norm in the United States and abroad, experts pointed out — and analysts say that is likely what happened in Connecticut.

Noting that the real number of “large-capacity” magazines in the state was unknown, the 2011 Connecticut Office of Legislative Research report said that it “could be in the tens of millions.” Estimates on the number of guns subject to the legislation, meanwhile, indicate that there may be as many as 500,000. Based on those figures, analysts suggested that perhaps less than 10 percent — possibly even less than five percent — of the items subject to the draconian new gun-control regime were registered with authorities by the deadline.

“Governor Dannel Malloy and the government of the state of Connecticut are having their own ‘Oh, poop’ moment, now that they’ve tallied the number of citizens who have registered their ‘assault weapons’ and ‘high-capacity magazines’ required by the state’s unconstitutional gun laws, compared that to the estimated number of applicable weapons and magazines in the state, and realize they’ve been ignored,” observed Bob Owens, editor of the pro-Second Amendment website BearingArms.com.

“Historically speaking, 90-percent or more of those required to comply with gun registration laws in the U.S. refuse to do so, and there is no reason to suspect that this registration attempt in Connecticut is any different,” Owens continued in comments about the radical new registration scheme. “I’ve seen estimates of 1,000,000 firearm magazines that should have been registered under the law, but the state reports registering only 40,000 … just 4 percent.”

Other analysts came up with similar non-compliance estimates, suggesting that the new anti-gun scheme — widely lambasted as unconstitutional and currently being fought in court — has been largely ignored by the public. “In past cases of firearms bans, noncompliance with registration is not uncommon,” pointed out Chris Eger in an analysis for Guns.com, another popular pro-Second Amendment website. “In California in 1990, out of an estimated 300,000 guns classified as ‘assault weapons’ just 7,000 were registered.”

Even in other nations without strong gun rights traditions and constitutional guarantees for the unalienable right to keep and bear arms, citizens have balked at registration. After all, historically, tyrants have almost always tried to force subjects to register their weapons prior to confiscation and eventual totalitarianism. When the Canadian government tried to register guns, Eger said, there was massive civil disobedience, with estimates indicating that the compliance rate was less than a third. Even in Austria and Germany, the number of guns registered was drastically below what authorities had estimated.

As The New American reported a year ago, in the state of New York, a radical assault on gun rights dubbed the “SAFE Act” was met with open calls for defiance. Setting the stage for what some analysts said might be the largest act of civil disobedience in New York history, countless gun-rights activists and owners vowed never to register their weapons. Even some lawmakers took to the floor of the legislature and said they would not comply with the draconian law. Sheriffs and other law enforcement officials also vowed to fight it as unconstitutional.

In Connecticut — ironically, also known as the “Constitution State” — lawmakers are now reportedly seeking to offer “amnesty” in an apparent bid to raise compliance levels. “It had come to my attention and the attention of others that many people who were attempting in good faith to comply with the law … were not able to because of what I would argue were circumstances not under their control,” Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) was quoted as claiming by the Hartford Courant.

In the state House, Rep. Rob Sampson is also working to extend the registration period, and other lawmakers have been involved in the discussions. News reports, citing officials, said that “many citizens” had tried to register their purportedly banned property by mail on December 31. However, because post offices closed, the documents were postmarked January 2 and were returned by state officials due to being past the statutory deadline. Pro-amnesty lawmakers are hoping an extension would encourage more citizens to obey.

The Democrat governor’s office, however, opposes the so-called “amnesty” effort, sending a letter to legislators saying that gun owners who failed to comply by the deadline were just “too late” to do anything about it. “Individuals whose late registrations were not processed,” the message to lawmakers says, “can render their magazine or firearm inoperable, sell it to a licensed gun dealer, remove it from the state, or turn it over to law enforcement.”

The penalty for being found with an “unregistered” standard-capacity magazine or semi-automatic firearm misclassified as an “assault” weapon under the new scheme is a fine — the first time. Further violations of the unconstitutional statute can result in up to five years in prison. While the long lines to register guns by the deadline drew numerous comparisons to historical instances of tyranny — as well as sympathy from gun owners across America — it remains unclear how many citizens failed to comply, and for what reasons.

Suggesting that some gun owners may have simply not known about the purported registration requirements, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League is calling on authorities to extend the deadline for compliance. “There are still too many gun owners that either do not know about this new law, or do not realize that it applies to them,” said CCDL President Scott Wilson. “I would ask the governor and state legislators what there would be to gain by punishing persons that are otherwise law abiding that do not legitimately know about this law?”

In addition to extending the deadline, the organization, which represents more than 10,000 members and has challenged the statute in federal court, is also urging officials to adopt an open-ended “amnesty” scheme to avoid criminalizing potentially massive numbers of everyday citizens. “CCDL also suggests that the state should consider an ongoing amnesty program in the future, for those that discover they own banned firearms or magazines that are not registered,” Wilson said. “This would likely alleviate some of the concerns people may have about the intent of the state.”

Gun rights proponents, meanwhile, ridiculed state officials for expecting citizens to comply with the oppressive gun-control regime — and for efforts in the legislature to save it. “They’re calling for an amnesty period because their internal estimates likely show that their attempt to browbeat the citizenry into registering their arms for future confiscation has been an abject failure, and they are desperate to do anything they can do to encourage compliance now that their threats have failed,” wrote Bob Owens at BearingArms.com.

Other pro-Second Amendment commentators made similar remarks. “So, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people waited until the last absolute second to send in this paperwork? I’m thinking not,” said Dan Cannon at GunsSaveLives.net. “I think this ‘amnesty’ deal is a chance for anti-gun politicians to try and save face after a massive civil disobedience movement was discovered.”

At the federal level, the Obama administration has continued to issue unconstitutional decrees on gun control after failing spectacularly last year in its push for Congress to approve more infringements on the human right to keep and bear arms. Ironically, however, as The New American reported this month, the nationwide assault on gun rights by Obama, the establishment media, and certain extremist Democrats has backfired, big time. In addition to sparking record firearm sales across America, dozens of state laws easing restrictions were enacted — almost double the number of laws purporting to impose new infringements. Efforts to fight the radical new scheme in Connecticut are ongoing.

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at anewman@thenewamerican.com.

Source: The New American

The Sharing Economy: An Introduction To Its Political Evolution

January 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Can the sharing economy movement address the root causes of the world’s converging crises? Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sustainability, then such claims are without substantiation – although there are many hopeful signs that the conversation is slowly moving in the right direction. 

In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing.

As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media, a debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction. There is no doubt that the emergent paradigm of sharing resources is set to expand and further flourish in coming years, especially in the face of continuing economic recession, government austerity and environmental concerns. As a result of the concerted advocacy work and mobilisation of sharing groups in the US, fifteen city mayors have now signed the Shareable Cities Resolution in which they officially recognise the importance of economic sharing for both the public and private sectors. Seoul in South Korea has also adopted a city-funded project called Sharing City in which it plans to expand its ‘sharing infrastructure’, promote existing sharing enterprises and incubate sharing economy start-ups as a partial solution to problems in housing, transportation, job creation and community cohesion. Furthermore, Medellin in Colombia is embracing transport-sharing schemes and reimagining the use of its shared public spaces, while Ecuador is the first country in the world to commit itself to becoming a ‘shared knowledge’-based society, under an official strategy named ‘buen saber’.

Many proponents of the sharing economy therefore have great hopes for a future based on sharing as the new modus operandi. Almost everyone recognises that drastic change is needed in the wake of a collapsed economy and an overstretched planet, and the old idea of the American dream – in which a culture that promotes excessive consumerism and commercialisation leads us to see the ‘good life’ as the ‘goods life’, as described by the psychologist Tim Kasser - is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. Hence more and more people are rejecting the materialistic attitudes that defined recent decades, and are gradually shifting towards a different way of living that is based on connectedness and sharing rather than ownership and conspicuous consumption. ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials.

However, many entrepreneurial sharing pioneers also profess a big picture vision of what sharing can achieve in relation to the world’s most pressing issues, such as population growth, environmental degradation and food security. As Ryan Gourley of A2Share posits, for example, a network of cities that embrace the sharing economy could mount up into a Sharing Regions Network, then Sharing Nations, and finally a Sharing World: “A globally networked sharing economy would be a whole new paradigm, a game-changer for humanity and the planet”. Neal Gorenflo, the co-founder and publisher of Shareable, also argues that peer-to-peer collaboration can form the basis of a new social contract, with an extensive sharing movement acting as the catalyst for systemic changesthat can address the root causes of both poverty and climate change. Or to quote the words of Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, we are going to have to “share to survive” if we want to face up to a sustainable future. In such a light, it behoves us all to investigate the potential of sharing to effect a social and economic transformation that is sufficient to meet the grave challenges of the 21st century.

Two sides of a debate on sharing

There is no doubt that sharing resources can contribute to the greater good in a number of ways, from economic as well as environmental and social perspectives. A number of studies show the environmental benefits that are common to many sharing schemes, such as the resource efficiency and potential energy savings that could result from car sharing and bike sharing in cities. Almost all forms of localised sharing are economical, and can lead to significant cost savings or earnings for individuals and enterprises. In terms of subjective well-being and social impacts, common experience demonstrates how sharing can also help us to feel connected to neighbours or co-workers, and even build community and make us feel happier.

Few could disagree on these beneficial aspects of sharing resources within communities or across municipalities, but some controversy surrounds the broader vision of how the sharing economy movement can contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For many advocates of the burgeoning trend towards economic sharing in modern cities, it is about much more than couch-surfing, car sharing or tool libraries, and holds the potential to disrupt the individualist and materialistic assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. For example, Juliet Schor in her book Plenitude perceives that a new economics based on sharing could be an antidote to the hyper-individualised, hyper-consumer culture of today, and could help rebuild the social ties that have been lost through market culture. Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project, in her latest short video on how to move society in an environmentally sustainable and just direction, also considers sharing as a key ‘game changing’ solution that could help to transform the basic goals of the economy.

Many other proponents see the sharing economy as a path towards achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits, and an essential first step on the road to more localised economies and egalitarian societies. But far from everyone perceives that participating in the sharing economy, at least in its existing form and praxis, is a ‘political act’ that can realistically challenge consumption-driven economics and the culture of individualism – a question that is raised (although not yet comprehensively answered) in a valuable think piece from Friends of the Earth, as discussed further below. Various commentators argue that the proliferation of new business ventures under the umbrella of sharing are nothing more than “supply and demand continuing its perpetual adjustment to new technologies and fresh opportunities”, and that the concept of the sharing economy is being co-opted by purely commercial interests – a debate that was given impetus when the car sharing pioneers, Zipcar, were bought up by the established rental firm Avis.

Recently, Slate magazine’s business and economics correspondent controversially reiterated the observation that making money from new modes of consumption is not really ‘sharing’ per se, asserting that the sharing economy is therefore a “dumb term” that “deserves to die”. Other journalists have criticised the superficial treatment that the sharing economy typically receives from financial pundits and tech reporters, especially the claims that small business start-ups based on monetised forms of sharing are a solution to the jobs crisis – regardless of drastic cutbacks in welfare and public services, unprecedented rates of income inequality, and the dangerous rise of the precariat. The author Evgeny Morozov, writing an op-ed in the Financial Times, has gone as far as saying that the sharing economy is having a pernicious effect on equality and basic working conditions, in that it is fully compliant with market logic, is far from valuing human relationships over profit, and is even amplifying the worst excesses of the dominant economic model. In the context of the erosion of full-time employment, the assault on trade unions and the disappearance of healthcare and insurance benefits, he argues that the sharing economy is accelerating the transformation of workers into “always-on self-employed entrepreneurs who must think like brands”, leading him to dub it “neoliberalism on steroids”.

Problems of definition

Although it is impossible to reconcile these polarised views, part of the problem in assessing the true potential of economic sharing is one of vagueness in definition and wide differences in understanding. The conventional interpretation of the sharing economy is at present focused on its financial and commercial aspects, with continuous news reports proclaiming its rapidly growing market size and potential as a “co-commerce revolution”. Rachel Botsman, a leading entrepreneurial thinker on the potential of collaboration and sharing through digital technologies to change our lives, has attempted to clarify what the sharing economy actually is in order to prevent further confusion over the different terms in general use. In her latest typology, she notes how the term ‘sharing economy’ is often muddled with other new ideas and is in fact a subset of ‘collaborative consumption’ within the entire ‘collaborative economy’ movement, and has a rather restricted meaning in terms of “sharing underutilized assets from spaces to skills to stuff for monetary or non-monetary benefits” [see slide 9 of the presentation]. This interpretation of changing consumer behaviours and lifestyles revolves around the “maximum utilization of assets through efficient models of redistribution and shared access”, which isn’t necessarily predicated on an ethic of ‘sharing’ by any strict definition.

Other interpretations of the sharing economy are far broader and less constrained by capitalistic assumptions, as demonstrated in the Friends of the Earth briefing paper on Sharing Cities written by Professor Julian Agyeman et al. In their estimation, what’s missing from most of these current definitions and categorisations of economic sharing is a consideration of “the communal, collective production that characterises the collective commons”. A broadened ‘sharing spectrum’ that they propose therefore not only focuses on goods and services within the mainstream economy (which is almost always considered in relation to affluent, middle-class lifestyles), but also includes the non-material or intangible aspects of sharing such as well-being and capability [see page 6 of the brief]. From this wider perspective, they assert that the cutting edge of the sharing economy is often not commercial and includes informal behaviours like the unpaid care, support and nurturing that we provide for one another, as well as the shared use of infrastructure and shared public services.

This sheds a new light on governments as the “ultimate level of sharing”, and suggests that the history of the welfare state in Europe and other forms of social protection is, in fact, also integral to the evolution of shared resources in cities and within different countries. Yet an understanding of sharing from this more holistic viewpoint doesn’t have to be limited to the state provision of healthcare, education, and other public services. As Agyeman et al elucidate, cooperatives of all kinds (from worker to housing to retailer and consumer co-ops) also offer alternative models for shared service provision and a different perspective on economic sharing, one in which equity and collective ownership is prioritised. Access to natural common resources such as air and water can also be understood in terms of sharing, which may then prioritise the common good of all people over commercial or private interests and market mechanisms. This would include controversial issues of land ownership and land use, raising questions over how best to share land and urban space more equitably – such as through community land trusts, or through new policies and incentives such as land value taxation.

The politics of sharing

Furthermore, Agyeman et al argue that an understanding of sharing in relation to the collective commons gives rise to explicitly political questions concerning the shared public realm and participatory democracy. This is central to the many countercultural movements of recent years (such as the Occupy movement and Middle East protests since 2011, and the Taksim Gezi Park protests in 2013) that have reclaimed public space to symbolically challenge unjust power dynamics and the increasing trend toward privatisation that is central to neoliberal hegemony. Sharing is also directly related to the functioning of a healthy democracy, the authors reason, in that a vibrant sharing economy (when interpreted in this light) can counter the political apathy that characterises modern consumer society. By reinforcing values of community and collaboration over the individualism and consumerism that defines our present-day cultures and identities, they argue that participation in sharing could ultimately be reflected in the political domain. They also argue that a shared public realm is essential for the expression of participatory democracy and the development of a good society, not least as this provides a necessary venue for popular debate and public reasoning that can influence political decisions. Indeed the “emerging shareability paradigm”, as they describe it, is said to reflect the basic tenets of the Right to the City (RTTC) – an international urban movement that fights for democracy, justice and sustainability in cities and mobilises against the privatisation of common goods and public spaces.

The intention in briefly outlining some of these differing interpretations of sharing is to demonstrate how considerations of politics, justice, ethics and sustainability are slowly being allied with the sharing economy concept. A paramount example is the Friends of the Earth briefing paper outlined above, which was written as part of FOEI’s Big Ideas to Change the World series on cities that promoted sharing as “a political force to be reckoned with” and a “call to action for environmentalists”. Yet many further examples could also be mentioned, such as the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Manifesto for the New Materialism’ which promotes the old-fashioned ethic of sharing as part of a new way of living to replace the collapsed model of debt-fuelled overconsumption. There are also signs that many influential proponents of the sharing economy – as generally understood today in terms of new economic models driven by peer-to-peer technology that enable access to rather than ownership of resources – are beginning to query the commercial direction that the movement is taking, and are instead promoting more politicised forms of social change that are not merely based on micro-enterprise or the monetisation/branding of high-tech innovations.

Janelle Orsi, a California-based ‘sharing lawyer’ and author of The Sharing Solution, is particularly inspirational in this regard; for her, the sharing economy encompasses such a broad range of activities that it is hard to define, although she suggests that all its activities are tied together in how they harness the existing resources of a community and grow its wealth. This is in contradistinction to the mainstream economy that mostly generates wealth for people outside of people’s communities, and inherently generates extreme inequalities and ecological destruction – which Orsi contends that the sharing economy can help reverse. The problem she recognises is that the so-called sharing economy we usually hear about in the media is built upon a business-as-usual foundation, which is privately owned and often funded by venture capital (as is the case with Airbnb, Lyft, Zipcar, Taskrabbit et cetera). As a result, the same business structures that created the economic problems of today are buying up new sharing economy companies and turning them into ever larger, more centralised enterprises that are not concerned about people’s well-being, community cohesion, local economic diversity, sustainable job creation and so on (not to mention the risk of re-creating stock valuation bubbles that overshadowed the earlier generation of dot.com enterprises). The only way to ensure that new sharing economy companies fulfil their potential to create economic empowerment for users and their communities, Orsi argues, is through cooperative conversion – and she makes a compelling case for the democratic, non-exploitative, redistributive and truly ‘sharing’ potential of worker and consumer cooperatives in all their guises.

Sharing as a path to systemic change

There are important reasons to query which direction this emerging movement for sharing will take in the years ahead. As prominent supporters of the sharing economy recognise, like Janelle Orsi and Juliet Schor, it offers both opportunities and reasons for optimism as well as pitfalls and some serious concerns. On the one hand, it reflects a growing shift in our values and social identities as ‘citizens vs consumers’, and is helping us to rethink notions of ownership and prosperity in a world of finite resources, scandalous waste and massive wealth disparities. Perhaps its many proponents are right, and the sharing economy represents the first step towards transitioning away from the over-consumptive, materially-intense and hoarding lifestyles of North American, Western European and other rich societies. Perhaps sharing really is fast becoming a counter-cultural movement that can help us to value relationships more than things, and offer us the possibility of re-imagining politics and constructing a more participative democracy, which could ultimately pose a challenge to the global capitalist/consumerist model of development that is built on private interests and debt at the cost of shared interests and true wealth.

On the other hand, critics are right to point out that the sharing economy in its present form is hardly a threat to existing power structures or a movement that represents the kind of radical changes we need to make the world a better place. Far from reorienting the economy towards greater equity and a better quality of life, as proposed by writers such as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly and John Cobb, it is arguable that most forms of sharing via peer-to-peer networks are at risk of being subverted by conventional business practices. There is a perverse irony in trying to imagine the logical conclusion of these trends: new models of collaborative consumption and co-production that are co-opted by private interests and venture capitalists, and increasingly geared towards affluent middle-class types or so-called bourgeois bohemians (the ‘bobos’), to the exclusion of those on low incomes and therefore to the detriment of a more equal society. Or new sharing technology platforms that enable governments and corporations to collaborate in pursuing more intrusive controls over and greater surveillance of citizens. Or new social relationships based on sharing in the context of increasingly privatised and enclosed public spaces, such as gated communities within which private facilities and resources are shared.

This is by no means an inevitable outcome, but what is clear from this brief analysis is that the commercialisation and depoliticisation of economic sharing poses risks and contradictions that call into question its potential to transform society for the benefit of everyone. Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sound environmental stewardship, then the various claims that sharing is a new paradigm that can address the world’s interrelated crises is indeed empty rhetoric or utopian thinking without any substantiation. Sharing our skills through Hackerspaces, our unused stuff through GoodShuffle or a community potluck through mealshare is, in and of itself, a generally positive phenomenon that deserves to be enjoyed and fully participated in, but let’s not pretend that car shares, clothes swaps, co-housing, shared vacation homes and so on are going to seriously address economic and climate chaos, unjust power dynamics or inequitable wealth distribution.

Sharing from the local to the global

If we look at sharing through the lens of just sustainability, however, as civil society organisations and others are now beginning to do, then the true possibilities of sharing resources within and among the world’s nations are vast and all-encompassing: to enhance equity, rebuild community, improve well-being, democratise national and global governance, defend and promote the global commons, even to point the way towards a more cooperative international framework to replace the present stage of competitive neoliberal globalisation. We are not there yet, of course, and the popular understanding of economic sharing today is clearly focused on the more personal forms of giving and exchange among individuals or through online business ventures, which is mainly for the benefit of high-income groups in the world’s most economically advanced nations. But the fact that this conversation is now being broadened to include the role of governments in sharing public infrastructure, political power and economic resources within countries is a hopeful indication that the emerging sharing movement is slowly moving in the right direction.

Already, questions are being raised as to what sharing resources means for the poorest people in the developing world, and how a revival of economic sharing in the richest countries can be spread globally as a solution to converging crises. It may not be long until the idea of economic sharing on a planetary scale - driven by an awareness of impending ecological catastrophe, life-threatening extremes of inequality, and escalating conflict over natural resources – is the subject of every dinner party and kitchen table conversation.


References:

Agyeman, Julian, Duncan McLaren and Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego, Sharing Cities, Friends of the Earth briefing paper, September 2013.

Agyeman, Julian, Just sustainabilitiesjulianagyeman.com, 21st September 2012.

Bollier, David, Bauwens Joins Ecuador in Planning a Commons-based, Peer Production Economy, 20th September 2013, bollier.org

Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks A Shared Definitionfastcoexist.com, 21st November 2013.

Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks a Shared Definition: Giving Meaning to the Terms, Collaborative Lab on Slideshare.net, 19th November 2013.

Childs, Mike, The Power of Sharing: A Call to Action for Environmentalists, Shareable.net, 5th November 2013.

Collaborativeconsumption.com, Shareable Cities Resolution: Passed, 26th June 2013.

Daly, Herman and John Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Beacon Press, 1991.

Eberlein, Sven, Sharing for Profit – I’m Not Buying it Anymore, Shareable.net, 20th February 2013.

Enright, Michael in interview with Benita Matofska and Aidan Enns, Sharing, Not Buying at Christmas (Hr. 1), CBC Radio, 16th December 2012.

Friends of the Earth, Big Idea 2: Sharing – a political force to be reckoned with?, 26th September 2013.

Gaskins, Kim, The New Sharing Economy, Latitude, 1st June 2010.

Gorenflo, Neal, What’s Next for the Sharing Movement?, Shareable.net, 31st July 2013.

Grahl, Jodi (trans.), World Charter for the Right to the City, International Alliance of Inhabitants et al, May 2005.

Griffiths, Rachel, The Great Sharing Economy, Co-operatives UK, London UK, 2011.

Grigg, Kat, Sharing As Part of the New Economy: An Interview with Lauren Anderson, The Solutions Journal, 20th September 2013.

Heinberg, Richard, Who knew that Seoul was a leader in the sharing economy?, Post Carbon Institute, 12th November 2013.

Herbst, Moira, Let’s get real: the ‘sharing economy’ won’t solve our jobs crisis, The Guardian, 7th January 2014.

Jackson, Tim, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Routeledge, 2011.

Johnson, Cat, From Consumers to Citizens: Welcome to the Sharing Cities Network, Shareable.net, 9th January 2014.

Kasser, Tim, The High Price of Materialism, MIT Press, 2003.

Kisner, Corinne, Integrating Bike Share Programs into a Sustainable Transportation System, National League of Cities, City Practice Brief, Washington D.C., 2011.

Leonard, Annie, The Story of Solutions, The Story of Stuff Project, October 2013, storyofstuff.org

Martin, Elliot and Susan Shaheen, The Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Ownership, Access (UCTC magazine), No. 38 Spring 2011.

Matofska, Benita, Facing the future: share to survive, Friends of the Earth blog, 4th January 2013.

Morozov, Evgeny, The ‘sharing economy’ undermines workers’ rights, Financial Times, 14th October 2013.

Olson. Michael J. and Andrew D. Connor, The Disruption of Sharing: An Overview of the New Peer-to-Peer ‘Sharing Economy’ and The Impact on Established Internet Companies, Piper Jaffray, November 2013.

Opinium Research and Marke2ing, The Sharing Economy An overview with special focus on Peer-to-Peer Lending, 14th November 2012.

Orsi, Janelle and Doskow, Emily, The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community, Nolo, May 2009.

Orsi, Janelle et al, Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders, Shareable / The sustainable Economics Law Centre, September 2013.

Orsi, Janelle, The Sharing Economy Just Got Real, Shareable.net, 16th September 2013.

Quilligan, James B., People Sharing Resources: Toward a New Multilateralism of the Global Commons, Kosmos Journal, Fall/Winter 2009.

Schifferes, Jonathan, Sharing our way to prosperity (Part 1)rsablogs.org.uk, 6th August 2013.

Schifferes, Jonathan, Profiting from sharing (Part 2)rsablogs.org.uk, 6th August 2013.

Schor, Juliet, Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, Tantor Media, 2010.

Simms, Andrew and Ruth Potts, The New Materialism: How our relationship with the material world can change for the better, New Economics Foundation, November 2012.

Standing, Guy, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.

Tennant, Ian, What’s in it for me? Do you dare to share?, Friends of the Earth blog, 8th January 2014.

Wiesmann, Thorsten, Living by the Principle of Sharing – an interview with Raphael Fellmer, Oiushare.net, February 2013.

Wilkinson, Richard and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, Penguin, 2010.

Yglesias, Matthew, There Is No “Sharing Economy”, Slate.com, 26th December 2013.


Adam Parsons is a guest columnist for Veracity Voice

Adam Parsons is the editor at www.sharing.org

Everything You Said Is Coming True

January 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A reader emailed me, “Mr. Wooldridge, everything you write about on immigration, population and environment is coming true. It makes me sick for my children.”

NBC anchor Brian Williams said last Friday, “Meteorologists reported that 62 percent of California suffers from extreme drought. That state stands in the middle of a water emergency.”

Additionally, forest fires rage across the state while burning down homes and schools in their path.

If you look back on my Part 4 of “What America will look like in 2050—acute water predicament”, I talked about seven states in 2014 suffering from water shortages.

My question: why do hundreds of thousands of people build houses in fire burn-zones? Answer: because California proves our most overpopulated state, 38 million people forces them to encroach on the wilderness without pause. Amazingly, California faces an added 20 million people to smother more of the land with houses, asphalt, concrete, malls, airports, schools and accelerating air pollution.

Most of what I address in my columns manifests faster than I imagined. In my book, America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans, leads off with California being the “Bow of the Titanic of America.”

Why? Answer: within 30 years, California will absorb over 20 million more people; 90 percent of them from legal immigration.

If they suffer extreme drought in 2014 replete with forest fires and water shortages for their 38 million residents, can you imagine what California faces in three decades when they jump from 38 million to 58 million?

Does anyone in the media or Washington DC understand the “enormity” of our predicament? Answer: not a chance. Williams, Sawyer, Pelley, Blitzer, Charlie Rose, David Gregory, Shepard Smith, 60 Minutes producers and the rest of them run like scalded rabbits away from the population-immigration issue.

Yet, it’s coming and it’s coming fast. Senate Bill 744, the amnesty for 12-20 million illegal migrants increased legal immigration from 1 million to 2 million annually. If California’s problems aren’t bad enough already, Washington politicians and Obama vote to make them doubly worse doubly fast.

Almost 99 percent of California faces abnormally dry weather or worse; almost two-thirds of the state suffers extreme drought. The year 2013 became the driest year on record in California.

“I think the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits, that nature has its boundaries.” — Gov. Jerry Brown, California

Brown urged voluntary water conservation to the tune of a 20 percent reduction.

“We ought to be ready for a long, continuous, persistent effort, including the possibility of drinking-water shortages,” he said. “I think the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits, that nature has its boundaries.”

“With a hotter and drier future, we can’t duplicate water policies of the 20th century to address challenges of the 21st,” said Senator Fran Pavley, a Democrat, from Agoura Hills in Southern California. “We need to be resourceful and create new water supplies with cost-effective, sustainable strategies.”

Notice none of them speak about the impact of adding 20 million immigrants. Not to mention the 100 million overall landing in America from endless immigration! They refuse to look at the long-term picture. They ignore the fact that they have too many people with too little water.

While I took great pains to write about what America will look like in 2050 with an added 100 million more immigrants, the leaders of this country refuse to look at the ramifications facing our children. You can expect those 36 years to fly by in a blink.

While the politicians in Washington DC won’t deal with it, the American people remain as clueless as a pot of geraniums left out in the hot sun in Arizona while the owners left on vacation with no provision to water them.

Result: the geraniums die from lack of water. Once they die, nothing brings them back.

Once those 100 million immigrants land on the USA, nothing can change our fate.

“The crisis of our diminishing water resources is just as severe (if less obviously immediate) as any wartime crisis we have ever faced. Our survival is just as much at stake as it was at the time of Pearl Harbor, or the Argonne, or Gettysburg, or Saratoga.” – Jim Wright, U.S. Representative, The Coming Water Famine, 1966

Instead of our country remaining the land of plenty, we face becoming yet another conflicted, water-scarce and struggling civilization because we failed to act when we should have acted.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it 50 years ago; “We must prevent human tragedy rather than run around trying to save ourselves after an event has already occurred. Unfortunately, history clearly shows that we arrive at catastrophe by failing to meet the situation, by failing to act when we should have acted. The opportunity passes us by and the next disaster is always more difficult and compounded than the last one.”

You can act collectively to stop mass immigration from continuing: share these two videos with every citizen in America that show what we face and what we must do to stop it.


Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece.

He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at his website: www.frostywooldridge.com

Frosty Wooldridge is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Putin Scores A New Victory In The Ukraine

January 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

What really happened in the Ukrainian crisis?

It is freezing cold in Kiev, legendary city of golden domes on the banks of Dnieper River – cradle of ancient Russian civilisation and the most charming of East European capitals. It is a comfortable and rather prosperous place, with hundreds of small and cosy restaurants, neat streets, sundry parks and that magnificent river. The girls are pretty and the men are sturdy. Kiev is more relaxed than Moscow, and easier on the wallet. Though statistics say the Ukraine is broke and its people should be as poor as Africans, in reality they aren’t doing too badly, thanks to their fiscal imprudence. The government borrowed and spent freely, heavily subsidised housing and heating, and they brazenly avoided devaluation of the national currency and the austerity program prescribed by the IMF. This living on credit can go only so far: the Ukraine was doomed to default on its debts next month or sooner, and this is one of the reasons for the present commotion.

A tug-of-war between the East and the West for the future of Ukraine lasted over a month, and has ended for all practical purposes in a resounding victory for Vladimir Putin, adding to his previous successes in Syria and Iran. The trouble began when the administration of President Yanukovich went looking for credits to reschedule its loans and avoid default. There were no offers. They turned to the EC for help; the EC, chiefly Poland and Germany, seeing that the Ukrainian administration was desperate, prepared an association agreement of unusual severity.

The EC is quite hard on its new East European members, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria et al.: these countries had their industry and agriculture decimated, their young people working menial jobs in Western Europe, their population drop exceeded that of the WWII.

But the association agreement offered to the Ukraine was even worse. It would turn the Ukraine into an impoverished colony of the EC without giving it even the dubious advantages of membership (such as freedom of work and travel in the EC). In desperation, Yanukovich agreed to sign on the dotted line, in vain hopes of getting a large enough loan to avoid collapse. But the EC has no money to spare – it has to provide for Greece, Italy, Spain. Now Russia entered the picture. At the time, relations of the Ukraine and Russia were far from good. Russians had become snotty with their oil money, the Ukrainians blamed their troubles on Russians, but Russia was still the biggest market for Ukrainian products.

For Russia, the EC agreement meant trouble: currently the Ukraine sells its output in Russia with very little customs protection; the borders are porous; people move freely across the border, without even a passport. If the EC association agreement were signed, the EC products would flood Russia through the Ukrainian window of opportunity. So Putin spelled out the rules to Yanukovich: if you sign with the EC, Russian tariffs will rise. This would put some 400,000 Ukrainians out of work right away. Yanukovich balked and refused to sign the EC agreement at the last minute. (I predicted this in my report from Kiev full three weeks before it happened, when nobody believed it – a source of pride).

The EC, and the US standing behind it, were quite upset. Besides the loss of potential economic profit, they had another important reason: they wanted to keep Russia farther away from Europe, and they wanted to keep Russia weak. Russia is not the Soviet Union, but some of the Soviet disobedience to Western imperial designs still lingers in Moscow: be it in Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Venezuela or Zimbabwe, the Empire can’t have its way while the Russian bear is relatively strong. Russia without the Ukraine can’t be really powerful: it would be like the US with its Mid-western and Pacific states chopped away. The West does not want the Ukraine to prosper, or to become a stable and strong state either, so it cannot join Russia and make it stronger. A weak, poor and destabilised Ukraine in semi-colonial dependence to the West with some NATO bases is the best future for the country, as perceived by Washington or Brussels.

Angered by this last-moment-escape of Yanukovich, the West activated its supporters. For over a month, Kiev has been besieged by huge crowds bussed from all over the Ukraine, bearing a local strain of the Arab Spring in the far north. Less violent than Tahrir, their Maidan Square became a symbol of struggle for the European strategic future of the country. The Ukraine was turned into the latest battle ground between the US-led alliance and a rising Russia. Would it be a revanche for Obama’s Syria debacle, or another heavy strike at fading American hegemony?

The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.

The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.

Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.

Like the fiery Bretons, the Galicians are fierce nationalists, bearers of a true Ukrainian spirit (whatever that means). Under Polish and Austrian rule for centuries, whilst the Jews were economically powerful, they are a strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Polish lot, and their modern identity centred around their support for Hitler during the WWII, accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of their Polish and Jewish neighbours. After the WWII, the remainder of pro-Hitler Galician SS fighters were adopted by US Intelligence, re-armed and turned into a guerrilla force against the Soviets. They added an anti-Russian line to their two ancient hatreds and kept fighting the “forest war” until 1956, and these ties between the Cold Warriors have survived the thaw.

After 1991, when the independent Ukraine was created, in the void of state-building traditions, the Galicians were lauded as ‘true Ukrainians’, as they were the only Ukrainians who ever wanted independence. Their language was used as the basis of a new national state language, their traditions became enshrined on the state level. Memorials of Galician Nazi collaborators and mass murderers Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych peppered the land, often provoking the indignation of other Ukrainians. The Galicians played an important part in the 2004 Orange Revolution as well, when the results of presidential elections were declared void and the pro-Western candidate Mr Yuschenko got the upper hand in the re-run.

However, in 2004, many Kievans also supported Yuschenko, hoping for the Western alliance and a bright new future. Now, in 2013, the city’s support for the Maidan was quite low, and the people of Kiev complained loudly about the mess created by the invading throngs: felled trees, burned benches, despoiled buildings and a lot of biological waste. Still, Kiev is home to many NGOs; city intellectuals receive generous help from the US and EC. The old comprador spirit is always strongest in the capitals.

For the East and Southeast of the Ukraine, the populous and heavily industrialised regions, the proposal of association with the EC is a no-go, with no ifs, ands or buts. They produce coal, steel, machinery, cars, missiles, tanks and aircraft. Western imports would erase Ukrainian industry right off the map, as the EC officials freely admit. Even the Poles, hardly a paragon of industrial development, had the audacity to say to the Ukraine: we’ll do the technical stuff, you’d better invest in agriculture. This is easier to say than to do: the EC has a lot of regulations that make Ukrainian products unfit for sale and consumption in Europe. Ukrainian experts estimated their expected losses for entering into association with the EC at anything from 20 to 150 billion euros.

For Galicians, the association would work fine. Their speaker at the Maidan called on the youth to ‘go where you can get money’ and do not give a damn for industry. They make their income in two ways: providing bed-and breakfast rooms for Western tourists and working in Poland and Germany as maids and menials. They hoped they would get visa-free access to Europe and make a decent income for themselves. Meanwhile, nobody offered them a visa-waiver arrangement. The Brits mull over leaving the EC, because of the Poles who flooded their country; the Ukrainians would be too much for London. Only the Americans, always generous at somebody’s else expense, demanded the EC drop its visa requirement for them.

While the Maidan was boiling, the West sent its emissaries, ministers and members of parliament to cheer the Maidan crowd, to call for President Yanukovich to resign and for a revolution to install pro-Western rule. Senator McCain went there and made a few firebrand speeches. The EC declared Yanukovich “illegitimate” because so many of his citizens demonstrated against him. But when millions of French citizens demonstrated against their president, when Occupy Wall Street was violently dispersed, nobody thought the government of France or the US president had lost legitimacy…

Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, shared her biscuits with the demonstrators, and demanded from the oligarchs support for the “European cause” or their businesses would suffer. The Ukrainian oligarchs are very wealthy, and they prefer the Ukraine as it is, sitting on the fence between the East and the West. They are afraid that the Russian companies will strip their assets should the Ukraine join the Customs Union, and they know that they are not competitive enough to compete with the EC. Pushed now by Nuland, they were close to falling on the EC side.

Yanukovich was in big trouble. The default was rapidly approaching. He annoyed the pro-Western populace, and he irritated his own supporters, the people of the East and Southeast. The Ukraine had a real chance of collapsing into anarchy. A far-right nationalist party, Svoboda (Liberty), probably the nearest thing to the Nazi party to arise in Europe since 1945, made a bid for power. The EC politicians accused Russia of pressurising the Ukraine; Russian missiles suddenly emerged in the western-most tip of Russia, a few minutes flight from Berlin. The Russian armed forces discussed the US strategy of a “disarming first strike”. The tension was very high.

Edward Lucas, the Economist’s international editor and author of The New Cold War, is a hawk of the Churchill and Reagan variety. For him, Russia is an enemy, whether ruled by Tsar, by Stalin or by Putin. He wrote: “It is no exaggeration to say that the [Ukraine] determines the long-term future of the entire former Soviet Union. If Ukraine adopts a Euro-Atlantic orientation, then the Putin regime and its satrapies are finished… But if Ukraine falls into Russia’s grip, then the outlook is bleak and dangerous… Europe’s own security will also be endangered. NATO is already struggling to protect the Baltic states and Poland from the integrated and increasingly impressive military forces of Russia and Belarus. Add Ukraine to that alliance, and a headache turns into a nightmare.”

In this cliff-hanging situation, Putin made his pre-emptive strike. At a meeting in the Kremlin, he agreed to buy fifteen billion euros worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds and cut the natural gas price by a third. This meant there would be no default; no massive unemployment; no happy hunting ground for the neo-Nazi thugs of Svoboda; no cheap and plentiful Ukrainian prostitutes and menials for the Germans and Poles; and Ukrainian homes will be warm this Christmas. Better yet, the presidents agreed to reforge their industrial cooperation. When Russia and Ukraine formed a single country, they built spaceships; apart, they can hardly launch a naval ship. Though unification isn’t on the map yet, it would make sense for both partners. This artificially divided country can be united, and it would do a lot of good for both of their populaces, and for all people seeking freedom from US hegemony.

There are a lot of difficulties ahead: Putin and Yanukovich are not friends, Ukrainian leaders are prone to renege, the US and the EC have a lot of resources. But meanwhile, it is a victory to celebrate this Christmas tide. Such victories keep Iran safe from US bombardment, inspire the Japanese to demand removal of Okinawa base, encourage those seeking closure of Guantanamo jail, cheer up Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, frighten the NSA and CIA and allow French Catholics to march against Hollande’s child-trade laws.

***

What is the secret of Putin’s success? Edward Lucas said, in an interview to the pro-Western Ekho Moskvy radio: “Putin had a great year – Snowden, Syria, Ukraine. He checkmated Europe. He is a great player: he notices our weaknesses and turns them into his victories. He is good in diplomatic bluff, and in the game of Divide and Rule. He makes the Europeans think that the US is weak, and he convinced the US that Europeans are useless”.

I would offer an alternative explanation. The winds and hidden currents of history respond to those who feel their way. Putin is no less likely a roguish leader of global resistance than Princess Leia or Captain Solo were in Star Wars. Just the time for such a man is ripe.

Unlike Solo, he is not an adventurer. He is a prudent man. He does not try his luck, he waits, even procrastinates. He did not try to change regime in Tbilisi in 2008, when his troops were already on the outskirts of the city. He did not try his luck in Kiev, either. He has spent many hours in many meetings with Yanukovich whom he supposedly personally dislikes.

Like Captain Solo, Putin is a man who is ready to pay his way, full price, and such politicians are rare. “Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman’s mouth?”, asked a James Joyce character, and answered: “His proudest boast is I paid my way.” Those were Englishmen of another era, long before the likes of Blair, et al.

While McCain and Nuland, Merkel and Bildt speak of the European choice for the Ukraine, none of them is ready to pay for it. Only Russia is ready to pay her way, in the Joycean sense, whether in cash, as now, or in blood, as in WWII.

Putin is also a magnanimous man. He celebrated his Ukrainian victory and forthcoming Christmas by forgiving his personal and political enemies and setting them free: the Pussy Riot punks, Khodorkovsky the murderous oligarch, rioters… And his last press conference he carried out in Captain Solo self-deprecating mode, and this, for a man in his position, is a very good sign.


A native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine, he studied at the prestigious School of the Academy of Sciences, and read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969, he moved to Israel, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war.

After his military service he resumed his study of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but abandoned the legal profession in pursuit of a career as a journalist and writer. He got his first taste of journalism with Israel Radio, and later went freelance. His varied assignments included covering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the last stages of the war in South East Asia.

In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London. In 1977-79 he wrote for the Israeli daily Maariv and other papers from Japan. While in Tokyo, he wrote Travels with My Son, his first book, and translated a number of Japanese classics.

Email at: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Technology Impact On Privacy

January 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Going offline or off the grid is not easy for everyone. Modern society has come to repudiate the very elements that make civilization possible. Living in cyber space is existence on life support at best. Until now, people had idiosyncratic relations, with intimate experiences and personal memories. Thoughts were internal and private conduct was confidential. Under a hi-tech environment, the system moves closer to an all knowing eye. But what happens, when the public becomes enlightened to the bondage of the tech prison, thanks to all the whistleblowers?

The irony befits the hypocrite techie class of privacy violators. Lamenting that their fiefdom of intrusive surveillance and data mining might be compromised, the high priests of SPY, Inc. are flustered. With the disclosure of a synergistic relationship of an intertwined nature, the high-tech prophets lay exposed. NSA Spying Risks $35 Billion in U.S. Technology Sales has the flagship government front companies in full damage control.

“News about U.S. surveillance disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has “the great potential for doing serious damage to the competitiveness” of U.S. companies such as Cupertino, California-based Apple, Facebook Inc., and Microsoft Corp., Richard Salgado, Google’s director for law enforcement and information security, told a U.S. Senate panel Nov. 13. “The trust that’s threatened is essential to these businesses.”

With the announcement that Facebook faces lawsuit for allegedly scanning private messages, the diminutive privacy on this social network just got smaller. “Facebook was one of the Web Services that was caught scanning URLs despite such activity remaining undisclosed to the user,” according to the complaint.Can your personal persona remain your own business? What exactly can be attempted to protect your identity and privacy?

Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger propose in Obscurity: A Better Way to Think About Your Data Than ‘Privacy’, adding layers of complexity guards against most of the ordinary risks of scrutinized personal data. However, this argument is trite since the cyber world of digital transmission uses the technological routing and coding systems, engineered as part of the total government retrieval society.

“Obscurity is the idea that when information is hard to obtain or understand, it is, to some degree, safe. Safety, here, doesn’t mean inaccessible. Competent and determined data hunters armed with the right tools can always find a way to get it. Less committed folks, however, experience great effort as a deterrent.

Online, obscurity is created through a combination of factors. Being invisible to search engines increases obscurity. So does using privacy settings and pseudonyms. Disclosing information in coded ways that only a limited audience will grasp enhances obscurity, too. Since few online disclosures are truly confidential or highly publicized, the lion’s share of communication on the social web falls along the expansive continuum of obscurity: a range that runs from completely hidden to totally obvious.”

Privacy is a hindrance to corporate marketing, while secrecy is a threat to the national security establishment that observes the basic rule of all technology. Use the optimum scientific hi-tech enhancement to maintain and further the interests of the ruling elites. Any technological development is viewed as a useful advancement if it works to expand control over the economy or social structure.

Supporting this conclusion is an article from the master of facture awareness. Michael Snyder provides an impactful list of 32 Privacy Destroying Technologies That Are Systematically Transforming America Into A Giant Prison.

“Many people speak of this as being the “Information Age”, but most Americans don’t really stop and think about what that really means. Most of the information that is considered to be so “valuable” is actually about all of us. Businesses want to know as much about all of us as possible so that they can sell us stuff. Government officials want to know as much about all of us as possible so that they can make sure that we are not doing anything that they don’t like.”

If you need more convincing, examine the 10 Privacy-Destroying Technologies That Are Turning America Into A Police State, by Daniel Jennings. How many of these devices or practices are monitoring your every move and thought?

  1. Electric meters
  2. Telematic devices on cars
  3. Smartphones
  4. RFID chips in drivers’ licenses, credit cards and other cards that allow the tracking of individuals
  5. Data mining by local and federal government
  6. Voice recognition. Russian scientists have invented software called Voice Grid Nation that can identify the voices of millions of different people
  7. Fingerprint recognition
  8. Chips that monitor your body functions
  9. Behavior monitoring software
  10. Next Generation surveillance systems such as Trapwire and Intellistreet

Popular consensus would have you believe that this infringement into your most personal behavior is inevitable and it is futile to resist. From an institutional perspective that viewpoint seems correct. Nonetheless, the preservation of your human dignity demands a vigorous reassessment of the numerous ways you have the ability to influence, if not, protect against this tech assault.

Before assuming that tech is great, reflect upon the culture of expected progress. Proponents of applied science automatically assume that advancement comes from such evolution. Conversely, the actual function of various innovations often brings the loss of personal solitude. Tech is not neutral. By definition new or different technology changes the landscape.

What does not change is human nature. Supercharging the velocity and speed of functions and the distribution of information, without guarding the integrity of personal consent is intrinsically immoral. While that statement may seem obsolete as the NSA constructs the largest digital computer memory center in the history of the world in Utah with the capability of storing 5 zettabytes of data, the principle of inherent autonomy still remains.Amitai Etzioni presents an academic postulation, attempting to answer the question, Are New Technologies the Enemy of Privacy?

“Privacy is one good among other goods and should be weighed as such. The relationship between technology and privacy is best viewed as an arms race between advancements that diminish privacy and those that better protect it, rather than the semi-Luddite view which sees technology as one-sided development enabling those who seek to invade privacy to overrun those who seek to protect it. The merits or defects of particular technologies are not inherent to the technologies, but rather, depend on how they are used and above all, on how closely their use is monitored and accounted for by the parties involved. In order to reassure the public and to ensure accountability and oversight, a civilian review board should be created to monitor the government’s use of surveillance and related technologies. Proper accountability requires multiple layers of oversight, and should not be left solely in the hands of the government.”

The problem with this arms race is that it is waged among equally corrupt globalist factions. When Mr. Etzioni asserts “How they are used” he interjects the moral imperative. The record of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, etc. respect and protection of personal confidentially is not exactly reassuring. Their government parent partner agencies in data mining use the telecommunication corporations like Verizon, AT&T and ISP providers as giant sucking machines that feed the secretive intelligence community.Understanding the drill is simple, secrecy resides within the ruling class, while all personal privacy is relegated to the museum of family archives. Just how can such a relationship be monitored by some kind of nebulous civil board to ensure non consensual privacy?

With the overwhelming wherewithal, increasing technological capacities allow, even greater levels of abuse and evil applications. If no other lesson is internalized from the Edward Snowden disclosures, society better admit that trust in the secure use of communication technology is near zero.

When privacy is surrendered so willingly, especially with no consequences for the offending government agencies or complicit corporatist associates, the future of civilized life comes into question. Yet, people are so easily induced to acclimate into using the next wizard device.

Life is a beach no longer. Now Disney Can Track Your Every Move with NSA-Style Wristbands, is using the “Magic Bands” — which are currently optional — are part of a new MyMagic+ “vacation management system” that can track guests as they move throughout the park..Efficient? Perhaps. But post-Snowden, some worry that Magic Bands are nothing more than NSA-esque tracking devices.”

Oh, that voluntary choice lasts only as long as it is offered. This culture of “personal space” invasion is meant to indoctrinate the friendly likes into a sleeping death from poison apples. Being buried alive, in a snow job of tech that promises you will be the fairest in the land, will not make you a queen.That prince charming kiss only comes with resisting any snooping gear that diminishes the innate right for privacy. Taking protective measure against technological enslavement is the real national security mandate. The enemy is not some fairy tale monster; just look no further than to your own government. You have the right to your secrets. Dump the smart devices and go as low-tech as possible.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Ten Most Corrupt Politicians In Washington DC

January 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Marriane Williamson, author of the book A Return to Love, announced this past fall her plan to run for Congress in the 33rddistrict of California to stop the “Culture of Corruption” in our nation’s capital.

Without a doubt, deep, systemic corruption thrives in our U.S. Congress. It flourishes in our White House.  Thomas Jefferson, our third president, tried to pass term limits, but failed in the face of those who love power and expect to maintain it.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, released its 2013

List of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” www.JudicialWatch.org , the list, in alphabetical order, includes:

  •  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)
  • CIA Director John Brennan
  • Senator Saxby Chambliss
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Former IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller / Former IRS Official Lois Lerner
  • Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano
  • President Barack Obama
  • Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Dishonorable Mentions for 2013 include:

  • Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • Outgoing Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) / Incoming Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D)
  • Former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
  • National Security Adviser Susan Rice

As a 27 year old staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee, Ms. Hillary Clinton suffered firing by her supervisor, lifelong democrat Jerry Zeifman who said, “She is a liar. She was unethical and dishonest.  She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

If you remember the murders at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi that suffered a terrorist attack that killed four people, her reply, “What difference does it matter?”

Mr. Barack Obama continues his cover-up of his incompetence in fortifying the embassy and ignoring all calls for help.  Good men died because of malfeasance and ineptitude.

Let’s start with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH):

House Speaker John Boehner became a master at what Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer calls the “Tollbooth Strategy.” As Schweizer explains in his new book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets:

“You pay money at a tollbooth in order to use a road or bridge. The methodology in Washington is similar: if someone wants a bill passed, charge them money to allow the bill to move down the legislative highway.”

According to Schweizer, Boehner used the “Tollbooth Strategy” to collect more than $200,000 in political donations from executives just days before holding votes on bills critically important to their industries.  Reference:http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/10/24/EXTORTION-Speaker-Boehner-Collected-Tollbooth-Fee-Before-Key-Votes

Additionally, Boehner continues his blockade of the E-Verify Bill to force employers to check legal status of anyone seeking employment.  I suspect the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, up to its eyeballs in promoting illegal immigration cheap labor, paid big bucks to keep E-Verify from passing into law.  No doubt Marriott, Holiday Inn, Tyson Chicken, McDonald’s, Chipotle’s, Hormel, La Quinta, endless restaurant chains, construction, painting, landscape and other huge companies paid huge bribes to make sure they continue to hire illegal aliens rather than American citizens at a living wage.

Speaker Boehner does not stand-alone.

Attorney General Eric Holder lies so much, hides so much, aka, Fast and Furious, that he cannot tell the truth from a lie.

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) makes the “Ten Worst” list for what he actually did in 2012, but which was finally exposed in 2013. Just as with House Speaker Boehner, Chambliss’s misdeeds were revealed in Peter Schweizer’s book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets.

Judicial Watch said, “Chambliss is highlighted as one of the key abusers who used leadership PAC loopholes to convert campaign cash into lavish lifestyle upgrades for themselves and their family members.

The New York Times reported, “The book details the extravagant expenses of Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, for instance, whose leadership PAC spent $10,000 on golf at Pebble Beach, nearly $27,000 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and $107,752 at the exclusive Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla. The amount Mr. Chambliss spent at the Breakers in the 2012 election cycle, the book reports, is three times what the senator gave to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the same period.”

Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano may be one of the biggest liars of all. In August 2013 Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stepped down from her post with “pride and regret” stemming from her failure to help push through the so-called “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.” The truth: Napolitano played a major role in doing an end run around existing immigration law by helping President Obama implement his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) directive in lieu of DREAM Act passage.

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch in June 2013 revealed that Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) “Abandoned required background checks in 2012, adopting, instead, costly “lean and lite” procedures in effort to keep up with the flood of amnesty applications resulting from the DACA directive.”

The granddaddy liar of them all: Barack Hussein Obama.

President Barack Obama actually tops this “Top Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list for 2013 as the driving force behind so many of the misdeeds.

This is Obama’s seventh straight year on the list, dating back all the way to 2007 (in 2006, he earned a “Dishonorable Mention”). He is a master at catch-me-if-you-can, corrupt politics.

“This year, he has again acted as a one-man Congress, rewriting entire sections of federal law on his own,” said Judicial Watch.  “Not only is his administration secretive and dishonest; its callous disregard for the rule of law undermines our constitutional republic. Examples include:

Perhaps Obama’s most outrageous actions over the past year were his continual lies about the ability of Americans to keep their own health insurance under Obamacare. According the Free Beacon, Obama misled the American people a total of 36 times between 2008 and 2013 with his promise, “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” And according to NBC News, Obama knew, even as he repeated his lie, that “more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

Let us not forget Nevada Senator Harry Reid and all the senators that voted for the S744 Amnesty Bill that legalizes 20 to 25 million illegal aliens.  They and he never stood up for enforcement of internal employment laws against employers of illegal aliens, or our borders, but they bend over for big business’ cheap labor interests—against American workers.

Last year, Harry Reid made the Judicial Watch Ten Worst list for his influence-peddling scandal involving ENN Energy Group, a Chinese “green energy” company for which Reid “applied his political muscle” – and which happened to be a major client of the Nevada law firm in which Reid’s son, Rory, is a principal.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts totally.  As Marriane Williams said, “We face a culture of corruption” in Washington DC that works against the interests of all Americans—but we continue voting them back into their power positions to screw all of us.  Then we wonder why our country continues an 11-year useless war, $18 trillion debt, 14 million unemployed, 48 million subsisting on food stamps, endless immigration, falling wages and vanishing Middle Class.


Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece.

He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at his website: www.frostywooldridge.com

Frosty Wooldridge is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Who Else Is Paying For Their Endless War?

December 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Let’s think about all those trillions of dollars that have been constantly pouring into war profiteers’ pockets ever since they invented Vietnam.  All those trillions must have come from somewhere.  Of course we all know that some of them came from the Federal Reserve where they print Monopoly money like crazy.  And, ironically, some of them have also come from multiple humungous loans from China.  Plus some of that money also found its way into the pockets of War Street at approximately the same time that “all the gold in Fort Knox” mysteriously disappeared.  And a few trillion also seems to have just materialized out of thin air — as if there was some ethereal war-profiteer fairy out there happily waving her magic wand.  But a lot of this destructive blood-money also came out of the pockets of us American taxpayers.  Trillions of dollars.  From you and me.

All too many of us hard-working Americans have been forced to gird up our loins and go without so that war profiteers can afford to live like kings, buy multiple yachts, drink Veuve Clicquot champagne and smoke Cuban cigars.

You and I have gone without jobs, schools, roads, police, fire departments, hospitals, etc. in order to pay handsomely for War Street’s right to kill babies and Live Large.

And, apparently, we are also being forced to live without the high-quality court system that we here in California had grown accustomed to.  How do I know this?  Because the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association just told me so!

At a recent luncheon meeting of BABA at the famed Berkeley City Club (designed by Julia Morgan herself) and over roast chicken, fruit salad and pie, a judge from the Alameda County Superior Court gave us a talk on the struggles that Alameda County is going through just to keep its court system working and its courthouse doors open these days.

“One billion dollars was lost in the budget last year,” the speaker told us.  “This is the toughest time financially in the history of this court.  We have never has to worry about money before — but now we worry about money all of the time.  It is very difficult to juggle to keep all of our programs alive.”  http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/12/55621.htm

“For instance, there have been 26 furlough days this year, where court employees didn’t get paid.  Courthouses are closed.  We used to have 72 judges and nine commissioners.  Now there are 18 vacancies this year.  We went from 940 employees to 720 employees.  We need 104 more just to operate.  There used to be seven civil court locations.  Now there are only two.  Four family courts have been reduced to one family court.  Four probate locations have been reduced to one.”  Heaven forbid that you should have to die and your ghost be forced to stand in line for hours at probate court.

“And if you get a traffic ticket anywhere in the county, you will have to drive all the way down to Fremont to contest it.  People stand in line for blocks at 5 am to get their tickets handled — and may still have to come back.  And the only reason Alameda County is barely keeping its head above water right now is because we have so many employees who are dedicated to bringing access to justice for all.  Sacramento County, for instance, doesn’t even have a civil filing office bull pen.  You just leave your unfiled summonses, pleadings and other documents in a drop-box.  Some counties have over 5000 unfiled documents right now.”

And where is the money from all those unpaid salaries going?  As far as I can tell, it is going into the pockets of tax-dodging corporate welfare queens and heartless and immoral war profiteers.  Christmas is coming up.  Would Jesus approve of all this random bloodshed and not-random greed?  Can you actually imagine Him saying, “I am Jesus and I approve this message.”  No way!

“Then there is the problem of criminal realignment.  30,000 prisoners have been released but next year there will be no money for their realignment — so more petty thefts will occur.  This will be very interesting to see.”  In other words, 30,00 prisoners will get out of jail with only bus fare and the clothes on their backs.

And also court electronic data systems have suffered.  “In some smaller counties, the filing system consists of putting papers in a box.  And our county no longer has the personnel to support inter-court filing of documents either.”  So you have to go to one specific court if you want to file a complaint or a probate document or a traffic ticket protest or an unlawful detainer.

And speaking of unlawful detainers (that’s where people who don’t pay their rent get invited to court by their landlord), the California court system has been flooded with them.  “There are so many banks with foreclosures.  These are our priority cases.  And 95% of them are getting settled because judges from other departments volunteer to help out and get these cases heard — because where else are people being threatend with foreclosure evictions going to go if they lose their homes?”

PS:  At its next monthly luncheon meeting, BABA asked a federal judge to speak — only he talked about an excess of money in America instead of a dearth of it, and how there have been whole tornadoes and hurricanes of money, flooding down on the USA like hailstorms ever since Citizens’ United took effect.

“And there is the additional problem of having individuals with unlimited personal bank accounts now running for office,” said the judge.  “When all this money flows into the election system, only wealthy people are elected.”  And why shouldn’t rich people invest in buying elections?  For every dollar a huge corporation or war profiteer spends on buying an election, he gets a 5000% return in pork-barrel dollars sent his way.

“Swing states are already saturated with money on the presidential-campaign level,” and so any more money being poured into those campaigns will have decreasing effectiveness.  “But large sums of money have an overwhelming effect on local elections.  But even though voters aren’t stupid, even when being constantly  bombarded with expensive ads, fair elections are still impossible under the current system,” said the judge as I happily ate roast beef, baby spinach and cheesecake.

“We in America have a very narrow view of what constitutes corruption.”  It’s not corrupt to buy an election any more — just as long as you use the new Supreme Court guidelines or have a friend at Diebold.  You can’t just slip a poll-worker a fin any more.  That’s corrupt.  You gotta be new-school about it.  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/20755-top-10-ways-the-us-is-the-most-corrupt-country-in-the-world

“Chief Justice Roberts stated that, ‘The Supreme Court doesn’t make the laws.  We just call balls and strikes’.  That is wrong.”  Especially when the current Supreme Court continuously calls out “strike!” even after a batter has obviously hit a home run.  http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2010/01/2009-supreme-court-decisions-i-know.html

PPS:  “So, Jane.  What’s your moral here?”  The moral here is that we need to protect the integrity of our court system at any cost — even if it means that a few more war profiteers have to go without one of their yachts.  And also that I love all those Berkeley-Albany Bar Association luncheons.


Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice
She can be reached at: jpstillwater@yahoo.com

Former Pink Floyd Frontman Sparks Fury By Comparing Israelis To Nazis

December 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Inflammatory remarks by the musician Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, comparing the modern Israeli state to Nazi Germany have put him at the centre of a furious dispute.

Performers and religious figures reacted angrily to the veteran rock star’s argument that Israeli treatment of the Palestinians can be compared to the atrocities of Nazi Germany. “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious,” he said in an American online interview last week.

Waters, 70, a well-known supporter of the Palestinian cause, has frequently defended himself against accusations that he is antisemitic, claiming he has a right to urge fellow artists to boycott Israel.

This summer he was criticised for using a pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David, as one part of the stage effects at his concerts. Waters countered that it was just one of several religious and political symbols in the show and not an attempt to single out Judaism as an evil force.

Now leading American thinker Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has raised the stakes by describing Waters’ views as audacious and clearly antisemitic.

Writing in the New York Observer, the rabbi said: “Mr Waters, the Nazis were a genocidal regime that murdered six million Jews. That you would have the audacity to compare Jews to monsters who murdered them shows you have no decency, you have no heart, you have no soul.” The rabbi was responding to Waters’s latest comments on the Middle East.Speaking to the leftwing CounterPunch magazine, the musician criticised the US government for being unduly influenced by the Israeli “propaganda machine”.

The former Pink Floyd frontman, who has recently toured the world with a show based on the influential 1979 album The Wall, went on to describe the Israeli rabbinate as “bizarre” and accused them of believing that Palestinians and other Arabs in the Middle East were “sub-human”. Waters suggested the “Jewish lobby” was “extraordinarily powerful”. On the subject of the Holocaust, he said: “There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946. So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian people being murdered.”

Speaking from New York on Saturday night, Waters strongly rejected Rabbi Boteach’s characterisation of his views. He said: “I do not know Rabbi Boteach, and am not prepared to get into a slanging match with him. I will say this: I have nothing against Jews or Israelis, and I am not antisemitic. I deplore the policies of the Israeli government in the occupied territories and Gaza. They are immoral, inhuman and illegal. I will continue my non-violent protests as long as the government of Israel continues with these policies.

“If Rabbi Boteach can make a case for the Israel government’s policies, I look forward to hearing it. It is difficult to make arguments to defend the Israeli government’s policies, so would-be defenders often use a diversionary tactic, they routinely drag the critic into a public arena and accuse them of being an antisemite.”

Waters continued: “The Holocaust was brutal and disgusting beyond our imagination. We must never forget it. We must always remain vigilant. We must never stand by silent and indifferent to the sufferings of others, whatever their race, colour, ethnic background or religion. All human beings deserve the right to live equally under the law.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to advocate passionately for a cause, but drawing inappropriate parallels with the Holocaust insults the memory of the six million Jews – men, women and children – murdered by the Nazis. These kinds of attacks are commonly used as veiled antisemitism and should be exposed as such.”

Jo-Ann Mort, vice-chair of US Jewish group Americans for Peace Now, is calling for musicians and other entertainers to go to Israel to understand that there is also Israeli opposition to discrimination against Arabs. Speaking to the Observer from California, she said it was important for international performers to “speak their mind to audiences about the nation’s successes and failures. Just as Israeli musicians – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – do.”

“The media in Israel flock to foreign entertainers. Performers would have the opportunity to make their viewpoints known – and it will also help to break the logjam that fundamentalists have had on both sides,” she argued.

Mort supports the anti-boycott approach of Israeli singer and activist David Broza, whose forthcoming album East Jerusalem/West Jerusalemfeatures covers of songs that urge understanding, including Waters’s own song Mother, from the album The Wall.

“Music captivates your head and your mind,” Broza recently argued. “If it comes with good vibes, then everyone wants to be part of it. The hard work comes from having a belief in what you are doing and in not stopping at the barricades that are posted at every corner.”

Last week Waters’s words drew a strong response from the Community Security Trust, the body that monitors anti-Jewish activity in Britain. A spokesman told the Jewish Chronicle that Waters’s comments “echo the language of antisemitism” and added that the musician was “living proof of how easily people who pursue extreme anti-Israel politics can drift into antisemitic statements and ideas”.

Bicom, the UK-based Israel advocacy organisation, also condemned Waters’s views. Chief executive Dermot Kehoe said: “The statements by Roger Waters calling for a cultural boycott of Israel and comparing the country to Nazi Germany are repugnant and fly in the face of both the reality in Israel today and the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”

In August Waters used his Facebook page to respond to allegations that he was an “open hater of Jews”, made by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in an interview with an American weekly Jewish newspaper, the Algemeiner.

“Often I can ignore these attacks, but Rabbi Cooper’s accusations are so wild and bigoted they demand a response,” Waters wrote, adding that he had “many very close Jewish friends”.

Source: The Guardian

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