In Joshua 1:8 God said: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” So, what exactly did God have in mind when He told Joshua to meditate on His word? Well we can be certain of one thing. The Lord was not suggesting that Joshua sit in the lotus position and repeat a mantra until he attained altered states of consciousness. “These help bring one into states other than normal waking consciousness, in which a person becomes open to mystical experience, the spirit realm, or cosmic consciousness,” warns Bill Muehlenberg.
The sort of meditation God had in mind was not Eastern meditation. He has made it clear that His people are not to adopt pagan practices and those who do are out of His will. The purpose of eastern-style meditation is to “seek the God within.” That’s pantheism, brethren. People who hold this view believe that God is all and all is God. “A tree is God, a rock is God, an animal is God, the sky is God, the sun is God, you are God, etc.” The biblical view is that God is separate from His creation. Genesis 1:1-30
More on biblical meditation in a moment, but first…
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” There’s been a huge misunderstanding in the Christian community as to what this verse means. Let’s take a look at noted Bible teacher Kay Arthur’s Precept Ministries International (PMI) website to see if she has it right:
Can you remember the last time you sat in total silence except for the sounds of nature – listening intently to hear the voice of God. It is time to:
Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
Be still (cease striving)
Rest, relax, chill out, stop fighting, drop your weapons
Know that I am God
Learn that I am God, or “see that I am God”, “Get to know me better”
God is telling His children who are living in a busy world to stop, get quiet so that they can listen and get to know Him. It is only in stillness, the quiet, that we can hear the voice of God. (Bold PMI’s – Source)
Ken Silva penned a piece Kay Arthur With Erroneous Contemplative Interpretation of Psalm 46:10, which is where I came across the above quote. It could be a coincidence that right after Silva wrote his blog post and upbraided Kay for her erroneous teaching on Psalm 46:10, PMI’s webmaster changed the paragraph that begins with God is telling His children to As children of God, who are living in a busy world, we need to stop, get quiet and listen for His voice as we read His Word. God most often speaks in that small still voice. (Bold mine)
So, was Kay Arthur correct in explaining what be still means in context? Not according to Ken Silva:
This passage isn’t about any kind of meditation; and it has absolutely nothing to do with sitting in some lotus position and subjectively trying to “hear” God’s voice in creeping crickets or inner burblings of bellies. Rather, this is a firm admonition and warning for all nations—particularly His people Israel—to stop worrying and to recognize God’s sovereignty. (Source)
What do Bible scholars say the meaning is? One source, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, states, among other things, that be still is “the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue.” (Source – follow this link to discover what several Bible scholars say the meaning of be still is)
A growing number of low-information evangelicals (low-information people with high-profile power and/or influence — LIEs) endorse meditation, or what’s known ascontemplative/centering prayer (CP). This is bad news for the evangelical community as it’s easily provable that CP has its roots in paganism. In spite of this well-known fact, many LIE-celebs continue to lead people into eastern-style meditation. Yes, you read that right. Eastern, as in Buddhism. Now, some of you are thinking, “Seriously? Christian leaders are pointing people to Buddhism?” Bingo!
Unfortunately many LIEs promote problematic pagan practices even though God is adamant when He says:
When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations theLord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deut. 18:9-14)
There’s no question that God’s warning to Israel still pertains today. His people are not to indulge in pagan idolatry. This means that Christians who practice a form of meditation that brings him/her into the alpha state is actually defying the God they profess their love for! That alone should scare the bejeebers out of believers who take that approach to prayer. And it matters not what the reason is — even if it’s to go “deeper with God.”
Biblical meditation always includes a fully engaged mind. Listen to Professor of Philosophy Doug Groothuis’ advice on biblical prayer:
The biblical concept of prayer assumes that rational and meaningful communication between God and humans is possible. There is no summons to suspend rational judgment even when prayer through the Holy Spirit is ‘with groans that words cannot express’ (Rom. 8:26).
The manner in which the Christian shall meditate on it day and night is through the reading and study of the Bible.
Space does not allow for a comprehensive explanation of Eastern mysticism. For several years I’ve blogged on the encroachment of mysticism into the visible Church. For those who wish to learn more on this subject, my articles can be read here.
Christian Meditation Made Clear
Now to the subject at hand — biblical prayer. It’s important that born again believers begin each day with the Lord. What we call “quiet time” involves finding a place to read and pray where there are no distractions — so turn off that cell phone! Before reading, ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind and reveal truth. Also ask Him to help you make the biblical principles you’re learning meaningful and practical in your life. In Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “Pray Without Ceasing,” he asks four important questions:
What do these words imply? Secondly, What do they actually mean? Thirdly, How shall we obey them? And, fourthly, Why should WE especially obey them?
These are the sort of questions we should be asking as we read our bibles. We must stop and ponder what God has spoken through the words on the page. It may be necessary to read a passage repeatedly, reflect on it, analyze it, and listen while the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. (John 16:13)
And always consider the context! Apologist Greg Koukl explains how this is done:
I read the paragraph, not just the verse. I take stock of the relevant material above and below. Since the context frames the verse and gives it specific meaning, I let it tell me what’s going on.
Context, context, context!
Because many Christians lead busy lives they fail to put aside time to spend with the Lord. In point of fact, data shows that most believers spend very little time in their bibles — but there is certainly a whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on. In this fast food nation in which we live Christians continually fire off bullet prayers hoping God will answer them quickly. Especially if they want the God who grants their wishes to see to it that they find a parking space at the mall during the Christmas rush or stop a torrential downpour when they’re sitting in the stands at an outdoor sporting event.
Now, don’t get me wrong. God loves it when His people pray umpteen times a day. Moreover, we’re commanded to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes. 5:17) We’re also commanded to abide in Christ:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5).
So, not only are we to begin our day with the Lord reading His word and praying, we’re also to abide in (stay around) Christ throughout the day for the reason that there’s an ongoing relationship between the Vine and the branches. Got Questions reminds us:
We need to fill our minds constantly with the things of God; God should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with reference to Him (Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
When we fail to abide in Christ—fill our minds with the things of God–the fruit we bear, no matter how appealing it appears, is not off Christ’s vine! In other words, it’s doneapart from Him.
There’s a story in Luke 10:38 of two sisters, Mary and Martha, who thought differently about how to serve their Master. When Jesus came to their home Martha stayed in the kitchen preparing food for their guests. She had developed her own agenda for serving Christ. Martha became vexed that Mary wasn’t helping with the meal. What was her sister doing that caused Martha’s consternation? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words.
It’s certainly no crime to prepare a nice meal for a guest; however, we must remember that we are children of God before we’re servants of God. Like Mary, we must take time to sit at our Lord’s feet. Martha was so busy serving Jesus that she neglected Him!
Have I hit a nerve?
If your prayers are mainly the bullet variety then it would be wise to develop the biblical model of praying. Biblical prayer is intended for praise, confession and repentance, thanksgiving and asking for others. In our quiet time with the Lord we find His love. Through prayer believers are conformed to God’s will.
Prayer isn’t meant to be an esoteric experience. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we are to go into altered states of consciousness to commune with God. As I said above, biblical meditation does not seek the “God within.” This is the purpose of those who cling to Eastern religion and New Age spirituality!
The Christian who truly wishes to please God will let “the words of [your] mouth and the meditation of [your] heart be acceptable in [the LORD’s] sight …” (Psalm 19:14paraphrased)
Contemplative Prayer links—On Solid Rock Resources
New Age “Spirituality” links—On Solid Rock Resources
Occult links—On Solid Rock Resources
The erotic reliefs of Hindu temples with their gravity-defying and anatomy-challenging positions have found a new modern competitor in the Ukrainian crisis. Each party wants to get the Jews on their side, while claiming that the other side is anti-Jewish and a Jewish puppet at once. This impossible, Kama-Sutraesque position is the result of extremely confusing alliances: the Kiev regime lists devout Jews and fiery antisemites among its mainstays. The leading figures of the regime (including the president-elect) are of Jewish origin; strongman and chief financier Mr. Igor (Benya) Kolomoysky is a prominent Jewish public figure, the builder of many synagogues and a supporter of Israel. The most derring-do and pro-active force of the regime, the ultra-nationalists of the Svoboda party and the Right Sector, admire Hitler and his Ukrainian Quisling, Stepan Bandera, “liberators of Ukraine from the Judeo-Muscovite yoke”. Jews are ambivalent, and the sides are ambivalent about them, and a most entertaining intrigue has been hatched.
The Russians tried to pull Israel and American Jews to their side, with little success. President Putin condemned the antisemitism of the Svoboda party; he mentioned the desecration of the Odessa Jewish cemetery in his important talk. The Russians re-vitalised the World War Two narrative, fully identifying the Kiev regime with the Bandera gangs and the Nazi enemy. Still, this rhetoric is not taken seriously by Jews who refuse to feel threatened by cuddly Kolomoysky. “These Nazis are not against Jews, they are against Russians, so it is not a Jewish problem”, they say.
The Kiev regime mirrored the Russian attitude, if not Russia’s tactics. Being rather short of facts to brandish, they faked a leaflet from Donetsk rebels to local Jews calling upon them to register and pay a special poll tax “for the Jews support the Kiev regime”. This rude and improbable hoax was immediately and convincingly disproved, but not before it was used by, no less, Barak Obama and John Kerry. The American Jewish newspaper of record, The Forward, obfuscated the issue by saying that Russians and Ukrainians are antisemites by birth and their denials are to be taken with a grain of salt. This mud-slinging was effective – the hoax has made the front pages, while its debunking was published on the back pages.
The Russians had the facts on their side, and the West knew that: the US refused entry to Oleg Tyagnibok and other Svoboda leaders (now members of Kiev government) because of their antisemitism as recently as in 2013. But Russian appeals to Jewish and American sensitivities failed to make an impact. They know when to feign indignation and when to hush. Pro-Hitler commemorations are frequent in Estonia, Latvia, Croatia, and cause no lifting of a censorious brow, for these countries are solidly anti-Russian. In March of this year, the Obama administration’s special envoy on anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, flatly denied everything and said to the Forward that Putin’s assertions of Svoboda’s antisemitism “were not credible”. The US wants to decide who is an antisemite and who is not; like Hermann Goering wanted to decide who is a Jew and who is not in the Luftwaffe. In the Ukrainian crisis, the Jews remain divided, and follow their countries’ preferences.
Israel is neutral
Recently Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Putin. Putin is always available for and always courteous to Netanyahu, as opposed to President Obama, who shows signs of irritation. (Admittedly Obama has to listen to Netanyahu much more often and for hours.) Netanyahu apologised that he wouldn’t be able to come to St Petersburg for Israeli Culture Week; instead, old reliable Shimon Peres, Israel’s President, will make the trip. He apologised for leaking the news of this visit cancellation to the media, as well.
This is quite typical for the Israeli PM: at first, he asks for an invitation, Russia extends it, then he cancels his visit and leaks it to the press, thus earning brownie points with the Americans. He did it at the Sochi Olympic games, and now again, in St Petersburg. This is his way of expressing Israeli neutrality.
Israel is explicitly neutral in the Ukrainian crisis. Israelis walked out and did not vote on the UN GA Crimea resolution at all, annoying its American sponsors. The Israelis had a flimsy excuse: their Foreign Office was on strike. The Americans weren’t satisfied with this explanation. Strike or not, vote you must!
We learned from our Israeli colleagues the details of the Putin-Netanyahu phone conversation, which elaborated the reasons for Israeli neutrality. Israel is worried that as an asymmetric response to the US sanctions, Russia would deliver its potent air defence systems to Iran and Syria. Iran and Russia had signed a weapons supply contract a few years ago, Iran duly paid; then the shipment was suspended. Iran went to court demanding a massive compensation for the breach of contract. Likewise, the Syrians were supposed to get the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, able to protect its skies from Israeli raids. The deliveries commenced; PM Netanyahu beseeched Putin to put it on hold. Initially Putin objected, stressing the defensive nature of the system. Netanyahu told the Russian president that the S-300 would allow the Syrians to cover the whole North of Israel, at least all the way to Haifa, rendering important airfields unusable and endangering civil aviation as well. Putin agreed to stop the deliveries.
Vladimir Putin is friendly to Israel. He promised he would not allow the destruction of Israel; he promised to save its population if the situation should become truly dangerous. During the recent visit of PM Netanyahu to Moscow, Putin was not carried away by Netanyahu and Liberman’s hints of possible Israeli re-alliance with Moscow instead of Washington. He told the Israelis that their ties with the US are too strong for such a re-alliance being conceivable. Putin said that Russia is satisfied with the present level of friendship and does not demand that Tel Aviv weaken its ties with Washington. Putin visited Israel a few times, he received the Israeli PM in Kremlin. The Israeli ambassador Mme Golender sees Putin more often than do her American or French counterparts.
This friendly attitude has a down-to-earth reason: Putin is not fluent in English or French, while Mme Ambassador speaks Russian to him, eliminating the bothersome need of an interpreter. A deeper reason is Putin’s background: a scion of liberal elites, brought up in St Petersburg, schooled by ultra-liberal Mayor Sobchack, anointed by Boris Yeltsin, Putin is naturally friendly to Jews and to Israel. This friendly attitude annoyed some Russian ultra-patriots, who excitedly circulated his photo taken in the obligatory kippahnear the Wailing Wall. They also counted and recounted the names of Jewish oligarchs in Moscow.
True, some of them – Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Hodorkovsky – had to flee their Russian homeland, but the Russian president is surely not the Jewish-tycoons-Nemesis and the-new-Hitler he is sometimes made out to be. Abramovich and Friedman, to name just two, retain his trust and access. Putin does not mind any oligarch (Jewish or Gentile) – as long as he stays out of politics.
Putin is also friendly with Jewish intellectuals and gentlemen-of-the-media, even if they are outright hostile to him. Masha Gessen, Jewish Lesbian Putin-hater and magazine editor; Alexey Venediktov, Jewish chief editor of Echo Moskvy, a popular liberal medium that attacks Putin every day; many others enjoy access to Putin, – while no Russian nationalist including Dr Alexander Dugin can boast of having met with the president privately.
Putin’s affability does not turn him into a bountiful source for every Jewish initiative. He stopped S-300 deliveries to Iran, but rejected all Israeli overtures asking him to ditch Iran, or Syria, or Hamas. In the course of their last phone conversation, Netanyahu claimed the Israelis discovered proofs of Iranian nukes. Putin politely expressed his doubts and re-addressed him to IAEA. He agreed to receive the Israeli “experts” with their proofs in Moscow, but nothing came of it. Russia’s support for Palestine is unwavering, – there is a Palestinian embassy in Moscow, too.
Putin supported building of a spacious Jewish museum in Moscow and personally contributed to its budget – but Russian street advertising proclaims the Resurrection of Christ, Eastertide, and His Nativity at Christmas. No “season’s greetings”, but open affirmation of Christianity. Russia is not like the US or EU, where external signs of Christian faith are forbidden, Easter and Christmas can’t be mentioned and whatever Jews request must be done immediately. Western Jews are annoyed (so their organisations claim) by public displays of Christian faith, but Russian Jews do not mind; moreover, they intermarry, convert and enter the Church in previously unheard of numbers. They are not strongly pro-Israeli, those that were already left for Israel.
So the Jews of Russia are not an influential factor to the Russian President. Putin will do what is right according to the Christian faith, and what is good for Russia, as he understands it — and he can’t be convinced to give up really important points. Other considerations – such as friendship with Israel – would normally take a much lower place in his priorities. However, in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis, as the Russians are worried by sanctions and by threats of isolation, they try to pull Jews to their side. This makes them increasingly susceptible to Israeli manipulation, whether state-authorised or a private venture.
Last week, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld visited Moscow. In 2003, he famously threatened Europe with nuclear destruction (the “Samson Option”), saying “Israel has the capability to take the world down with us, and that will happen before Israel goes under”. Now he has explained to Russians Israel’s new policy: While the US enters the period of its decline, Israel must diversify and hedge its bets by drawing close to Moscow, Beijing and Delhi, he wrote in Izvestia daily. Perhaps, but without going too far. A flirt – yes, switching sides – not yet.
Israel prefers to stick to its neutrality. This is easy, as the Israeli populace (excepting its Russians) is not interested in Russian/Ukrainian affairs, does not know the difference between Russia and the Ukraine and is rather unfriendly to Russians/Ukrainians. This goes for both the Left and Right; the Israeli Left is even more pro-American than the Israeli Right. As for Russian Israelis, they are equally divided between supporters of Russia and supporters of Kiev regime. While observing niceties towards Russia, Israel does not intend to side with Moscow. The Jewish oligarchs of Ukraine – Kolomoysky, Pinchuk, Rabinovich – are integrated within the Kiev regime, and they support Israeli right-wing on a large scale. Israeli businessmen are invested in the Ukraine, and the oligarchs are invested in Israel. Kolomoysky controls YuzhMash, the famed missile construction complex in Dnepropetrovsk, and holds the secrets of the Satan ballistic missile, the most powerful Russian strategic weapon. He allegedly intends to share these secrets with the Israelis. If Israel were to side with Moscow regarding Ukraine, the breach with Washington would be unavoidable, and Israel does not intend to provoke it.
Some marginal Israeli right-wingers support Russia; they claim that they represent Israeli public opinion and government. They try to collect on their promises before they deliver. However, this is not an ordinary scam: they are trying to turn Russia into a supporter of right-wing Zionism.
Consider Russian-Israeli far right activist Avigdor Eskin. He impossibly claims that the Israeli government has already decided to jump from the US train to join the Russian one, that Israeli commandos are on their way to fight for the Russians in Donetsk, that Israeli authorities intend to strip Mr Kolomoysky of his Israeli citizenship. Naturally, all that is a load of bunkum, but Russians swallow it hook, line and sinker.
Avigdor Eskin is a colourful personality: a convert to Jewish faith (his mother is not Jewish), an observant Jew, an ex-Kahanist who was arrested in Israel for an alleged attempt to desecrate Al Aqsa mosque and a Muslim cemetery, and who served two or three years in Israeli jail; he styles himself a “Rabbi” and wears a full beard. After serving his time in jail, he moved to Russia and built a network of Israel supporters among the Russian far right. His message is “Israel is a true friend of Russia, while Muslims are Russia’s enemies”. He also adds that Israeli settlers are anti-American and pro-Russian. (If you believe that, the tooth fairy is the next step.)
Recently he claimed that the Aliya Battalion of “experienced Israeli commandos and sharpshooters” came to warring Donbass to fight on the Russian side against the Kiev regime troops. The Aliya Battalion is a battalion in the sense Salvation Army is an army. This is an Israeli NGO, established by Russian Israelis of far-right Zionist persuasion and of some Russian military background. It is not a part of Israeli Army. For a short while, the NGO provided guards for Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, but the settlements stopped using them as they were extremely unreliable. They boasted of murdering Palestinian civilians, of torturing and killing children, but this was just a sick sadist and racist fantasy, people say. Afterwards, the Battalion leaders turned its name into a profitable scam, roaming American Jewish communities and collecting donations for their supposedly secret activities. As this scam was exposed by Israeli TV (RTVI network; it is available on the YouTube), they had disappeared from the public eye. Now Avigdor Eskin resurrected the old scam, and made a lot of headlines in the Russian media.
Eskin found a soulmate in prominent Russian media man Vladimir Solovyev. The Solovyev is of partly Jewish origin, lived abroad, then returned to Russia; he runs an important political show Sunday Eveningon Russian TV. The Saker (a well-known blogger) described him as follows: “This show is hosted by a famous personality, Vladimir Solovyev, who is a very interesting guy. Solovyev is a Jew, and he is not shy about reminding his audience about it, who was even elected as a member of the Russian Jewish Congress. He is also a Russian patriot, and he is an outspoken supporter of Putin and his policies. His position on the Ukraine is simple: he as a Jew and as a Russian has zero tolerance for Ukrainian nationalism, neo-Nazism or Banderism. He is a determined and total enemy of the new Kiev regime.”
It is possible Solovyev is going through some personal identity crisis: from celebrating his Russian roots, he moved to proclaiming his Jewish origin. Alternatively, it is possible (and more likely) that the Russian decision-makers want to pull Jews on their side, and Solovyev is acting with US Jews in mind. Stalin did it, so Putin could repeat the trick. In 1942, as Nazi onslaught threatened Russia, Stalin had sent some Russian Jews to the US, to speak Yiddish to Jewish communities and lobby for the USSR. The American Jewish community surely carries some clout… Now Solovyev and others are trying to influence Jews abroad; or at least to show to their superiors they are trying.
The price Eskin extracts for his fantasy stories is high. In Solovyev’s prime time programme, he called for the destruction of al Aqsa mosque and for the building of the Jewish temple on its place. He called Palestinians “the people of Antichrist”. Even in Israel such statements can’t be voiced on public TV. In confused Moscow, Eskin was feted and given a place in another important political programme, that of Arcady Mamontov. Who is conning whom: is Eskin conning his Russian hosts, or are his media hosts using him to con their superiors, or are their superiors trying to con the Russian people? Or is Israel hedging its bets? Who knows?
Ukrainian Jews beg to differ
Jews came to the Ukraine a thousand years ago, perhaps from Khazaria. This is not a homogeneous community; rather, they represent several communities. A lot of them emigrated to Israel; even more moved to Russia. They speak Russian and usually do not speak Ukrainian, though they picked up the vernacular over last twenty years. Normally, they wouldn’t care about Ukraine’s independence, as Jews traditionally side with the strong, be it Poles under Polish rule, with Russians under Moscow rule, or with Germans under Vienna or Berlin. Now many of them have decided to side with the US or EU. One of the reasons why so many people of Jewish origin do well is that the ruling ethnic groups trust the Jews and rely upon their loyalty to the powerful and lack of compassion for their Gentile neighbours.
Another reason is the vague definitions. For last three or four generations, Jews have intermarried freely; children of these mixed marriages are often considered ‘Jews’. These are the ‘Jews’ to the present regime; often they have only one Jewish grandparent.
Ukraine, following its independence in 1991, moved into the Western sphere of influence, but Eastern Ukraine (Novorossia) retained its Russian character and links. Jews did well in both parts. Mr Kolomoysky is a prominent member of the Jewish community, and a mainstay of the Kiev regime. He is a ruthless businessman, famous for his raiding of others’properties and for his Mafia connections. Rumours connect him with many killings of business adversaries.
On the other side, in Kharkov, the Mayor and the district Governor (nicknamed Dopah and Gepah) are Jewish, and they can be considered pro-Russian. It was thought that Kharkov would become the centre of rising Novorossia; president Yanukovich fled to Kharkov hoping to find allies and supporters. But Dopa and Gepa disabused him, so he continued his flight all the way to the Russian city of Rostov. Their decision to remain loyal to Kiev did not work well for them: one was shot, and the second one has been imprisoned and his attempt to run for president thwarted.
Kharkov is also home to Mr. Hodos, a wealthy and prominent Jew who fought most valiantly against Habad, the Jewish spiritual movement of which Mr Kolomoysky is a prominent member. The Jews of Novorossia apparently support the general pro-Russian trend, though there are exceptions. Practically all Ukrainian Jews have relatives in Russia, and had Russian education.
Israel has a strong network of agents in the Ukraine. They snatched a Palestinian engineer and flew him to an Israeli dungeon, and that could not be done without support of Ukrainian security services. However, the stories of Israeli soldiers fighting in Ukraine are somewhat exaggerated: these are individuals of dual citizenship who act at their own will, not a state representatives.
US Jews are divided
US Jews are divided on the Ukraine, as they were divided on Palestine. Friends of Palestine, people with a strong anti-imperialist record and sound knowledge of East European history – Noam Chomsky and Stephen F. Cohen — recognised and renounced the US attempt to sustain their hegemony by keeping brazen Russia down. A subset of people, Gilad Atzmon aptly called AZZ (anti-zionist zionists), Trots and other faux-Leftist shills for NATO like Louis Proyect – called for American intervention and brayed for Russian blood.
The notorious Israel Lobby is strictly anti-Russian. The State Dept. official Victoria (“Fuck EU”) Nuland personally directed the Kiev coup; she handpicked the government and the president of the new American colony on the Dnieper River. Her husband, Robert Kagan, is a founder of FPI, the successor of infamous PNAC, the extremist Zionist think tank which promoted wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and pushed for a war with Iran. Now they attack Russia, but they do not forget about their support for Israel.
Consider a young American gender activist and journalist, James Kirchick. He entered the Neocon network by shilling for the Lobby. He pink-washed Israel (“Israel as the best friend of gays on earth, while the Palestinians are homophobes who deserve to be bombed”). After doing the Israeli stint, he moved on to fighting Russia. He worked for the CIA-owned and US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe; stage-managed the sensational Liz Wahl’s on-air resignation from the RT and protested alleged mistreatment of gays in Russia. His dirty tricks were revealed by Max Blumenthal, a Jewish American journalist, a known anti-Zionist (working together with a Palestinian Rania Khalek).
While Israel is neutral re Ukraine, Israeli friends in EU and US are hostile to Russia and supportive of American hegemony, while friends of Palestine stand for Russia’s challenge to the Empire. The French Zionist media philosopher Bernard Henri Levy is an example of the former, while Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research is a representative of the latter. Leading critical (“anti-Zionist”) websites Counterpunch, Antiwar, Global Research sympathise with Russia, while pro-Israeli sites are hostile to Russia.
Zionists are nasty and vicious enemies, but they make even worse friends. Edward N. Luttwak is friendly to Russia; he called upon the US to make up with Russia. Strategic union of Russia and America is necessary, he says. Who cares about Ukraine? And here is his pitch line: Russia should fight China for the US benefit. Another Zionist friend, Tony Blair, also calls for peace with Russia – so Russia can fight the Muslim world for Israel. Quite similar to Eskin who offers his pathetic support to Russia in order to neutralise her positive influence and defence of Palestine.
The bottom line: Israel remains neutral for its own reasons. While Jews as individuals differ on Ukraine, there is a correlation with their stand on Palestine and on Syria. Enemies of Putin in Russia, Ukraine, Europe and US do support Israel and are hostile to Palestine, to Syria of Bashar, to Venezuela of Chavez. And the most dangerous lot are those who support Israel and Russia, as they are surely plotting some mischief.
How corrupt has America become? It has become as corrupt as globalism itself, a byproduct in international greed, where the gutting of good paying jobs has relegated the United States to being nothing more than a third rate country with a first rate war machine. An essential aspect to what we regard as the American economy today is its reliance on fraud and corruption, from the banking sector to corporations exporting and outsourcing good jobs with the help of a political class that is not only fraudulent but treasonous to the extreme, they are driving America towards an abyss that it will not come back from.
Waging international war for resources under false pretenses is a globalists wet dream, and under the cloak of the nefarious “war on terror,” multinational defense and security firms have made trillions of dollars over the last decade. They destroy so they can rebuild, and all the human collateral damage is just an unsightly part of doing business.
Another perverse aspect to globalism is massive illegal immigration under the disreputable banner of multiculturalism, for some shady businesses in America the profit margins can increase exponentially by hiring illegal workers over Americans.
Corporations hire illegal workers to keep wages low, and benefits to an absolute minimum. Americans are shunned for unquestioning cheep labor, and governments allow and foster this fraud to the detriment of many Americans. Some Americans, if you can still call them Americans, profit greatly in this perverse atmosphere of fraud. The Federal government consistently places the interests of illegal aliens and businesses who hire them over and above American workers and the ‘rule of law’.
A case in point is Oklahoma, specifically Tulsa, Oklahoma, which has become a hotbed of greed and corruption. Tulsa is what some call a sanctuary city, where tens of thousands of illegal workers are in jobs that Americans are obviously not occupying. This ugly fact is good for some corporations and businesses, expanding their profits by paying undocumented workers low wages with no real benefits. What does it cost the American tax payers when these illegal workers have babies and use the medical industry with false identities, who foots the medical bills? It defiantly is not businesses or the governments.
Another case in point is a company called Name Brand Clothing; based in Tulsa, it has stores in six states, the company sells salvage clothing at 75 percent off retail and it prefers to hire illegal workers instead of Americans. It is the proverbial ‘poster child’ for corporate greed and corruption in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Why does it hire illegal workers? Well, first of all, it is about greed, making some people rich at the expense of everyone else. The managers at Name Brand Clothing generate outrageous bonuses by essentially suppressing wages on all hourly paid employees year after year. They choose illegal workers because illegal’s do not complain about being stuck on minimum wage for years on end with no real medical benefits and no paid holidays.
The owners and managers of Name Brand Clothing knowingly and willingly submit false identifications and Social Security Numbers to the IRS and to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, which is of course contrary to both federal and state laws. They have been doing this for over a decade, and they can commit these criminal acts because Federal and State governments are currently as corrupt and dishonest as companies like Name Brand Clothing.
Veracity Voice interviewed a long time worker at Name Brands Clothing for an inside examination into the workings of corporate greed and corruption that currently plagues corporate America.
We are protecting the person’s identity because the person is still currently employed by the company. We will refer to that person as the ‘Employee’.
Veracity Voice: How long have you been working for Name Brands?
Employee: I rather not say exactly since I still work for them, lets just say that I have been employed at Name Brands for about 10 years, give or take a couple of years.
Veracity Voice: What do you do there?
Employee: Again, I rather not say exactly, lets just say I worked in the head office, and have seen the corruption first hand.
Veracity Voice: Why have you decided to speak out at this time, and not before?
Employee: Actually I did in a way speak about this before; I wrote a letter to the Sheriff’s department, and the FBI about 4 years ago. I also wrote letters too FOX 23 and Channel Six News, concerning the outlandish fraud and corruption happening at Name Brands, and absolutely nothing came of it. It seems that it is not PC to talk about this issue in Tulsa; the mainstream media won’t touch it. That is why I am talking with Veracity Voice; the only outlet whistleblowers have today in America is in the alternative media.
Veracity Voice: Are you saying that the mainstream media is covering it up?
Employee: In a way they are by not reporting all the law breaking going around Tulsa as far as hiring illegal workers by businesses, they certainly seem to be part of the club, and will not rock the boat.
Veracity Voice: What Club?
Employee: Corrupt businesses, Local, State and Federal governments that allow the criminal behavior, the police departments that will not enforce the law and mainstream media that will not report any of it. It is one big corrupt club.
Veracity Voice: What kind of fraud and corruption have you seen at Name Brands?
Employee: Well, you can compare the greed and corruption at Name Brands along the lines of what’s happening in Wall Street and the financial system, some people are profiting greatly through outright fraud and thievery at the expense of everyone else, and government is engaged in helping the criminality.
At Name Brands, the fraud is done by submitting false ID’s and Social Security Numbers (SSN) to the IRS. I’ve seen with my own eyes management turn away American workers seeking work then turn around and hire illegals. The main reason they do this, Is because the illegals are content to work for minimum wage with no real benefits. Essentially, they keep everyone’s wages stagnant except for management.
Veracity Voice: What do you mean except for management?
Employee: The lower the costs for running the business, the higher the bonuses for management, its classic corporate greed. Management at Name Brands make large sums of money in the form of bonuses while all other workers do not receive real medical benefits or paid holidays except for two, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and those two paid holidays are highly conditional.
Veracity Voice: Highly conditional?
Employee: Yes, two weeks prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas if an employee is late for work for any reason Name Brands will not pay you for the holiday.
Veracity Voice: You’re kidding right?
Employee: No, unfortunately I’m not kidding. At Name Brands it’s a culture of nepotism and greed, like the saying goes “there is no honor among thieves” there is no honesty, no real integrity, just godless corruption. There is one woman, who has worked for the company for 17 years, and she has only received one 5 cent raise not counting minimum wage increases. It’s outright disgusting how they treat workers.
Veracity Voice: Why does she stay?
Employee: Well, some people have problems, and finding other employment can be difficult.
Veracity Voice: What kind of problems?
Employee: All sorts of problems like emotional and mental problems, in some cases drug problems, other cases workers being ex-convicts, finding employment can be difficult. Like some parasite, companies like Name Brands like to take advantage of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, that’s why they like illegals; they can thieve from them without any complaint, protected by corrupt governments. Most self-respecting Americans will not work for a company that treats hourly workers like trash.
Veracity Voice: Let’s get back to the fraud, how many illegals are they employing?
Employee: At TPC which is Name Brands production center in North Tulsa, they usually have around 80 illegals working there, and at their store in South Tulsa there are about 10.
Veracity Voice: That many?
Employee: Yes, it’s absolutely incredulous and in your face. It is both frustrating and depressing at the same time to see this traitorous conduct on a daily basis. It is time for Americans to take a stand against these globalists that are profiting through corruption.
Veracity Voice: Who are the people that run Name Brands Clothing in Tulsa?
Employee: As far as I know, Rusty Gaddy is the CEO, Jim Stevenson and Jim Breese are VP’s. At TPC there is Reid Lewellin and Jason Garman, both managers, and Brent Daily is the manager at the Tulsa Store, they all commit fraud on a daily bases. They do not care for America or Americans, all they care about is increasing their bonuses at the expense of everyone else, and what really bothers me is that the governments, both at the local and federal level engage in the same fraud, they do absolutely nothing about it. The Federal government knows very well that Name Brands has for well over a decade submitted thousands of false ID’s and SSN’s. This is criminal behavior at both the local and Federal level when the government chooses not to enforce its own laws.
Veracity Voice: What do you think should be done with these people?
Employee: These people are more than thieving fraudsters, they are traitors to the country and its people, so I say arrest Rusty Gaddy, arrest Jim Breese, arrest Jason Garman and Reid Lewellin, and arrest all of the crooks that run the criminal enterprise called Name Brands Clothing. These people are also very cowardly, if they find out that any employee is against their corruption they will slander him or her with false accusations, they will make up stuff to make that employee look bad. The two most egregious slanderers at Name Brands are Jason Garman and Jim Breese, they will slander and harass you to the point of desperation, and people will quit their jobs because of the continual harassment.
Veracity Voice: Job harassment is a crime.
Employee: Yes, and they get away with that too.
Veracity Voice: Talk a little bit about the one man that has used more than one ID to work at Name Brands.
Employee: Ya, he has three different aliases. I do not know which one is his real name, all I know is that Name Brands went out and got him a new fake ID, when they found out that the old ID the man was using belonged to a another man.
Veracity Voice: Where did they get the fake ID?
Employee: I do not know for sure, I heard that they went to some website run by the Federal government, and it provided Name Brands with a fake ID.
Veracity Voice: What do you think should be done with companies that choose to break the law as a regular part of doing business?
Employee: Again, arrest and prosecute the criminals, if law enforcement will not do their jobs, then Americans need to start fighting back by boycotting corporations like Name Brands that fragrantly and openly break the law. I mean these people act like it’s the turn of the 20th century or something; these anti-American globalists – at the end of the day that’s what these people really are – Name Brands conducts business like multinationals that run sweatshops all over the third world. They help create the culture of illegal behavior, by giving employment to illegals, which allows the illegals to stay in the city, drive vehicles without drivers licenses and insurance, use emergency Heath Services at taxpayer cost, they currently function ‘above the law’ and all accountability. Real Americans need to stand up against these criminals before they completely destroy this country.
Veracity Voice: Many in the business sector and in the political establishment will argue that the illegals fill jobs that Americans will not do, this reasoning is also pushed by the mainstream media, what do you say to this reasoning?
Employee: I think it is a false argument, I’ve seen with my own eyes Name Brands turn away Americans willing to work, in some cases desperate for a job, they are turned away in favor of hiring illegals. So, that kind of reasoning is nothing more than an illusion.
Veracity Voice: Some will charge you with racism for holding these views, how do you respond to this kind of slander?
Employee: It has been my experience that those that accuse people of being racist are in fact racists themselves. They falsely accuse others of being racist so they could push their nefarious agenda by smearing the reputations of those that are opposed to their mendacity and corruption. The charge of racism holds no water in the case of illegal immigration.
Veracity Voice: Why don’t you look for another job?
Employee: I am its not easy finding work these days. And if I quit, I probably will not be able to collect unemployment benefits if I can’t find a job.
Veracity Voice: Why?
Employee: Because Name Brands will fight against your right to obtain unemployment insurance, its company policy. They will send their managers to testify against your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and they will without any hesitation, lie and malign anyone applying for the benefits.
Veracity Voice: They have done this before, entered false information against former employees to the Unemployment Bureau?
Employee: Yes, many times, and they get away with that too, companies like Name Brands function ‘above the law,’ and it must stop now.
Veracity Voice: Thank you for your time.
Employee: You’re welcome.
The massive unrestrained flux in illegal immigration has changed the demographics of Tulsa, forcing many businesses to provide bilingual services, including city and state government services at great cost to the taxpayer. It is the ongoing balkanization of the city where east Tulsa is now known as little Mexico, a criminal and negative phenomenon that is currently occurring in many cities across the nation.
Few will dispute that careerist politicians often demonstrate psychopathic behavior. In the article, Who Controls our Government? The Psychopathic Corporate Elites of America, Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null attempt to answer several fundamental questions:
“Is the problem, therefore, we the people? Are we at fault for having been seduced by those in power to sell us blank bill of goods, drugs, products and policies that are more harmful than beneficial? Are we at fault for having deceived our selves by being convinced that their illusion is the truth? Or is the elite, the best and brightest in Wall Street, Washington and throughout the top stories of the multinational corporate networks, the real obstacle to a promising future for all? Are the oligarchic elite, including corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans in all branches of government, not in fact a special breed of psychopath with no moral compass, striving solely to maintain their power, control and wealth? In this article we explore this phenomena with two leading experts on the psychopathic nature of our CEOs, business leaders and politicians who rule America from their residences on Psycho Street.”
What may be revealing to the average person is that many of the same sociopathic characteristics exhibited in the policy manipulators exist in the general population. Martha Stout, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and former Harvard Medical school instructor and author of The Sociopath Next Door. The article, Psychopaths and sociopaths share many characteristics: seem to coincide, cites she “estimates that one in 25 people, 4 percent of the population, are sociopathic. Dr. Stout describes sociopaths as those who, through grand schemes of contrivance, manipulation and deceit, seek to undermine and manipulate simply because they can.”The tendencies for government officials, who prefer the designation authorities, project their dictatorial attitude upon a compliant public. “Most disturbing of all, Stout says at least six out of 10 people “will blindly obey an official-looking authority to the bitter end.”
The essay, Age of the Psychopaths, by Michael Colhaze links the operations of the power elite to an authoritarian culture, which ordinary citizen willingly obey.
“As Prof. Robert Hare coined it so simply yet fittingly: Serial killer psychopaths ruin families. Corporate psychopaths ruin societies.
Particularly if the latter have aligned themselves, due to bonds of blood and faith, with the political psychopaths, which means in fact that a whole country has fallen into the hands of men who normally would be locked away in a mental hospital. What is more, under the cover of an imaginary terrorist threat illegal laws have been promulgated that have curtailed the guaranteed democratic liberties. Crowned by the so-called NDAA, a Christmas present signed by the Neocon lackey, does the whole body signify a legal garrote that has turned the USA into a virtual police state.”
This malady of assimilation and submission is the result of decades of cultural engineering and social propaganda, going back to the application of Edward Bernays’ psychological mind control, upon a naïve citizenry.
“No serious sociologist any longer believes that the voice of the people expresses any divine or specially wise and lofty idea. The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion. It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and clichés and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders.”
In the book, Why People Obey the Law, Tom R. Tyler concludes with the following erroneous assumption that an intrinsic duty to obey, exists.
“Why People Obey the Law makes the argument that the relationship between the members of groups, organizations, and societies and the authorities and institutions which govern them need not be based upon an instrumental exchange of rewards or be a threat-based approach to social control. It is also possible to engage the values of the population, which leads to a self-regulatory stance toward governance, in which people voluntarily defer to authorities and institutions because they view doing so as part of the obligation they have to their leaders.”
How can governance ever be self-regulating when the entire system operates under a delusional mental illness? Establishment idiots that rationalize compliance, when government “public servants” turn into despotic tyrants, usually are timid cowards or seek to extract some kind of perceived benefit from their psychopathic masters. These “so called” civic employees are perpetuating the political psychosis of the cognizance dissident society.
Then factor in the deranged “true-believers” who bow down to an absurd reading of scripture. In Romans 13:1–7 and the problem of bad governments, Deacons and Dragons writes:
“I think there is the basis here for active Christian resistance to governments that have gone profoundly wrong. When a government has so abandoned its task of enacting right that it can no longer be seen to be an “authority”, then there is, I suggest, room for resistance to be the right action. However, I say this very cautiously, because the far more obvious approach to this kind of situation in the Bible is to suffer. The Christian martyrs in Revelation suffer under unjust rulers; they don’t try to blow them up. Nevertheless, I think there is more to be said than this. O’Donovan reminds us that John of Salisbury, in the twelfth century, spoke of the duty of tyrannicide! This, I tentatively suggest, is how we might understand Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the attempted assassination of Hitler.”
Nonetheless, this drastic approach offers little hope, when the institutional technocrats are administrating their demonic edicts and imposing draconian burdens on the serfs, under this new feudal system of oppression and theft.
The absurdity in obeying an illegitimate authority should be self-evident to any rational person. However, there are so few stable and sane individuals, who exercise conduct by conscience, that the sociopaths can easily control the masses, by keeping their autocratic officials following orders.
The perfect example of government hooligan goons from the Bureau of Land Management was unmistakably on display at the Bundy Ranch recently. In spite of this illegitimate storm trooper federal deployment, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott questions the BLM’s authority to seize 90,000 acres belonging to Texas landholders along the Texas/Oklahoma line.
“I am deeply concerned about the notion that the Bureau of Land Management believes the federal government has the authority to swoop in and take land that has been owned and cultivated by Texas landowners for generations,” General Abbott wrote. “The BLM’s newly asserted claims to land along the Red River threaten to upset long-settled private property rights and undermine fundamental principles—including the rule of law—that form the foundation of our democracy. Yet, the BLM has failed to disclose either its full intentions or the legal justification for its proposed actions. Decisions of this magnitude must not be made inside a bureaucratic black box.”
Before anyone gets excited about pushing back the District of Criminals Federales, the true and lasting test, requires that internal non-compliance must start and gain momentum within each level of government agencies. The career climbers operate under the psychopath principle to attain a confirmed reliability position in their respective sociopathic organization. Making your bones is an important ritual in any crime syndicate.
All the time the dumb down public pays tribute to the forces that use psychological mind control and law enforcement brute force to subdue any dissident elements that dare resist. Refusing to bow to an illicit system is a sure sign of defiance. Institutionalizing such threats in a government funded mental asylum may seem appropriate to the “PC” enabler, but why waste the money when a “double tap” gun shoot can eliminate the opposition quickly.This kind of thinking is operationally sound within the perverted and sociopathic agency culture that most government exponents support. There is a reason why the public is stupid. As the standard of living deteriorates even more and the prospect of genuine individual liberty becomes but a faint recollection in the memory of the nation, the average peon becomes but chattel to the establishment.
Doug Casey, of economic and social commentary renown offers this deduction about the sociopaths running the U.S.
“Conversely, statism and collectivism, by restricting liberty, tend to reward stupidity. Remember that political leaders are oriented toward controlling other people; they’re clever about it, but they’re basically stupid about the rest of reality. Nonetheless, their animal shrewdness is enough for them to gain and keep power over others. The immediate and direct consequences of that political power are gratifying for those who have it; the indirect and delayed consequences, however, are disastrous for everyone.
But wait. It sounds like stupidity is related to evil. Which it is. Stupidity is a signpost of evil. It’s why it often takes a while, when things are going badly, to determine whether you’re dealing with a knave or just a fool.”
Almost begs the question does the American public love evil, since they demonstrate so emphatically that they support this corrupt sociopathic establishment.
When defending Western Civilization, some confuse that secular humanism, practiced as the current dominate popular culture, represents that lineage. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The decadence and decline in the West is undeniable. Yet the heritage upon which European civilization is based, owes a profound debt of gratitude to the societies that developed out of the brute force of empire and adopted principles of natural law and individual dignity. A direct correlation to the gospel of Christ becomes the centerpiece of this glorious tradition of universal brotherhood, that keeps man’s inhumanity to man in check.
The well-documented failures of institutions and regimes would have been far worse if left to the devices of pagan appetites or atheist’s hubris. However, the memory of the eternal struggle is short lived in the minds of most people. Confusion reigns because of a lack of knowledge, perspective and especially will, to admit that the New World Order is the invention of satanic factions that lust for control of the entire planet and beyond.
Therefore, the extraordinary essay by Pat Buchanan, Putin vs. Cultural Marxism: Whose Side Is God on Now?, is a required penance for all those who have sinned.
“In his Kremlin defense of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Russia is a Christian country, Putin was saying.This speech recalls last December’s address where the former KGB chief spoke of Russia as standing against a decadent West:
“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”
With Marxism-Leninism a dead faith, Putin is saying the new ideological struggle is between a debauched West led by the United States and a traditionalist world Russia would be proud to lead.”
Before dismissing Putin as just a KGB thug, read Vladimir Putin Nemesis of the New World Order. Then do your own research on Marx and Lenin’s clan of Khazar Bolsheviks. Finally, transcend the issue just about the motives of Putin and focus on the Christian roots of the Russian population.
The Orthodox Revival in Russia by Fr. Seraphim Rose cites the experiences and significance of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Father Dimitry Dudko.Solzhenitsyn spoke of Gulag—a secular term; Fr. Dimitry speaks of Golgotha—the Christian understanding of the Soviet experience. The central part of Fr. Dimitry’s—and contemporary Russia’s—message to us is that all the sufferings inflicted by atheism have a meaning—we can find Christ in them… Here are a few passages of Fr. Dimitry’s teaching:
“In our land has occurred Golgotha; the torments of all the martyrs begin gradually to cleanse the air… The present crucifixion of Christ in Russia, the persecutions and mockings only lead to the resurrection of faith in men… This gives us strength, firmness, makes us better than we are now… Let us imagine the state of our martyrs. Did the thought of sinning occur to them at this moment? No matter what kind of sinners they may have been in this minute they become saints… And those who suffer for those condemned to death also become better. How many martyrs there have been in Russia—and therefore, how many holy feelings! Will these holy feelings really give no fruit? And perhaps we live and will live only by the feelings of the holy martyrs, being supported by them… In our country now is Golgotha. Christ is crucified. Golgotha is not merely sufferings, but such sufferings as lead to resurrection and enlighten men… Our time can be compared only with the first three centuries of Christianity, and perhaps then it was even easier; then they did not yet know all the refinements of subtle torture… If one compares the religious state here and in the West, the balance is on our side. Why? Because here we have Golgotha, and there they don’t. Does an abundance of material goods give a religious rebirth? … Here we have nothing, but if people believe they are ready to die for their faith.”
Fr. Rose provides his assessment:
“His truthfulness and fiery faith have made many enemies—sadly enough, even among Orthodox Christians. Some have found him too emotional, too apocalyptic, too messianic—and it is true that such a fiery, urgent, Orthodox preaching hasn’t been heard in Russia and probably the whole Orthodox world since the days of St. John of Kronstadt; many Orthodox people have become self-satisfied with their “correct and proper” Orthodoxy and are somehow offended when Orthodoxy is preached and communicated so warmly to everyone who will listen.”
Can you just imagine such a discussion in the western media or even among Dispensationalist Christians, who are preoccupied in taking up the sword to champion Zionism? Any comparison between the West and Mother Russia would be incomplete without the insight of the audacious Brother Nathanael Kapner, Putin’s Purge Of The Rothschild Money Changers.In a televised Christmas message on January 7 2008 Putin said:
“The Russian Orthodox Church contributes to the promotion of moral values in society. One should not completely draw a line between the culture and the church. Of course by law in our country the church is separate from the state. But in the soul and the history of our people it’s all together. It always has been and always will be.” — Here.
Brother Nathanael leaves nothing unsaid in PUTIN VS JEWS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER.
“By 2006 Putin had paid off Russia’s debt to the Rothschilds. Russia’s financial dependence on the Jewish financiers was now over. Putin could then establish what became his Russian Unity Party’s 2007 campaign slogan: Putin’s Plan Means Victory For Russia! This slogan continues to make the New World Order Jews very nervous…Here.”
While these sentiments are several years old, make no mistake about it, they are even truer today, with the efforts of the BRICS Development Bank to replace the IMF.
For a more current description, look to Pastor Scott Lively in Report from Moscow, and a summary of a reversal of roles, read on.
“Russia is today experiencing a Christian revival and is decidedly NOT communist. Some 30,000 churches have been built in the last year, and the ones in Moscow are reportedly overflowing with worshippers on Sundays. Most of the church is Orthodox, which is steeped in tradition, but at the same time relevant to the modern society.”
“How incredibly ironic it is that Russia is now our best hope for stopping the conquest of the world by the “progressives.” On Father Dimitri’s television show, I made the point that the Americans and the Soviets both won and both lost the Cold War. The Americans broke the Soviet system through economic strategies and tactics. But before they collapsed, the Soviets poisoned the United States with Cultural Marxism, promoting moral degeneracy and family breakdown through so-called “progressive” ideology. Today, post-Soviet Russia is re-emerging as a Christian nation, while the United States is becoming a “Gay Soviet Union.” What a strange turn of events.”
Echoing this conclusion is the report In Russia, a religious revival brings new life to Orthodox media. “After 70 years of state-imposed atheism and 20 years that have run the gamut from glasnost to post-Soviet chaos to a revival of Russian pride, Russians have increasingly embraced their Orthodox roots.” The video Christianity Grows in Russia & Declines in the West is to the point.The Latin Papacy has lost its spiritual way often over the millenniums and the Scofield Christian-Zionist apostate bible thumpers betray the Gospel of Christ with their devotion to the Talmud perversion of the Old Testament. Both need to seek repentance. Once the enemy of Christianity, when Russia was Rothschild’s USSR, today a revival of Christianity has started.
Western Secularism, which encapsulates the immoral ethos that underpins the globalist economic model, based upon a rejection of authentic Christian teaching, is the downfall of humanity.
If Russia can salvage their society from atheist communism, surely the West has the ability to humble themselves and repent for their depraved chutzpah and wicked ways. The Totalitarian Collectivism that has destroyed the Christian culture on both sides of the Atlantic must return to their traditional roots.
Michael Hoffman on ‘Usury in Christendom’ is essential, ‘…freedom from interest on money, is essentially the battle for freedom from the Money Power’. The West has become the “Money Changers”, because the temple has subverted commerce by heretical destruction of faith and separation from God. By destroying traditional Christian religious belief, the secular body is defenseless. Such a message is radical to most, because it is reactionary to the spiritual non-believer.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has spoken of the “fruitfulness of cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and government and public institutions and called the revival of Orthodox Christianity in Russian in the past two decades a miracle.” The West needs a spiritual revival of its own conception. If the Russia Bear can be tamed, what prevents the American eagle from souring once again?
I began writing analysis on the macro-economic situation of the American financial structure back in 2006, and in the eight years since, I have seen an undeniably steady trend of fiscal decline.
I have never had any doubt that the U.S. economy as we know it was headed for total and catastrophic collapse, the only question was when, exactly, the final trigger event would occur. As I have pointed out in the past, economic implosion is a process. It grows over time, like the ice shelf on a mountain developing into a potential avalanche. It is easy to shrug off the danger because the visible destruction is not immediate, it is latent; but when the avalanche finally begins, it is far too late for most people to escape…
If you view the progressive financial breakdown in America as some kind of “comedy of errors” or a trial of unlucky coincidences, then there is not much I can do to educate you on the reasons behind the carnage. If, however, you understand that there is a deliberate motivation behind American collapse, then what I have to say here will not fall on biased ears.
The financial crash of 2008, the same crash which has been ongoing for years, is NOT an accident. It is a concerted and engineered crisis meant to position the U.S. for currency disintegration and the institution of a global basket currency controlled by an unaccountable supranational governing body like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The American populace is being conditioned through economic fear to accept the institutionalization of global financial control and the loss of sovereignty.
Anyone skeptical of this conclusion is welcome to study my numerous past examinations on the issue of globalization; I don’t have the time within this article to re-explain, and frankly, with so much information on deliberate dollar destruction available to the public today I’ve grown tired of anyone with a lack of awareness.
If you continue to believe that the Fed actually exists to “help” stabilize our economy or our currency, then you will never find the logic behind what they do. If you understand that the goal of the Fed and the globalists is to dismantle the dollar and the U.S. economic system to make way for something “new”, then certain recent events and policy initiatives do start to make sense.
The year of 2014 has been looming as a serious concern for me since the final quarter of 2013, and you can read about those concerns and the evidence that supports them in my articleExpect Devastating Global Economic Changes In 2014.
At the end of 2013 we saw at least three major events that could have sent America spiraling into total collapse. The first was the announcement of possible taper measures by the Fed, which have now begun. The second was the possible invasion of Syria which the Obama Administration is still desperate for despite successful efforts by the liberty movement to deny him public support for war. And, the third event was the last debt ceiling debate (or debt ceiling theater depending on how you look at it), which placed the U.S. squarely on the edge of fiscal default.
As we begin 2014, these same threatening issues remain (along with many others), only at greater levels and with more prominence. New developments reinforce my original position that this year will be remembered by historians as the year in which the final breakdown of the U.S. monetary dynamic was set in motion. Here are some of those developments explained…
Taper Of QE3
When I first suggested that a Fed taper was not only possible but probable months ago, I was met with a lot a bit of criticism from some in the alternative economic world. You can read my taper articles here and here.
This was understandable. The Fed uses multiple stimulus outlets besides QE in order to manipulate U.S. markets. Artificially lowering interest rates is very much a form of stimulus in itself, for instance.
However, I think a dangerous blindness to threats beyond money printing has developed within our community of analysts and this must be remedied. People need to realize first that the Fed does NOT care about the continued health of our economy, and they may not care about presenting a facade of health for much longer either. Alternative analysts also need to come to grips with the reality that overt money printing is not the only method at the disposal of globalists when destroying the greenback. A debt default is just as likely to cause loss of world reserve status and devaluation – no printing press required. Blame goes to government and political gridlock while the banks slither away in the midst of the chaos.
The taper of QE3 is not a “head fake”, it is very real, but there are many hidden motivations behind such cuts.
Currently, $20 billion has been trimmed from the $85 billion per month program, and we are already beginning to see what APPEAR to be market effects, including a flight from emerging market currencies from Argentina to Turkey. A couple of years ago investors viewed these markets as among the few places they could exploit to make a positive return, or in other words, one of the few places they could successfully gamble. The Fed taper, though, seems to be shifting the flow of capital away from emerging markets.
The mainstream argument is that stimulus was flowing into such markets, giving them liquidity support, and the taper is drying up that liquidity. Whether this is actually true is hard to say, given that without a full audit we have no idea how much fiat the Federal Reserve has actually created and how much of it they send out into foreign markets.
I stand more on the position that the Fed taper was actually begun in preparation for a slowdown in global markets that was already in progress. In fact, I believe central bankers have been well aware that a decline in every sector was coming, and are moving to insulate themselves.
Is it just a “coincidence” that the central bankers have initiated their taper of QE right when global manufacturing numbers begin to plummet?
Is it just “coincidence” the taper was started right when the Baltic Dry Index, a global indicator of shipping demand, has lost over 50% of its value in the past few weeks?
Is it just “coincidence” that the taper is running tandem with dismal retail sales growth reports from across the globe coming in from the final quarter of 2013?
And, is it just a “coincidence” that the Fed taper is a accelerating right as the next debt ceiling debate begins in March, and when reports are being released by the Congressional Budget Office that over 2 million jobs (in work hours) may be lost due to Obamacare?
No, I do not think any of this is coincidence. Most if not all of these negative indicators needed months to generate, so they could not have been caused by the taper itself. The only explanation beyond “coincidence” is that the Federal Reserve WANTED to launch the taper program and protect itself before these signals began to reach the public.
Look at it this way – The taper program distances the bankers from responsibility for crisis in our financial framework, at least in the eyes of the general public. If a market calamity takes place WHILE stimulus measures are still at full speed, this makes the banks look rather guilty, or at least incompetent. People would begin to question the validity of central bank methods, and they might even question the validity of the central bank’s existence. The Fed is creating space between itself and the economy because they know that a trigger event is coming. They want to ensure that they are not blamed and that stimulus itself is not seen as ineffective, or seen as the cause.
We all know that the claims of recovery are utter nonsense. Beyond the numerous warning signs listed above, one need only look at true unemployment numbers, household wage decline, and record low personal savings of the average American. The taper is not in response to an improving economic environment. Rather, the taper is a signal for the next stage of collapse.
Stocks are beginning to plummet around the world and all mainstream pundits are pointing fingers at a reduction in stimulus which has very little to do with anything. What is the message they want us to digest? That we “can’t live” without the aid and oversight of central banks.
The real reason stocks and other indicators are stumbling is because the effectiveness of stimulus manipulation has a shelf life, and that shelf life is over for the Federal Reserve. I suspect they will continue cutting QE every month for the next year as stocks decline. Will the Fed restart QE? If they do, it will probably not occur until after a substantial breakdown has ensued and the public is sufficiently shell-shocked. The possibility also exists that the Fed will never return to stimulus measures (if debt default is the plan), and QE stimulus will eventually be replaced by IMF “aid”.
Government Controlled Investment
Last month, just as taper measures were being implemented, the White House launched an investment program called MyRA; a retirement IRA program in which middle class and low wage Americans can invest part of their paycheck in government bonds.
That’s right, if you wanted to know where the money was going to come from to support U.S. debt if the Fed cuts QE, guess what, the money is going to come from YOU.
For a decade or so China was the primary buyer and crutch for U.S. debt spending. After the derivatives crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve became the largest purchaser of Treasury bonds. With the decline of foreign interest in long term U.S. debt, and the taper in full effect, it only makes sense that the government would seek out an alternative source of capital to continue the debt cycle. The MyRA program turns the general American public into a new cash stream, but there’s more going on here than meets the eye…
I find it rather suspicious that a government-controlled retirement program is suddenly introduced just as the Fed has begun to taper, as stocks are beginning to fall, and as questions arise over the U.S. debt ceiling. I have three major concerns:
First, is it possible that like the Fed, the government is also aware that a crash in stocks is coming? And, are they offering the MyRA program as an easy outlet (or trap) for people to pour in what little savings they have as panic over declining equities accelerates? Bonds do tend to look appetizing to uninformed investors during an equities route.
Second, the program is currently voluntary, but what if the plan is to make it mandatory? Obama has already signed mandatory health insurance “taxation” into law, which is meant to steal a portion of every paycheck. Why not steal an even larger portion from every paycheck in order to support U.S. debt? It’s for the “greater good,” after all.
Third, is this a deliberate strategy to corral the last vestiges of private American wealth into the corner of U.S. bonds, so that this wealth can be confiscated or annihilated? What happens if there is indeed an eventual debt default, as I believe there will be? Will Americans be herded into bonds by a crisis in stocks only to have bonds implode as well? Will they be conned into bond investment out of a “patriotic duty” to save the nation from default? Or, will the government just take their money through legislative wrangling, as was done in Cyprus not long ago?
The Final Swindle
Again, the next debt ceiling debate is slated for the end of this month. If the government decides to kick the can down the road for another quarter, I believe this will be the last time. The most recent actions of the Fed and the government signal preparations for a stock implosion and ultimate debt calamity. Default would have immediate effects in foreign markets, but the appearance of U.S. stability could drag on for a time, giving the globalists ample opportunity to siphon every ounce of financial blood from the public.
It is difficult to say how the next year will play out, but one thing is certain; something very strange and ugly is afoot. The goal of the globalists is to engineer desperation. To create a catastrophe and then force the masses to beg for help. How many hands of “friendship” will be offered in the wake of a U.S. wealth and currency crisis? What offers for “aid” will come from the IMF? How much of our country and how many of our people will be collateralized to secure that aid? And, how many Americans will go along with the swindle because they were not prepared in advance?
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
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.
Agyeman, Julian, Duncan McLaren and Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego, Sharing Cities, Friends of the Earth briefing paper, September 2013.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Just sit right back
And you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip…
(Theme song from the TV show “Gilligan’s Island”)
You’re probably familiar with the “scientific” expedition from Australia which got stuck in the ice in Antarctica last Christmas Eve, but you may not be aware what a rollicking good tale it is. “You’re sure to get a smile,” as the show’s theme song promises, but I promise you more than just a chuckle. There’s a moral to the story as well.
The first comic relief – other than the fact it’s summer down under, mate – comes with the introduction of the organizer of the “Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE)”, Chris Turney, self-described “scientist, explorer, writer” and ardent global warmist. Christened “The Spirit of Mawson” after an Australian scientist who led an expedition to Antarctica in 1911, the expedition’s purpose was to “meld science and adventure, repeating century old measurements to discover and communicate the changes taking place in this remote and pristine environment”. Despite the scientific veneer, the make-up of the 50-odd person crew resembled more the complement of the good ship Minnow (“The millionaire and his wife; The movie star; The professor and Mary Ann”) than that of Mawson’s S. Y. Aurora. The pseudo-scientific antics of this menage a trois of scientists, journalists, and tourists made the voyage look more like Winter Carnival at Dartmouth than Darwin aboard the Beagle.
Comments on Turney’s website (“marked shift in westerly winds… melting large sections of the Antarctic ice sheet” ) suggest he expected to find more open water than had Mawson a century earlier. Why Turney hoped to find open water when it was well known sea ice in the Antarctic was setting records is a mystery. I suspect he’d been led astray by fellow warmists like Al Gore, who predicted in 2008 “the entire North Polar ice cap may well be completely gone in five years” . Gore almost achieved prophet status in 2012 when Arctic ice shrank to its smallest extent since modern recordkeeping began, but last year the ice made a huge comeback and is now almost back to normal.
Whatever the case, the expedition’s Russian ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, got stuck in the ice. The Australian government sent out its ice breaker, the Aurora Australis, to rescue the ship, but they could come no closer than 10 miles from their fellow countrymen. A larger icebreaker, the Chinese Xue Long, got within six miles but could get no further. The decision was made to helicopter the stranded Aussies to the Chinese ship, leaving the Russians to their fate. But for days bad weather forced postponement of the airlift.
Meanwhile, aboard the Shokalskiy it wasn’t exactly “No phone, no lights, no motor car; Not a single luxury; Like Robinson Crusoe; It’s primitive as can be”, but then our castaways weren’t exactly basking in the tropics, either. The first mate and his Skipper too, will do their very best to make the others comf’terble in their tropic island nest (make that “antipodal mess”). Courageously ignoring their life-threatening predicament (or too drunk to remember they were in one), the boozy explorers partied as if there were no tomorrow (which might be true if the weather didn’t break and the heat ran out). On New Year’s Eve the ice-olated penguin-huggers celebrated with a concerned world through
YouTube (a bit nerdy, almost makes them look like scientists).
Unable to get a good weather forecast, the expedition contacted a San Diego TV station and asked if they could help. The station’s weatherman, John Coleman, contacted some colleagues knowledgeable on the Antarctic, who came up with a
forecast which held out the hope the wind might shift to offshore, causing the ice to break up and free the vessel. But before that could happen, the expedition opted for evacuation by helicopter when the weather improved sufficiently a day or two later.
From the Xue Long, the now world-infamous Australasian Antarctic Expedition was transferred to the Aurora Australis, which then continued on its original mission to re-supply an Australian Antarctic base. Meanwhile, the Xue Long now became stuck in the ice. Fortunately, the wind shift postulated by the weathermen came to pass, and both stuck ships, the Xue Long and the Akademik Shokalskiy, were able to free themselves. As it turns out, our intrepid explorers would have gotten home sooner had they not abandoned ship as the Shokalskiyarrived back in Australia while our parka-clad party animals were still stuck in Antarctica waiting for a ride home.
If all this hasn’t given you a chuckle, you’re a diehard warmist with no sense of humor. One last attempt to tickle your funny bone. The meteorologists who predicted the weather might improve sufficiently for the Akademik Shokalskiy to free itself are global warming skeptics, or, as the still unbowed leader of the AAE might say, deniers.
Not so funny (even by my warped standards) is the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of dollars someone, maybe the Australian taxpayer, is going to have to ante up to cover the cost of the rescue. The AAE vowed prior to departure to plant trees in New Zealand to offset the carbon emissions resulting from their expedition. Adding in the emissions spewed out by the fossil fuel-guzzling icebreakers, this should result in a forest of taigan proportions, which, like its Siberian counterpart, will be a tribute to the awesome, fear-inspiring forces of nature.
On the bright side, the expedition fared better than Mawson’s in one respect: they all came back alive. Mawson and two companions were forced to make a 300-mile trek across the ice back to their base camp. Losing his companions to the harsh conditions along the way, Mawson stumbled into the camp after a months-long trek only to see the S. Y. Aurora steaming away in the distance. Living off the provisions left behind, Mawson spent the winter alone on Terra Australis, dreaming of that other “Land of the South” from whence he came and to which he would belatedly return the next summer.
The moral of the story? Global warming is real. Just kidding. The true moral is not to defy settled science, the science that is settled being that there is a lot about the climate we don’t understand. To see everything through the prism of a still young, still baffling warming trend is to risk, to put it ironically, snow blindness. The attribution of the recent Polar Vortex-induced cold wave in the United States to
global warming is a case in point. An obsessively global warming-centric view of the world can lead to errors of the fatal variety, as almost befell our Gilliganesque lot, but perhaps even more dangerous in the long run, to errors of science.
Damascus – At the Palestine Embassy in Beirut recently, a young lady showed this observer a video of a gentleman in Yarmouk camp in Damascus. The video showed the man killing and eating a cat. Food ran out in Yarmouk weeks ago, and nearly 18,000 refugees are facing death from starvation and other conflict-related causes. This siege has been ongoing since July 2013, and it has become viciously lethal.
The Palestinians living here have been targeted. They are part of the quarter million people—children, women, and men—trapped and dying from hunger and illness all across Syria as a direct, predictable result of using the siege of civilians as a weapon of war. It isn’t just Yarmouk. Throughout Syria, neighborhoods are being blockaded. Residents are running out of supplies, unable to get basic services. Among the Syrian towns under siege at this time are Nubul and Al-Zahraa in Aleppo province, the old city of Homs, and the towns of Eastern Ghouta, Daraya and Moadamiyet al-Sham in rural Damascus.
Truly a crisis of horrifying proportions, yet perhaps nowhere is this more the case than in the systematic starvation of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp, where this past week eight more Palestinians died from malnutrition. These include 80-year-old, Jamil al-Qurabi, 40-year-old, Hasan Shihabi, and a 50-year-old woman named Noor. In addition, 10-year-old Mahmoud al-Sabbagh and two 19-year-olds—Majid Imad Awad and Ziad al-Naji—were killed while protesting the blockade of the camp. And reports have also emerged that two other men, Muhammad Ibrahim Dhahi and Hasan Younis Nofal, were tortured and killed.
In December 2013, UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi, issued a statement concerning the situation in Yarmouk camp, in which he said: “Since September 2013 we have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies.”
Based on conversations with Palestinians who were able to literally crawl out of the area from sewage pipes on the South side of Yarmouk, more than 100 people, as of 1/15/14, have died from starvation in the past four months—that is since mid-August 2013. Other causes of death have included three dozen cases of death by dehydration, and also malnutrition (differing slightly from starvation in that it pertains to inadequate nutrition rather than a total absence of ingestible substances) (you still die from it, though). More than three dozen miscarriages have also resulted from the food shortages, while infants have succumbed due to lack of milk. There have also been deaths by hypothermia for lack of fuel, and recently I spoke with a gentleman whose niece, an infant girl, died of suffocation in her neonatal intensive care unit due to a power cut.
In January of 2013 the UN estimated that one million people needed urgent humanitarian assistance. Today, twelve months later, the figure is nearly ten million. That assessment is from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke last week at yet another aid conference. A commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council has found war crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross human rights violations committed in Syria on a daily basis. According to its conclusion, “All sides in the conflict have shown a total disregard for their responsibilities under the international humanitarian and human rights law.”
International law relevant to situations of this nature was created specifically to stop the targeting of civilians. Its principles, standards and rules demand that such targeting cease, and they call for the prosecution of perpetrators irrespective of which side in the civil war in Syria they may support. A civil war is an armed conflict located on the territory of one state, between the armed forces of the State and dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups under responsible command. These are groups that maintain control over part of the land, or that are able to carry out armed operations of a continuous and coordinated nature. The applicable statutes include Common Article 3 of Protocol II (1977) the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Whether it is regime armed forces and their allies, or anti-government militia, both are legally bound to respect the Geneva Conventions and must lift the siege on Yarmouk. If not, they risk prosecution at an existing international court or at a possible Special Tribunal for Syria being contemplated among some at the United Nations.
The following is from Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949: Part IV: Civilian Population:
Article 13.PROTECTION OF THE CIVILIAN POPULATION.
- The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations.
- The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
- Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Part, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
To give effect to this protection, the following rules shall be observed in all circumstances.
Article 14. PROTECTION OF OBJECTS INDISPENSABLE TO THE SURVIVAL OF THE CIVILIAN POPULATION. Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited. It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless, for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works.
Article 15. PROTECTION OF WORKS AND INSTALLATIONS CONTAINING DANGEROUS FORCES. Works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, shall not be made the object of attack, even where these objects are military objectives, if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population.
This body of international law requires that all warring parties immediately end the siege of Yarmouk and allow the entry of food supplies, while permitting those who want to leave the camp to do so. The safety of those who wish to return to their homes is also mandated. Additionally the law requires guarantees of safe passages to relief teams, UN fact finding missions, and unobstructed entry of medicines, medical staff and medical equipment. Those today who are preventing this are subject to international criminal prosecution, and as noted above, they are subject to future prosecution at any time, as the level and nature of their crimes prevent the application of any Statute of Limitations.
According to human rights activists, attempts to evacuate civilians from Yarmouk camp failed in spite of efforts and agreements between the Syrian government and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Those attempting to leave were arrested, in some cases with serious bodily and mental harm inflicted on them. Others were shot at near the camp’s entry points. This occurred particularly in the last two months of 2013 and early January 2014. Several agreements between the warring parties, being the Syrian government forces and the rebels assaulting Yarmouk, have not been honored by either. Attempts to evacuate civilians from Yarmouk have consistently failed in spite of efforts and agreements between the regime and the PLO, and some who attempted escape were arrested, beaten or shot at.
The several attempts to lift the siege usually include versions of the following language from Yarmouk’s Popular Committee that “based on our principled position of positive neutrality and keeping the Palestinians and their camps out of the confrontations in Syria, we propose that all the Palestinian camps – and Yarmouk camp in particular – be secure and safe areas, free of weapons and fighters, by taking the following steps:
- End all public display of weapons and fighters, with guarantees to those who wish to do so.
- Avoid the use of the camps as areas of confrontation and cease all forms of fighting, including sniping and shelling.
- Allow the free movement of people, food, medical supplies and vehicles in and out of the camp, which will encourage the return of the displaced to their homes.
- Restore services, including electricity, water, telecommunications, schools, and hospitals.
- Provide amnesty to all those camp residents who have been detained if their involvement in the fighting cannot be confirmed.”
Despite an official policy of neutrality announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and despite also unequivocal statements by Palestinian delegations acquitting the regime of any responsibility in the besieging, bombing and targeting of the camp and its inhabitants, it has not been enough to ensure the entry of humanitarian aid convoys.
But there is hope that relief may come. Against the backdrop of accusations and condemnations being circulated, many are looking to Russia to step in and, much as it did when it induced the Assad government to get rid of its chemical weapons, pressure the government to at least lift its own part of the siege.
There are critics of the idea, however. Mr. Ibrahim Amin, Editor in Chief of Lebanon’s Al Akbar daily newspaper, argues that somehow because Palestinians have been given many more civil rights in Syria than, for example, Lebanon—which to Syria’s great credit is true—then the refugees must somehow be at fault for their own slaughter and siege at Yarmouk. It is nonsense, of course, as also is his statement that, “In Syria, Palestinians were citizens.”—nonsense because, for example, Palestinians cannot vote in Syrian elections. Amin should know this, and he should know that they have never been made citizens of Syria, for this is common knowledge.
Nevertheless, writing in the January 13 issue of his newspaper, Editor Amin piles blame on the victims, rather than the perpetrators, by seeming to argue that they deserved it—the babies dying of malnutrition, the people suffering from dehydration and disease caused by the siege of their camp. He demands to know, “What pushed Palestinians in this camp to believe in toppling Bashar al-Assad? No sane person ever figured that much of the camp would raise their weapons in the face of Syria.”
More nonsense from the Editor-in-Chief since virtually every Palestinian organization and leader, and virtually every resident living in any one of UNWRA’s 54 camps, including the ten in Syria, have repeatedly proclaimed their non-involvement in the Syria conflict. Presumably in his line of work Mr. Amin would know this. And presumably, if he took the time to speak to any Palestinians about the conflict in Syria, he would likely be advised that they are grateful to the Syrian people for hosting them. He might also be advised that they regret that some of their leaders got involved with the conflict in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, since innocent Palestinian civilians paid dearly, and that they will not repeat the mistake in Syria. It is a fact that some individual Palestinians, following the intense December 12-17, 2012 shelling and bombing of parts of Yarmouk, turned against those who were blamed for targeting them.
“Those who stayed are the ones who refused to go through a new displacement, as well as members of armed groups and their families,” Mr. Amin states, though without offering any evidence. He goes on: “In a few months the camp was transformed into a haven for groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front.” Again his assertions are false and politically motivated. Those who stayed are overwhelmingly those refugees who cannot escape. The Syrian army to its credit has not invaded the camp, but it does surround and seals most of it. Some rebel groups are hiding inside and terrorizing the camp.
It is egregious for Mr. Amin to misrepresent the facts of Palestinian neutrality in Syrian camps; it is doubly egregious for him to do so apparently wishing to gain approval from Syrian or Resistance leaders. Neither is likely to be other than embarrassed by Mr. Amin’s gross misrepresentations or his gratuitous ad hominem attacks on refugee camp victims of war crimes. The Editor-in-Chief’s distortions do not help the Resistance but rather harm it. As does his insistence that the murder of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri eight years ago was done with a ‘secret missile’ fired from the Zionist regime occupying Palestine. There are a fair number of “Resistance groupies” and bloggers, well-meaning perhaps, but who in many cases actually aid enemies of the Resistance through their clumsy attempts at water carrying while ignoring reality.
But there is good news awaiting Mr. Amin if he will accept an invitation from one who considers himself to have been “Hezbollah” long before the 1985 “Open Letter” announcing the organizing of the Party of God next to where this observer gets his motorbike repaired in Ouzai. That is to say “Hezbollah” in the sense that since studying international law in law school this observer has supported the liberation of Palestine while rejecting the last of the 19th century’s colonial enterprise still occupying Palestine, and in the sense that this observer shares Hezbollah’s resistance goals and their declared responsibility to continue the struggle until achieving the full Right of Return. Oh yes, to be sure, this observer is not a card-carrying member of the Resistance, as I want to remind dear friend Jeff Feltman, who swore at an embassy Christmas party a while back that “Lamb faces ten years hard time in the feds when he dares to set foot on American soil for hobnobbing with terrorists”—though given the fact that Jeff had been imbibing some Christmas cheer when he made that statement to an embassy staffer, he has perhaps forgotten it now, which would be good news.
But at any rate, for Mr. Amin, here is what a fellow supporter of the Resistance is willing to do to possibly help him re-assess his conclusion about what is going on in Yarmouk: I invite Mr. Amin to appear in the lobby of the Dama Rose hotel in Damascus at 9 a.m. sharp on January 24. I will buy him breakfast, and as we dine, two contacts from Yarmouk will brief him on our morning program—a program that will include Mr. Amin discretely accompanying us to the south side of Yarmouk, where, depending on conditions that morning, we will arrive in front of the Zakerin Mosque in Al-Buweida, maybe 300 yards from the Az-Zain neighborhood. Mr. Amin will then need to join us crawling through a rather claustrophobic and smelly 30” diameter drain pipe that is approximately 40 yards in length. We will at this point hopefully end up safely in the basement of “Abu Ali’s” remaining half-house, where several refugees are still trapped. Mr. Amin can also visit with others next door. He should bring some cash, however, because his host doesn’t have much and we may need a bit to bribe a couple of gun-kids from one of the militias to facilitate our exit in case we are ratted out, so to speak.
Finally Mr. Amin will be able to see for himself, and listen to direct testimony, about what presently is, and has been, happening inside Yarmouk. He can ask the weakened residents about the conclusions he confidently presented in his Al Akbar article in which he claimed that the Yarmouk tragedy and crimes are their fault, or, as he so confidently put it, “Today, the unfolding events (in Yarmouk) are 100 percent a Palestinian responsibility.” He may be surprised at what he learns about camp residents still trapped there, people scrabbling to feed themselves, and who have had no say or active role in the deplorable events that have overtaken them.
Just maybe, then, Mr. Amin will be motivated to edit a bit his earlier ridiculous broadside attacking the victims of the Yarmouk siege. And should he feel any contrition, maybe he will devote some of his energy and space in his newspaper to actually working for two elementary civil rights for Palestinians in Lebanon—the right to work and home ownership. Their achievement will benefit Lebanon and the Resistance, both of which Mr. Amin claims to support.
A Florida concealed carry permit holder had an unpleasant run-in with a Maryland police officer while traveling through the state.
John Filippidis and his family drove from Florida to New Jersey last December for Christmas and a wedding. He knew he’d be traveling through states that aren’t gun-friendly, so he left his gun at home.
“I know the laws and I know the rules,” Filippidis said. “There are, after all, ways gun owners can travel legally with firearms through hostile states. But I just think it’s a better idea to leave it home.”
Filippidis was followed by a Maryland cop on I-95 after passing through the Fort McHenry tunnel. He said the cop flanked him, pulled ahead of him, and then got behind them. After about ten minutes of that, the officer pulled Filippidis over.
The officer was from the Transportation Authority Police. He asked Filippidis for his license and registration. Around ten minutes later, he returned and asked John to exit his vehicle.
Filippidis told the officer his gun was at home in his safe.
Apparently the officer didn’t believe Filippidis, because he began questioning his wife, Kally, next:
“Your husband owns a gun. Where is it?”
First Kally said, “I don’t know.” Retelling it later to the Tampa Tribune, she said, “And that’s all I should have said.” Instead, attempting to be helpful, she added, “Maybe in the glove [box]. Maybe in the console. I’m scared of it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I might shoot right through my foot.”
That’s when things escalated. The officer confronted Filippidis:
“You’re a liar. You’re lying to me. Your family says you have it. Where is the gun? Tell me where it is and we can resolve this right now.”
Of course a gun could not be produced, since it was home in Filippidis’ safe.
This prompted the officer to call for backup, as the Tampa Tribune reports:
Kally’s failure to corroborate John’s account, the officer would tell them later, was the probable cause that allowed him to summon backup — three marked cars joined the lineup along the I-95 shoulder — and empty the Expedition of riders, luggage, Christmas gifts, laundry bags; to pat down Kally and Yianni; to explore the engine compartment and probe inside door panels; and to separate and isolate the Filippidises in the back seats of the patrol cars.
Almost two hours later, after no weapon was found, the Filippidis family was given a written warning (the offense was not noted) and the ordeal ended.
How the officer knew that Filippidis owns a gun has not been revealed. MTAP is conducting an investigation and could not comment.
Lesson #1: Guys, please try to find a girl with at least an iota of common sense, it will save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Lesson #2: Never register your firearms. Ever. Otherwise, this is what will happen to you on regular basis as socialist state governments complicit with the federal government continue to debase the 2nd Amendment.
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.
The War Is Against Paganism…
Crowns and thrones may perish.
Kingdoms rise and wane
But the Church of Jesus constant will remain
Gates of Hell can never
‘Gainst the Church prevail
We have Christ’s own promise
And that cannot fail
“To gain this victory, we must wage the war. Too many want victory without the war, as though eloquence, patriotic or religious gush, ever overcame an enemy.” R. J. Rushdoony,” Numbers” Pg. 270
Patty and I spent Christmas in Destin, Florida. Destin is an upscale resort town named from a Yankee fisherman who settled there in the mid-Nineteenth Century. It is home to one of the nation’s largest outlet malls.
In one of the shoe outlets we met a clerk from Maine. Her story is typical of many who have been victimized by the massive changes that have been foisted on the world. Born, raised, and married in a shoe prosperous Maine town, she and her husband had two children and were living lavishly. He was a manager at a shoe manufacturing plant where she also worked. Their combined income was in the high six figures providing them a luxurious lifestyle.
As the inexorable Asian labor monster invaded the shoe industry her husband lost his job. The entire industry shrunk and he was unable to find work. She became the sole wage earner under a company promise that there would be no additional lay-offs. The promise was broken and shortly her job was also moved offshore. They lost everything: their home, their car, and their ability to support two children. Without prospects of employment in Maine they moved to Florida where they are now working at dramatically lower incomes. They have re-established their family and, though far less affluent, are again living an orderly life. Since many employees of Maine factories are still struggling, they consider themselves fortunate.
Their story can be multiplied hundreds-of -thousands of times as industry after industry has been devastated by the planned economic reorganization of the world.
Maine is one of a number of areas that have been severely affected. The Northeast quadrant has been hardest hit with factory closings and the accompanying disruption of the social order. Some attempt to cite automation as a culprit but automation provides a social benefit while wholesale robbery is a devastating crime.
The current economic disaster was preceded by an earlier mini-disaster when the Japanese were given free access to our markets. Now, Asians in several countries have entered the fray and despite efforts by the compliant media to cover it up debilitating disruption is clearly evident.
Since 1950 into the first decade of the Twenty-First Century Detroit, Michigan has lost over 61 percent of its population, Gary, Indiana 55 percent, Youngstown, Ohio over 60, Flint, Michigan over 43, Cleveland, Ohio over 56, Dayton, Ohio over 46, Canton, Ohio over 37, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania over 54. Though it is growing in income Chicago has still lost over 25 percent of its population.
The kettle holding the United States population was put over very low heat in the 1950s. The drum beat of women’s liberation began and continued relentlessly until after several decades single income homes became archaic being replaced by a household income that included two working adults. This malicious manipulation was imposed without adequate confrontation.
Then we began to hear about the competitive nature of the American work force and how they could successfully compete in the new world market. Soon the Japanese had usurped a major percentage of the automotive industry forcing the irascibly persuasive Lee Iacocca to shame the congress into loaning Chrysler enough money to keep it afloat.
But the bloody Japanese axe that struck the auto industry was only the beginning. The Chinese horde soon followed and suddenly every “Made in USA” product disappeared from our stores. Faced with labor costs a fraction of U. S. standards, industry after industry moved manufacturing to Asia.
The competition was not over the ability of American workers to produce goods as efficiently as Asian labor, as it had been framed. It was instead over the standard of living Americans had enjoyed compared to the standard of living of Chinese peasants. As the Twenty-First Century arrived, a multitude of Americans were like the family from Maine working in retail, health-care or fast food for wages of half or less than their previous employment.
Current propaganda tells us our economy is improving and new jobs are being created. It is all propaganda; don’t believe it! In the new world order competition will force labor costs to parity and parity is lower still.
Though they have prepared for an uprising the powers behind centralization want to maintain peace as long as they can continue extending world domination. The media, a propaganda arm of world government, will continue to report improvement as long as people can be convinced.
Human efforts are useless in stopping this onslaught. The battle is between Christianity and paganism. The only effective weapon against paganism is the God of the Bible and His Law.
Rousas Rushdoony explains, “When men forsake God, they forsake all truth, because for them there is no difference between good and evil, nor between truth and lies”. “Numbers” Pg.316
The Bible, Old and New Testament, Law and Grace, comprise the full gospel. The full gospel would have stopped tyranny in its infancy, but we have forsaken the full gospel and replaced it with the “creative word” of men. I received an email today from my kid sister entitled “What a Church Service”; a video of Andre Rieu leading a musical worship service for a large congregation. Beautiful it is, but an appropriate church service it is not. It is a secular multicultural extravaganza with beautiful music.
Christians who seek to be entertained with music and praise and do not have ears to hear what God requires of His people are useless in stopping the advance of Satan. It is truth and justice and the seating of King Jesus at the throne of power that should be the objective of every Christian congregation. Lies, fantasy, and all the manipulations of arrogant men should be confronted from our pulpits and by our congregations. It is our Christian duty to counter the evil establishment bringing their wrath against the power of the Church of Jesus Christ. When the Christian religion fails to create wrath in God’s enemies there is a serious problem in the Christian religion.
We are being overrun by the minions of evil. We should be fighting a war. We need preachers whose intrepid denouncements will inspire us to enter the battle on the side of the God of the Bible.
The enemy controls our television stations, our newspapers, our government, and, sadly, most of our churches. The voices of dissent are few. Wake up Christians and hear the call to battle!
When a newspaper erroneously contends our economy is improving our pulpits must present Christians with the statistics that prove otherwise. Christians are truth-tellers! When the Media promotes homosexuality our pulpits must denounce it with God’s Words from the Bible. Christian duty requires that we confront evil.
Muslims are busy fighting for control of the Middle East. They appear to be overcoming the secular tyrants. Islam is a false religion and an enemy to Christianity but it is not the core danger to world freedom. In that battle Islam is an ally against the wicked forces of the new world order.
It is time to stop playing church. It is time for every Christian minister to disregard reputation and directly confront the secular forces that threaten peace and order God intends for His creation.
Churches that concentrate on the end times, on tongues and prophecy, evangelism, or on being theologically reformed should forsake their niche religions and confront the secular minions with the full gospel. The size of a church or its growth is of no importance; what is important is its strength against the forces of evil. Reputations must be sacrificed; our God and King is being threatened and we are His soldiers. It is our duty to fight for the elevation of His government– both civilians and rulers are subject to the rule of King Jesus.
As Patty and I exited a restaurant in Destin late in the afternoon on Christmas day we noticed a table of 8 young men with their heads bowed. We thought it wonderful that all these young people were honoring the One True God. However, on second look they were honoring the IPhone god instead.
The answer to this question is being pondered across America in light to the two seeming mutually contradictory US Federal Court decisions handed down this month from Courts in Washington DC and New York.
The legal issue of what rights are left to American citizens that can prevent governmental intrusions into their privacy and also governmental invasions using heavy handed searches and seizures following the launching of the Bush administrations ‘war of terrorism’ has gained new impetus following disclosures by former National Security Agency analyst turned whistle blower, Edward Snowden. Without Snowden’s patriotic leaks, no legal challenge could have been brought to the NSA practices.
Now that two US Federal District Courts, with identical powers under the US Constitution have seemingly reached opposite results on the same legal issue involving the right of the NSA to conduct ‘metadata’ searches and store the information of scores of millions of unknowing Americans the issue is likely going to have to be decided by the US Supreme Court. As predicted, appeals were immediately filed from the Trial Courts decision in both cases.
Initially, civil libertarians were encouraged earlier this month when in light of the Snowden revelations of massive US government spying on Americans and millions of foreigners, Federal Description: Judge Richard Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on 12/16/13 that the bulk collection by the National Security Agency of cell phone data (everyone you called, when you called them and where you were when you called them) of Americans violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and is “Orwellian”.
Judge Leon explained that we now use our smartphones for a wide variety of personal activities in which we have the expectation of privacy, and probably we have more expectation of privacy from our phones now than we did from a pay phone in the 1980s. He made the point that cell phones today includes a citizens, location when one makes a call and becomes a GPS made the call, functioning essentially as a GPS. He wrote, “It’s one thing to say that people expect phone companies to occasionally provide information to law enforcement; it is quite another to suggest that our citizens expect all phone companies to operate what is effectively a joint intelligence-gathering operation with the Government.”
Judge Leon focused on whether the NSA massive surveillance violated the 4th Amendment which provides: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“The threshold issue that I must address, then, is whether plaintiffs have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government indiscriminately collects their telephony metadata along with the metadata of hundreds of millions of other citizens without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing, retains all of that metadata for five years, and then queries, analyzes and investigates that data without prior judicial approval of the investigative targets. If they do – and a Fourth Amendment search has thus occurred– then the next step of the analysis will be to determine whether such a search is ‘reasonable.’
Judge Leon found that the NSA when it demands citizens telephone metadata is conducting a search, and that it is most likely an unreasonable search of our personal effects according to the Fourth Amendment, since there is no specific suspicion of wrongdoing by any individual whose records are demanded. He immediately granted the Plaintiffs request for an injunction that blocks the collection of phone data for the plaintiffs and orders the government to destroy any of their records that have been gathered. As is common Federal Court practice, the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal, recognizing in his 68-page opinion the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”
No sooner had the Judge Leon decision been published and was encouraging civil libertarians to argue that the US Constitution still protects some citizen rights against government abuse than US Federal District Judge William H. Pauley III in New York ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects enormous troves of phone records is legal, making the latest contribution to an extraordinary debate among courts and a presidential review group about how to balance security and privacy in the era of big data. In just 11 days, the two judges and the presidential panel reached the opposite of consensus on every significant question before them, including the intelligence value of the program, the privacy interests at stake and how the Constitution figures in the analysis. The latest decision could not have been more different from one issued by Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington, who ruled that the program was “almost Orwellian” and probably unconstitutional.
Judges Leon and Pauley have starkly differing understandings on how legal that program is. Judge Pauley, whose courtroom is just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood, endorsed arguments made in recent months by senior government officials — including the former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III — that the program might have caught the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had it been in place before the attacks. Wrote Judge Pauley: “While robust discussions are underway across the nation, in Congress and at the White House, the question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful,” Judge Pauley wrote on Friday. “This court finds it is.”
Judge Pauley decided to ignore several compelling US Constitutional issues and applications of its provisions to the NSA case. He chose to avoid 4th Amendment prohibitions on unreasonable government searches of private papers and effects. As Professor Juan Cole recently reminded us, the 14th Amendment was the basis for a recent Supreme Court ruling forbidding law enforcement from using GPS tracking without a warrant. The courts decided that following someone around 24/7 as a “search” because such intensive monitoring of a person’s movements goes beyond just glimpsing the individual in public. NSA collection of metadata from cell phones track individuals just as a GPS devices do.
Other applicable US Constitutional provisions ignored by Judge Pauley include the 1789 Federalist promoted 9th Amendment, which a majority of the Founding Fathers wanted as guarantees that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The 9th Amendment is clearly designed to block the government from constraining people’s private behavior. As Cole points out, not only are they protected from specific violations of their rights (attempts to curb speech, the press, religious belief or peaceable assembly) but they are also protected as a free people from government intrusions.
There are additional provisions in the constitution and in the history of court rulings that prescribe privacy for individuals from government intrusion. In fact, although “privacy” is not mentioned in the US constitution, the Supreme Court found in Connecticut v. Griswold that American citizens had a constitutional right to use birth control and that the state could not arbitrarily come into the bedroom and prohibit it. Some of the justices referred to the 9th Amendment, which says “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” That is, the government can’t just wake up in the morning and decide to constrain people’s private behavior. Not only are they protected from specific violations of their rights (attempts to curb speech, the press, religious belief or peaceable assembly) but they are protected in general as a free people from government intrusions.
Judge Pauley also ignored the relevant application of the 14th Amendment. In Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 497 (1965) a landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected a right of privacy, justices referenced the due process clause of the 14th amendment, which commands that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The late great Justice William O. Douglas argued that the Bill of Right’s specific guarantees have “penumbras,” created by “emanations from these guarantees and that these penumbras help give the Bill of Rights life relevance to today’s struggle to protect our civil rights. It was Douglas’ interpretation of the US Constitution that, the “spirit” of the First Amendment (free speech), Fourth Amendment (freedom from searches and seizures), Fifth Amendment (freedom from self-incrimination), and Ninth Amendment (other rights), as applied against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, creates a general right to privacy that cannot be unduly infringed.” In his view there exists as part of the US Constitution a penumbra of privacy.
Judge Pauley ignored these and other Constitutional applications in order to uphold the NSA informational gathering project in spite of the fact that the NSA, every minute for the past 7 years and until today, is abridging the privileges and immunities of a free citizenry. They are depriving us of liberty without due process of law, for the reason that they have failed to obtain a judicial warrant based on grounds of specific evidence of wrong-doing.
Judge Leon, in Washington, took the opposite view, saying the government had failed to make the case that the program is needed to protect the nation. “The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the N.S.A.’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature,” he wrote.
Where these conflicting US Constitutional decisions leave the American public concerned with civil liberties and the disappearance of privacy is in a profound quandary with respect to the issues raised by Edward Snowden. Snowden described in his Christmas address, carried by British Channel 4 and widely aired on the internet the legitimate concern of all people who values individual liberty and privacy: A child born today might “never know what it means to have a private moment to them, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.” People walk around with a tracking device in their pockets, he noted, and as we now know, the NSA is collecting the metadata of those phones, which includes location information.
With words likely to become part of Law School curriculum, Mr. Snowden said that “this disappearance of privacy is important because privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.”
2014 is upon us. For a person who graduated from Georgia Tech in 1961, a year in which the class ring showed the same date right side up or upside down, the 21st century was a science fiction concept associated with Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” To us George Orwell’s 1984 seemed so far in the future we would never get there. Now it is 30 years in the past.
Did we get there in Orwell’s sense? In terms of surveillance technology, we are far beyond Orwell’s imagination. In terms of the unaccountability of government, we exceptional and indispensable people now live a 1984 existence. In his alternative to the Queen’s Christmas speech, Edward Snowden made the point that a person born in the 21st century will never experience privacy. For new generations the word privacy will refer to something mythical, like a unicorn.
Many Americans might never notice or care. I remember when telephone calls were considered to be private. In the 1940s and 1950s the telephone company could not always provide private lines. There were “party lines” in which two or more customers shared the same telephone line. It was considered extremely rude and inappropriate to listen in on someone’s calls and to monopolize the line with long duration conversations.
The privacy of telephone conversations was also epitomized by telephone booths, which stood on street corners, in a variety of public places, and in “filling stations” where an attendant would pump gasoline into your car’s fuel tank, check the water in the radiator, the oil in the engine, the air in the tires, and clean the windshield. A dollar’s worth would purchase 3 gallons, and $5 would fill the tank.
Even in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s there were lines of telephones on airport waiting room walls, each separated from the other by sound absorbing panels. Whether the panels absorbed the sounds of the conversation or not, they conveyed the idea that calls were private.
The notion that telephone calls are private left Americans’ consciousness prior to the NSA listening in. If memory serves, it was sometime in the 1990s when I entered the men’s room of an airport and observed a row of men speaking on their cell phones in the midst of the tinkling sound of urine hitting water and noises of flushing toilets. The thought hit hard that privacy had lost its value.
I remember when I arrived at Merton College, Oxford, for the first term of 1964. I was advised never to telephone anyone whom I had not met, as it would be an affront to invade the privacy of a person to whom I was unknown. The telephone was reserved for friends and acquaintances, a civility that contrasts with American telemarketing.
The efficiency of the Royal Mail service protected the privacy of the telephone. What one did in those days in England was to write a letter requesting a meeting or an appointment. It was possible to send a letter via the Royal Mail to London in the morning and to receive a reply in the afternoon. Previously it had been possible to send a letter in the morning and to receive a morning reply, and to send another in the afternoon and receive an afternoon reply.
When one flies today, unless one stops up one’s ears with something, one hears one’s seat mate’s conversations prior to takeoff and immediately upon landing. Literally, everyone is talking nonstop. One wonders how the economy functioned at such a high level of incomes and success prior to cell phones. I can remember being able to travel both domestically and internationally on important business without having to telephone anyone. What has happened to America that no one can any longer go anywhere without constant talking?
If you sit at an airport gate awaiting a flight, you might think you are listening to a porn film. The overhead visuals are usually Fox “News” going on about the need for a new war, but the cell phone audio might be young women describing their latest sexual affair.
Americans, or many of them, are such exhibitionists that they do not mind being spied upon or recorded. It gives them importance. According to Wikipedia, Paris Hilton, a multimillionaire heiress, posted her sexual escapades online, and Facebook had to block users from posting nude photos of themselves. Sometime between my time and now people ceased to read 1984. They have no conception that a loss of privacy is a loss of self. They don’t understand that a loss of privacy means that they can be intimidated, blackmailed, framed, and viewed in the buff. Little wonder they submitted to porno-scanners.
The loss of privacy is a serious matter. The privacy of the family used to be paramount. Today it is routinely invaded by neighbors, police, Child Protective Services (sic), school administrators, and just about anyone else.
Consider this: A mother of six and nine year old kids sat in a lawn chair next to her house watching her kids ride scooters in the driveway and cul-de-sac on which they live.
Normally, this would be an idyllic picture. But not in America. A neighbor, who apparently did not see the watching mother, called the police to report that two young children were outside playing without adult supervision. Note that the next door neighbor, a woman, did not bother to go next door to speak with the mother of the children and express her concern that they children were not being monitored while they played. The neighbor called the police. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/mom-sues-polices-she-arrested-letting-her-kids-134628018.html
“We’re here for you,” the cops told the mother, who was carried off in handcuffs and spent the next 18 hours in a cell in prison clothes.
The news report doesn’t say what happened to the children, whether the father appeared and insisted on custody of his offspring or whether the cops turned the kids over to Child Protective Services.
This shows you what Americans are really like. Neither the neighbor nor the police had a lick of sense. The only idea that they had was to punish someone. This is why America has the highest incarceration rate and the highest total number of prison inmates in the entire world. Washington can go on and on about “authoritarian” regimes in Russia and China, but both countries have far lower prison populations than “freedom and democracy” America.
I was unaware that laws now exist requiring the supervision of children at play. Children vary in their need for supervision. In my day supervision was up to the mother’s judgment. Older children were often tasked with supervising the younger. It was one way that children were taught responsibility and developed their own judgment.
When I was five years old, I walked to the neighborhood school by myself. Today my mother would be arrested for child endangerment.
In America punishment falls more heavily on the innocent, the young, and the poor than it does on the banksters who are living on the Federal Reserve’s subsidy known as Quantitative Easing and who have escaped criminal liability for the fraudulent financial instruments that they sold to the world. Single mothers, depressed by the lack of commitment of the fathers of their children, are locked away for using drugs to block out their depression. Their children are seized by a Gestapo institution, Child Protective Services, and end up in foster care where many are abused.
According to numerous press reports, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 year-old children who play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers during recess and raise a pointed finger while saying “bang-bang” are arrested and carried off to jail in handcuffs as threats to their classmates. In my day every male child and the females who were “Tom boys” would have been taken to jail. Playground fights were normal, but no police were ever called. Handcuffing a child would not have been tolerated.
From the earliest age, boys were taught never to hit a girl. In those days there were no reports of police beating up teenage girls and women or body slamming the elderly. To comprehend the degeneration of the American police into psychopaths and sociopaths, go online and observe the video of Lee Oswald in police custody in 1963. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FDDuRSgzFk Oswald was believed to have assassinated President John F. Kennedy and murdered a Dallas police officer only a few hours previously to the film. Yet he had not been beaten, his nose wasn’t broken, and his lips were not a bloody mess. Now go online and pick from the vast number of police brutality videos from our present time and observe the swollen and bleeding faces of teenage girls accused of sassing overbearing police officers.
In America today people with power are no longer accountable. This means citizens have become subjects, an indication of social collapse.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
The Legend of “Nostradamus, Jr.” continues…
Most predictions about the future are risky attempts at guessing. If one is fortunate, they come across a clairvoyant, who has a long established record of forecasting political prospects. In the long tradition of prognostication, by the one and only, Nostradamus, Jr., William B. Kaliher presents his 2014 prophecy. The yearly feature on the EtherZone site produced a loyal following of eager future deprived junkies. Taking pleasure in continuing this esteem exercise in sarcasm, Stuck on Stupid offers commentary on a sample of these mystic omens, which can be found on “Nostradamus, Jr.” Kaliher’s Annual Top 101 Predictions for 2014
10. A new danger this year will be Progressive heads unexpectedly exploding. Study of the syndrome will reveal after mistakenly reading a reputable publication, damaged and unused synapses in Progressives will heal sufficiently to realize even after six years imitating a president, Obama’s resume and accomplishments still don’t measure up to superwoman Sarah Palin.
Such an admission that NeoCon Palin has more accomplishments means there is an antidote to government school brainwashing.
14. Communist Mijail Gorbachov will be recognized as more enlightened than Abraham Lincoln for allowing bullied states to secede.
The realization of self-determination impacts Europe, while still unknown in the Disunited States of Amerika.
18. The original Birthers, the Hillary Clinton camp, will feed more information to their front man Donald Trump to find the grave of the real Barry Bin Hussein Obama who was born dead.
When the CIA creates one of their own Manchurian Candidate’s they better use MI6 to forge the documents.
20. Quivering Chris “Fatty” Matthews, will admit the Obama administration is the most corrupt in American history, but insist Obama is so sexy it’s no wonder the media overlooked his failures.
MSNBC casting couch requires an interview with Bill Gates and a test of how far the Feeling and Thrill Goes up the Leg.
23. Facing questioning on her failures concerning the Benghazi disgrace America’s favorite crone, H. Rodham Clinton, will harken back to her infamous Selma days, and employ her “colored voice” in an effort to claim the Senators questioning her are racist.
When under attack the best defense is a rally of all the Boyz n da Hood.
25. Newt Gingrich will change parties and be re-elected to the House as a Congressman from New Jersey.
Closet DeomcoRATS strip off their GOP garb and get down to their real roots.
27. Eric Holder’s, of Fast & Furious shame, next false flag operation in Mexico will involve sending the drug cartels 15,000 automatic rifles as well as an undetermined amount of anti-personnel and anti-tank weaponry.
Preparing for the final invasion of the borders requires the deployment of the heavy infantry.
39. Progressives and their lackeys will fail to understand why Conservatives find it hilarious the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street operation was underwritten by corporate offices on Wall Street.
The grunts that camp out to protest the international bankers are collecting their sustenance from debit cards.
44. Illegal alien and famed American clown, Barack Hussein Obama, will handle the Iranian nuclear crisis by sending Chicago Community Organizers, commanded by dingle-berry-eating Janeane Garofalo, to pow-wow with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Chicago outfit will make a deal that they can’t refuse. Just ship some of the same nuke fuel that previously went to Israel.
45. When Hillary Clinton finally sobers up and recovers from her, (ha-ha-hee-hee-hee), concussion to testify concerning the Benghazi disgrace, she will claim the failure was because her security man, Craig Livingston, of Filegate fame, wasn’t on the job.
The queen of mean never gets dirty when a Mr. Clean crew is on duty. In this case, they were in rehab.
46. Liberal/Progressive/Democrats will be so embarrassed over being played for fools and buying snake oil salesman Albert “Carbon Footprint” Gore’s “man-made Global Warming” farce; he will no longer feel safe in England.
Brits will disclose that Gore is the programmer of the NSA information leak that exposed the global warming hockey stick.
48. It will be revealed Chucky “Sanctimonious” Schumer, Democrat, N.Y., suffered bouts of depression because 193 fellow Progressives beat him for television face time to decry the second amendment before the blood dried after the Connecticut school shootings.
Schumer’s press agent gets him a booking on the spin off the biggest loser for “POLS”.
51. Chinese diplomats will defend North Korea and the sanity of former leader and world class golfer, Kim Jong Il and his son Kim Jong-un, explaining, “With Obama in office the Jong’s aren’t the craziest leaders around. They’re actually reasonable and stable in comparison.”
Jong addresses the UN and condemns Obama for crimes against humanity.
61. Obama will confuse opponents about the tax money his thirty-plus czars take from the poor via the public trough by naming Mijail Gorbachov as the first non-Marxist in the group.
Twitter posts the first news that an IPO is ready from the bankrupt TARP interests to refloat their operations.
65. Satan’s more evil son,108 year-old Nazi George Soros, will be given command of both Obama’s first armed FEMA brown-shirt graduates http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/10/federal-goverment-graduates-first-class-of-homeland-youths/ and their armored personnel detachment.
The neo-Stasi brigade infiltrates resisting neighborhood to enforce DNA collection.
71. Democrat Party fact-falsification operation, Snopes, will deny the media quit covering Darfur, homelessness, Club Gitmo and environmental problems after Mr. Obama’s election.
Politico and the Huffington Post win pulitzer prizes for blaming Bush for ongoing Obama decisions.
72. Caring Liberals, (are there any other kind?) will band together to discover what evil is preventing tax escape artist Warren Buffet, from voluntarily and patriotically paying more taxes.
Buffet announces that Berkshire Hathaway invested into underwriting the next cycle of Democrat candidates.
80. Progressives will quit their war on Christmas when new birth questions force Obama sycophants to claim Barry was born in a manger.
Valerie Jarrett heads up the acquisitions of the CTN, TBN and the TCT networks to facilitate an orderly transition into the Church of Obama.
87. The DNC will give a special award of merit to John Boehner for his work in passing Democrat legislation.
Boehner get a CNN gig now that Gingrich joined the Democratic Party.
92. By June over half the American population will think Vladimir Putin cares more about American democracy than the administration.
Inquiries begin to see if a foreign born can become U.S. President.
95. Joe Biden will refer to the Prez using the “N” word and fellow liberals will justify his racist remark by claiming Biden has grown in office.
Obama claims he has matured as a white in office and is now under attack by his former brothers.
96. Some liberal Democrats will be removed from management positions in the Republican National Committee.
The GOP big tent collapses as a failure.
100. Barry Obama will set new records funding Green companies, including Alaskan Palm Orchards, Ltd., Arizona Cactus From South Georgia Swampland, Inc., Sliced & Diced Rare Birds of Yet-More Wind Propellers, Corp., owned by friends and political allies.
Obama reaches out to Gore to fund his retirement and provide the ex-VP with protection.
This list was selected as the tame examples. If you are daring, read the entire 101 items. A serious analysis and critical review of politics is mostly ignored by the general public. The popular culture is made up of people who cannot learn, of fools who repeat their mistakes time and again, and persons who constantly screw up.
The art in satire varies with the source and even more with the audience. Mr. Kaliher’s perspective may seem twisted to an apologist for the establishment. It might seem downright hostile to the statist, who places trust in government. However, the continual absurdity, year after year, just grows.
Both in the irony of the illustrations and in the intensity of the deranged circumstances, what comes out of the political class of illusionists, is even more frightening. Truth is stranger than fiction. Yet the refusal to admit the con game that is played on citizens is the primary reason that it never ends.
Accepting a corrupt system as normal or inevitable is defeatist to the core. Each generation of public officials move closer to act as irrelevant puppets and lap dog administers for the dictates of perverted elites. Is there humor in this act or is it beyond the abilities of the system to provide a correcting mechanism to reverse the unwavering descent into the ridiculous.
So what are the reasonable expectations for 2014? Will the Republicans take the Senate? Will an amnesty immigration bill pass? Or will the administration find a magic medicine to cure Obamacare? The score card usually misses the final outcome of the game.
When drawn together, all the Nostradamus, Jr. Predictions for the last ten years, the picture seems far more enlightening than entertaining. The sorry state of affairs, when considered as a continual trend towards a loss in quality of life, is the only conclusion possible. Only a lazy meathead refuses to face the facts and adjust behavior when the seer speaks.
That it has been one of the most lackluster shopping seasons in recent years has already been repeatedly covered, with average holiday spending expected to decline for the first time since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, all this despite record promotions and an ever earlier start to Black Friday.
Another chart showing the same trend from Bloomberg, with the comment that the “eroding middle class can no longer drive activity as it has in the past” – that’s odd: we said the same thing in late 2009 for which we got yet another label of tinfoil conspiracy theorists…
However, while the early start to shopping season has missed expectations, driven primarily by an unprecedented weakness in traditional bricks and mortar outlets, there was some hope that the last stretch into Christmas and the New Year would provide a much needed, last minute bump. Those hopes were dashed last night when Shopptertrack reported that retail traffic plummeted by an unprecedented 21% last week, and in-store sales decreased 3.1% from the year before, dashing retailers’ hopes that the final stretch before Christmas would offset soft sales numbers earlier in the holiday shopping season.
The disappointing numbers, released by ShopperTrak on Monday, are “kind of staggering,” said the research firm’s founder, Bill Martin, who last week voiced optimism that retailers would see a noticeable spike in traffic and sales the week of Dec. 16-22 after two consecutive weeks of decreases in both.
He attributed the latest nosedive to successful November promotions, and bad weather last week in the Midwest and other central states. An increase in virtual window-shopping has prevented consumers throughout the shopping season from setting foot in many stores to look, feel and compare prices, he added.
Wait, November promotions were successful? For whom: retailers whose bottom lines got crushed in the margin collapse, or buyers who decided to wait and keep waiting for even better deals, until in the end they decided not to buy at all. Blaming the weather we understand, as do the trend to convert purchases to “window shopping” – in a world in which everything is turning virtual, it only makes sense that Americans pretend to shop asl well.
What’s worse, however, is that the deus ex of online sales is not appearing and will not save the day:
But even online sales aren’t growing at the expected pace. Online spending from home and work desktop computers in the U.S. from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 was up 9 percent from the same period last year to $37.8 billion, according to the most available data from comScore.
That’s below the 14 percent growth that the Internet research firm is forecasting for the season.
Even though Black Friday holds the title as single busiest shopping day of the holiday season, the week before Christmas is traditionally the busiest week in the most important shopping season of the year. Many retailers depend on November and December to make as much as 40 percent of their annual revenue, the National Retail Federation says. But while 2013 is shaping up to be the largest holiday shopping season on record, retailers are not getting the photo finish they expected.
“The numbers are not devastating, but they are a bit alarming,” Martin said.
He is not revising his forecast of 2.4 percent overall growth in retail sales for November and December, already the slowest growth since 2009, because it was strong sales in early November that caused the softer late-season sales.
Finally, it appears that the strategy of pulling forward demand to the present through record discounts, and crushing margins in hopes of “making it up in volume” only works for those perpeptual non-cash flow generating juggernauts like Amazon, which on a long enough timeline will do everything (badly), and supposedly put everyone out of business. Just not yet.
Retailers began earlier than ever promoting deep discounts and deals to appeal to frugal consumers. Retail sales in November were up 4.7 percent from 2012, the Commerce Department reported.
“November was pretty strong, and that’s going to carry some weight into December,” Martin said. “If December ends up being flat, I expect we’re still going to have a 2.4 percent increase.”
There are some strong shopping days left before the end of the month, he said, and retailers will push hard to get shoppers back into their stores post-Christmas to exchange gifts, use gift cards and take advantage of post-holiday promotions. Gift cards are not recorded as sales until they are exchanged for merchandise, and because 80 percent of shoppers plan to buy them this year, bringing total gift card spending to an all-time high of $29.8 billion, they could have a big influence on sales after the Christmas holiday.
Final sales figures for the holiday shopping season are expected in January.
We can’t wait. In the meantime, we expect seasonally adjusted government retail sales data to indicate once again, that all is well, and that it is not the ARIMA X 12 seasonal fudge-factor goalseeker that is wrong, but that it is reality which is at fault.