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.
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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.
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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.
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Jackson, Tim, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Routeledge, 2011.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Turkey is a democracy in name only. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ruling despot.
He’s led Ankara’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) since August 2001. He’s been prime minister since March 2003. Why Turks put up with him they’ll have to explain.
Last spring, anti-government protests rocked Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Police violence followed. Brutality is longstanding policy. Corruption is deep-seated.
It’s rife in Turkey’s construction sector. Erdogan established a land sales office. Ostensibly it was to build affordable public housing.
Widespread privatizations followed. Billions of dollars worth of government assets were sold.
Sweetheart deals and bribes accompanied them. Well-connected companies got no-bid contracts. State banks provided generous financing.
Projects developed had nothing to do with public housing. Berat Albayrak heads Calik Holding. He’s well connected. He’s Erdogan’s son-in-law.
He may be linked to the corruption probe. He builds power plants in Turkmenistan. He’s involved in an AKP backed oil pipeline project. He has other government related business.
The current scandal stems from a year ago anonymous letter. It was sent to police. It alleged Ankara and local government authorities illegally facilitated construction projects. Huge profits were involved.
Surveillance, phone tapping, and other investigatory methods followed. They produced considerable evidence of corruption. Government ministers are involved. Million dollar bribes were paid.
State-run Halk Bank head was found with about $4.5 million in cash. It was at home. It was stashed in shoe boxes.
Millions more were seized from other suspects. Over a dozen are accused of bribery and money laundering, as well as gold and antiques smuggling.
On December 17, Turkey’s Financial Crimes and Battle Against Criminal Incomes department detained 47 people.
Sons of Ankara’s Economy, Interior and Environment and Urban Planning ministers are involved.
So is Fatih district municipality major Mustafa Demir and real estate tycoon Ali Agaoglu. Minister of European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis is being investigated.
Whether scandal touches Erdogan remains to be seen. He claims attempts to do so will be “left empty handed.”
On Christmas day, he reshuffled his cabinet. Three ministers resigned. He sack 10 others. He replaced them. Events are fast-moving.
Erdogan Bayraktar was Minister of Environment and Urban Planning. He was a member of parliament. He felt forced to resign both posts.
He said Erdogan should do so. He claimed suspect construction projects under investigation were approved with Erdogan’s full knowledge.
“With your permission, I want to make very short statements in the form of a press statement,” he said.
“It is of course a right and an authority for Mr. Prime Minister to work with whichever minister he wants and to remove whichever minister he wants from office.”
“But I do not accept the pressure being put on me which says, ‘Resign because of an operation in which there are statements of bribery and corruption and release a declaration that will relieve me.’ “
“I do not (accept it) because a big part of the zoning plans that are in the investigation file and were confirmed were made with approval from Mr. Prime Minister.”
“For the sake of the well-being of this nation, I believe the prime minister should resign.”
He accused him of involvement in suspect property deals. He’s linked to profiteering business interests.
Scandal heads closer to directly connecting him. Perhaps it will as investigations continue. Turkish Professor Soli Ozel called Bayraktar’s call for Erdogan’s resignation “extraordinarily dramatic.”
He’s “someone who was very close to the prime minister. This is someone you’d expect to fall on his sword without question.”
Other analysts see things potentially spinning out of control. Whether Erdogan can prevent it remains to be seen.
He may end up victimized by his own transgressions. It depends on how much public anger grows. He weathered previous crises. It’s hard to know if this one is too great to contain.
Investigations targeted over 90 suspects. Over two dozen were arrested. Dozens of police chiefs were sacked. Erdogan is far from squeaky-clean.
On December 21, Ankara’s police department Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Unit head Hakan Yuksekdag was found dead in his car. Officially it was pronounced suicide.
Further investigation is being conducted. The incident occurred a day after 14 senior Ankara National Police Department officials were removed from their posts.
Erdogan blamed ongoing events on an international conspiracy. He vowed revenge on figures connected to Muhammed Fethullah Gulen.
He heads the movement bearing his name. He claims a million or more followers. They include judges and senior police officials.
He’s currently in self-imposed exile. He’s in Pennsylvania. He’s a writer, former imam, and Islamic opinion leader. He’s an important figure.
He’s involved with issues relating to Turkey’s future. He and Erdogan haven’t gotten along for years.
Former Minister of Internal Affairs Idris Naim Sahin said Erdogan’s actions fall short of law and justice. He’s trying to defuse public anger, he said. He’s shifting blame to do it.
Thousands of Istanbul, Ankara, and Ismir protesters demanded Erdogan’s resignation. They did so on Christmas. They did it in other cities. They protested last spring.
They’re justifiably outraged. Their longstanding anger hasn’t waned. Erdogan works against their well-being. Clashes with police erupted. Arrests followed.
Protesters chanted; “Three ministers aren’t enough. The whole government should resign. Corruption is everywhere. Resistance is everywhere.”
Opposition party members accused Erdogan of deepening despotic rule. Critics use the term “deep state.” It refers to a shadowy power structure. It lacks checks and balances.
Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) is Erdogan’s main rival. It’s Turkey’s oldest political party. It’s AKP’s Main Opposition in the Grand National Assembly. Kemal Kilicdaroglu heads it.
“Erdogan has a ‘deep state,’ ” he said. His AKP “has a ‘deep state.’ ” Efkan Ala is new Interior Minister.
He’s an Erdogan crony. He formerly was Diyarbakir Province governor. He’s part of what’s ongoing, said Kilicdaroglu.
He believes Ala’s appointment is part of an Erdogan power grab. He wants greater police control. Outgoing Interior Minister Muammer Guler fired hundreds of police officers. Senior commanders were sacked.
Erdogan’s new ministers were carefully chosen. He appointed officials “that will not show any opposition to him,” said Kilicdaroglu.
Turkey is more police state than democracy. Press freedom is compromised. Censorship is standard practice. Dissent is verboten. Challenging government authority is called terrorism.
No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Corruption is deep-seated. Neoliberal harshness writ large is policy. Popular interests are spurned.
Erdogan represents wealth, power and privilege. It’s hard imagining he’s not involved in corruption in some way. He’s gotten his son-in-law business tycoon sweetheart deals.
He prioritizes Turkey’s business model. It reflects capitalism’s dark side. It includes unrestrained profit-making, privatizations, cheap labor, deregulation, corporate-friendly tax cuts, marginalized worker rights, and speculative capital inflows.
Economic conditions are inherently unstable. Turkey suffers rolling recessions, crisis conditions, and fragile largely jobless recoveries. It’s increasingly dependent on imports of resources and capital goods.
Youth unemployment tops 22%. An entire generation is affected. Conditions are socially and economically unstable.
Privation fuels public anger. Eventually it may spiral out-of-control. It may be just a matter of time. Turkey has a long history of rebellion.
Erdogan is increasingly hated. He weathered last spring’s anti-government protests. It remains to be seen what’s next.
Nicolas Spiro heads Spiro Sovereign Strategy. “The dismissal of half an entire cabinet is worrying enough,” he said. “The corruption probe is escalating by the day.”
It’s “causing a further deterioration in market sentiment towards Turkey.” Erdogan’s new cabinet includes four deputy prime ministers.
Ayse Islam is the only woman appointed. She’s Family and Social Policy Minister. Others include:
Deputy prime minister: Bulent Arinc
Deputy prime minister: Ali Babacan
Deputy prime minister: Besir Atalay
Deputy prime minister: Emrullah Isler
Justice: Bekir Bozdag
Defense: Ismet Yilmaz
Interior: Efkan Ala
Foreign Affairs: Ahmet Davutoglu
European Union: Mevlut Cavusoglu
Finance: Mehmet Simsek
Economy: Nihat Zeybekci
Energy and Natural Resources: Taner Yildiz
National Education: Nabi Avci
Labour and Social Security: Faruk Celik
Environment and Urban Development: Idris Gulluce
Health: Mehmet Muezzinoglu
Transport: Lutfi Elvan
Food, Agriculture and Husbandry: Mehmet Mehdi Eker
Science, Industry and Technology: Fikri Isik
Culture and Tourism: Omer Celik
Forestry and Water Affairs: Veysel Eroglu
Customs and Trade: Hayati Yazici
Development: Cevdet Yilmaz
Youth and Sports: Akif Cagatay Kilic
Scandal erupted months ahead of next March’s local elections. Parliamentary elections involving Erdogan are scheduled in 2015.
If held today, voters might oust him. It’s way too early to know how they’ll react in 2015. Istanbul-based Global Source Partners analyst Atilla Yesilada said ongoing events suggest Erdogan is losing control.
“Forced to act, (he) tried to get rid of his burdens,” he said. “But this is a political crisis, and it is hard to tell how it will unfold. These investigations may expand in coming months.”
Doing so perhaps may link Erdogan to deep-seated corruption. If so, he may be forced to resign. The fullness of time will tell.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Shameless former Labour MP Denis MacShane, who infamously operated for more than a decade as the kosher police within the British parliament was thrown into jail today.
MacShane has been put behind bars for six months for expenses fraud after admitting to submitting 19 fake receipts amounting to £12,900.
Mr Justice Sweeney said at court today that MacShane had “deliberately created misleading and deceptive invoices” with the “considerable” dishonesty involved.
MacShane, 65, was a Labour MP for 18 years. Along that time he has managed to chair the inquiry panel of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism. In March 2009, he became chairman of a think-tank on anti-Semitism at theEuropean Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.
MacShane went out of his way, chasing the enemies of Israel as well as Jewish power. The Zionist Jewish Chronicle (JC) titled the fraudulent MP an ‘Anti-hate campaigner’, attempting to conceal the fact that it was only anti Jewish hatred that the crook was interested in.
However the JC also revealed that MacShane “used the money to fund trips to Europe connected with his work on antisemitism.” So I guess that at least from a ‘Judaic perspective’ MacShane’s perjury was Kosher. Maybe the moral for Jewish community leaders is plain and simple – in the future they better fund their Sabboth Goyim generously rather than expect their stooges to steal taxpayers’ money.
Commercialism, long criticized, as a distortion of the true celebration of Christmas, has become a crucial profit component for the corporate economy. Very little observation about the religious nature of the holiday rises for reflection. Likewise, even less focus is devoted to the underlying reasons why holiday gifting has become a stable to the season. Heritage and tradition has given way to popular cultural advertisement. A disconnect between purchases of necessity and acquisitions of disposable novelties is the hallmark of the mad rush to buy needless objects.
As long as the psychology of the herd and the guilt of the good parent deem it is an obligation to fork out money that is usually not available, the credit and debt purchases cycle continues. The National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday sales will increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion. Yet a consulting firm, commissioned by NRF, projects a reduction in individual spending.
“According to NRF’s holiday consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, two percent less than the $752.24 they actually spent last year.”
In spite of this pattern, the average holiday shopper is part of a very allusive community. How many people do you know that actually spends this kind of money? If you answer in the affirmative, you might well be in need of shopaholic rehab treatment. The Mad Men on Madison Avenue work for corporate clients. Main street merchants provide the sensible alternative to big box stores. Will you make the switch or are you infected with the ether zone smart phone bug.
Yet, the seemingly attractive cost sensitive pricing and online convenience has increased. Matt Couden writes in the Examiner article, on the rush to buy online.
“A Dec. 3 report from Biz Journals out of San Francisco, notes that Monday’s online shopping was a single-day record, with sales up 19% from last year.
The reports come about online shopping’s success as bad news has hit the retailers with “brick-and-mortar” stores, who saw their first decline in shopping over Black Friday weekend since 2009.”
According to the internet retailer, 65% of U.S. shoppers will browse online and buy in store over the holidays as the “line between store and web will further blur this year as 36% of shoppers plan to buy online and pick up in store, and 21% expect to see up-to-date information on product availability on e-commerce sites.”No discussion of seasonal sales can avoid the largest and dominate bell weather of retail. Forbes is reporting that the 2013 — A Not So Merry Christmas For The Consumer And Retailers?
“Even Wal-Mart reported weak sales last month and shared its view that a challenging environment would persist into the fall. Then this week Wal-Mart announced it was cutting orders to reduce its inventory for the rest of the year. In the company’s commentary there were two key items that don’t bode well for the upcoming holiday shopping season. First, consumers are not spending at the rate predicted by Wal-Mart executives. Second, Wal-Mart isn’t hiring enough workers to keep its shelves stocked. Remember, Wal-Mart is the country’s largest retailer and if it is seeing this problem odds are it is not alone.”
“Christmas is typically the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world as sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas. The United States’ retail industry generated about three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays in 2012. These holiday sales reflected about 19.3 percent of the retail industries total sales that year. As a result, just over 720 thousand employees were hired throughout the United States to compensate for the holiday rush.”
Since the dramatic bulk of sales and certainly the major component of profit, determined by the outcome of Christmas mania, economists are eager to evaluate the results. Fine for the big name outlets, but what about the independent strip store or the local entrepreneur. They risk their entire livelihood, in the hope of steady and consistent sales all year round as their goal. For these folks, the traffic that storms the mega stores is another lost opportunity to keep their enterprise in business.
Small Business Saturday fosters mom-and-pop shopping is the answer. The only way to reverse this terrible trend is to support your local businesses.
“Nationally, market share for local retailers vs. national chains declined from 59% in 1990 to 48% in 2009, according to another Civic Economics study. For bars and restaurants, local market share dipped to 64% from 71%.”
Look at retail business from a different perspective. Small business cooperatives are one way for independent retailers to improve their buying power and advertisement placements. While Christmas sales reward specialty boutiques and trendy holiday items, the health and vitality of any business rests upon repeat customers.
Abandon foolish credit purchases, which never make sense. Consider the productive value of infusion monies, normally spent on discarded holiday hype; be directed at buying useful products from within your local community.
You do not have to turn into Scrooge to celebrate Christmas intelligently. An all Amazon delivery that bypasses Santa might save you a few dollars, but a scaled down gifting bazaar bears wholesome fruits, when selectively purchased.
All those acclaimed 720 thousand seasonally part time employees would be much better off with a permanent job. Excessive and binge buying, based upon a cultural holiday pressure to spend, is basically dumb.
Woefully, the business of Christmas is destructive to a sound and stable economy. Consumers squander their hard-earned money cheerfully, because they seek immediate gratification at the cost of lasting happiness. Have a Merry Christmas by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
This Christmas season, humanity’s vibrations accelerate toward love, fellowship, brotherhood, sisterhood, family and friends. Each of us gravitates toward kindness, reverence and gratitude.
While we may scurry around town purchasing gifts, watching our kids perform at the Christmas musical or talk with old friends on the telephone—a new focus of renewal cascades into our lives.
You may see it as the birth of a child. You may look upon it as the metamorphosis from the shortest day of the year to the lengthening of light that brings hope for spring. You may be religious or otherwise, but this much remains certain: your vibrations enjoy a response to something in the air, something undefined and something magnetic that leads to spiritual outreach.
“Your action has nothing to do with your abundance. Your abundance is a response to your vibrations. Of course, your belief is part of your vibrations.” Abraham/Hicks
During Christmas, a tender hug for your spouse brings heightened vibrations. A loving word to your child renders a magnetic ambiance. A simple “Merry Christmas” to a stranger jumps the vibrational-field of humanity by untold mega points.
Additionally, you might find yourself looking into the eyes of a passer-by when you say “Merry Christmas”, which in turn repays you with a smile, welcoming eyes and heartfelt appreciation.
Life comes down to pulsing vibrations that mingle with and around our biosphere. You may call it love, attraction or energy. You find it vibrating in the air, around a fireplace or seeing a Christmas tree lit up with lights. You might find it in a church sermon.
You may find yourself wishing upon a star or dreaming upon a full moon hanging in the midnight sky.
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France
This Christmas, you’re invited to create your life anew, to render unto the world your transformed vibrations. It’s a choice as Christmas focuses your options toward joy and appreciation; toward love and kindness; toward inspiration and lofty beauty.
Long ago, using such inspiration, Michelangelo declared, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free.”
You possess the same capacity to set free the angel or the devil or the loving human being in your own life. You may forgive all who have wronged you to set you free from such burdens to your spirit. You may forgive yourself for all you have harmed. You may set free the joy waiting to be heard by the world in song, rhyme or story. What gifts do you possess to enliven the world at Christmas?
Vibrations originate from your thoughts. The higher your thoughts, the greater your vibrations. Great thoughts bring about great ideas, which lend themselves to great actions. Do you desire peace in the world for all humanity? Live those vibrations in your own life, in your community and share them in order that others may aspire to them or feel inspired by them. Think high in order to ripple the energy all around. Spread the energy and the vibrations.
By changing your inner thoughts, by acting on your highest vibrations and by moving with those energies that transform you—you in turn, transform the world. If a little child in a manager can transform the world with his or her vibrations—you carry the same power in your sphere.
So, this Christmas, examine your highest and best. Extricate that which serves you poorly and move toward that which serves your loftiest and noblest. Move toward gracious living, abundant thoughts and spiritual bliss. When you attend a gathering on Christmas, let the tears flow and glide with the vibrations that promise a remake of your life. Love your family, friends and all of humanity.
Your vibrations tuned into the highest and best of the universe will propel you into a new year with joy, energy and love. I truly think “love” brings the highest vibrations in the world into you and you out to the world.
With love, joy and tenderness, Sandi and I, along with our two boys Trevor and Dan, wish you a very Merry Christmas and joyful New Year.
(Sandi and Frosty Wooldridge wishing you a very Merry Christmas 2013 and a prosperous New Year.)