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Genetically Modified Organisms: Killing The Natural World

May 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“The introduction of genetically modified foods (GMO) tampers with the essence of life in an experiment with an unknown outcome and no real way to undue the damage. The FDA purposely does not require labeling of GMO food, since no one who understands the issue would ever purchase it. This makes it all the more difficult to locate healthful food.”  Byron J. Richards, The Leptin Diet: How Fit Is Your Fat?

This series exposes the outright fraud against peoples’ lives and the contempt for American citizens (and citizens of the world who eat our grains) with the injection of Genetically Modified Organism foods by the highest representatives in our U.S. Congress.

Call it a “financial cartel” that allows GMOs to be fed to our citizenry, but worse, for the love of money, those power elites accelerate the destruction of our Natural World.

We humans grow too clever and too arrogant to understand the long-term penalties we heap on Mother Nature until she finds no other answers but to claw back at us, i.e., cancers, disease and more aberrant environmental disasters to come.

Every crop in America, Canada, Australia and much of the third world where GMO advocates like ADM and Monsanto can force their “Frankensteinization” on farmers—they push it.

Even with all the evidence piling up, those same elites hammer any opposition into the ground.  They “bribe” the FDA officials to not label any GMO foods so you don’t know what you’re eating.

We destroy our own bodies by our actions, but we also obliterate the Natural World and its inhabitants.

Today around the world, trillions of bees suffer “colony collapse” via GMO crops.  Nature cannot figure out how to deal with plants that suffer genetic modification or DNA change-ups.

GMO foods represent a pitcher throwing an orange to the catcher in a Major League Baseball game.  Within several pitches, the orange wouldn’t hold its form from the violent treatment.  If the batter connected with the orange, it would splatter all over the field.  Result: the game couldn’t continue.  The players could not play and the spectators would go home.

But in GMO production, the consequences cannot be seen as quickly, however those “errors” against Mother Nature will surface well into the future.

Ethan Huff, science writer for Natural News said,  “A pair of studies recently published in the journal Science raises dire warnings about the continued decline of crop-pollinating insects all over the world, and what this means for the future of the world’s food supply. Both studies highlight the fact that wild pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, and beetles are basically disappearing, and that industrial agriculture, which includes genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), are a major factor causing this insect genocide.

“At least half a dozen other studies published in the last couple of years have arrived at similarly disturbing findings. They do, however, shed further light on how the situation has progressed throughout the decades, pointing to corporate monoculture practices, shrinking forests and wild lands, and general changes in physical landscapes as some of the primary culprits in promoting this ruinous trend.”

We not only change the DNA of our fellow planetary travelers, but we destroy their habitat.  We seem to think no consequences will befall us.

“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
― Chief Seattle

Last week, I interviewed with Ross Kaminsky at www.KOA.com in Denver, Colorado. Mind you, this young man, about 30, sounded brilliant and highly articulate.  I liked him.   I spoke about America adding 100 million immigrants and a total of 138 million people by 2050—a scant 36 years from now.  I brought facts and compelling information to the show.  I attempted to show him and the public the ramifications of adding 138 million people—and that, we could not sustain such numbers and our environment.

He sat across from me saying, “We don’t have a population problem. We have plenty of water and oil.  The oceans can absorb all our carbon footprint.”

I said, “You’re speaking with assumptions as if they were facts.  You make statements based on belief where I make them based on facts from my research.”

He dumbfounded me with his arrogance that we can keep adding endless people with no consequences. He wanted everyone to live a free life.  I countered with the fact that as our population numbers rise, our freedoms decline along with balance in our Natural World.  That fact cannot be disputed.

I explained how our oceans suffer acidification and that reefs die with carbon footprint and how marine life cannot endure the onslaught.

He wouldn’t hear of it.  Mind you, this young man, traveled on six continents like I have traveled.  He lives in denial and defends it. Along with him, the majority of the American public feels the same.

We see the same denial with our leaders who advocate for GMOs in plants and fish—in the face of facts.

“In one of the studies, researchers from Montana State University (MSU) compared insect data collected in the late 1800s to similar data collected in the same test location in the 1970s,” said Huff. “They then compiled current data from the same area to compare to both of these other two data sets, upon which they discovered that the number of unique wild bee species had dropped by nearly half.

“What is perhaps more disturbing, however, is the fact that researchers observed modern bees to be generally interacting less with plants than they used to in previous generations. According to the data, the overall number of interactions between bees and plants has also dropped by roughly half, indicating a serious problem as far as the general food supply is concerned, as about 75 percent of global food crops rely on pollination by animals.”

Managed honeybees do not pollinate crops as well as wild honeybees

The second study troubles me further:  having found that pollinating insects in general, which include a wide range of insects and other animals, continue vanishing from their normal habitats and foraging areas.

“Based on field trials conducted in 20 different countries, wild insects are clearly on the decline everywhere, and managed honeybee colonies established to replace them in many areas are failing to pick up where the wild honeybees left off,” said Huff.

“In landscapes with lower diversity and lower abundance of wild insects, the crops had less fruits,” explains Lucas Garibaldi, author of the second study. “Wild insects pollinated way more efficiently: Flowers produced twice as many fruits after being visited by wild insects and were more consistent in their production than when visited by honeybees.”

“Some “leaders” blame climate destabilization and other outside factors for this mysterious decline in crop pollinators,” said Huff. “But the major elephant in the room, and the one that the mainstream media is desperately trying to avoid, is GMOs and the chemical-based technologies used to grow them. As we have covered time and time again, neonicotinoids and other pesticide and herbicide products are responsible for weakening and killing off bees and other crop pollinators, particularly in North America where GMOs are most widely cultivated.”

“The proof is obvious that one of the major reasons of the bees’ decline is by the ingestion of GMO proteins,” explains a report by Brit Amos from Global Research about the decline of bee colonies. “The truth is that organic farming is relatively untouched as the bee crisis is concerned. Organic farming maintains the diversity of the eco-system and preserves the quality of the foods produced.”

The more I research into what we and our children face with our “disfiguring” the Natural World with our poisons and GMO assault, the more sickened I am in my mind and heart.  Since I lack any power or influence, someone like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet needs to fund campaigns to stop GMO production.  After all, it’s their kids, too, who must live in this world.

All of this GMO nightmare stems from too many people needing food for survival with too many elites willing to sacrifice the Natural World in order to make endless billions of dollars to live in big homes, drive expensive cars and fly Lear Jets.
You can learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039582_pollinators_gmos_food_supply.html#ixzz2zSIQSIhn

Go to www.responsibletechnology.org to get involved and learn how to avoid GMOs. Look for Non-GMO Shopping Guide.

Start buying non-GMO today.

Help stop the genetic engineering of our food supply.

You may become involved:

By mail: Institute For Responsible Technology, P.O. Box 469, Fairfield, IA 52556 Online: www.responsibletechnology.org by phone:(641) 209-1765

Read the book—Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risk of Genetically Engineered Foods by Jeffrey M. Smith.


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

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

Frosty Wooldridge is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Indoctrinating A New Generation

April 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:

– “In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”

Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:

… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation. [emphasis added]

On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.

But the propaganda version is already set in marble.

– “And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized, not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.

Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.

– “Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan … As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy. Latin American nations rejected dictatorship and built new democracies … “

The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations  , that the United States played an indispensable role in Mandela being caught and imprisoned, and that virtually all the Latin American dictatorships owed their very existence to Washington. Instead, the European youth were fed the same party line that their parents were fed, as were all Americans.

– “Yes, we believe in democracy – with elections that are free and fair.”

In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.

– “Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. … But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.”

The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational – largely U.S.-based, oil companies’ – ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.

Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:

The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state … the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly … the people of that unhappy land lost everything – their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again. … “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)

How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?

Long live the Cold War

In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union after some 15 years of severed relations following the Bolshevik Revolution. On a day in December of that year, a train was passing through Poland carrying the first American diplomats dispatched to Moscow. Amongst their number was a 29 year-old Foreign Service Officer, later to become famous as a diplomat and scholar, George Kennan. Though he was already deemed a government expert on Russia, the train provided Kennan’s first actual exposure to the Soviet Union. As he listened to his group’s escort, Russian Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village the train was passing close by, and his dreams of becoming a librarian, the Princeton-educated Kennan was astonished: “We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves, that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.”

It hasn’t happened yet.

One would think that the absence in Russia of communism, of socialism, of the basic threat or challenge to the capitalist system, would be sufficient to write finis to the 70-year Cold War mentality. But the United States is virtually as hostile to 21st-century Russia as it was to 20th-century Soviet Union, surrounding Moscow with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members. Why should that be? Ideology is no longer a factor. But power remains one, specifically America’s perpetual lust for world hegemony. Russia is the only nation that (a) is a military powerhouse, and (b) doesn’t believe that the United States has a god-given-American-exceptionalism right to rule the world, and says so. By these criteria, China might qualify as a poor second. But there are no others.

Washington pretends that it doesn’t understand why Moscow should be upset by Western military encroachment, but it has no such problem when roles are reversed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that Russian troops poised near eastern Ukraine are “creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine” and raising questions about Russia’s next moves and its commitment to diplomacy.

NATO – ever in need of finding a raison d’être – has now issued a declaration of [cold] war, which reads in part:

“NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday [April 1, 2014] reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the Alliance’s collective defence, agreed to further support Ukraine and to suspend NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. ‘NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and our people. And make no mistake, this is what we will do,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. … Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. ‘We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,’ he said. NATO has already reinforced its presence on the eastern border of the Alliance, including surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania and increased numbers of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States. … NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to suspend all of NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia.”

Does anyone recall what NATO said in 2003 when the United States bombed and invaded Iraq with “shock and awe”, compared to the Russians now not firing a single known shot at anyone? And neither Russia nor Ukraine is even a member of NATO. Does NATO have a word to say about the right-wing coup in Ukraine, openly supported by the United States, overthrowing the elected government? Did the hypocrisy get any worse during the Cold War? Imagine that NATO had not been created in 1949. Imagine that it has never existed. What reason could one give today for its creation? Other than to provide a multi-national cover for Washington’s interventions.

One of the main differences between now and the Cold War period is that Americans at home are (not yet) persecuted or prosecuted for supporting Russia or things Russian.

But don’t worry, folks, there won’t be a big US-Russian war. For the same reason there wasn’t one during the Cold War. The United States doesn’t pick on any country which can defend itself.

Cuba … Again … Still … Forever

Is there actually a limit? Will the United States ever stop trying to overthrow the Cuban government? Entire books have been written documenting the unrelenting ways Washington has tried to get rid of tiny Cuba’s horrid socialism – from military invasion to repeated assassination attempts to an embargo that President Clinton’s National Security Advisor called “the most pervasive sanctions ever imposed on a nation in the history of mankind”.  But nothing has ever come even close to succeeding. The horrid socialism keeps on inspiring people all over the world. It’s the darnedest thing. Can providing people free or remarkably affordable health care, education, housing, food and culture be all that important?

And now it’s “Cuban Twitter” – an elaborately complex system set up by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to disguise its American origins and financing, aiming to bring about a “Cuban Spring” uprising. USAID sought to first “build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then the plan was to push them toward dissent”, hoping the messaging network “would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize ‘smart mobs’ – mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice – that might trigger political demonstrations or ‘renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society’.”  It’s too bad it’s now been exposed, because we all know how wonderful the Egyptian, Syrian, Libyan, and other “Arab Springs” have turned out.

Here’s USAID speaking after their scheme was revealed on April 3: “Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that.”  We are thus asked to believe that normally the poor downtrodden Cubans have no good or safe way to communicate with each other. Is the US National Security Agency working for the Cuban government now?

The Associated Press, which broke the story, asks us further to believe that the “truth” about most things important in the world is being kept from the Cuban people by the Castro regime, and that the “Cuban Twitter” would have opened people’s eyes. But what information might a Cuban citizen discover online that the government would not want him to know about? I can’t imagine. Cubans are in constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail and in person. They get US television programs from Miami and other southern cities; both CNN and Telesur (Venezuela, covering Latin America) are seen regularly on Cuban television”; international conferences on all manner of political, economic and social issues are held regularly in Cuba. I’ve spoken at more than one myself. What – it must be asked – does USAID, as well as the American media, think are the great dark secrets being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?

Those who push this line sometimes point to the serious difficulty of using the Internet in Cuba. The problem is that it’s extremely slow, making certain desired usages often impractical. From an American friend living in Havana: “It’s not a question of getting or not getting internet. I get internet here. The problem is downloading something or connecting to a link takes too long on the very slow connection that exists here, so usually I/we get ‘timed out’.” But the USAID’s “Cuban Twitter”, after all, could not have functioned at all without the Internet.

Places like universities, upscale hotels, and Internet cafés get better connections, at least some of the time; however, it’s rather expensive to use at the hotels and cafés.

In any event, this isn’t a government plot to hide dangerous information. It’s a matter of technical availability and prohibitive cost, both things at least partly in the hands of the United States and American corporations. Microsoft, for example, at one point, if not at present, barred Cuba from using its Messenger instant messaging service.

Cuba and Venezuela have jointly built a fiber optic underwater cable connection that they hope will make them less reliant on the gringos; the outcome of this has not yet been reported in much detail.

The grandly named Agency for International Development does not have an honorable history; this can perhaps be captured by a couple of examples: In 1981, the agency’s director, John Gilligan, stated: “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”

On June 21, 2012, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) issued a resolution calling for the immediate expulsion of USAID from their nine member countries, “due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.”

USAID, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy (and the latter’s subsidiaries), together or singly, continue to be present at regime changes, or attempts at same, favorable to Washington, from “color revolutions” to “spring” uprisings, producing a large measure of chaos and suffering for our tired old world.

 

Notes

  1. William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
  2. Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
  3. Washington Post, March 31, 2014
  4. NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014
  5. Sandy Berger, White House press briefing, November 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript
  6. Associated Press, April 3 & 4, 2014
  7. Washington Post, April 4, 2014
  8. Associated Press, June 2, 2009
  9. George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321


William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire


Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Ukraine: The Corporate Annexation

March 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As the US and EU apply sanctions on Russia over its annexation’ of Crimea, JP Sottile reveals the corporate annexation of Ukraine. For Cargill, Chevron, Monsanto, there’s a gold mine of profits to be made from agri-business and energy exploitation.

On 12th January 2014, a reported 50,000 “pro-Western” Ukrainiansdescended upon Kiev’s Independence Square to protest against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Stoked in part by an attack on opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko, the protest marked the beginning of the end of Yanukovych’s four year-long government.

That same day, the Financial Timesreported a major deal for US agribusiness titan Cargill.

Business confidence never faltered

Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming.

According to the Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer. And those aren’t the only eggs in Cargill’s increasingly ample basket.

On 13th December 2013, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea grain terminal at Novorossiysk on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

The port — to the east of Russia’s strategically and historically important Crimean naval base — gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Cargill has been in Ukraine for over two decades, investing in grain elevators and acquiring a major Ukrainian animal feed company in 2011. And, based on its investment in UkrLandFarming, Cargill was decidedly confident amidst the post-EU deal chaos.

It’s a stark juxtaposition to the alarm bells ringing out from the US media, bellicose politicians on Capitol Hill and perplexed policymakers in the White House.

Instability?… What Instablility?

It’s even starker when compared to the anxiety expressed by Morgan Williams, President and CEO of the US-Ukraine Business Council — which, according to its website, has been“promoting US-Ukraine business relations since 1995.”

Williams was interviewed by the International Business Times on March 13 and, despite Cargill’s demonstrated willingness to spend, he said, “The instability has forced businesses to just go about their daily business and not make future plans for investment, expansion and hiring more employees.”

In fact, Williams, who does double-duty as Director of Government Affairs at the private equity firm SigmaBleyzer, claimed, “Business plans have been at a standstill.”

Apparently, he wasn’t aware of Cargill’s investment, which is odd given the fact that he could’ve simply called Van A. Yeutter, Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Cargill, and asked him about his company’s quite active business plan.

There is little doubt Williams has the phone number because Mr. Yuetter serves on the Executive Committee of the selfsame US-Ukraine Business Council. It’s quite a cozy investment club, too.

According to his SigmaBleyzer profile, Williams “started his work regarding Ukraine in 1992″ and has since advised American agribusinesses “investing in the former Soviet Union.” As an experienced fixer for Big Ag, he must be fairly friendly with the folks on the Executive Committee.

Big Ag Luminaries — Monsanto, Eli Lilly, Dupont, John Deere…

And what a committee it is — it’s a veritable who’s who of Big Ag. Among the luminaries working tirelessly and no doubt selflessly for a better, freer Ukraine are:

  • Melissa Agustin, Director, International Government Affairs & Trade for Monsanto;
  • Brigitte Dias Ferreira, Counsel, International Affairs for John Deere;
  • Steven Nadherny, Director, Institutional Relations for agriculture equipment-makerCNH Industrial;
  • Jeff Rowe, Regional Director for DuPont Pioneer;
  • John F. Steele, Director, International Affairs for Eli Lilly & Company.

And, of course, Cargill’s Van A. Yeutter. But Cargill isn’t alone in their warm feelings toward Ukraine. As Reuters reported in May 2013, Monsanto — the largest seed company in the world — plans to build a $140 million “non-GM (genetically modified) corn seed plant in Ukraine.”

And right after the decision on the EU trade deal, Jesus Madrazo, Monsanto’s Vice President for Corporate Engagement, reaffirmed his company’s “commitment to Ukraine”and “the importance of creating a favorable environment that encourages innovation and fosters the continued development of agriculture.”

Monsanto’s strategy includes a little “hearts and minds” public relations, too. On the heels of Mr. Madrazo’s reaffirmation, Monsanto announced “a social development program titled ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ to help rural villagers in the country improve their quality of life.”

The initiative will dole out grants of up to $25,000 to develop programs providing“educational opportunities, community empowerment, or small business development.”

Immense Economic Importance

The well-crafted moniker ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ is telling because, once upon a time, Ukraine was known as ‘the breadbasket’ of the Soviet Union. The CIA ranks Soviet-era Ukraine second only to Mother Russia as the “most economically important component of the former Soviet Union.”

In many ways, the farmland of Ukraine was the backbone of the USSR. Its fertile black soil generated over a quarter of the USSR’s agriculture. It exported substantial quantities of food to other republics and its farms generated four times the output of the next-ranking republic.

Although Ukraine’s agricultural output plummeted in the first decade after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the farming sector has been growing spectacularly in recent years.

While Europe struggled to shake-off the Great Recession, Ukraine’s agriculture sector grew 13.7% in 2013.

Ukraine’s agriculture economy is hot. Russia’s is not. Hampered by the effects of climate change and 25 million hectares of uncultivated agricultural land, Russia lags behind its former breadbasket.

According to the Centre for Eastern Studies, Ukraine’s agricultural exports rose from $4.3 billion in 2005 to $17.9 billion in 2012 and, harkening the heyday of the USSR, farming currently accounts for 25% of its total exports. Ukraine is also the world’s third-largest exporter of wheat and of corn. And corn is not just food. It is also ethanol.

Feeding Europe

But people gotta eat — particularly in Europe. As Frank Holmes of US Global Investorsassessed in 2011, Ukraine is poised to become Europe’s butcher. Meat is difficult to ship, but Ukraine is perfectly located to satiate Europe’s hunger.

Just two days after Cargill bought into UkrLandFarming, Global Meat News reported a huge forecasted spike in “all kinds” of Ukrainian meat exports, with an increase of 8.1% overall and staggering 71.4% spike in pork exports.

No wonder Eli Lilly is represented on the US-Ukraine Business Council’s Executive Committee. Its Elanco Animal Health unit is a major manufacturer of feed supplements.

And it is also notable that Monsanto’s planned seed plant is non-GMO, perhaps anticipating an emerging GMO-unfriendly European market and Europe’s growing appetite for organic foods. When it comes to Big Ag’s profitable future in Europe, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

A Long String of Russian Losses

For Russia and its hampered farming economy, it’s another in a long string of losses to US encroachment — from NATO expansion into Eastern Europe to US military presence to its south and onto a major shale gas development deal recently signed by Chevron in Ukraine.

So, why was Big Ag so bullish on Ukraine, even in the face of so much uncertainty and the predictable reaction by Russia?

The answer is that the seeds of Ukraine’s turn from Russia have been sown for the last two decades by the persistent Cold War alliance between corporations and foreign policy. It’s a version of the ‘Deep State‘ that is usually associated with the oil and defense industries, but also exists in America’s other heavily subsidized industry — agriculture.

Morgan Williams is at the nexus of Big Ag’s alliance with US foreign policy. To wit,SigmaBleyzer touts Mr. Williams’ work with “various agencies of the US government, members of Congress, congressional committees, the Embassy of Ukraine to the US, international financial institutions, think tanks and other organizations on US-Ukraine business, trade, investment and economic development issues.”

Freedom — For US Business

As President of the US-Ukraine Business Council, Williams has access to Council cohort — David Kramer, President of Freedom House. Officially a non-governmental organization, it has been linked with overt and covert ‘democracy’ efforts in places where the door isn’t open to American interests — aka US corporations.

Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and National Democratic Institute helped fund and support the Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. Freedom House is funded directly by the US Government, the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Department of State.

David Kramer is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and, according to his Freedom House bio page, formerly a Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century.

Nuland’s $5 Billion For Ukrainian ‘Democracy’

That puts Kramer and, by one degree of separation, Big Ag fixer Morgan Williams in the company of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan who, as coincidence would have it, is married to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, the current Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Nuland spoke to the US-Ukrainian Foundation last 13th December, extolling the virtues of the Euromaidan movement as the embodiment of “the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.”

Nuland also told the group that the United States had invested more than $5 billion in support of Ukraine’s “European aspirations” — meaning pulling Ukraine away from Russia. She made her remarks on a dais featuring a backdrop emblazoned with a Chevron logo.

Also, her colleague and phone call buddy US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt helped Chevron cook up their 50-year shale gas deal right in Russia’s kitchen.

Coca-Cola, Exxon-Mobil, Raytheon

Although Chevron sponsored that event, it is not listed as a supporter of the Foundation. But the Foundation does list the Coca-Cola CompanyExxonMobil and Raytheon as major sponsors. And, to close the circle of influence, the US-Ukraine Business Council is also listed as a supporter.

Which brings the story back to Big Ag’s fixer — Morgan Williams.

Although he was glum about the current state of investment in Ukraine, he’s gotta wear shades when he looks into the future. He told the International Business Times:

“The potential here for agriculture / agribusiness is amazing … Production here could double. The world needs the food Ukraine could produce in the future. Ukraine’s agriculture could be a real gold mine.”

Of course, his priority is to ensure that the bread of well-connected businesses gets lavishly buttered in Russia’s former breadbasket. And there is no better connected group of Ukraine-interested corporations than American agribusiness.

Given the extent of US official involvement in Ukrainian politics — including the interesting fact that Ambassador Pyatt pledged US assistance to the new government in investigating and rooting-out corruption — Cargill’s seemingly risky investment strategy probably wasn’t that risky, after all.

J P Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs at Newsvandal.com.

Source: JP Sottile | Ecologist

World Has No Idea How U.S. Decides On Wars

March 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

People from Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere have told me, and have testified in the U.S. Congress, that they have a hard time convincing their neighbors that everyone in the United States doesn’t hate them.  There are buzzing killer robots flying over their houses night and day and every now and then blowing a bunch of people up with a missile with very little rhyme or reason that anyone nearby can decipher.  They don’t know where to go or not go, what to do or not do, to be safe or keep their children safe.  Their children have instinctively taken to crouching and covering their heads just like U.S. children in the 1950s were taught to do as supposed protection from Soviet nuclear weapons.

The good news is that, of course, we don’t all hate Yemenis or Pakistanis or Somalis or Afghans or Libyans or any of the other people who might suspect us of it.  The bad news — and the news that I’m afraid would be almost incomprehensible to many millions of people around the world — is that most of us have only the vaguest idea where any of those countries are, some of us don’t know that they ARE countries at all, and we pay far greater attention to our sports and our pets than to whom exactly our government is killing this Tuesday.

This obliviousness comes into sharpest relief perhaps when we elect the officials who are legally called on to decide on our wars.  The extent to which Congress has handed war making over to presidents is also brought out by observing Congressional elections.  It is not at all uncommon for U.S. Congressional candidates’ platforms to entirely ignore all questions of war and peace, and to win support from either Democrats or Republicans despite this omission — despite, in particular, taking no position on the area funded by 57% of the dollars they will vote on if elected, namely wars and war preparations.

Here in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, a man named Lawrence Gaughan recently announced as a Democratic candidate for Congress.  I’d never heard of him, so I took a look at the “Issues” section of hiswebsite.  Not only WAS there such a section (some candidates campaign purely on their biography without taking positions on anything), but Gaughan’s site had clear forthright statements on a number of important issues.  He backed labor unions despite their virtual nonexistence in his district.  He admitted the existence of climate change.  He backed Eisenhower era tax rates (!!).  And his statements made commitments: “I will not vote for any tax cuts for those making over 250,000 dollars a year.” “I support the Dream Act.” “I would vote for any legislation that would bring back jobs in construction, manufacturing and production.” Either this guy had real principles or he was just too new for anyone to have explained to him how to make his promises vague enough not to commit himself to any specific actions.

All too typically, however, when I scrolled through the “Issues,” I noticed a gap.  I sent this note off to the candidate’s staff:

“Your candidate has some of the best and clearest positions on domestic issues that I’ve seen, and dramatically superior to Congressman Hurt’s, but judging by his website as it stands today he seems to have no position on foreign policy whatsoever, or even on that 57% of discretionary spending that, according to the National Priorities Project, goes to militarism.  For people who support domestic social justice AND peace in the world in this district, we are put in a bind by our history. Congressman Perriello voted for every war dollar he could, and has made a career of pushing for new wars since leaving office.  Congressman Hurt is a disaster on other issues but listened to us and took a stand against missile strikes on Syria. He even listened to us on lawless imprisonment and voted against a “Defense” Authorization Act on one occasion. Helpful as it is to know what Lawrence Gaughan thinks of 43% of the budget, some of us are really going to have to know what he thinks of the larger part.  Would he cut military spending? Would he oppose new wars? Does he oppose drone strikes? Would he repeal the authorization to use military force of ’01 and that of ’03? Would he support economic conversion to peaceful industries on the model now set up in Connecticut? Would he advance a foreign policy of diplomacy, cooperation, actual aid, and nonviolent conflict resolution? Are there any foreign bases he would close?  Does he think having U.S. troops in 175 nations is too many, too few, or just right? Does he support joining the ICC? Thanks for your time!”

A couple of days later, Gaughan called me on the phone.  We talked for a while about foreign policies, wars, peace, militarism, the economic advantages of converting to peaceful industries, the danger of handing war powers over to presidents.  He said he opposed wars. He said he wanted to take on the influence of the military industrial complex.  He didn’t seem particularly well informed, but he seemed to be coming from a fairly good place or to at least be willing to get there.

He proposed allowing military veterans to never pay any taxes.  That’s not exactly the sort of resistance to militarism that President Kennedy had in mind when he wrote that wars would continue until the conscientious objector has the honor and prestige of the soldier.  Gaughan offered no tax cuts for conscientious objectors.  Still, he said he’d get some good statements on foreign policy added to his website right away. He also said he’d be willing to debate the other candidates, including the incumbent, on foreign relations, should peace groups create such a forum and invite him.

Lo and behold, the next day, this appeared on Gaughan’s website:

Military

“We have strayed from our constitution when it comes to the defense of our nation and declaration of war. I was opposed to the war in Iraq for many reasons.  The enormous price paid by our brave men and women as well as the huge financial debt that we incurred was not necessary.  Republicans in Congress continue to defer those costs on our military personnel and our veterans through the sequester and other austerity measures.

“Not withstanding the government shutdown, the Republican budget proposals that my opponent, Robert Hurt, has voted for over the past three years, have forced the Pentagon into reductions that have taken a tremendous toll on enlisted personnel right here in our district. These political policies are also causing reductions to TriCare, active duty health benefits, and to retired military pensions. As the greatest nation on earth, it is unacceptable that we have homeless veterans or military families who struggle to pay the bills.

“We owe so much to the men and women who serve. Instead of laying off soldiers and cutting funding for the VA, we could begin by eliminating the ongoing fraud by military contractors. Fraud committed by dozens of irresponsible military industry corporations have cost taxpayers more than $1.1 trillion. Eliminating this fraud would offset most of the estimated $1.2 trillion in policy savings required over the next decade in order to realize the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated $1.4 trillion in deficit reduction without ‘gutting our military’. Furthermore, as a component of tax reform, there should be a tax exemption status for veterans written into the tax code.”

His topic, all too typically — people around the world should understand — is not how to relate to the 95% of humanity that is not in the United States, but how to treat “The Military.”

His first sentence echoes our discussion of the past three-quarters century of undeclared wars, but doesn’t spell it out.  Will he oppose wars that lack a Congressional declaration or not?

He picks one past war to oppose without stating his position on future wars.  He describes the costs of a war that killed some million Iraqis and destroyed a nation as all being paid by the U.S. and its soldiers.

He blames the sequester agreement on only one of the two parties that agreed to it, and buys into themyth that it has resulted in cuts to the military.  (True, Democrats in the Senate recently put up a token effort to fund veterans’ needs and were blocked by Republicans.)  Gaughan claims that we owe “so much” to members of the military who “serve.”  What exactly do we owe them? Can he name something that we owe them? He doesn’t want soldiers to be “laid off,” as if employing them is a make-work jobs program.

In my view we owe veterans housing, healthcare, education, a clean environment, and a healthy society because they are human beings — and we owe it equally to every other human being.  But we shouldn’t pretend that the military’s so-called “service” isn’t making us hated around the world.  We shouldn’t try to produce more veterans as if there were something noble about murdering people.

Gaughan almost closes on an up note.  He acknowledges fraud by military contractors.  He even calls them “military,” rather than using the misleading term “defense.”  But then he makes clear that he doesn’t want to cut the military. He wants to create efficiency to avoid cuts while saving money.

Would he repeal authorizations to use military force? Who knows. Would he back future wars? Who can tell? Does he believe U.S. troops should be in 175 nations? Perhaps.  But if they were in 182 would he then think 182 was the right number?  Does he favor allowing presidents to murder people with missiles from drones or by any other means?  Does he think antagonizing Russia and China and Iran should remain the focus of U.S. foreign policy?  Does he want the occupation of Afghanistan ended? Who knows.

He brought up a Department of Peace on our phone call, but it didn’t make the website yet.  One can hope that Gaughan’s website is a work in progress.  There’s certainly a chance he’ll become a far better candidate and Congress member than this district has had in a long time.

But this, dear world, is more or less how the world’s largest-ever killing machine operates.  It turns its eyes away from the machine’s work and, if pushed, debates the care of the machine itself — maintaining more or less complete obliviousness to the horrors the machine produces in those far away places where you live and die.

Source: DavidSwanson | Washington’s Blog

Big Oil’s “Sore Losers” Lead The Drive To War

March 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“We are witnessing a huge geopolitical game in which the aim is the destruction of Russia as a geopolitical opponent of the US or of the global financial oligarchy…..The realization of this project is in line with the concept of global domination that is being carried out by the US.”

– Vladimir Yakunin, former Russian senior diplomat

“History shows that wherever the U.S. meddles; chaos and misery are soon to follow.”

– Kalithea, comments line, Moon of Alabama

Following a 13 year rampage that has reduced large swathes of Central Asia and the Middle East to anarchy and ruin, the US military juggernaut has finally met its match on a small peninsula in southeastern Ukraine that serves as the primary operating base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Crimea is the door through which Washington must pass if it intends to extend its forward-operating bases throughout Eurasia, seize control of vital pipeline corridors and resources, and establish itself as the dominant military/economic power-player in the new century. Unfortunately, for Washington, Moscow has no intention of withdrawing from the Crimea or relinquishing control of its critical military outpost in Sevastopol. That means that the Crimea–which has been invaded by the Cimmerians, Bulgars, Greeks, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Khazars, Ottomans, Turks, Mongols, and Germans–could see another conflagration in the months ahead, perhaps, triggering a Third World War, the collapse of the existing global security structure, and a new world order, albeit quite different from the one imagined by the fantasists at the Council on Foreign Relations and the other far-right think tanks that guide US foreign policy and who are responsible for the present crisis.

How Washington conducts itself in this new conflict will tell us whether the authors of the War on Terror–that public relations hoax that concealed the goals of eviscerated civil liberties and one world government–were really serious about actualizing their NWO vision or if it was merely the collective pipedream of corporate CEOs and bored bankers with too much time on their hands. In the Crimea, the empire faces a real adversary, not a disparate group of Kalashinov-waving jihadis in flip-flops. This is the Russian Army; they know how to defend themselves and they are prepared to do so. That puts the ball in Obama’s court. It’s up to him and his crackpot “Grand Chessboard” advisors to decide how far they want to push this. Do they want to intensify the rhetoric and ratchet up the sanctions until blows are exchanged, or pick up their chips and walk away before things get out of hand? Do they want to risk it all on one daredevil roll of the dice or move on to Plan B? That’s the question. Whatever US policymakers decide, one thing is certain, Moscow is not going to budge. Their back is already against the wall. Besides, they know that a lunatic with a knife is on the loose, and they’re ready to do whatever is required to protect their people. If Washington decides to cross that line and provoke a fight, then there’s going to trouble. It’s as simple as that.

Perma-hawk, John McCain thinks that Obama should take off the gloves and show Putin who’s boss. In an interview with TIME magazine McCain said “This is a chess match reminiscent of the Cold War and we need to realize that and act accordingly…We need to take certain measures that would convince Putin that there is a very high cost to actions that he is taking now.”

“High cost” says McCain, but high cost for who?

What McCain fails to realize is that this is not Afghanistan and Obama is not in a spitting match with puppet Karzai. Leveling sanctions against Moscow will have significant consequences, the likes of which could cause real harm to US interests. Did we mention that “ExxonMobil’s biggest non-US oil project is a collaboration with Russia’s Rosneft in the Arctic, where it has billions of dollars of investments at stake.” What if Putin decides that it’s no longer in Moscow’s interest to honor contracts that were made with US corporations? What do you think the reaction of shareholders will be to that news? And that’s just one example. There are many more.

Any confrontation with Russia will result in asymmetrical attacks on the dollar, the bond market, and oil supplies. Maybe the US could defeat Russian forces in the Crimea. Maybe they could sink the fleet and rout the troops, but there’ll be a heavy price to pay and no one will be happy with the outcome. Here’s a clip from an article at Testosterone Pit that sums it up nicely:

“Sergei Glazyev, the most hardline of Putin’s advisors, sketched the retaliation strategy: Drop the dollar, sell US Treasuries, encourage Russian companies to default on their dollar-denominated debts, and create an alternative currency system with the BRICS and hydrocarbon producers like Venezuela and Iran…

Putin’s ally and trusted friend, Rosneft president Igor Sechin…suggested that it was “advisable to create an international stock-exchange for the participating countries, where transactions could be registered with the use of regional currencies.” (From Now On, No Compromises Are Possible For Russia, Testosterone Pit)

As the US continues to abuse its power, these changes become more and more necessary. Foreign governments must form new alliances in order to abandon the present system–the “dollar system”–and establish greater parity between nation-states, the very nation-states that Washington is destroying one-by-one to establish its ghoulish vision of global corporate utopia. The only way to derail that project is by exposing the glaring weakness in the system itself, which is the use of an international currency that is backed by $15 trillion in government debt, $4 trillion in Federal Reserve debt, and trillions more in unpaid and unpayable federal obligations. Whatever steps Moscow takes to abort the current system and replace the world’s reserve currency with money that represents a fair store of value, should be applauded. Washington’s reckless and homicidal behavior around the world make it particularly unsuitable as the de facto steward of the global financial system or to enjoy seigniorage, which allows the US to play banker to the rest of the world. The dollar is the foundation upon which rests the three pillars of imperial strength; political, economic and military. Remove that foundation and the entire edifice comes crashing to earth. Having abused that power, by killing and maiming millions of people across the planet; the world needs to transition to another, more benign way of consummating its business transactions, preferably a currency that is not backed by the blood and misery of innocent victims. Paul Volcker summed up the feelings of many dollar-critics in 2010 when he had this to say:

“The growing sense around much of the world is that we have lost both relative economic strength and more important, we have lost a coherent successful governing model to be emulated by the rest of the world. Instead, we’re faced with broken financial markets, underperformance of our economy and a fractious political climate.”

America is irreparably broken and Washington is a moral swamp. The world needs regime change; new leaders, new direction and a different system.

In our last article, we tried to draw attention to the role of big oil in the present crisis. Author Nafeez Ahmed expands on that theme in a “must read” article in Monday’s Guardian. Check out this brief excerpt from Ahmed’s piece titled “Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry”:

“Ukraine is increasingly perceived to be critically situated in the emerging battle to dominate energy transport corridors linking the oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian basin to European markets… Considerable competition has already emerged over the construction of pipelines. Whether Ukraine will provide alternative routes helping to diversify access, as the West would prefer, or ‘find itself forced to play the role of a Russian subsidiary,’ remains to be seen.” (Guardian)

The western oil giants have been playing “catch up” for more than a decade with Putin checkmating them at every turn. As it happens, the wily KGB alum has turned out to be a better businessman than any of his competitors, essentially whooping them at their own game, using the free market to extend his network of pipelines across Central Asia and into Europe. That’s what the current crisis is all about. Big Oil came up “losers” in the resource war so now they want Uncle Sam to apply some muscle to put them back in the game. It’s called “sour grapes”, which refers to the whining that people do when they got beat fair and square. Here’s more from Ahmed:

“To be sure, the violent rioting was triggered by frustration with (Ukrainian President) Yanukovych’s rejection of the EU deal, (in favor of Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package) along with rocketing energy, food and other consumer bills, linked to Ukraine’s domestic gas woes ….. Police brutality to suppress what began as peaceful demonstrations was the last straw…” (Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry, Guardian)

In other words, Yanukovych rejected an offer from Chevron that the EU and Washington were pushing, and went with the sweeter deal from Russia. According to Ahmed, that pissed off the bigwigs who decided to incite the rioting. (“Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the protests…”)

Like we said before; it’s just a case of sour grapes.

So, tell me, dear reader: Is this the first time you’ve heard a respected analyst say that oil was behind the rioting, the coup, and the confrontation with Moscow?

I’ll bet it is. Whatever tentacles Wall Street may have wrapped around the White House, Capital Hill, and the US judiciary; Big Oil still rules the roost. The Apostles of the Fossil are the oldest and most powerful club in Washington, and “What they say, goes”. As Ahmed so articulately points out:

“Resource scarcity, competition to dominate Eurasian energy corridors, are behind Russian militarism and US interference…Ukraine is caught hapless in the midst of this accelerating struggle to dominate Eurasia’s energy corridors in the last decades of the age of fossil fuels.” (“Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry”, Guardian)

Did I hear someone say “Resource War”?

As we noted in an earlier article, NWO mastermind Zbigniew Brzezinski characterized the conflict with Russia in terms of cutting off “Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia”. For some unknown reason, America’s behemoth oil corporations think the resources that lie beneath Russian soil belong to them. The question is whether their agents will push Obama to put American troops at risk to assert that claim. If they do, there’s going to be a war.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

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

Totalitarianism and the Silence of the Lambs

March 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A few days ago, a prominent attorney asked me a question: can religious liberty and the growing demands of government and others occupy the same space?  And if not, who wins?

This is, perhaps, not quite the right question.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter, aka “Hannibal the Cannibal” in  The Silence of the Lambs asked a more fitting one:

First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature?

Most pundits observing what has gone on recently in Arizona and other states regarding same-sex marriage have concluded, “We are witnessing a clash between religious and civil liberties.”  While many nod their heads in agreement, this analysis is wrong.

The fact is that what the left is demanding now through our courts, through legislatures, and at ballot boxes around the country does not constitute “rights” at all, or at least not in the historical sense.

This is not a “clash of religious and civil rights.”  This is a clash of freedom and untenable, outrageous demands.

The left is seeking not only equal status to enumerated constitutional rights, but a position of superiority.  When you have “rights” that have been magically pulled from the emanations and penumbras of the Constitution – such as the “right” to an abortion – that compete with fundamental rights not created by our government, but rather endowed by our Creator, the contest should be quite simple.  But when you dislodge the bedrock of our culture, found in our First Amendment, you create a sinkhole of relativism and totalitarianism and anarchy.

 

There is something much, much deeper going on here.

Same-sex marriage is a trial balloon of sorts, being used to test how far Americans will allow their consciences to be suppressed by the State.

“If Christians can be compelled to lend a craft to something their conscience objects to, what can’t they be compelled to participate in? We’re talking about precedent; and the cases before us are bellwether test cases about whether private actors can be forcibly mandated to go against their conscience” (“Of Consciences and Cakes,” First Things, Feb. 20, Andrew Walker).

A couple years ago, the Health and Human Services Contraceptive and Abortifacient Mandate served the same purpose, leading the way to where we now are.  When the State can get away with abusive behavior and strong-arm tactics toward even The Little Sisters of the Poor, let alone privately owned businesses such as Hobby Lobby, then statists know that the time is ripe to take another big step.

This battle is much bigger than anybody thinks it is.  We cannot see the forest for the trees.  We are not witnessing a clash of rights; we are in the middle of a massive social experiment.  This is a test for the viability of incremental totalitarianism.  Nothing less.

In a kind of Cloward-Piven Strategy, the assault – or “test,” or however you want to identify it – is occurring on many different fronts and on many different levels simultaneously.  In addition to same-sex marriage and the health care mandate(s), we have the IRS targeting of conservative groups, constant Second Amendment attacks, voter photo ID initiatives labeled as racist by the DOJ, and state initiatives to curb abortions labeled a “War on Women.”

Perhaps most chilling is the way that federalism is being undermined from within the states themselves.  State judges are now routinely overturning the expressed will of the people, acting unilaterally to impose novel viewpoints on entire state populations.

The fifty states, which are supposed to be laboratories for experimentation – conducting trial runs, so to speak – are being stripped of that function.

The beauty of America is our diversity, much of which is still reflected in the personalities of each of our states.  If the reach of the national government extends too far and we become thoroughly homogenized, we inevitably start moving toward a type of tyranny.  If the rules and the standards are exactly the same in every state, where can one go either for respite or advantage?  As the force of the national government grows, this key element of our American liberty recedes, perhaps to be lost forever.

The Economist magazine once described the wonderful functioning of our local governance very nicely:

America has 50 states with 50 sets of laws. Virginia will never ban hunting, but even if it did, there are 49 other states that won’t. In America, people with unusual hobbies are generally left alone. And power is so devolved that you can more or less choose which rules you want to live under.

If you like low taxes and the death penalty, try Texas. For good public schools and subsidized cycle paths, try Portland, Oregon. Even within states, the rules vary widely. Bath County, Kentucky is dry. Next-door Bourbon County, as the name implies, is not. Nearby Montgomery County is in between: a “moist” county where the sale of alcohol is banned except in one city. Liberal foreign students let it all hang out at Berkeley; those from traditional backgrounds may prefer a campus where there is no peer pressure to drink or fornicate, such as Brigham Young in Utah. (Dec. 19, 2009)

If all our laws and regulations are essentially nationalized, there will be no choices left to us other than the single choice to comply.  The very thing that makes the United States such a wonderful success – E pluribus unum, “out of many, one” – is being destroyed.  Ironically, in the name of diversity, we are squashing diversity, trampling out opinions anathema to progressive ideology.

Statists are tickled pink that they are able to make headway on this.  And for the most part, the media are willing collaborators, as pointed out by Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist:

Religious liberty is a deeply radical concept. It was at this country’s founding and it hasn’t become less so. Preserving it has always been a full-time battle. But it’s important, because religion is at the core of people’s identity. A government that tramples religious liberty is not a government that protects economic freedom. It’s certainly not a government that protects conscience rights. A government that tramples religious liberty does not have expansive press freedoms. Can you think of one country with a narrow view of religious liberty but an expansive view of economic freedom, freedom of association, press freedoms or free speech rights? One?

A media less hostile to religious liberty would think less about scoring cheap political points, creating uncivil political climates, and disparaging institutions that help humans flourish.  A media with a higher regard for truth would, it turns out, have a higher regard for religious liberty.

Sadly, we seem to have left the world of reason and tolerance. Could our media climate demonstrate that any better?  And what lies ahead, if left uncorrected, is illogical and tyrannical.  Freedom of religion was the central principle in the moral case of our country.  Once that’s gone, how long can the Republic stand?

Returning to Dr. Lecter’s question, “what is it in itself? What is its nature?”

Its nature is this: totalitarianism.

The current visible clash of religious and asserted civil “rights” is secondary – a symptom, not an actual cause.

In fact, the logical conclusion for the trajectory we are now on is the eventual squashing of both civil and religious rights, and this will occur because we have allowed a powerful government to play us one group against another.

What can each of us do?

The only way to stop the advancement of totalitarian measures is for the grassroots of each state to bravely stand up to the bullying, silencing tactics of out-of-touch, frightened judges, legislators, corporate cronies, and media collaborators, as they lead us down a path of decreased liberty and increased totalitarianism.

Stand up for social issues that you know in your gut to be true.  Don’t allow yourself to be silenced by political correctness.  Stand up for marriage.  Stand up for life.  Stand up for the right of children to be born and to have both a mom and a dad.

Stand up also for constitutionally limited government and fiscal responsibility.

You have Truth with a capital T on your side.  You are right, and they are wrong, so do not be afraid.

Don’t make the mistake of remaining quiet until you are certain you have a winning argument.  That is not your responsibility, and that is what the totalitarian left is hoping you will do.  All you are responsible for is to speak truthfully and to let others know your beliefs.  We outnumber them.  We can overwhelm them with Truth, if only each of us would open our mouths and proclaim the Truth at every opportunity.

Remember: be not afraid.

Source: Doug Mainwaring | American Thinker

This Coke Is Not For Drinking… Or For Sale

February 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Here’s a way environmentalists can capitalize on Secretary of State Kerry’s characterization of climate change as the “most fearsome weapon of mass destruction”, a hyperbole he used in a speech in Indonesia last week. Despite the current surfeit of light oil resulting from the shale oil boom, the wave of the future is likely to be increasing production of heavy oil, the stuff that will flow (sluggishly) through the Keystone XL pipeline if it is ever built. That that is where the future lies is demonstrated by our refiners betting hard money on it, having geared up their refineries to process heavy oil coming from Canada’s tar sands and Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt.

One of the less desirable byproducts of refining heavy oil is something called petroleum coke or petcoke for short. Petcoke can substitute for coal and is used in the generation of electricity and the manufacture of various industrial products. But petcoke emits 5 to 10 percent more carbon dioxide (CO2) than coal on a per-unit-of-energy basis, 30 to 80 percent more per unit of weight. Moreover, it often has a high sulfur content, a smog-producer which wafts into the air when petcoke is burnt.

The more heavy oil refined, the more petcoke available to be sold, and the quantity churned out by our refineries has been increasing steadily over the last few years. Exports of petcoke have helped make the United States a net exporter of petroleum products, those exports now totaling over a half million barrels per day. In fact, petcoke contributes more to our export of refined petroleum products than gasoline and is second only to fuel distillates (whatever they are).

The United States provides over one-half of the petcoke traded in the global market. China is our best customer, their purchases having tripled over the last four years. Last year alone China’s purchases increased by 50 percent. With its insatiable appetite for energy and constraints placed on the burning of petcoke in this country, China is likely to import more of our petcoke in the years ahead, despite their frantic efforts to clean their air.

If we are serious about doing something about global warming, shouldn’t we save the Chinese from themselves – and ourselves and the rest of the world at the same time – by banning the export of petcoke? Free marketeers will raise a hue and cry about government intrusion into the marketplace, but they don’t have much of a leg to stand on, considering that we have banned the export of crude oil for some 40 years now. If we are unwilling to make this trivial sacrifice to our bottom line (a few hundred million, maybe billion, a year), how much are we really concerned about the threat from global warming? If we use the vile stuff to fill exhausted open pit mines, banning its export might even make good economic sense in the long run. Buried in the ground, the petcoke would represent an energy stockpile we can tap as needed, if we ever figure out how to burn the stuff cleanly.


Ken Meyercord is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice.

Ken Meyercord produces a public access TV show called Worlddocs which “brings the world to the people of the Washington, DC area through documentaries you won’t see broadcast on corporate TV.” He has a Master’s in Middle East History from the American University of Beirut. He can be contacted at kiaskfm@verizon.net.

Hobbit Truth-Warriors In Sauron’s American Mirkwood

February 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In this postmodern age many think that no one can know Truth. It is true that we cannot know truth if there is no revelation from God.”  – Vishal Mangalwadi

Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi (1949—), founder-president of BOMI/Revelation Movement, is an Indian philosopher and social reformer.   He has lectured in over 40 countries and published seventeen books including “The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization!”  Mangalwadi’s Revelation Movement exists to re-establish the cultural authority of VERITAS (Truth) because God has revealed Truth in scripture and God has given man the mind and clues to help us discover what He has concealed. Proverbs 25:2.  (RevelationMovement.com)

In a recent e-mail message entitled “The Kingdom of Darkness Encircles North America,” Vishal writes that his third visit to North America opened his eyes to the magnitude and the power of a massive force of darkness facing the faithful.  Because darkness has deeply penetrated much of the body of the church it is hard to estimate how much essential theology and how many churches in North America have been lost.

Nevertheless, there are truth-warriors determinedly digging in their heels against the darkness that is rapidly encompassing both the church and North America.  Vishal compared these truth-warriors to Jedi knights and the Hobbits of middle earth who carried the day against Sauron:

When Luke Skywalker joined the Star Wars saga, he had no idea that he was a Jedi. Nor did the tiny, motley crew that teamed up with him know what they were up against. To mix metaphors, they were little Hobbits, unaware of the importance of their mission.”

The Return of Sauron’s Kingdom of Darkness

During the “Fading Years,” many things of “beauty and wonder remained on earth…” but also many things of “evil and dread.” Then all things began to change.  A living darkness crept slowly through Greenwood the Great, and fear walked there in shadowy glades.  Then the name of the forest was changed to Mirkwood, for the “nightshade lay deep there,” and few dared pass through.  Whence the evil came few could tell,

 “…and it was long ere even the Wise could discover it.  It was the shadow of Sauron and the sign of his return…and all folk feared the Sorcerer of Dol Guldur, and yet they knew not at first how great was their peril.”   (The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 299)

Sauron’s Kingdom of Darkness is evident in both the devastating loss of God’s revealed Truth, moral law and norms in our culturally desolate secular-atheist society as well as in the failure of Americans, within and without the whole body of the Christian Church, to restrain their own corrupt passions. (James 1:14-15)

Devilish depravity in the guise of special rights and privileges such as free phones, free gas, free housing, and free condoms together with the myth of evolution as scientific fact, perverse sex-education for tots and teens, same-sex and kundalini-Holy Spirit equality, the lie of global warming, paganized Christianity and a long list of destructive freedoms such as unfettered killing as ‘choice,’ and ‘gay’ marriage and pornography and sodomy as Constitutionally guaranteed rights have become dictatorial both outside of the Church, where Sauron’s ‘secular’ servants of sin demand all others give up their God-given rights in gratification of depraved desires, and within, where Sauron’s ‘Christian’ servants of sin sweep away the essentials of the faith to make room for mindless, self-centered values resulting in lawless churches:

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10)

Lawless churches are nothing more than Sauron’s social clubs for his servants of sin where they,

“…exercise no discernment, enforce no standards, and teach more pop psychology than timeless truth. Naturally, lawless churches are populated with lawless Christians, the greatest absurdity of them all. “What fellowship have righteousness and lawlessness?” 1 Corinthians 6:14 (How can I walk North and South at the same time?” Lawless Christians, Dan Popp, Renew America, Mar. 10, 2012)

Dr. Kurt Koch (1913-1987), a noted German theologian who counseled and delivered thousands of people suffering from demonic bondage in its various forms throughout the world argues that sin cuts a person off from God. Sin opens the door to Sauron, meaning to demonic oppression and possession seen in relation to psychological distortions having the following predominant characteristics: narcissism, hard egoism, uncongenial dark nature, violent temper, belligerence, meanness, abnormal sexuality, blasphemous thoughts and rebellious, bigoted attitudes toward Christ and God, conscious atheism, and destructive, murderous rages. (Occult ABC, Koch, pp. 266-282)

Cutting Edge Ministries David Bay identifies the ‘values’ of the lawless as Satanic, and adds that lawless Americans at every level of society, both in and out of the church, have embraced Satanic values with no conscious awareness that they have done so.  When a people believe in nothing higher than ‘self’, they make personal selfishness, intellectual arrogance, irrational feelings, lying, covetousness, physical lust, hate and envy their gods.  The elevation of these Satanic values produces in them other strong desires: for power over others, for the amassing of material possessions and the acquisition of privilege, status, star-power, and wealth as well as powerful sexual urges that must be satisfied at any cost, no matter who or what might be harmed.  (Six Step Attitudinal Change Plan, Bay, Cutting Edge Ministries)

The Christian church is the only element in society with the moral authority and the availing remedy to counteract such manifest evil, but much of America’s Christian church has been compromised, thereby rendered impotent.   Having compromised and conformed itself in one way or another to our paganized culture and dictates of the scientism/evolution crowd it is no longer salt and light, thus on the fast track to being spewed out.

Malachi Martin, author of “Hostage to the Devil: the Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans,” briefly outlines the spiritually desolate condition and resulting consequences of the compromising church:

Among the general population of Catholics and Christians of other denominations, large numbers of people no longer learn even so basic a prayer as the Our Father.   In churches and parochial schools alike, the subject of Hell is avoided, as one Midwestern priest put it, in order not to put people on a ‘guilt trip.’  The idea of sin is likewise avoided, according to the same source, in order not to do ‘irreparable damage to what has been taught for the past fifteen years.” (P. xvi)

Fearing rejection by our paganized culture and scientistic/evolutionary establishment, compromising churches refuse to contaminate what is termed the ‘rational’ and ‘scientific’ with the essentials of the faith necessary both for salvation and for the recognition of evil.  And without the grace that is born of true faith,

“….Satan does what he does best—he ceases to exist in the eyes of those who do not see.” (ibid)

Consequently, a favorable climate exists for the occurrence of demonic oppression and possession among the general population:

Possession among the general population is so clear that it is attested to daily by competent social and psychological experts, who for the most part, appear to have no ‘religious bias.’  Our cultural desolation—a kind of agony of aimlessness coupled with a dominant self-interest—is documented for us in the disintegration of our families.  In the break-up of our educational system.  In the disappearance of publicly accepted norms of decency in language, dress and behavior.  In the lives of our youth, everywhere deformed by stunning violence and sudden death, by teenage pregnancy; by drug and alcohol addiction; by disease; by suicide; by fear.” And whether spoken or acted out without explanation, the dominant question of the deformed generation is, “What can you do for me?  What can my parents, my friends, my acquaintances, my enemies, my government, my country, do for me?” (pp. xiii-xiv)

Overshadowing secular-atheist America is a malevolent, living darkness sweeping virtually unseen in and through our society and compromising churches.

Dr. Carl Raschke, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Denver, concurs.  His chilling book “Painted Black” takes you through the minds of the deviant and murderous and then explores the growing evil sweeping through our hometowns.  He concludes that the decadence, pornography, heavy metal music, drug culture, fantasy role-playing games, cruelty, mass murders, criminality, the ‘new religions’ and upsurge in overt Satanism in American culture have certain social and spiritual ties that bind them together, revealing that they are part of a similar dark spiritual genus enabled by mystification of the most corrupt passions and secular values:

Satanism is but the spiritual Frankenstein created by a social order that has attempted to sustain itself without God.” (Satanism and Witchcraft: The Occult and the West — Part 6, Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon)

America’s spiritual Frankenstein bears a striking similarity to the pre-flood Frankenstein of Noah’s time:

Barbarism is that which prevailed from the days of Adam down through ten generations to the time of Noah. It is called barbarism because of the fact that in those times men had no ruling authority or mutual accord, but every man was independent and a law unto himself after the dictates of his own will.” (John of Damascus, “The Fount of Knowledge,” cited in Political Apocalypse, Ellis Sandoz, p. 131)

Sauron’s Kingdom of Darkness has slowly crept into and changed all things in the West and America.  Within its’ living shadow barbarians situated within our government, media, entertainment, military, law enforcement, academia, and compromised church work their destructive magic while fell beasts and shapes of dread openly hunt the spiritually blind in the shadowy glades of the American Mirkwood.

Please pray that our Lord will cleanse, revive and fortify His church and build up a force for spiritual and cultural resistance and renewal.   America desperately needs an army of courageous, selfless Hobbits: faithful male and female truth-warriors who will stand and fight the forces of darkness for both the soul of America and individual souls who, though their eyes are open, they cannot see the infernal darkness closing in on them.


Linda Kimball writes on culture, politics, and worldview. Her articles are published nationally and internationally. Linda can be reached at:lindykimball@msn.com

Linda Kimball is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Climate Change Infection

February 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s all too customary for those analyzing the crises humanity faces to associate climate change, aka global warming, with whatever proximate cause they postulate for our imminent demise. John Tirman, for instance, in his book 100 Ways America Is Screwing Up the World lists as the first way “Altering the Earth’s Climate”. Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute includes Climate along with Energy and Debt as the three problem areas which threaten our future. Nafez Mossadeq Ahmed, author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, integrates climate change with the other crises he believes civilization faces: the financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages. This linking of concrete, demonstrable societal ills with the less grounded, more debatable theory of global warming is an ill-considered, strategic mistake, I think, as I believe critics of the global warming theory, the so-called “deniers”, are going to win the debate, at least for the near future. It would be a tragedy if valid, much-needed warnings about the dangers haunting our future were to be discredited because of their being tied to discredited fears about climate change.

Here’s why I think this is likely to happen. The warming trend which the earth experienced in the thirty years before the turn of this century has virtually stopped. This “hiatus”, as it is called, has been going on for over a decade and is likely to continue for another two. Check out this graph from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

What do you see? I see a 60-year cycle in which a 30-year cooling period alternates with a 30-year warming period; to wit, from about 1880 to 1910 the mean global temperature went down, then from 1910 to 1940 the earth warmed up, then from 1940 to 1970, the earth cooled slightly, followed by the 30-year period from 1970 to 2000 when the earth warmed dramatically, and finally the dozen years from the turn of the century till now during which the mean temperature hasn’t risen (the hiatus). Given that the concept of a mean global temperature is an artificial construct subject to error and manipulation, just looking at this graph what would you predict for the near future? Wouldn’t you bet that for the next 20 years or so the earth is not going to get warmer, may even cool a bit?

If this does come to pass, what will be the consequence for the theory of global warming? Won’t it be viewed with increasing skepticism by the pubic at large, at least until the next warming demi-cycle commences 20 years from now? Won’t the discrediting of the global warming theory infect theories which have been linked to it? Are you willing to wait 20 years for your forewarnings of impending doom to be taken seriously?

Unless you have been following the issue as I have, you are probably not aware that the debate over the theory of global warming has been heating up (pardon the pun) of late, largely because of the prolonged global tepidness. If you believe the science is settled, consider that the “settled” science has generated a multiplicity of climate models which have done a terrible job of forecasting, invariably predicting warmer temperatures than what has actually occurred. If the science is so settled, why have global warming adherents only recently postulated that heat from the warming of the atmosphere is being absorbed by the oceans, their explanation for the hiatus? The models did not foresee this.What about that august body of climate scientists who comprise the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), you ask. Just recently the IPCC certified once again – with 95% certainty (whatever that means) – that human activities are causing global warming? We are told that 1800 scientists arrived at this conclusion; but, if you look into it, you will find the majority of the scientists on the panel are not climatologists and some not scientists at all. One scientist who served on the IPCC’s review committee called global warming fears the worst scientific scandal in history, predicting “When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.”For one side in a debate to label the opposition “deniers” is a sleazy rhetorical gambit usually employed by the name-callers when they are losing the debate (equally true in the case of another group of iconoclasts routinely labeled “deniers”, but that’s a story for another day). Consider who some of these so-called “deniers” are:

Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at MIT
Fred Singer, Professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia
Roy Spencer, former NASA Senior Scientist for Climate Studies
Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech
Pat Michaels, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists

Do you really believe such people deny science?

Perhaps you believe such credentialed skeptics are in the pay of Big Oil. It’s true that the global warming theory was once opposed by powerful interests who dominated the debate; but, when a former Vice President of the United States can win both an Academy Award and a Noble Prize for a highly tendentious film full of hyperbole and misinformation, you know there are powerful interests behind the global warming scare, too. If Big Oil has bought off the media, why is it that so many people are aware that sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest extent in modern times in 2012 but not that sea ice in the Antarctic was expanding at the same time or that ice in the Arctic made its largest rebound ever last year, approaching the average for the last thirty years? Why is every extreme weather event – even blizzards- attributed to global warming when, in fact, extreme events like hurricanesforest firestornados and even record high temperatures are less prevalent today than in the past?

I’m not a climatologist, so I’m neither inclined nor competent to expound on the science of global warming, but I do hope to have convinced you that the science surrounding global warming is far from settled and consequently to hitch your wagon to that fading star is not a good idea. Please, at least listen to what the skeptics have to say – for instance, by consulting the websites I’ve cited – before you link the fate of your own doleful prophecies to that of climate change.


Ken Meyercord is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice.

Ken Meyercord produces a public access TV show called Worlddocs which “brings the world to the people of the Washington, DC area through documentaries you won’t see broadcast on corporate TV.” He has a Master’s in Middle East History from the American University of Beirut. He can be contacted at kiaskfm@verizon.net.

Third World America’s Trade Agreements

February 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The corporate media would have us believe that the nation is in the midst of an economic recovery.

In the shadow of the approaching mid-term elections, the president cites the number of jobs created and speaks optimistically about America’s economic future. The future is indeed bright, but only if you are among the wealthiest one percent of the population.

For instance, since the 2007 recession, the greatest crisis of capitalism in 75 years, corporate profits have risen, CEO salaries and bonuses are at record levels and the stock market is soaring. By contrast, workers’ wages have stagnated for more than four decades, benefits are either few or non-existent, and workers are encumbered with debt that forces them to perform multiple jobs— if they can find them—in order to survive.

Jobs that offer long-term security and a living wage are scarce even for those with university degrees. Adjusted for inflation, today’s workers are worse off than they were in the late 1960s.

Whose economic recovery is this?

According to economic forecaster Gerald Celente, 90 percent of the jobs created in 2013 were part-time, most of them paying low wages and providing no benefits. Student loan debt exceeds $1.1 trillion, a number that surpasses the combined credit card liability of the nation.

These debts cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The big banks and corporations that finance political campaigns have no such restrictions placed upon them.

Even the unemployment figures are deceiving. According to the latest government data, unemployment is at 6.7 percent. In reality, that number is probably closer to 17 or 18 percent, according to economist Richard Wolff.

The government does not count people whose unemployment benefits have expired or those who have given up looking for work. A cashier working 10 hours a week at Food Lion is counted as fully employed.

We have students, many of them burdened with immense debt, entering a job market that makes it difficult for them to earn a decent living. This is the economic minefield that workers across America must navigate. A little truth might help them find their way and comprehend why this is happening.

One of the many reasons we face such a bleak economic future is the implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

In 1992, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA was fast-tracked through Congress by President H.W. Bush and signed into law by President Clinton. NAFTA was promoted in the commercial media as an engine for job creation in the United States, an assertion that is contradicted by the facts. According to Wolff, more than 700,000 jobs fled the country as the result of NAFTA, many of them providing middle class incomes and benefits.

Those jobs are never coming back. It is not just the number of jobs created that matter, it is the quality of those jobs that is a predictor of economic success.

Furthermore, the mass movement of U.S. corporations to Mexico wrecked the already struggling Mexican economy, particularly its sustainable, locally-based businesses. The situation initiated a mass migration of immigrant Mexican workers to the U.S. in search of better-paying jobs than were available to them in the homeland. Multinational corporations seeking a source of cheap labor and a climate of deregulation are the primary benefactors. The quantifiable effect that NAFTA has had on the U.S. workers is staggering job loss, reduced wages and increasing economic disparity.

Now, with the backing of corporate lobbyists, yet another FTA—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—is being fast-tracked through Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans are enthusiastically backing the legislation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the process: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.” TPP is currently being negotiated between nine to 12 nations.

If enacted, TPP will permit privately-owned corporations to have hegemony over the governments of sovereign nations. For instance, if the state of West Virginia were to ban the use of genetically modified soybeans, Monsanto Corporation could either overturn the decision or extort billions of dollars in remuneration from their projected loss of profits. FTAs belligerently put corporate profits before the legitimate needs of the people and the welfare of the biosphere.

The implications for students and working class people will be profoundly detrimental.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs will flee the country, wages will fall yet again, autonomy will be lost, and the job market will resemble the wreckage of the Hesperus. FTAs are the means by which the power elite are turning the U.S. into a Third World economy.


Charles Sullivan is a free-lance writer, educator, and citizen activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia.

Charles Sullivan is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Cold War Politics In Sochi

February 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A geopolitically tense atmosphere prevails.

Security is extremely tight. It’s prioritized for good reason. Terrorist attacks are possible. Don’t discount potential Washington shenanigans.

Perhaps raining on Putin’s parade is planned. Obama may want him embarrassed. False flags are a longstanding US tradition. Will Sochi be Washington’s next target? The fullness of time will tell.

It’s a virtual armed camp. Measures in place are unprecedented. Around $2 billion was spent on security.

Ahead of February 6, around 23,000 personnel assured proper measures were in place as planned.

Tens of thousands of police officers are deployed. They’re backed by helicopters, drones, gunboats, submarines, and 70,000 Russian troops.

Hundreds of Cossacks are involved. They’ll check IDs. They’ll detain suspects. Sochi’s proximity to the North Caucasus raised concerns.

Islamist jihadists named it a target. They’re US assets. They’re used strategically. Washington used likeminded ones against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan.

Libya was targeted this way. They comprise America’s anti-Syrian proxy death squads.

Russia raised concerns after December Volgograd bombings killed 34 people. Were Washington’s dirty hands involved?

Is something similar planned for Sochi? Hegemons operate this way. America is by far the worst. Anything ahead is possible.

According to Sochi Organizing Committee chairman Dmitry Chernyshenko:

“Terrorism is a global threat, and for terrorism there is no boundaries, no territories, but here in Sochi from the very beginning of the construction phase the state authorities did their utmost to prepare special measures, starting from the screening of raw materials, checking all the venues and preparing far-reaching security measures to provide the safest ever environment here.”

A controlled zone was established. It covers 60 kilometers. It runs along the coast. It extends 25 kilometers inland.

It includes all venues. They’re heavily guarded. The entire area is for authorized visitors only.

Western anti-Russian sentiment persists. Cold War politics continues. Putin bashing is featured. He’s not about to roll over for Washington.

He wants rule of law principles respected. He opposes Western imperialism. He’s against meddling in the internal affairs of Russia, Syria, Ukraine and other nations.

He stresses Moscow’s “independent foreign policy.” He affirms the “inalienable right to security for all states, the inadmissibility of excessive force, and unconditional observance of international law.”

He and Obama disagree on fundamental geopolitical issues. Key is national sovereignty. So are war and peace. America claims a divine right to fight. Putin prioritizes diplomatic conflict resolution.

Disagreements between both countries play out in dueling agendas. Washington notoriously plays hardball. Putin protects Russia’s national interests. They’re too important to sacrifice.

US media scoundrels target him. They vilify him. They mischaracterize him. They call him a Russian strongman. They make all kinds of baseless accusations.

Lies, damns lies and misinformation substitute for truth and full disclosure. They want him embarrassed. They’re raining on his Sochi parade.

On February 6, the Financial Times headlined “Putin gambles all on creation myth behind Sochi.”

“I am particularly pleased to see what is happening here because I chose this place myself,” he said.

“It must have been in 2001 or 2002,” he added. “(W)e were driving around and arrived at this brook, and I said: ‘Let’s start from here.’ That’s how it all began.”

Putin staked much on the games, said the FT. George Washington University’s Sufian Zhemukhov said “(i)f all goes well, (he’ll) be seen as the leader who resurrected Russia.”

Failure perhaps won’t be forgiven, he added. His forthrightness for peace “made him a force on the world stage,” said the FT.

A January Levada Center poll showed he’d be elected today by a wide margin. At the same time, his overall support dropped.

Excluding undecided respondents, its “higher than ever.”

He’s taking no chances. He’s going all out to make Sochi successful. FT comments were tame compared to America’s media.

The Wall Street Journal headlined “The Putin Games.” He wants them to “showcase…modern Russia.”

“(H)e succeeded (but) not as he intended…What could go wrong?” Sochi is the most expensive Olympics in history.

Around $50 billion was spent. It’s five times the original estimate. It’s double what Britain’s 2012 summer games cost. It’s a fourth more than China spent in 2008.

Much of Sochi’s cost related to building vital infrastructure. It had to be done from scratch. Doing so added enormously to costs.

Major projects are expensive. According to Journal editors, “(t)he games are proving to be a case study in the Putin political and economic method.”

They claim billions of dollars “lost to corruption.” They provide no evidence proving it. They said “Russians call this Olympiad the Korimpiad.”

More Putin bashing followed. It’s standard scoundrel media practice. Journal editors feature it.

They claim he “made it impossible to hold his regime accountable through free elections or media.”

Fact check:

Russian elections shame America’s sham ones. They’re democratic. They not rigged. Monied interests don’t control them.

Outcomes aren’t predetermined. Russian voters decide. US ones have no say.

Don’t expect Journal editors to explain. Or how Voice of Russia and RT (formerly Russia Today) shame America’s corporate media.

They feature news, information and opinion viewers most need to know. They do it forthrightly. They’re polar opposite America’s managed news misinformation.

Truth is systematically suppressed. Demagoguery, propaganda, scandal, sleaze, junk food news, and warmongering substitute.

Journal editors ignore truth and full disclosure. Bias permeates their opinions. They betray readers. They shame themselves doing so.

They claimed billions spent on Sochi left it unprepared. They cite “unfinished hotel rooms, incomplete road work and now the famous photographs of two toilets in a single stall.”

RT.com responded. On February 6, it headlined “Spread fear, toilet humor? MSM guide to ‘Worst. Olympics. EVAR!” (Repeat: EVAR!)

Even before the opening ceremony, MSM scoundrels drew conclusions “Sports? Not really,” said RT. At issue is malicious Putin bashing. It’s longstanding practice.

It’s MSM’s “own Sochi 2014 moan-athon.” Imagine claiming something yet to occur the “worst Olympics ever.” They beat up on Beijing the same way.

They “never believed in Sochi,” said RT. They called its climate unfit for winter games. They cite corruption with no substantiating evidence.

They claim lax security despite unprecedented measures in place. They discuss possible terrorist threats. They leave unexplained what most worrisome – a possible disruptive US false flag attack.

It bears repeating. Perhaps Washington plans raining on Putin’s parade.

On August 7, 2008, hours before Beijing’s summer Olympics’ opening ceremony, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia. He did so at Washington’s behest. Attacking was strategically timed.

After Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution, South Assetia broke away from Georgia. It declared independence. It’s home to many Russian nationals.

Moscow responded responsibly. Conflict continued for days. Then President Medvedev was on vacation. Then Prime Minister Putin was in Beijing.

In half a day before Russia intervened, 1,700 people were killed. Included were 12 Russian peacekeepers.

Moscow was blamed for Georgian aggression. Does Washington plan something similar this time? Will a false flag attack occur?

Will Obama usurp a freer hand in Ukraine? Will he take advantage in Syria? Does he plan other mischief? Is disrupting Sochi planned?

Hegemons operate this way. Washington’s disturbing history gives Russia good reason for concern.

Preparations in Sochi aren’t perfect, said RT. “(F)laws and problems” exist. “But what makes the Sochi Olympics ‘the worst’ so far is…accommodation for the global media elite.”

“See it, slam it,” said RT. “Intrepid Olympic reporters, we thought, would get behind the scenes, unravel the PR.”

“Nope. Not this time. Of global importance were rooms (if they were available), toilets, floors, and shower curtains.”

“Oh – and a request to not flush toilet paper (it’s rarely done in public toilets) had the press pack throwing up.”

Washington Post reporter Kathy Lally was upset about “a tiny, tiny (hotel room) sink.”

It “sits atop an exposed white plastic pipe, stuck to the wall and surrounded by an unruly gob of caulk,” she said.

“The single room has two lamps – which don’t have light bulbs, but that’s okay because they aren’t near any unused outlets.”

Other journalists reported missing shower curtains, lamps, chairs, inadequate heat and hot water, and whatever else they wanted to cite to bash Putin.

Fox News called conditions “laughably bad.” It warned about event coverage being just as dreadful.

MSM scoundrels feature daily “hotel horror stories.” They regurgitate similar tweets to each other. They find new reasons to complain.

BBC journalist Steve Rosenberg tweeted about two sit-down toilets shown side-by-side with no partition. It went viral.

RT calls it a “must have” for every Sochi story. Imagine toilet humor substituting for real journalism. It gets worse.

Whatever is happening in Russia multiple time zones away gets reported. A Moscow school shooting creates Sochi shudders.

So does a derailed gas-laden freight train exploding. It happened 500 miles northeast of Moscow. It made Sochi headlines.

CNN connected Sochi to the September 2004 Beslan school siege. Its February 5 report said:

“Amid the shrill noise of militant threats ahead of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, the gym in Beslan is now steeped in silence, a monument to the dead, untouched almost.”

Trashing Sochi bashes Putin. MSM scoundrels are deplorable. They disgrace themselves before dwindling audiences.

CNN and other US cable news networks report increasing to fewer viewers. Maybe one day they’ll all tune out.

RT called Sochi the “biggest construction site in the world over the past seven years.”

“Everything there – most of the hotels, sport venues, high-speed rail links, highways, 50 bridges, even the Olympic village itself – was built from scratch.”

It’s an extraordinary achievement in a short time. It’s almost like building an entirely new city in record time. Sochi deserves praise, not criticism.

Toronto Star reporter Rosie Dimanno wrote:

“Mounds of debris, parts of roads unpaved, mesh hoarding to hide the eyesore bits, lots of trash, unreliable power – nothing upsets journalists more than an internet that goes up and down – these have all featured in Olympics over the past three decades, as the Games have grown too big, too gaudy and too complicated.”

“The Olympics are no (place) for old sissies,” she added. “So I’ll take my own advice: Just chill.”

Most MSM scoundrels report as expected. They mock legitimate journalism. It’s verboten in America. It’s lacking in Canada. It’s largely absent in Western Europe. Managed news misinformation substitutes.

WSJ editors called Sochi “a shrine to authoritarianism.” They bashed Putin relentlessly. One bald-faced lie followed others.

“(T)he underbelly of Mr. Putin’s regime (was) exposed,” they claimed.

New York Times editors were just as bad. They headlined “A Spotlight on Mr. Putin’s Russia,” saying:

“(T)he reality of (his) Russia…conflicts starkly with Olympic ideals and fundamental human rights.”

“There is no way to ignore the dark side – the soul-crushing repression, the cruel new anti-gay and blasphemy laws, and the corrupt legal system in which political dissidents are sentenced to lengthy terms on false charges.”

Fact check

NYT editors have a longstanding disturbing history. They one-sidedly support wealth, power and privilege. Whenever Washington wages imperial wars or plans them, they march in lockstep.

They long ago lost credibility. They feature mind-numbing misinformation. They violate their own journalistic code doing so.

They invented anti-gay law controversy. Russian gay propaganda law has nothing to do with persecuting people for their sexual orientation.

Everyone’s rights are respected. Russia wants its children protected from malicious anti-gay propaganda, illicit drugs, alcohol abuse and whatever else harms them.

Responsible governance demands it. America leaves millions of children unprotected. Cutting food stamps alone denies them vital nutrition.

Don’t expect Times editors to explain. Or about thousands of political prisoners languishing in America’s gulag.

About torture being official US policy. About rigged US elections.  About impoverishing neoliberal harshness.

About destroying social America. About eliminating America’s middle class. About waging war on freedom.

About unprecedented levels of public and private corruption. About kleptocracy masquerading as democracy.

About out-of-control corporate empowerment. About Washington being corporate occupied territory. About crushing organized labor.

About commodifying public education. About ignoring international, constitutional and US statute laws.

About violating fundamental human and civil rights. About Obama’s war on humanity.

Bashing Putin takes precedence. Managed news misinformation proliferates.

Times editors report like other media scoundrels. MSM ones long ago lost credibility. They replicate the worst of each other.

They support what demands condemnation. They back wrong over right. Readers and viewers demand better.

MSM scoundrels don’t deliver. Sochi games run through February 23. Expect lots more Putin bashing ahead.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

The Sharing Economy: An Introduction To Its Political Evolution

January 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

Two sides of a debate on sharing

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

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

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

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

Problems of definition

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

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

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

The politics of sharing

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

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

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

Sharing as a path to systemic change

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

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

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

Sharing from the local to the global

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

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


References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adam Parsons is a guest columnist for Veracity Voice

Adam Parsons is the editor at www.sharing.org

The Mate Was A Mighty Sailin’ Man

January 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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.


Ken Meyercord is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice.

Ken Meyercord produces a public access TV show called Worlddocs which “brings the world to the people of the Washington, DC area through documentaries you won’t see broadcast on corporate TV.” He has a Master’s in Middle East History from the American University of Beirut. He can be contacted at kiaskfm@verizon.net.

10 Compelling Reasons You Can Never Trust The Mainstream Media

January 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

poll last year showed that trust in the mainstream media is increasing, which should worry all of us who value truth, integrity and press freedom. Why? Here are 10 disturbing things everyone needs to know about the global media giants who control our supply of information, wielding immense power over the people- and even over the government.

1. Mainstream media exists solely to make profit

Image Credit:  ♥ photofairy
What´s the purpose of the mainstream media? Saying that the press exists to inform, educate or entertain is like saying Apple corporation´s primary function is to make technology which will enrich our lives. Actually, the mass media industry is the same as any other in a capitalist society: it exists to make profit. Medialens, a British campaigning site which critiques mainstream (or corporate) journalism, quotedbusiness journalist Marjorie Kelly as saying that all corporations, including those dealing with media, exist only to maximize returns to their shareholders. This is, she said,  ´the law of the land…universally accepted as a kind of divine, unchallengeable truth´. Without pleasing shareholders and a board of directors, mass media enterprises simply would not exist. And once you understand this, you´ll never watch the news in the same way again.

2. Advertisers dictate content

Flicr / WilliamBanzai7/Colonel Flick So how does the pursuit of profit affect the news we consume? Media corporations make the vast majority (typically around 75%) of their profit from advertising, meaning it´s advertisers themselves that dictate content- not journalists, and certainly not consumers. Imagine you are editor of a successful newspaper or TV channel with high circulation or viewing figures. You attract revenue from big brands and multinational corporations such as BP, Monsanto and UAE airlines. How could you then tackle important topics such as climate change, GM food or disastrous oil spills in a way that is both honest to your audience and favorable to your clients? The simple answer is you can´t. This might explain why Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times-  sponsored by Goldman Sachs-  is so keen todefend the crooked corporation. Andrew Marr, a political correspondent for the BBC, sums up the dilemma in his autobiography: ´The biggest question is whether advertising limits and reshapes the news agenda. It does, of course. It’s hard to make the sums add up when you are kicking the people who write the cheques.´ Enough said…

3. Billionaire tycoons & media monopolies threaten real journalism

Image Credit - Flickr / Mike Licht
The monopolization of the press (fewer individuals or organizations controlling increasing shares of the mass media) is growingyear by year, and this is a grave danger to press ethics and diversity. Media mogul RupertMurdoch´s  neo-liberal personal politics are reflected in his 175 newspapers and endorsed by pundits (see Fox news) on the 123 TV channels he owns in the USA alone. Anyone who isn´t worried by this one man´s view of the world being consumed by millions of people across the globe- from the USA to the UK, New Zealand to Asia, Europe to Australia- isn´t thinking hard enough about the consequences. It´s a grotesquely all-encompassing monopoly, leaving no doubt that Murdoch is one of the most powerful men in the world. But as the News International phone hacking scandal  showed, he´s certainly not the most honorable or ethical. Neither is AlexanderLebedev, a former KGB spy and politician who bought British newspaper The Independent  in 2010.  With Lebedev´s fingers in so many pies (the billionaire oligarch is into everything from investment banking to airlines), can we really expect news coverage from this once well-respected publication to continue in the same vein? Obviously not: the paper had always carried a banner on its front page declaring itself  ´free from party political bias, free from proprietorial influence´, but interestingly this was dropped in September 2011.

4. Corporate press is in bed with the government

Photo: Dafydd Jones (telegraph.co.uk)
Aside from the obvious, one of the most disturbing facts to emerge from Murdoch´s News International phone hacking scandal (background information here ) was the exposure of shady connections  between top government officials and press tycoons. During the scandal, and throughout the subsequent Leveson inquiry into British press ethics (or lack of them), we learned of secret meetingsthreatsby Murdoch to politicians who didn´t do as he wanted, and that Prime Minister David Cameron has a very close friendship with The Sun´s then editor-in-chief (and CEO of News International) Rebekah Brooks. How can journalists do their job of holding politicians to account when they are vacationing together or rubbing shoulders at private dinner parties? Clearly, they don´t intend to. But the support works both ways- Cameron´s government tried to help Murdoch´s son win a bid for BSkyB, while bizarrely,  warmongering ex Prime Minister Tony Blair is godfather to Murdoch´s daughter Grace. As well as ensuring an overwhelming bias in news coverage and election campaigns, flooding newspapers with cheap and easy articles from unquestioned government sources, and gagging writers from criticizing those in power, these secret connections also account for much of the corporate media´s incessant peddling of the patriotism lie-  especially in the lead-up to attacks on other countries. Here´s an interestinganalysis of The New York Times´s coverage of the current Syria situation for example, demonstrating how corporate journalists are failing to reflect public feeling on the issue of a full-scale attack on Assad by the US and its allies. 

5. Important stories are overshadowed by trivia

Image Credit: heavy.com
You could be forgiven for assuming that the most interesting part of Edward Snowden´s status as a whistleblower was his plane ride from Hong Kong to Russia, or his lengthy stint waiting in Moscow airport for someone- anyone- to offer him asylum. Because with the exception of The Guardian who published the leaks (read them in fullhere), the media has generally preferred not to focus on Snowden´s damning revelations about freedom and tyranny, but rather on banaltrivia – his personality and background, whether his girlfriend misses him, whether he is actually a Chinese spy, and ahhh, didn´t he remind us all of Where´s Waldo as he flitted across the globe as a wanted fugitive? The same could be said of Bradley Manning´s gender re-assignment, which conveniently overshadowed the enormous injustice of his sentence. And what of Julian Assange? His profile on the globally-respected BBC is dedicated almost entirely to a subtle smearing of character, rather than detailing Wikileaks´s profound impact on our view of the world. In every case, the principal stories are forgotten as our attention, lost in a sea of trivia, is expertly diverted from the real issues at hand: those which invariably, the government wants us to forget.

6. Mainstream media doesn´t ask questions

Image Credit / web.archive.org
´Check your sources, check your facts´ are golden rules in journalism 101, but you wouldn´t guess that from reading the mainstream press or watching corporate TV channels. At the time of writing, Obama is beating the war drums over Syria. Following accusations by the US and Britain that Assad was responsible for a nerve gas attack on his own civilians last month, most mainstream newspapers- like the afore-mentioned New York Times- have failed to demand evidence or call for restraint on a full-scale attack. But there are several good reasons why journalists should question the official story. Firstly, British right-wing newspaper The Daily Mail actually ran a news piece back in January this year, publishing leaked emails from a British arms company showing the US was planning a false flag chemical attack on Syria´s civilians. They would then blame it on Assad to gain public support for a subsequent full-scale invasion. The article was hastily deleted but a cached version still exists. Other recent evidence lends support to the unthinkable. It has emerged that the chemicals used to make the nerve gas were indeed shipped from Britain, and German intelligenceinsists Assad was not responsible for the chemical attack. Meanwhile, a hacktivist has come forward with alleged evidence of US intelligence agencies´ involvement in the massacre (download it for yourself here ), with a growing body of evidence suggesting this vile plot was hatched by Western powers. Never overlook the corporate media´s ties to big business and big government before accepting what you are told- because if journalism is dead, you have a right and a duty to ask your own questions.

7. Corporate journalists hate real journalists

Image Credit / intellectualrevolution.tv
Sirota rightly points out the irony of this: ´Here we have a reporter expressing excitement at the prospect of the government executing the publisher of information that became the basis for some of the most important journalism in the last decade.´ Sirota goes on to note various examples of what he calls the ´Journalists against Journalism club´, and gives severalexamples of how The Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has been attacked by the corporate press for publishing Snowden´s leaks. The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin called for Greenwald’s arrest, while NBC’s David Gregory´s declared that Greenwald has ´aided and abetted Snowden´. As for the question of whether journalists can indeed be outspoken, Sirota accurately notes that it all depends on whether their opinions serve or challenge the status quo, and goes on to list the hypocrisy of Greenwald´s critics in depth: ´Grunwald has saber-rattling opinions that proudly support the government’s drone strikes and surveillance. Sorkin’s opinions promote Wall Street’s interests. (The Washington Post´s David) Broder had opinions that supported, among other things, the government’s corporate-serving “free” trade agenda. (The Washington Post´s Bob) Woodward has opinions backing an ever-bigger Pentagon budget that enriches defense contractors. (The Atlantic´s Jeffrey) Goldberg promotes the Military-Industrial Complex’s generally pro-war opinions. (The New York Times´s Thomas) Friedman is all of them combined, promoting both “free” trade and “suck on this” militarism. Because these voices loyally promote the unstated assumptions that serve the power structure and that dominate American politics, all of their particular opinions aren’t even typically portrayed as opinions; they are usually portrayed as noncontroversial objectivity.´

8. Bad news sells, good news is censored, and celebrity gossip trumps important issues

Justin Bieber - Image Credit / Wikimedia
It´s sad but true: bad news really does sell more newspapers. But why? Are we really so pessimistic? Do we relish the suffering of others? Are we secretly glad that something terrible happened to someone else, not us? Reading the corporate press as an alien visiting Earth you might assume so. Generally, news coverage is sensationalist and depressing as hell, with so many pages dedicated to murder, rape and pedophilia and yet none to the billions of good deeds and amazingly inspirational movements taking place every minute of every day all over the planet. But the reasons we consume bad news are perfectly logical. In times of harmony and peace, people simply don´t feel the need to educate themselves as much as they do in times of crises. That´s good news for anyone beginning to despair that humans are apathetic, hateful and dumb, and it could even be argued that this sobering and simple fact is a great incentive for the mass media industry to do something worthwhile. They could start offering the positive and hopeful angle for a change. They could use dark periods of increased public interest to convey a message of peace and justice. They could reflect humanity´s desire for solutions and our urgent concerns for the environment. They could act as the voice of a global population who has had enough of violence and lies to campaign for transparency, equality, freedom, truth, and real democracy. Would that sell newspapers? I think so. They could even hold a few politicians to account on behalf of the people, wouldn´t that be something? But for the foreseeable future, it´s likely the corporate press will just distract our attention with another picture of Rhianna´s butt, another rumor about Justin Bieber´s coke habit, or another article about Kim Kardashian (who is she again?) wearing perspex heels with swollen ankles while pregnant. Who cares about the missing$21 trillion, what was she thinking?

9. Whoever controls language controls the population

Flickr / Jason Ilagan
Have you read George Orwell´s classic novel1984 yet? It´s become a clichéd reference in today´s dystopia, that´s true, but with good reason. There are many- too many- parallels between Orwell´s dark imaginary future and our current reality, but one important part of his vision concerned language. Orwell coined the word ´Newspeak´  to describe a simplistic version of the English language with the aim of limiting free thought on issues that would challenge the status quo (creativity, peace, and individualism for example). The concept of Newspeak includes what Orwell called ´DoubleThink´-  how language is made ambiguous or even inverted to convey the opposite of what is true. In his book, the Ministry of War is known as the Ministry of Love, for example, while the Ministry of Truth deals with propaganda and entertainment. Sound familiar yet? Another book that delves into this topic deeper is Unspeak, a must-read for anyone interested in language and power and specifically how words are distorted for political ends. Terms such as ´peace keeping missiles´, ´extremists´ and ´no-fly zones´, weapons being referred to as ´assets´, or misleading business euphemisms such as ´downsizing´ for redundancy and ´sunset´ for termination- these, and hundreds of other examples, demonstrate how powerful language can be. In a world of growing corporate media monopolization, those who wield this power can manipulate words and therefore public reaction, to encourage compliance, uphold the status quo, or provoke fear.

10. Freedom of the press no longer exists

Flickr / watchingfrogsboil
The only press that is currently free (at least for now) is the independent publication with no corporate advertisers, board of directors, shareholders or CEOs. Details of how the state has redefined journalism are noted here and are mentioned in #7, but the best recent example would be the government´s treatment of The Guardian over its publication of the Snowden leaks. As a side note, it´s possible this paper plays us as well as any other- The Guardian Media Group isn´t small fry, after all. But on the other hand- bearing in mind points 1 to 9- why should we find it hard to believe that after the NSA files were published, editor Alan Rusbridge wastold by the powers that be ´you´ve had your fun, now return the files´, that government officials stormed his newsroom and smashed up hard drives, or that Greenwald´s partner David Miranda wasdetained for 9 hours in a London airport under the Terrorism Act as he delivered documents related to the columnist´s story? Journalism, Alan Rusbridge lamented, ´may be facing a kind of existential threat.´ As CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather wrote: ‘We have few princes and earls today, but we surely have their modern-day equivalents in the very wealthy who seek to manage the news, make unsavory facts disappear and elect representatives who are in service to their own economic and social agenda… The “free press” is no longer a check on power. It has instead become part of the power apparatus itself.’

Sophie is a staff writer for True Activist and a freelance feature writer for various publications on society, activism and other topics. You can read more of her stuff here.

Source: True Activist

Talking Peace – Waging War

January 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Obama’s war on Syria rages. It’s taken a horrific toll nationwide. Tens of thousands died. Dozens more do daily.

Millions were displaced. Numbers internally and abroad range up to one-third of Syria’s population. Humanitarian crisis conditions exist. Human suffering is extreme.

Peace talks reflect more illusion than reality. On January 22, they’re scheduled to begin.

On Sunday and Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with so-called Friends of Syria countries in Paris.

They include America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and UAE.

They’re imperial collaborators. They no friends of the great majority of Syrians. On Sunday, they issued a joint statement, saying:

“Assad and his close associates with blood on their hands will have no role in Syria.”

Throughout nearly three years of conflict, they’ve wrongfully blamed him for Western-backed insurgent crimes.

They’re imperial collaborators. They’re responsible for horrific bloodshed. They want regime change. They want mass slaughter and destruction to achieve it.

They want sole right to choose who’ll rule. They want Syrians having no say. They want pro-Western stooges in charge. They’re ravaging and destroying a once peaceful country.

They’re responsible for high crimes against peace. No end of conflict looms. It’s unclear if talks will take place as scheduled. It’s unclear if it matters.

It’s unclear who’s attending. Divided opposition groups may not come. They’re preoccupied with slaughtering each other instead.

On January 12, AFP headlined “700 killed in Syria rebel-jihadist battle: monitor.”

Hundreds more are missing. Fighting rages. It’s been ongoing for days. Civilians are caught in the middle. Perhaps well over 1,000 died. Expect many more to perish.

Northern provinces are affected. Aleppo, Idlib and Raqa are hard hit. So are Hama and Homs. At least 16 suicide attacks occurred. Dozens were killed. More die daily. Syria remains a cauldron of violence.

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius lied, saying:

“It’s the regime of Bashar al-Assad that is feeding terrorism. We must bring that regime to an end.”

“There is no solution to the Syrian tragedy apart from a political solution. And there is no possibility to achieve (it) if Geneva two does not take place.”

Geneva I ended in failure. Washington and other opponents demanded he must go. They demand he go now. They do so illegitimately.

On Sunday, John Kerry discussed prospects for Middle East peace. He addressed Syria. He blamed Assad for Obama’s war.

“There is an urgent need for the Syrian regime to implement its obligations under the UN Security Council Presidential Statement,” he said.

“We believe it is possible for the regime to (cease fighting) before Geneva – local ceasefires if necessary – a ceasefire with respect to Aleppo, and send the signal that they are prepared to set a different mood, a different climate, a different stage for the possibility of success in Geneva.”

“They have the power to do that. And the opposition has pledged that if they will do that. The opposition will live by it.”

False! Kerry knows it. Extremist elements continue fighting. They reject peace talks. Washington bears full responsibility for ongoing conflict. Assad defends Syria responsibly.

He’s battling US-backed foreign invaders. Don’t expect Kerry to explain. Continued aggression is planned.

Washington is directly involved in supplying lethal aid. It’s been doing it all along. It’s coming cross border from Turkey and Jordan. Israel is supplying weapons. CIA and US special forces are directly involved.

Kerry lied saying Assad “disregard(s) the most basic human rights.” Extremist opposition forces are barbaric. They’ve committed numerous atrocities. Assad is wrongfully blamed.

Washington wants war on Syria continued. Geneva II won’t end it. Demanding Assad must go is illegal.

Syrians alone have sole right to decide who’ll lead them. Foreign interference violates international law.

Kerry is an unindicted war criminal. He has no legitimacy whatever. He’s less than optimistic about Syria.

“None of us have an expectation,” he said. “(F)ull agreement” is unlikely.

“What we do expect is to begin to get the parties at the table convened and negotiating and beginning a process of waging an even stronger effort to provide for this political solution.”

“It’ll take a little bit of time, but I’m confident that it needs that forum. It needs all the players at the table.”

“It needs the umbrella of the United Nations.” It needs Assad gone, according to Kerry.

On Sunday, Friends of Syria countries issued a statement saying Geneva Two’s objective is replacing Assad with transitional governance.

They want one fully empowered. They want pro-Western stooges in charge. They want what Syrians won’t tolerate.

Ahmad Jarba heads the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. He replaced Moaz al-Khatib. He’s no friend of Syrians. He’s one-sidedly pro-Western.

He issued a statement saying:

“The most important aspect of today’s meeting is that we all agree to say that the Assad family has no future in Syria.”

“Removing Assad from Syria for the future has now been clearly established in a unanimous decision adopted by (Friends of Syria countries) without the possibility for ambiguity.”

Lavrov responded saying:

“Our partners are blinded by an ideological mission for regime change.”

“I am convinced that the West is doing this to demonstrate that they call the shots in the Middle East. This is a totally politicized approach.”

Russia is fundamentally opposed. It respects Syrian sovereignty. International laws matter. Putin calls force against sovereign nations unacceptable. He said waging it is aggression.

Removing Assad assures endless conflict. Doing so frees jihadists to run wild. Syria will resemble Iraq and Libya.

Daily conflict kills dozens in both countries. Violence shows no signs of ending. Pro-Western puppet governance can’t stop it.

Institute of World Economy and International Relations senior fellow Stanislav Ivanov believes peace in Syria remains elusive.

He doubts Geneva II will work. Given what remains ongoing, it’s destined to fail, he said.

He believes a UN-sponsored conference should precede Geneva. All relevant international parties should be involved.

Iran should be invited unconditionally. It won’t attend Geneva any other way.

Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies Rajab Safarov calls Geneva talks this month futile.

“The conference will not take place because of the US,” he said. “Washington cannot get rid of the heavy pressure from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are not interested in finding a solution to the Syrian issue,” he added.

“There are almost no chances this conference and even holding it can succeed,” he said.

“Assad needs 4-6 months (more fighting) maximum. After that there will be no opposition in Syria. And no need” for peace talks, he believes.

At the same time, he thinks Geneva II can achieve something positive. Geneva I failed by demanding Assad must go.

Friends of Syria countries demand it now. Doing so runs counter to what most Syrians wish. Peace remains a convenient illusion.

Expect conflict without end to continue. It’s virtually certain without Iran’s involvement to end it.

Regional violence shows no signs of ending. Greater war looms possible. Post-9/11, millions died. Washington bears full responsibility.

It’s waging war on humanity. Expect other countries to be ravaged and destroyed before it ends.

The entire region may become embroiled in conflict. Global war is possible. Imagine the potential consequences. Imagine what no responsible leaders should risk.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Rethinking Ariel Sharon & Chris Christie

January 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever since Ariel Sharon began rising up through the ranks of Israeli neo-con politics by hook or by crook, I’ve always viewed him as a Bad Guy.  But maybe he wasn’t all that bad after all — at least not within the time-frame right before his sudden stroke.  According to former IGF officer Roi Tov, Sharon might have finally seen the light and started actually implementing some of the few hopeful features of GWB’s ill-conceived “Road Map,” now a document as long-forgotten as Mr. Bush himself.

Tov is an Israeli journalist who I always love to read because he always seems to have juicy insider knowledge of all the latest hot gossip about what is going on in the highest Israeli neo-con circles.  And according to Tov, Sharon had been taking the Peace Process a little bit too seriously right before his sudden stroke and, like Rabin, needed to be stopped.  http://www.roitov.com/articles/sharonmahriv.htm

Sharon himself must have constantly been aware, like all good neo-cons everywhere have known since way back in JFK’s day, that when you play in neo-con Big Leagues, you gotta toe the current party line or else.  But at least Sharon, there toward the end, might possibly have tried at long last to do the Right Thing toward establishing peace with Palestine — perhaps knowing full well that doing so would cause him to tangle with the Shin Beth.  Perhaps I should give Sharon snaps for that.  Taking on the Shin Beth is not for the timid of heart.

Perhaps Sharon finally wanted to atone for being the Butcher of Sabra and Shatila.  Hey, it could happen.
But, if so, Sharon must have also forgotten the Number One neo-con rule:  “Cross us and you are a dead man.  We eat our young.”  Sucks to be you, Ariel Sharon!

Anyway.  We may never know the whole story.  Neither Sharon nor Rabin are talking.  And neither is the Shin Beth.

Israeli politics are so much fun to watch — almost as much fun as watching American politics.  Which brings me to the subject of Chris Christie.  “What did he know and when did he know it?” seems to be the big question on everyone’s lips.  But, for me, the real question here should be, “Why the freak do Americans continue to passively put up with all of America’s constant and soul-killing traffic jams in the first place?”

If Christie and/or his loyal staff hadn’t caused the Fort Lee traffic jam, then something else would have caused it.

There are traffic jams all over America right now, night and day.  24/7.  And nobody seems to even notice or care.  We all just passively endure wasting hours and hours of our life each day that we will never get back.

For instance, the new San Francisco bay bridge is awesome to look at, but as a vehicle-mover, it sadly fails.  The old bridge handled up to one-third more cars-per-hour than this new, spectacular one.

But all these new bridges and old bridges and freeways and rush-hour traffic jams all beg the huge major question, which is:  “What kind of harsh air-pollution hazards are all these idling, gridlocked vehicles creating?  And when are we going to finally take climate change seriously and start eliminating the use of pollution-causing motor vehicles entirely?”

This new scandal regarding Governor Christie and Fort Lee might be offering us a really good opportunity to start a national dialogue with regard to, first, the development of more public transportation options in order to alleviate traffic jams and save the air, and, second, finally doing something about the limited safety and diminishing returns of using cars themselves in this disastrous day and age of life-threatening climate change.


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

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