The bleak statistics are well known. This country has 50 million functional illiterates. We don’t compete well on international tests. Students reach college not knowing what 7 x 8 is. The Pentagon complains constantly that more than half of our teenagers are not fit for military service. Major corporations spend billions on remedial classes, teaching adults basic information they should learn during their school years.
Why, why, why? It’s all very mystifying for most people. What is so difficult about teaching kids to read, write, do simple math, and find the US on a map?
Fact is, elite educators have perversely embraced one flimsy theory after another. All the while, traditional, proven methods are tossed on the trash. If you went back to a public school today, you might not recognize the place.
Probably the first thing you would notice is that children no longer sit in desks facing a teacher. Often, they are divided into little groups of five or six students who sit around a table. This approach is called Cooperative Learning. All work is group-work; praise is group-praise; blame is group-blame. M. J. McDermott in her famous YouTube video “An Inconvenient Truth” noted that when she went back to college as a 40-year-old, she was surprised that the kids coming directly from high school had such poor skills: “Common problems included, one, an inability to work alone, to solve problems without checking in with other people all the time…”
If you want to create independent thinkers and self-starters, Cooperative Learning may be the worst possible approach. If you are trying to create members of a herd, it’s a good choice.
Another disingenuous theory, operating in almost every classroom these days, is called Constructivism. It requires children to invent their own new knowledge. Meanwhile, teachers can no longer be sages on a stage; they must be guides at a student’s side. Even worse, teachers may be relegated to the back of the room, and renamed Facilitators. Their job is to flit quietly about, dispensing smiles of encouragement, while the students try to reinvent the insights and facts generated by 10,000 years of human history. Basically, education becomes Easter egg hunts where kids discover what they are nudged toward discovering. Everything else is terra incognita. Something simple like “Paris is the capital of France” is not easily “constructed.” However, it is quickly taught.
Most people of a certain age remember the horror story known as New Math, circa 1965. It was a flop and it was buried without regret. But the same ingredients were recycled into a witches’ brew called Reform Math (ca. 1985). As before, advanced concepts are mixed with simple concepts. The best methods for solving various types of problems are not taught. Children “spiral” about from topic to topic, but mastery is not a goal. Kids are not asked to know the multiplication tables. Reform Math sparked a massive amount of parental opposition. (Probably that’s why the educators had created 12 separate Reform Math curricula, with different names but the same dark heart.) Now all this failed math pedagogy is being recycled into Core Standards–Mathematics. You can go to corestandards.org and see for yourself.
The bottom line is that children are moved very quickly to dependence on calculators. They don’t know any techniques in an automatic way. Years later, when they have to add a column of numbers in a restaurant, they’re always starting over as if still in fifth grade.
Meanwhile, let us never forget that reading has been in shambles for 75 years. About 2000, the Education Establishment changed gears slightly, allowing more phonics back into the classroom, under the banner of Balanced Literacy. However, first- and second-graders are still forced to memorize printed words as shapes or designs (instead of learning to see the sounds represented by the words). This is the mistake that Rudolf Flesch wrote about in his famous 1955 book, “Why Johnny Can’t Read”. This is the flawed theory that created those already-mentioned 50,000,000 functional illiterates. Tragically, the Education Establishment keeps pushing it.
Next, consider the strategy called Self-Esteem. This requires that students be praised even if they do a bad job. Predictably, students become complacent and smug. But Self-Esteem is much more lethal than that. It is often used to destroy content on this basis: if a child doesn’t learn something, the child will feel bad. What is the answer? Teach the child better? No, never that. The answer is to eliminate everything difficult or challenging from the classroom.
Still another common tactic is called Multiculturalism. This requires that third-grade students learn the history and geography of Africa or China, but not the equivalent facts about their own country. Multiculturalism is used to curtail knowledge about a student’s own world. Recall that a few decades ago, the big fad was Relevance, which required that students learn ONLY those things that were in a child’s immediate world. This theory justified ignoring a lot of history, science, and geography. Point is, our Education Establishment seems always to find a clever excuse for not teaching facts once considered essential.
There’s another strategy almost as devastating as all these others but you don’t often hear it talked about. It is best called No Memorization. Children are never expected to actually know anything. The idea of telling the child that there are three oceans–Atlantic, Pacific and Indian; remember those names — is obsolete. The goal now seems to be a fact-free classroom. Children talk about things, but they don’t learn things. Meanwhile, the education professors don’t want testing that will reveal how little the kids actually know. The answer? Students prepare portfolios or projects. You cut pictures from magazines showing the subject you are studying. The teacher says, “You understand this topic; you get an A.” That’s called “authentic assessment.” It’s actually rather inauthentic, as the whole point seems to be to circumvent what used to be considered ordinary standards.
All of these dangerous fads have been thoroughly mixed in with yet another: Learning Styles. In this theory, every child is unique and should probably have an IEP–Individualized Education Program. Imagine the chaos and anarchy, not to mention huge amounts of extra work, as teachers try to devise a separate curriculum for each student. This is supposedly sensible because some students are visual learners, some are auditory learners, some are kinesthetic learners, some are one kind, some are some other kind. I recently talked to a fifth-grade teacher, a man, who told me that he used no text books. He said he prepared a special assignment for each student, each day. OMG, as the texters say. Even if you can find teachers willing to do all this extra work, there is still the matter of cultural divisions: every kid is learning something different. What can they discuss with each other? Where is our common inheritance?
Finally, all of these dubious theories–almost a dozen of them–are forced into schools against a background of routine violence, more cheating, greater tolerance for lateness and incompletions, and a general embrace of approximate answers or fuzziness. (The only thing that public schools are firm about is that students mustn’t carry anything that might be considered a weapon or a drug. Recently, in my part of the country, a sixth-grader was suspended for 10 days because he passed a little bag of oregano from one kid to another. This is insane, but indicative.)
Now you can see why we have millions of students who can’t read very well, can’t count very well, don’t know much history, science or anything else academic, but have been told for years that they are special, talented and wonderful. This is not a good way to prepare children for the real world, a world that may be hard and competitive.
Probably you’re asking about all of this, but why? Are our top educators incompetent? Do they have a foolish weakness for fads and novelty? Is it true that our top education professors have been far-left politically for almost 100 years? Is it simply that these educators are adrift in their own theories, no longer able to see that theory is not reality? I suspect ALL four reasons are synergistically in play, with the politics more important than normally imagined.
Finally, what difference does it make? In all other fields of human endeavor, when the bosses do poorly year after year, they are fired. We don’t have to know why they did a bad job. We just have to know they should be replaced.
President Barack Obama’s Middle Eastern tour, scheduled for the end of March, has triggered a wave of intense speculation about its objectives in recent days. It centers on reports from Israeli sources that Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June.
The President will allegedly bring the message that Israel should “sit tight” and let the U.S. take the stage—even if that means remaining on the sidelines during an American military operation. It seems improbable, however, that an American president needs to make a 12,000-mile round-trip to provide such reassurance to a difficult partner whom he dislikes, and whose sentiments are fully reciprocated. Last year Obama had no qualms about turning down Netanyahu’s request for a meeting following the latter’s public criticism of the Administration for its reluctance to act against Iran. It is also unlikely that Obama would let Netanyahu know of his strategy so far in advance, even if the ‘window of opportunity’ claim was true.
As for the perennial issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is an even bet that Mr. Obama will not be able to kick-start the stalled ‘peace process.’ At most, notes The Economist, Israel may accept a partial freeze on settlement construction in exchange for a Palestinian pledge not to take Israel’s settlement activity to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Both sides are primarily interested in making the opponent take the blame for the continuing deadlock. Amos Yadlin—former military intelligence chief who now heads the Institute for National Security Studies in Jerusalem—aptly summarized the Israeli position when he said, “We have to submit a proposal to the Palestinians, a decent proposal, a fair proposal. If the Palestinians will accept it, it’s a win of peace. If they refuse—as we think they will—then at least we win the blame game and we can continue to shape our borders by ourselves without the need to wait for the Palestinians to agree.”
It is obvious that the new Israeli government does not envisage a two-state solution as the foundation of a “decent and fair” proposal. Netanyahu’s plans for settlement construction in annexed east Jerusalem would effectively cut the West Bank in two and force a fait accompli on the status of the Holy City that no Palestinian leader would ever accept. Further settlement construction is “the biggest single threat to the two-state solution,” and Netanyahu knows it. His move reflects his strategic vision: a lasting peace with the Arabs is not obtainable; the conflict is structurally irresoluble; and Israel’s security therefore demands open-ended maintenance of military superiority and physical control over as much territory as possible. Meaningless concessions may be made for PR purposes—a few Palestinian prisoners can be released here, further expansion of a few settlements may be suspended there—but Israel needs to manage the conflict by maintain the status quo for many years to come.
An important element of this strategy is the assumption that the United States will continue to support it politically, militarily, and financially. Quite apart from various moral and legal issues involved, the U.S. Government appears increasingly reluctant to condone Netanyahu’s vision—which is just as well, primarily because doing so would not be in the American interest, but also because the strategy of permanent conflict management is not in the interest of Israel’s long-term survival. Israel may seem strong and secure at the moment, but its position vis-à-vis its hostile Arab neighbors is steadily deteriorating.
The wave of political changes in the Arab world over the past two years has changed the security architecture of the Middle East to Israel’s detriment. One of its consequences is that in relation to Israel the new leaders are more representative of the wishes of their people. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s manipulation of the political process has enabled it to concentrate all power in its hands. President Mohamed Morsi’s skill and cunning ensured the Brotherhood’s victory at the forthcoming sham parliamentary election. For the time being, Morsi is paying lip service to the maintenance of the peace treaty with Israel. He knows that this is the precondition for continuing American aid to his country’s depleted coffers, but his long-term intentions are better reflected in his speech made nearly three years ago, in which he urged Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews. In a television interview months later, he blasted “these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.” Denying Israel’s right to exist is a key pillar of the Brotherhood’s ideology and its activists murdered President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981 for signing that same peace treaty two years earlier. Nothing has changed in its position. Israel’s southwestern frontier is no longer secure; and if Bashar al-Assad falls in Syria, the same will apply to the northeastern frontier in the Golan.
With the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of the geographic, demographic and cultural center of the Arab world well-nigh irreversible, the entire Middle East is in turmoil. Libya is a failed state in which rival tribal militias and terrorist groups run the show outside central Tripoli and use its territory to launch attacks in Algeria. In Syria, the rebel movement is dominated by the Islamic People’s Brigade, the Islamic Dawn Movement, the Battalions of Islam, and many similar groups which share an ideology that includes a relentless hatred of Israel. If victorious, these seasoned foreign and home-grown jihadists will cause Israel to nostalgically remember three decades of peace in the Golan Heights under Bashar al-Assad and his father before him.
If the momentum of the past two years provides pointers for the future, by the end of this decade the Greater Middle East will be more firmly Islamic than at any time since the heyday of the Ottoman Empire under Suleyman, and thus more implacably anti-Israeli than ever. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan heralded the shift four years ago, and Turkey has rapidly morphed from Israel’s key strategic partner in the region into a hostile Islamic power. To take but one example, speaking the the United Nations on February 27 Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the international community to “put an end to the Palestinians’ suffering in the occupied territories” and urged the world “to put pressure on Israel to respect human dignity.”
Closer to Israel’s borders, it is only a matter of time before Morsi’s protégé, Hamas, prevails over the more moderate Fatah in the Palestinian power struggle. The precarious stability of Jordan—which has long acted as if it had not merely a nonbelligerency agreement, but a fully-fledged peace treaty with Israel —will be tested by sectarian tensions between East Bank Jordanians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin. King Abdullah’s reluctant reforms may create a revolution of rising expectations, and lead to yet another regime change detrimental to Israel’s interests. There will be no “peace process,” of course. With the storm clouds gathering around them, many Israelis will have reason to regret the support that Netanyahu’s friends in Washington had given to the Arab Islamic Winter.
Diplomatically, Israel is more isolated than ever since 1967. The settlement enterprise is not only a security liability, rather than an asset, but also a diplomatic millstone which materially contributed to the overwhelming UN vote in favor of Palestinian de facto statehood last fall. Since then, settlement policies have elicited a chorus of condemnation, including a call for sanctions against Israel by the European union. The unelected elite running the EU is inherently hostile to a state based on the principle of blood and religion, but its antagonism to Israel is further exacerbated by rising influence of the Muslim diaspora in several key EU countries, notably France, Germany and Britain. More significantly still, Chuck Hagel’s swift confirmation has exposed the growing weakness of pro-Israeli lobbying groups in Washington. Two years ago, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.” Following the botched anti-Hagel campaign, increasing numbers of Washingtonian insiders are prone to agree with his assessment.
Demographic trends are another alarming aspect of Israel’s long-term geopolitical position, which has always been shaped by the implacable determinants of land and population. The Palestinians are adamantly insistent on the “right of return” of the descendants of some 700,000 refugees of 1948, and estimates indicate that there are more than four million of them in the PA and elsewhere in the Arab world. Over 90% of them reject the possibility of monetary compensation in lieu of that right. This is anathema to Israelis, as it would signal the end of the Jewish state, and the elusive two-state solution seems to offer the only viable defense from the demographic bomb. Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the Jews are already in a minority. Since birth rates in the West Bank and Gaza remain much higher than in Israel, the Arab population of the Palestinian Authority will exceed the number of Israeli Jews by 2040. On current form, Arabs will account for a quarter of Israel’s population by that time, up from just over a fifth today.
Jewish immigration does not make much difference to the trend. It has oscillated between 15 and 20,000 over the past decade, the massive influx from the former USSR having dried up. It is noteworthy that considerably higher numbers of Jews are leaving—many of them highly skilled professionals. In 2011, the government estimated the number of Israeli citizens living abroad at between 800,000 and one million, representing up to 13% of the population.Consistent with the latter figure is the estimated one million Israelis in the Diaspora reported at the first global conference of Israelis living abroad, held in January 2011. According to the Foundation for the Middle East Peace, about 45 percent of the adult Israeli expatriates have completed at least a university degree, in contrast to 22 percent of the Israeli population. The Israeli emigrants are generally younger than the immigrants to Israel. Significantly, up to 60 percent of Israelis had approached or were intending to approach a foreign embassy to ask for citizenship and a passport. Analysts warn that it will be a challenge for Jewish Israelis to maintain their current dominant majority of approximately 75 percent, primarily due to higher fertility among non-Jewish Israelis — nearly one child per woman greater — the depletion of the large pool of likely potential Jewish immigrants, and large-scale Jewish Israeli emigration: “Consequently, demographic projections expect the Jewish proportion of the country—which peaked at 89 percent in 1957—to continue declining over the coming decades, approaching a figure closer to two-thirds of the population by mid-century.” As a commentator noted in the London Independent noted two years ago (“Will Israel Still Exist in 2048?”), with the early pioneering spirit fading, and even the Holocaust—dare one hazard—less of a unifying force, Israel is not the same country it was 60, 30, even 10 years ago:
And demography means that it will continue to change, with the Arab, Orthodox Jewish and second-generation Russian populations increasing much faster than other groups. The Israel of the next 30 years is likely to be more divided, less productive, more inward-looking and more hawkish than it is today—but without the financial means and unquestioning sense of duty that inspired young people to defend their homeland by force of arms.
The Palestinians believe that time is on their side. The young—one-half of the population—are angry, disillusioned and more radical than their parents. As Professor Menachem Klein of Bar Ilan University wrote last November, they see the ailing Palestinian Authority pegged down at bare subsistence levels, without state authority or geographical contiguity, an undeveloped economy totally dependent on Israel and foreign donors, and a Palestinian elite accorded VIP status in reward for its collaboration in maintaining the status quo:
Today there is no longer a sole Palestinian representative—Hamas is in the game too. Moreover, the talks singularly failed to produce a permanent settlement or end the occupation. On the contrary, the reality on the ground has changed for the worse, to the extent that among the New Palestinians belief in the in the two-state solution is rapidly dwindling. The young generation sees Abbas and his people at a loose end, with no practical program or longer term vision… The young people also hear him talking about non-violent resistance to the occupation, while doing virtually nothing to promote it. But the New Palestinians are already on a different wavelength.
These “New Palestinians,” increasingly drawn to Hamas in preference to the corrupt old Fatah elite, will present a greater threat to Israel’s future than their stone-throwing predecessors. They will never accept Israel’s West Bank barrier as a permanent fact of life. They will also be even more inclined than their elders to view the conflict in ontological terms—as a struggle not only for Palestinian rights and viable statehood, but also for the divinely ordained claims of the Ummah against the usurping unbelievers. It is only a matter of time before the “New Palestinians” start perceiving Israel’s rejection of the two-state model and the expansion of settlements as a welcome lapse of judgment, a single-state trap from which the Jewish state will find it hard to extricate itself. They hope that the expansion of the fortress state will eventually morph into one-state solution by other means.
They are no longer deterred or intimidated by Israel’s military superiority. The IDF performed poorly in southern Lebanon in 2006, showing itself poorly prepared for the “fourth generation warfare” against an elusive non-state opponent like Hezbollah. According to a Brookings Institution 2011 report, “The IDF’s poor performance on multiple levels—leadership, coordination, logistics, and fighting capabilities—undermined Israel’s much-prized deterrent factor, and led to the perception of defeat.” The same problem occurred in Gaza in late 2008, where Hamas could be beaten but not defeated, and with the Gaza flotilla raid in 2009, the political costs of which far exceeded the utility of keeping the city under tight naval blockade. The fact that Israel possesses nuclear weapons changes but little in the equation. Of eight other countries possessing the bomb, not one has ever been able to change the status quo in its favor by threatening to use it, let alone by using it. Worryingly for Israel, South Africa had developed its own nuclear arsenal in the 1980s—it has been dismantled since—but this did not enhance its government’s ability to resist the winds of change in the early 1990’s.
Netanyahu’s vision of a Greater Israel and his open-ended strategy of military containment do not take into account the shifting environment and changes within Israel, which make his approach unsustainable in the long term. From its inception Israel has faced numerous threats, but its ability to cope with them in the past does not mean that it will be able to do so indefinitely. The issue is not whether Israel should survive, but whether it has the wherewithal to survive on the basis of the flawed grand strategy to which its ruling political elite subscribes.
Can Washington and Her Allies Stop Syria’s Reconciliation Efforts?
Damascus - This observer lost count more than a year ago of the sheer number of predictions by analysts and lobbyists that the “tipping point” signaling the Assad government’s collapse was a sure thing and would happen any time now. “It’s just a matter of days, not weeks” President Obama declared back in 2011.
Based on personal observations and interviews with a fair number of informed people who actually live in Syria, as opposed to the Zionist “think” tank-arm chair “expert” variety, this observer concedes that prognosticators are finally right.
In point of fact, I have concluded over the past few months that the long elusive “tipping point” in Syria has indeed been reached and the momentum has shifted decisively in this embattled.
But not the tipping point that the rebel promoters were hoping for, including the NATO countries.
But rather the momentum here has tipped in favor of the current regime due to its capacity to maintain a slowly rising level of popular support, and good relations with key foreign supporters during the current run up to next year’s Presidential election. Then, it will be up to the Syrian voters to decide who stays, goes, and/or joins in their next government.
I base my tentative conclusions, on among others, the following factors.
The Syrian population here is so tired, so exhausted and beaten down– the killing has gone on for so long, and the Syrian people, like Iranians and others I have observed, appear to exhibit a ( distinctly noticeable by this foreigner), profound and almost moral and religious bond with their countrymen and they personally feel acutely their country’s suffering. Such that people on the streets are very shocked and incredulous at what is going on and many in fact feel less strongly about either side in the conflict and just want the slaughter to end and for life to return to ‘normal’ even without deep revolutionary-across the board-changes for now.
Two days ago mortars hit the campus of Damascus University. By the grace of God there were no casualties-this time. But students report that on average about six mortars or explosive devices hit Damascus every week. While unreported in the media, the attack on Damascus University where the student body has pretty much stayed on the sidelines during the current crisis, is an example of the nerve shattering recognition here that rebels can more or less fire mortars or rockets at will into Damascus, from miles away. And these terrorist attacks are very difficult to stop and constitute an ever present danger for Damascenes. The relatively frequently used small US M252 81mm mortar that can be carried in a deep pocket or under a shirt when strapped, has a bit more than a one mile range (5700 meters). Larger ones can travel several miles when set at between 45 and 85 degrees to the ground according to military sources.
Also, according to students, about five days ago the Tishreen War Panorama Museum was hit with four or five rebel projectiles. The military museum was built to celebrate the October 1973 Yom Kippur War (“Tishreen” means “October” in Arabic), and this main tourist attraction is only two miles northeast of the Old City in Damascus.
One also experiences here an attitude that the Assad government is showing signs of learning some serious lessons about the direction that Syria must move in. While number estimates are difficult, increasing number of Syrians appears to believe that the current regime is the best solution- at least for now. For now, meaning, until next year’s election.
One also notices in Syria these days that people appear (maybe influenced a bit by the recent spring weather) somewhat more optimistic that things are getting “better”– warmer weather means less need for mazot (heating oil), people are car-pooling more to decrease dependence on limited benzene, some flour, which is not being produced here due to rebel burning fields, theft from supply warehouses and Turkish condoned destruction of a majority of manufacturing enterprises in Aleppo, that is still often difficult to find in appearing to a degree from bordering countries. . Plus many of the shortages–partly caused by the US-led sanctions- are for now somehow less severe due to the ingenuity of the Syrian people and Government in ameliorating the harsh conditions somewhat and are increasingly getting around the civilian targeting sanctions by employing some shrewd countermeasures.
This observer, along with others, has been critical of the Lebanese government for not doing more for the Syrian and Palestinian refugees forced into their country by the current crisis. While still a serious problem, there has finally developed a life-line of sorts operating from Lebanon into Syria. More consumer goods now move officially from the Masnaa Syrian-Lebanese border crossing where vehicles are checked, and much more food stuffs and essential goods arrive into Syria via many other routes between the two countries which ever since the French created Lebanon back in 1943 have been used for smuggling.
From before Choura to Majdal and Anjar, one comes across lines of massive fuel tankers as well as trucks loaded with Bekaa valley root vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, squash, radishes, wheat, barley, lentil, beets, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower and beans of different varieties.
According to my driver, government’s regulations require that these life support large vehicles line up until 4 p.m. so as not to jam the narrow, windy, pot holed and frankly dangerous cliff hanging roads.
Even this observers favorite driver Ahmad, has become involved. No longer does he transport up to five passengers. Only me who rides“shotgun.” This is because he fills the trunk of his taxi and the back seat with about a dozen kilo tanks of pressured cooking gas. Ahmad pays $16 per filled tank in Lebanon and sells them in Syria for $50 each. I am not sure why he needs me to ride with him and why he give me a great price,but having an American board seems to help in some way with some of the checkpoints. Maybe the novelty distracts the soldiers somehow from his dangerous cargo and they decide to cut the driver some slack.
For about a decade, starting at about age seven, this observer would almost never miss a Saturday matinee at the Victory theater in Milwaukie, Oregon, I have known since that time that riding “shotgun” whether on a stage coach or covered wagon was not the best seat because you might catch an arrow from “wild Resistance Indians on the warpath” (for some reason) or a bullet from road bandits.
Things have not changed so much. Modernly, riding “shotgun” from Beirut to Damascus with a dozen tanks of pressured gas jammed into ones car invites instant immolation from a snipers bullet fired from some hill overlooking the main highway. Trying to make a joke, my driver reminds me from time to time that the US M24 specially adapted Remington 700 Sniper Weapon, some of which are in the hands of rebels around here, has a supposed range of more than two miles and one bullet into one tank and it’s all over fast for the both of us.
More seriously, regular views are expressed in Syria about the support levels for the current regime vs. support for the rebels. Admittedly based on nothing very scientific, this observer tends to agree with what he has been hearing from a cross section of the local population that the regime has the fairly strong backing of around 30% of the population. Less than half of that for the rebels. Syrian minorities, including Christians, Shi’a and Alawites , among others, seem to cast with the regime. For reasons that include that they are afraid of the wahabist/salafist/jihadist types and the breaking up of their country.
One teenager who I asked why she supports the current regime explained that the Assad regime is doing their best and despite the rising prices that her parents chronically complain about she is grateful on one thing the government has done. Waiting for me to ask what, she explained: “And that is that despite all the rising prices the government has not allowed the cost of telephone service to increase so I can chat with my friends just like before!” The kid has a point because during this crisis and all the rumors ricocheting around people are staying to contact with loved ones more than ever it seems.
A bit more than 50% do not seem to express firm support for either side and just want the killing to stop and for some sort of ‘normalcy’ to return. While at the same time expressing an opinion something like, “how did our country into this mess. Let the foreigners go home and we can deal with our problems ourselves.”
Tragically this plea does not appear to be acted on anytime soon from Washington DC, Paris, London or Brussels, given the new pledges this week of “non-lethal” aid to the rebels factions.
If ever there was such an intense series of expressed meaning and logic destroying non-sequiturs as the past few days it is hard to remember when. Faced with the tipping point moving away from the foreign forces and toward the Syrian government and majority population, the “Friends of Syria” has stretched beyond recognition the meaning of ordinary phrases like “defensive APC’s and electronic devices of several sorts,” a variety of non-lethal aid” “a number of advanced devices to help pinpoint the locations of the Syrian Arab Army troops”, and “weapons to protect the civilian population,” as well as “humanitarian sanctions” that exempt “food and medicines.” In fact all of the new Friends of Syria “breakthrough assistance” target Syria’s civilian population and all are lethal given the uses to which they are put.
History instructs us that as a result of American wars, from Vietnam to the Middle East-that it is the civilian population who will pay the price of the Obama administration’s just announced “humanitarian assistance” to selected civilians in Syria. This history is well known here in Syria who understand well US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s strange paradox this week wherein he expressed Washington’s desire to find means to speed up the political process which aims at ending the crisis in Syria, and at the same time its desire to back the armed wahabist/salafist/jihadist groups in the country.
This week’s US and European decisions to back Syria’s rebels with direct aid will only lead to more bloodshed and encourage “terrorism” in the war-torn country, according to two Sheiks from Syria’s largest tribe who held court recently during tea in the lobby of the Dama Rose Hotel here.
What Washington fears, according to a source at the same interlocutor from the Russian embassy who spoke with this observer for nearly two hours, is the confirmation that the Syrian opposition is ready to immediately enter into negotiations with the Syrian government without preconditions and that President Assad’s departure or even his future status will not be part of the process.
The Russians believe that the rebels are finally coming around to a more realistic approach after the recent achievements of the governments is gaining support from the population here and on both military and political levels. This is more than anathema to Washington and its allies. It is not less than catastrophic and will not be allowed despite NATO’s rhetoric to the contrary. Thus the new fake proposals.
The new “Non-lethal aid” has been designed to somehow reverse the “tipping point” chosen by a majority of the Syrian population over the past few months. These aggressive actions, rather than constituting neutral humanitarian aid given to the 11 major objective and neutral international NGO’s operating across Syria, and pressuring all sides to show up at the dialogue table, is certain to prolong the conflict as they condemn countless more Syrians to death.
If the economy is improving, then why are many of the largest retail chains in America closing hundreds of stores? When I was growing up, Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack were all considered to be unstoppable retail powerhouses. But now it is being projected that all of them will close hundreds of stores before the end of 2013. Even Wal-Mart is running into problems. A recent internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to Bloombergdescribed February sales as a “total disaster”. So why is this happening? Why are major retail chains all over America collapsing? Is the “retail apocalypse” upon us? Well, the truth is that this is just another sign that the U.S. economy is falling apart right in front of our eyes. Incomes are declining, taxes are going up, government dependence is at an all-time high, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has been steadily falling since 2006. The top 10% of all income earners in the U.S. are still doing very well, but most U.S. consumers are either flat broke or are drowning in debt. The large disposable incomes that the big retail chains have depended upon in the past simply are not there anymore. So retail chains all over the United States are now closing up unprofitable stores. This is especially true in low income areas.
When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, the rapid decline of some of our largest retail chains really is stunning.
It is happening already in some areas, but soon half empty malls and boarded up storefronts will litter the landscapes of cities all over America.
Just check out some of these store closing numbers for 2013. These numbers are from a recent Yahoo Finance article…
Forecast store closings: 200 to 250
Sears Holding Corp.
Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
Forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble
Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Forecast store closings: 500 to 600
Forecast store closings: 150 to 175
Forecast store closings: 450 to 550
The RadioShack in a nearby town just closed up where I live. This is all happening so fast that it is hard to believe.
But the truth is that those store closings are not the entire story. When you dig deeper you find a lot more retailers that are in trouble.
For example, Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.
Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be reducing the size of their workforce by about 10 percent.
Even Wal-Mart is going through a tough stretch right now. According to documents that were leaked to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart is having an absolutely disastrous February…
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.
“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
So what in the world is going on here?
The mainstream media continues to proclaim that we are experiencing a robust “economic recovery”, but at the same time there are a whole host of indications that things are continually getting worse.
Even global cell phone sales actually declined slightly in 2012. That was the first time that has happened since the last recession.
Perhaps it is time that we faced the truth. The middle class is shrinking, incomes are declining and there are not nearly as many jobs as there used to be.
Mort Zuckerman pointed this out in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal…
The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.
So how can the mainstream media be talking about how “good” things are if we still have 6.4 million fewer jobs than we had back in November 2007?
And sadly, things may soon be getting a lot worse. If Congress does not do anything about the “sequester”, millions of federal workers may shortly be facing some very painful furloughs according to CNN…
Federal workers could start facing furloughs as early as April, according to federal agencies trying to prepare for the worst.
Unless Congress steps in, some $85 billion in massive spending reductions will hit the federal government, doling out furloughs to much of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workforce, experts say.
If you still live in an area of the country where the stores and the restaurants are booming, you should be very thankful because that is not the reality for most of the country.
I often write about the stunning economic decline of major cities such as Detroit, but there are huge sections of rural America that are in even worse shape than Detroit in many ways.
For example, many Indian reservations all over America have been shamefully neglected by the federal government and have become hotbeds for crime, drugs and poverty.
Business Insider recently profiled the Wind River Indian reservation in western Wyoming. The following is a brief excerpt from thatoutstanding article…
The Wind River Indian Reservation is not an easy place to get to, but I had to see it for myself.
Thirty-five-hundred square miles of prairie and mountains in western Wyoming, the reservation is home to bitter ancestral enemies: the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
Even among reservations, it’s renowned for brutal crime, widespread drug use, and legal dumping of toxic waste.
You can see some amazing photos of the Wind River Indian reservationright here.
It is hard to believe that there are places like that in America, but the truth is that conditions like that are spreading to more U.S. communities with each passing day.
We are a nation that is in an advanced state of decline. But as long as the financial markets are okay, our leaders don’t seem too concerned about the suffering that everyone else is going through.
In fact, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan essentially admitted as much during a recent interview with CNBC. The following is how a Zero Hedge article summarized that interview…
Starting at around 1:50, Greenspan states the odds of sequester occurring are very high – in fact, the playdough-faced ex-Chair-head notes, “I find it very difficult to find a scenario in which [the sequester] doesn’t happen” But when asked how this will affect the economy, Awkward Alan is unusually clearly spoken - “the issue is how does it affect the stock market.”
While not so many of our leaders have taken the path to direct truthiness, Greenspan somewhat shocks a Botox’d and babbling Bartiromo when he admits “the stock market is the key player in the game of economic growth.”
Bartiromo shifts uncomfortably in her seat, strokes her imaginary beard and stares blankly as Greenspan explains that while the sequester will have a real effect on the real economy, “if the stock market can hold up through this, then the effect will be rather minor.”
Do you see?
As long as the stock market is moving higher they think that everything is just fine and dandy.
And the Obama administration?
They continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess.
Their idea of “economic reform” is to threaten to sue businessesthat do not hire ex-convicts.
And of course now that Obama has been re-elected he is putting a tremendous amount of effort into “stimulating the economy”.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is getting worse with each passing day.
If you doubt that economic conditions are getting worse, please read this article: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.
When you look at the cold, hard numbers, it is undeniable what is happening to America.
And our leaders are not doing anything to fix our problems. In fact, most of the time they are just making things worse.
So buckle up and get prepared. We are in for very bumpy ride, and this is only just the beginning.
Source: The Economic Collapse
Arbitrated disagreement is being used in the courts to determine guilt or innocence The United States political system evolved into two parties that compete for the power to govern. Americans are avid fans of sporting events that pit skilled individuals and team players against each other. Businesses compete for market share and employees for promotions. Children compete for their parent’s affection. Nations compete for power and prestige and in our time there are even false flag competitions created by tyrannical governments to accomplish nefarious goals.
Libertarians have made a demi-god of competition by deifying the market while tyrants have learned they can accumulate power by murdering the competition. In 1950, UCLA Bruins football coach Henry (Red) Sanders said this, “Men, I’ll be honest. Winning isn’t everything” pause “Men, it’s the only thing!” Sports writers attributed the same statement to Vince Lombardi at his opening meeting with the Green Bay Packers. Many of our Christian leaders enjoy “broadening their phylacteries” by occupying a seat of honor at dinner, appearing on television, having the largest congregation or being seen as an authority. Competition is keen in Christian circles. Though little is accomplished for Christ’s Kingdom winners accumulate power and prestige while losers get the spoils.
Political parties quickly followed the drafting of the United States Constitution. George Washington, our first President, had no party affiliation but the division between the Federalists and anti-Federalists set the stage for political factions and parties resulted. Thomas Jefferson formed the first formal political party called the Democratic-Republicans. The name was intended to describe the will of the people restrained by the rule of law.
In 1828 President Andrew Jackson formed the Democratic Party which was intended to be a party of the people as opposed to the Democratic-Republicans which was the party of the elite. In the interests of the people as opposed to the elite, Jackson was noted for a successful battle against the money interests and their quest for a Central Bank.
Two political parties have controlled politics throughout United States history. Until recently both have maintained some regard for their oath to abide by the Constitution but as Executive Orders have given the President kingly powers congress has forsaken the Constitution and the good of the nation in favor of party affiliation and personal gain.
Political parties distort the intent of government by overlaying each consideration with a regard for the party. Religious affiliations are similar. Catholics in particular often refer to their religion as Catholic when Christian should be the proper term. We refer to our representatives as Democratic representative so and so or Republican representative so and so. Political parties and religious denominations create obstructions.
Political competition has deteriorated the concept of right and wrong by replacing the absolute with compromise. Compromise always produces something less than the best and over time results in national deterioration.
With the vigorous effort of Evangelical Christian polemics to find evidence of Christianity in the roots of our nation it is curious that if Christianity was uppermost in the minds of the Founders they did not encode it in the Constitution.
History records scant periods of freedom for the majority of the human race. Without an emphasis on individual responsibility governments become cancerous and freedom is lost.
For the most part the world lives under Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Individuals compete with each other within nations and nations compete with each other on the world stage. The winner accumulates more power resulting in progressive centralization.
At its founding the United States of America understood this principle and devised a governmental document that supported a diffusion of power to each individual state. When the secretive Philadelphia Convention was convened in 1787 its stated purpose was to amend the Articles of Confederation but powerful forces had already devised a Constitution that would be substituted as the centerpiece of the convention.
The duplicity involved at the Philadelphia meeting is obscured by substituting the word “Constitutional” for “Philadelphia”. This distortion tends to hide the manipulation. It is similar to the word Democracy, a misnomer almost universally used to describe our form of government. We live in a Republic, not a Democracy and it was the Philadelphia Convention not the Constitutional Convention.
When the Philadelphia Convention was convened the nation was over ninety-five percent Christian. Yet, the Constitution defied the Biblical pattern of dispersion by creating a document that centralized power.
The evil forces that control the United States of America have been working to destroy our country for at least a hundred years and since the Constitution forbids a religious affiliation it has allowed them free reign.
Family government can be seen in the structure of God’s creation; it is basic to the Biblical pattern. Keeping the family paramount defuses power and helps the federal government maintain its role as servant to society.
Not long ago someone sent me some interesting pictures of women factory workers producing munitions during WWII. The wide spread practice of women working outside the home struck a devastating blow to the family. When women are loosed into industry and the military they require the additional protection of laws against harassment that were not required when they were in charge of their own families. Women are often smarter than men but they are seldom stronger. A proper social order involves men being protectors of their wives and families; attempts to change this order are a foolish defiance of reality.
The problems that afflict our society cannot be fixed with Band Aids; additional framing will not stabilize a house built on sand. Education of children is a family responsibility and efforts to fix it at the public level will not succeed. Neighborhood schools controlled by the families that use them provide the bestpattern. A high quality private higher educational system is necessary but the government should not be involved in education.
If the Biblical pattern had been used to form the legal basis of our new nation it would have had a much better chance of survival. A Christian oath would have helped prevent the slide into humanism. Obedience to the oath might have tended to deteriorate but the immutable requirements of the Creator would provide a stark comparison.
Think of what change the Biblical law requiring honest weights and measures would make in our merchandising and political systems. Ignoring that Biblical standard has resulted in a nation that is afloat in lies, deception, and propaganda.
The family was formed and is still substantially used to procreate and nurture. Homosexuality has always existed but for much of history it has been restrained. It is illegal in Biblical law because it works against God’s basic family pattern. Feminism distorts the role of males and females in the creation and results in increased divorces and single parent homes.
Human ingenuity has produced an agricultural age, a mechanical age, and now an electronic age. The family structure was supported by a close association with the land. Mechanical inventions of the Industrial Revolution injured the family structure by making children a liability rather than an asset. God designed us for physical labor to be used in populating and subduing the creation. Today in the Western world, we waste our energies on treadmills, murder our children for convenience and limit our families with contraceptives. Separating families from the land has resulted in a loss of the strategic relationship between land and population. While third world nations multiply quickly Western civilization is failing to replace itself.
We are creating a disaster by distorting the proper use of what God has given us through abortion, war, birth control, and homosexuality. Instead of supporting the proper family structure and relating it to the earth, our only source of sustenance, we are working toward consolidating and centralizing. Centralizing power and tyrannizing the world population cannot result in the peace and justice God seeks for His creation.
Centralization results in wars and wars result in weapons. Weapons of mass destruction are a result of centralized power. Families do not develop atomic weapons, chemical weapons, foreign wars, genocide, drones, torture, invasions, murders, and mass propaganda. Neither will governments that serve the people instead of seeking the siren of power.
If we had made the One True God our King instead of a pagan government we would not be facing incipient tyranny.
“History’s verdict is that by defining marriage as monogamy and making extramarital sex immoral, the Biblical tradition laid down a foundation for stable families, strong women, children, economy, and society. By keeping his vows to a woman, made before God and community, a man learns to keep his word in other situations. When keeping one’s word becomes a strong cultural value, then trust becomes the foundation for social life.” Indian Christian, Vishal Mangalwadi. The Book That Made Your World” Pg. 294
A reader told me that we face “cosmic payback” or “cosmic karma” for doing the same thing to the aborigines of America when we slaughtered them by the hundreds of thousands. We moved them into permanent internment camps called “Reservations.” We introduced them to alcohol which addled their brains to this day as hundreds of thousands of them suffer permanent alcoholism. Instead of teepees, they now live in broken down trailers or track housing and watch American TV, which diametrically opposes everything in their ancient cultures.
We subverted their religion. We stomped out their “Great Spirit” and forced the Bible upon them and our God-fearing ideas of the Creator. We forced their kids into our schools and we obliterated their languages and cultures. While savaging some 522 tribes in North America, we called them “savages.”
Read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Sand Creek Massacre and Trail of Tears for a gut wrenching history of the white man’s slaughter of Indians on his march across America and Manifest Destiny.
However, as we Americans race into the 21st century, we see the march other tribes invading not from Europe, but from Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, China, India, Africa and other disparate locations across the planet. They vacate their failed societies to come to America for a “better life.” They flee starvation, misery, conflict and suffering.
But they bring everything they fled into America. We see our English language changing to fit their needs such as, “Push 1 for Arabic” in Detroit, Michigan. Push “2” for Spanish in most cities in America. Push “3” for English. Menus run in Spanish/English. All Home Depot and Lowe’s stores feature everything in Spanish and English. Banks serve in Spanish and English. Soon, Arabic.
We now suffer “Black flash mobs” beating up on American citizens. We see Mexicans gangs killing Blacks in Los Angeles. We see honor killings, arranged marriages and female genital mutilation growing in America via our Muslim immigrants.
Yet, no one lifts a finger to stand up and speak out about English being our national language. No one defends the American way of life, our culture or language. Exactly the same displacement steamrolls over us as we steamrolled over the Indians. (Same as Canada, Europe and Australia.)
Americans do not realize their fate because they remain asleep at the wheel. They remain mesmerized by the indolent television and its mindless presentations 24/7.
Reader Mary Boyle wrote, “Again we have our leader(s) destroying our nation and the people are too stupid to realize it. I will enjoy seeing what happens in the end of this unread-written novel as things are moving so fast. We are being dismantled so quickly and the people are too stupid to realize what is happening to them.”
As the Mexicans become legalized and their numbers become the dominate tribe in 2040, they will change most television and radio into Spanish, just like we forced the Indians out of their own languages and religions. Immigrants of every stripe grow their power to force their languages and cultures upon us.
Amazingly, whether legal or illegal migrants into America, they stick one foot into The United States and keep one foot via cell phone, glued to their mother country. In other words, they never become “Americans.” Hyphenated-Americans, yes! Americans, no!
Does anyone possess any clue as to what will happen when seven million Muslims in America become 20, 30 even 40 million Muslims? They will use our U.S. Constitution to institute Sharia Law into the foundation of America. I can see it coming as surely as the dawn.
Yet, our U.S. Congress and our citizens stagger on the side of stupid-street. We ignore our fate. We blithely continue in blissful ignorance. Once Sharia Law takes hold, watch what happens to women’s, children’s and gay rights. Watch what happens to free speech. Watch what happens to the foundation of our culture and language.
If I am the only American who sees this “thing” coming, I can say that I spoke up, I wrote up and I yelled loud and clear. I think very few Americans understand the enormity of adding 100 million, that’s 100,000,000 people to this country from hundreds of cultures and languages from around the world. That’s like creating three more California’s or fifty cities the size of Denver, Colorado. We face total cultural, sociological and linguistic breakdown of America. As to quality of life and standard of living, shot to hell! As to environment: water, energy, resources—exhausted beyond solving.
These two quotes may be the most important of my career:
“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” Gandhi
And the most important quote:
“Most Western elites continue urging the wealthy West not to stem the migrant tide [that adds 80 million net gain annually to the planet], but to absorb our global brothers and sisters until their horrid ordeal has been endured and shared by all—ten billion humans packed onto an ecologically devastated planet.” Dr. Otis Graham, Unguarded Gates
Dear reader, within the next 37 years, our Congress will import 100 million immigrants from the third world into America. Do you think we stand a chance of maintain what it means to be an American?
Even the most ardent optimist has to confront the consequences of low interest rates. The macro analysis of ivory tower academics seldom reflects the struggle of ordinary consumers or retirees. One such pinhead is Ben Bernanke. Back on October 1, 2012 at the Economic Club of Indiana, the Federal Reserve Chairman employs sophistry of a major order. Such confused and twisted logic defies common sense and real world finance. Robert Romano writes in the article, More monetary alchemy from Bernanke: Low interest rates help savers.
“Many savers are also homeowners,” said Bernanke, adding, “indeed, a family’s home may be its most important financial asset. Many savers are working, or would like to be. Some savers own businesses, and — through pension funds and 401(k) accounts — they often own stocks and other assets.”
Bernanke explained, “Only a strong economy can create higher asset values and sustainably good returns for savers… [and] [t]he way for the Fed to support a return to a strong economy is by maintaining monetary accommodation, which requires low interest rates for a time.”
He said home values would collapse without Fed support, unemployment would rise, and asset values would plummet and “[s]uch outcomes would ultimately not be good for savers or anyone else.”
So, admittedly, the Fed’s easy money policies do not in actuality directly help savers. But they will increase home values, asset prices, and create jobs for savers, Bernanke claimed. Okay, but is that even true?”
Such deceptive dishonesty that the Fed fosters beneficial monetary measures, which encourage job growth and a vigorous housing market, defies evidence. The saver watches the evaporation of their money, while prices jump at rates far in excess of the official CPI. This is a fact. This construct is the legacy of the intentional 2007 Wall Street meltdown.
The inability of distinguishing between illiquid assets and the need to pay for cost of living expenses must be a trait that only financially – cash flow secure – magicians master. The perception that the masses benefit from central banking driving down and suppressing interest rates to negative levels is patently absurd. Negative Interest Rates and the Impoverishing of America by Michael R. Winther sums up the self-evident.
“Don’t forget that consumers pay income tax on interest earned regardless of whether real interest rates are positive or negative. The result is that many Americans are paying income tax on a negative real interest rate! This discourages savings and investment, but even worse, it steals from our citizens.
Negative real interest rates hurt all savers, but these rates are especially damaging to the elderly and those on fixed incomes. It is no longer possible for senior citizens to live on the interest of their savings and investments. In fact, our negative interest rates result in a situation in which our seniors must rely on the depletion of their principle for all of their living expenses.”
The net effects of an inflationary depression require that privately saved capital must be used to pay for the continued increases in basic costs. It is not just the retired person that is shafted from zeroing out the money market. Anyone who attempts to devise a budget that sets aside a portion of cash flow understands that there is no return on banking funds.
How long will people accept this thief? The options to parking cash in hand with a FDIC insured institution seems worth an examination. However, few alternatives for working class savers exist. Surely, this occurrence is intentional because the real objective of the “New Normal” is to bankrupt Middle America. What other conclusion makes sense?
Designed lowering of our standard of living is visible at every turn. The money-centered banks recapitalized their balance sheets at the expense of the passbook accounts customers.
The recent implementation of approving an extra fee to credit card purchases is outrageous. The NY Daily News reports the example of allowing “MasterCard and Visa credit card users might see a surcharge of up to 4 percent on their receipts. Merchants are allowed to add an extra fee to credit card purchases starting Jan. 27.”
The besieged consumer gets another whammy from a banking system that thrives on charging usurious fees, while paying you near zero on your saving accounts. With the execution of the Bernanke rescue strategy, the prospects of personal or consumer loans are virtually non-existent. In Helicopter Ben speak; “maintaining monetary accommodation” just does not filter down to the common- man.
While the concept of interest often confuses some Christians, Gary North offers a scriptural analysis in Usury, Interest, and Loans: A Brief Summary of Biblical Teaching, which asks:
“If charging interest were not legitimate, why would Jesus have used the example of money-lending as a legitimate way to increase capital? Why would He have attributed to God such words of condemnation for not having lent at interest?”
The tangible injustice is that the saver is especially screwed by the moneychanger system.
When you strip away the banking veil of trickery, what remains is a stash of greed, built on a hoard of distrust and deception. Few financial policies have been more destructive for the depositor than low interest rates. Siphoning off purchasing power is a perfect method to impart a fiscal squeeze, hard to rebound for any depositor. Everyday your cash lingers in money interest limbo is another diminution in your net wealth.
How can a society encourage saving under these circumstances? Apparently, the plan for depleting the economic assets of workers or investors is well underway. The notion that investing is feasible in this environment borders on delusional.
The submissive banking customer needs to take a hard look on continuing their depositing relationship with the commercial saving establishment. The endless gimmicks and get rich schemes that proliferate might seem attractive to desperate people. Yet, when you operate on parallel tracts, separated by a wide gulf of moneymaking returns, the definitive result is that treasure ends up in the accounts of the banksters and favored insiders.
You must understand the duplicity of our U.S. Congress and President Obama. They place the interests of illegal aliens and businesses who hire them over and above American citizens. The White House and Congress place illegality of businesses who hire illegal aliens and the illegality of the alien migrants—over and above 47 million Americans who cannot secure jobs, but must live on taxpayer funded food stamps.
Ironically, Obama and Congress import 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days in light of the fact that we suffer 14 million unemployed Americans. They import green card holding Somalian, Congolese, Sudanese and Indian immigrants who displace and take jobs from our own minority working poor. When those immigrants can’t find jobs, they apply for and receive welfare in free food, housing, medical and allowances. It costs you billions of dollars as a taxpaying American. With 100,000 added every 30 days, there is not letup.
Yet, Congress and Obama want to legalize 20 million illegal aliens to give them access to our Social Security, housing, food stamps, medical and schools. In a swoop of the pen, our financially broken and $16 trillion in-debt country will take on 20 million dish washers, nannies, gardeners and unskilled and uneducated poor. It defies anyone’s imagination.
They won’t enforce the laws on the books, but they want to legalize illegality. They won’t enforce any new laws either, thus, millions more can be expected to pour into America like a Human Katrina.
“Most Western elites continue urging the wealthy West not to stem the migrant tide [that adds 80 million net gain annually to the planet], but to absorb our global brothers and sisters until their horrid ordeal has been endured and shared by all—ten billion humans packed onto an ecologically devastated planet.” Dr. Otis Graham, Unguarded Gates
Dan Stein, president of The Federation for American Immigration Reform, www.FAIRUS.org talk about what we face this week.
“President Obama’s outline for overhauling the nation’s immigration policy places the interests of illegal aliens above the vital interests of American workers and taxpayers,” said Stein. “The president’s speech in Las Vegas sketched out a reform plan designed to aid and abet those who broke our immigration laws, increase competition for American workers, and pander to those who politically profit from illegal immigration, rather than truly fix a system that has been broken for decades.
“President Obama’s plan offers nothing to American workers except the certainty of even greater competition for scarce jobs and further suppression of their wages. It offers nothing to American taxpayers except assurance they will pay ever increasing costs as millions of low-skilled illegal immigrants move through the amnesty process and become eligible for government assistance programs.
“President Obama’s immigration reform plan is sadly premised on the notion that it is the illegal immigrants who are the victims of our nation’s dysfunctional immigration policies, and our policies must be changed to address their grievances. In fact, it is the American people who are the true victims of our dysfunctional immigration policies, and especially this president’s defiant refusal to enforce laws meant to protect them.”
“Immigration “reform,” as outlined by the president, would not only leave our failed policy of family chain migration in place, but would actually speed up admissions of extended relatives who enter the country irrespective of their job skills and education. The plan also calls for increases in employment-based immigration, even as we are still grappling with historically high levels of unemployment affecting workers in virtually all segments of our labor market.”
While promising amnesty and increased legal immigration, President Obama offered nothing regarding enforcement of the law, except maintaining the same non-enforcement policies he has implemented during his first term.
“Given President Obama’s record on immigration enforcement, his promises to secure the border and enforce federal law are simply worthless,” responded Stein. “For one thing the GAO recently chastised the administration for its claims that our borders are under control by noting that the administration does not even have a ‘yardstick’ for measuring operational control of our borders.
“Second, President Obama has asserted virtually unlimited discretion to ignore the immigration laws. He has also demonstrated a willingness to grant blanket work authorization to entire classes of illegal aliens. Much like REAL ID, it could be years, even a decade or more, before the mandate for universal E-Verify is carried out. In the meantime, countless millions of new illegal immigrants are likely to show up with the assurance that as long as they do not commit a violent crime, there will be no consequence for violating our immigration laws.
“President Obama’s actions during his first administration made it clear that his immigration policies are geared toward satisfying the economic and political interests of illegal aliens and their supporters. The legislative plan he outlined today confirms that the interests of the American people are not part of his vision of immigration reform.”
Contact Dan Stein at www.FAIRUS.org . Better yet, join FAIR and bring your individual power to collective power with over 250,000 members.
An obscure report that the Federal Reserve may suspend the monetization of purchasing Treasury Bonds has the smell of disinformation. The perennial efforts to lift economic spirits with the beginning of a New Year often are packed with wishful thinking. Quantitative Easing is being treated as a useful tool for turning on and off the spigot of liquidity infusion. In reality, the results of the massive origination of debt created monies fundamental purpose is to save the commercial banks from insolvency.
The trial balloon report, Federal Reserve could pause QE this year if US economy improves, avoids the risks that come from another expansive round of deficit spending.
“St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a voting member of the Fed’s monetary policy panel this year, said a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent would probably constitute the “substantial improvement” in the labor market that the central bank seeks.
“If the economy performs well in 2013, the Committee will be in a position to think about going on pause” with the asset buys.
Minutes from their December policy meeting showed that “several” top officials expected to slow or stop the so-called quantitative easing program, dubbed QE3, “well before” the end of the year – news that surprised some on Wall Street and prompted a drop in stocks and bonds, and a rise in the dollar.”
The recent spike of equity prices after the sharp increase in taxes on high-end incomes just does not translate into improving the prospects of the beleaguered middle class. Temporary uncertainty relief does not make a healthy stock market alone. When the financiers of employment expansion must face the added costs of Obamacare and a drop in consumer disposable income, it simply does not follow that unemployment levels will drop in the near future.
Yet, segments of the Federal Reserve offers optimism, as the labor market may show “substantial improvement” in the coming months. Could this forecast imply some newfangled governmental make work new spending programs?
Surely, the financial media is pushing the success of the QE’s rescues. One example is the TV commercial where AIG advertises the end of its bailout.
“AIG has just launched a two-week, multimedia campaign seeking to reintroduce itself after its role in sparking the Great Recession,” MediaPost reported yesterday. “The company got an $85 billion bailout as the government took about an 80% stake.”
The ballyhoo over paying back the loans steers clear of the real reason why AIG was “Too Important” to fail; namely, to salvage the incalculable derivative obligations. Rescuing the money center banks has always been the intent of the “Too Big to Fail” taxpayer salvage schemes.
But when will the limit of such gifts be reached? When the banks are satisfied or when the Treasury is emptied and looted, as the cost of extending the usury based financial system. Future generations do not have a chance for economic prosperity as long as the Federal Reserve continues the bond-buying thievery.
In order to confuse the public even more, The Big Banks Expect Quantitative Easing Into Early 2014.
“The New York Fed’s primary dealers, the 21 banks with which it carries out transactions, expect quantitative easing to continue until 1Q 2014. This is according to a Dow Jones Business News report.
The recently released minutes of the December FOMC meeting revealed that several Fed governors were taking a more hawkish stance in regards to the bond-buying program.”
Remember that the Fed is forecasting a slow modest recovery. What will the change in attitude become with a serious double-dip recession?
Do not believe for a New York minute that the Fed is looking to transition out of their gravy train financial backdrop for their bankster holders of the privately owned central bank.
The practical gauge of how long Quantitative Easing remains will be decided by the amount of debt that needs to be refinanced. Rolling over current debt is easy enough of a concept to understand. Should it not be just as comprehensible to recognize that continued increases in the national debt requires even greater appetites to buy government bonds?
Notwithstanding, this normal mechanism of finance, the perverse imagination of the paper printers knows no bounds. The Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coins provides the latest absurdity.
“There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses . . . Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items—but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling—while doing no economic harm at all.”
In response, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has introduced a bill to specifically ban President Barack Obama from minting the coins.
The obvious conclusion when the market refuses to support low interest T Bonds is that something has to give. Either interest rates need to rise significantly or the Fed must continue their Quantitative Easing.
As long as the Obama administration maintains, We Do Not Have a Spending Problem, and stonewalls significant and meaningful reductions in the federal expenditures, the national debt will continue to be a drain on the financial bond markets.
Mr. Bullard’s optimistic projection of lower unemployment might simply be a signal that the methods for compiling the statistics may be in the works. The main street economy sees no benefit from a banking system that shuns loaning money to productive businesses.
Quantitative Easing in any form or machination is a euphemism for crony corporate welfare. The big money center banks are virtually financially immune from lawful accountability or criminal prosecution.
Slapping fines and penalties for violating statues and regulations, results in escaping trial by juries. This basic exclusive protection for the elites that run the counterfeit presses is the proof of true power. Inexhaustible Quantitative Easing is just another means to keep the spending financed with other peoples’ money.
27,000 Starvation Deaths Daily!
In this modern era, we fly jet planes around the planet in a matter of hours. We create Smart Phones that take pictures and post them on our Facebook pages in a matter of seconds. We pay billions of dollars to watch gridiron behemoths race toward the end zone. We buy high-powered cars to hurl our obese bodies to the local grocery store to buy more food to stuff into our mouths.
Meanwhile, our politicians speak with soaring oratory to make the world better for all human beings. At the same time, our leaders create wars all over the world that devour trillions of dollars in bombs, soldiers, rockets, planes and armaments.
But through all our riches, our words, our human nobility in 180 plus countries around the world, we cannot figure out how to stop the starvation deaths of 27,000 children every 24 hours. How did we advance this far as the human race only to watch that many children die needlessly and endlessly around the world? (Source: World Health Organization)
At the end of 2012, let’s encourage our church leaders and government leaders, and people of the world to address the fundamental need to feed the children of the planet instead of preparing for or making wars around the world. While we in the United States mourn the mayhem against the children of Newtown, Connecticut, we need to understand and solve the fact that the world suffers 27,000 “Newtown’s” every single day of the year.
With that in mind, let’s propose solutions to world hunger for 2013. Let’s solve the great scourges of mankind: poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, disease, unemployment, homelessness, inadequate sanitation, low social mobility, and exclusion.
For example, in India, 1,000 children die every day of diarrhea, dysentery and other water borne diseases. (Source: www.populationmedia.org) Yet, India does absolutely nothing to solve that problem while it adds another 11 million net gain to its already bloviated population of 1.2 billion impoverished people. Not to mention its destroyed environment!
27,000 children die each day from needless poverty
Dr. Webster Tarpley, author of man books, said, “The tragic condition of humanity is perhaps most dramatically reflected in the fact that between 22,000 and 27,000 children die each day due to poverty, largely in the form of starvation, malnutrition, and diseases like diarrhea which can be cured for a few pennies. The upper end of this range corresponds to one needless childhood death caused by poverty every three seconds. Total needless childhood deaths from poverty, these data suggest, must be approaching at least 10 million per year – a yearly total which by itself rivals any of the great genocides of world history. Of the 2.2 billion children who live in today’s world, one billion live in poverty. This is the estimate from the most recent United Nations Human Development Report.”
Not only that, but Time Magazine reported that 8.1 million adults die annually from starvation. Total humans dying of starvation: 18 million annually.
While the United States spends trillions of dollars annually on war, 3.1 billion human beings live on less than $2.00 per day. That same 3.1 billion lack a toilet or sanitation facilities of any kind. It’s beyond sickening that we see this kind of condition of humanity in 2012 with all our talents as a species.
“About 2.6 billion people or 40% of the world’s population are struggling to subsist on less than two dollars a day,” said Tarpley. “It is a world in which a total of 3 billion people or 50% of the world total must try to get along on less than $2.50 per day. For all the talk of a growing middle class made possible by globalization, 80% of humanity receives less than $10 per day.”
Almost a billion malnourished worldwide
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome, “There are in 2012 some 925 million persons experiencing hunger and malnutrition. Some 578 million of the hungry live in the Asian and Pacific countries, followed by 239 million malnourished in sub-Saharan Africa.”
At the same time, Americans spend $50 million per jet plane and several billions of dollars to build aircraft carriers annually that they don’t need to fight non-existent adversaries.
Ironically, the Catholic Church spends all its money worldwide to stop any form of birth control or family planning. In his brilliant book, Underdevelopment is a State of Mind by Lawrence E. Harrison, he shows where Catholic-dominated countries suffer massive child birth rates, grinding poverty and hopelessness beyond imagination. The Catholic Church dominates in Haiti, Mexico and most of Latin America. Result: accelerating poverty to match accelerating birth rates.
Much the same holds true in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh. Those ancient religions refuse to embrace birth control or abortion—thus, women die and children starve into that 10 million children death factor annually. Additionally, they suffer horrific misery up to the point of death.
1.1 billion humans lack clean water
“Fully 1.1 billion people in developing countries today lack adequate access to clean water,” said Tarpley. “One third of all children, or 640 million kids, exist without adequate shelter. One fifth of all children, or a total of 400 million, do not have access to safe water. One seventh of all children, or 270 million, are denied access to adequate health services.”
Political instability in Egypt and much of Africa
Africa closes in on 1 billion human beings inhabiting that vast continent. However, demographers state that the current rate of human growth will create 3.1 billion Africans by the end of the century.
In Egypt at 82 million people and headed for 150 million within decades, their form of birth control equals digging another canal off the Nile River to create more shanty tents and human misery. No one takes responsibility for reality.
At some point, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, the Catholic Church and all other religions must join minds or hands or whatever it takes—to come to terms with human overpopulation that creates the 18 million starvation deaths annually. They must advocate and endorse birth control and family planning. They must un-stick themselves from the 1st century or 6th century and even B.C. eras in humanity’s march into the 21st century.
Otherwise, all those civilizations will see horrific human die-off, unspeakable misery and continued degradation of our planet home. We cannot get around it with faith, hope or prayers. Mother Nature, aka, God, Allah, the Great Spirit, or whatever you call the Creator will unmercifully respond to our overwhelming numbers. It won’t be pretty.
We can change course by changing our actions for a plausible future for all of humanity.
“Nuclear, ecological, chemical, economic — our arsenal of Death by Stupidity is impressive for a species as smart as Homo sapiens” 1
The hurricanes, the typhoons, the heat waves … the droughts, the heavy rains, the floods … ever more powerful, ever new records being set. Something must be done of course. Except if you don’t believe at all that it’s man-made. But if there’s even a small chance that the greenhouse effect is driving the changes, is it not plain that, at a minimum, we have to err on the side of caution? There’s too much at stake. Like civilization as we know it. Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere must be greatly curtailed.
The three greatest problems facing the beleaguered, fragile inhabitants of this lonely planet are climate change, economic crisis, and the violence of war. It is my sad duty to report that the United States of America is the main culprit in each case. Is that not remarkable?
Why does Barack Obama not pursue the battle against climate change with the same intensity he pursues war? Why does he not seek to punish the American bankers and stockbrokers responsible for the financial calamity as much as he seeks to punish Julian Assange and Bradley Manning?
In both cases he’s putting the interests of the corporate world before anything else. No amount of fines or penalties will induce corporate leaders to modify their behavior. Only spending some hard time in a prison cellblock might cause the growth in them of their missing part, the part that’s shaped like a social conscience.
Only prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their partners in bombing and torture will discourage future American war lovers from following in their bloody footsteps.
The recent election result can only embolden Obama. He likely took it as an affirmation of his policies, although only 29.3% of those eligible to vote actually voted for him. And an unknown, but certainly significant, number of those who did so held their nose while voting for the supposed lesser of two evils. Hardly indicative of impassioned support for his policies.
Last week the United Nations Climate Summit was held in Doha, Qatar. The comments which came from many of the activists (as opposed to various government officials) were doomsdayish … “Time is running out … time has already run out … the climate has already changed … Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, the worst is yet to come.” The Kyoto protocol is still the only international treaty stipulating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a touchstone for many environmentalists. But the United States has never ratified it. At the previous conferences in Copenhagen and Durban, the US blocked important global action and failed to honor vital pledges.
At the Doha conference the US was acutely criticized for failing to take the lead on planet protection, especially in light of its standing as the largest historic contributor to the current levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. (“The most obdurate bully in the room”, declared the Indian environmentalist, Sunita Narain. 2)
What motivates the American representatives, now as before, as ever, is concern about corporate profits. Cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions can hurt the bottom line. A suitable epitaph for the earth’s tombstone. Shamus Cooke, writing on ZSpace, sums it up well: “Thus, if renewable energy is not as profitable as oil — and it isn’t — then the majority of capitalist investing will continue to go towards destroying the planet. It really is that simple. Even the best-intentioned capitalists do not throw their money away on non-growth investments.”
A brief history of Superpowers
From the Congress of Vienna of 1815 to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 to the “Allies” invasion of Russia in 1918 to the formation of what became the European Union in the 1950s, the great powers of Europe and the world have gotten together in grand meeting halls and on the field of battle to set the ground rules for imperialist exploitation of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, to Christianize and ‘civilize’, to remake the maps, and to suppress revolutions and other threats to great-power hegemony. They have been deadly serious. In 1918, for example, some 13 nations, including France, Great Britain, Rumania, Italy, Serbia, Greece, Japan, and the United States, combined in a military invasion of Russia to “strangle at its birth” the nascent Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill so charmingly put it.
And following World War 2, without any concern about who had fought and died to win that war, the Western powers, sans the Soviet Union, moved to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO, along with the European Union, then joined the United States in carrying out the Cold War and preventing the Communists and their allies from coming to power legally through elections in France and Italy. That partnership continued after the formal end of the Cold War. The United States, the European Union, and NATO are each superpowers, with extensive military, as well as foreign policy integration — almost all EU members are also members of NATO; almost all NATO members in Europe are in the EU; almost all NATO members have had a military contingent serving under NATO and/or the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.
Together, this Holy Triumvirate has torn apart Yugoslavia, invaded and devastated Afghanistan and Iraq, crippled Iran, Cuba and others with sanctions, overthrown the Libyan government, and are on the verge now of the same in Syria. Much of what the Triumvirate has told the world to justify this wanton havoc has concerned Islamic terrorism, but it should be noted that prior to the interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria all three countries were secular and modern. Will the people of those sad lands ever see that life again?
In suppressing the left in France and Italy, and later in destabilizing the governments of Libya and Syria, the Holy Triumvirate has closely aligned itself with terrorists and terrorist methods to a remarkable extent. 3 In Syria alone, it would be difficult to name any Middle East terrorist group associated with al Qaeda — employing their standard car bombings and suicide bombers — that is not taking part in the war against President Assad with the support of the Triumvirate. Is there anything — legally or morally — the Triumvirate regards as outside its purview? Any place not within its geographical mandate? Britain and France have now joined Turkey and Arabian Peninsula states in recognizing a newly formed opposition bloc as the sole representative of the Syrian people. “From the point of view of international law, this is absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared. “A desire to change the political regime of another state by recognizing a political force as the sole carrier of sovereignty seems to me to be not completely civilised.” France was the first Western state to recognize the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition and was swiftly joined by Britain, Italy and the European Union. 4 The neck irons tighten.
The European Union in recent years has been facing a financial crisis, where its overriding concern has been to save the banks, not its citizens, inspiring calls from the citizenry of some member states to leave the Union. I think the dissolution of the European Union would benefit world peace by depriving the US/NATO mob of a guaranteed partner in crime by returning to the Union’s members their individual discretion in foreign policy.
And then we can turn to getting rid of NATO, an organization that not only has a questionable raison d’être in the present, but never had any good reason-to-be in the past other than serving as Washington’s hit man. 5
The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo — 21 years in a row
For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We don’t hear that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
|Year||Votes (Yes-No)||No Votes|
|1993||88-4||US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay|
|1995||117-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1996||138-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1997||143-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|2000||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2001||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2002||173-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2003||179-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2004||179-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2005||182-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2006||183-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2007||184-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2008||185-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2009||187-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2012||188-3||US, Israel, Palau|
Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.
How it began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 6 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its eternally-declared enemy.
Placing American presidents in their proper context
“Once upon a time there was a radical president who tried to remake American society through government action. In his first term he created a vast network of federal grants to state and local governments for social programs that cost billions. He set up an imposing agency to regulate air and water emissions, and another to regulate workers’ health and safety. Had Congress not stood in his way he would have gone much further. He tried to establish a guaranteed minimum income for all working families and, to top it off, proposed a national health plan that would have provided government insurance for low-income families, required employers to cover all their workers and set standards for private insurance. Thankfully for the country, his second term was cut short and his collectivist dreams were never realize.
His name was Richard Nixon.” 7
Films on US foreign policy
The Power Principle is a series of three films by Scott Noble. Part one, “Empire”, is the only one I’ve seen completely so far and I can say that it’s great stuff. The three parts, with their times, are:
Featured in the films are Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, John Stockwell, Christopher Simpson, Ralph McGehee, Philip Agee, Nafeez Ahmed, John Perkins, James Petras, John Stauber, Russ Baker, Howard Zinn, William Blum, Nancy Snow, William I. Robinson, Morris Berman, Peter Phillips, Michael Albert, and others of the usual suspects.
To comment about these films or others by Scott Noble, write to him at email@example.com.
Much more publicized is the new film and book by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. Entitled The Untold History of the United States, it is a 10-part series appearing on Showtime. Only Stone’s name could get this dark side of US history and foreign policy on mainstream television. It will be interesting to observe what the mass media has to say about this challenge to some of America’s most cherished beliefs about itself.
- Jeanette Winterson, The New York Times, September 17, 2009 ↩
- Democracy Now!, December 7, 2012 ↩
- For France and Italy, see Operation Gladio Wikipedia; and Daniele Ganser, Operation Gladio: NATO’s Top Secret Stay-Behind Armies and Terrorism in Western Europe (2005) ↩
- Agence France Presse, November 26, 2012↩
- For the best coverage of the NATO monolith, sign up with StopNATO. To get on the mailing list write to Rick Rozoff at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see back issues at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato ↩
- Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885 ↩
- From the review of the book: I am the change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism by Charles Kesler. Review by Mark Lilla, The New York Times Book Review, September 30, 2012, p.1 ↩
Who said the filthy rich are good for nothing? Their antics are very entertaining! The Nouveau Riche have always been notorious headline-providers, and the newest crop of Russian oligarchs make the robber barons of previous generations look timid and colorless. As money ages, it becomes anaemic; divided and subdivided by careful lawyers into a maze of corporate entities. New money is still good fun; they pull their stunts right in public, and they don’t pull their punches. These hometown heroes fill the vacuum left by the maharajas and sheiks in a way that our drab bureaucrats never could; they parade their Humvee Jeeps through the Moscow crouds, as sure and proud as the Indian kings who once rode their battle elephants in the jungle.
They are more powerful and less restrained in their choice of action than ever were Scorsese’s Mafia dons. Brutal, unscrupulous, overriding, often overreaching, these are characters made for a Shakespearean drama. They are lawless; they freely trample upon other people until somebody finally tramples upon them. They are full-bloodied villains or generous benefactors, or both. Their habit of using London as their litigation headquarters has given their other habits an international audience.
Recently two mighty tycoons, Berezovsky and Abramovich, jousted in a London court for the prize of billions — and incidentally disclosed how they stripped the Russian public of its most valuable assets during Yeltsin’s privatization regime. These courtroom warriors do not flinch at revealing their base crimes to achieve victory; in this case another Neoliberal myth has been destroyed, and another dark chapter in Russian history has been illuminated.
The looting of a country is heavy fare; the public hungered for some light farce. The Polonsky vs. Lebedev case came to the fore, publicized internationally via the London court system. This is the hilarious story of a media mogul and a real estate baron who go full smackdown on live TV. Only the mighty pen of Nikolai Gogol, the mid-19th century Russian author of The Squabble (You can read the plot here) could have done it justice; he might have called it Why Alexander Lebedevich Punched Sergei Polonovich, but you’ll have to bear with my humble efforts.
BelleNews gives us a blow by blow description of the live smackdown action:
- In front of an astonished studio audience, Alexander Lebedev (the Russian mogul) rains a series of blows onto the head of SergeiPolonsky (the real-estate baron), knocking him off his chair. This is during a TV debate on the global economic crisis.
- Images of the dramatic scene, which have been posted on YouTube, show Lebedev losing control and standing over Polonsky in a threatening manner.
- Polonsky appears to attempt to calm him down and Lebedev takes his seat once more.
- After few seconds, without warning, as Polonsky gently pats him on the arm, Lebedev again decides it’s time to let his fists do the talking.
- Lebedev suddenly hits Polonsky several times on the side of the head, sending him sprawling to the floor.
- Polonsky stands back up, seemingly unharmed, and the two men stare hard at each other as studio flunkies defuse the situation.
Note: Alexander Lebedev is one of the richest men in the world, with a fortune that’s estimated to be in the region of $3.1 billion.
In fact, Polonsky and Lebedev are two mid-sized Russian tycoons; neither of them could buy Minnesota cash on the nail. They could have become great pals, toasting each other’s successes in turn; for both are given to real estate development, both love swimming, both wear casual more often than formal, both are rather vain, and both are facing a sharp decline in their fortunes. But instead they have come to blows, for they are doomed to be opposing characters. Which is the protagonist and which the antagonist? None.
Sergei Polonsky is forty, a young man as tycoons go, the first post-Soviet generation of Russian businessmen. He is still big and broad like the Blue Beret commando he once was, but years of soft living have robbed him of his waist; now he looks more like a jolly, well-fed dolphin. His lady friend is a prominent businesswoman by her own right, and a swimming champion.
Alexander Lebedev is 12 years older; his was the generation that privatised the USSR. He is a shape-shifter; he has modernized his appearance over the years from a hard-muscled, disciplined, business-suit-wearing ex-KGB-man into a metrosexual guitar player with an alluring haircut, light shirts and blue jeans. He traded in his old Soviet-era wife for a newer, more camera-friendly model.
Lebedev lives in downtown Moscow, in a former Scout Youth Club built in glorious Stalinesque imperial style with columns and portico, and transformed – after its privatisation – into a minor manor, with an Olympic-size swimming pool where he spends much of his time. He escapes the Moscow autumnal gloom at his Cote d’Azure villa and in his London mansion.
Polonsky lives in a futuristic penthouse, perched like a ship’s bridge atop a skyscraper with a 360° view, high above Moscow. He designed and built the skyscraper and his own apartment himself, being an architect by education and profession. He spends his weekends floating in a converted barge, moored just beyond the city limits, in the company of a tame racoon, doingchi kung – Chinese meditation practice - and voraciously reading arbitrarily-chosen books. In winter he drives a slim, high-tech sled pulled by snow-white blue-eyed huskies; in summer he glides through the deeps on a sea-bob, or hang-glides over blissful hills.
Lebedev built a resort in Crimea; he lavished his generosity on the city, restoring the historic Chekhov theatre, but he prefers to spend his time in London, hobnobbing with Harry Potter’s creator, Ms Rowling, Sir Elton John and other worthies. He plays guitar, and supports DDT, a Russian rock group. He also owns a quality British newspaper, The Independent, as well as a tabloid, the Evening Standard, and the Russian Novaya Gazeta.
Polonsky, in contrast, has built himself a fortress of solitude, a stone and glass castle rising from the waves of a lonely island off the shores of Sihanoukville, not far from Alain Delon’s home in remote Cambodia. He meets with Sufi teachers, receives instructions from Zen monks and chi gung adepts. He is into esoteric knowledge and mystic experiences.
The two men are from very different cities and backgrounds. Lebedev grew up a child of privilege; his father was a professor of the prestigious Foreign Service School. As a young man he joined the KGB and the Communist Party. He graduated from his father’s school, proceeded into the KGB college, and then entered the diplomatic service. He was stationed at the Soviet Embassy in Kensington, London; his assignment: stop the money fleeing Russia. In eight years he learned the ropes, and with the fall of the USSR the gamekeeper turned poacher.
Lt.-Col. (KGB) Lebedev left the service in 1992 and used his professional insider knowledge of Soviet debts to make a fortune and direct fleeing money to safe havens. Not many Russians knew the banking system like he did. There was a lot of money that could be made by a person with the right connections: he bought cut-rate loans cheap and cashed them in at full value with a friendly Treasury official. He made a deal with Gazprom that made the Russian state two hundred millions poorer and himself and his collaborators that much richer. He befriended Victor Chernomyrdin, then Prime Minister, and Chernomyrdin channelled state funds into Lebedev’s recently-opened bank. Lebedev used his connections to capture positions in state-sponsored companies like Ilyushin and Aeroflot: the profits went to Lebedev, while the expenses went to the state.
Polonsky hailed from St Petersburg, of humble origin. He grew up as the USSR collapsed around him; he studied architecture, went into construction and building, hired Ukrainian builders while they were still inexpensive, and built himself into a real estate developer. He is proud of being a self-made man; he obtained nothing from the state, and never sought anything, he says. He did not privatise government factories, but instead established good connections with City Hall and catered to newly-prosperous Muscovites. He looks honest enough to buy a used car from, though such trustworthy guys do not become billionaires. People in the know say that he had to cut backroom deals with Mme Baturina, wife of the Moscow Mayor and one of the richest women in the world: no building was erected in Moscow without a nod from her.
Polonsky has tried to avoid politics; he professes a lack of knowledge and interest in things political. He is a builder, he says, no more. He puts his soul into huge projects spreading from Moscow to Switzerland and from London to Croatia. He is democratic in the Russian style: he mixes easily with all kinds of ordinary folks, but they’d better follow his orders or else.He is a petty tyrant, his (dismissed) employees say: he forbids texting during board meetings! Violators have their precious iPhones smashed against the wall (a feat I myself have only dreamed of). His ambitions lie in the spiritual sphere, and business often takes a back seat to his search for God.
Lebedev has a penchant for politics. He has tried on for size several political factions, varying from the ultra-nationalist Rodina (“Motherland”) to the socialist SR and to the ruling ER, being torn between political ambitions and the desire to make a fast buck. Sometimes the two go together.
In 1996, in the run-up to the fateful elections, Lebedev supported Boris Yeltsin, the then-president of Russia, a dissipated alcoholic who embezzled Russian national wealth and enriched the oligarchs. Lebedev’s bank was used by Yeltsin’s Treasury in order to channel state funds into piles of greenbacks all wrapped up for bribes. It was some of Lebedev’s cash that was seized by security in the infamous Case of the Xerox Paper Box, when an activist tried to carry out millions of dollars for Yeltsin’s bribe fund in a cardboard box. Lebedev did not shy away from this deed; he was rather proud of it, and even paid the dirt-digging magazine Kompromat(“Compromising Matters”) to produce a special issue containing a sanitised version of this, and other exploits.
Lebedev’s daring misdeeds inevitably attracted the attention of law enforcement, and a case against him was eventually drawn up by the State Attorney General. Lebedev, by his own boast, set the Attorney General up with two easy-going girls in a sauna, and filmed the frolics. The film has been broadcasted on a fellow oligarch’s private NTV channel and the Attorney General abruptly resigned.
Some people say that Lebedev was not responsible for the setup. If true, this speaks volumes. Might Mr. Lebedev think that bad publicity is much better than no publicity at all? The facts support the theory. Lebedev produced a book ominously entitled 666 or The Beast Is Born, full of prosaic smackdowns targeting nearly every public personality in Russia. He humbly refers to himself as the “ideal capitalist” and claims credit for these and other dashing criminal exploits.
Lebedev is always quick with an explanation as to why each crime was a good deed: it was either to save Russia from the clutches of the commies (he conveniently misplaces his own Party credentials), or to save the world from the KGB (again he is silent about his own history in the very same service). He openly despises Putin’s working class roots and rise to power. It galls him that they once had the same rank in the KGB. But the real reason behind Lebedev’s opposition is that Putin fearlessly prosecutes the oligarchs. Or is it “persecutes”?
Oligarchs have a persecution complex: any and all interference is unjust. They think of themselves as omnipotent, though they are only powerful, and they bristle against even the most minor efforts to curtail their power. Their money buys them power over life and death, but this power saps their mental health. They start to believe the hype offered by sycophants. They begin to reject trusted advisors. They end up alone and unhinged, pursued by the law. Too much power corrupts, and the Russian oligarchs have more power than any of Stalin’s satraps ever had.
Mr Putin does not approve of oligarchs meddling in politics. He does not punish them arbitrarily, nor does he rewrite the laws to target them. Putin’s Russia allows these tycoons to get away with many things, but it does draw the line at crime – sometimes. This is Putin’s great sacrilege; he holds the oligarchs accountable to the letter of the law. This level of independence comes as a great shock to them. They are getting whiplash trying to readjust after the total freedom of lapdog Yeltsin’s day. The oligarchs wistfully recall the days when they employed their powers over life and death with impunity, like viceroys of India in Clive’s time.
Alas, Mr Lebedev’s political ambitions have remained unfulfilled. He reduced his lofty goals to something more achievable, and decided to become the Mayor of Moscow. He failed. Worried now, he set his sights upon becoming the Mayor of Sochi (the Miami of Russia). Again, he failed. The sharks, sensing blood, began to circle. His dashing exploits belatedly began to attract the attention of the law, especially his alleged appropriation of $300 million in state bailout funds meant to shore up his bank. He accepted the money, but it soon became apparent that his bank’s coffers were empty, or rather stuffed with fictitious promissory notes. His dealings in the aircraft industry also have come under scrutiny and it appears that the state, the main shareholder, might have been swindled in a major way.
In response, the canny Mr Lebedev activated his long term insurance policy. If he were a Russian Jew, he would have claimed he was being attacked by authoritarian Russian anti-Semites; but Mr Lebedev is not a Russian Jew. Instead, Mr Lebedev claims he is being attacked by authoritarian KGB thugslike Mr Putin. This insurance was effective but expensive: for many years he had been forced to heavily subsidise the anti-Putin newspaper Novaya Gazeta, widely read in the central borough of Moscow and unheard of elsewhere. To influence the international set, he purchased two British newspapers and strenuously promoted his new image as a sort of Khodorkovsky: just another wealthy man victimized by Putin’s KGB thugs. He claimed that he was poisoned like Litvinenko, but he miraculously survived. The British were only too happy to cooperate with Lebedev’s propaganda campaigns; the establishment was (and is) willing to support any and all anti-Putin elements, including the Chechen separatists.
It was during his campaign for Moscow Mayor, that Mr Lebedev became aware of Mr Polonsky, who happened to be on good terms with the incumbent Mayor. At that time, Polonsky was busy erecting the tallest twin skyscrapers in Europe, the Federation Towers – the gem of Moscow City. Polonsky immediately became the next target for Lebedev’s hate: another low-caste self-made man, definitely not a pukka sahib. It was also an opportune moment for a quick and easy kill, because Polonsky’s star was falling fast.
Polonsky had gotten himself into trouble, as do all the oligarchs at one point or another. He was not thorough and he was not prudent. He rejected his trusted advisors and surrounded himself with yes-men. He believed his hunch instead of counting odds. He jumped into multimillion deals with a bow and a handshake, and his partners walked away with chunks of his empire. His dreams of samurai honour were shattered by modern Russian business pragmatism.
He relied upon his assistants, and they robbed him blind. The more he empowered them, the faster they would vamoose with his money. His vast capital (assessed at over three billion dollars at the peak) began to shrink precipitously; cash flow became a problem for him, he was over-extended and had difficulty completing his most ambitious projects. Ordinary people who invested in his projects had become justifiably angry.
It was at this moment that the cunning Lebedev unveiled his ingenuous device to break Polonsky. The media mogul spread a malicious (and apparently false) rumour that the foundations of Federation Towers had cracked. Polonsky was already on the defensive, now his back was against the wall. He invited Moscow journalists to come and look for themselves: they were allowed to roam freely some forty yards below the surface, trying to locate the crack, refusing to admit its absence. He offered a million roubles to anyone who could find it. Nobody found anything, but the rumour persisted, supported by Mr Lebedev and his newspapers.
Alone and unhinged, Polonsky began to claim that he himself invented the crack story in order to promote public awareness of the project. There were no buyers for this weird story. His projects continued to suffer setbacks, raiders continued to seize his developments, his companions continued to rob him blind. The crack story cracked his empire.
This is the backstory to the Oligarch Smackdown on live TV. It was ostensibly going to be about global economics. They had exchanged only a few words when Mr Polonsky brought up the painful subject of the crack. The whole world awaited Lebedev’s reply. He looked into the eyes of his victim. What did Mr Lebedev feel at that moment? Pride? Hatred? In any case, alone and unhinged, he rose and landed a few well-aimed jabs upon Polonsky’s jaw. The sitting ex-commando was knocked down, decisively proving the superiority of KGB training over that of Airborne Troopers. The programme was a global success; after delighting the viewers, who had been prepared for a dry recitation of global doom, it went on to become an all-time favourite on YouTube.
But the story did not end there. In face of millions who had watched the assault live, Lebedev denied he hit Polonsky. Standing just outside of the studio, Lebedev insisted stubbornly to the journalists: “I did not touch him; Polonsky assaulted me, because I am in opposition to Putin.” Yes, Lebedev is amazing: he is one man who is prepared to deny anything. Years ago, he had fought to ban gambling in St Petersburg, an ostensibly noble purpose. When it came out that his bank had heavily invested in the lotteries (the main competitor to gaming machines), Lebedev denied all motives of self-interest. Even after his own bank manager proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the strategy was Lebedev’s own idea, he continued to deny all knowledge with a straight face. I wonder if even James Bond could equal this feat.
During the race for the Moscow City Hall, Lebedev bought a newspaper (theMoscow Correspondent) and turned it into a fighting machine. They soon printed a scurrilous rumour that Mr Putin was involved in an extra-marital affair. Lebedev could not imagine that Putin would react as he did. Usually quite complacent to rumours, accusations and attacks, the President became furious. Fearing Putin’s fury, Lebedev immediately shut down the newspaper, fired the editor and said on air that the baseless article was created by the current Mayor of Moscow and inserted by the editor in return for a bribe. This brazen lie cost the editor his career; Lebedev never recanted.
Since his televised assault, Lebedev has been asked many times why he did it. Some of his explanations are so off the wall that one has difficulty believing he actually offered them as true statements. The palm probably should go to “I thought that I would become a popular hero because I struck out against that hateful oligarch”. This is rich coming from him. Polonsky seems genuinely at a loss to explain Lebedev’s behaviour. Not only has Lebedev refused to apologise, he is continuing to deny he even did it. Is he claiming the insanity defence? More likely he is claiming his rights of oligarchic power: the impunity defence.
Polonsky has not benefited from his public humiliation; in fact, the story only further injured his already suffering business reputation, and a project he had planned to do in London collapsed soon afterwards. It was for this reason that he brought civil charges against Lebedev in a London court, and retired to his Cambodian island, posting his daily catch of barracudas on the Facebook.
Almost a year had passed before the exceedingly slow-grinding mills of Russian criminal justice charged Mr Lebedev, but eventually the media baron was charged with “hooliganism” and “assault”. His lawyers claim that Lebedev had felt threatened and was forced to defend himself; Lebedev (with a straight face) claims that he is being persecuted by the bloody Putin regime for his “love of freedom”. A bald-faced liar is always more entertaining than a talented ingénue, so we will not be too surprised if Mr Lebedev walks away with a slap on the wrist. Anyway, the bloody Putin regime is soft on the oligarchs. However, this Oligarch Smackdown is far from over. We await Mr Lebedev’s elevation to the voice of Russia’s conscience by his own British hacks!
Ashtabula, Ohio, is facing problems which could overload their already struggling social welfare services. Across America more people are being forced onto food stamps or facing starvation. Some of these have lost their jobs. Others can no longer work because of disabilities which can be accounted for in other ways.
This appears to be especially true, and becoming more so, in Ashtabula, a small town of 29,000 inhabitants which sits at the epicenter of four superfund sites, one of the most in any county in Ohio today.
While many of the companies responsible for the toxic waste have packed up and moved operations to third world countries, others have moved in, continuing the same practices. From the perspective of such companies, for instance Millennium, the attractions of the area include the history of previous pollution. Although the impact on the people and environment, calculated monetarily, would be enormous the company has routinely paid a tiny stipend, frequently around $50,000 a year in fines to the EPA.
Diseases and conditions which, two generations ago, were barely known, now account for a significant number of the individuals now requiring aid. Among these conditions are Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, both neurological in origin, both becoming far more common in Ashtabula.
From multiple directions and sources indications now affirm something has changed. Tracking the incidence of these devastating diseases could result in nothing but more rapid action to identify the conditions which are increasing their incidence in Americans. Yet legislation which would accomplish this is stalled in Congress. In 2010, the House passed H.R. 1362, a act similar to the stalled Senate bill, S. 425: National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act of 2011.
The House bill passed with 206 cosponsors. The nearly identical Senate bill has 14 cosponsors, nine Democrats and five Republicans.. Both would provide for the establishment of permanent national surveillance systems for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological diseases and disorders. But until both pass and are signed into law, this cannot happen.
Having information freely available not only enables better choices for all of us, today it may well spell the difference between life and death for many Americans. Not knowing forces us to struggle in ignorance of facts essential for our health and well-being. And since these facts widely include information collected and retained by those in public service, whose salaries are paid by taxpayers, this calls into question the motives of those working for government.
In Steve Lerner’s book, “Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States,” we see the unstated policy of ignoring corporate impact in specific areas for reasons which are never stated, also applied to the lives of the people who live there. The section of the Lerner book, which outlines the impact of Manganese poisoning in Marietta, Ohio, could well have been written about Ashtabula.
By so doing, the joining of corporate interests with the power of the state to externalize their costs and so augment their profits. In a rational world destroying the present value of resources which are common to all of us as the life-spans, intellectual and health of people are diminished and destroyed would be automatically treated as crimes.
Evading the consequences of these crimes by using the institutions of government smacks of a violation under color of law. Now, we must ask ourselves if the present compilation of policies is random, or planned.
A“National Sacrifice Zone” is defined as an area so contaminated or depleted of its resources as to have little or no future use. The term has been applied to areas which are badly polluted through previous corporate abuse of resources which go far beyond any right of ownership which can, rationally, be claimed by those responsible. Of the enormous number of examples presently in the forefront of public consciousness are fracking and manganese poisoning.
But the ‘sacrifice zones’ go beyond land, air, water, and the environment of which these are elements. It also includes people. In Ashtabula, and across both Ohio and Indiana, the sacrifice made to corporate prosperity included people’s health, their lives, and an additional cost has been paid in the slow, but inevitable shock suffered as they individually discovered the institutions, for which we pay, were actually working against them.
As you read Lerner’s book you hear the words of ordinary Americans, struggling to understand what is happening to them and why their lives and well being do not matter.
“We thought we had the American dream,” says Lesley Kuhl, who since 2002 has lived with her husband and two young children on a quiet, leafy street in Marietta, Ohio.
Mrs. Kuhl is a Republican, who considered herself conservative, when the threat to her children forced her into action along with both environmental activists and others in her town, like Caroline Beidler, who could no longer ignore the visible impact of pollutants on the health of their families.
Caroline Beidler and her husband, Keith Bailey, a carpenter, had built their “dream home,” in Marietta, Ohio. At the time they were unaware that their little piece of heaven was only four miles, as the crow flies, from the French-owned ferroalloy plant of Eramet Marietta, Inc.
According to Steve Lerner, author of “Sacrifice Zones,” “Eramet (which uses manganese, cadmium, and lead, among other feedstocks, to strengthen steel and purify chromium) releases tons of heavy metal dust into the air. It is one of the county’s top polluters.”
Their efforts transitioned from an informal club which logged the ugly odors carried by the breeze from the plant to increasingly organized efforts to stop the emissions. These struggles began in 2002. They continue today.
Tetrachloroethylene, “a chemical that can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, unconsciousness, and even death.,” was only one of the pollutants being emitted. Tetrachloroethylene was not even on the long list of chemicals that Eramet admitting having released. In 2004, the company did, “emit 15,000 pounds of chromium compounds into the air and 75,000 pounds into the river and 500,000 pounds of airborne manganese.”
Manganese is a known neurotoxin. Manganese poisoning mimics Parkinson’s Disease, among many other conditions.
At first, Beidler was reluctant to make trouble. Over time she realized just how many road blocks existed between the safety of her children. Little help was forthcoming from state regulatory officials.
They discovered how many ways accountability could be evaded by companies which routinely spend money to influence government but never enough to solve the problems they create. Fingers were pointed in every possible direction but little changed.
According to Lerner, “Total releases of toxic chemicals by Eramet reported to federal officials were radically cut from about 12 million pounds when the company was purchased in 2000 to about 6 million pounds of TRI releases in 2004.”
In December 2005 a report by David Pace of the Associated Press listed Eramet as the top factory nationwide “whose emissions created the most potential health risk for residents in the surrounding community.” Washington County was ranked number one for the “highest health risk from industrial pollution in 2000.”
This was the year Lesley Kuhl really confronted the problem.
The group which formed around Beidler and Kuhl, “began to collect information about air quality in their region and make their network of members aware of key regulatory developments, scientific studies, health studies, and emissions at Eramet.”
The bottom-line motive was the continuing threat to children, their children. In December 2005 Mrs. Kuhl read an article in the local newspaper on the impact of elevated levels of air-borne heavy metals their possible impact on the development of the brains of very young children. The Kuhl children had suffered numerous sinus infections that had to be treated with antibiotics, and one of whom was diagnosed with a developmental disorder. Loss of IQ points was also listed as a possibility.
Further research revealed older people could experience mood and movement problems from exposure. Suggestions for a ‘study,’ to take three years, was not a solution.
Also, the families realized even moving was no guarantee of a safe haven. How could they know where was safe? Their children began to be tested for manganese exposure.
The Kuhls and others continued to be shocked at the disregard for the health and well being of their children. Their knowledge of the problem, and how long it had been known, increased.
Dick Wittberg, another resident, who heads the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, had carried out a pilot study in the late 1990s. The study compared the ability of children in Marietta to perform physical tasks and answer academic questions. These were compared the results from Marietta with, “a control sample of children from a similar-sized town in Athens, Ohio, located forty-five miles away.”
A battery of 13 tests were administered to fourth-graders in both cities. The children were matched, “for age, sex, and parental education. The tests measured such things as educational proficiency, balance, visual contrast sensitivity, and short-term memory.”
The results were disturbing: “across the board: the Marietta youngsters scored significantly lower on the tests than did those from Athens.” In his opinion, “the study points to some neurological differences and one has to suspect manganese. Nobody knows, for kids, how much [exposure] is too much.”
The stalling tactics continue from Aramet.
Protocols for handling potential pollutants, thus eliminating the danger of impact exist today. This is not rocket science. The only impact to be felt if such procedures become standard is to end a threat to public health, the need for clean-up, all too often paid for by taxpayers, and awaken corporate balance sheets to the reality of a real free market. There is no inherent freedom to cause harm to others.
It is time to get specific about what protocols must be applied and on the issue of liability.
This is how a free market is applied. You can tell if it is a free market because if government can intervene to limit liability or allow acts which are, by their nature criminal, what you are seeing is corporate fascism.
As bad as the situation is in Marietta, what is facing Ashtabula could be far worse. The toxic releases of Manganese are double what is present in Marietta, the source of pollution, Millennium, is far closer to population centers, and a clock, of which we have only recently become aware, is ticking toward a point of no return for many people.
A study, Parkinsonism Induced by Chronic Manganese Intoxication– An Experience in Taiwan, by Chin-Chang Huang, MD, includes the troubling facts, “Excessive manganese exposure may induce a neurological syndrome called manganism, which is similar to Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, close observation of patients with manganism reveals a clinical disease entity different from PD, not only in the clinical manifestations, but also in therapeutic responses. “ “…after long-term follow-up studies, patients with manganism showed prominent deterioration in the parkinsonian symptoms during the initial 5-10 years, followed by a plateau during the following 10 years.”
The summary, in large part quoted above, ends with, “Although typical patients with manganism are different from patients with PD, the potential risk of inhaling welding fumes, which may accelerate the onset of PD or even induce PD, has been raised during recent years. This controversial topic requires further investigation.
The results of this study should be considered along with this graph showing money spent on lobbying by the American Chemical Council. Source: Open Secrets While it is nearly impossible to know how the money was spent the timing is telling.
Also available to influence legislators are the many corporations who readily donate to non-profits which, people believe, are working solely to protect them. These include, “3M, Amoco, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Motors, Occidental Petroleum, Philip Morris, Proctor & Gamble and W.R. Grace,” according to Integrity in Science, who routinely tracks such relationships.
The people of Ashtabula are not inhaling fumes from working as welding. They are getting it directly and it is time action was taken to establish real standards backed up by real disincentives as those impacted are compensated. In so doing, Ashtabula can begin the process of returning America to a nation of law and justice.
For more information contact Ashtabula Renewal – The Clean-Up ashtabulanenewal.org
Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, Organizing Director, Dave Lincoln, Technical Director
The fiscal cliff is the result of the inability to close the federal budget deficit. The budget deficit cannot be closed because large numbers of US middle class jobs and the GDP and tax base associated with them have been moved offshore, thus reducing federal revenues. The fiscal cliff cannot be closed because of the unfunded liabilities of eleven years of US-initiated wars against a half dozen Muslim countries–wars that have benefitted only the profits of the military/security complex and the territorial ambitions of Israel. The budget deficit cannot be closed, because economic policy is focused only on saving banks that wrongful financial deregulation allowed to speculate, to merge, and to become too big to fail, thus requiring public subsidies that vastly dwarf the totality of US welfare spending.
The hoax is the propaganda that the fiscal cliff can be avoided by reneging on promised Social Security and Medicare benefits that people have paid for with the payroll tax and by cutting back all aspects of the social safety net from food stamps to unemployment benefits to Medicaid, to housing subsidies. The right-wing has been trying to get rid of the social safety net ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt constructed it, out of fear or compassion or both, during the Great Depression.
Washington’s response to the fiscal cliff is austerity: spending cuts and tax increases. The Republicans say they will vote for the Democrats’ tax increases if the Democrats vote for the Republican’s assault on the social safety net. What bipartisan compromise means is a double-barreled dose of austerity.
Ever since John Maynard Keynes, economists have understood that tax increases and spending cuts suppress, not stimulate, economic activity. This is especially the case in an economy such as the American one, which is driven by consumer spending. When spending declines, so does the economy. When the economy declines, the budget deficit rises.
This is especially the case when an economy is weak and already in decline. A declining economy means less sales, less employment, less tax revenues. This works against the effort to close the federal budget deficit with austerity measures. Instead of strengthening the economy, the austerity measures weaken it further. To cut unemployment benefits and food stamps when unemployment is high or rising would be to provoke social and political instability.
Some economists, such as Robert Barro at Harvard University, claim that stimulative measures, the opposite of austerity, don’t work, because consumers anticipate the higher taxes that will be needed to cover the budget deficit and, therefore, reduce their spending and increase their saving in order to be able to pay the anticipated higher taxes.
In other words, the Keynesian effort to stimulate spending causes consumers to reduce their spending. I don’t know of any empirical evidence for this claim.
Regardless, the situation on the ground at the present time is that for the majority of people, incomes are stretched to the limit and beyond. Many cannot pay their bills, their mortgages, their car payments, their student loans. They are drowning in debt, and there is nothing that they can cut back in order to save money with which to pay higher taxes.
Many commentators are complaining that Congress will refuse to face the difficult issues and kick the can down the road, leaving the fiscal cliff looming. This would probably be the best outcome. As the fiscal cliff is a result, not a cause, to focus on the fiscal cliff is to focus on the symptoms rather than the disease.
The US economy has two serious diseases, and neither one is too much welfare spending.
One disease is the offshoring of US middle class jobs, both manufacturing jobs and professional service jobs such as engineering, research, design, and information technology, jobs that formerly were filled by US university graduates, but which today are sent abroad or are filled by foreigners brought in on H-1B work visas at two-thirds of the salary.
The other disease is the deregulation, especially the financial deregulation, that caused the ongoing financial crisis and created banks too big to fail, which has prevented capitalism from working and closing down insolvent corporations.
The Federal Reserve’s policy is focused on saving the banks, not on saving the economy. The Federal Reserve is purchasing not only new Treasury bonds issued to finance the more than one trillion dollar annual federal deficit but also the banks’ underwater financial instruments, taking them off the banks’ books and putting them on the Federal Reserve’s books.
Normally, debt monetization of this amount results in rising inflation, but the money that the Federal Reserve is creating in its attempt to manage the public debt and the banks’ private debt is hung up in the banking system as excess reserves and is not finding its way into the economy. The banks are too busted to lend, and consumers are too indebted to borrow.
However, the debt monetization poses a second threat that is capable of biting the US economy and consumer living standards very hard. Foreign central banks, foreign investors in US stocks and financial instruments, and Americans themselves observing the Federal Reserve’s continuous monetization of US debt cannot avoid concern about the dollar’s value as the supply of ever more dollars continues to pour out of the Federal Reserve.
Already there is evidence of central banks and individuals moving out of dollars into gold and silver bullion and into other currencies of countries that are not hemorrhaging debt and money. According to John Williams of Shadowstats.com, the US dollar as a percentage of global holdings of reserve assets has declined from 36.6% in 2006 to 28.7% in 2012. Gold has increased from 10.5% to 12.8% and other foreign currencies except the euro increased from 38.4% to 44.4%.
Russia, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa intend to conduct trade among themselves in their own currencies without use of the dollar as reserve currency. The EU countries conduct their trade with one another in euros, and although not reported in the US media, Asian countries are discussing a new common currency for trade among themselves.
The world is abandoning the use of the dollar to settle international accounts, and the demand for dollars is falling as the Federal Reserve increases the supply of dollars.
This means that the price of the dollar is threatened.
Concern over the dollar means concern over dollar-denominated financial instruments such as stocks and bonds. The Chinese hold some $2 trillion in US financial instruments. The Japanese hold about $1 trillion in US Treasuries. The Saudis and the oil emirates also hold large quantities of US dollar financial instruments. At some point the move away from the dollar also means a move away from US financial instruments. The dumping of US stocks and bonds would destabilize US financial markets and wipe out the remainder of US wealth.
As I have previously written, the Federal Reserve can create new money with which to purchase the dumped financial instruments, thus maintaining their prices. But the Federal Reserve cannot print gold or foreign currencies with which to buy up the dollars that foreigners are paid for their US stocks and bonds. When the dollars in turn are dumped, the exchange value of the dollar will collapse, and US inflation will explode.
The onset of hyperinflation can be as sudden as the collapse of a currency’s exchange value.
The real crisis facing the US is the impending collapse of the US dollar’s foreign exchange value. The US dollar’s value in relation to silver and gold has already collapsed. In the past ten years, gold’s price in US dollars has increased from $250 per ounce to $1,750 per ounce, an increase of $1,500. Silver’s price has risen from $4 per ounce to $34 per ounce. These price rises are not due to a sudden scarcity of gold and silver, but to a flight from the dollar into the two forms of historical money that cannot be created with the printing press.
The price of oil has risen from $20 a barrel ten years ago to as high as $120 per barrel earlier this year and currently $90 a barrel. This price rise has come about despite a weak world economy and without any supply restrictions other than those caused by the attempted US occupation of Iraq, the Western assault on Libya, and the self-harming Western sanctions on Iran, impacts most likely offset by the Saudis, still Washington’s faithful puppet, a country that pumps out its precious life fluid in order to save the West from its own mistakes. The moronic neoconservatives wish to overthrow the Saudi Arabian government, but what more faithful servant has Washington ever had than the Saudi royal house?
What can be done? For a number of years I have pointed out that the problem is the loss of US employment, consumer income, GDP, and tax base to offshoring. The solution is to reverse the outward flow of jobs and to bring them back to the US. This can be done, as Ralph Gomory has made clear, by taxing corporations according to where they add value to their product. If the value is added abroad, corporations would have a high tax rate. If they add value domestically with US labor, they would face a low tax rate. The difference in tax rates can be calculated to offset the benefit of the lower cost of foreign labor.
As all offshored production that is brought to the US to be marketed to Americans counts as imports, relocating the production in the US would decrease the trade deficit, thus strengthening belief in the dollar. The increase in US consumer incomes would raise tax revenues, thus lowering the budget deficit. It is a win-win solution.
The second part to the solution is to end the expensive unfunded wars that have ruined the federal budget for the past 11 years as well as future budgets due to the cost of veterans’ hospital care and benefits. According to ABC World News, “In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, 2,333,972 American military personnel have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or both, as of Aug. 30, 2011 [more than a year ago].” These 2.3 million veterans have rights to various unfunded benefits including life-long health care. Already, according to ABC, 711,986 have used Veterans Administration health care between fiscal year 2002 and the third-quarter of fiscal year 2011. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-veterans-numbers/story?id=14928136#1
The Republicans are determined to continue the gratuitous wars and to make the 99 percent pay for the neoconservatives’ Wars of Hegemony while protecting the 1 percent from tax increases.
The Democrats are little different.
No one in the White House and no more than one dozen members of the 535 member US Congress represents the American people. This is the reason that despite obvious remedies nothing can be done. America is going to crash big time.
And the rest of the world will be thankful. America along with Israel is the world’s most hated country. Don’t expect any foreign bailouts of the failed “superpower.”
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. paulcraigroberts.org
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
Among the long list of items bundled by consensus reality merchants under the banner of ‘conspiracy theory’, is a world without cash – where technocrats rule over the populace, and everything and anything is exchanged via plastic and RFID chips.
In this sterile and controlled Orwellian hi-tech society, the idea of cash being passed from hand to hand would be as archaic as the thought of carrying around a rucksack of tally sticks today.
Still, despite the incredible penetration of credit and debit card transactions into economic aggregate, and the boom in internet shopping, few will comfortably admit that a cashless society is nearly upon us. In part, it’s a natural denial by many fueled by the idea of our society is indeed on a collision course with the sort of dystopic impersonal future like that depicted in the 1970′s sci-fi film classic, ‘Logan’s Run’.
Cashless money is here, and growing rapidly.
Over the years, futurists and commentators alike seemed to agree that a cashless society would be a slow creep, and cash would automatically phase itself in simply by virtue of the sheer volume of electronic transactions that would gradually make paper less available and more costly to redeem and exchange. This is still true for the most part. What few counted on, however, was how the final push would take place, and why. Some will be surprised by these new emerging mechanisms, and the political and sinister implications they will ultimately lead to.
What’s the time frame on all this? Difficult to say, but what is certain is that the initial phases are already in motion…
Introduction of Parallel Currencies
There has been a lot made about the ‘cashless society’ in media, but this cannot fully happen until there is a cashless currency.
Every revolution needs a good crisis in order to germinate its seed. The cashless revolution is no different. It should be abundantly clear by now that the global financial meltdown has been engineered at every juncture of its unfolding by the very private central banks who expand and contract the money supply. A dollar or euro collapse will trigger a global economic crisis, which is a prime opportunity to introduce the next phase.
In the summer of 2012, at the height of the European Central Bank (ECB) ritualistic raping of the Greek economy, financial expert Max Keiser, alongside Mexican billionaire Hugo Salinas Price, traveled to Athens to promote the idea of a silver Drachma as a parallel currency to the ever-failing euro. In theory and in practice, this parallel currency was ‘sound money’ for individual Greeks and would allow them to retain some say in their financial destiny, and also allow them to accumulate real wealth. It should have caught on. But this great idea did not go down well with media moguls and technocratic elites loyal to their overlords in the ECB, Wall Street and the City of London. Still, too many people remain unaware of how money is created, entered into circulation and how their private central banks control inflation, and Greece is no different.
Watch this clip from Greek television:
The US dollar is pure fiat, but it does have a theoretical backer. It is an oil-backed currency – and for better of for worse, it’s on its way to losing its long-lived status as the world’s reserve currency. There are signals that China is moving towards a gold-backed currency and has already agreed to buy the majority of its oil supply from Russia off of the US dollar peg. This could mean two things: the US could be forced to fight a war to maintain dollar supremacy, or the dollar will begin to drop as the top dog. This shift will open up a window of opportunity for money masters to insert not only a brand new global currency, but also its universal cashless attributes as well.
Common sense and free market wisdom would expect to see a sound money option replace the current fiat disaster, but as we saw in Greece, a great solution was not taken up and straddled with the dysfunctional euro, that society will continue to pay the cost of that reality.
The euro crisis was a great opportunity to throw out the euro in favour of something that could create wealth, rather than debt. As the fiat currencies continue to slide downhill, globalist are preparing their solution behind closed doors.
Enter the Cashless Currency…
It’s arguable that we approaching the cusp of that US Dollar collapse, and perhaps a Euro implosion on the back end of it. Risks of hyper inflation are very real here, but if you control the money supply might already have a ready-made solution waiting in the wings, you will not be worrying about the rift, only waiting for the chaos to ensue so as to maximise your own booty from the crisis.
Many believed that the global currency would be the SDR unit, akaSpecial Drawing Rights, implemented in 2001 as a supplementary foreign exchange reserve asset maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). SDRs were not considered a full-fledged currency, but rather a claim to currency held by IMF member countries for which they may be exchanged for dollars, euros, yen or other central bankers’ fiat notes.
With the SDR confined to the upper tier of the international money launderette, a new product is still needed to dovetail with designs of a global cashless society.
Among the many worries Ben Bernanke listed in his speech at the New York Economic Club last week was the emergence of Bitcoin. But don’t believe for a second that these digital parallel currencies are not being watched over and even steered by the money masters. Couple this latest trend with done deals by most of the world’s largest mobile networks this month to allow people to pay via a mobile ‘wallet’, and you now have the initial enabler for a new global electronic currency.
These new parallel cashless currencies could very quickly end up in pole position for supremacy when the old fiat notes fade away as a result of the next planned economic dollar and euro crisis.
Both Bitcoin and Ven appear on their surface to be independent parallel digital money systems, but the reality is much different. In April 2011, Ven announced the first commodity trade priced in Ven for gold production between Europe and South America. Both of these so-called ‘digital alternatives’ are being backed and promoted through some of the world’s biggest and most long-standing corporate dynasties, including Rothschild owned Reuters as an example, which should be of interest to any activist who believes that a digitally controlled global currency is a dangerous path to tread down.
The Electronic Deutsche Mark
Much is made of Germany’s prominent financial position within the EU, with a popular talking point being that, “Germany is carrying the majority of the load in ‘bailing out’ countries such as Greece in the south”. If the Euro is ‘heading south’ as many a financial commentator are claiming, then how would a country like Germany – or even the US Federal Reserve for that matter, hedge their bets with an impending currency collapse looming just over the horizon?
Economics professor Miles Kimball from the University of Michigan thinks he knows the answer:
“In short, for a smooth transition, a reintroduced mark needs to be an electronic mark. I recently made the case for the electronic dollar in a previous Quartz column, “E-Money: How paper currency is holding the US recovery back.” The trouble with paper money is that the rate of interest people earn on holding paper money puts a floor on the interest rate they are willing to accept in doing any other lending. For the US, I proposed making the electronic dollar the “unit of account” or economic yardstick for prices and other economic values, and having the Federal Reserve control the exchange rate between electronic dollars and paper dollars to make paper dollars gradually fall in value relative to electronic dollars during periods of time when the Fed wants room to make the interest rate negative.
In the case of Germany, there would be no need to reintroduce a paper mark along with the electronic mark, since the euro itself could continue in its current role as a “medium of exchange” for making purchases in Germany, alongside the electronic mark. A “crawling peg” exchange rate could be used to let the electronic mark gradually go up in value relative to the euro, without causing a huge rush into the mark, since with no paper mark other than the euro itself, interest rates in Germany could be close to zero when measured in euros, which would make them strongly negative in terms of marks.”
A dollar or euro crash could be the perfect storm for the introduction of a major global digital currencies, and this will do nothing but fast-track our entry into the new cashless society.
This past year’s Summer Olympic was a beta testing exercise for a number of new programs. We witnessed troops deployed en mass for the first time to marshal the international sporting event and new facial recognition technology tested to monitor its attendees. One of the chief sponsors of London 2012 Olympic was VISA, used the event as a springboard to launch its new ‘contactless payment’ technology, acclimatising the international public to making routine payments via smartphones. VISA now predicts that this new method will carry 50 per cent of its transaction volume by the year 2020.
Mastercard has also rolled out its own version called Paypass, andBarclaycard has already implemented its own mobile phone payment chip in 2011. It conceivable here, that a bank like Barclays could one day takeover a major mobile service provider in order to streamline the endless profits it could accrue from monopolising cashless payment facilities for its customers. A recent edition of Marketing Week further explains how this is program is being rolled out:
“Barclays launched Pingit this year, a mobile payment service that allows customers to send and receive money with a mobile phone number, which has sparked The Payments Council to work on a similar project. And the three leading mobile operators in the UK – EE, Vodafone and O2 – are working on a joint project under the name Weve, one of the aims of which is to develop standardised technology for ‘digital wallets’ on mobile.
These industry innovations reflect the changing attitude and behaviour by consumers to cashless payments. Barry Clark, account director at Future Foundation, which identified the trend towards a cashless society in its recent report into the changing face of payments, explains that this move towards digital is a “banking nirvana” for brands, since replacing cash with electronic payments takes high costs out of the system.”
These mobile enablers will effectively cover the small services and contractor’s market for the cashless society. In addition, digital payment terminals like iZettle and Square (created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey), have brought in most small traders, including taxi drivers, plumbers etc, and street side retailers – meaning that the barrier for entry into the new cashless society has been effectively dissolved.
The Socialist ‘Oyster’
The darker aspect of a cashless society, is one which few are debating or discussing, but is actually the most pivotal in terms of scial engineering and transforming communities and societies. In London, the electronic touch payment Oyster Cardwas introduced in 2003, initially for public transport, and since that time the card has been co-opted to be used for other functions, as the UK beta tests the idea of an all-in-one cashless lifestyle solution.
Ironically, and alongside biometric chipping now in India, it’s the United States, supposedly the birthplace of modern capitalism, who is beta testing its own socialist technocracy. As the ranks of the poor and unemployed grow and dollar inflation rises in America, more and more people are dependent on traditional ‘Food Stamp’entitlements in order to feed their families. The US has now introduced its own socialist ‘Oyster’ to replace the old Food Stamp program. It’s called the ‘EBT’, which stands for “Electronic Benefit Transfer“, as a means of transferring money from the central government to people living below the poverty line. Advocate Mike Adams for Natural News describes it another way:
“EBT benefits have more than doubled during the Obama administration’s last four years, creating tens of millions of new dependents who now vote based almost entirely on who gives them the most handouts.
The purchase of vitamins is specifically prohibited by the EBT program. This is done as a way to keep EBT recipients sick and diseased while suffering from nutritional deficiencies, which is precisely what the federal government wants.
EBT cards create high-profit handouts to corporations, too: Pharmaceutical companies and the sick-care industry; Big Government which gets re-elected based on entitlement handouts; global banks which earn a percentage off every swipe; and even the processed junk food industry which preys upon nutritional ignorance of the poor.
In fact, for every dollar’s worth of food handed out to EBT recipients under the program, at least 50 cents is driven right into the profit coffers of wealthy corporations.”
Adams has pointed out the endgame here. Where collectivist technocrats are concerned, a global digital currency is not only a means for a centrally controlled economy, but also a centrally controlled society. And as Adams also pointed out, they can even control what you eat.
There’s also the small matter of the Verichip, or ‘class 2′ implantable medical devise, an RFID chip already set to be implemented through Obamacare. It will transmit medical records, bank accounts, keyless entry and much more. The technology could be a $100 Trillion industry over the coming decade.
Bottom line: We’ve got a big problem when the state can – and will cut-off your electronic financial lifeline should you fall foul of the system. No negotiations, no gray areas – and definitely no place for a free individual in this type of globalist system.
Social Networks Gradually Supplanting Real Communities
In 2011 Facebook launched its own virtual currency, which was taken up immediately by the games developer industry. Facebook created it’s own internal digital market overnight. If customers didn’t like it, they had two choices – jump ship, or stay in the biggest market place. That’s a lot of power to wield, and you can wield it if you have the big numbers.
A severe lack of choice in the world of online communities has unwittingly(or not) positioned Facebook to play the roles of not only data collector, but also as banker, retailer, archivist and governor.
As 2012 comes to a close, many people have certainly become, in one way or another, sans border citizens of the Facebook Nation. In the future, one corporation or cartel’s success in capturing a near global monopoly of membership to a particular online platform might give it the ability to dictate a digital economic mandate to both producers and consumer.
The digital data industry now claims in a recent study byfast.MAP, that consumer confidence in sharing personal information has risen. But the reality is that most people do not know which data is being used and to who it is being shared or sold to. Most users are unknowingly trading “access” to networks, as well convenient speed of registration – for data privacy. We do this on a daily basis now.
It’s a question of speculation at this point how deeply the new digital currencies will be integrated into social networking giants like Facebook, or Second Life - where users are already buying virtual property with virtual currency, but few can deny that the potential for consolidation in the early 21st century is already there.
History Will Repeat Itself
Whenever the status quo is seen as a failure, the architects of society will rarely allow the whole show to come to a grinding halt, for fear that new and non-centrally controlled organic systems of organisation will emerge. The ruling establishment will spare no opportunity to tell society this, over and over, making people truly believe that it is in their best interest to adopt whatever alternative is handed down to them. This is why, when faced with a crisis, society will almost always seek to implement a parallel alternatives, rather than rethink the whole system.
In 2008, the public had an opportunity to collapse the predatory banking system that has been trading insolvent and gambling on thin air. But the very same ruling establishment who engineered the crisis to begin with, masterfully presented their own solution as the remedy by establishing the precedent of the state bailing out any gambling losses incurred by the banking community.
In the end society relented, and with help of pro-banking political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic, they adopted the pre-packaged belief that a cluster of bloated and corrupt financial institutions were simply too big to fail. Aside from being a massive redistribution of wealth upwards into the hands of the speculative elite classes, this was merely a test by the establishment to see how far they could go in robbing the public, pushing up inflation, hoovering up real assets, robbing pension funds and enslaving taxpayers to generations of debt the bankers created – all in one swoop.
It has long been the dream of collectivists and technocratic elites to eliminate the semi-unregulated cash economy and black markets in order to maximise taxation and to fully control markets. If the cashless society is ushered in, they will have near complete control over the lives of individual people.
The financial collapse which began in 2007-2008 was merely the opening gambit of the elite criminal class, a mere warm-up for things to come. With the next collapse we may see a centrally controlled global digital currency gaining its final foothold.
The cashless society is already here. The question now is – how far will society allow it to penetrate and completely control each and every aspect of their day to day lives?
Source: Patrick Henningsen | 21stCenturyWire
The United States government and its subject peoples think of the US as “the world’s only superpower.” But how is a country a superpower when its entire government and a majority of the subjects, especially those members of evangelical churches, grovel at the feet of the Israeli Prime Minister? How is a country a superpower when it lacks the power to determine its own foreign policy in the Middle East? Such a country is not a superpower. It is a puppet state.
In the past few days we have witnessed, yet again, the “American superpower” groveling at Netanyahu’s feet. When Netanyahu decided to again murder the Palestinian women and children of Gaza, to further destroy what remains of thesocial infrastructure of the Gaza Ghetto, and to declare Israeli war crimes and Israeli crimes against humanity to be merely the exercise of “self-defense,” the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the White House, and the US media all promptly declared their support for Netanyahu’s crimes.
On November 16 the Congress of the “superpower,” both House and Senate, passed overwhelmingly the resolutions written for them by AIPAC, the Israel Lobby known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the only foreign agent that is not required to register as a foreign agent. The Global News Service of the Jewish People reported their power over Washington with pride. Both Democrats and Republicans shared the dishonor of serving Israel and evil instead of America and justice for the Palestinians.
The White House quickly obeyed the summons from the Israel Lobby. President Obama announced that he is “fully supportive” of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, told the media on November 17 that the White House “wants the same thing as the Israelis want.” This is an overstatement as many Israelis oppose the crimes of the Israeli government, which is not the government of Israel but the government of the “settlers,” that is, the crazed land-hungry immigrants who are illegally, with Netanyahu’s support, stealing the lands of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s Israel is the equivalent of the Lincoln Republicans 150 years ago. Then there was no international law to protect Southern states, who left the voluntary union, a right under the Constitution, in order to avoid being exploited by Northern business interests. Subsequently, the Union army, after devastating the South, turned on the American Indians, and there was no international law to protect American Indians from being murdered and dispossessed by Washington’s armies.
Washington claimed that its invasion forces were threatened by the Indian’s bows and arrows. Today there is international law to protect the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza. However, every time that the world tries to hold the Israeli government accountable for its crimes, Israel’s Washington puppet vetoes the UN decision.
The notion that Israel is threatened by Palestinians is as absurd as the notion that the US is threatened by Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and Iran. No government of any of these countries has ever made a threatening statement against the US. Even had such a statement been made, it would be meaningless. If a Superpower can be threatened by such impotent and distant counties, then it is not a superpower.
Demonizing a victim is a way of hiding state crimes. The American print and TV media is useless as a check on state crimes. The only crimes reported by the media are assigned to “terrorists,” that is, those who resist US hegemony, and to Americans, such as Bradley Manning and Sibel Edmonds, who liberate truth from official secrecy. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks remains in danger despite the asylum granted to him by the President of Ecuador, as Washington has little regard for international law.
In the US the exercise of the First Amendment is coming to be regarded as a crime against the state. The purpose of the media is no longer to find the truth, but to protect official lies. Speaking the truth has essentially disappeared as it is too costly to journalist who dare to do so. To keep one’s job, one serves Washington and the private interest groups that Washington serves.
In his November 19 defense of Israel’s latest war crimes, President Obama said: “no country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside its borders.” But, of course, numerous countries do tolerate missiles raining down from the US. The war criminal Obama is raining down missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, and has rained missiles on Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Syria as well. Iran might be next.
The German assault on the Warsaw Ghetto is one of the horror stories of Jewish history. Such an event is happening again, only this time Jews are perpetrators instead of victims. No hand has been raised to stay Israel from the goal of the operationdeclared by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai to be “to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.”
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts