Can the sharing economy movement address the root causes of the world’s converging crises? Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sustainability, then such claims are without substantiation – although there are many hopeful signs that the conversation is slowly moving in the right direction.
In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing.
As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media, a debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction. There is no doubt that the emergent paradigm of sharing resources is set to expand and further flourish in coming years, especially in the face of continuing economic recession, government austerity and environmental concerns. As a result of the concerted advocacy work and mobilisation of sharing groups in the US, fifteen city mayors have now signed the Shareable Cities Resolution in which they officially recognise the importance of economic sharing for both the public and private sectors. Seoul in South Korea has also adopted a city-funded project called Sharing City in which it plans to expand its ‘sharing infrastructure’, promote existing sharing enterprises and incubate sharing economy start-ups as a partial solution to problems in housing, transportation, job creation and community cohesion. Furthermore, Medellin in Colombia is embracing transport-sharing schemes and reimagining the use of its shared public spaces, while Ecuador is the first country in the world to commit itself to becoming a ‘shared knowledge’-based society, under an official strategy named ‘buen saber’.
Many proponents of the sharing economy therefore have great hopes for a future based on sharing as the new modus operandi. Almost everyone recognises that drastic change is needed in the wake of a collapsed economy and an overstretched planet, and the old idea of the American dream – in which a culture that promotes excessive consumerism and commercialisation leads us to see the ‘good life’ as the ‘goods life’, as described by the psychologist Tim Kasser - is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. Hence more and more people are rejecting the materialistic attitudes that defined recent decades, and are gradually shifting towards a different way of living that is based on connectedness and sharing rather than ownership and conspicuous consumption. ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials.
However, many entrepreneurial sharing pioneers also profess a big picture vision of what sharing can achieve in relation to the world’s most pressing issues, such as population growth, environmental degradation and food security. As Ryan Gourley of A2Share posits, for example, a network of cities that embrace the sharing economy could mount up into a Sharing Regions Network, then Sharing Nations, and finally a Sharing World: “A globally networked sharing economy would be a whole new paradigm, a game-changer for humanity and the planet”. Neal Gorenflo, the co-founder and publisher of Shareable, also argues that peer-to-peer collaboration can form the basis of a new social contract, with an extensive sharing movement acting as the catalyst for systemic changesthat can address the root causes of both poverty and climate change. Or to quote the words of Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, we are going to have to “share to survive” if we want to face up to a sustainable future. In such a light, it behoves us all to investigate the potential of sharing to effect a social and economic transformation that is sufficient to meet the grave challenges of the 21st century.
Two sides of a debate on sharing
There is no doubt that sharing resources can contribute to the greater good in a number of ways, from economic as well as environmental and social perspectives. A number of studies show the environmental benefits that are common to many sharing schemes, such as the resource efficiency and potential energy savings that could result from car sharing and bike sharing in cities. Almost all forms of localised sharing are economical, and can lead to significant cost savings or earnings for individuals and enterprises. In terms of subjective well-being and social impacts, common experience demonstrates how sharing can also help us to feel connected to neighbours or co-workers, and even build community and make us feel happier.
Few could disagree on these beneficial aspects of sharing resources within communities or across municipalities, but some controversy surrounds the broader vision of how the sharing economy movement can contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For many advocates of the burgeoning trend towards economic sharing in modern cities, it is about much more than couch-surfing, car sharing or tool libraries, and holds the potential to disrupt the individualist and materialistic assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. For example, Juliet Schor in her book Plenitude perceives that a new economics based on sharing could be an antidote to the hyper-individualised, hyper-consumer culture of today, and could help rebuild the social ties that have been lost through market culture. Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project, in her latest short video on how to move society in an environmentally sustainable and just direction, also considers sharing as a key ‘game changing’ solution that could help to transform the basic goals of the economy.
Many other proponents see the sharing economy as a path towards achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits, and an essential first step on the road to more localised economies and egalitarian societies. But far from everyone perceives that participating in the sharing economy, at least in its existing form and praxis, is a ‘political act’ that can realistically challenge consumption-driven economics and the culture of individualism – a question that is raised (although not yet comprehensively answered) in a valuable think piece from Friends of the Earth, as discussed further below. Various commentators argue that the proliferation of new business ventures under the umbrella of sharing are nothing more than “supply and demand continuing its perpetual adjustment to new technologies and fresh opportunities”, and that the concept of the sharing economy is being co-opted by purely commercial interests – a debate that was given impetus when the car sharing pioneers, Zipcar, were bought up by the established rental firm Avis.
Recently, Slate magazine’s business and economics correspondent controversially reiterated the observation that making money from new modes of consumption is not really ‘sharing’ per se, asserting that the sharing economy is therefore a “dumb term” that “deserves to die”. Other journalists have criticised the superficial treatment that the sharing economy typically receives from financial pundits and tech reporters, especially the claims that small business start-ups based on monetised forms of sharing are a solution to the jobs crisis – regardless of drastic cutbacks in welfare and public services, unprecedented rates of income inequality, and the dangerous rise of the precariat. The author Evgeny Morozov, writing an op-ed in the Financial Times, has gone as far as saying that the sharing economy is having a pernicious effect on equality and basic working conditions, in that it is fully compliant with market logic, is far from valuing human relationships over profit, and is even amplifying the worst excesses of the dominant economic model. In the context of the erosion of full-time employment, the assault on trade unions and the disappearance of healthcare and insurance benefits, he argues that the sharing economy is accelerating the transformation of workers into “always-on self-employed entrepreneurs who must think like brands”, leading him to dub it “neoliberalism on steroids”.
Problems of definition
Although it is impossible to reconcile these polarised views, part of the problem in assessing the true potential of economic sharing is one of vagueness in definition and wide differences in understanding. The conventional interpretation of the sharing economy is at present focused on its financial and commercial aspects, with continuous news reports proclaiming its rapidly growing market size and potential as a “co-commerce revolution”. Rachel Botsman, a leading entrepreneurial thinker on the potential of collaboration and sharing through digital technologies to change our lives, has attempted to clarify what the sharing economy actually is in order to prevent further confusion over the different terms in general use. In her latest typology, she notes how the term ‘sharing economy’ is often muddled with other new ideas and is in fact a subset of ‘collaborative consumption’ within the entire ‘collaborative economy’ movement, and has a rather restricted meaning in terms of “sharing underutilized assets from spaces to skills to stuff for monetary or non-monetary benefits” [see slide 9 of the presentation]. This interpretation of changing consumer behaviours and lifestyles revolves around the “maximum utilization of assets through efficient models of redistribution and shared access”, which isn’t necessarily predicated on an ethic of ‘sharing’ by any strict definition.
Other interpretations of the sharing economy are far broader and less constrained by capitalistic assumptions, as demonstrated in the Friends of the Earth briefing paper on Sharing Cities written by Professor Julian Agyeman et al. In their estimation, what’s missing from most of these current definitions and categorisations of economic sharing is a consideration of “the communal, collective production that characterises the collective commons”. A broadened ‘sharing spectrum’ that they propose therefore not only focuses on goods and services within the mainstream economy (which is almost always considered in relation to affluent, middle-class lifestyles), but also includes the non-material or intangible aspects of sharing such as well-being and capability [see page 6 of the brief]. From this wider perspective, they assert that the cutting edge of the sharing economy is often not commercial and includes informal behaviours like the unpaid care, support and nurturing that we provide for one another, as well as the shared use of infrastructure and shared public services.
This sheds a new light on governments as the “ultimate level of sharing”, and suggests that the history of the welfare state in Europe and other forms of social protection is, in fact, also integral to the evolution of shared resources in cities and within different countries. Yet an understanding of sharing from this more holistic viewpoint doesn’t have to be limited to the state provision of healthcare, education, and other public services. As Agyeman et al elucidate, cooperatives of all kinds (from worker to housing to retailer and consumer co-ops) also offer alternative models for shared service provision and a different perspective on economic sharing, one in which equity and collective ownership is prioritised. Access to natural common resources such as air and water can also be understood in terms of sharing, which may then prioritise the common good of all people over commercial or private interests and market mechanisms. This would include controversial issues of land ownership and land use, raising questions over how best to share land and urban space more equitably – such as through community land trusts, or through new policies and incentives such as land value taxation.
The politics of sharing
Furthermore, Agyeman et al argue that an understanding of sharing in relation to the collective commons gives rise to explicitly political questions concerning the shared public realm and participatory democracy. This is central to the many countercultural movements of recent years (such as the Occupy movement and Middle East protests since 2011, and the Taksim Gezi Park protests in 2013) that have reclaimed public space to symbolically challenge unjust power dynamics and the increasing trend toward privatisation that is central to neoliberal hegemony. Sharing is also directly related to the functioning of a healthy democracy, the authors reason, in that a vibrant sharing economy (when interpreted in this light) can counter the political apathy that characterises modern consumer society. By reinforcing values of community and collaboration over the individualism and consumerism that defines our present-day cultures and identities, they argue that participation in sharing could ultimately be reflected in the political domain. They also argue that a shared public realm is essential for the expression of participatory democracy and the development of a good society, not least as this provides a necessary venue for popular debate and public reasoning that can influence political decisions. Indeed the “emerging shareability paradigm”, as they describe it, is said to reflect the basic tenets of the Right to the City (RTTC) – an international urban movement that fights for democracy, justice and sustainability in cities and mobilises against the privatisation of common goods and public spaces.
The intention in briefly outlining some of these differing interpretations of sharing is to demonstrate how considerations of politics, justice, ethics and sustainability are slowly being allied with the sharing economy concept. A paramount example is the Friends of the Earth briefing paper outlined above, which was written as part of FOEI’s Big Ideas to Change the World series on cities that promoted sharing as “a political force to be reckoned with” and a “call to action for environmentalists”. Yet many further examples could also be mentioned, such as the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Manifesto for the New Materialism’ which promotes the old-fashioned ethic of sharing as part of a new way of living to replace the collapsed model of debt-fuelled overconsumption. There are also signs that many influential proponents of the sharing economy – as generally understood today in terms of new economic models driven by peer-to-peer technology that enable access to rather than ownership of resources – are beginning to query the commercial direction that the movement is taking, and are instead promoting more politicised forms of social change that are not merely based on micro-enterprise or the monetisation/branding of high-tech innovations.
Janelle Orsi, a California-based ‘sharing lawyer’ and author of The Sharing Solution, is particularly inspirational in this regard; for her, the sharing economy encompasses such a broad range of activities that it is hard to define, although she suggests that all its activities are tied together in how they harness the existing resources of a community and grow its wealth. This is in contradistinction to the mainstream economy that mostly generates wealth for people outside of people’s communities, and inherently generates extreme inequalities and ecological destruction – which Orsi contends that the sharing economy can help reverse. The problem she recognises is that the so-called sharing economy we usually hear about in the media is built upon a business-as-usual foundation, which is privately owned and often funded by venture capital (as is the case with Airbnb, Lyft, Zipcar, Taskrabbit et cetera). As a result, the same business structures that created the economic problems of today are buying up new sharing economy companies and turning them into ever larger, more centralised enterprises that are not concerned about people’s well-being, community cohesion, local economic diversity, sustainable job creation and so on (not to mention the risk of re-creating stock valuation bubbles that overshadowed the earlier generation of dot.com enterprises). The only way to ensure that new sharing economy companies fulfil their potential to create economic empowerment for users and their communities, Orsi argues, is through cooperative conversion – and she makes a compelling case for the democratic, non-exploitative, redistributive and truly ‘sharing’ potential of worker and consumer cooperatives in all their guises.
Sharing as a path to systemic change
There are important reasons to query which direction this emerging movement for sharing will take in the years ahead. As prominent supporters of the sharing economy recognise, like Janelle Orsi and Juliet Schor, it offers both opportunities and reasons for optimism as well as pitfalls and some serious concerns. On the one hand, it reflects a growing shift in our values and social identities as ‘citizens vs consumers’, and is helping us to rethink notions of ownership and prosperity in a world of finite resources, scandalous waste and massive wealth disparities. Perhaps its many proponents are right, and the sharing economy represents the first step towards transitioning away from the over-consumptive, materially-intense and hoarding lifestyles of North American, Western European and other rich societies. Perhaps sharing really is fast becoming a counter-cultural movement that can help us to value relationships more than things, and offer us the possibility of re-imagining politics and constructing a more participative democracy, which could ultimately pose a challenge to the global capitalist/consumerist model of development that is built on private interests and debt at the cost of shared interests and true wealth.
On the other hand, critics are right to point out that the sharing economy in its present form is hardly a threat to existing power structures or a movement that represents the kind of radical changes we need to make the world a better place. Far from reorienting the economy towards greater equity and a better quality of life, as proposed by writers such as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly and John Cobb, it is arguable that most forms of sharing via peer-to-peer networks are at risk of being subverted by conventional business practices. There is a perverse irony in trying to imagine the logical conclusion of these trends: new models of collaborative consumption and co-production that are co-opted by private interests and venture capitalists, and increasingly geared towards affluent middle-class types or so-called bourgeois bohemians (the ‘bobos’), to the exclusion of those on low incomes and therefore to the detriment of a more equal society. Or new sharing technology platforms that enable governments and corporations to collaborate in pursuing more intrusive controls over and greater surveillance of citizens. Or new social relationships based on sharing in the context of increasingly privatised and enclosed public spaces, such as gated communities within which private facilities and resources are shared.
This is by no means an inevitable outcome, but what is clear from this brief analysis is that the commercialisation and depoliticisation of economic sharing poses risks and contradictions that call into question its potential to transform society for the benefit of everyone. Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sound environmental stewardship, then the various claims that sharing is a new paradigm that can address the world’s interrelated crises is indeed empty rhetoric or utopian thinking without any substantiation. Sharing our skills through Hackerspaces, our unused stuff through GoodShuffle or a community potluck through mealshare is, in and of itself, a generally positive phenomenon that deserves to be enjoyed and fully participated in, but let’s not pretend that car shares, clothes swaps, co-housing, shared vacation homes and so on are going to seriously address economic and climate chaos, unjust power dynamics or inequitable wealth distribution.
Sharing from the local to the global
If we look at sharing through the lens of just sustainability, however, as civil society organisations and others are now beginning to do, then the true possibilities of sharing resources within and among the world’s nations are vast and all-encompassing: to enhance equity, rebuild community, improve well-being, democratise national and global governance, defend and promote the global commons, even to point the way towards a more cooperative international framework to replace the present stage of competitive neoliberal globalisation. We are not there yet, of course, and the popular understanding of economic sharing today is clearly focused on the more personal forms of giving and exchange among individuals or through online business ventures, which is mainly for the benefit of high-income groups in the world’s most economically advanced nations. But the fact that this conversation is now being broadened to include the role of governments in sharing public infrastructure, political power and economic resources within countries is a hopeful indication that the emerging sharing movement is slowly moving in the right direction.
Already, questions are being raised as to what sharing resources means for the poorest people in the developing world, and how a revival of economic sharing in the richest countries can be spread globally as a solution to converging crises. It may not be long until the idea of economic sharing on a planetary scale - driven by an awareness of impending ecological catastrophe, life-threatening extremes of inequality, and escalating conflict over natural resources – is the subject of every dinner party and kitchen table conversation.
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The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery. This means that if you are a slave today, it’s either illegal, or you have voluntarily accepted your servitude.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
You have a Constitutionally protected right to be free. If you aren’t free, then revolution is your duty.
Many people believe that revolution requires that they lead a march, stand in front of a crowd with a bullhorn, or form a militia. They feel like it’s a job for the Alex Joneses, the Adam Kokeshes, the James Wesley Rawleses, and the Bradley Mannings of the world.
They’re wrong. You don’t have to be a person with thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook . You don’t have to be a person with a military leadership position on your resume. You need not get yourself arrested on the steps of the White House, got to prison forever for telling the truth about your unit in the army, or stare down a bunch of scary-looking thugs in jack boots.
But you do have to do something.
You can’t just sit there and complain unless you are really just another armchair Rambo.
The way you lead your life every single day can be an act of revolution. By refusing to concede your natural rights, quietly and resolutely, you are performing an act of revolution. Walking the walk doesn’t always require civil disobedience or militia membership (although those actions definitely have their places). It requires your consistent determination not to be infringed upon.
It doesn’t matter if you are a soccer mom from the suburbs, a college student in a dormitory, a church-going dad and husband, or a person who has found themselves homeless through the ongoing economic crisis – by living resolutely, you are performing an act of revolution.
Don’t get me wrong – we need the Alexes, the Adams, the militias, the Bradleys, and the JWRs. We need the people who stand in protest. We need those who expose wrongdoing. We need the organizers, the shouters, the big personalities, the quiet strong types, and the leaders. But these are not the only ways to revolt. If every single person was off organizing their own rally, there’d be no one left to march in it.
What it is imperative upon us to do is to find our compass and follow it. We must make ourselves immune to control by not needing what “they” hand out. We have to be armored against the way everyone else lives and choose our own paths. We must stubbornly refuse to participate in the hoop-jumping that is everyday life in North America. By all of us who believe in liberty doing this, we form an army of stubborn non-participants in the status quo.
Here’s an example. It’s a small thing, a battle that today only affected my daughter and me. My daughter is not vaccinated. She attends a public school where the kids must be vaccinated, or hoops must be jumped through. I filled out the initial forms stating that I had an objection of conscience to vaccines. I was contacted by a representative of the school system who suggested that I sign instead the form that stated a religious objection, because that was “easier”. I refused, because my objection is NOT one of religion, and I felt like that was a cop-out. I knew that I was within my rights to have an objection of conscience, and I felt that it was important to make a point that might make it easier for the next parent. I was then told that I’d have to pay $25 and get a statement notarized to allow her exemption on my basis. I said I’d be happy to get a statement notarized, but not at my expense. I pointed out that nowhere does our local law state that I should have to pay any money for my child to NOT do something. Lo and behold, after 5 months of politely going back and forth, being escalated through numerous different superiors of superiors in the school board and public health system, my daughter is still unvaccinated, I have not spent $25, and she was not suspended from school. The point I’m making is not about vaccines, but about not stepping back from your rights, for your convenience or for the convenience of others. This requires that you read the relevant laws and understand them. It requires a certain degree of persistence and a willingness to be a pain in the butt.
There are valid reasons for revolution.
One of the benchmarks of tyranny is the dizzying arrays of laws on the books, with more and more added every single day. It is humanly impossible not to break multiple laws every single day. Regulations are revenue builders and/or control mechanisms. If the “authorities” can ALWAYS find a law that you’ve broken, then they can ALWAYS give a “reason” for punishing you. Punishment might include incarceration, hefty fines, or the removal of some privilege (like taking away your driver’s license or not allowing your child to go to school).
If the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed? - James Madison, Federalist Papers 62
The police state is growing at a dizzying rate, and often the news makes it look like we live in Nazi Germany. It is now or never. Like cockroaches, “they” – the thugs in jackboots and their masters – multiply in the dark, and will soon overtake us if we don’t put a stop to it right now. They want to take our guns because that would make our resistance more difficult. They keep buying up ammo and now have more than enough to kill every man, woman, and child in America multiple times. The NDAA means that any person can be indefinitely detained. There has been a sustained attack on the Bill of Rights and one by one our rights are being submerged beneath the desires of those who would demand our submission.
How can you be an everyday revolutionary?
The most revolutionary act is to be self-sufficient and in need of nothing that the government can provide for you in exchange for some small liberty. When there is nothing that you require enough to submit, then bullying you becomes much more difficult.
This list of suggestions is by no means comprehensive. Please, add your own random acts of resistance in the comments below.
- Question absolutely everything you hear on the news. Always be a skeptic. All major media goes back to just a few conglomerates. The “news” is now all a propaganda ploy to help the rich get richer and the powerful remain in power. The media can make or break a candidate with unholy zeal in less than a week. These people and others like them are the ones that decide what “we the people” get to see. If they feel like a candidate or a news item might upset the status quo, they black it out by refusing to cover it.
- Call out the media. Let everyone know that the mainstream media is the enemy of the people. When you see coverage that is clearly biased, take a moment to call out the media about it. Take the time to comment on mainstream media websites and point out the unbalanced coverage. If you use social media, share this information and post on the media outlet’s social media pages as well.
- Get out of the banking system. By opting to “unbank” or “underbank” there is a limit to what can be easily stolen from you. When you have physical control of your financial assets, you are not at as high a risk of losing those assets, and therefore, less likely to be dependent on “the system.”
- Turn your savings into precious metals or tangible assets. On the same note as unbanking, you definitely don’t want to rely on a 401K or savings account to provide for you in your old age. Ask the people of Cyprus how well that worked out for them. Diversify with assets you can touch. Purchase tangible goods like land, food, ammo, and seeds. Once you are well supplied, move on to precious metals to preserve your wealth.
- Educate others. At the (very high) risk of people thinking you’re crazy, it’s important to let people know WHY you do what you do. If you are an anti-Monsanto activist, teach others about the dangers of GMOs. If you object to a municipal policy, speak at a town meeting or send a letter to the editor of your local paper. By ranting incoherently or by keeping your mouth shut, you influence no one. By providing provable facts, you can open minds and awaken others to tyranny.
- Get others involved in the fight. For example, if you are fighting with the city council that wants to rip out the vegetables growing in your front yard, let your friends and neighbors know, post a notice at the grocery store, and write a letter to the editor. When injustice occurs, use the power of social media to spread awareness. Often a public outcry is what is necessary to get the “authorities” to back down. Look at the case of Brandon Raub, the veteran who was kidnapped and taken to a mental hospital for things he posted on Facebook. Raub was not charged, but he was detained in the psych ward involuntarily. His friends and family immediately mobilized and spread the videos of his arrest all over the internet. It snowballed and alternative media picked it up – soon Raub was released, and all because of a grass roots and social media campaign to bring the injustice to light.
- Grow your own food. Every single seed that you plant is a revolutionary act. Every bit of food that you don’t have to purchase from the grocery store is a battle cry for your personal independence. When you educate yourself (and others) about Big Food, Big Agri, and the food safety sell-outs at the FDA, you will clearly see that we are alone in our fight for healthy, nutritious foods. Refuse to tolerate these attacks on our health and our lifestyles. Refuse to be held subject to Agenda 21′s version of “sustainability”.
- Take control of your health. It is imperative that you not blindly trust in the medical establishment. Many members of this establishment are merely prostitutes for their pimp, Big Pharma. Millions of children are given powerful psychotropic drugs to help them fit into the neat little classroom boxes, and the numbers are growing every day. Americans spent 34.2 BILLION dollars on psychiatric drugs in 2010. (Source) Big Pharma is an enormously profitable industry that only pays off if they can convince you that you’re sick. Learn about the toxic injections and medications, weight the risks and benefits, and always look for second and third opinions before making a medical decision. Maintain your health by avoiding toxins, exercising, and ditching your bad habits to reduce the number of doctor’s visits that are necessary.
- Refuse to comply. If you know your natural rights, which are guaranteed under the Constitution and its Amendments, then it makes it much harder for “authorities” to bully you. You don’t have to let them search your home without a warrant, you don’t have to answer questions, and you don’t have to comply with laws that are in conflict with the Constitution.
- Learn. Every day, spend time learning. This shouldn’t stop once our formal education ends. Fill your mind with history, with current events, with constitutional law, and information about the natural world. Learn about health, study economics, research things that interest you, and unravel the complicated conspiracies that are afoot. To pursue unbiased knowledge is to free your mind from the prison of propaganda and indoctrination.
- Don’t consume chemicals that cause you to be dumbed down. Avoid chemical-laden food with brain-killing neurotoxins like MSG and aspartame. Don’t drink fluoridated water.
- Embrace your right to bear arms. Be responsible for your own safety and security.
- Don’t be in debt. No one can be free if they are in debt. If you are in debt, you are forced to work in whatever conditions are present, for whatever amount is offered, complying with whatever criteria is necessary to keep your job. in order to either pay your debt or face penalties. As well, the high interest rates that you pay only serve to make the bankers more wealthy. Instead of borrowing, save until you can afford something or realize that if you could actually afford it, you wouldn’t need to borrow money to have it.
- Be prepared for disaster. Have enough food, water, and supplies to take care of your family in the event of a natural disaster. Don’t expect FEMA to take care of you.
- Be involved in your children’s education. For some, this means homeschooling or unschooling, and for others this means being on top of what they are learning in a formal school setting. Join the PTA and actively volunteer if your child goes to school. Be an advocate for your child and insist that the teachers teach. If your child goes to school, supplement this at home with discourse about current events and outings that help them learn about the world around them.
- Be the squeaky wheel. If you see something wrong, don’t just ignore it. Say something about it, and keep saying something until it changes. Whether this is some process that infringes on your privacy, a job requirement that impedes your health, or another injustice, pursue it relentlessly. Ask questions publically, write letters, and use social media to bring pressure to encourage a change.
- Reduce your consumer spending. Spending less helps to starve the beast by reducing the sales taxes you pay and withdrawing your financial support to big conglomerates. If we vote with our dollars, eventually there will, of a necessity, be a paradigm shift that returns us to simpler days, when families that were willing to work hard could make a living without selling their souls to the corporate monoliths. A low-consumption lifestyle reduces your financial dependency, which allows for more freedom.
- Ditch popular culture. If reality TV isn’t a tool for dumbing people down, I don’t know what it is. My daughter recently begged to watch an episode of a popular reality TV show that “everyone” was watching. She managed about 15 minutes of it and then said, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.” She decided to read a book instead. Popular entertainment is a media tool used to change our perspectives about our personal values, and to tell us how to think and feel about issues.
- Buy locally. Support local small businesses to help others who are fighting for independence from the system. You might pay a little bit more than you would at your big box store, but the only people benefiting from your purchases made at the corporate stores are those with the 7 figure annual bonuses.
- Develop multiple streams of income. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Figure out several ways to bring in income. Not only does this free you from being a wage slave, but it allows you to hire friends or family members. You are less entangled in the system and not subject to corporate whims. If one business fails, or becomes subject to regulations that make it no longer worthwhile, you are not forced to comply just to keep a roof over your head.
- Say thanks, but no thanks. There is no such thing as a benevolent hand out. Nearly anything offered for free (particularly by a government entity) has strings attached. Maybe there is a handy-dandy registration form that you need to fill out. You might be influenced to vote a certain way just to keep the freebies coming. You might have to pee in a cup every two weeks. Perhaps one day you’ll need to have a microchip embedded in your hand. Either way, by accepting handouts from those in “authority”, you become beholden to them or you need them, and someone who is free is neither beholden nor needy.
- Don’t take the easy road. The PTB like to seduce people with simplicity. ”If you just sign this paper, it will be much easier,” they say. ”This chip is for your convenience,” they tell you. ”By giving up this, it lets us take care of you and you will be much safer.” The easy road only gets you to Slave Street a whole lot faster. Take the difficult road and be responsible for yourself. Don’t take shortcuts that compromise your beliefs. Go to court to fight a ticket, read the laws and defend yourself, and know that anything you give up, you will never get back.
According to the Declaration of Independence, ”Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
That means that you don’t have to accept the unjust laws. That means you don’t have to quietly take it, muttering under your breath that it isn’t right, but not daring to raise your voice. That means that “they” are only in control of you if you allow it.
There are nearly 316 million people in the United States. (source)
Only 3% of the population fought in the Revolutionary War, and 10% actively supported them.
If 9,480,000 people quietly and peacefully revolted by withdrawing their consent to be governed by tyrants we could not be silenced.
If 31,600,000 people supported those revolting, we could not be stopped.
The government might be watching us, but we can watch them right back. Make the way you live your life a revolutionary act.
Source: The Organic Prepper
“I’ve gotten some of my best light from bridges I’ve burned.”– Don Henley
What does it take, in an era dominated by progressive identity politics, to be accepted as a fully qualified member of the Left?
Jane is a London lawyer who identifies politically ‘as a woman,’ and marches enthusiastically for human rights. Can she join? I think the answer is yes, she can.
George is a medical doctor who happens also to be a black man and identifies as ‘Black middle class.’ Can he subscribe to a progressive email group and contribute to the discussion? I hope and suspect that he can.
And what about Julie? She runs an estate agency on the posh side of town but she also identifies as a ‘gay lesbian,’ can she join the parade? What a question! Of course she can.
Now Abe is an accountant and very attached to his Jewish heritage. Abe identifies as a ‘secular Jew,’ can he join the anti-war movement? More than likely he can, in fact he may even, within hours of his joining, find himself in a position of leadership.
But what about Hammed, a metal worker from Birmingham? Hammed identifies as a ‘Muslim’ — can he join a Left demonstration against the War in Syria? It’s a good question and the answer is not immediately obvious at all because it’s no secret that many of those who subscribe to ‘progressive’ ideology and indeed, activism, are rather troubled by religion in general and Islam in particular.
So, while Hammed is identifying with a universal and humanist precept, Jane, ‘the woman’, Julie ‘the Gay Lesbian’ and George ‘the Black’ openly subscribe to biologically-determined political identities. Furthermore, Abe, Identifying as a secular Jew, affiliates himself with a blood-based ethnocentric tribal identity. Clearly, the Left has no problem with such marginal and exclusivist political identities.
So, how is it possible that the contemporary Left discourse is sustained by people who, themselves subscribe to biologically-determined identity politics, yet so often reject similar, though often working class folk, who actually support equality and human rights issues? Could it be that the Left has in fact, drifted away from working class politics into some vague and inconsistent pseudo-empathic discourse primarily engaged in sectarian battles?
And there’s more.
Uri is an Israeli peace activist and writer who also identifies as an Israeli Leftist. Is Uri welcome within the progressive network? The answer is unreservedly, yes. But John Smith, an English bus driver from Liverpool is proud to be English and ‘as an Englishman’ he opposes the war because John actually believes that peace is patriotic. Can he join an anti-war protest and, while he’s at it, carry a Union Jack to demonstrations? I leave the answer to you.
Tony is a ‘Jewish Socialist’ – certainly not religious but an ethnic Jew who identifies ‘as a Jew’ racially and ethnically. And by the way, Tony also operates politically within Jews-only anti-Zionist groups. Now Tony is hugely welcome at most Left and progressive gathering. But can the same be said for Franz who identifies as an ‘Aryan socialist’? Again, I leave the answer to you.
The point is that yet again we detect a critical discrepancy in Left or progressive thinking. While Jewish ethnocentrism and even Jewish racial exclusivity is accepted, other forms of ethnocentrism are bluntly rejected. Is this a contradiction? You judge.
And, while we’re at it, what about Laura? She’s a Muslim convert who often hides her face behind the veil. Does she feel comfortable in ‘progressive’ gatherings? Not really. But Laura certainly supports human rights and equality almost as much as she loves Allah. But the Left’s and progressives’ tolerance towards Allah worshippers is particularly limited while, on the other hand, worshippers of the Talmud who are willing to oppose Israel are, not only tolerated, they are positively welcomed. Torah Jews, for instance, are often invited to progressive gatherings though, it must be said, they also encounter some resentment, especially from Jewish activists (This surely is because progressive Jews don’t like to be associated with people in caftans).
So it seems that membership of a progressive club is no straightforward matter because here we are here dealing with a discourse that is far from being open or inclusive. On the contrary, it is a pretty selective operation and far from being principled, coherent or universal. No longer is it committed to ‘members’ of the ‘working class’ - unless they first demonstrate adherence to a predetermined tablet of ‘correct politics’.
So what are these ‘correct politics’? Where are they defined and by whom?
In order to address this question we have to first delve into the peculiar ‘progressive’ threshold that leaves the Muslim and the nationalist out yet happily embraces other biologically-determined political, and even racial categories. Strangely enough, the mix that forms the Left alliance is suspiciously similar to the mix that sustains Liberal Zionist political power.
Is this a coincidence? Is it really that surprising that the Left, traditionally defined as a universal humanist discourse, is now supported politically and financially by a mixture of political identities that also lend their support to Israel and its rabidly nationalist, capitalist and ethnocentric ideology? No, it’s not, so I guess that the growing similarity between the Left and Liberal Zionism alliance demands some explanation. I’ve managed to come with three possible answers.
1. The Spin – The similarity between the Liberal Zionist alliance and the Left compound is a complete coincidence and reveals nothing about either Zionism or Left ideology.
2. The Observant – The Left and Liberal Zionism are basically two faces of the same coin.
3. The Forensic – By following the money trail, we see that most Left groups and liberal Zionism (a la J-Street and practically the entire progressive network) are funded by the same organizations, leading amongst them being George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
If the last is true (and I think it is) it may as well mean that a large part of the ‘dissident’ network is sustained by….wait for it… a Wall Street hedge fund. In other words we are dealing here with an institutional and well-funded controlled opposition apparatus. This may explain, what so often seems on the part of the Left and Progressive discourse generally, like complete dysfunction and utter impotence – whether in labour matters, domestic politics, foreign affairs, global wars and, of course, Palestine.
If the Left sees any reason to rescue itself — and this is indeed a big ‘if’ – it would first have to redeem itself from its greed and attachment to ‘big money.’ It may have to redefine for itself exactly what labour and ‘working class politics’ means for the workless.
Of course, it may just be that the Left has ended its political and ideological role, that basically, it belongs to the past. In other words, our capacity to think universally and ethically is now completely liberated from dialectical materialism or class division.
In the end, I doubt whether anyone within the progressive network possesses the intellectual capacity and ideological stamina to endure such a serious discussion.
I guess we’d just better move on.
It is obviously clear. President Obama is a threat not only to the American people. He is destabilizing the United States every way he can. He did this paying for Treyvon protest trying to start race wars as one example. He is a threat to world peace. He has to be neutralized before he takes the world into an age of war and destruction. Now how can that be done? Congress can pass all the impeachment bills. The US Senate will not by two thirds vote him guilty removing him from office. Politically there is very little that can be done to interpose between Obama and him destroying the world.
So who will step in and take action to avert a disaster from happening? The usurper in the White House is the most lawless President in history that makes Nixon and Clintonlook like choir boys in comparison. President Obama does not respect the Constitution and international law. He is waging war against the American people economically and shredding our Bill of Rights daily.
He is waging war against Christianity on the domestic front attacking religious freedom by forcing people of conscience to pay for Obamacare the pays for abortions. He is attacking Christians in the military daring to say the name of Jesus forcing chaplains to marry homosexuals against the moral conviction of the clergy. At the same time erecting Pagan places of worship on military installations. For this matter I call on the Patriots to relieve officers of duty and command who attack the religious freedom of the men and women in uniform. I do not care if the commander is a Buddhist and gay. He must respect and defend all faiths and conscience. If he is willing to follow an unlawful, immoral order without question that will weaken the fighting strength. Then the commanders and officers who carry these immoral orders need to be relieved of command.
President Obama is waging war on Christians in Syria, Egypt and now in Kenya. He is waging war against Christians world wide. He is a threat to the faith. He is arming the enemies of Christianity who are murdering unarmed woman and children. His actions are bringing instability to the world. He does not regard public opinion at all when it comes to gun control when the people are buying guns in record numbers and the citizens reluctance to go to war with Iran and Syria. Obama is a dangerous loose cannon that must be stopped.
First, Obama may be a natural born US Citizen because he was born in Hawaii. But he renounced his US citizenship becoming an Indonesian citizen taking on the name Barry Soetoro. His records are sealed where we do not know his immigration and naturalization records documenting repatriation or if he is a US citizen. Therefore he might be ineligible to hold office. Obama by his actions says he is an agent of a foreign power working against the United States. He is a domestic enemy of the United States.
He is arming Al Qaeda. The same terrorist that killed and maimed soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s half brother is being funded by the CIA to fund the Muslim brotherhood. Obama’s cousin Odinga is destabilizing Kenya. Odinga was given advice from Obama when he was a US Senator on how to cause havoc and destabilize Kenya for political gain.
Now with this massacre in Nairobi Kenya killing Christians in a Shopping mall. Now there are calls for the TSA to be in Shopping Malls that are another gun free zone. It would not surprise me if there are shootings in the malls in the states to further a police state here. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was calling for small scale attacks on US soil. Al Zawahri is a CIA backed operative who was behind the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Obama is the head of the Muslim Brotherhood and backs AL Qaeda therefore must be taken down and brought to justice.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
President Obama is commiting treason daily against the Americans people waging war every way possible to weaken our republic. He is involved in insurrection and rebellion against the laws of the Union.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.
If we took the oath. We are all duty bound to uphold that oath against all enemies foreign and domestic.
Those who are commissioned Officers in the Armed forces take the oath below:
I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”
(DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution ofthe United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the UnitedStates and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
(Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
That oath does not say to defend unconstitutional laws and illegal orders. It does not say defend a political agenda or corrupt politicians. It does not say defend the dictator. If the laws contradict the USMJ and the Constitution of these United States. The people in the Armed forces are duty bound not to carry out the order.
We are very unique because our oaths are not to a person. But to the US Constitution. The people who written the Constitution and requiring an oath of affirmation to support and defend the Constitution. Not a monarchy. They knew the British Redcoats were bound to the will of the King. Not to any morals. They had to follow the decrees of the King without question. We do not serve a monarchy. We never swore to a dictator. We serve the cause of freedom defending and preserving our Constitution. Our oath to preserve, protect and defend out Constitution is a vital check and balance against tyranny and despotism. The UCMJ requires us to follow lawful orders and not illegal edicts that goes against the law of the land
President Obama through insurrection is working hard to overthrow the government ofthe United States. Obama is trying to find an excuse to declare a national emergency to place the USA under Martial law. He can announce the President is suspending the Constitution so continuity of government declaring the President Dictator under PD-51 President Bush singed. This makes the President a Dictator under any national emergency the chief executive decides what is and what isn’t . Congress has no say to review. This is a classified document congress is not allowed to read.
Right now in Benjamin Fulford newsletter he says with much skepticism from a source inside the Pentagon. General Staff officers are making a list of 30,000 people who are New World Order thugs including the President. All to be arrested for treason and insurrection attempting to overthrow the Constitutional government.
It has been rumored the Provost Marshal was going to arrest Obama for attempting to detonate a nuclear device in Washington DC on the 12th Anniversary of Sept 11th. The shooting in the Navy yard could be a smoke screen of the attempted arrest of Obama for treason. I can tell the Military is getting ready to act to defend this nation. When Secretary of State John Kerry signed the UN Small Arms Trade Treaty. That was an act of treason trying to repeal the Second Amendment by underhanded means using treaty law.
I do not see much of the Military going out to confiscate guns. It is not 2005 in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It is a different world.
The Military is very awake now to the President’s treasonous ways. It is my hope the Military stands down instead of carrying out illegal orders where Obama is crowned King Nothing.
Source: From The Trenches World Report
A former female MP was involved in a paedophile network at the heart of government, police have been told.
She is alleged to have forced a boy in care to perform a “vile” sex act at one of a series of drug-fuelled parties in Westminster in the Eighties where boys and girls as young as 13 were allegedly abused.
Last night her alleged victim told the Sunday Express: “I want justice.”
Andrew Ash, now 45, said he has given Scotland Yard the name of the former MP. We cannot name her for legal reasons.
Mr Ash claims he was frequently ferried down to London from the North of England, where he was in care, to take part in sex parties.
He says they were organised by a paedophile ring involving David Smith, Jimmy Savile’s former chauffeur who killed himself last year before he was due to stand trial for sex offences.
He said: “It wasn’t just politicians, there were also a number of celebrities, including Jimmy Savile, who seemed to have a lot of good links to MPs and powerful businessmen.
“There was usually drugs like cocaine and speed available as well as bottles of champagne.”
Of his encounter with the female MP, he said: “She was extremely drunk and was laughing as she did it.
“I didn’t really know what was going on but the others around her were goading her on.
“I must have been about 13 years old at the time and felt humiliated.” We can also reveal that security services have been working closely with Yard detectives because of the highly sensitive nature of the allegations.
The Sunday Express understands police seized video footage and photographs of an alleged sex party from a well-known paedophile last year.
Mr Ash claims officers have footage which shows a senior male MP in the same frame as him, although no abuse takes place on camera. He said he is speaking out now because he is frustrated by the lack of action after being interviewed for 70 hours by the Met Police’s Paedophile Unit.
He says he was abused by the male MP on another occasion too. He said: “I remember being filmed with this MP, who was abusing me in a garage of a very prominent building behind a Rolls-Royce.
“Another politician turned up with a video camera but the man abusing me just smirked and joked, ‘OK, OK, I’ll vote any way you want’ as if he was being blackmailed. What I want to know is why they haven’t arrested him yet if they have this evidence.
“All I want is justice and for the truth to come out because these people have been protected for far too long.”
Mr Ash said two Met officers called at his home in Yorkshire last May.
Interviews were conducted mainly at a safe house in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, but also in London. “The interviews were usually carried out in blocks of three, normally every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“On at least two occasions there were two other officers present that I didn’t recognise. They didn’t ask me a thing, they just scribbled notes.
“I asked who they were but all I was told was that they were from ‘upstairs’. It was clear from the tone that they were intelligence officers.
“They had obviously been made aware of the high-profile names and the sensitive information I had given police.”
Dutch intelligence officers attended at least one interview because Andrew told of being trafficked to Amsterdam on a number of occasions to be abused by a group of paedophiles including convicted child killer Sidney Cooke.
He claims Cooke, now 84, made him film the paedophile abusing another young boy on video. It is feared Cooke may have abused and killed young boys in the Netherlands.
Mr Ash also told police he was abused by a big-name celebrity.
He said: “This particular person was able to get youngsters into glitzy nightclubs in the West End. After one evening he invited me and a young girl back to his house where he made us have sex before joining in.”
Mr Ash is being helped by anti-abuse campaigners Bill Maloney and Chris Fay.
Mr Fay said: “The police have spent a good deal of time with him, listening to his evidence, and now potentially have compelling information that Andrew was at one of these parties with at least one prominent former MP.
“He hopes by speaking out, other victims may come forward.”
There is a certain level of dishonesty in the common study of history. We look back at the tyrannies of the past, the monstrous governments, the devastating wars and the unimaginable crimes, and we wonder how it could have been possible. How could the people of that particular generation let such atrocities come to pass? Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they protest? Why didn’t they fight back?
We wonder all of this as we absorb the lists of dates, names and actions in books written by other men who memorized other lists of dates, names and actions. We are taught to study and wonder without ever actually applying the lessons of the past to the developments of today. We are conditioned to assert our own narrow spin on yesterday, instead of placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors or recognizing that their struggles remain our struggles. The modern method of viewing history detaches us from it, making it seem distant, alien or surreal.
Perhaps many societies fail to prepare or act in the face of tyranny because they had forgotten their own histories, making the demise of their culture appear so schizophrenic they would not believe what their eyes were telling them.
Often, the only way to grasp the more complete truth of the present is to examine it through the lens of the absurd. Sadly, our Nation, our culture and most of the world around us have become so backward, ugly, feeble and twisted that the only adequate comparison is to the nightmares of surrealists.
When I examine recent U.S. legislation, the exposure of classified documents, and the openly admitted criminality of political leadership, I am consistently reminded of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.
Kafka was a self-styled socialist back in the days when socialism was thought to be the next revolutionary movement for the downtrodden masses. It was, of course, controlled opposition created by global elitists attempting to exploit the natural rebellious tendencies of the general public within a false paradigm — using the masses to achieve greater power for a select few, while making the people think that they had won. It is ironic that Kafka would write The Trial, one of the greatest condemnations of totalitarian surveillance society, while at the same time supporting the socialist political vehicle that would eventually be used to implement unrelenting bureaucratic despotism.
The Trial is commonly labeled a “surrealist” piece of fiction, but I wonder now if it was actually far more literal than the academics of the past actually gave it credit for. The problem is that most of America, and much of the Western world, has forgotten what it is like to experience true danger and true suffering. We read about it now and watch movies about it like it’s entertainment, but few people have the slightest inkling how to deal with the real thing. We don’t even know how to recognize it. Because of this, Americans tend to pay more attention to fictional representations of tyranny rather than legitimate tyranny taking place right under their noses.
With that sad fact in mind, watch this clip from Orson Welles’ cinematic version of The Trial. See if you recognize your own world in this work of “fantasy”:
The main character of The Trial, Josef K., finds his apartment invaded by police in the early hours of the morning. Josef responds with anger but also fear, attempting to defend his character without actually understanding the nature of the police visit. The police answer his questions with more accusatory questions, only later warning him that he is being watched and that he is under arrest. The police do not, however, take him immediately into custody; nor do they ever tell him what his crime was. It is implied, in fact, that Josef is not allowed to know what he is being charged with.
This episode in The Trial has been played out in the real world over and over again, from the Soviet Cheka, to Adolf Hitler’s SS and Brownshirts, to Benito Mussolini’s Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism (OVRA), to the German Stasi, to Mao Zedong’s Central Security Bureau, etc. In the United States, the culture of surveillance and intrusion has (for now) taken a more subtle approach through the use of technology. We do not yet have agents physically rummaging through all our homes and asking for our papers (though we are not far away from this). Rather, we have the National Security Agency, which rummages through our electronic communications while using our own computer cameras and cellphones to watch us, listen to us and track us. All of this, mind you, is done on a massive scale without warrant.
We have the Authorization for Use of Military Force and the National Defense Authorization Act, which give the President the centralized authority to detain and even kill those Americans designated as “enemy combatants” without trial, without due process and without public oversight.
Our government now uses secret evidence to charge citizens with crimes they are not allowed to discuss with the public on the argument that to do so would “threaten national security.”That’s right; the government can arrest you or assassinate you based on evidence they never have to disclose to you, your family, your lawyer or the citizenry.
In the U.S. today, the kind of establishment terror Kafka imagined is indeed a reality. We are not on the verge of a total surveillance state, we are there. It exists. And if we do not accept that this is our social condition, there may be no historians tomorrow to look back on our era and wonder: “Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they fight back?”
The revelations brought by Edward Snowden on the NSA and its PRISM mass surveillance program are still only partially understood by the public. Even many self-proclaimed “cypherpunks” and “techno-warriors” don’t really grasp the pervasiveness of the all-seeing NSA eye. Recent documents leaked to German news source Der Spiegel by Snowden reveal an Internet almost completely dominated by the NSA, where even total encryption would be a mere temporary stopgap, according to tech researcher and journalist Jacob Appelbaum. The TAO group, sanctioned by the NSA, has been using technologies for years that startle even the most avid tech experts. To make matters worse, many of the intrusive mechanisms have been implemented — likely with the direct aid of American software and computer companies.
With NSA access to the backbone or core of the Internet, there is no digital privacy anywhere. The cypherpunks lost the war for the Web a long time ago, and they don’t seem to know it yet.
Beyond the undeniable prevalence of government surveillance, what would our American Kafkaesque experience be like without kangaroo courts designed to defend the criminal establishment instead of the victimized population? The latest Federal court decision on the NSA’s methods is that they are perfectly legal and “necessary” to protect Americans from national security threats. If you are a student of Constitutional law, this decision truly boggles the mind.
One of the most powerful incidents in The Trial is Josef’s speech to his court of accusers. In this moment, Josef argues with concrete logic and impassioned reason. His position is supported with beautifully crafted merit and truth. But what he does not realize is that the court he is trying to convince does not exist to discover the truth. The court is a sideshow, a piece of elaborate theater. The participants are there to make Josef, and the society at large, feel as though justice has been given a fair chance. Josef’s pleas are met with fake cheers, scripted jeers and even engineered distractions. Finally, he comes to understand that the system’s purpose is to destroy him. Everything else is an illusion.
The Web cannot be made free or private from within; our courts cannot be made fair and just from within; neither political party can be forced to represent the common man from within; and our government cannot be made honest or transparent from within. To play games of activism within establishment dominated systems is to play make-believe within a surrealist nightmare; a piece of “Alice in Wonderland” political quackery. Like the audience at Josef’s trial, the elites simply laugh at such activists, or feign applause, while continuing forever with the same corruption and the criminal status quo.
America has long presented itself as the ultimate alternative to the torturous mechanisms of oligarchs; and a long time ago, it was certainly a noble effort. However, our heritage of liberty — the faint memory of it — is all that’s left today. There is a contingent of men and women in our country, millions of us, that steward over this memory and seek to make whole once again, but the road ahead is long, with struggles beyond all reckoning.
Some people may ask how this could have occurred. How did we become the monster we were supposed to fight against? What happened to the good side and the bad side? Have they become exactly the same?
Those of us who have looked beyond the standardized veil of history know that this is not by accident. Those of us who decipher the surreal know that there is a method to the madness and an ultimate goal. To explain further, I leave you with another piece of fiction, a clip from the British TV series “The Prisoner.” While not written by Kafka, it was definitely inspired by him. It carries a message I would have liked to have warned him about concerning the disturbing path of duality, the mask with multiple faces that tyranny uses to subvert and enslave…
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
A poll last year showed that trust in the mainstream media is increasing, which should worry all of us who value truth, integrity and press freedom. Why? Here are 10 disturbing things everyone needs to know about the global media giants who control our supply of information, wielding immense power over the people- and even over the government.
1. Mainstream media exists solely to make profit
What´s the purpose of the mainstream media? Saying that the press exists to inform, educate or entertain is like saying Apple corporation´s primary function is to make technology which will enrich our lives. Actually, the mass media industry is the same as any other in a capitalist society: it exists to make profit. Medialens, a British campaigning site which critiques mainstream (or corporate) journalism, quotedbusiness journalist Marjorie Kelly as saying that all corporations, including those dealing with media, exist only to maximize returns to their shareholders. This is, she said, ´the law of the land…universally accepted as a kind of divine, unchallengeable truth´. Without pleasing shareholders and a board of directors, mass media enterprises simply would not exist. And once you understand this, you´ll never watch the news in the same way again.
2. Advertisers dictate content
So how does the pursuit of profit affect the news we consume? Media corporations make the vast majority (typically around 75%) of their profit from advertising, meaning it´s advertisers themselves that dictate content- not journalists, and certainly not consumers. Imagine you are editor of a successful newspaper or TV channel with high circulation or viewing figures. You attract revenue from big brands and multinational corporations such as BP, Monsanto and UAE airlines. How could you then tackle important topics such as climate change, GM food or disastrous oil spills in a way that is both honest to your audience and favorable to your clients? The simple answer is you can´t. This might explain why Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times- sponsored by Goldman Sachs- is so keen todefend the crooked corporation. Andrew Marr, a political correspondent for the BBC, sums up the dilemma in his autobiography: ´The biggest question is whether advertising limits and reshapes the news agenda. It does, of course. It’s hard to make the sums add up when you are kicking the people who write the cheques.´ Enough said…
3. Billionaire tycoons & media monopolies threaten real journalism
The monopolization of the press (fewer individuals or organizations controlling increasing shares of the mass media) is growingyear by year, and this is a grave danger to press ethics and diversity. Media mogul RupertMurdoch´s neo-liberal personal politics are reflected in his 175 newspapers and endorsed by pundits (see Fox news) on the 123 TV channels he owns in the USA alone. Anyone who isn´t worried by this one man´s view of the world being consumed by millions of people across the globe- from the USA to the UK, New Zealand to Asia, Europe to Australia- isn´t thinking hard enough about the consequences. It´s a grotesquely all-encompassing monopoly, leaving no doubt that Murdoch is one of the most powerful men in the world. But as the News International phone hacking scandal showed, he´s certainly not the most honorable or ethical. Neither is AlexanderLebedev, a former KGB spy and politician who bought British newspaper The Independent in 2010. With Lebedev´s fingers in so many pies (the billionaire oligarch is into everything from investment banking to airlines), can we really expect news coverage from this once well-respected publication to continue in the same vein? Obviously not: the paper had always carried a banner on its front page declaring itself ´free from party political bias, free from proprietorial influence´, but interestingly this was dropped in September 2011.
4. Corporate press is in bed with the government
Aside from the obvious, one of the most disturbing facts to emerge from Murdoch´s News International phone hacking scandal (background information here ) was the exposure of shady connections between top government officials and press tycoons. During the scandal, and throughout the subsequent Leveson inquiry into British press ethics (or lack of them), we learned of secret meetings, threatsby Murdoch to politicians who didn´t do as he wanted, and that Prime Minister David Cameron has a very close friendship with The Sun´s then editor-in-chief (and CEO of News International) Rebekah Brooks. How can journalists do their job of holding politicians to account when they are vacationing together or rubbing shoulders at private dinner parties? Clearly, they don´t intend to. But the support works both ways- Cameron´s government tried to help Murdoch´s son win a bid for BSkyB, while bizarrely, warmongering ex Prime Minister Tony Blair is godfather to Murdoch´s daughter Grace. As well as ensuring an overwhelming bias in news coverage and election campaigns, flooding newspapers with cheap and easy articles from unquestioned government sources, and gagging writers from criticizing those in power, these secret connections also account for much of the corporate media´s incessant peddling of the patriotism lie- especially in the lead-up to attacks on other countries. Here´s an interestinganalysis of The New York Times´s coverage of the current Syria situation for example, demonstrating how corporate journalists are failing to reflect public feeling on the issue of a full-scale attack on Assad by the US and its allies.
5. Important stories are overshadowed by trivia
You could be forgiven for assuming that the most interesting part of Edward Snowden´s status as a whistleblower was his plane ride from Hong Kong to Russia, or his lengthy stint waiting in Moscow airport for someone- anyone- to offer him asylum. Because with the exception of The Guardian who published the leaks (read them in fullhere), the media has generally preferred not to focus on Snowden´s damning revelations about freedom and tyranny, but rather on banaltrivia – his personality and background, whether his girlfriend misses him, whether he is actually a Chinese spy, and ahhh, didn´t he remind us all of Where´s Waldo as he flitted across the globe as a wanted fugitive? The same could be said of Bradley Manning´s gender re-assignment, which conveniently overshadowed the enormous injustice of his sentence. And what of Julian Assange? His profile on the globally-respected BBC is dedicated almost entirely to a subtle smearing of character, rather than detailing Wikileaks´s profound impact on our view of the world. In every case, the principal stories are forgotten as our attention, lost in a sea of trivia, is expertly diverted from the real issues at hand: those which invariably, the government wants us to forget.
6. Mainstream media doesn´t ask questions
´Check your sources, check your facts´ are golden rules in journalism 101, but you wouldn´t guess that from reading the mainstream press or watching corporate TV channels. At the time of writing, Obama is beating the war drums over Syria. Following accusations by the US and Britain that Assad was responsible for a nerve gas attack on his own civilians last month, most mainstream newspapers- like the afore-mentioned New York Times- have failed to demand evidence or call for restraint on a full-scale attack. But there are several good reasons why journalists should question the official story. Firstly, British right-wing newspaper The Daily Mail actually ran a news piece back in January this year, publishing leaked emails from a British arms company showing the US was planning a false flag chemical attack on Syria´s civilians. They would then blame it on Assad to gain public support for a subsequent full-scale invasion. The article was hastily deleted but a cached version still exists. Other recent evidence lends support to the unthinkable. It has emerged that the chemicals used to make the nerve gas were indeed shipped from Britain, and German intelligenceinsists Assad was not responsible for the chemical attack. Meanwhile, a hacktivist has come forward with alleged evidence of US intelligence agencies´ involvement in the massacre (download it for yourself here ), with a growing body of evidence suggesting this vile plot was hatched by Western powers. Never overlook the corporate media´s ties to big business and big government before accepting what you are told- because if journalism is dead, you have a right and a duty to ask your own questions.
7. Corporate journalists hate real journalists
Sirota rightly points out the irony of this: ´Here we have a reporter expressing excitement at the prospect of the government executing the publisher of information that became the basis for some of the most important journalism in the last decade.´ Sirota goes on to note various examples of what he calls the ´Journalists against Journalism club´, and gives severalexamples of how The Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has been attacked by the corporate press for publishing Snowden´s leaks. The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin called for Greenwald’s arrest, while NBC’s David Gregory´s declared that Greenwald has ´aided and abetted Snowden´. As for the question of whether journalists can indeed be outspoken, Sirota accurately notes that it all depends on whether their opinions serve or challenge the status quo, and goes on to list the hypocrisy of Greenwald´s critics in depth: ´Grunwald has saber-rattling opinions that proudly support the government’s drone strikes and surveillance. Sorkin’s opinions promote Wall Street’s interests. (The Washington Post´s David) Broder had opinions that supported, among other things, the government’s corporate-serving “free” trade agenda. (The Washington Post´s Bob) Woodward has opinions backing an ever-bigger Pentagon budget that enriches defense contractors. (The Atlantic´s Jeffrey) Goldberg promotes the Military-Industrial Complex’s generally pro-war opinions. (The New York Times´s Thomas) Friedman is all of them combined, promoting both “free” trade and “suck on this” militarism. Because these voices loyally promote the unstated assumptions that serve the power structure and that dominate American politics, all of their particular opinions aren’t even typically portrayed as opinions; they are usually portrayed as noncontroversial objectivity.´
8. Bad news sells, good news is censored, and celebrity gossip trumps important issues
It´s sad but true: bad news really does sell more newspapers. But why? Are we really so pessimistic? Do we relish the suffering of others? Are we secretly glad that something terrible happened to someone else, not us? Reading the corporate press as an alien visiting Earth you might assume so. Generally, news coverage is sensationalist and depressing as hell, with so many pages dedicated to murder, rape and pedophilia and yet none to the billions of good deeds and amazingly inspirational movements taking place every minute of every day all over the planet. But the reasons we consume bad news are perfectly logical. In times of harmony and peace, people simply don´t feel the need to educate themselves as much as they do in times of crises. That´s good news for anyone beginning to despair that humans are apathetic, hateful and dumb, and it could even be argued that this sobering and simple fact is a great incentive for the mass media industry to do something worthwhile. They could start offering the positive and hopeful angle for a change. They could use dark periods of increased public interest to convey a message of peace and justice. They could reflect humanity´s desire for solutions and our urgent concerns for the environment. They could act as the voice of a global population who has had enough of violence and lies to campaign for transparency, equality, freedom, truth, and real democracy. Would that sell newspapers? I think so. They could even hold a few politicians to account on behalf of the people, wouldn´t that be something? But for the foreseeable future, it´s likely the corporate press will just distract our attention with another picture of Rhianna´s butt, another rumor about Justin Bieber´s coke habit, or another article about Kim Kardashian (who is she again?) wearing perspex heels with swollen ankles while pregnant. Who cares about the missing$21 trillion, what was she thinking?
9. Whoever controls language controls the population
Have you read George Orwell´s classic novel1984 yet? It´s become a clichéd reference in today´s dystopia, that´s true, but with good reason. There are many- too many- parallels between Orwell´s dark imaginary future and our current reality, but one important part of his vision concerned language. Orwell coined the word ´Newspeak´ to describe a simplistic version of the English language with the aim of limiting free thought on issues that would challenge the status quo (creativity, peace, and individualism for example). The concept of Newspeak includes what Orwell called ´DoubleThink´- how language is made ambiguous or even inverted to convey the opposite of what is true. In his book, the Ministry of War is known as the Ministry of Love, for example, while the Ministry of Truth deals with propaganda and entertainment. Sound familiar yet? Another book that delves into this topic deeper is Unspeak, a must-read for anyone interested in language and power and specifically how words are distorted for political ends. Terms such as ´peace keeping missiles´, ´extremists´ and ´no-fly zones´, weapons being referred to as ´assets´, or misleading business euphemisms such as ´downsizing´ for redundancy and ´sunset´ for termination- these, and hundreds of other examples, demonstrate how powerful language can be. In a world of growing corporate media monopolization, those who wield this power can manipulate words and therefore public reaction, to encourage compliance, uphold the status quo, or provoke fear.
10. Freedom of the press no longer exists
The only press that is currently free (at least for now) is the independent publication with no corporate advertisers, board of directors, shareholders or CEOs. Details of how the state has redefined journalism are noted here and are mentioned in #7, but the best recent example would be the government´s treatment of The Guardian over its publication of the Snowden leaks. As a side note, it´s possible this paper plays us as well as any other- The Guardian Media Group isn´t small fry, after all. But on the other hand- bearing in mind points 1 to 9- why should we find it hard to believe that after the NSA files were published, editor Alan Rusbridge wastold by the powers that be ´you´ve had your fun, now return the files´, that government officials stormed his newsroom and smashed up hard drives, or that Greenwald´s partner David Miranda wasdetained for 9 hours in a London airport under the Terrorism Act as he delivered documents related to the columnist´s story? Journalism, Alan Rusbridge lamented, ´may be facing a kind of existential threat.´ As CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather wrote: ‘We have few princes and earls today, but we surely have their modern-day equivalents in the very wealthy who seek to manage the news, make unsavory facts disappear and elect representatives who are in service to their own economic and social agenda… The “free press” is no longer a check on power. It has instead become part of the power apparatus itself.’
Sophie is a staff writer for True Activist and a freelance feature writer for various publications on society, activism and other topics. You can read more of her stuff here.
Source: True Activist
Ain el Helweh camp, Lebanon – It’s not just the leadership of the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine, six decades after the 1948 Nakba, that appears to be salivating at the current stoking of current tensions between the Palestinian Resistance and in some respects, its historic off-spring Hezbollah.
From Tel Aviv, to Amman, Riyadh, the Gulf Kingdoms to Washington DC and beyond, the forces allied against the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah-Palestinian Resistance are working on yet another project to weaken and hopefully destroy all four.
It won’t be easy, but it is reportedly a key element among the anti-Resistance forces still seeking regime change in Syria. Even while some of these governments have been playing down their central goal of regime change in public. The same governments appear to be fantasizing that by building up the Lebanese army with a pledged $three billion from Riyadh, its troops will somehow confront Hezbollah and its allies as part of a long-term “beat em or bleed em” project.
Patrick Cockburn writing recently in the UK Independent and Counterpunch accurately summarized situation of “Anti-Shia hate propaganda spread by Sunni religious figures sponsored by, or based in, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, is creating the ingredients for a sectarian civil war engulfing the entire Muslim world.”
The egging on the Palestinian and Hezbollah to confront each other has increased over the past three months in Lebanon’s camps and particularly from some of the local Sunni and Christian power centers. This in addition to continuing support for various ‘militia of the month’ groups terrorizing the population of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as essentially imprisoning without food and medical care the remaining 17,000 out of a March 2011 population of 250,000 Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp in Damascus.
This is not to say that there are no continuing, and sometimes long held tensions among a small percentage of the Palestinians in Lebanon and some among Hezbollah and its allies, the Amal Movement and Michele Aoun’s, Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). It is the latter who is among the most anti-Palestinian of the Christian warlords and who some in Hezbollah and Palestinian factions cite for blocking Hezbollah from pushing for the right to work and to own a home for Palestinians in Lebanon. As for Amal, this Hezbollah’s Shia ally, is widely believed to have killed more Palestinians in Lebanon during the 1985-88 camp massacres ( it’s a misnomer to call them “wars” as the camps were basically defenseless) than Zionists have in the past 60 years. To this day, many Palestinians take deep umbrage with the long-time Amal leader posters placed outside Shatila and other camps since he is fairly universally despised by Palestinians in Lebanon for giving the orders for slaughtering so many of them. Attempts to remove his posters-portraits from Palestinian camps which are considered a provocation by many, risk facing his armed militia that occupies part of Shatila. The Sunni and Shia populations in the camps largely co-exist in a tense but generally peaceful juxtaposition with refugees from Syria. But it’s not the quality of relations that obtained before the Syria crisis and Hezbollah’s involvement there.
Hezbollah also has several reasons to question Palestinian support of the “National Lebanon Resistance” which the Party of God leads. There has been some evidence of individual Palestinians supporting anti-Hezbollah militia forces and political parties in Lebanon, and, according to camp officials they admit that some individual Palestinians go and return to Syria to fight against the Assad regime. Some who are close to Hezbollah claim that many Palestinians don’t appreciate that the organization is the main supporter of their cause to return to Palestine and are ingrates for all that Hezbollah does for them. Rebuttals include that regrettably Hezbollah has done little for Palestinians living in Lebanon’s camps and that Hezbollah has to date refused to use its political power to force Lebanon to comply with international law and grant elementary civil rights to them, including the rights to work and to own a home.
Against this backdrop, Al-Nusra Front leader Abou Mohammed al-Jawlani said that the Al-Qaeda-linked organization is active on Lebanese soil in order to help the Sunnis including Palestinians face the “injustice” of Shiite Hezbollah. “Lebanon’s Sunni are requesting that the mujahideen intervene to lift up the injustice they are suffering from at the hands of Hezbollah and similar militias,” Jawlani said in an interview on Al-Jazeera recently.
Shiite-populated areas across Lebanon have been the target of terror attacks since Hezbollah declared it was fighting on the side of the Syrian regime in May. Three car bomb attacks have targeted southern Beirut in recent months while a number of IED attacks have occurred in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.
The head of the Islamic Jihadist Movement in Ain al-Helweh camps, Sheikh Jamal Khattab, voiced fears on 1/8/14 of a possible armed sectarian confrontation between Hezbollah and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon if the party did not revise its policies at home and in Syria. Sheikh Khattab told the Beirut Daily Star that “any fighting between Palestinians and Hezbollah could be worse than the three year violence between the Amal militia and Palestinians in the 1980’s, known as the “war of the camps.” (read: massacres) That conflict in which largely Shia forces attacked Sunni was not considered particularly sectarian and Hezbollah helped end it and protect the overwhelmingly Sunni Palestinians civilian population. Today it would be a Sunni vs. Shia war with regional and international consequences given the poisonous sea-change in sectarian relations since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In Ain al-Helweh and other camps, posters of local men killed while fighting alongside Syrian rebels or against U.S. troops in Iraq are tacked up throughout the camp. Lebanese security sources claim that Palestinian Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh, particularly Usbat al-Ansar, Jund al-Sham, Fatah al-Islam, other Salafist groups and supporters of controversial fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir have all finalized preparations to defend Sidon against any attack by Hezbollah’s organized and trained “Resistance Brigades”. Rumors abound that these groups are being financed for this purpose by certain of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries and some Lebanese pro-Western March 14 parties. These groups and some of their sponsors consider conditions ripe in Lebanon for an expanded war against “Shia infidels” and have plans to bring it here. Several groups now fighting in Syria claim to seek a wider war “against Shia infidels “and pledge to bring the Sunni-Shia war here.
The Palestinian Follow-Up Committee, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fatah and the Palestinian National Security Forces have all strongly condemned as haphazard any irresponsible accusations against Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp after the assassination of ex-Finance Minister and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser, Mohammed Shatah, Also recent harassment of passersby near Ain el Helweh camp remind some of the tight grip the army continues on Nahr al Bared, near Tripoli in the north of Lebanon. Based on interviews by this observer with residents of Ain el-Helweh, there clearly are supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades among others. But one can find the same across Lebanon especially in Sunni areas. The officials claim that while they cannot prevent anyone from joining the fighting in Syria, all Palestinian groups in Lebanon and Syria and elsewhere have consistently maintained their policy of non-involvement in the Syrian crisis. Yet some Palestinian Islamist factions and camp residents criticize Hezbollah’s armed support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
For their part, some pro-Hezbollah groups and many Lebanese citizens are suspicious of possible Palestinian involvement in recent terror attacks in Dahiyeh and the recent bombing of the Iranian Embassy. In point of fact, one of the two suicide bombers who attacked the Iranian Embassy on 11/17/13 was a Palestinian named Mouin Abu Dahr. His mother is a Shiite and his father a Sunni. Ain al-Hilweh is also in the spotlight currently due to the arrest of Majid al-Majid, the leader of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Majid is believed to have lived in Ain al-Hilweh since 2012.
Israel and its new and longtime allies seek Sunni-Shia war and the sooner the better. They also favor the continuation of the Syria crisis for the reason they consider Hezbollah is squandering some of their best fighters and commanders and well as their weapons stores. Western Diplomats have spoken about US-Israeli hopes that Syria will be Hezbollah’s Achilles heel and Iran’s Vietnam. Meanwhile Israeli media has commented on the views of some officials who are claiming that Hezbollah has shifted its attention to Syria and away from the southern front with occupied Palestine.
Time will tell.
But for its part Hezbollah maintains that by defending Lebanon and fighting ” takferi terrorists” it is using only five percent of its capacity to confront Israel. One source close to the Resistance reported that “Hezbollah has self-sufficiency when it comes to the missiles, strategic and non-strategic weapons. All these weapons are quite abundant. Any additional equipment will constitute a negative factor because there is no need for them. All the weapons that are manufactured by Iran or owned by Syria are also available for Hezbollah. The land forces and the Special Forces fighting in Syria have acquired a lot of practical and intelligence related experience and a force of maneuvering on the land. This experience will be used when the war with Israel begins again.”
The Sunni and the Shia just as with the Palestinians and Hezbollah need each other for many reasons including to confront growing Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate propaganda and the deepening and broadening Apartheid occupation of Palestine.
All must work to tamp down their differences publicly and privately while working to neutralize both Sunni and Shia sectarian provocateurs, domestic, regional and international that today are seeking internecine and sectarian violence in order to weaken both.
“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” – President Woodrow Wilson, Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The horrors reported each day from Syria and Iraq are enough to make one cry; in particular, the atrocities carried out by the al-Qaeda types: floggings; beheadings; playing soccer with the heads; cutting open dead bodies to remove organs just for mockery; suicide bombers, car bombs, the ground littered with human body parts; countless young children traumatized for life; the imposition of sharia law, including bans on music … What century are we living in? What millennium? What world?
People occasionally write to me that my unwavering antagonism toward American foreign policy is misplaced; that as awful as Washington’s Museum of Horrors is, al-Qaeda is worse and the world needs the United States to combat the awful jihadists.
“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote. “They are different from you and me.”
And let me tell you about American leaders. In power, they don’t think the way you and I do. They don’t feel the way you and I do. They have supported “awful jihadists” and their moral equivalents for decades. Let’s begin in 1979 in Afghanistan, where the Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”) were in battle against a secular, progressive government supported by the Soviet Union; a “favorite tactic” of the Moujahedeen was “to torture victims [often Russians] by first cutting off their nose, ears, and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another”, producing “a slow, very painful death”.
With America’s massive and indispensable military backing in the 1980s, Afghanistan’s last secular government (bringing women into the 20th century) was overthrown, and out of the victoriousMoujahedeen arose al Qaeda.
During this same period the United States was supporting the infamous Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; yes, the same charming lads of Pol Pot and The Killing Fields.
President Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a leading force behind the US support of both the Moujahedeen and the Khmer Rouge. What does that tell you about that American leader? Or Jimmy Carter – an inspiration out of office, but a rather different person in the White House? Or Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama, who chose Brzezinski as one of his advisers?
Another proud example of the United States fighting the awful jihadists is Kosovo, an overwhelmingly Muslim province of Serbia. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began an armed conflict with Belgrade in the early 1990s to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against Serbia. But Washington’s imperialists, more concerned about dealing a blow to Serbia, “the last communist government in Europe”, supported the KLA.
The KLA have been known for their torture and trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
More recently the US has supported awful jihadists in Libya and Syria, with awful consequences.
It would, moreover, be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
Not exactly the grand savior our sad old world is yearning for. (Oh, did I mention that Washington’s policies create a never-ending supply of terrorists?)
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club when she wrote that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
If you’ve never done anything you wouldn’t want the government to know about, you should re-examine your life choices.
“The idea is to build an antiterrorist global environment,” a senior American defense official said in 2003, “so that in 20 to 30 years, terrorism will be like slave-trading, completely discredited.”
One must wonder: When will the dropping of bombs on innocent civilians by the United States, and invading and occupying their country become completely discredited? When will the use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, CIA torture renditions, and round-the-world, round-the-clock surveillance become things that even men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and John Brennan will be too embarrassed to defend?
Last month, a former National Security Agency official told the Washington Post that the Agency’s workers are polishing up their résumés and asking that they be cleared – removing any material linked to classified programs – so they can be sent out to potential employers. He noted that one employee who processes the résumés said, “I’ve never seen so many résumés that people want to have cleared in my life.”
Morale is “bad overall”, said another former official. “The news – the Snowden disclosures – it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.”
President Obama was recently moved to declare that he would be proposing “some self-restraint on the NSA” and “some reforms that can give people more confidence.” He also said “In some ways, the technology and the budgets and the capacity [at NSA] have outstripped the constraints. And we’ve got to rebuild those in the same way that we’re having to do on a whole series of capacities … [such as] drone operations.”
Well, dear readers and comrades, we shall see. But if you’re looking for a glimmer of hope to begin a new year, you may as well try grabbing onto these little offerings. When the American Empire crumbles, abroad and at home, as one day it must, Edward Snowden’s courageous actions may well be seen as one of the key steps along that road. I’ve long maintained that only the American people have the power to stop The Imperial Machine – the monster that eats the world’s environment, screws up its economies, and spews violence on every continent. And for that to happen the American people have to lose their deep-seated, quasi-religious belief in “American Exceptionalism”. For many, what they’ve been forced to learn the past six months has undoubtedly worn deep holes into the protective armor that has surrounded their hearts and minds since childhood.
A surprising and exhilarating example of one of these holes in the armor is the New Year’s day editorial in the New York Times that is now well known. Entitled “Edward Snowden, Whistle-blower” – itself a legitimation of his actions – its key part says: “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”
The president has been moved to appoint a committee to study NSA abuses. This of course is a standard bureaucratic maneuver to keep critics at bay. But the committee – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – did come up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:
“Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”
“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.”
The first recommendation refers to a practice, though certainly despicable, that is something the United States has been doing, and lying about, for decades. Just this past September, James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, declared: “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies.”
Clapper is the same gentleman who told Congress in March that the NSA does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans; and, when subsequently challenged on this remark, declared: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no’.”
The second recommendation had not been revealed before, in a Snowden document or from any other source.
“That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about,” observed the director of a government transparency group.
ABC News reported that “A spokesperson for the NSA declined to comment on the issue of bank account hacking, and a representative for U.S. Cyber Command did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.”
Manipulating bank records is about as petty and dishonorable as a superpower can behave, and could conceivably, eventually, lead to the end of the NSA as we’ve all come to know and love it. On the other hand, the Agency no doubt holds some very embarrassing information about anyone in a position to do them harm.
The bombing of Flight 103 – Case closed?
When the 25th anniversary of the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 occurred on December 21 I was fully expecting the usual repetitions of the false accusation against Libya and Moammar Gaddafi as being responsible for the act which took the lives of 270 people over and in Lockerbie, Scotland. But much to my surprise, mingled with such, there were a rash of comments skeptical of the official British-US version, made by various people in Scotland and elsewhere, including by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Libya.
In a joint statement the three governments said they were determined to unearth the truth behind the attack. “We want all those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed”, they declared.
Remarkable. In 1991, the United States indicted a Libyan named Adelbaset al-Megrahi. He was eventually found guilty of being the sole perpetrator of the crime, kept in prison for many years, and finally released in 2009 when he had terminal cancer, allegedly for humanitarian reasons, although an acute smell of oil could be detected. And now they speak of bringing to justice “those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism”.
The 1988 crime was actually organized by Iran in retaliation for the American shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in July of the same year, which took the lives of 290 people. It was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), a 1968 breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation Organization, with some help from Syria. And this version was very widely accepted in the Western world, in government and media circles. Until the US buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed. Then, suddenly, we were told that it was Libya behind the crime.
If the US and UK now wish to return to Iran, and perhaps Syria, as the culprits, they will have a lot of explaining to do about their previous lie. But these two governments always have a lot of explaining to do. They’re good at it. And the great bulk of their indoctrinated citizens, with little resistance, will accept the new/old party line, and their mainstream media will effortlessly switch back to the old/new official version, since Iran and Syria are at the top of the current list of Bad Guys. (The PFLP-GC has been quiescent for some time and may scarcely exist.)
If you’re confused by all this, I suggest that you start by reading my detailed article on the history of this case, written in 2001 but still very informative and relevant. You may be rather surprised.
The UK, US and Libyan governments have now announced that they will co-operate to reveal “the full facts” of the Lockerbie bombing. And Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, said he believes more people will be charged. This could be very interesting.
Free books of historical value
- The complete set, less one volume, of the 15 Church Committee (1975-6) volumes. Lacking only Final Report, book 6: “Congressional Research Service. Supplementary Reports on Intelligence Activities.”
- The complete set, less one volume, of the 6 Pike Committee volumes. Lacking only volume 6: “Committee Proceedings, part II”
- The Rockefeller Commission Report, one volume.
- Hearings on FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (same as Church Committee), one volume.
Total of 21 volumes, all from 1975-1976, all in good condition. Either pick them up in Washington, DC or send me $10 for postage.
- Washington Post May 11, 1979; New York Times, April 13 1979
- William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower” (2005), chapter 10
- RT TV (Russia Today, Moscow), May 4, 2012
- Associated Press, December 14, 2010
- Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000 issue
- New York Times, January 17, 2003
- Washington Post, December 7, 2013
- Washington Post, December 18, 2013
- Washington Post, December 7, 2013
- “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”, p.221
- See Anti-Empire Report, #118, June 26, 2013, second part
- Statement by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper on Allegations of Economic Espionage, September 8, 2013
- NBC News, June 9, 2013
- Kel McLanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, speaking to ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
- ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
- Reuters news agency, December 22, 2013
The War Is Against Paganism…
Crowns and thrones may perish.
Kingdoms rise and wane
But the Church of Jesus constant will remain
Gates of Hell can never
‘Gainst the Church prevail
We have Christ’s own promise
And that cannot fail
“To gain this victory, we must wage the war. Too many want victory without the war, as though eloquence, patriotic or religious gush, ever overcame an enemy.” R. J. Rushdoony,” Numbers” Pg. 270
Patty and I spent Christmas in Destin, Florida. Destin is an upscale resort town named from a Yankee fisherman who settled there in the mid-Nineteenth Century. It is home to one of the nation’s largest outlet malls.
In one of the shoe outlets we met a clerk from Maine. Her story is typical of many who have been victimized by the massive changes that have been foisted on the world. Born, raised, and married in a shoe prosperous Maine town, she and her husband had two children and were living lavishly. He was a manager at a shoe manufacturing plant where she also worked. Their combined income was in the high six figures providing them a luxurious lifestyle.
As the inexorable Asian labor monster invaded the shoe industry her husband lost his job. The entire industry shrunk and he was unable to find work. She became the sole wage earner under a company promise that there would be no additional lay-offs. The promise was broken and shortly her job was also moved offshore. They lost everything: their home, their car, and their ability to support two children. Without prospects of employment in Maine they moved to Florida where they are now working at dramatically lower incomes. They have re-established their family and, though far less affluent, are again living an orderly life. Since many employees of Maine factories are still struggling, they consider themselves fortunate.
Their story can be multiplied hundreds-of -thousands of times as industry after industry has been devastated by the planned economic reorganization of the world.
Maine is one of a number of areas that have been severely affected. The Northeast quadrant has been hardest hit with factory closings and the accompanying disruption of the social order. Some attempt to cite automation as a culprit but automation provides a social benefit while wholesale robbery is a devastating crime.
The current economic disaster was preceded by an earlier mini-disaster when the Japanese were given free access to our markets. Now, Asians in several countries have entered the fray and despite efforts by the compliant media to cover it up debilitating disruption is clearly evident.
Since 1950 into the first decade of the Twenty-First Century Detroit, Michigan has lost over 61 percent of its population, Gary, Indiana 55 percent, Youngstown, Ohio over 60, Flint, Michigan over 43, Cleveland, Ohio over 56, Dayton, Ohio over 46, Canton, Ohio over 37, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania over 54. Though it is growing in income Chicago has still lost over 25 percent of its population.
The kettle holding the United States population was put over very low heat in the 1950s. The drum beat of women’s liberation began and continued relentlessly until after several decades single income homes became archaic being replaced by a household income that included two working adults. This malicious manipulation was imposed without adequate confrontation.
Then we began to hear about the competitive nature of the American work force and how they could successfully compete in the new world market. Soon the Japanese had usurped a major percentage of the automotive industry forcing the irascibly persuasive Lee Iacocca to shame the congress into loaning Chrysler enough money to keep it afloat.
But the bloody Japanese axe that struck the auto industry was only the beginning. The Chinese horde soon followed and suddenly every “Made in USA” product disappeared from our stores. Faced with labor costs a fraction of U. S. standards, industry after industry moved manufacturing to Asia.
The competition was not over the ability of American workers to produce goods as efficiently as Asian labor, as it had been framed. It was instead over the standard of living Americans had enjoyed compared to the standard of living of Chinese peasants. As the Twenty-First Century arrived, a multitude of Americans were like the family from Maine working in retail, health-care or fast food for wages of half or less than their previous employment.
Current propaganda tells us our economy is improving and new jobs are being created. It is all propaganda; don’t believe it! In the new world order competition will force labor costs to parity and parity is lower still.
Though they have prepared for an uprising the powers behind centralization want to maintain peace as long as they can continue extending world domination. The media, a propaganda arm of world government, will continue to report improvement as long as people can be convinced.
Human efforts are useless in stopping this onslaught. The battle is between Christianity and paganism. The only effective weapon against paganism is the God of the Bible and His Law.
Rousas Rushdoony explains, “When men forsake God, they forsake all truth, because for them there is no difference between good and evil, nor between truth and lies”. “Numbers” Pg.316
The Bible, Old and New Testament, Law and Grace, comprise the full gospel. The full gospel would have stopped tyranny in its infancy, but we have forsaken the full gospel and replaced it with the “creative word” of men. I received an email today from my kid sister entitled “What a Church Service”; a video of Andre Rieu leading a musical worship service for a large congregation. Beautiful it is, but an appropriate church service it is not. It is a secular multicultural extravaganza with beautiful music.
Christians who seek to be entertained with music and praise and do not have ears to hear what God requires of His people are useless in stopping the advance of Satan. It is truth and justice and the seating of King Jesus at the throne of power that should be the objective of every Christian congregation. Lies, fantasy, and all the manipulations of arrogant men should be confronted from our pulpits and by our congregations. It is our Christian duty to counter the evil establishment bringing their wrath against the power of the Church of Jesus Christ. When the Christian religion fails to create wrath in God’s enemies there is a serious problem in the Christian religion.
We are being overrun by the minions of evil. We should be fighting a war. We need preachers whose intrepid denouncements will inspire us to enter the battle on the side of the God of the Bible.
The enemy controls our television stations, our newspapers, our government, and, sadly, most of our churches. The voices of dissent are few. Wake up Christians and hear the call to battle!
When a newspaper erroneously contends our economy is improving our pulpits must present Christians with the statistics that prove otherwise. Christians are truth-tellers! When the Media promotes homosexuality our pulpits must denounce it with God’s Words from the Bible. Christian duty requires that we confront evil.
Muslims are busy fighting for control of the Middle East. They appear to be overcoming the secular tyrants. Islam is a false religion and an enemy to Christianity but it is not the core danger to world freedom. In that battle Islam is an ally against the wicked forces of the new world order.
It is time to stop playing church. It is time for every Christian minister to disregard reputation and directly confront the secular forces that threaten peace and order God intends for His creation.
Churches that concentrate on the end times, on tongues and prophecy, evangelism, or on being theologically reformed should forsake their niche religions and confront the secular minions with the full gospel. The size of a church or its growth is of no importance; what is important is its strength against the forces of evil. Reputations must be sacrificed; our God and King is being threatened and we are His soldiers. It is our duty to fight for the elevation of His government– both civilians and rulers are subject to the rule of King Jesus.
As Patty and I exited a restaurant in Destin late in the afternoon on Christmas day we noticed a table of 8 young men with their heads bowed. We thought it wonderful that all these young people were honoring the One True God. However, on second look they were honoring the IPhone god instead.
As the global financial crisis now enters its seventh year, it is time to start asking difficult questions about the right priorities for popular protest if we want to realise a truly united voice of the world’s people. There can be no revolution in a truly moral or global sense until the critical needs of the extreme poor are prioritised and upheld, which will require mass mobilisations in the streets like we have never seen before.
At the onset of 2014, many people are now anticipating the prospect of a ‘global revolution’. The intense revolutionary fervour of 2011 may have dissipated in North America and much of Western Europe in the past couple of years, but a new geography of protest continues to shift and transmute in different countries and world regions – the million people on the streets of Brazil in June last year; the earlier defence of the commons in Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park; the indigenous uprising and student protests across Canada; the Ukraine demonstrations that are still under way.
There is no way of predicting where a mass protest movement will kick off next or what form it will take, but analysts expect that an even larger-scale version of an Occupy Wall Street-type movement will emerge in 2014. The conditions for a truly global political awakening are firmly in place, and few can believe in the politician’s rhetoric about the world economy sorting out its problems during the year ahead. Wealth and income inequalities continue to spiral out of control, increasingly to the benefit of the 1% (or indeed the 0.001%). Austerity policies pushed by governments on both sides of the Atlantic continue to threaten the social gains made since the Second World War, which is deepening social divisions and creating a new situation of desperately poor and hungry people in Britain, America and many so-called wealthy countries.
And there is no shortage of analysis about the structural crisis of our political and economic systems, from chronic unemployment and falling real incomes to corporate-captured representative democracies and Orwellian state controls. At the same time, governments remain committed to the paradigm of endless growth for its own sake, and are nearly all beholden to the interests of giant energy corporations that are determined to burn more fossil fuels than the planet can absorb without becoming unliveable. Not to mention the escalation of climate and ecological disasters, dwindling oil reserves, the risk of food shortages and further food price volatility, or even the prospect of global terrorism. Hence the growing understanding among everyday people that we are in the midst of a crisis of civilization, and we cannot rely on our existing government administrations to affect a necessary transformation of the international political and economic order.
The revised meaning of ‘revolution’
As we continue along this chaotic and uncertain road, the very idea of social or political ‘revolution’ is taking on new and different meanings. A common understanding of the term is no longer limited to the revolutionary wave of actions of the 20th century, which were typically led by charismatic leaders and a strong ideology, and often involved the violent overthrow of state power (notwithstanding such heroic examples of non-violent political struggle as Gandhi, Luther King and Vaclav Havel). But now we have the examples of Occupy, the Arab Spring, the Taksim Square demonstrations and other mass protest movements that defy conventional explanation in their spontaneous and largely peaceful mobilisations, their leaderless structures and practice of horizontal democracy, as well as their disavowal of traditional left/right politics and ideologies or ‘isms’, such as socialism and communism.
Since 2011 there is also much serious talk of a revolution of love and a collective awakening to our spiritual potential as human beings, as captured in the now-famous words of Russell Brand who advocates a “total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic systems”. Others speak of a revolution in our sense of self as ‘global citizens’, in which we equate our own interests with those of people anywhere in the world, and we no longer conform to a financialised vision of society in which we are forced to compete with everyone else as ‘others’. In short, a renewed sense of idealism and hope is everywhere being felt for a new society to be built from within the existing one, and for a revolution in every sense of the word – in our values, our imaginations, our lifestyles and our social relations, as well as in our political and economic structures.
What still isn’t clear is how the growing call for revolutionary change and new economic models can be realised on a truly international basis, and for the common good of all people in all countries – not only for the citizens of individual nations (in particular within the most advanced economies). The new protest movements may draw on a concept of human rights that is necessarily international, and they may be driven by social networks and communications technology that is shared beyond national borders, but their various concerns and demands are still generally of a domestic and country-specific nature.
Following the artful state repression of Occupy Wall Street, the vision of a collectively organised alternative to neoliberal politics is too often lost in a fight for or against individual reforms, while the Occupy movement as a whole has become increasingly atomised and fragmented. The Arab Spring is fast fading in memory, as exemplified by the political chaos and recent crackdown on popular dissent in Egypt. And there is little evidence of a shared agenda for change that can unify citizens of the richest and poorest nations on a common platform, one that recognises the need for global as well as national forms of redistribution as a pathway towards sharing the world rather than keeping it divided.
Blueprints for a new world
This is not to say that realistic proposals for planetary change do not exist, as individuals and groups everywhere are discussing the necessary reforms and objectives for how the economy should be run democratically at all levels, from the local to global. An abundance of enlightened thinking outlines the need for a ‘revolution’ in every aspect of our economic and political systems – a commons revolution, a food sovereignty revolution, a renewable energy revolution, the next American revolution – which altogether articulate an effective blueprint for a new and better world. But great uncertainty remains around how this crucial transformation of our lives can be affected when such immensely powerful forces of economic and political self-interest control the current world direction, combined with political apathy and disengagement among a vast swathe of the population.
With the global financial and economic crisis now entering its seventh year, it is time to start asking some difficult questions about the right priorities for popular protest if we want to realise a truly united voice of the world’s people. It is inevitable that the gap between rich and poor will continue to increase in most countries, and the reality of poverty and hunger will worsen across the world – regardless of the distorted arguments by the World Bank and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) coterie at the UN. And as living standards decline for many middle-class families in developed countries, there is a risk that people will remain preoccupied with their own situations and solely national concerns, which is already where all the militant strength is being directed in European and U.S. protest movements.
But there is no escaping the enormous disparities in wealth and income between rich OECD countries and the less developed nations, where millions of people face such extreme deprivation and food insecurity that at least 40,000 people needlessly die each day from poverty-related causes. There can be no genuine revolution in a moral or global sense until the critical needs of these voiceless poor are prioritised and upheld, which will require mass mobilisations in the streets like we have never seen before – not only predicated on redistributing resources from the 1% to the 99% within our own countries, but also centred on a shared demand for a fairer distribution of wealth, power and resources across the entire world. Perhaps that is where the true meaning of ‘global revolution’ begins, and it could be our greatest hope for a sustainable and just future in the coming year and beyond.
The ideological chains that bind and subdue us are stronger and more effective than any chain forged from steel. These manacles are more freedom inhibiting than a prison cell or solitary confinement. Belief, faith, and hope can imprison as well as liberate us. By the power of suggestion, a thin cotton string can effectively tether an elephant.
Politicians and their associates in the corporate media are master manipulators of language and images. Anytime you hear them speak, think of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave). Virtually everything that we see and hear, nearly everything we have been told, is an officious lie, an illusion created to deceive and control us. The purpose of deception is to promote the dogma and welfare of those in power, while implicitly disempowering those who are being deceived. Language is rarely, if ever, neutral. Coercive ideology lurks behind every sentence.
In a sense, all language is propaganda, even the words on this page. For instance, in this short essay, I declare my intention to lead my readers to a conclusion that I hope will awaken them, promote consciousness, and encourage principled behavior that is conducive to the collective emancipation of the working class.
Our faith in capitalistic institutions promotes the pretense of democracy, while it delivers plutocracy, corporate fascism, and militarism. Similarly, imprudent belief in the American Dream induces people to behave in ways that promote the welfare of those in power rather than the perspectives of those of us struggling to be free. Belief in this discredited notion keeps workers from organizing against their oppressors.
The puppeteers casting shadows on the cave wall know that the images they project are not real. By contrast, the indoctrinated audience interprets the shadows as authentic figures rather than the phantasms they are. The purveyors of mythos and propaganda, the authors of the sanctioned historical narrative that defines reality for the masses, are consciously misleading us. The empowered are aware that we are attempting to navigate a house of mirrors with trap doors, but we continue to believe that the flickering images on the cave wall are real. Interpretation is everything.
Americans believe that we are a free and representative republic, because that is what we have always been told, despite evidence to the contrary. But choosing our oppressors every few years makes us neither free nor democratic. Electoral outcomes that are determined by capital do not give us a real voice in fashioning an equitable economic agenda, taxation, or foreign policy, including decisions about war. Participation in bogus systems of power binds us to delusions and keeps us ideologically imprisoned. They prevent us from taking meaningful action.
In America, working people are excluded from all of the important decisions that profoundly affect their lives. Legislators at all levels of government are beholden to the corporations and wealthy individuals who fund their campaigns. To the power elite, “we the people” are little more than background noise to be tuned out.
Cast a stone at the mirrors and the illusion immediately dissolves into shards of broken glass. A perplexing chain reaction is set in motion; worlds fall like rows of dominoes and fill the vacuum vacated by appearance with new images, new ideas, and new possibilities. Polaris abruptly appears with the stars of Ursa Minor wrapped around her like a jeweled necklace glistening in the velvet black darkness of eternal night. She was always there but concealed behind striated walls of silvered glass in the great American funhouse of lies and delusion we call reality.
Bearing the Allegory of the Cave in mind, consider this: If a worker puts his faith in an economic system that exploits and alienates him, his faith shackles rather than liberates him. Correspondingly, if a man believes that his oppressor is his liberator or protector, he ideologically imprisons himself and promotes behavior that benefits and strengthens his tormentor rather than himself or his socioeconomic class. If he believes that the systems of power serve him and promote justice rather than work for his capitalist masters, he will not attempt to dismantle them. The worker must then not only overcome his oppressor, he must first transcend his own ideological beliefs and ignorance before he can even begin to extricate himself.
In many ways, us workers are our own worst enemy. We lose our humanity, become alienated from our highest self, our families, our communities, our coworkers, and the Earth Mother. As participants in and recipients of unfettered capitalism, we have become the unwitting tools of universal oppression and militarism we claim to disdain. Our demise stems from the misinterpretation of reality and our shifting location within a volatile matrix of phantasmagoric holograms, none of which are real.
We believe what we hear and do what we are told rather than think critically about anything. Questioning authority makes us uncomfortable, and there are always consequences to challenging the dominant paradigm. We have an abiding psychological need to believe that everything we think we know about our country and the world is as advertised because the alternative terrifies us. We thus surrender our conscience and our life to become a tool of the unscrupulous sociopaths in power.
The American worker must comprehend that his assigned role within the capitalist system is not to be a thoughtful or conscious human being, but rather an efficient economic serf, a dehumanized automaton concealed within in a human husk. Painful as this reality is, it does not behoove us to believe or act otherwise. The worker’s plight is like being a solider in the war-torn Middle East: take orders and do what you are told. Check your conscience and your humanity at the door. We all know where that leads.
Armed with this knowledge, perhaps we may finally begin the vital work of our individual and collective emancipation. Our subordinate role in this unequal economic, social, and political arrangement must be challenged and subverted. No one is born a slave. The only power anyone has over us is that which we allow them to have.
The answer to this question is being pondered across America in light to the two seeming mutually contradictory US Federal Court decisions handed down this month from Courts in Washington DC and New York.
The legal issue of what rights are left to American citizens that can prevent governmental intrusions into their privacy and also governmental invasions using heavy handed searches and seizures following the launching of the Bush administrations ‘war of terrorism’ has gained new impetus following disclosures by former National Security Agency analyst turned whistle blower, Edward Snowden. Without Snowden’s patriotic leaks, no legal challenge could have been brought to the NSA practices.
Now that two US Federal District Courts, with identical powers under the US Constitution have seemingly reached opposite results on the same legal issue involving the right of the NSA to conduct ‘metadata’ searches and store the information of scores of millions of unknowing Americans the issue is likely going to have to be decided by the US Supreme Court. As predicted, appeals were immediately filed from the Trial Courts decision in both cases.
Initially, civil libertarians were encouraged earlier this month when in light of the Snowden revelations of massive US government spying on Americans and millions of foreigners, Federal Description: Judge Richard Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on 12/16/13 that the bulk collection by the National Security Agency of cell phone data (everyone you called, when you called them and where you were when you called them) of Americans violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and is “Orwellian”.
Judge Leon explained that we now use our smartphones for a wide variety of personal activities in which we have the expectation of privacy, and probably we have more expectation of privacy from our phones now than we did from a pay phone in the 1980s. He made the point that cell phones today includes a citizens, location when one makes a call and becomes a GPS made the call, functioning essentially as a GPS. He wrote, “It’s one thing to say that people expect phone companies to occasionally provide information to law enforcement; it is quite another to suggest that our citizens expect all phone companies to operate what is effectively a joint intelligence-gathering operation with the Government.”
Judge Leon focused on whether the NSA massive surveillance violated the 4th Amendment which provides: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“The threshold issue that I must address, then, is whether plaintiffs have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government indiscriminately collects their telephony metadata along with the metadata of hundreds of millions of other citizens without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing, retains all of that metadata for five years, and then queries, analyzes and investigates that data without prior judicial approval of the investigative targets. If they do – and a Fourth Amendment search has thus occurred– then the next step of the analysis will be to determine whether such a search is ‘reasonable.’
Judge Leon found that the NSA when it demands citizens telephone metadata is conducting a search, and that it is most likely an unreasonable search of our personal effects according to the Fourth Amendment, since there is no specific suspicion of wrongdoing by any individual whose records are demanded. He immediately granted the Plaintiffs request for an injunction that blocks the collection of phone data for the plaintiffs and orders the government to destroy any of their records that have been gathered. As is common Federal Court practice, the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal, recognizing in his 68-page opinion the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”
No sooner had the Judge Leon decision been published and was encouraging civil libertarians to argue that the US Constitution still protects some citizen rights against government abuse than US Federal District Judge William H. Pauley III in New York ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects enormous troves of phone records is legal, making the latest contribution to an extraordinary debate among courts and a presidential review group about how to balance security and privacy in the era of big data. In just 11 days, the two judges and the presidential panel reached the opposite of consensus on every significant question before them, including the intelligence value of the program, the privacy interests at stake and how the Constitution figures in the analysis. The latest decision could not have been more different from one issued by Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington, who ruled that the program was “almost Orwellian” and probably unconstitutional.
Judges Leon and Pauley have starkly differing understandings on how legal that program is. Judge Pauley, whose courtroom is just blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood, endorsed arguments made in recent months by senior government officials — including the former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III — that the program might have caught the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had it been in place before the attacks. Wrote Judge Pauley: “While robust discussions are underway across the nation, in Congress and at the White House, the question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful,” Judge Pauley wrote on Friday. “This court finds it is.”
Judge Pauley decided to ignore several compelling US Constitutional issues and applications of its provisions to the NSA case. He chose to avoid 4th Amendment prohibitions on unreasonable government searches of private papers and effects. As Professor Juan Cole recently reminded us, the 14th Amendment was the basis for a recent Supreme Court ruling forbidding law enforcement from using GPS tracking without a warrant. The courts decided that following someone around 24/7 as a “search” because such intensive monitoring of a person’s movements goes beyond just glimpsing the individual in public. NSA collection of metadata from cell phones track individuals just as a GPS devices do.
Other applicable US Constitutional provisions ignored by Judge Pauley include the 1789 Federalist promoted 9th Amendment, which a majority of the Founding Fathers wanted as guarantees that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The 9th Amendment is clearly designed to block the government from constraining people’s private behavior. As Cole points out, not only are they protected from specific violations of their rights (attempts to curb speech, the press, religious belief or peaceable assembly) but they are also protected as a free people from government intrusions.
There are additional provisions in the constitution and in the history of court rulings that prescribe privacy for individuals from government intrusion. In fact, although “privacy” is not mentioned in the US constitution, the Supreme Court found in Connecticut v. Griswold that American citizens had a constitutional right to use birth control and that the state could not arbitrarily come into the bedroom and prohibit it. Some of the justices referred to the 9th Amendment, which says “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” That is, the government can’t just wake up in the morning and decide to constrain people’s private behavior. Not only are they protected from specific violations of their rights (attempts to curb speech, the press, religious belief or peaceable assembly) but they are protected in general as a free people from government intrusions.
Judge Pauley also ignored the relevant application of the 14th Amendment. In Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 497 (1965) a landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected a right of privacy, justices referenced the due process clause of the 14th amendment, which commands that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The late great Justice William O. Douglas argued that the Bill of Right’s specific guarantees have “penumbras,” created by “emanations from these guarantees and that these penumbras help give the Bill of Rights life relevance to today’s struggle to protect our civil rights. It was Douglas’ interpretation of the US Constitution that, the “spirit” of the First Amendment (free speech), Fourth Amendment (freedom from searches and seizures), Fifth Amendment (freedom from self-incrimination), and Ninth Amendment (other rights), as applied against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, creates a general right to privacy that cannot be unduly infringed.” In his view there exists as part of the US Constitution a penumbra of privacy.
Judge Pauley ignored these and other Constitutional applications in order to uphold the NSA informational gathering project in spite of the fact that the NSA, every minute for the past 7 years and until today, is abridging the privileges and immunities of a free citizenry. They are depriving us of liberty without due process of law, for the reason that they have failed to obtain a judicial warrant based on grounds of specific evidence of wrong-doing.
Judge Leon, in Washington, took the opposite view, saying the government had failed to make the case that the program is needed to protect the nation. “The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the N.S.A.’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature,” he wrote.
Where these conflicting US Constitutional decisions leave the American public concerned with civil liberties and the disappearance of privacy is in a profound quandary with respect to the issues raised by Edward Snowden. Snowden described in his Christmas address, carried by British Channel 4 and widely aired on the internet the legitimate concern of all people who values individual liberty and privacy: A child born today might “never know what it means to have a private moment to them, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.” People walk around with a tracking device in their pockets, he noted, and as we now know, the NSA is collecting the metadata of those phones, which includes location information.
With words likely to become part of Law School curriculum, Mr. Snowden said that “this disappearance of privacy is important because privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.”
America is tumbling out of control toward a crash-and-burn impact with disaster, and, for the most part, pastors and churches are asleep–I mean in a coma. Both major parties in Washington, D.C., are selling-out our liberties faster than Chris Christie can swallow a Big Mac, and Christians don’t even roll over; George W. Bush and Barack Obama have created the largest surveillance society in the history of mankind, and pastors lie comatose; Dianne Feinstein and her Constitution-hating collaborators in Congress try their best to expunge our right to self-defense, and Christian organizations don’t open an eyelid; the right of Habeas Corpus, the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, and our very right of privacy have, for all intents and purposes, been eviscerated by the miscreants in Washington, D.C., and most pastors and Christians remain fast asleep. But let a Christian TV star get the axe for telling a magazine reporter that he views homosexuality as sinful, and Christians storm out of their beds like firemen answering the bell for a five-alarm fire.
Don’t get me wrong. The politically-correct entertainment and news industries are hyper-paranoid about anything deemed to be “anti-gay.” Homosexuals currently enjoy more protected status than the spotted owl. That A&E would attempt to suspend a long-bearded, redneck Christian for saying homosexuality is a sin should shock no one. Liberal actor Alec Baldwin (no relation to this writer)–a darling of the left-wing establishment–lost his TV show on MSNBC for comments he spoke that were considered to be anti-gay.
Am I glad so many people rallied to the support of Phil Robertson? Yes, of course. Was the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain stupid to pull Duck Dynasty products from their stores as punishment for what Robertson said? They sure were. Are Christians who want to boycott Cracker Barrel and other companies that cater to political-correctness within their rights to do so? You bet. People such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have made careers (not to mention millions of dollars) intimidating private companies with all kinds of boycotts. But I must be honest: this whole episode burns the stew out of me.
In the first place, it doesn’t seem to dawn on the vast majority of pastors, churches, and most of these non-profit Christian organizations what the source of all of this politically-correct bull manure really is. The source of all of this dung is that Cesspool by the Potomac: Washington, D.C. It is the policies, laws, and public statements from the White House, Congress, and Supreme Court–not to mention all of the politically-correct propaganda being taught in the government schools and universities–that pressure private companies (especially big companies) to stay on the smiley side of Washington. The IRS can make life a living hell for anyone–and that includes big companies. It wasn’t that long ago when the federal government almost closed down Cracker Barrel for what it perceived as acts of discrimination. Take away the intimidation of Washington, D.C., from most of these companies, and the majority of these politically-correct issues (including the homosexual issue) would disappear.
If Christians really wanted to boycott the institution with the biggest pro-homosexual agenda in the world, they would boycott paying taxes to the IRS. Through the US State Department and Pentagon, the homosexual agenda is not only being advanced domestically but internationally. Our State Department hires open homosexuals as diplomats and sends them to countries that hold deep religious and cultural aversions to that lifestyle. More than one country has the homosexual lifestyle thrown in their face through the diplomatic corps of the US State Department. The Pentagon has put homosexuals in the closest of confines with US troops in virtually every military assignment and theater. Various agencies and departments of the federal government spend billions of taxpayer dollars advancing or even demanding a militant homosexual agenda.
Plus, a little intellectual honesty is in order at this point. Not every individual homosexual is a proponent of the militant homosexual agenda. In fact, many homosexuals joined in the chorus of those who were insulted by A&E’s flagrant disregard for Mr. Robertson’s freedom of speech.
I read Robertson’s controversial comments in GQ magazine, and he did NOT single out homosexuality any more than many other acts of immorality. The reporter asked him, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” Robertson simply answered the question by noting a variety of acts he deemed to be sinful by Holy Writ, including sins which he, himself, had committed earlier in his life. He also said that no sin was greater than another sin. He then went on to say that Christ came to redeem men from all of their sin–whatever it was. Has this not been the message of the Gospel for over 2,000 years?
But I remind you that it has been the federal government that has done more to expunge Christian ideology from US society than any other entity in the world–especially since 1962 and ’63. And, unfortunately, the CEOs and CFOs of most major corporations are mostly government toadies who will do anything to avoid falling out of the good graces of Washington. Yet, all of this seems lost to the vast majority of pastors, churches, and Christian organizations.
In the second place, it seems to me that the vast majority of pastors and churches only get exercised over two issues: abortion and homosexuality. And lately, most pastors and churches won’t even break a sweat opposing abortion. Where are they on the right of self-defense? Where are they on the right to own property? Where are they on the right of privacy? Where are they on the right to be secure in their own homes? Where are they on the Biblical Natural law principles of self-determination, limited, jurisdictional government, and personal liberty? Every one of these issues is a moral issue. Every one of these issues is a fundamental tenet of Biblical Natural Law. Yet, for the most part, none of these issues warrant even the slightest peep of exhortation from the vast majority of pastors, churches, and Christian organizations today.
Christians by the millions verbally descended upon A&E and Cracker Barrel for the politically-correct firing of one man over his personal opinion. But where are they when the politically-correct culture in Washington, D.C., turns into the force of law? Where are they when unconstitutional and, yes, un-Biblical federal mandates threaten the existence of our liberties and our very way of life? Where are they when the politically-correct usurpers in DC abuse the power and force of law that results in the violation–not just of one man and one man’s opinion–but of the liberties of every man, woman, and child in the United States? Where are they? They are sound asleep.
If pastors, churches, and Christian organizations would be as vocal and vehement in opposition to turning our country into a giant police state, we would have our privacy back almost overnight. If pastors, churches, and Christian organizations would be as vocal and vehement in their opposition to DC’s attacks against our right of self-defense, there would never be another gun control bill put forward and the vast majority of prohibitions against the Second Amendment already in place would be overturned almost immediately. If pastors, churches, and Christian organizations would be as vocal and vehement in their opposition to the rampant misuse of our military and police, justice would be restored almost at once.
Let’s be brutally honest: the reason this country is in the dung heap it is in is directly due to the sluggish indifference of America’s pastors, churches, and Christian organizations. And I think the flap at A&E and Cracker Barrel proves it.
The massive outcry of millions of pastors and Christians around the country influenced A&E to rehire Phil Robertson. This same outcry influenced Cracker Barrel to return Duck Dynasty products to their stores. If the same kind of massive outcry from millions of pastors and Christians would target the destruction of our Natural God-given liberties emanating from Washington, D.C., the course of our country could be turned around almost overnight. But now that Phil is back on the show and Duck Dynasty products are back on the shelves at Cracker Barrel, I’m confident most of these pastors and Christians are already back in their beds.
Turkey is a democracy in name only. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ruling despot.
He’s led Ankara’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) since August 2001. He’s been prime minister since March 2003. Why Turks put up with him they’ll have to explain.
Last spring, anti-government protests rocked Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Police violence followed. Brutality is longstanding policy. Corruption is deep-seated.
It’s rife in Turkey’s construction sector. Erdogan established a land sales office. Ostensibly it was to build affordable public housing.
Widespread privatizations followed. Billions of dollars worth of government assets were sold.
Sweetheart deals and bribes accompanied them. Well-connected companies got no-bid contracts. State banks provided generous financing.
Projects developed had nothing to do with public housing. Berat Albayrak heads Calik Holding. He’s well connected. He’s Erdogan’s son-in-law.
He may be linked to the corruption probe. He builds power plants in Turkmenistan. He’s involved in an AKP backed oil pipeline project. He has other government related business.
The current scandal stems from a year ago anonymous letter. It was sent to police. It alleged Ankara and local government authorities illegally facilitated construction projects. Huge profits were involved.
Surveillance, phone tapping, and other investigatory methods followed. They produced considerable evidence of corruption. Government ministers are involved. Million dollar bribes were paid.
State-run Halk Bank head was found with about $4.5 million in cash. It was at home. It was stashed in shoe boxes.
Millions more were seized from other suspects. Over a dozen are accused of bribery and money laundering, as well as gold and antiques smuggling.
On December 17, Turkey’s Financial Crimes and Battle Against Criminal Incomes department detained 47 people.
Sons of Ankara’s Economy, Interior and Environment and Urban Planning ministers are involved.
So is Fatih district municipality major Mustafa Demir and real estate tycoon Ali Agaoglu. Minister of European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis is being investigated.
Whether scandal touches Erdogan remains to be seen. He claims attempts to do so will be “left empty handed.”
On Christmas day, he reshuffled his cabinet. Three ministers resigned. He sack 10 others. He replaced them. Events are fast-moving.
Erdogan Bayraktar was Minister of Environment and Urban Planning. He was a member of parliament. He felt forced to resign both posts.
He said Erdogan should do so. He claimed suspect construction projects under investigation were approved with Erdogan’s full knowledge.
“With your permission, I want to make very short statements in the form of a press statement,” he said.
“It is of course a right and an authority for Mr. Prime Minister to work with whichever minister he wants and to remove whichever minister he wants from office.”
“But I do not accept the pressure being put on me which says, ‘Resign because of an operation in which there are statements of bribery and corruption and release a declaration that will relieve me.’ “
“I do not (accept it) because a big part of the zoning plans that are in the investigation file and were confirmed were made with approval from Mr. Prime Minister.”
“For the sake of the well-being of this nation, I believe the prime minister should resign.”
He accused him of involvement in suspect property deals. He’s linked to profiteering business interests.
Scandal heads closer to directly connecting him. Perhaps it will as investigations continue. Turkish Professor Soli Ozel called Bayraktar’s call for Erdogan’s resignation “extraordinarily dramatic.”
He’s “someone who was very close to the prime minister. This is someone you’d expect to fall on his sword without question.”
Other analysts see things potentially spinning out of control. Whether Erdogan can prevent it remains to be seen.
He may end up victimized by his own transgressions. It depends on how much public anger grows. He weathered previous crises. It’s hard to know if this one is too great to contain.
Investigations targeted over 90 suspects. Over two dozen were arrested. Dozens of police chiefs were sacked. Erdogan is far from squeaky-clean.
On December 21, Ankara’s police department Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Unit head Hakan Yuksekdag was found dead in his car. Officially it was pronounced suicide.
Further investigation is being conducted. The incident occurred a day after 14 senior Ankara National Police Department officials were removed from their posts.
Erdogan blamed ongoing events on an international conspiracy. He vowed revenge on figures connected to Muhammed Fethullah Gulen.
He heads the movement bearing his name. He claims a million or more followers. They include judges and senior police officials.
He’s currently in self-imposed exile. He’s in Pennsylvania. He’s a writer, former imam, and Islamic opinion leader. He’s an important figure.
He’s involved with issues relating to Turkey’s future. He and Erdogan haven’t gotten along for years.
Former Minister of Internal Affairs Idris Naim Sahin said Erdogan’s actions fall short of law and justice. He’s trying to defuse public anger, he said. He’s shifting blame to do it.
Thousands of Istanbul, Ankara, and Ismir protesters demanded Erdogan’s resignation. They did so on Christmas. They did it in other cities. They protested last spring.
They’re justifiably outraged. Their longstanding anger hasn’t waned. Erdogan works against their well-being. Clashes with police erupted. Arrests followed.
Protesters chanted; “Three ministers aren’t enough. The whole government should resign. Corruption is everywhere. Resistance is everywhere.”
Opposition party members accused Erdogan of deepening despotic rule. Critics use the term “deep state.” It refers to a shadowy power structure. It lacks checks and balances.
Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) is Erdogan’s main rival. It’s Turkey’s oldest political party. It’s AKP’s Main Opposition in the Grand National Assembly. Kemal Kilicdaroglu heads it.
“Erdogan has a ‘deep state,’ ” he said. His AKP “has a ‘deep state.’ ” Efkan Ala is new Interior Minister.
He’s an Erdogan crony. He formerly was Diyarbakir Province governor. He’s part of what’s ongoing, said Kilicdaroglu.
He believes Ala’s appointment is part of an Erdogan power grab. He wants greater police control. Outgoing Interior Minister Muammer Guler fired hundreds of police officers. Senior commanders were sacked.
Erdogan’s new ministers were carefully chosen. He appointed officials “that will not show any opposition to him,” said Kilicdaroglu.
Turkey is more police state than democracy. Press freedom is compromised. Censorship is standard practice. Dissent is verboten. Challenging government authority is called terrorism.
No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Corruption is deep-seated. Neoliberal harshness writ large is policy. Popular interests are spurned.
Erdogan represents wealth, power and privilege. It’s hard imagining he’s not involved in corruption in some way. He’s gotten his son-in-law business tycoon sweetheart deals.
He prioritizes Turkey’s business model. It reflects capitalism’s dark side. It includes unrestrained profit-making, privatizations, cheap labor, deregulation, corporate-friendly tax cuts, marginalized worker rights, and speculative capital inflows.
Economic conditions are inherently unstable. Turkey suffers rolling recessions, crisis conditions, and fragile largely jobless recoveries. It’s increasingly dependent on imports of resources and capital goods.
Youth unemployment tops 22%. An entire generation is affected. Conditions are socially and economically unstable.
Privation fuels public anger. Eventually it may spiral out-of-control. It may be just a matter of time. Turkey has a long history of rebellion.
Erdogan is increasingly hated. He weathered last spring’s anti-government protests. It remains to be seen what’s next.
Nicolas Spiro heads Spiro Sovereign Strategy. “The dismissal of half an entire cabinet is worrying enough,” he said. “The corruption probe is escalating by the day.”
It’s “causing a further deterioration in market sentiment towards Turkey.” Erdogan’s new cabinet includes four deputy prime ministers.
Ayse Islam is the only woman appointed. She’s Family and Social Policy Minister. Others include:
Deputy prime minister: Bulent Arinc
Deputy prime minister: Ali Babacan
Deputy prime minister: Besir Atalay
Deputy prime minister: Emrullah Isler
Justice: Bekir Bozdag
Defense: Ismet Yilmaz
Interior: Efkan Ala
Foreign Affairs: Ahmet Davutoglu
European Union: Mevlut Cavusoglu
Finance: Mehmet Simsek
Economy: Nihat Zeybekci
Energy and Natural Resources: Taner Yildiz
National Education: Nabi Avci
Labour and Social Security: Faruk Celik
Environment and Urban Development: Idris Gulluce
Health: Mehmet Muezzinoglu
Transport: Lutfi Elvan
Food, Agriculture and Husbandry: Mehmet Mehdi Eker
Science, Industry and Technology: Fikri Isik
Culture and Tourism: Omer Celik
Forestry and Water Affairs: Veysel Eroglu
Customs and Trade: Hayati Yazici
Development: Cevdet Yilmaz
Youth and Sports: Akif Cagatay Kilic
Scandal erupted months ahead of next March’s local elections. Parliamentary elections involving Erdogan are scheduled in 2015.
If held today, voters might oust him. It’s way too early to know how they’ll react in 2015. Istanbul-based Global Source Partners analyst Atilla Yesilada said ongoing events suggest Erdogan is losing control.
“Forced to act, (he) tried to get rid of his burdens,” he said. “But this is a political crisis, and it is hard to tell how it will unfold. These investigations may expand in coming months.”
Doing so perhaps may link Erdogan to deep-seated corruption. If so, he may be forced to resign. The fullness of time will tell.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
The arrogance of Barack Obama’s administration in railroading the original passage of Obamacare through the House of Representatives circumventing regular order is only superseded by the incessant “Big Lie” campaign pushed by Ezekiel Emanuel, the doctor of chutzpah. Megyn Kelly Yells at Ezekiel Emanuel for Lying, is just one pathetic example of the Emanuel family habitual distortion of language to extort the last drop of blood from the suffering public. A previously unpublished essay, Rahm Emanuel – “The Son of the Devil’s Spawn“, details the tactics used by the hit squad team of the Obama outfit.
The Chicago Gangster – Obama the Tyrant handwriting is all over the Affordable Care Act. Such overbearing egotism, explained by lack of character and morality, is apparent. “His mobster origins are on display with every unconstitutional action he takes. He is turning the land of the free into the territory of the damned. With all the ranting and phony rage against the rich, he continues to take his marching orders from the Wall Street crime syndicate commission.”
This Obamacare theater of the absurd is unraveling and would be a comedy romp if it were not hurting so many in need medical patients. Who Says Obama Hasn’t United the Country?, so says the respected journalist John Fund. The American public overwhelmingly is rejecting the disaster, known as the Affordable Care Act.
“Yesterday the Obama administration suddenly moved to allow hundreds of thousands of people who’ve lost their insurance due to Obamacare to sign up for bare-bone “catastrophic” plans. It’s at least the 14th unilateral change to Obamacare that’s been made without consulting Congress.”
“It shows that the Obamacare insurance products aren’t selling so, at the last minute, the administration is holding a fire sale on a failed launch,” says Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, a health-care advocacy group. “Just think how you must feel if you were one of the people who spent the last two months fighting their way through HealthCare.gov to buy a policy that will be thousands of dollars more expensive than this catastrophic insurance!”
Government marketing under central planning is salivating treats for the lawyers. Just wonder how long it will be for the trickle down litigation parade to start when all those cancelled policies end up in unpaid medical bills.
“The implication in all of these discussions is that the Affordable Care Act represents some kind of “activist government” intervention to disrupt the normally smooth workings of the private sector.
But that is neither the intent nor the effect of the law. The main purpose of Obamacare is the preservation of the private insurance system; the website functionality that has generated so many headlines is largely due to the fact that a decentralized, means-tested system has to be grafted onto a complex, profit-seeking insurance industry. If the White House was rolling out an actual “big government” healthcare policy options–a public option, or a single-payer system–and there was anything like the current mess, then perhaps this conversation would make some sense.”
Examine the discernment disconnect in this assessment. While, the generous donations from favored insurance companies bought access and even promises of reimbursement for short-term cash flow expenses from potential losses, the basic business model of Obamacare is not sustainable.
The actual intention of the dictatorial practices of the technocratic bureaucracy administration is to cause a massive failure of private insurance and create the political conditions for a government rescue of a very different medical system.
Joe Otto of the Conservative Daily writes in Obamacare Will Tax You Even AFTER You Die!
“Deep within the thousands of pages of law and regulations for the Affordable Care Act is a hidden provision that allows the government to take control of YOUR estate after you pass away in order to pay for any medical bills that the government covered while you were alive.
For those of us receiving private insurance, God help us if the Democrats are able to eventually achieve their goal of a single-payer healthcare system. If the Government is able to claim they paid for ANY of your healthcare, they’ll come for their payment when you are gone and can’t fight them. However for the millions of people being duped today into signing up for Medicare and Medicaid, this gives the government free reign to raid the estates of poor and middle class Americans after they die.”
Did you read that? The intention is to discontinue Medicare promises and place everyone under an Obamacare umbrella that will tap your funds for reimbursement back to the government. If this were not the biggest bait and switch scheme ever, what would you call it?
Would Congress reverse this odious and draconian provision, or will the legislature simply continue to look the other way and let Obama or succeeding potentates impose de facto penalties?
Would Congress reverse this odious and draconian provision, or will the legislature simply continue to look the other way and let Obama or succeeding potentates impose de facto penalties?
Even the Daily Kos cannot avoid the implications in Medicaid Estate Recovery + ACA: Unintended Consequences?
“Affordable Care Act of 2010. Estate recovery will be forced on millions of people who might have otherwise gone without insurance. Why? Because the plan is that millions more Americans have health insurance. That would be accomplished by expanding Medicaid and implementing premium assistance (subsidies). When a person is found to be eligible for Medicaid, they will be automatically enrolled into their state’s Medicaid program. Those forced into Medicaid will, due to the federal law, also be forced into estate recovery. Their estates will be partly or fully taken over by the federal or state government when they die.”
As the public absorbs the hits to their own personal circumstances, the backlash against government medicine will grow louder. However, in the article Insurance Companies Profit from Obamacare, describes that the old model for medical payment coverage help caused runaway costs. “Now put this argument into a proper perspective. WHY should insurance companies profit at all, and WHY is it necessary for private companies to issue insurance for medical coverage to begin with?”
The medicine lobby was AWOL when the mandates were established. Doctors are bleeding themselves, because they adopted a method of payment for their services that bypassed the free market of patient to the doctor relationship.
Insurance does not have to be a service for profit. Administrative expenses and actuarial factors could be the pass through costs that determine rates. Under the current protected system, the Obamacare formula guarantees the mega insurance titans returns, while assuring that the quality of medical treatment declines or becomes not existent.
Why would any practicing physician want to continue to operate under this preordained system? Indentured servants to government rationed therapy that ultimately leads to death panels is not exactly the best recovery for socialized illness.
The prudent response for general practitioners and specialists is to lobby for their rights to practice outside the Insurance/Medicare/ Medicaid matrix. Cash on the barrelhead needs to be the new prescription.
For those hard-pressed medical policy owners, the future ceiling on premiums, deductibles and other out of pocket co-pay costs should be a wakeup call that motivates alternatives. The unmistakable choice is to cancel any medical insurance and start a personal medical self-financed saving plan.
Add up the costs, stashing away money will accomplish three tasks.
- It will force corporate insurance to go in panic mode
- It will doom any government mandate for compulsory coverage
- It will place the responsibility for your heath care where it belongs, in your own hands.
The mutual objective that everyone should seek is to improve the quality of medical treatment at a fair value price.
An imperiousness government that looks to confiscate your estate proves, for the last time, that the master plans for social medicine, like Medicare and Medicaid, were never viable in the beginning.
That “Great Society”, starting with LBJ to the deceitful promises of a community organizer thug named Barack Obama, produced the biggest failed government in history. The “ROT” and stench that smells up the public arena is unavoidable.
Obamacare has manifested the depths and extent that this administration prevaricates. Finally, the public is starting to understand that their future is more in jeopardy than their immediate health.
The blackmail of Chief Justice Robert, who flipped the Supreme Court decision that called Obamacare a tax, was just the opening shot to obliterate the rule of law. Domineering intimidation by the merchants of death is not unusual, when snake oil is dispensed as a medication. The remedy for a healthy country is to cut out the tumor.
Ridding the political process, from the corrupt culture of dominating communalism, starts with independent thought and action. There is no miracle cure for national recovery. Nevertheless, the uproar over the Obamacare disaster provides an opportunity to implode the regime.
Refuse the mandates and cancel medical coverage. In the end, health care decisions are as personal as it gets.