Would you believe that the United States tried to do something that was not nice against Hugo Chávez?
In a secret US cable to the State Department, dated November 9, 2006, and recently published online by WikiLeaks, former US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to destabilize the government of the late President Hugo Chávez. The cable begins with a Summary:
During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.
USAID/OTI = United States Agency for International Development/Office of Transition Initiatives. The latter is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world – They say it means a transition to “democracy”. What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.
OTI supports the Freedom House (FH) “Right to Defend Human Rights” program with $1.1 million. Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights organizations.
Freedom House is one of the oldest US government conduits for transitioning to “democracy”; to a significant extent it equates “democracy” and “human rights” with free enterprise. Development Alternatives Inc. is the organization that sent Alan Gross to Cuba on a mission to help implement the US government’s operation of regime change.
OTI speaks of working to improve “the deteriorating human rights situation in” Venezuela. Does anyone know of a foreign government with several millions of dollars to throw around who would like to improve the seriously deteriorating human rights situation in the United States? They can start with the round-the-clock surveillance and the unconscionable entrapment of numerous young “terrorists” guilty of thought crimes.
“OTI partners are training NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to be activists and become more involved in advocacy.”
Now how’s that for a self-given license to fund and get involved in any social, economic or political activity that can sabotage any program of the Chávez government and/or make it look bad? The US ambassador’s cable points out that:
OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo. We have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over $1.1 million.
“Another key Chavez strategy,” the cable continues, “is his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.”
This is the classical neo-liberal argument against any attempt to transform a capitalist society – The revolutionaries are creating class conflict. But of course, the class conflict was already there, and nowhere more embedded and distasteful than in Latin America.
OTI funded 54 social projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing [the] Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a ‘unifying enemy.’
One has to wonder if the good ambassador (now an Assistant Secretary of State) placed any weight or value at all on the election and re-election by decisive margins of Chávez and the huge masses of people who repeatedly filled the large open squares to passionately cheer him. When did such things last happen in the ambassador’s own country? Where was his country’s “concern for the Venezuelan people” during the decades of highly corrupt and dictatorial regimes? His country’a embassy in Venezuela in that period was not plotting anything remotely like what is outlined in this cable.
The cable summarizes the focus of the embassy’s strategy’s as: “1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.” 1
The stated mission for the Office of Transition Initiatives is: “To support U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy in priority countries in crisis.” 2
Notice the key word – “crisis”. For whom was Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela a “crisis”? For the people of Venezuela or the people who own and operate United States, Inc.?
Imagine a foreign country’s embassy, agencies and NGOs in the United States behaving as the American embassy, OTI, and NGOs did in Venezuela. President Putin of Russia recently tightened government controls over foreign NGOs out of such concern. As a result, he of course has been branded by the American government and media as a throwback to the Soviet Union.
Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.
For our concluding words of wisdom, class, here’s Charles Shapiro, US ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004, speaking recently of the Venezuelan leaders: “I think they really believe it, that we are out there at some level to do them ill.” 3
The latest threats to life as we know it
Last month numerous foreign-policy commentators marked the tenth anniversary of the fateful American bombing and invasion of Iraq. Those who condemned the appalling devastation of the Iraqi people and their society emphasized that it had all been a terrible mistake, since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein didn’t actually possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is the same argument we’ve heard repeatedly during the past ten years from most opponents of the war.
But of the many lies – explicit or implicit – surrounding the war in Iraq, the biggest one of all is that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those WMD the invasion would have been justified; that in such case Iraq would indeed have been a threat to the United States or to Israel or to some other country equally decent, innocent and holy. However, I must ask as I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, no more than the Iranians do today. No more than the Soviets had during the decades of the Cold War. No more than North Korea has ever had since the United States bombed them in the early 1950s. Yet last month the new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced that he would strengthen United States defenses against a possible attack by [supposedly] nuclear-equipped North Korea, positioning 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska and California at an estimated cost of $1 billion. So much for the newest Great White Hope. Does it ever matter who the individuals are who are occupying the highest offices of the US foreign-policy establishment? Or their gender or their color?
“Oh,” many people argued, “Saddam Hussein was so crazy who knew what he might do?” But when it became obvious in late 2002 that the US was intent upon invading Iraq, Saddam opened up the country to the UN weapons inspectors much more than ever before, offering virtually full cooperation. This was not the behavior of a crazy person; this was the behavior of a survivalist. He didn’t even use any WMD when he was invaded by the United States in 1991 (“the first Gulf War”), when he certainly had such weapons. Moreover, the country’s vice president, Tariq Aziz, went on major American television news programs to assure the American people and the world that Iraq no longer had any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; and we now know that Iraq had put out peace feelers in early 2003 hoping to prevent the war. The Iraqi leaders were not crazy at all. Unless one believes that to oppose US foreign policy you have to be crazy. Or suicidal.
It can as well be argued that American leaders were crazy to carry out the Iraqi invasion in the face of tens of millions of people at home and around the world protesting against it, pleading with the Bush gang not to unleash the horrors. (How many demonstrations were there in support of the invasion?)
In any event, the United States did not invade Iraq because of any threat of an attack using WMD. Washington leaders did not themselves believe that Iraq possessed such weapons of any significant quantity or potency. Amongst the sizable evidence supporting this claim we have the fact that they would not have exposed hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the ground.
Nor can it be argued that mere possession of such weapons – or the belief of same – was reason enough to take action, for then the United States would have to invade Russia, France, Israel, et al.
I have written much of the above in previous editions of this report, going back to 2003. But I’m afraid that I and other commentators will have to be repeating these observations for years to come. Myths that reinforce official government propaganda die hard. The mainstream media act like they don’t see through them, while national security officials thrive on them to give themselves a mission, to enhance their budgets, and further their personal advancement. The Washington Post recently reported: “A year into his tenure, the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has proved even more bellicose than his father, North Korea’s longtime ruler, disappointing U.S. officials who had hoped for a fresh start with the regime.” 4
Yeah, right, can’t you just see those American officials shaking their heads and exclaiming: “Damn, what do we have to do to get those North Korean fellows to trust us?” Well, they could start by ending the many international sanctions they impose on North Korea. They could discontinue arming and training South Korean military forces. And they could stop engaging in provocative fly-overs, ships cruising the waters, and military exercises along with South Korea, Australia, and other countries dangerously close to the North. The Wall Street Journal reported:
The first show of force came on March 8, during the U.S.-South Korean exercise, known as Foal Eagle, when long-range B-52 bombers conducted low-altitude maneuvers. A few weeks later, in broad daylight, two B-2 bombers sent from a Missouri air base dropped dummy payloads on a South Korean missile range.
U.S. intelligence agencies, as had been planned, reviewed the North’s responses. After those flights, the North responded as the Pentagon and intelligence agencies had expected, with angry rhetoric, threatening to attack the South and the U.S.
On Sunday, the U.S. flew a pair of advanced F-22s to South Korea, which prompted another angry response from the North. 5
And the United States could stop having wet dreams about North Korea collapsing, enabling the US to establish an American military base right at the Chinese border.
As to North Korea’s frequent threats … yes, they actually outdo the United States in bellicosity, lies, and stupidity. But their threats are not to be taken any more seriously than Washington’s oft expressed devotion to democracy and freedom. When it comes to doing actual harm to other peoples, the North Koreans are not in the same league as the empire.
“Everyone is concerned about miscalculation and the outbreak of war. But the sense across the U.S. government is that the North Koreans are not going to wage all-out war,” a senior Obama administration official said. “They are interested first and foremost in regime survival.” 6
American sovereignty hasn’t faced a legitimate foreign threat to its existence since the British in 1812.
The marvelous world of Freedom of Speech
So, the United States and its Western partners have banned Iranian TV from North America and in various European countries. Did you hear about that? Probably not if you’re not on the mailing list of PressTV, the 24-hour English-Language Iranian news channel. According to PressTV:
The Iranian film channel, iFilm, as well as Iranian radio stations, have also been banned from sensitive Western eyes and ears, all such media having been removed in February from the Galaxy 19 satellite platform serving the United States and Canada.
In December the Spanish satellite company, Hispasat, terminated the broadcast of the Iranian Spanish-language channel Hispan TV. Hispasat is partly owned by Eutelsat, whose French-Israeli CEO is blamed for the recent wave of attacks on Iranian media in Europe.
The American Jewish Committee has welcomed these developments. AJC Executive Director David Harris has acknowledged that the committee had for months been engaged in discussions with the Spaniards over taking Iranian channels off the air. 7
A careful search of the Lexis-Nexis data base of international media reveals that not one English-language print newspaper, broadcast station, or news agency in the world has reported on the PressTV news story since it appeared February 8. One Internet newspaper, Digital Journal, ran the story on February 10.
The United States, Canada, Spain, and France are thus amongst those countries proudly celebrating their commitment to the time-honored concept of freedom of speech. Other nations of “The Free World” cannot be far behind as Washington continues to turn the screws of Iranian sanctions still tighter.
In his classic 1984, George Orwell defined “doublethink” as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” In the United States, the preferred label given by the Ministry of Truth to such hypocrisy is “American exceptionalism”, which manifests itself in the assertion of a divinely ordained mission as well in the insistence on America’s right to apply double standards in its own favor and reject “moral equivalence”.
The use of sanctions to prevent foreign media from saying things that Washington has decidedshould not be said is actually a marked improvement over previous American methods. For example, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” 8 And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-bombing of the Balkan country which posed no threat at all to the United States, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage. 9
- Read the full memo. ↩
- USAID Transition Initiatives Website ↩
- Washington Post, January 10, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, March 16, 2013 ↩
- Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2013 ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- PressTV news release ↩
- Index on Censorship online, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001 ↩
- The Independent (London), April 24, 1999, p.1 ↩
When your article inspires a big-city mayor to refer your case to a “human-relations commission,” you know you’ve hit a nerve. And when that article is the recent “Being White in Philly” piece by liberal Robert Huber, you know it doesn’t take much truth to hit that nerve.
That’s the scary part. Huber’s article contains mostly tepid examples of whites’ negative experiences with blacks and primarily black neighborhoods, such as a Philadelphia resident whose grill was stolen from her backyard but “blames herself” for not fencing it in. Its tone is basically apologetic, absolving a drug dealer of responsibility because he was just “trying to get by” and describing the US’ racial history as “horrible and daunting.” Yet this wasn’t good enough for Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter and his comrades. They still want Huber silenced.
Oh, they won’t get what they want…at least not exactly and not yet. But, nonetheless, writes Philly.com, “In a scathing letter, Mayor Nutter last week requested that the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission consider whether the magazine and Huber deserved to be rebuked for the article.” Why is this significant? Well, when we hear about Englishmen, Canadians, Australians, Swedes, or other Westerners being imprisoned or fined for criticizing Islam or homosexuality — yes, this does happen — guess what the instruments of their oppression are.
Of course, they’re usually called “human-rights” commissions, and the entities that actually judge those charged with “hate speech” are called “tribunals.” And they have proliferated in the West. You can bet your state has one, and your county may, too. But, no, you won’t be silenced by them — at least not exactly and not yet. We have that pesky thing called the First Amendment (for now).
But Huber certainly was rebuked. In a Monday panel discussion moderated by the editor of his Philadelphia Magazine, Tom McGrath, he was criticized by what appear to be promising future human-rights-tribunal judges. Fellow journalist Solomon Jones scored the publication for having a “history of racial insensitivity,” while People’s Emergency Center president Farah Jimenez said that the “[m]agazine, which has an all-white editorial staff, was not the right ‘messenger’ for a story encouraging racial dialogue,” writes Philly.com. I wonder, does anyone ever say that the all-black NAACP or Congressional Black Caucus is the wrong agent of racial dialogue? Huber’s goal was to bring white people’s feelings and beliefs on race to light, and for this white people may be the ideal messengers.
Critics at the discussion even questioned whether the individuals cited only by first name (or pseudonym) in the article were real. I suppose they wanted full names, addresses, and telephone numbers, which surely would have encouraged honesty in racial dialogue. But when whites are portrayed in history as slave owners and oppressors, or when blacks charge discrimination today, do the powers-that-be question whether the stories are true? Why, there wasn’t even the necessary skepticism in the Duke Lacrosse rape frame-up case. Of course, though, why even ask? White privilege ensures that whites never, ever have bad experiences with black people.
Not surprisingly, the magazine and its “defenders” responded to the lynch mob with deference. McGrath opened the discussion with an apology, and journalist Christopher Norris said, writes Philly.com, “that he understood the outrage over the article, but simply viewed the piece as the work of an older white man writing about his experience.” Yes, and Nutter’s actions are simply the outrage of an older black man airing his complaints. Jimenez’ comments are simply a middle-aged Hispanic woman expressing her feelings. How did that sound? Should we try to discover truth or just dismiss messengers based on race?
Having said all this, Huber gets no sympathy from me. He says in his piece that white people are stuck being “dishonest by default” on race and that “[w]e need to bridge the conversational divide so that there are no longer two private dialogues in Philadelphia — white people talking to other whites, and black people to blacks — but a city in which it is okay to speak openly about race.” Yet his expressed desire for open conversation rings hollow. When John Derbyshire was fired from National Review for speaking openly about race, or Rush Limbaugh lost his position as an NFL commentator for saying far less, did Huber defend them? Did he even defend their comments as part of that initiation of racial dialogue? I suspect that he was happy to see a political opponent twist in the wind. But if Huber now wants to have that conversation on race, okay, let’s have it.
At the beginning of his piece, Huber speaks of a young woman he calls Susan and writes:
She lost her BlackBerry in a biology lab at Villanova and Facebooked all the class members she could find, “wondering if you happened to pick it up or know who did.” No one had it. There was one black student in the class, whom I’ll call Carol, who responded: “Why would I just happen to pick up a BlackBerry and if this is a personal message I’m offended!”
Huber explains that Carol assumed Susan targeted her because she was black and for a long time thereafter gave Susan the cold shoulder. Here is what Huber didn’t have the guts to say: such paranoia is the result anti-white bigotry. It’s just as when a person is irretrievably biased against someone in his personal life and then sees the individual through colored glasses. Every innocent misstep is then interpreted as a malicious act: “Why, that’s just the kind of thing he would do!” is the thinking. With whites, they’re always “racist” because that’s just the way they are.
And this has consequences. It’s easy to justify hatred of and discrimination against people whom you believe are inherently biased against you, and whites suffer as a result of this phenomenon all the time. Oh, Huber won’t talk about this, and it is why, if you want the truth, forget his article. Read the comments under it. For while the anonymity of the Internet enables some ugly talk, it also encourages expression of some ugly truths.
Just about a year ago I investigated a racially motivated fire attack on a 13-year-old Missouri boy named Allen Coon, who was one of fewer than 20 white children attending East High school in Kansas City. During the course of extensive interviews with parents and students, I learned that Coon and other white children had been subjected to severe racial harassment not just by classmates, but also teachers. One teacher called the tow-headed Allen “Casper” and encouraged other students to participate in the teasing; other times students would initiate the harassment and the teachers would chime in. I also spoke with two sisters, ex-Texans, who were verbally attacked in front of their class by a teacher who said, “Everybody from Texas is ignorant rednecks” and that all white people were responsible for a 1998 attack upon a black man in Jasper, TX (the James Byrd killing) because “[their] skin is white.”
And similar ugly truths are revealed in “Being White in Philly’s” comments section. There’s the white poster who said that in fifth grade in his primarily black school, the teacher would purposely ask him questions too difficult for his grade level and then, when he couldn’t answer, make him stand in front of the class wearing a sign reading “White Dunce.” And here are a few other examples (edited for punctuation and grammar), with respondents identified by screen name:
White kid in blackgradeschool
I was targeted daily throughout my childhood because of my race — that was made explicitly clear (verbally). Even teachers in my school were unsympathetic and would look the other way. And the manner in which race was spoken about in an all black school really inflamed students to the point where everything done to me was completely justified in their minds because, as a white person, I was finally getting mine, and some of the teachers I know felt that way too.
Under the bus
I couldn’t open my mouth in class without half of the kids shouting “Shut-up, white boy,” or many similar things. … [T]he majority of my teachers just looked the other way, and many, though not all, black teachers seemed to support it.
The demographics at my daughter’s school suddenly changed one year with black children becoming the majority, and she became a target.
I attended a small elementary school in Georgia. …I was bullied daily by black kids. Several loudly expressed that they hated white kids, yet could not articulate WHY.
[T]here was the black librarian who joined in with the [black students'] bullying. I had never experienced a teacher who was openly hostile to the white students. …I had to sit there surrounded by the librarian’s favorite black bullies, while she bullied as well.
Of course, we’ll now be told that these testimonials are invalid because, well, you know, these might not even be real people. It’s always nice to have full names so that those who dare speak truth can be scorned, ostracized, condemned, and fired from employment. As SaraEdward45 put it, “No one wants to [air these problems] out loud because you are automatically labeled as a racist and your experience is invalidated, leaving you to feel bullied once more.”
But, hey, it’s great that we’re having this conversation.
Well, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is at it again. In their typical obsessive hate-filled paranoia, the SPLC has issued another baseless assassination piece against anyone whom they consider to be “right-wing.” They call their hit piece, “The Year in Hate and Extremism.” Of course, only “right-wing” leaders are so characterized. According to the SPLC, left-wing leaders are always the voices of reason and goodness. Barf!
The SPLC article lists several conservative leaders as examples of “hate and extremism.” They include Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), U.S. Representative Trey Radel (R-FL), former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, FOX News radio host Todd Starnes, and ConservativeDaily.com’s Tony Adkins. “Even further to the right,” according to the SPLC, are Oath Keepers (founded by Stewart Rhodes), Judicial Watch’s Larry Klayman, and, yes, yours truly.
I take special delight in knowing that the SPLC ALWAYS puts me on or near the top of their most “dangerous” patriot lists. (Richard Mack and Stewart Rhodes also seem to merit this same attention.) I can’t tell you what a relief this is to me! I would hate to think that all of this work that I’m doing would somehow be overlooked by an extremist left-wing hate group like the SPLC. Plus, every time the SPLC puts me on one of their lists, donations, contributions, and support for my work always skyrocket. So, if you want to put your money behind a man who especially irritates the SPLC, you can donate to Chuck Baldwin Live here:
The SPLC maintains that 2012 saw a dramatic increase in the number of right-wing “hate groups.” Again, according to the SPLC, there are no left-wing hate groups. Of course, the SPLC doesn’t bother to name or locate these groups. Everyone is just supposed to take their word that they exist.
In addition, the SPLC maintains that anyone who opposes the UN’s Agenda 21 is also part of the “radical right,” as is anyone who belongs to the John Birch Society. Predictably, the SPLC report associates any and all of the above with neo-Nazis. This is a typical tactic of the SPLC (and other ultra-liberal organizations) to discredit conservatives by associating them with Nazis.
See the SPLC report at:
Back in 2010, the SPLC issued its list of 40 patriot leaders: people whom they consider to be part of the “radical right.” And, yes, Chuck Baldwin is at the very top of the list. Others who made the list in 2010 include Stewart Rhodes and Richard Mack (again), Alex Jones, Devvy Kidd, Cliff Kincaid, Jack McLamb, John McManus, Daniel New, Larry Pratt, Joel Skousen, Edwin Vieira, Jr., Andrew Napolitano, and Ron Paul.
See my column on this report at:
The SPLC is such a paranoid, extremist, ultra-liberal organization it would seem that only those who are the most biased and prejudiced in their liberal philosophy could even take them half-way seriously. Unfortunately, however, the SPLC is one of the most-often quoted sources by the mainstream media. Of course, most Americans realize that the mainstream media, for the most part, is itself extremely biased in favor of a left-wing agenda, so it is not surprising that they would gravitate to the left-wing paranoia that emanates from the SPLC.
However, even more unfortunate is the fact that the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., also gives credence to the SPLC’s ultra-left-wing propaganda. This is the most disturbing part of the SPLC hysteria: the nation’s law enforcement agencies that receive instructions, bulletins, memos, briefs, etc., from the DOJ are watching the feds regurgitate the left-wing propaganda of the SPLC. This is why State police agencies, such as what we saw happen in Missouri’s MIAC report, end up characterizing conservatives as “extremist hate groups.” They got it from the DOJ, which got it from the SPLC.
So, how is it that a private extremist organization such as the SPLC is given this kind of notoriety and credibility by the federal government?
In a previous column, I pointed out that the SPLC and DOJ enjoy a very cozy relationship. In that column I said, “The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama, has long been used by the federal government and the national press corps to paint conservative organizations as ‘extremists,’ ‘anti-government,’ ‘hate groups,’ etc. No sooner would the SPLC issue some attack piece in their newsletter and police agencies all over the country would be issuing bulletins to their officers regurgitating what the SPLC had just spewed out. No private organization has this kind of connection to, and influence over, police agencies nationwide without collaboration with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. Well, now, we have evidence that such a collaboration exists.
“Brietbart.com has just released a report by Judicial Watch confirming that the DOJ and the SPLC are intricately tied to the hip. The report states, ‘Judicial Watch (JW), a Washington D.C. based non-partisan educational foundation, released some two dozen pages of emails it obtained on Tuesday revealing connections between the Department of Justice Civil Rights and Tax divisions and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).’”
See the column at:
That the DOJ has such a cozy relationship with this type of ultra-liberal organization should be cause for concern by all Americans. After all, justice is supposed to be adjudicated equally to all men–conservatives or liberals–according to the rule of law, not parceled out with the taint of bias and prejudice.
So, the SPLC is at it again. And, once again, I am flattered to be included in their list, because a man is known as much by his enemies as he is his friends. If the SPLC is attacking me, I must be doing something right.
I know some of you folks don’t shoot, but to the many of you who do, I would like to pose a question.
Have you tried to purchase any ammunition lately?
All calibers are disappearing from store shelves, but .22 long rifles, in bulk, can’t be found at all anywhere, even the most dependable internet super dealers are out of stock and are making no promises about when they’ll be available again, and it’s my opinion that soon the same thing will be true about the other calibers.
I readily admit that one of the reasons is that Barack Obama’s outright war on guns, the “feel good” juvenile antics of Governor Cuomo of New York and the childish Democrats in the Missouri and Wisconsin state legislatures have scared legal gun owners into stockpiling ammunition, justly fearing that it will get hard, if not impossible to get.
But, can somebody please tell me why Homeland Security and many other, supposedly benign government agencies have bought over two billion rounds and are ordering millions more of all calibers, even the smaller ones?
Why does a shoot-to-kill outfit like Homeland Security need tiny caliber bullets like .22′s that are made for hunting small game? Is Homeland Security going to start exterminating squirrels or rabbits, and why does an agency like Social Security need any kind of ammunition?
Is this a back door attempt at gun control, a way around a Congress that is scared to death of gun legislation? Another presidential backstreet move to have his way by hook or crook and blame it on free market demand? Just dry up the ammo and the guns will be useless?
My information is that the manufacturers are straining every nerve trying to keep up with the demand, but with Homeland Security commandeering so much of their production, the task is impossible.
Is this the beginning of the weaning of America?
It’s a scary scenario, but let me relate an even scarier one.
If the government can make bullets disappear from store shelves, why couldn’t it make food disappear, or fuel or medicine, or anything else for that matter?
The point being that big government can do just about anything they want to and there’s little the minority of us who fear it can do about it as long as the majority who don’t fear it keeps tripping down the primrose path with their heads in the clouds and their hands out.
There is a little known piece of legislation that passed Congress a while back called The Food Safety Modernization Act and the provisions are shadowy at best, having to do with agriculture and the production of food in America.
I checked into it when I found out about it only to find the bill had just cleared the Senate and was on President Obama’s desk. What struck me as strange was the fact that our two Tennessee Senators were split on the vote; Bob Corker voted against it and Lamar Alexander voted for it.
I was assured by Senator Alexander’s office that “Senator Alexander would never do anything to hurt the farmers.” Well, does that mean that Senator Corker would do something to hurt the farmers by voting against it? Which means that one of the Senators voted against the farmers of Tennessee. Which one?
The provisions of the bill are said to protect the food supply, but what does that mean when it’s taken out of government speak and translated into plain English?
Personally, I believe the government has taken upon itself the power to interrupt agriculture at any time it chooses under the guise of keeping tainted or otherwise unsafe food out of the market – up to, and including, the planting and harvesting of private home gardens.
The flow of medicine could easily be interrupted by claiming it contained impurities and harmful substances.
We’ve already seen how fuel can be rationed – just slow down the availability and delivery.
Big government can bring this nation to its knees in a matter of days. And, with a passive Senate and an ever more acquiescent Supreme Court, the power to do so is falling into the hands of one man.
Shaky ground for a free nation.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
Throughout history, citizen disarmament generally leads to one of two inevitable outcomes: Government tyranny and genocide, or, revolution and civil war. Anti-gun statists would, of course, argue that countries like the UK and Australia have not suffered such a result. My response would be – just give them time. You may believe that gun control efforts are part and parcel of a totalitarian agenda (as they usually are), or, you may believe that gun registration and confiscation are a natural extension of the government’s concern for our “safety and well-being”. Either way, the temptation of power that comes after a populace is made defenseless is almost always too great for any political entity to dismiss. One way or another, for one reason or another, they WILL take advantage of the fact that the people have no leverage to determine their own cultural future beyond a twisted system of law and governance which is, in the end, easily corrupted.
The unawake and the unaware among us will also argue that revolution or extreme dissent against the establishment is not practical or necessary, because the government “is made of regular people like us, who can be elected or removed at any time”.
This is the way a Republic is supposed to function, yes. However, the system we have today has strayed far from the methods of a Free Republic and towards the machinations of a single party system. Our government does NOT represent the common American anymore. It has become a centralized and Sovietized monstrosity. A seething hydra with two poisonous heads; one Democrat in name, one Republican in name. Both heads feed the same bottomless stomach; the predatory and cannibalistic pit of socialized oligarchy.
On the Republican side, we are offered Neo-Con sharks like George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, who argue for “conservative” policies such as limited government interference and reduced spending, all while introducing legislation which does the exact opposite. The recent passage of the “Safe Act” in New York with extensive Republican support proves that Republicans cannot be counted on to defend true conservative values.
The Democrats get candidates like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, who claim to be anti-war and against government abuse of civil liberties, and yet, these same “progressive and compassionate” politicians now froth at the mouth like rabid dogs sinking their teeth into the flesh of the citizenry, expanding on every tyrannical initiative the Republicans began, and are bombing more civilian targets in more foreign countries than anyone with a conscience should be able to bear.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the government is not our buddy. It is not our ally or friend. It is not a “part of us”. It is now a separate and dangerous entity. A parasite feeding off the masses. It has become a clear threat to the freedoms of average Americans. It is time for the public to grow up, snap out of its childish delusions, and accept that there is no solace or justice to be found anymore in Washington D.C.
Once we understand this fact, a question then arises – What do we do about it? If we cannot redress our grievances through the election process because both parties favor the same authoritarian direction, and if our street protests are utterly ignored by the mainstream media and the establishment, and if civil suits do nothing but drag on for years with little to no benefit, then what is left for us? Is the way of the gun the only answer left for the American people at this crossroads?
I cannot deny that we are very close to such a conclusion. Anyone who does deny it is living in a candy coated fantasy land. However, there are still certain options that have not been exhausted, and we should utilize them if for no other reason than to maintain the moral high ground while the power elite continue to expose their own despotic innards.
State And County Nullification
The assertion of local authority in opposition to federal tyranny is already being applied across the country. Multiple states, counties, and municipalities are issuing declarations of defiance and passing legislation which nullifies any future federal incursions against 2nd Amendment protections. For instance, the Gilberton Borough Council in PA in conjunction with Police Chief Mark Kessler has recently adopted a resolution defending all 2nd Amendment rights within their municipal borders up to and including the denial of operations by federal officers:
Approximately 283 county Sheriffs and multiple police officers have taken a hard stand, stating that they will either not aid federal enforcement officials with gun control related activities, or, that they will not allow such activities within their county, period:
This trend of dissent amongst law enforcement officials debunks the nihilistic view promoted by disinformation agents that “no one in law enforcement will have the guts to stand up to the government no matter how sour it turns”. It has also shaken the Obama Administration enough that the White House is struggling to counter it by wining and dining police unions and sheriffs departments in order to form their own “coalition of the willing”. Obama seems to believe that holding press conferences using children or police as background props will somehow earn him political capital in the battle for gun rights, but I have my doubts:
Multiple states have legislation on the table to nullify as well, and it would seem that the violent push by the establishment to extinguish the 2nd Amendment has actually sharply rekindled the public’s interest in States Rights and the 10th Amendment.
This does not mean, though, that we should rely on nullification alone. While the gun grabbers are stumbling into severe resistance at the national level, some representatives are attempting to supplant gun rights at the state level, including New York, California, Washington State, and Missouri. The goal here is obvious; counter states rights arguments by using anti-gun legislators to impose federal controls through the back door of state legislation.
They will claim that if we support states rights, then we have to abide by the decisions of regions like New York when they ban and confiscate firearms. It’s sad how gun grabbers lose track of reality. Neither federal authority, nor state authority, supplants the legal barriers of the Constitution itself, meaning, no federal or local authority has the right or power to remove our freedom of speech, our freedom of assembly, our freedom of privacy, OR our freedom to own firearms (including firearms of military utility). The Constitution and the Bill of Rights supersede all other legal and political entities (including treaties, as ruled by the Supreme Court). At least, that’s what the Founding Fathers intended when they established this nation. The point is, a state is well within its rights to defy the Federal Government if it is enacting unconstitutional abuses, and the people are well within their rights to defy a state when it does the same.
There is actually a fantastic economic opportunity to be had by states and counties that nullify gun control legislation. Many gun manufacturers and retail businesses are facing financial oblivion if the establishment has its way, and moving operations outside the U.S. is not necessarily practical for most of them (gun manufacturing is one of the last business models we still do better than the rest of the world). Municipalities could offer safe haven to these businesses, allowing them to continue producing firearms and high capacity magazines, fulfill expanding public demand, and create a surging cash flow into their area while at the same time giving the federal government the finger.
This strategy does not come without dangers, though. Many states and counties are addicted to federal funding, and some would go bankrupt without it. The obvious first response by the feds to protesting local governments will be to cut off the river of cash and starve them into subservience.
This brand of internal financial warfare can be countered by local governments by nullifying a few other unconstitutional regulations, including those issued by the EPA and the BLM. States and counties could easily disable federal land development restrictions and begin using resource development as a means to generate supplemental income. North Dakota is essentially doing this right now in the Bakken Oil Fields, becoming one of the few states in America that is actually creating legitimate high paying jobs (instead of part time wage slave jobs), and growing more prosperous every year.
This tactic is not limited to state governments either. Counties also have the ability, with the right officials involved, to regain control of their economic destinies anytime they want. All it takes is the courage to rock the establishment boat.
Refuse All Registration Schemes
National firearms registration and gun databases are almost always followed by full gun confiscation. The process is usually done in a standardized manner: First demand extensive registration and cataloging of gun owners. Second, ban more effective styles of weaponry, including semi-automatics and high capacity rifles (Let the sport hunters keep their bolt actions for a time, and lure them onto your side with the promise that they will get to keep their .270 or their 30-06). Then take all semi-auto handguns. Then, ban high powered magnum style bolt actions by labeling them “sniper rifles”. Then demand that the gun owners that still remain allow official “inspections” of their home by law enforcement to ensure that they are “storing their weapons properly”. Then, force them to move those weapons to a designated “warehouse or range”, locked away for any use other than recreational shooting. Then, when the public is thoroughly disconnected from their original right to bear arms, take everything that’s left.
Keep in mind that the federal government and certain state governments are acting as if they would like to skip ALL of the preliminary steps and go straight to full confiscation. I am not discounting that possibility. But, they may feign certain concessions in the near term in order to get the one thing they really want – full registration.
Registration must be the line in the sand for every single gun owner in this country, whether they own several semi-automatics, or one pump action shotgun. Once you give in to being registered, fingerprinted, photographed, and tracked wherever you decide to live like a convicted sexual predator, you have shown that you have no will or spirit. You have shown that you will submit to anything.
After a full registration has been enacted, every gun (and maybe every bullet) will be tracked. If confiscation is utilized, they know exactly what you have and what you should not have, and exactly where you are. Criminals will still acquire weapons illegally, as they always have. The only people who will suffer are law abiding citizens. It’s a recipe for dictatorship and nothing more.
Gun Barter Networks
The retail firearms and ammo markets are Sahara dry right now, and will probably remain that way in the foreseeable future. Anything that is available for purchase is usually twice the price it was last year. Extremely high demand is removing retail from the picture before any legislation is even passed. Enter barter…
Cash will remain a bargaining tool for as long as the dollar remains the world reserve currency and holds at least some semblance of value (this will end sooner than most people think). That said, as gun items become scarce, the allure of cash may be supplanted. The signs of this are already evident.
Gun owners are now looking more to trade firearms and accessories for OTHER firearms and accessories, because they know that once they sell an item, they may never see it again, and the usefulness of cash is fleeting. Gun Barter is not only a way for firearms enthusiasts to get what they need, it is also a way for them to move around any future gun sale restrictions that may arise. Private gun sales are legal in some states, but do not count on this to last. Barter leaves no paper trail, and thus, no traceable evidence of transaction. For those who fear this idea as “legally questionable”, all I can do is remind them that an unconstitutional law is no law at all. If it does not adhere to the guidelines of our founding principles, our founding documents, and our natural rights, then it is just a bunch of meaningless words on a meaningless piece of paper signed by a meaningless political puppet.
3D Printing And Home Manufacturing
3D Printing is now available to the public and for those with the money, I recommend they invest quickly. Unless the establishment wants to make the possession of these printers illegal, as well as shut down the internet, there will be no way to stop data streamers from supplying the software needed to make molds for every conceivable gun part, including high capacity mags. This technology has been effectively promoted by the Wiki Weapons Project:
According to current ATF law, the home manufacture of gun parts is not technically illegal, as long as they are not being produced for sale. But in a state or county where federal gun laws have been nullified, what the ATF says is irrelevant.
Home manufacturing of gun parts and ammo would be a highly lucrative business in such safe haven areas. And, the ability to build one’s own self defense platform is a vital skill in a sparse market environment. The ultimate freedom is being able to supply your own needs without having to ask for materials or permission from others. It should be the goal of every pro-gun activist to reach this independence.
Force The Establishment To Show Its True Colors
While some in the general public may be incensed by the trampling of our freedoms by government, many (including myself) would view direct action and aimless French Revolution-style violence as distasteful and disastrous. The moral high ground is all that any dissenting movement has. It will be hard enough to keep this ground with the constant demonization of liberty minded people that is being espoused by propaganda peddlers like the SPLC and numerous media outlets. We do not need to help them do their jobs.
Now, to be clear, I have NO illusions that the above strategies will defuse a confrontation between those who value freedom, and those who desire power. The hope is that enough people within our population will refuse to comply, and that this will make any future despotism impossible to construct. However, it is far more likely that these acts of defiance will elicit a brutal response from the government. And in a way, that is exactly what we want…
The Founding Fathers went through steps very similar to those I listed above and more to counter the tightening grip of the British Empire during the first American Revolution. The idea is simple:
Peacefully deny the corrupt system’s authority over your life by supplying your own needs and your own security, rather than lashing out blindly. Force them to show their true colors. Expose their dishonor and maliciousness. Make them come after you like the predators they are, and then, once they can no longer play the role of the “defending hero” in the eyes of the public, use your right to self defense to send them a message they won’t forget.
Skeptics will claim that physical defense is useless against a technologically advanced enemy. They will claim that we need a “majority” we do not have in order to prevail. These are usually people who have never fought for anything in their lives. They do not understand that the “odds” are unimportant. They mean nothing. No revolution for good ever begins with “majority support”. Each is fought by a minority of strong willed and aware individuals. When all other methods of protest have been dismantled, the system leaves us with only two options: stand and fight, or kneel and beg for mercy. All you need to know is what YOU would do when faced with that choice.
There is no other culture on earth that has the capacity, like Americans currently do, to defeat centralists, defend individual liberty, and end the pursuit of total global power in this lifetime. We are the first and last line. If freedom is undone here, it is undone everywhere for generations to come. This is our responsibility. This is our providence. There can be no complacency. There can be no compromise. There can be no fear. It ends on this ground. One way, or another.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama, has long been used by the federal government and the national press corps to paint conservative organizations as “extremists,” “anti-government,” “hate groups,” etc. No sooner would the SPLC issue some attack piece in their newsletter and police agencies all over the country would be issuing bulletins to their officers regurgitating what the SPLC had just spewed out. No private organization has this kind of connection to, and influence over, police agencies nationwide without collaboration with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. Well, now, we have evidence that such a collaboration exists.
Brietbart.com has just released a report by Judicial Watch confirming that the DOJ and the SPLC are intricately tied to the hip. The report states, “Judicial Watch (JW), a Washington D.C. based non-partisan educational foundation, released some two dozen pages of emails it obtained on Tuesday revealing connections between the Department of Justice Civil Rights and Tax divisions and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
“According to JW, the e-mails reveal questionable behavior by agency personnel while negotiating for Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) co-founder Morris Dees to appear as the featured speaker at a July 31, 2012, ‘Diversity Training Event.’ Judicial Watch obtained the records pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submitted to the DOJ on September 10, 2012:
“‘The Judicial Watch FOIA request was prompted by an apparently politically motivated shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC) headquarters in August, 2012. At the time of the shooting, FRC president Tony Perkins accused the SPLC of sparking the shooting, saying the shooter “was given a license to shoot… by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.” On its website, the SPLC has depicted FRC as a hate group, along with such mainstream conservative organizations as the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and Coral Ridge Ministries.’
“The FOIA request specifically requested ‘any and all records concerning, regarding, or relating to the Southern Poverty Law Center’ between January 1 and August 31, 2012, including the Dees’ presentation sponsored by the Civil Rights and Tax divisions of the DOJ.
“JW says that they filed the request to see if any of SPLC’s branding of hate groups had an influence on government agencies. According to the emails SPLC’s diversity speech ‘was to be simulcast to everyone’s PC throughout the Department’ which fulfilled DOJ supervisors’ ‘mandatory annual diversity training.’
“The emails produced by the DOJ show communications between DOJ personnel planning the Diversity Training Event and SPLC personnel, including Dees.”
The report went on to say, “The Southern Poverty Law Center has, in the past few years, taken to labeling organizations with conservative views on social issues as ‘hate groups,’ said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, in a press release.
“‘Given these fawning emails, one would have thought that a head of state was visiting the Justice Department. The SPLC is an attack group, and it is disturbing that it has premier access to our Department of Justice, which is charged with protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans. And these emails further confirm that politically-correct “mandatory” diversity training programs are a waste of taxpayer money,’ Fitton claimed.
See the report here:
I have been personally victimized by the SPLC and DOJ’s vicious smear campaigns. In 2008, the State of Missouri issued their now infamous MIAC report, which identified supporters of Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and me as being potential dangerous militia members and similar absurdities. This report was issued after State officials received the inflammatory accusations from DHS Fusion Centers. After an outcry of protest from people all over America, and after Ron, Bob, and I demanded an apology from those Missouri officials who issued this libelous report, the report was rescinded and an apology was issued.
I have an entire webpage devoted to the MIAC fiasco. To see it, go here:
I wish I could say that the MIAC episode was the only such time this has happened, but that just isn’t true. I have had police officers and deputy sheriffs in several states personally show me memorandums that they had received from their respective police agencies depicting me and other notable conservatives with the same derogatory characteristics. These memos were once again issued to local police departments and sheriff’s offices via DHS-DOJ Fusion Centers. And those memos were almost word-for-word the same kind of character-assassination that appeared in SPLC publications. Now we know why, don’t we?
So, will the national and even local media now stop using the SPLC as a credible source for identifying so-called “hate” groups? Don’t count on it. The national press corps is mostly in bed with big-government zealots in Washington, D.C., and will do everything they can to smear and besmirch limited-government conservatives. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this matches the definition of the word “conspiracy.”
On a related topic, let me remind readers to let their pastor-friends know about the webpage where they can sign up to publicly state that they will support the right of their church members to keep and bear arms, no matter what law is passed in Washington, D.C.
All over America, hundreds of sheriffs have publicly said that that they will not enforce any attempt by the federal government to confiscate semi-automatic rifles from the citizens of their counties and neither will they allow federal police agents to confiscate semi-automatic rifles from the citizens of their counties. We are asking pastors all over the country to take a similar stand, by encouraging their congregants to NOT obey any federal law to disarm.
By the way, I have personally received hundreds of emails from members of the US military, including special forces troops, who have stated unequivocally that, not only will they not obey orders to confiscate the semi-automatic rifles of the American people, but that they would join those Americans who would resist such an order.
Now, it’s time for pastors to stand and be counted!
America’s War for Independence began on April 19, 1775, when Pastor Jonas Clark and the male members of his Church at Lexington stood on Lexington Green (outside the very church house where they assembled for worship each Sunday) and fired the “shot heard ’round the world.” It was a local church pastor and the plucky patriots of his congregation who were willing to resist the tyrannical laws of their national government to confiscate their guns and illegally seize Sam Adams and John Hancock that ignited our revolutionary war. Without the pastors of 1775 and 1776, there would have been no Lexington Green, no Concord Bridge, no Bunker Hill, no Declaration of Independence, no British surrender at Yorktown, no US Constitution, and no United States of America.
So, where are today’s pastors?
Here is the webpage where pastors can sign up:
And here is the webpage that shows the list of those pastors who have already signed up:
Think about this: the federal government is using “private” organizations such as the SPLC to denigrate, mischaracterize, and marginalize us; it sends hit pieces to local police departments and sheriff’s offices to inflame animosity, suspicion, and even prejudice among law enforcement officers against us; it has created an entire Army division–not to mention the DHS–targeting America’s “homeland”; it is releasing thousands of drones over the skies of the continental United States; it uses its lackeys in the national media as propaganda agents to promote an ever-burgeoning police state; and now it is attempting to take away the right of the people to keep and bear their most fundamental self-defense tool: the semi-automatic rifle. And we are supposed to think that all of this is mere coincidence? Hogwash!
Let me here quote from Patrick Henry’s immortal “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” speech. By the way, this most-famous-of-all American speech was delivered almost one month to the day before the shots fired on Lexington Green. Henry’s speech was delivered on March 23, 1775; the shots fired on Lexington Green occurred on April 19, 1775.
Listen to Patrick Henry:
“Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, Sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, Sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, Sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.
“They tell us, Sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.”
As you read those words, remember that Henry was 39-years-old when he spoke them; that he was the father of seventeen children; that among those in the audience were Thomas Jefferson and George Washington; and that he was every bit the Christian as any American who has ever lived–including us Christians today.
Sheriff, if you are going to take a stand, you must take it now! Mr. Police Chief, if you are going to take a stand, you must take it now! Soldier and Marine, if you are going to take a stand, you must take it now! Pastor, if you are going to take a stand, you must take it now! Mr. and Mrs. America, if you are going to take a stand, you must take it now!
Let me remind readers, too, that my constitutional attorney son and I are in the process of publishing a brand new book designed to give Christians the tools they need to be able to properly understand that the Bible nowhere teaches that they should be willing to disarm themselves under any tyrannical order to do so. The book is entitled, “To Keep or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns.” The book will be released soon, and we are now taking pre-orders.
To pre-order the book, “To Keep or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns,” go to:
I submit that we are able to defend our liberties and defeat attempts by modern would-be tyrants to enslave us as much NOW as we were in 1775. It starts by settling the matter in your own heart that you are NOT going to surrender your semi-automatic rifle no matter what law is passed in Washington, D.C. Next, let your elected representatives and senators (both State and federal) know in no uncertain terms that the protection of our Second Amendment liberties is an absolute litmus test for re-election–political party notwithstanding. Thirdly, if your sheriff won’t take a stand for your right to keep and bear arms RIGHT NOW, vote him or her out of office at the earliest opportunity. You might even consider issuing a recall petition against him or her. And if your pastor will not take a stand RIGHT NOW, vote with your feet and leave his church and find a pastor who will. And while you’re at it, stop listening to these radio and TV preachers who keep telling you that it’s wrong to resist tyranny. They are aiding and abetting the enemies of freedom.
To quote Patrick Henry again, “Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”
I say, again, if you are going to take a stand, you must take it now!
In an article entitled, “Flu reaches epidemic level in U.S., says CDC” (http://news.yahoo.com/u-
While the Reuters article, published on January 11, solemnly announces that a pandemic is officially at play when the flu achieves a rate of 7.2 % of deaths during a time period, it also earnestly states that there is no definitive count of the total deaths caused by the flu.
Wait a minute here. The lead paragraph of this story stated: “Influenza has officially reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with 7.3 percent of deaths last week caused by pneumonia and the flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.”
So the exact percentage of deaths caused by flu is known but the number of flu deaths is not?
I wasn’t planning to go on a rant about the idiocy of our mainstream media at this juncture, but it does appear that a few things must be said. First of all, reporters must be schooled in statistics in order to complete a journalism graduate program. That course is not for wimps, I can assure you. While most J-school students are more verbally than mathematically inclined, anyone who had been in my class at the University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism would have received a failing grade if they had produced this article.
Reporter Begley goes on to try to explain the inadequacy of the current flu vaccine by stating that the little virus buggers must be hiding somewhere in people’s bodies out of reach of the vaccine. You know, a kind of microscopic “hide and seek”….The article cites the CDC as calling this season’s vaccine “moderately effective” then goes on to say that four out of ten people who receive the vaccine and are exposed to the flu will get sick.
I am beginning to wonder if J-Schools are now mandating George Orwell’s classic “1984” as required reading, in order to further groom reporters as to how to say one thing while actually saying the opposite. And maybe Journalism 402 has been renamed “Advanced Doublespeak.”
The West’s attempts to destroy the Iranian economy through heightened sanctions—including most imports, oil exports and use of banks for trade operations—is having its affect. According to Johns Hopkins University Professor Steve Hanke, Iran is facing hyperinflation, with a monthly inflation rate of nearly 70% per month and its national currency, the rial, plummeting in value against western currencies. Iran is the latest casualty to be placed on his Hanke-Krus Hyperinflation Index, which includes France (1795), Germany (1922), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1986), Argentina (1990), Russia (1992), Ecuador (1999) and Zimbabwe (2007), countries which experienced price-level increases of at least 50% per month.
Hanke, relishing his role as the world’s expert on this nightmarish phenomenon, has “played a significant role in stopping more hyperinflations than any living economist, including 10 of the 57 episodes” on his Index. He writes that Iran has three options: spontaneous dollarization (people unloading rials on the blackmarket for dollars, as happened in Zimbabwe), official dollarization (the government withdrawing the currency in favor of dollars, as in Ecuador), or a currency board issuing a new domestic currency backed 100% by—you guessed it—dollars. Hanke insists that the foreign currency doesn’t have to be US dollars. Pitcairn Island, for instance, uses New Zealand dollars.
The inflation doctor admits vaguely that there are “foreign factors”, without a hint of criticism of not only the sanctions, but the active subversion of Iran through everything from support of Iranian terrorists, assassinations of leading scientists, right up to war (the US encouraged Iraq to invade Iran in 1980). He emphasizes “Iran’s complex system of subsidies, capital controls, and multiple exchange rates”, but most of all “massive overprinting of money”, though he complains that “the Central Bank of The Islamic Republic of Iran has not reported any such statistics for some time”. As if a country living through a state of emergency is likely to divulge such sensitive information.
He coolly dismisses consumers’ expectations influencing prices, since “fear surrounding military tensions is nothing new for Iranians”. Indeed, the US has been targeting Iran for destruction ever since it threw off its colonial chains in 1979—a dangerous example for other, especially Muslim countries. It is miraculous that Iran has done so well economically since the revolution, given the unremitting victimization it has experienced. One can only marvel at the stubborn courage it has shown to build an Islamic society in the teeth of opposition by the world empire and even by other Muslim nations allied to the empire.
We indeed may ask why Iran’s inflation rate has jumped so dramatically precisely in recent times. Of course, it is because of the sanctions. And why the sanctions? Is it really fears that Iran will develop a nuclear bomb, despite professions to the contrary and membership in the IAEA? No. Besides Iran’s role in inspiring the current ‘Islamic Reawakening’ in the Middle East, there is another very important reason, one which flies in the face of Hanke’s ‘three options’ for Iran.
Those ‘options’ all amount to one: accept US-dollar dictatorship. Iran has been trying to trade oil in non-US dollar currencies since 2008, when it opened its Oil Bourse. Iraq did this in 2000, and the US reaction was invasion—dollarization at gunpoint. The point of the sanctions today is a last-ditch attempt by the US to force Iran to comply with the US world order, as epitomized by continued acceptance of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Hanke insists it is not necessary for Iran to use US dollars as its substitute currency, which in any case would be ridiculous under the circumstances. However, the alternative of using, say, New Zealand dollars finesses the reality that all currencies are tied to the US dollar, as the de facto international reserve currency. This has been the case in reality since the 1930s, when the world abandoned the gold standard. Acknolwedging this fact, over 20 countries call their legal tender ‘dollars’.
Whether the government moves quickly to raise the white flag, as in Ecuador, or belatedly, as in Zimbabwe, or insists on printing pretty new paper scrip tied 100% to the US dollar through an exchange board, as did Argentina, merely confirms the obvious. In past cases, such as Chile, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, the message was: your socialist policies are unacceptable. In Iran’s case, the message is: take dollars for your oil.
Hanke’s monetarist credo—printing money causes inflation—ignores the underlying causes of inflation. As he admits, Iranians have faced war fears for over three decades. The exchange controls and subsidies, “government monopolies, price controls, and Soviet-style economic planning”, which Hanke calls “wrong-headed”, are not the cause of inflation, but a way for the government to keep it under control. However, at a certain point, the “foreign factors” become so egregious that even such measures fail. That is what has happened now, as sanctions have created extreme pain for the average Iranian. Bare shelves and panic in the face of invasion threats means that the currency will devalue, however many rials the government prints.
This is what happened in Germany in 1922, when it was forced to export everything to buy the gold to pay the extortionate reparations. It ended by resorting to Hanke’s currency board and marks issued against gold, but the underlying cause—the extortion practiced by Britain and France—only ended when Hitler took power and canceled the reparations. The devastation cause by “foreign factors” led in that instance to the rise of fascism.
University of Missouri Professor Michael Hudson maintains that “every hyperinflation in history stems from the foreign exchange markets. It stems from governments trying to throw enough of their currency on the market to pay their foreign debts.” Canadian commentator Stephen Gowans calls it “warfare by other means”. Devaluing the enemy’s currency was used as a war tactic by Napoleon against the Russians and by the British against the American colonists.
A consideration of all the countries on Hanke’s Hyperinflation Index can trace similar real causes and real ways to end the underlying problem that led to hyperinflation in each case. Ecuador finally took control of its economy and reduced its foreign debt in defiance of the IMF under President Rafael Correa, and is today the most popular political leader in all of the Americas. That is what created political stability and ended the ever-present threat of inflation there. The same goes for Argentina under President Nestor Kirschner and Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
Hanke is like the doctor telling the patient who was shot that he must have his leg amputated immediately. He refuses to condemn the sanctions as a violation of human rights, targeting the Iranian people without cause. He wants to cut off the patient’s leg to save him, which he can do in a matter of hours. The Iranian government is trying to remove the bullet and use a strict regime of rehabilitation, something that requires patience and grit. There is no magic cure to solve inflation under these circumstances.
The possibility looms that the US will undertake yet another criminal invasion of a Muslim country, recapitulating its war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The real analogy for Iran is wartime. During war, all countries ration scarce goods, and people unite and accept sacrifice in the face of the enemy. This is the only solution for Iran today unless it agrees to join the US-dollar denominated empire as a junior member. Hanke’s patient could well die under the ‘anesthesia’ of US-Israeli bombs, but the Iranian people are proud and will fight for their dignity till their dying breath. The worries about hyperinflation will then pale in comparison to the real “foreign factors”, and the US will face the revenge of history for its criminal actions.
Most countries are too afraid of the US wolf to stand up to it. There are exceptions. China, Russia, India and South Korea have not abandoned ‘the patient’. Egypt is establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Iran in defiance of the US. Hopefully other ‘Arab Spring’ countries will join Iran in pursuing a policy of justice for the Middle East, working together to undo the horrendous legacy of US imperialism in the region. Someday, ‘dollarization’ will be a shibboleth, consigned to the ‘ash heap of history’.
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ and is author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html . You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/
When the governor of Utah signed a bill that made gold bullion and silver bullion legal tender in the state last March, he had no idea of the groundswell he was going to start.
The Utah Sound Money Act outright flies in the face of the fiat money system, which is the printed money used today; backed by nothing but the promises of politicians. While U.S. states cannot create their own currency under the Constitution, they are allowed to use gold bullion and silver bullion as legal tender. More and more states are now exercising that right.
Lawmakers in Utah, when they studied history, found that every single instance of money printing and massive increases in a country’s debt always led to the destruction of the currency and a depression among the citizens that lived through it.
They were concerned about the Fed’s money printing and massive government debt accumulation and thus signed into law the Utah Sound Money Act, which recognized gold bullion and silver bullion as currency. They felt that the U.S. dollar would continue to lose its value, while gold bullion and silver bullion would continue to maintain their value, because they are sound currencies with no debts attached to them.
The Utah law states that the gold bullion and silver bullion coins issued by the U.S. Mint can be used as payment with any merchant in the State of Utah for the purchase of all goods and services.
It is not practical for people to carry around heavy gold bullion or silver bullion coins, so the Utah Gold & Silver Depository was created. People can deposit their gold bullion and silver bullion coins there and receive a debit card to make transactions with—just like depositing money at a bank. The prices of gold bullion and silver bullion are based on the closing prices of both precious metals in U.S. dollars in London on each business day, creating the exchange rate used on the debit card.
Missouri and South Carolina in 2012 are the closest to enacting very similar legislation and creating a gold bullion and silver bullion depository, just like Utah. (Source: CNN Money, February 3, 2012.) Both states echo the same sentiments as Utah and this is evident by the names chosen for the bills. For example, in Missouri, the legislation put forth is called the Missouri Sound Money Act of 2012.
Other states considering legislation to make gold bullion and silver bullion legal tender are Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, Georgia, Washington, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Virginia.
This may seem strange, dear reader, but cultures in Asia would not be surprised, considering that gold bullion and silver bullion have been considered money for 5,000 years there. Also, people forget that, until 1971, the U.S. dollar was backed by gold bullion.
The distrust of the money printing being enacted by the Federal Reserve and the unprecedented debts being accumulated by the U.S. government, which are increasing by at least $1.0 trillion per year, are being questioned.
States are fighting back with what they believe are sound money policies: gold bullion and silver bullion. We should heed their example as a warning of what’s to come. (Also see: Switzerland Debating Gold-backed Currency.)
Source: Profit Confindential
Gone are the days of the all-American army hero. These days, the US military is more like a sanctuary for racists, gang members and the chronically unfit…
Overweight. Unfit. Ex-con. Racist… meet the modern American army. Illustration by Sarah Plane for GNM imaging.
Overweight. Unfit. Ex-con. Racist… meet the modern American army. Illustration by Sarah Plane for GNM imaging.
My journey into the dark underworld of the US military begins on a rainy Tuesday morning in March 2008, with a visit to Tampa, Florida. I am here to meet Forrest Fogarty, an American patriot who served in the US army for two years in Iraq. Fogarty is also a white supremacist of the serious Hitler-worshipping type.
We meet in his favourite hangout, the Winghouse Bar & Grill. In our brief phone call, I’d asked how I would recognise him. “Just look for the skinhead with the tattoos,” he said. And sure enough, sitting straight to my right as I walk in is a youngish-looking man, plastered in tattoos, with cropped hair and bulging biceps. “You’re British, right,” he says, as we order. “I remember seeing black guys with British accents in Iraq, shit was so crazy.”
Fogarty tells me he was bullied at his LA high school by Mexican and African-American children, and was just 14 when he decided he wanted to be a Nazi. He has no qualms about flaunting his prejudice. When black people come into the bar, he emits a hiss of disapproval. “I just don’t want to be around them,” he tells me. “I don’t want to look at them, I don’t want them near me.”
As a young man, Fogarty was obsessed withIan Stuart Donaldson, the legendary singer in the British band Skrewdriver, who is hero-worshipped in the neo-Nazi music scene. At 16, he had an image from one of Skrewdriver’s album covers – a Viking carrying an axe, an icon among white nationalists – tattooed on his left forearm. Soon after, he had a Celtic cross, an Irish symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis, emblazoned on his stomach. A few years later, he started his own band, Attack, now one of the biggest Nazi bands in the US. But it was never his day job. “I was a landscaper when I left school,” he says. “I kind of fell into it. I didn’t give a shit what I was doing, I was just drinking and fighting.”
For the next eight years he drifted through jobs in construction and landscaping, and began hanging out with the National Alliance, at the time one of the biggest neo-Nazi organisations in the US. He soon became a member. He had always seen himself as a fighter and warrior, so he resolved to do what two generations of Fogartys had done before him: join the military.
Forrest Fogarty, a neo-Nazi who served in Iraq as a part of the military police from 2004 to 2005. Photograph: Courtesy Matt Kennard
Forrest Fogarty, a neo-Nazi who served in Iraq as a part of the military police from 2004 to 2005. Photograph: Courtesy Matt Kennard
Fogarty was not the first extremist to enter the armed forces. The neo-Nazi movement has had a long and tense relationship with the US military. Since its inception, the leaders of the white supremacist movement have encouraged their members to enlist. They see it as a way for their followers to receive combat and weapons training, courtesy of the US government, and then to bring what they learn home to undertake a domestic race war. Not all far-right groups subscribe to this vision – some, such as the Ku Klux Klan, claim to prefer a democratic approach – but a large portion see themselves as insurrectionary forces. To that end, professional training in warfare is a must.The US military has long been aware of these groups’ attempts at infiltration, but it wasn’t until 1996 that supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were specifically banned from the military, after the murder in 1995 of two African-Americans by a neo-Nazi paratrooper stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fogarty was recruited the year after.
He knew that the tattoo he had riding up his forearm could be a problem when it came to enlistment. In a neo-Nazi underworld obsessed with secrecy, racist tattoos remain one of the clearest indicators of extremism for a recruiter, and in an effort to police the matter, the US military requires recruits to explain any tattoos. “They just told me to write an explanation of each tattoo and I made up some stuff and that was that,” he says.
Soon after Fogarty was approved, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his eldest child contacted the military. According to Fogarty, she sent a dossier of pictures to his military command that showed him at white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies, as well as performing his racist rock with Attack. “They hauled me before some sort of committee, and showed me the pictures. I just denied it.” The committee, he says, “knew what I was about, but they let it go because I’m a great soldier”.
Fogarty remained in the reserves, until finally, in 2004, he was sent where he had always wanted to go: Iraq. Before he left for the Middle East, he joined the Hammerskin Nation – described by the Anti-Defamation League as the “the most violent and best-organised neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States“.
Fogarty maintains that a good portion of those around him were aware of his neo-Nazism. “They all knew in my unit,” he says. “They would always kid around and say, ‘Hey, you’re that skinhead!’” He was confident enough of his carte blanche from the military that during his break from service in 2004, he flew not to see his family in the US but to Dresden, Germany, to give a concert to 2,500 skinheads, on the army’s budget.
When he was at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Fogarty even says a sergeant came up to him and said, “You’re one of those racist motherfuckers, aren’t you?” I ask how the sergeant knew about his racism. “The tattoo, I suppose. I can’t hide everything – people knew, even the chain of command.”
Another white supremacist soldier, James Douglas Ross, a military intelligence officer stationed at Fort Bragg, was given a bad conduct discharge from the army when he was caught trying to mail a submachine gun from Iraq to his father’s home in Spokane, Washington. Military police found a cache of white supremacist paraphernalia and several weapons hidden behind ceiling tiles in Ross’s military quarters. After his discharge, a Spokane County deputy sheriff saw Ross passing out fliers for the neo-Nazi National Alliance. And in early 2012, a photo emerged of a 10-strong US marine scout sniper unit posing for a photo with a Nazi SS bolts flag in Sangin, Afghanistan. According to the military, the symbolism was unknown to the soldiers. “Certainly, the use of the ‘SS runes’ is not acceptable and scout snipers have been addressed concerning this issue,” marine corps spokesman Captain Gregory Wolf said.
James Douglas Ross, who served in Iraq as an intelligence ofﬁcer, in his barracks room. Photograph: Hunter Glass
James Douglas Ross, who served in Iraq as an intelligence ofﬁcer, in his barracks room. Photograph: Hunter Glass
The magnitude of the problem within the military is hard to quantify. The military does not track extremists as a discrete category, coupling them with gang members, and those in the neo-Nazi movement claim different numbers. The National Socialist Movement claimed 190 of its members are inside. White Revolution claimed 12. In white supremacist incidents from 2001 to 2008, the FBI identified 203 veterans. Because the FBI focused only on reported cases, its numbers don’t include the many extremist soldiers who have managed to stay off the radar. But its report does pinpoint why the white supremacist movements seek to recruit veterans – they “may exploit their accesses to restricted areas and intelligence or apply specialised training in weapons, tactics, and organisational skills to benefit the extremist movement”. The report found that two army privates in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg had attempted in 2007 to sell stolen property from the military – including ballistic vests, a combat helmet, and pain medications such as morphine – to an undercover FBI agent they believed was involved with the white supremacist movement (they were convicted and sentenced to six years in prison). It also found multiple examples of white supremacist recruitment among active military personnel, including a period in 2003 when six active-duty soldiers at Fort Riley were found to be members of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, working to recruit their army colleagues and even serving as the Aryan Nations’ point of contact for the State of Kansas.
The degree of impunity encountered by Fogarty and countless other extremists has caused tensions within the military. The blind eye turned by the recruiters angered many investigators whose integrity was being compromised. Hunter Glass was a paratrooper in the 1980s and became a gang cop in 1999 in Fairville, North Carolina, next to Fort Bragg. “In the 1990s, the military was hard on them, they could pick and choose,” he recalls. The change came after 9/11. “The key rule nowadays is ignore it until it becomes a problem,” Glass tells me. “We need manpower. So as long as the man isn’t acting out, let’s blow it off.” He recounts one episode in early 2005 when he was requested by military police investigators at Fort Bragg to interview a soldier with blatant skinhead insignia – SS lightning bolts and hammers. Glass worked with the base’s military police investigators, who filed a report. “They recommended that he be kicked out,” he recalls, “but the commanding officers didn’t do anything.” He says there was an open culture of impunity. “We’re seeing guys with tattoos all the time … As far as hunting them down, I don’t see it. I’m seeing the opposite, where if a white supremacist has committed a crime, the military stance will be, ‘He didn’t commit a race-related crime.’ ”
By 2005, the US had 150,000 troops deployed in Iraq and 19,500 in Afghanistan. But the military wasn’t prepared in any way for this kind of extended deployment – and just two years into the war in Iraq, people were talking openly about the fact that it had reached breaking point. The slim forces needed fattening up and what followed constituted a complete re-evaluation of who was qualified to serve – a full-works facelift of the service unheard of in modern American history. In the relatively halcyon days of the first Gulf war in 1990, the US military blocked the enlistment of felons. It spurned men and women with low IQs or those without a high school diploma. It would either block the enlistment of or kick out neo-Nazis and gang members. It would treat or discharge alcoholics, drug abusers and the mentally ill. No more. While the Bush administration adopted conservative policies pretty much universally, it saved its ration of liberalism for the US military, where it scrapped many of the regulations governing recruitment.
Many of the wars’ worst atrocities are linked directly to the loosening of enlistment regulations on criminals, racist extremists, and gang members, among others. Then there are the effects on the troops themselves. Lowering standards on intelligence and body weight, for example, compromised the military’s operational readiness and undoubtedly endangered the lives of US and allied troops. Hundreds of soldiers may have paid with their lives for this folly.
On 1 December 2007, Kevin Shields was murdered in Colorado Springs in an incident involving three of his fellow soldiers, Louis Bressler, Kenneth Eastridge and Bruce Bastien Jr, who all served in Iraq as part of the Second Brigade Combat Team, Second Infantry Division. Bressler and Bastien were each put away for 60 years for their part in the murder, alongside a litany of other crimes in Colorado Springs; Eastridge is serving a 10-year prison sentence for his part. In the aftermath of the arrests, pictures emerged of Eastridge proudly displaying his SS bolts tattoo. After his arrest, Bastien told investigators that he and Eastridge had randomly fired at civilians in Iraq during patrols through the streets of Baghdad. In broad daylight, Bastien alleged, Eastridge would use a stolen AK-47 to fire indiscriminately at Iraqi civilians. At least one was hit, he said. “We were trigger happy,” said another member of the platoon, José Barco, who is serving 52 years in jail for shooting and injuring a pregnant woman in Colorado Springs. “We’d open up on anything. They even didn’t have to be armed. We were keeping scores.” So far, no one has been charged with shooting civilians in Iraq.
A US marine scout sniper unit posing with neo-Nazi SS lightning bolts ﬂag in Sangin, Afghanistan
A US marine scout sniper unit posing with neo-Nazi SS lightning bolts ﬂag in Sangin, Afghanistan
The military not only ignored Eastridge’s extremism, but on his return from combat awarded him a Purple Heart and Army Achievement medals. Eastridge’s lawyer, Sheilagh McAteer, becomes palpably angry when I speak to her. She claimed that the military were now knowingly sending mentally unstable young men to Afghanistan and Iraq. “The military is to some extent desperate to get people to go to fight – soldiers who are not fit, mentally and physically sick, but they continue to send them,” she told me. “Having a tattoo was the least of his concerns.”In March 2012, a US soldier, on his fourth deployment in a decade, walked out of his base and went on a shooting spree in southern Afghanistan, murdering more than a dozen Afghan civilians, including nine children. Then news came that US army staff sergeant Robert Bales, the 38-year-old suspect, was from Joint Base Lewis-McCord, in Washington state, which just four months earlier had convicted a member of an Afghanistan “kill team” of murder via a military jury.
PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] was not a new phenomenon for the military, but sending soldiers still suffering from severe mental health problems back to the frontline in such large numbers was. “I’m concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back,” said Dr Arthur S Blank, Jr, a Yale-trained psychiatrist. “That has not happened before in our country.” The army’s top mental health expert, Colonel Elspeth Ritchie, explicitly accepted that the reason so many mentally ill troops were being sent back was because of the demands on the military for more and more personnel. “The challenge for us,” he said, “is that the army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge. And so we have to weigh the needs of the mission with the soldiers’ personal needs.”
Bradley Manning, the alleged US military source of the WikiLeaks data, is another example of the mental health of recruits being ignored. Manning was a “mess of a child” who “should never have been put through a tour of duty in Iraq”, said an officer from the Fort Leonard Wood military base in Missouri, where Manning trained in 2007. Chase Madar, the author of a recent book on Manning, told me, “He would never have been kept in the army if not for record low recruitment levels in 2007 when he enlisted.” The only reason Manning made it on to active duty in Iraq, after repeated warnings about his fitness at all three of his stateside deployments, was the army’s “utter desperation for soldiers with IT and analytic skills during its historic low in recruitment”.
New recruits were physically, as well as mentally, unfit. In 1993, around 23% of prospective recruits would have been overweight – a pretty significant tranche. By 2006, this had increased to just over 27%, or more than a quarter of potential recruits, due partly to the use of “medical waivers” to make exceptions for overweight recruits.
The three most common barriers for potential recruits were failure to graduate high school, a criminal record and physical fitness issues, including obesity. The criminal record had been dealt with by “moral waivers” and the obesity problem by “medical waivers”, but dropping the standards on educational attainment would not be so easy without seriously affecting operational readiness. There was a way for non-graduates to get into the military, however: the general equivalency degree, or GED, which can afford recruits a waiver if they score well enough on the military’s entrance exam. The army accepts about 15% of recruits without a high school diploma if they have a GED. Alive to this loophole, the military instituted another program in 2008, the so-called GED Plus, to give more of America’s youth the requisite qualifications they needed to go and fight. It opened its first prep school for the purpose, targeted at tough, inner-city areas.
In fact, during the “war on terror”, the resources poured into recruiting impressionable young people skyrocketed, with 1,000 new recruiters added in one year to bring high school kids round to the military’s way of thinking. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps expanded across the nation, and no child was free from their solicitations; even 11-year-olds were taking part in the programmes. One in 10 high school students in Chicago wore a military uniform to school and took classes on shooting guns from retired veterans.
One of the main incentives offered was money – a lot of money from the perspective of a 16-year-old. In 2005, the army moved to raise the average bonus given to recruits when they signed on the dotted line from $14,000 to $17,000, with the possibility of as much as $30,000 for hard-to-fill vacancies. Another of the military’s slogans was ”Join the Armed Forces, get a free education”, an offer many of America’s poorest kids couldn’t turn down.
A report, Soldiers Of Misfortune, by the American Civil Liberties Union, found that the US government was actually in contravention of an international protocol prohibiting the recruitment of children into military service when they are under 18 years old. It also noted that the US military disproportionately targets poor and minority public school students, but its findings were dutifully ignored.
It took a report from the Palm Center at the University of California – a group committed to discussion of homosexuals in the military – to blow the lid on yet more figures the military was trying hard to cover up. In 2007, it published information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that found the number of convicted criminals enlisting in the US military had nearly doubled in two years, from 824 in 2004 to 1,605 in 2006. In that period, a total of 4,230 convicted felons were enlisted, including those guilty of rape and murder. On top of this, 43,977 soldiers signed up who had been found guilty of a serious misdemeanour, which includes assault. Another 58,561 had drug-related convictions, but all were handed a gun and sent off to the Middle East. “The fact that the military has allowed more than 100,000 people with such troubled pasts to join its ranks over the past three years illustrates the problem we’re having meeting our military needs in this time of war,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center.
One of the most horrific of the reported atrocities by the US military in Iraq, the murder of the al-Janabi family in Yusufiyah, involved a convicted criminal, Steven D Green, whose enlistment required special dispensation because of his criminal record. But research has shown that these recruitment practices engender breakdown within the ranks as well. During the “war on terror”, one in three female soldiers reported being victims of some form of sexual assault while in service. In fact, US women service members are today more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than to be killed by enemy fire. No one knows how many Iraqi or Afghan women and girls have been subjected to similar atrocities, although cases such as the rapes and murders in Yusufiyah suggest it was equally endemic, and went equally unpunished.
In 2009, the military met its recruitment targets for the first time since 2004 and once again pledged to lock out those with criminal records. Brigadier General Joseph Anderson, deputy commander of the US Army Recruiting Command, said that the “adult major misconduct” waiver, given for felony offences, was now closed and, additionally, those with a history of juvenile criminal activity would not be allowed to recruit without a high school diploma. It was an admission of guilt, but for many in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was too late.
• Extracted from Irregular Army: Irregular Army: How The US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, And Criminals To Fight The War On Terror, by Matt Kennard, is published by Verso Books on 24 September, priced £14.99. To order a copy for £11.99, with free UK p&p, visit the Guardian Bookshop.
When it comes to proactive action as to feeding, watering and housing America’s burgeoning population, most of America’s leaders fell asleep at the wheel and continue their slumber into 2012. Not one single, solitary senator, House member or the United States of America’s president will connect carbon footprint, overpopulation or our enormous burning of 22 million barrels of oil daily—with global climate destabilization. Globally, humans burn 84 million barrels of oil and billions of tons of coal daily.
Our carbon footprint grows beyond comprehension. It heats up the atmosphere. It acidifies our oceans. It creates an imbalance for all living creatures on Earth.
No matter how much drought, heat waves and tornadoes scorch and destroy areas around the United States; everyone stands like deer in the headlights in denial of the oncoming train. It’s fascinating to watch mass denial, collective myopic behavior and vacant leadership.
The United States is horrifically overpopulated and unsustainable
Publisher Marilyn Hempel of the Population Press, www.populationpress.org , encourages top leaders to educate Americans to what we all face in the future if we continue down our endless growth path.
In this piece, imminent environmental leader and author of Plan B, 4.0, Saving Civilization, Lester Brown speaks about our rising temperatures.
“Over the last two months, the price of corn has been climbing,” said Brown. “On July 19th, it exceeded $8 per bushel for the first time, taking the world into a new food price terrain. With heat and drought still smothering the Corn Belt, we may well see more all-time highs in coming weeks as the extent of crop damage becomes clearer. This is not the way it was supposed to be. This spring farmers planted a record 96 million acres of corn. An early spring got the crop off to a great start, leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to project the largest corn harvest in history.
“On June 12th, the USDA projected the U.S. harvest would hit a record 376 million tons. But the drought conditions that had initially been confined to the country’s southwest began to spread and intensify. In its next monthly report on July 11th, the USDA reduced its projection to 329 million tons of corn, down by 12 percent or 47 million tons. This was a huge drop in only one month. Yet in the end the actual decline may be closer to 30 percent, or roughly 100 million tons—double the USDA estimated drop.”
Why is this happening? Answer: the crops are being cooked in the soil via heat and no rain. Has that prompted humans to lower their fossil fuel burning? On the contrary, humans burn more and more each day as they add a 250,000 more members to the human heard and 80 million net gain annually.
“There are several reasons for the large reduction in the harvest estimate. One is record high temperatures,” said Brown. “Nationwide, the first half of this year was the hottest on record. Thousands of record daily temperature highs were set locally. In St. Louis, Missouri, which is in the southern part of the U.S. Corn Belt, in late June and early July there were 10 consecutive days with temperatures of 100–108 degrees.
“Intense heat also disrupts pollination. Corn is particularly vulnerable because of its complex pollination system. The tassel at the top of a corn plant releases pollen, which must fall on each strand of silk coming out of the ear of corn and travel to the kernel site, where fertilization occurs. If it is too hot, the silk will turn brown and dry out, leaving the pollen with no chance of reaching its destination.”
Brown continued, “What happens to the U.S. corn crop, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the global harvest, concerns the entire world. Of the big three grains—corn, wheat, and rice—the corn harvest is now by far the largest, totaling near 900 million tons compared with less than 700 million tons for wheat and 460 million tons for rice. Wheat and rice are the world’s food staples, while corn is the feedgrain for livestock and poultry.
“We are looking at a future of rising food prices driven by rising temperatures. Heat waves and droughts like that of 2012 in the United States are projected to become more frequent as the planet heats up. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas, have increased 20 percent since 1970 and are continuing to rise.”
Humanity faces growing food shortages as its numbers grow by 80 million annually and 1 billion added every 12 years
“A report published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded that if atmospheric CO2 climbs from the current level of 391 parts per million (ppm) to above 450 ppm, the world will face irreversible rainfall reductions in several regions,” said Brown. “The study likened the conditions that will develop to those of the U.S. Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Already the world’s drought-afflicted area has expanded from below 20 percent of total land area a half century ago to closer to 25 percent in recent years. Future food security may depend more on new energy and population policies than on any agricultural policy we can conceive.”
Brown says that we don’t know the unchartered territory that we blindly and at our own folly continue speeding toward. The human race expects to add three billion more people to the planet within 38 years, but doesn’t have a clue as to how to feed that enormous human herd. Americans need to rethink immigration, population, water, food and resources before they find themselves in the same boat as current day India, Mexico, China and Indochina. The United States needs to boldly, methodically and intelligently move toward a mandated “national stabilized population policy” in order to give future generations a chance at a reasonable life of food, resources, water and energy.
How will the United States feed, water, warm and house its own additions of 138 million people in the face of prolonged droughts? Answer: we won’t. That’s why we need to change course.
If you follow mainstream election coverage, you might think Mitt Romney has coasted to an honest, easy, well-deserved Republican nomination. Unfortunately for Republican voters, nothing could be further from the truth. The primary process has been an all-out slugfest and many of the delegates Romney has won may be the result of dirty tricks and even election fraud. The following narrative includes links to reports, first-hand testimonials, and video evidence highlighting actions taken by the GOP to ensure a Romney victory, at the expense of fracturing the party just prior to the general election. Party leaders at the county and state level have changed or violated party rules, cancelled caucuses, changed vote counts, thrown out entire counties of votes, counted public votes privately, called-in the SWAT team, and inexplicably replaced Paul delegates with Romney delegates to block Ron Paul from winning the nomination.
Iowa: Days before the caucuses, Paul held a commanding lead in the polls and all the momentum, with every other candidate having peaked from favorable media coverage and then collapsed under the ensuing scrutiny. Establishment Republicans, like Iowa’s Representative Steve King (R), attempted to sabotage Paul’s campaign by spreading rumors he would lose to Obama if nominated. Even though the Iowa GOP platform reads like a Ron Paul speech, shortly before the caucuses, Iowa Governor Terry Barnstad told Politico , “[If Paul wins] people are going to look at who comes in second and who comes in third. If Romney comes in a strong second, it definitely helps him going into New Hampshire”. The message from the Governor to voters of his state was: a vote for Ron Paul was a wasted vote.
Huffington Post reported that Paul was ahead by one point over Romney and Rick Santorum inentrance polls conducted by Edison Media Research for the AP before the caucuses. For the first time ever, the Iowa GOP changed the final vote count to a secret location . After the caucus, resultsfrom 8 precincts (including those with colleges, in a state where Paul won 48% of the youth vote) went missing. Interestingly, these were all precincts Romney lost in 2008. In addition, GOP officials discovered inaccuracies in 131 precincts. Though polling in a comfortable first place, Paul finished third in this non-binding straw poll, behind Romney and Santorum.
Iowa originally reported Romney in first, Santorum in a close second, and Paul third. After the recount, Santorum was named the winner with Romney in second. No mention was given to how the recount affected Paul’s vote count. Iowa GOP chairman, Matt Strawn, later resigned and wasreplaced by Paul supporter, A.J. Spiker and Paul went on to win the majority of delegates.
Florida: The Florida GOP broke party rules by switching to a winner-take-all state before the date allowed, which favors the candidate with the most money for advertising and attack ads. Senior Advisor to the Ron Paul campaign, Doug Wead, claims this was done specifically to favor Romney.
Nevada: There is bad blood between Paul’s supporters and establishment Republicans in Nevada. This dates back to 2008, when Convention Chair, Sue Lowden and her enlisted delegates got up andwalked out of the convention when it became apparent Paul’s supporters would claim a majority of the delegates. She claimed she would reconvene at a later time, but instead approved the McCain slate of delegates. This year, Paul supporters expected shenanigans; so his State Chairman, Carl Bunce, planned to win by outworking Romney. Just before the caucuses, he claimed to have “more IDs than Romney had votes in ’08″. This means through canvassing door-to-door and phoning voters, he had identified about 25,000 voters committed to show up and vote for Paul.
On caucus day, the media was denied access to most caucus sites and the few that were permitted were not allowed to take photos. Others were even ejected from sites. This CNN clip shows GOP staff preventing a Paul supporter from entering the premises to vote at a special caucus that was set up at the last minute for Newt Gingrich backer, Sheldon Adelson. Here, participants were asked to sign an affidavit (under penalty of perjury) stating they were Jewish and couldn’t vote earlier in the day due to “religious reasons”. CNN showed live coverage of votes being counted at this event, with Paul amassing nearly 60% of the votes. In some precincts in Clark County, the largest in Nevada, the number of ballots did not match the number of voters signed in at the caucus. Though votes were to be counted publicly, they were largely counted in private. The vote count was also inexplicably dragged out for several days, leading to a victory for Romney. Nevada State GOP Chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian resigned the day after the caucuses.
Another interesting note is that Paul’s 2012 votes had doubled, tripled, and more than quadrupled his2008 votes in every state leading up to the Nevada caucuses, yet Paul received only 88 more votes there. Of all the places for this to occur, Nevada, the country’s most libertarian state; is the last in which anyone would expect this.
In spite of these irregularities , Paul won 22 of 25 state delegates and replaced state party officials with Paul supporters. Romney supporters then formed their own state party, called “Team Nevada”. The RNC then bypassed the official state party in order to organize for Romney and send all funds to Team Nevada.
Colorado: Romney supporters were caught passing out fake Ron Paul slates at the state convention. The RNC has not investigated or even commented on the matter.
Minnesota: Doug Wead, claims the state party instructed members not to vote for any delegates under age fifty because most young delegates support Paul.
Missouri: WXIX Cincinnati’s Ben Swann covered the fiasco in St. Charles County. Temporary Chairman, Eugene Dokes, started the meeting by banning video recording devices, a first for this event. Robert’s Rules of Order require the temporary chairman to accept nominations and elect a convention chairman to run the event. Instead, he appointed a chair of his choice. The crowd immediately erupted with booing. Shortly after, Dokes adjourned the meeting without the required two-thirds majority, called the police on attendees, and left. In adherence to state rules, Paul supporter, Brent Stafford, along with one of the top parliamentarians in the state, reconvened in the parking lot and attempted to resume the event. Shortly after, the SWAT team arrived and arrested Stafford, who was following state party rules. Dokes later admitted on talk radio that he and otherstate party officials deliberately broke the rules to prevent Paul from winning.
Maine: Ben Swann reported on shenanigans in Maine . Even though only 84% of votes had been counted; State GOP Chairman, Charlie Webster, declared Romney the winner over Paul by less than 200 votes. Hancock and Washington Counties hadn’t voted yet because Webster cancelled the caucuses due to an impending snowstorm, promising they could vote later and their votes would be counted. The snowstorm never occurred and he later reneged on his promise, telling voters in those counties their votes would not be counted after all. Washington County was Paul’s strongest in the state in 2008. Though other states with close outcomes held recounts, this was never a consideration for Maine.
At least one of the counties that did vote claims the state party recorded its tallies incorrectly. Matt McDonald, pastor of a small community church in Belfast, was nominated as the chairman of his caucus. He says the state instructed the caucus chairmen not to read any of the vote totals aloud, but rather to send the results straight to Augusta without a public reading. McDonald made a motion to change this rule, and it was approved unanimously. McDonald says 22 voters showed up, resulting in 8 votes for Paul, 7 for Santorum, 5 for Romney, and 2 undecided. When he called the votes into Augusta, he was told they already had the results and the totals read 9 for Romney, 5 or Santorum, and 2 for Paul. When McDonald told her the tally had been counted publicly, he says “her voice changed and she said…we’ll record this”. Doug Wead claims, “On every occasion, the votes that were lost were Ron Paul votes and the person responsible for reporting them were Mitt Romney supporters…in one case the votes were actually transferred from paper to…a computer and the lady doing the transfer was a Mitt Romney person”. To date, these tallies have not been corrected and Romney is still credited with the straw vote win while the media continues to report that Paul never won a state contest.
Arizona: The Examiner’s Kevin Kervick reports “ballot stuffing, rule violations, and improper vote counting that occurred behind closed doors” at the convention. In addition, Paul supporters allege threats of physical violence from Romney supporters.
Michigan: Doug Wead reports, ” Michigan, unlike any other state…had a special party rule forbidding any precinct delegate vacancies from being filled at county conventions until after the state delegates and alternates were chosen. In other words, countless Ron Paul supporters attending county convention were forcibly blocked…because they weren’t elected precinct delegates in 2010-long before the Ron Paul 2012 campaign began”. Wead also claims “documented instances in multiple counties where county party officials “edited” the state delegation lists after the county conventions adjourned”.
Washington: At the state convention , a Ron Paul delegate claimed bubble ballot sheets were withheld in King County’s district 36. He also claims the 37 th district caucus was forced to conduct the meeting outside because Chairwoman, Lori Sotelo, was irritated when a Ron Paul supporter was elected to run the caucus, instead of her choice.
Ben Swann interviewed a voter in Pierce County, Washington; who claims the local Republican leadership passed out what they called a “unity slate” to voters and said it represented an equal distribution of delegates committed to Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich. The plan was to organize to block Ron Paul supporters, who outnumbered the other candidates’ supporters, from receiving the lion’s share of the delegates. The Republican leadership prevailed.
Alaska: In spite of last-minute rule changes and violations of party rules, Paul supporters oustedlongtime state chairman, Randy Ruedrich, and voted-in Paul supporter, Russ Millette. Ruedrich then tried to sabotage the state convention and transferred all of the state party’s $100,000 to the local Capital City Republicans in Juneau, effectively bankrupting the party now controlled by Paul supporters.
Georgia: This video shows GOP Chairwoman, Sue Everhart, at the Athens Clarke County GOP meeting admitting “shoddy treatment of the Ron Paul people at that  convention” and publicly apologizing. She presents the rule book that she helped to write and claims it won’t happen again. The video then shows the actual convention and party leaders breaking those rules to force their pre-selected slate of delegates and prevent Paul’s supporters from electing their own. Party leaders then adjourned the meeting illegally and ran out of the meeting.
Massachusetts: Paul won 16 of the 27 delegates selected so far in Romney’s home state. In addition, he swept all 6 from Romney’s home county. As a result (for the first time ever in the state), delegates were asked to sign an affidavit stating ” I certify under the pain and penalty of perjury, that on the first ballot at the 2012 Republican National Convention, I will affirmatively Vote for Mitt Romney, the winner of the 2012 Massachusetts Presidential Primary.” The state GOP then covered up Romney’s embarrassing loss by invalidating ballots and ousting the Paul delegates.
North Dakota: Ben Swann reports the selection of delegates was unfair: the GOP handed out pre-printed ballots with a slate of delegates with 60% of them being Mitt Romney supporters in a state where he won only 26% of the vote.
Oklahoma: Kevin Kervick of The Examiner reports that the Oklahoma convention had to be moved to the parking lot because Robert’s Rules were ignored, delegate credentials were not verified, a convention chair was never appointed, motions made from the floor were ignored, the Chairman illegally elected a slate of Romney delegates, and the convention was closed without a two-thirds majority vote. Consistent with Robert’s Rules, Paul supporters reconvened in the parking lot to elect delegates. Paul supporters have now filed a law suit to ensure their delegates will be seated.
Virginia: Doug Wead claims “at a district convention, they coaxed the Ron Paul delegation outside and then locked the door. The pastor of the church that was hosting the event was, himself, locked out”.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Ron Paul won his first caucus, only to have the GOP take down the straw vote results from their website showing Paul the victor with 29% over Romney’s 26% and replaced with a note from the party claiming Romney won because he won more delegates. Paul’s Official Campaign Blogger, Jack Hunter, explains how every other contest determined the victor by the straw vote, except the one straw vote Paul won.
Alabama: An inexplicable gap exists between Paul’s popular vote count and his delegate vote count. This is odd because voters choose both on the same day and on the same ballot. Alabama Republican Party rules state that voters can only vote for one candidate and then must choose between his delegates. Statewide, Paul received only about one-third as many votes as his delegates. This means voters chose another candidate, but selected Paul’s delegates. No other candidate’s totals showed a similar pattern.
Louisiana: Ben Swann reports a clash between the old Louisiana State GOP leadership and newly-elected leaders who support Paul. Old Chairman, Roger Villere, angered attendees with last-minute rule changes the night before the convention. At the start of the convention, Villere attempted to recognize the former Chair of the Rules Committee, who had been voted out the night before. When new Chair, Alex Helwig, rose to address the delegation; Villere instructed security (comprised of off-duty Shreveport Police) to remove him . They arrested him for trespassing and broke several of his fingers. Next, an overwhelming majority elected a new Convention Chair, Paul supporter Alex Helwig. Members then turned their chairs to face Helwig, with their backs to Villere. In desperation, Villere instructed the police officers to remove the duly-elected Herford. They did so and dislocated his hipin the process, sending him to the emergency room. The reconvened group followed state party rules and went on to elect a majority of Paul delegates, which the state party later replaced with its own slate of Romney delegates. The Paul campaign has appealed to the RNC, but it is unlikely that the RNC will reinstate the Paul delegates.
Oregon: This YouTube video shows establishment Republicans in Congressional District 4 attempting to steal the ballot box and leave the premises when it became apparent the Ron Paul supporters were in the majority. A Paul supporter is chased away from the ballots and claims he was accosted by an establishment party member.
Wisconsin: MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell reports Romney violated state campaign laws by bribing voters with free subs.
In other states, Paul supporters claim vote-flipping occurred with electronic voting machines. Once about 40% of votes are reported, there is typically little variation in the final numbers. However on several occasions, at about 40% Romney’s trajectory “flipped” with the leader, which was often Paul. Austin Election Judge, Anne Beckett, has come forth publicly to claim she witnessed this firsthand.
Baseless allegations or a few isolated incidents may not be cause for concern, but there is enough video evidence in this report to disturb anyone who cares about fair elections. Rule changes, disregard for existing rules, cancelling elections, running off with ballots, secret vote counts, throwing out votes, threats, physical violence, and arbitrary replacement of delegates are activities unbecoming of a democratic society. Whether you’re a Ron Paul supporter, or even a Republican, is irrelevant. That the Republican Party will seemingly stop at nothing to ensure their selected candidate is the nominee should be deeply troubling for all Americans.
Source: Free Words
This summer while bicycling 3,400 miles across America from New Port Beach, Oregon to Washington DC, I met hundreds of Americans, tourists and bicycle travelers. I heard the craziest conversations in coffee houses and diners. You will be hearing some of their stories in the coming months. The ride:http://www.wusa9.com/news/
While traveling at 12 miles per hour, I really “see and feel” the landscape. I become part of it. I mesh with Mother Nature in a physical, mental and spiritual dance. Hard to describe, but it’s exquisite on multiple levels. When it’s hot, I sweat like a horse. When it’s cold, I pedal to keep warm. When it’s raining, I become a duck on a bike. It takes “true grit” to pedal a bicycle long distances.
You could say that the mountain passes that I climbed “etched” lots of memories into my thighs. Some call it “hard work” while I call it “hard play.” Many commented that it would be easier to ride on the flats of the Midwest. I responded that I would rather climb mountains to enjoy their rugged wildness.
My friend John Muir said, “Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” There is something special about bicycle travel that encapsulates Americans’ imaginations. I tried to capture my adventure in words:
“If the roar of a wave crashes beyond your campsite, you might call that adventure. When coyotes howl outside your tent–that may be adventure. When the wind rips at your tent pegs—that too, may be called adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse in a climb over a 12,000 foot pass, that’s adventure. When a howling headwind presses your lips against your teeth, you’re facing a mighty adventure. If you’re drenched from head to toe in sweat as you pedal across a desert, that’s adventure. If you’re pressing through a howling rainstorm, you’re soaked in adventure. But that’s not what makes an adventure. It’s your willingness to struggle through it, to present yourself at the doorstep of Nature. No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside the ‘moment’ of an adventure. It may be a momentary ‘high’, a stranger that changes your life, an animal that delights you or frightens you, a struggle where you triumphed, or even failed, yet you braved the challenge. Those moments present you uncommon experiences that give your life eternal expectation. That’s adventure!” Frosty Wooldridge How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World www.
But more than adventure greeted me on my journey across America. When you travel the blue and red highways of our country, you get to meet “Norman Rockwell America” or better yet, you get to meet “Andy and Barney of Mayberry RFD America.”
Kids in parks ran up to our loaded bicycles. They took pictures and wanted to touch our cycles and gear. Their parents introduced themselves. They snapped pictures with their smart phones of my sign “Across America” and immediately visited my website on adventure. They thanked us for keeping the “Spirit of Adventure” alive. They marveled at our journey.
In those towns, we thrilled to the architecture from 1880 to 1910 on the fronts of the buildings. We walked into some 120 year old post offices still operating. We ate breakfasts at old fashioned diners with real “down home” cooking. I fondly recall eating at the One Street Down Restaurant in Redmond, Oregon. Best oat meal and pancakes in the country. Another stop in Pinedale, Wyoming at the Rock Rabbit Restaurant served blue berry pancakes and omelets to fight for! But more than the food, the town folks enthralled us. Everybody shared their stories.
After riding through Hannibal, Missouri to visit Mark Twain’s former haunts, I pedaled down Old Route 66 along the Mississippi River. On my ride through Cincinnati, I picked up Route 50 to pedal through a bucolic hamlet named Milford, Ohio.
On the edge of town, I noticed a rusted 1950 Schwinn bicycle with flared handle bars. In the front basket, purple and white petunias exploded into the morning sunshine. On the rear rack, another basket of flowers curled their way through its back spokes and covered the seat. “Good grief!” I muttered. “That’s beautiful!”
On the back staked into the ground, a sign read, “Bikes in Bloom”.
I snapped a few pictures and figured that would be the end of it. But as I traveled down that 120 year old Main Street in Milford, Ohio, I noticed a bicycle in bloom in front of every merchant store front. I discovered incredibly beautiful bikes of every description decked out in flowers. I witnessed yarn woven into the shape of a Pac Man on the front wheels, rhinestone ropes curled around top tubes and yarned up seats and cranks. Big bikes in flowers and little bikes in flowers. The entire Main Street exploded in flowers and bicycles.
Every year, Milford, a cross roads for touring bicyclists, features “Bikes in Bloom” as a friendly competition of all the merchants. Tourists, locals and cyclists enjoy community, creativity and fellowship. I marveled at the beauty. Half way through town and 25 pictures later, I stopped at Bishop’s Bicycle Shop. What a blast! I met a bunch of long distance touring riders working there with Kelly, Chris and Jim. After a great stop, I continued on my way across America with vivid memories and an idea.
How about everyone reading this column all across America create a “Bikes in Bloom” in your own cities, towns and hamlets? I already introduced the idea to my Golden, Colorado city council. I presented photographic examples on an overhead projector like you see attached to this column. They loved it.
Let’s move America toward beauty, flowers, peace, joy and community fellowship. It’s fun, creative and positive on every level. To get more information, check with www.BishopsBicycleShop.com .
An aerial view of drought affected Colorado farm lands, 74 miles east of Denver, Colorado on Saturday, July 21, 2012 [Photo: USDA]
Severe drought spread rapidly across the central US this week, further damaging staple crops and heightening the risk of a global food crisis. The Midwest, where roughly one-third of the world’s staple grains are produced, is experiencing the deepest dry spell in over half a century.
The National Drought Mitigation Center in a statement Thursday reported “tremendous intensification of drought through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska, and into part of Wyoming and South Dakota in the last week.” Almost 30 percent of the Midwest is under extreme drought, triple that of the previous week.
Every state in the country had some counties under abnormally dry or drought conditions, making the disaster the most widespread US drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared 1,369 counties across 31 states disaster areas—officially the largest US disaster on record.
“It’s getting to the point where some of the damage is not reversible,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the center. “The damage is done, and even with rain, you’re not going to reverse some of these problems, at least not this growing season.”
With temperatures remaining in the triple digits across the Midwest, scattered rainstorms did little to restore moisture to topsoil. Iowa State University agronomist Roger Elmore said that over the week, “most of the state got a quarter- to half-inch of rain. We lose the equivalent of a quarter-inch of moisture every warm, sunny day.”
Meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center have warned that the high heat and dry spell could extend through October. Through June, the year has been the hottest ever recorded for the US. Globally, land temperatures likewise broke all previous records last month. The extreme weather corresponds to projections issued by climatologists over the past three decades, indicating the worsening impact of global warming.
“This year is very emblematic of the type of thing we worry about with climate change,” David Lobell of global warming monitor Climate Central told ABC News. “The new normal for agriculture is going to be frequent episodes of very high temperatures. Temperatures at which pretty much any crop does not do very well.”
For the seventh consecutive week, the USDA on Monday downgraded its assessment of corn and soybean crops. For the week ending July 22, the portion of the corn crop rated in “poor” and “very poor” condition rose to 45 percent. Thirty-five percent of soybean acreage was rated poor to very poor. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt told the World Socialist Web Site in a recent interview that a rating of “very poor” likely meant such crops were “approaching no yield.”
Since June 3, the portion of corn rated in “good” to “excellent” condition plummeted from 72 to 26 percent. Seven of the largest corn-exporting states now have only one percent or less of corn acreage assessed as “excellent.” A similar plunge was recorded in soybean acreage (65 to 31 percent).
The assessment is the worst since the drought of 1988, when small farmers went out of business en masse after a decade-long rural economic crisis.
The impact of the agricultural disaster on the global food supply is compounded by a speculative frenzy on grain futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. Last week corn futures surpassed all-time records at $8.2875 a bushel, before falling back on news of rain. As of Friday, corn for September delivery was trading at $7.9375 a bushel. Some analysts have suggested that corn futures for December delivery could fetch $9 or more per bushel in August if climate predictions prove correct.
With pastures in ruin and feed prices driven up in trading, smaller US livestock producers are facing the prospect of liquidating their herds. As a result, supermarket prices for beef, pork, and other meats are likely to surge in the coming year, after the initial influx of slaughtered herds. Prices for quick-to-market meats such as chicken and eggs, as well as dairy products, will likely rise more swiftly.
The USDA on Wednesday announced that supermarket prices would rise in coming months. Currently it projects beef prices will rise 4 to 5 percent, and dairy products 3.5 to 4.5 percent.
However, large meat producers are warning that cheaper meats such as pork and chicken will become “luxuries” if Washington does not suspend a program enabling the energy industry to secure up to 40 percent of the US corn crop for ethanol production.
“I’ll use the word catastrophe—that’s my definition,” Larry Pope, head of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, told the Financial Times. In June, Smithfield moved to lock in feed costs on the futures markets before corn broke $8 a bushel. “I thought that $6 corn was the end of the world,” he said. “I never could have realized that I would be thankful to be buying it at $7.”
“Beef is simply going to be too expensive to eat,” Pope said. “Pork is not going to be too far behind. Chicken is catching up fast… Are we going to really take protein away from Americans?” He said US meat prices would rise by “significant double digits” per year.
Even a less drastic price increase in protein food sources would compell millions of low-income Americans to choose what they can afford to buy over the nutritional value provided.
The disaster bears brutal consequences for the populations of import-dependent countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. In 2008, riots erupted in more than 30 countries after a similar confluence of severe weather and speculation drove up staple food prices. Among the billions of people living on $2 a day or less, the cost of food consumes as much as three-quarters of a family’s income.
Grain suppliers are beginning to default on deals with importers in Egypt, Libya, and Iraq. Egypt, the world’s largest consumer of wheat, is turning to Russia as the US drought deepens. However, Russia has also cut its wheat outlook by 3 million tons.
The US corn outlook negatively impacts wheat exports, as a poor corn harvest tends to mean wheat is held more tightly for domestic use. Because Egypt imports half of its wheat, and a quarter of its wheat imports originate in the US, any fluctuation in the grain’s price or supply sharply impacts living conditions in the country. Forty percent of the Egyptian population subsists on $2 a day or less.
The world’s population is subjected to the irrationality of the market, and the disjointed global food system. Barges loaded with Southeast Asia-bound grain have clogged Indian ports, creating delays of up to 25 days. Spotty rains in Asian growing regions may further compound food shortfalls and inflation.
“The deficit in rainfall will definitely cause food inflation to go up,” Dun & Bradstreet economist Arun Singh told Reuters. “The extent of the impact will be known only after the monsoon is over.” With monsoon season half over, some agricultural areas of the country have seen rainfall 68 percent lower than average. Food inflation in India is already 10.81 percent, significantly higher than general inflation; on lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, and other staples, the rise is far higher.
Source: Naomi Spencer | wsws.org
They say “Jolly is the fat man,” but perhaps not when he’s being chased (and, I’m sure, caught) like a Frankenstein monster by the Body Cult crazies. And that is the case today, as it has become fashionable to affront the friendly-fronted.
It seems most anything goes now: bloated houses, bloated egos, bloated libidos, bloated bureaucracies, bloated government – except bloated bellies. And a perusal of the news makes this clear, with a never-ending stream of stories about obesity this and obesity that. For example, headlining Drudge the other day was a piece about how fathead officials in Massachusetts propose to ban school bake sales – even before and after school hours – to combat obesity. This, of course, is just the next step in a progression that has seen localities purge schools of cookies and sodas along with the faith and patriotism that was deemed unhealthful long before.
We also had the San Francisco Stupidvisors, who run the city (into the ground), who banned toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals. Deliciously, the restaurant chain circumvented the law by charging an extra ten cents for those who want the toy. I would’ve really rubbed the health Nazis’ noses in it and made it a penny.
Then there was the 2008 proposal by three legislators in Mississippi – said to be the fattest state in the nation – to prohibit portly people from dining in restaurants. The politicians said they were just trying to make a point with their measure. I wonder, though, given that the vast majority of gun crime (98% in New York City) is committed by blacks and Hispanics, would these bold statesmen seek to “make a point” by proposing to ban those groups from gun stores? Oh, that would be discriminatory? I see.
Although Mississippi Fat Burning never saw its opening day, other Orwellian measures have. For instance, a Missouri judge was accused of delaying an adoption until the prospective father lost weight, and last year Ohio DCFS seized a boy from his parents because he was obese. This, despite the fact that if the president ate like his wife does, the boy would look like Obama’s son.
The irony here is that the health Nazis would have had the over indulgent Ohio mother’s back if she’d ended her boy’s life in the womb. But merely increase the chances of shortening his life by feeding him too many Twinkies? You’re a derelict mother!
You see, when it’s the matter of a body within a body, it’s the bigger body’s “choice.” But when it’s a matter of just a bigger body, you have no choice. My, how the scales of justice tip when you tip the scales.
As for the busybodies – the politicians, gubmint bureaucrats and “public-interest” groups – how do we explain their interest in our health? They really must care, right? About you, about me, about all and sundry. Well, I’d say so but qualify it with a paraphrased Rodney Dangerfield line: “They really care….
About what, I have no idea.”
Of course, there is the “Obesity hurts society” pretext. The argument is that you fatties are burying our healthcare system with a knife and fork, as you cost it more money with your increased health problems.
Except that this is nonsense.
A 2011 study found that the obese and smokers actually cost the healthcare system less because they don’t live as long. And while study leader Pieter Van Baal called the finding a “small surprise,” it’s thoroughly logical. It’s the nonagenarian requiring frequent hospitalization and nursing-home care who rings up the bills, not the epicurean who collapses on his plate of chicken fried steak and cheese-filled French fries at age 61. So you want to save ObamaCare? Get all the different fat groups, copious amounts of sugar and salt and smoke one Al Gore tobacco farm a week.
So are we now left with the notion that the health Nazis really do care? Well, they do, and about what I do have some idea. And I’m going to delve into one little understood phenomenon that drives today’s obsession with health.
You’ll note that the people behind control-freak health measures are never Opus Dei or Southern Baptist Conference types; heck, unless it’s a prohibition against pork, they’re not even Muslims. They are, I’d wager, secularists virtually one and all.
This is no coincidence, but a result of subordinating spiritual health to physical health. A person of faith may believe that he’s enjoined to treat the temple of the soul well, but he will never elevate that imperative over that of caring for the soul itself. He realizes that this life, relative to eternity, is as a drop of water in an ocean – and it is that ocean voyage for which he is mainly preparing. Thus, recognizing the reality of God’s law (morality), he understands that of primary importance is avoiding what has traditionally been labeled sin.
But what about when you don’t believe in an afterlife? This temporal life is then all you see.
And then staying in it for as long as possible can become the most important thing to you.
In fact, it can become obsession.
For where the believer may be mindful of Jesus’ words (I’m paraphrasing) “Do not fear that which just destroys the body; fear that which destroys the soul,” the secularist may believe the body is all there is. This is, I believe, what has bred the Cult of the Body, with all its newly-minted “sins,” such as overeating, failure to exercise, smoking and drinking. Why, we even call taxes on the last two “sin taxes.”
So my answer to those who warn of increasing obesity is, “So?” “But, Duke, don’t you understand? These people will die younger!” Other than mentioning that they won’t die nearly as young as aborted babies, again I say, “So?” We’re all going to die; it’s just a matter of when and how. And when you realize that relative to the ocean, small, medium and large water drops are indistinguishable, you’ll understand my response.
Returning to a lighter note, I’ll have to now limit my keyboard intake lest this article get too fat. Before concluding, however, I’ll say that I do have an idea for putting the health Nazis’ designs on a diet. Since obesity is most prevalent among black women – with 48 percent having, uh, let’s say, generous proportions – cast any and all attacks upon the condition as “racist.” If this tactic works when the matter is police tests, voter ID, immigration and school suspension, perhaps it’ll work with abdominal distension.
This was not dialogue from a Hollywood movie. According to a woman named Melissa Coon, it was what a teacher at East High School in Kansas City told her 13-year-old son, Allen, when he attempted to answer a question during Black History Month. Coon identifies that teacher as Mrs. Karla Dorsey, who is black; Allen is white.
As has already been reported, Allen was a victim of a vicious racial attack last week in which two older black teens doused him with gasoline and set him alight, saying “This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy.” Not surprisingly, Coon has pulled her son out of East High and, concerned about further racial violence, intends to leave the K.C. area.
While this crime is making headlines, Coon states that it was merely the horrible culmination of continual racial harassment her son had to endure at East High. Moreover, after conducting an investigation that included extensive interviews with parents and students, I’ve learned that Coon’s son is not alone. Other white students also report a pattern of racial harassment at the high school at the hands of their peers – and, shockingly, their teachers.
Two of these victims were the twin 14-year-old daughters (first names withheld upon request) of Karin Wildeisen. Ever since their family relocated from Texas they had endured racial animosity in the Kansas City school system and inappropriate behavior by staff, which included teachers laughing while boys humiliatingly manhandled the girls and a teacher slapping one of them on the backside. But there was far worse to come.
The twins started coming home and talking about the goings-on in an advanced-English class taught by a teacher Wildeisen identifies as Ms. Veda Monday. Wildeisen said that her daughters told her, “There are four white kids in the class; they are being targeted racially.” They said that Monday, who is black, was feeding the class racial material, about which Wildeisen notes, “She’s teaching advanced English; she has no reason to be teaching civil rights.”
But then there was the straw that broke the camel’s back. One day Monday allegedly showed an explicit film involving portrayals of whites lynching blacks and then, reports ex-Texan Wildeisen, “in front of the class attacked my daughters, telling them that ‘everybody from Texas is ignorant rednecks’” and that all white people were ‘responsible for Jasper because [their] skin is white.’” This reference is to an atrocity in Jasper, TX, in which three white men murdered a black man in 1998.
Where would a teacher get the idea that all whites are responsible for the Jasper tragedy? It’s not hard to figure out. Black-liberation theology (BLT) instructs, writes the man some regard as its father, Professor James Cone, “All white men are responsible for white oppression.” And how common is BLT? Well, Cone’s books were required reading at Barack Obama’s long-time house of worship in Chicago, Trinity United Church of Christ.
The end result of this is that Wildeisen, like Melissa Coon, decided to pull her children out of East High. Also like Coon, she intends to leave the area, saying that it and the school are a “powder keg.” As for now, her daughters are studying at home via a distance-learning program.
Another white victim is 15-year-old Ashley Miller, whose family had moved to K.C., MO, from Kansas. Subject to racial harassment, she was called names such as “white b****.” She also actually shared a class with Allen Coon, and as the only two white students in the room they became the target of sexual comments. Moreover, she reports the same experience with race-baiting videos as do the Wildeisens: they would be shown, and an onus would be placed on the white students. Her mother Melissa told me that she now fears for her daughter’s safety and, you guessed it, is in the process of withdrawing Ashley from East High. And the rest of the pattern is holding, too: the Millers are contemplating leaving the area.
Yet even putting the brutal fire attack aside, Melissa Coon’s young boy by far got the worst of it. The tow-headed Allen looks like “the classic all-American white boy,” says his mother, and “after the first week [of school] he was nothing but racially harassed.” She says that “he was called every racial slur you can imagine,” such as “honkey,” “cracker,” “whitey” and “guero” (a Spanish slang term for whites that can be used in a derogatory way). He was, she reports, pushed into lockers and was jumped in the bathroom. And, even before the recent attack, he was sometimes menaced by groups that would follow him part of the way home.
Even more damning, though, is that multiple educators were complicit in the harassment. Mrs. Coon related an incident in which a teacher she identifies as Ms. Carla Kinder called Allen “Casper” and then “got all the students to get involved.” Other times, the students would initiate the harassment and the teachers would pick up the baton. “They would tease him; people would make fun of him and they’d chime in,” said Coon.
Then, as the Wildeisen girls report, as Ashley Miller reports, there were the race-baiting films. Said Mrs. Coon, “They showed a lot of racial movies. And people would make comments – lots of comments – especially at him [Allen], during these things.”
And this brings us to the fire attack of last week. How is it that two teenagers would douse an innocent boy they don’t even know with gasoline and set him alight? Karin Wildeisen has a theory. Referring to Ms. Monday’s “English” class, she told me, “I think that the two boys who did this are going to be found in that teacher’s class – or somewhere thereabouts.”
It sure seems likely, and what should we say about East High’s “teaching” model? Well, imagine repeatedly showing films depicting blacks committing nothing but crimes against whites. Would there be any question about whether it was race-baiting? Even Amos ‘n Andy is frowned upon today.
The fact is that, to paraphrase Lincoln, “If you look for the worst in a group, you’re sure to find it.” If you display a group’s sins to the exclusion of its triumphs ad infinitum, you can make it appear a den of demons. And, ever since the advent of video technology, propaganda films have been used the world over to cultivate racial and ethnic hostility. It is Hate 101.
And Indifference 101seems to be a course offering at East High, too. Melissa Coon had been complaining to the school’s administration about her son’s harassment repeatedly – only to be ignored and stonewalled – repeatedly. At one point an administrator told her that her son could only have a transfer to another district school but said that Allen would have “more problems there” and that he should stay at more “racially diverse” East High (which has no more than 20 white students). At another, a vice Principal Coon identifies as Ms. Jessica Bassett denied, while shaking and rubbing her hands together nervously, ever having heard about Allen’s problems even though they had been brought to her attention on at least five occasions.
And Coon’s experience with the local police hasn’t been much better. Listening to her testimony I got the feeling that K.C. law enforcement didn’t want the arrest and prosecution of two black youths on a hate-crime charge, possibly for fear of the “powder keg.” Perhaps this is a job for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Oh, yeah, Eric Holder.
As for young Allen, he had the presence of mind during the attack to pull his shirt up over his head and smother the flames. The damage was thus limited to mostly first-degree burns, with his nose suffering second-degree and the possibility of scarring at the top of his lip. Yet the emotional scars run far deeper, and he is in therapy. “He has flashbacks,” says Mrs. Coon. “He was in a ball crying…. He said that no one believes him.” And she states that her five-year-old will often ask, “Are they going to burn me today, mommy?”
On an East High staff page created by alumni, there is the Giovanni Ruffini quotation, “The teacher is like the candle, which lights others, while consuming itself.” What a contrast between the words of the past and the deeds of the present.