Syrian Volunteers Exhibit Their Humanity, Despite International Politicizing of Emergency Aid…
Over the past twenty months, as the Syrian crisis continued beyond most early predictions, this observer learned something about the Syrian people that I had known for decades about Palestinians. And that is their great concern for their countrymen wherever they are found and whatever their current condition. When I am in Syria I am frequently asked “how are our people doing in Lebanon as refugees from this crisis?” In Lebanon, I am often asked “how are our (internal) refugees in Syria and what of our people in Jordan, Iraq or Turkey, how are they being treated and are they getting the basic necessities they need to live?”
And many Syrian refugees there are these bitter days. As of early November, 2012, close to 700,000 have fled their country with the UN now expecting close to one million by early next year if the fighting does not stop. Soon, it is likely that there will be close to 2 million displaced persons inside Syria according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There are currently, according to the 10/12 UNHCR Syrian Refugee Report, 205,000 in Jordan, approximately 60,000 in Iraq (the first known refugees who have sought refuge in Iraq during the past quarter century) 110,649 in Turkey and 110,095 in Lebanon. The true figures are higher by an estimated 13% if one were to include the many Syrian refugees who are unable or do not want to register with local authorities or NGO’s for various reasons.
“Many more Syrians have recently been displaced within our borders and we are bracing for a long conflict.” Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, Director of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent told this observer during a meeting in his Damascus office. Dr. Attar explained that “internally displaced persons” now exceed 1.5 million and close to 8.5% of the entire population have fled their homes during the last 19 months of conflict. Nearly 400,000 in Damascus alone. Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR’s regional co-coordinator for Syrian refugee’s advised that more than 3,000 refugees flee to neighboring countries every day, or approximately 90,000 per month. Both agree that due to the collapse of public services, and given that perhaps 1.2 million people need humanitarian aid inside the country, it brings the total number of Syrians requiring some form of relief to 2.7 million – or roughly 12 per cent of the total population.
Politicizing Humanitarian Aid
Whereas in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, official refugee camps are providing shelter at no cost to more than a quarter million Syrian refugees, the government in Lebanon has not yet permitted the construction of similar sites due to confessional fears that perhaps a political or other advantage might somehow accrue to a rival sect-once more exposing how deeply its current anarchist confessionalist arrangement paralyzes Lebanon. Unfortunately it is the same mentality and prejudices that so far has prevented Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from being granted the same elementary civil rights to work and to own a home that Syria and every other country granted the victims of the Zionist colonial enterprise usurpation of Palestine, six decades ago.
The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon who fled the violence in their homeland have increased sectarian tensions with one result being Syrian workers and refugees being targeted by elements of the Lebanese government. This despite the enormous aid Syria gave Lebanese refugees during the 2006 war when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese sought safety next door in Syria. Nadim Houry, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, has documented growing political harassment of Syrian workers in Lebanon. He reports: “We’ve seen the army and the police detaining and roughing up a number of Syrian workers. Most recently, the Lebanese army beat up 72 workers; most of them were Syrian,” Houry reported. “The Lebanese army rounded up the migrant men in the neighborhood and decided to ‘teach them a lesson’ instead of doing police work.”
Against this dismal backdrop one can find across the border in Syria hope and even inspiration. It is coming from the Syrian people themselves and their mainly Arab friends. Between 10,000 and 11,000 volunteers, including Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, are manning across Syria more than 80 Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARC) aid “sub-stations.” These include more than a dozen mobile clinics and pharmacies as well as 10 “on the spot readiness centers.” Depending on the level of localized conflict on any given day, SARC volunteers operate 24/7 anywhere from 6 and 30 ambulances, as they liaise with the Palestine Red Crescent Society volunteers, among others. Since mid-summer, SARC volunteers have been opening centers for psychological support services for children as well as adults. Recently a phone “hotline” has been set-up to help citizens find emergency help. International volunteers are most welcomed at any of SARC’s centers.
SARC’s volunteers have recently been praised by the UN World Food Program and many others for their work delivering humanitarian aid to internal refugees here in Syria. They distribute necessities of life during the chaos and killing to their fellow countrymen without regard to religion or political views. Foreign donor countries giving the most support currently include Germany, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy and Britain. Others help as well, including money and foodstuffs from Iran and cash from the American Red Cross, the latter channeled through the ICRC so as not to raise Congressional outcries about possible violations of heavy US sanctions being imposed on the Syrian people.
Founded in 1942, as the French colonizers withdrew from this 7000 year old civilization which they occupied in 1917, as part of the English-French Sykes-Picot arrangement, the Syria Arab Red Crescent society became linked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1946. SARC receives no government funding. This observer had the opportunity to meet SARC staff and volunteers of such singular commitment to helping their countrymen that more than a dozen have given their lives while trying to bring assistance to those stranded in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa and elsewhere. One SARC team leader to me: “When one of our people is killed we bury the martyr and by the next morning we have 20 or more new volunteers who want to take their place and bring aid to those trapped in the most dangerous areas. I must tell you that this hell we are living through-we are confronting directly—it has made me very proud of my people and to be Syrian. Enshallah, we will overcome this chaos and killing and we will be stronger than before as a people.”
At the United Nations on 11/5/12, a top relief official said the UN aid effort in Syria, which means mainly SARC’s volunteers, “is very dangerous and very difficult.” The official, John Ging, director of operations of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that the aid efforts in Syria (mainly being done by SARC volunteers) was supplying 1.5 million people in with food and that nearly half was being delivered into areas of conflict, but “there are areas beyond our reach, particularly areas under opposition control for quite a long time.”
Despite UNCHR’s role in studying the refugee problem and coordinating yet more studies and some registration of aid applicants during the current crisis, some familiar with its activities in Syria, including a few other NGO’s and some Syrian officials, have been critical of its performance to date. One highly respected governmental official told this observer recently, “I said to UNCHR’s local administration, “We have noticed the many fine vehicles that you flew into Syria, and we have met some of the well paid staff that you have brought to help us, but please can you show us that you have to date delivered even one loaf of bread to our desperate people?”
In fairness to UNCHR, after an admittedly slow start in Syria, it has recently picked up steam and its international staff is learning much from the local Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers.
Nor is SARC is without its critics.
Tawfik Chamaa, spokesman for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM) speaking from his comfortable Geneva office issued an ad holmium broadside on 11/6/12 against the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society and its nearly 11,000 volunteers. He charged that cash or materials sent to SARC was being “confiscated by the regime. It will not reach the civilians who are bombed every day or besieged,” telling reporters in Geneva, “Ninety, even 95 percent of everything that is sent to Syrian Red Crescent headquarters in Damascus goes to support the Syrian regime, especially the soldiers.”
However, according to AFP, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN World Food Program (WFP), which both work closely with the Syrian Red Crescent Society, strongly denied their aid was being seized by the government or anyone else. This observer, during the late night of 11/7/12 contacted “Wassim”, a friend and a volunteer at the Damascus SARC HQ who last week arranged visits for me of SARC aid distribution centers and Wassim also flatly denied the UOSSM report. Wassim informed this observer on the evening of 11/7/12 that SARC will immediately prepare a response to the USOOM allegations.
UOSSM itself has been criticized, as have a few other NGO’s working in Syria, for becoming politicized, polarized and for being inordinately top heavy administratively with bloated salaries and ” humanitarian team leaders” sitting in offices in Paris or Geneva and elsewhere far from Syria. Mr. Chamaa, himself, is a high salaried founding member of the Western group of 14 aid organizations from countries including France, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States. According to SARC volunteers working in field aid distribution centers in Syria, Mr Chamaa could learn more were he to visit Syria and actually observe what’s happening on the ground before making unsupported claims. The UOSSM was set up at the beginning of the year mainly by Syrian doctors living in NATO countries. Some speculate that UOSSM hopes to be part of a possible future NATO affiliated “transition team” while others claim its political charges against SARC volunteers, without proof, are irresponsible and hurt those suffering most in Syria. The reason is because such alarmist press releases tend to damp down much needed donations of medical aid and necessities. This affects directly the 1.5 million people inside Syria who are in need of emergency humanitarian aid.
In response to Charmaa’s sensationalistic headline grabbing charges, UN World Food Program spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the media on 11/7/12: ”I believe there is absolutely no confiscation. WFP food monitors are able to visit most areas to check that food is reaching the people who need it most. Even in some dangerous areas, they use WFP armored vehicles.” She insisted that the Red Crescent, “as the designated coordinator of humanitarian assistance in Syria, operates through branches in an independent manner”.
The ICRC said it was aware of Chamaa’s allegations. Its HQ stated on 11/7/12: “Whenever such facts are clearly established, which does not appear to be the case in Syria, we treat them very seriously and would address directly the management of (the Syrian Red Crescent) and Syrian authorities” ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk stressed that the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent “strive to assist all populations in need without any discrimination, which is a challenging task given the deteriorating humanitarian situation and security conditions.” The ICRC and SARC volunteers recently managed to deliver medical and food aid to 1,200 people in the Old City of Homs, and since the beginning of the year they have provided food, water and other assistance to more than one million people across Syria, according to ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk, and as reported by AFP.
On 11/8/12 exhibiting exasperation, a sense of foreboding and just a whiff of defeatism, ICRC president Peter Maurer to a conference in Geneva that “We are in a situation where the humanitarian situation due to the conflict is getting worse. And we can’t cope with the worsening of the situation. We have a lot of blank spots, we know that no aid has been there and I can’t tell you what the situation is or what we can do.”
In a late breaking development Friday morning, 11/9/12, the UN human rights chief expressed concern after the ICRC said it was struggling to deliver aid in war-ravaged Syria. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told AFP during an interview at the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia: “The fact that they’ve now said they are unable to perform their core functions makes the humanitarian crisis in Syria extremely critical. Nearly hopeless.”
Don’t tell that to Zeinab Tamari, a thirties something Palestinian volunteer from the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus who is traveling across Syria bringing aid and relief to her fellow Arabs.
And don’t tell either it to Syrian student Mahar Saad whose home was destroyed during fighting in Homs and who daily risks his life remaining in his neighborhood helping his neighbors despite losing family members in the fighting. Both are SARC volunteers appeared without being asked at one of the aid organizations outlets across Syria to help. They inspire hope for Syria and for all humanity, regardless of the outcome of the current crisis.
The staff and volunteers who perform the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society’s humanitarian work undertaken in the main by Syrians for Syrians, with Syrians are a credit to their country and warrant the blessings and support all people of good will as they risk their lives to bring aid to their countrymen.
At a time when America desperately needs to come together, we are becoming more divided than ever. The mainstream media and most of our politicians love to pit us against one another in dozens of different ways, and right now class warfare has become one of their favorite tools for getting us to hate one another. If you are struggling in this economy, you are being told that “the wealthy” are the cause of your problems. If you have money, you are being told that the poor hate you and want to tax you into oblivion. Class warfare has already become a dominant theme in the 2012 race for the White House, and there will certainly be endless speeches given along these lines by politicians from both major political parties all the way up to election day. Class warfare will be used by both sides as a way to divide America and get votes. And the frightening thing is that it is clearly working. There is more hatred between the poor and the wealthy in America today than at any other time that I can remember. But hating people because of how much money they have or don’t have is not going to solve anything. Instead, it is just going to cause more problems.
The other day, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told CNBC that the globe is already in a state of “late Great Depression“. The United States is heading into unprecedented economic and financial problems and we desperately need to pull together as a country and solve these problems.
But instead, our leaders are tapping into the politics of division in a desperate attempt to get elected in the fall.
Rather than focus on real issues and real solutions, our politicians attempt to make “the wealthy” or “welfare recipients” the focus of our debates.
Well, you know what?
Most people that are rich and most people that are poor are not purposely trying to abuse the system. Most of them are hard working people that are trying to do the best that they can in a world that is increasingly going crazy.
These days, the Occupy Wall Street crowd loves to talk about how evil the “1 percent” is. But most of the “1 percent” are people that have worked really hard and that have been fortunate enough to get some really good breaks in life.
Yes, there are some among the “1 percent” that do some really bad things. The too big to fail banks and the big money managers on Wall Street should be held accountable for the crimes that they have committed.
But most wealthy Americans are not trying to oppress the poor. Most of them are just trying to do the best that they can for themselves and their families.
Neither are most poor people trying to abuse the system either.
Yes, without a doubt there are some that do not want to work and that want to live on government benefits indefinitely.
But that is a minority.
Most Americans that are receiving government benefits today would rather be working good jobs that would enable them to provide for their families.
Most Americans understand that government handouts can never provide dignity and hope for a better future.
But if you don’t demonize the poor and you point out the decline of the middle class, many Republicans will call you a “liberal” or a “socialist”.
And if you don’t demonize the rich and you don’t blame them for all of our economic problems, many Democrats will call you a “pig” or a “fascist”.
Unfortunately, playing the blame game is not going to get us anywhere.
The number of Americans living in poverty increased dramatically under George W. Bush and it also increased dramatically under Barack Obama.
Our country is drowning in debt, millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, the middle class is shrinking at an astounding pace, and the Federal Reserve continues to destroy our financial system.
Getting angry at the wealthy or the poor is not going to fix those problems.
But it will distract us from the reality that both major political parties have been doing a horrible job.
Sadly, Americans seem to really enjoy blaming one another these days. Just check out some of the slogans that have been seen on various signs at Occupy Wall Street protests….
“They Only Call It Class Warfare When We Fight Back”
“Eat The Rich – Feed The Poor”
“The Rich Are Wrecking The Planet”
So will destroying the lives of the rich solve our problems?
Of course not.
The truth is that we should want millions more Americans to be prosperous. We should be cheering for one another instead of tearing one another down.
But that is heresy to many on the left.
On the right, it is heresy even to mention that our tax system is fundamentally flawed and that it has thousands of loopholes that are being abused by the very wealthy.
In a previous article, I detailed how many of the largest and most profitable corporations in America get away with paying absolutely nothing in taxes.
There is something very wrong with that.
Our income tax system should be abolished altogether, but if we do have to pay income taxes, then it is fundamentally unfair for some people and businesses to be able to pay little or nothing while the rest of us get absolutely obliterated by taxes.
But if you try to say that to many on the right, they will look at you in horror.
The other day, there was a New York Times article that detailed the extreme measures that Apple takes to avoid paying taxes. It turns out that Apple sets up shell offices all over the globe in order to evade taxation….
As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.
That same article talked about how Apple has become a model which hundreds of other companies have followed. To giant corporations such as Apple, tax evasion has become an art form….
Apple, for instance, was among the first tech companies to designate overseas salespeople in high-tax countries in a manner that allowed them to sell on behalf of low-tax subsidiaries on other continents, sidestepping income taxes, according to former executives. Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. Today, that tactic is used by hundreds of other corporations — some of which directly imitated Apple’s methods, say accountants at those companies.
So what is the solution to all of this?
Raising income taxes won’t work too well because the tax lawyers are always several steps ahead of our politicians.
The truth is that when taxes get raised it is always the middle class that gets absolutely clobbered and the wealthy always find more ways to reduce their exposure.
Just take a look at Mitt Romney. He made more than 42 million dollars in 2010 and yet Romney had an effective tax rate of only 14 percent.
If I could find a way to have an effective tax rate of only 14 percent I would be jumping up and down for joy, and so would millions of other Americans.
Our tax system is deeply, deeply broken and needs to be thrown into the trash can.
Abandoning the current tax system would not solve all of our problems, but it would be a start.
Unfortunately, neither political party is willing to even consider this.
Instead, the Democrats want to raise taxes a little bit and the Republicans want to lower taxes a little bit.
But neither alternative will do much of anything to solve any of the real problems we are facing.
Our economy is dying and it is not producing nearly enough jobs for all of us. When Barack Obama took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in America was 2.6 million. Today, it is 5.3 million.
At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.
So where is all of the “change” that Obama promised?
Things just keep getting worse.
Since Obama has been in the White House, 14 million more Americans have gone on food stamps, and more than 25 percent of all American children are enrolled in the program today.
How will class warfare help those people?
Will blaming the wealthy make things better for them?
They are already receiving government handouts.
Will increasing those handouts a little bit more fundamentally change their lives for the better?
Of course not.
What those people need are good jobs.
But instead, both the Democrats and the Republicans continue to pursue the same job killing policies that have been destroying American jobs for decades.
Without good jobs, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to grow.
In a previous article, I detailed the explosive growth of social welfare benefits that we have seen under both Republicans and Democrats….
Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages. In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages. Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.
The goal should not be to rape the rich and give out even more social welfare benefits.
Instead, the goal should be to develop an economy that creates good jobs.
We need have an economy that empowers individuals and small businesses.
Instead, we have an economy dominated by big government and big corporations.
We have an economy that funnels the vast majority of the economic rewards to a tiny elite while most of the rest of us struggle.
Just consider the following statistics….
*The following is how income gains in the U.S. were distributed during 2010….
-37 percent of all income gains went to the top 0.01 percent of all income earners
-56 percent of all income gains went to the rest of the top 1 percent
-7 percent of all income gains went to the bottom 99 percent
*In America today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
*According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
So what is the solution to that problem?
Is it to attack the rich and take away all their money and give more government handouts to the poor?
Of course not.
Rather, we need to change the rules of the game so that individuals and small businesses are empowered to succeed.
We need to decentralize economic power and dramatically reduce the undue influence that big government and giant corporations have over our economic system.
We need to create an environment where almost anyone that has a good idea and that is willing to work hard can succeed.
But instead of focusing on real solutions like shutting down the Federal Reserve, converting to debt-free currency, eliminating the income tax, shutting down the IRS, massively reducing the size of government and getting rid of thousands upon thousands of unneeded regulations, the mainstream media and our politicians are going to continue to try to get Americans to blame one another for our problems.
The efforts to divide America are working, and hatred is growing to unprecedented levels in this country.
Eventually this will lead to mass rioting in our major cities and that will make our problems far worse.
Hatred and division are not going to bring us a better future.
They are only going to destroy us from within.
We don’t need hate.
What we need is more love and more solutions.
Unfortunately, our leaders are leading us down a very dark path, and we are heading for a future that is going to be a complete mess.
Source: The Economic Collapse
Some weeks ago, Mexico’s second largest city was hit by over a dozen narco-blockades. Narcotraficantes shut down over a dozen intersections, evacuated citizens from buses and burned the empty vehicles (one bus driver didn’t get out in time). Meanwhile, the Mexican military executed a daring raid when they landed on Opus Dei school grounds to capture a head narcotics trafficker holed up in the nearby neighborhood.
The official story is that the narcos were retaliating for the Mexican government capture of one of their head honchos or that they were executing a diversion to allow other cartel members to escape the city.
Ironically, they later posted notes around town asking citizens for their forgiveness. It almost feels like this is Gotham and we’re living in a Batman movie, except, here there is no Dark Knight.
The US Agenda
Before we examine the issue further, it is necessary to state some clear facts:
1) The CIA and other US Government agencies have been caught running drugs into the U.S.
2) The DEA has been caught laundering money for drug cartels from Colombia to Mexico.
3) The ATF and the White House were caught selling tens of thousands of guns directly to Mexican drug cartels.
4) Attorney General Eric Holder has been caught stating that their goals are to demonize gun possession and create an anti-gun culture with the ultimate purpose of disallowing lawful firearm possession.
5) Operations Fast & Furious as well as Gunrunner were attempts at fomenting such an atmosphere.
Mexican Deep Politics
Dr. Peter Dale Scott is one of the preeminent researchers and authors on the topic of “deep politics” and the global drug trade. We had the great opportunity to speak with Dr. Scott for about an hour on these issues.
In his book American War Machine, he painstakingly details the nexus between the various actors. In this instance, these are mainly the US government, Mexican government and narco traffickers as well as middlemen in-between (i.e. the odd Iranian used-car salesman).
In 1947, the same year the CIA was created, the US government helped Mexico create its own agency called the Federal Security Directorate (DFS). The U.S. also assisted other countries in creating their own intelligence agencies (i.e. DINA in Chile, SIN in Haiti, etc.).
The CIA-DFS duo has been running drugs ever since. Indeed, the founder of the agency, Colonel Carlos Serrano had been caught in action. At the time, a State Department report noted the “Gestapo” powers of the DFS and how it was used “to get rid of their competition and control the business.” The main point of the DFS was not to stop the flow of drugs but to manage it and fight the communist left.
The DFS was essentially a CIA asset and many assets on the CIA payroll actually went on to become prominent politicians with at least one of them becoming the president of Mexico. Family members would then be drug trade contacts, such as was the case with Raul Salinas. Essentially, the US government was able to manipulate Mexican politics by proxy via the DFS. In a CIA report, out of six assessed Mexican agencies, despite the DFS having the worst record, the CIA went on to say that they would still work with them because they were the most “competent and capable!”
The CIA-DFS-Cartel Triad
Due to a scandal in 1985, the DFS morphed into CISEN at which time it lost its CIA protection because of the murder of a DEA agent. According to Peter Dale Scott, the institutional arrangements between the triad continued up until at least Ernesto Zedillo’s presidency (1995-2001).
One of the interesting things pointed out in American War Machine is that the agencies have their preferred cartels. The CIA and DFS/CISEN have cartels they are aligned with and make sure to support them against the competition. During the 1990s Salinas presidency, agencies and offices such as the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) were up to 95% under narco control at times.
The global drug trade is a key underlying factor in understanding world events. It has become the blood vessel of the global economy without which the system would collapse. It is what provides liquidity to the banks. It makes all those involved, from Afghanistan and Kosovo to Columbia and Wall Street, wealthy beyond imagination. It feeds the Prison-Industrial Complex with its drug offenders. It feeds the Military-Industrial Complex with the resulting violence and arms sales. It feeds the Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex with the outlaw of natural medicine.
More importantly, it provides off-the-record cash for funding acts of terror, assassinations and other black operations by governments. Could you imagine the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) reaction assessing the receipts detailing how official government funds were used for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr?
Other examples might include when Nicaraguan Contras were trained in Veracruz, Mexico by CIA/DFS narco assets. Or the case of E. Howard Hunt, who was deeply involved in the drug trade as well as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Seeing as this is the way the cookie crumbles, I am not a terrible optimist. Decriminalization is the only hope, but there are too many politicians who stand to lose too much (i.e. Hillaryious Clinton). Even the Netherlands is turning back the clock by banning cannabis sales. Only time will tell. In the meantime, keep your noses clean.
Jorge Gato lives in Mexico and is a social sciences educator who is in the trenches daily, warding off severe cases of cognitive dissonance, mass indoctrination and unhealthy reasoning. He writes athttp://dissidentthinker.wordpress.com/.
Source: The Dollar Vigilante
Most Americans are unaware that National Condom Week has been going on since the 1970s commencing the week of February 14th — and I’m not making this up. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) did not give out the customary flowers and chocolates; instead they distributed condoms to students at universities in the Pacific Northwest. In its effort to promote safer sex the organization launched WhereDidYouWearIt.com and passed out 55,000 condoms wrapped with smartphone scannable QR codes that link to the site so that students can “check in” to their booty call locations. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Tucker Cummings fills us in on the details:
When they check in, users can note their location (ie, “Shower,” “Party,” etc.) and rate their erotic encounter on a scale from 1 to 5. Users remain anonymous when checking in, but can reveal details such as gender and relationship status.
Working with the tag line “Safe sex happens. Find out where!”, the program gave the condoms away in only a few select locations. However, based on the map of check-ins, the condoms traveled across the Canadian border and all but two US states.
Users were asked to describe their sex-perience and some choices included “It was Ah-maz-ing”… “Rainbows exploded – mountains trembled” … “Things can only improve from here.” Users are also asked, “Where did you wear it?” PPFA urged students to share their entire experience through Facebook and Twitter.
Nathan Engebretson, PPFA’s New Media Coordinator in the North West, chirped:
We hope the site promotes discussions within relationships about condoms and helps to remove perceived stigmas that some people may have about condom use. Where Did You Wear It attempts to create some fun around making responsible decisions.
Let me get this straight. PPFA wishes to send the message to young people that rating their overall sex-perience online is something they can do for fun? The organization believes that someone sharing their sex-perience on Facebook and Twitter for the whole world to know is acting responsibly? This begs the question: What does PPFA consider irresponsible behavior? What do these people consider out of bounds, if anything?
While I’m on the subject of acting irresponsibly, PPFA chooses not to inform the public that using a condom does not provide100% effectiveness against some STDs. Moreover, the public is not told that birth control and contraception are not effective in reducing the number of abortions. According to Life News:
In Sweden, between 1995 and 2001, teen abortion rates grew 32% during a period of low-cost condoms, oral contraceptives and over-the-counter emergency contraception. Similarly, National Review recently reported that “out of 23 studies on the effects of increased access to ECs, not onestudy could show a reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions.”
A recent ten-year study in Spain was reported to have found the same thing:
[C]ontraception use increased by about 60%, the abortion rate doubled. In other words, even with an increase in contraception use, there weren’t fewer unwanted pregnancies, there were more.
Planned Parenthood’s own affiliate, the Guttmacher Institute, showed simultaneous increases in both abortion rates and contraceptive use in the U.S., Cuba, Denmark, the Netherlands, Singapore, and South Korea. Guttmacher cites other countries as evidence of the opposite relationship, but it is noteworthy that many of those countries already had high abortion rates, often as part of existing coercive government policies.
The only 100 percent effective method of birth control is abstinence. Women who seek an abortion should be told that having an abortion can impact her emotional and psychological well being. It also has that affect on men.
Here’s the bottom line: There’s a growing number of drug resistant sexually transmitted diseases. The only way to prevent dreaded diseases such as HIV and the HPV virus is by abstaining from sexual relations.
But instead of acting responsibly, what does PPFA do? They distribute condoms to university students, making it not only easier for them to “hook up,” they also come up with a system students can have “fun” with and suggest that they use social networking to advertise where they’re having “safe sex”!
What we must not lose sight of is what PPFA does and where their primary source of revenue comes from. The money does not come from “general health care”, more specifically family planning, dispensing contraceptives, the morning after pill (RU486), providing pregnancy tests and breast exams (PPFA does not do mammograms). No, the bulk of their earnings come from aborting babies. The PPFA abortion mill kills over 300 thousand babies a year! For this they received “government health services grants and reimbursements” totaling $487.4 million in 2011. Why, when this “non profit” is worth more than 1 billion? In 2009 PPFA raked in $155 million by performing more than 322,000 abortions. So in essence tax payers are giving money to a lucrative operation! Does this make sense?
What makes no sense at all is that some women not only expect tax payers to pay for abortions and the abortion pill, they demand we pay! This is deeply disturbing to Americans who oppose lining the pockets of abortionists, yet pro-aborts have the gall to shout “get over it!”
Easy for them to say. Getting over the fact that every day 4,000 womb babies are murdered by abortionists is not going to happen
I’ll close with an excerpt from a piece I wrote titled Throwaway Human Beings:
According to science, life begins at conception. So, pro-lifers must urge those who haven’t gotten the message yet to take a look at the scientific evidence. For example, ultrasound technology proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a tiny human person is growing inside a mother’s womb. He/she is not developing into a person; he/she is already a person albeit an extremely small person, especially during the first-trimester. He/she is not a “blob of tissue” as many pro-aborts insist. Pro-aborts deliberately hide the fact that at10 weeks a fetus bends, stretches, opens and closes her hands, lifts her head, squints, swallows and wrinkles her forehead. More and more people now recognize that women who choose to have an abortion are signing a person’s death warrant! Still, over 4,000 babies are killed in America every single day. The latest polls show that Americans are finally starting to come to their senses. According to a 2011 Gallup poll “By a 24% margin, 61-37 percent, Americans take the pro-life view that abortions should either be legal under no circumstances or legal only under a few circumstances.”
In a bid to keep its servers out of the hands of global jurisdictions and evade prosecution, WikiLeaks has been allegedly reported as looking into ways to relocate the servers to offshore data centers.
Wikileaks’ servers have been based in many different countries such as France, Iceland and Sweden, and while the authorities have been so far unable to shut them down permanently, obviously they’re a prime target in the seemingly global fight against WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange.
In an ’exclusive’ by Fox News , unnamed sources “within the hacker community” suggest:
“…Assange’s financial backers have been working behind the scenes on the logistics of moving the servers to international waters.
“Then they can keep running WikiLeaks and nobody can touch them,” one source told FoxNews.com. “If you get a certain distance away from any land, then you’re dealing with maritime law … They can’t prosecute him under maritime law. He’s safe. He’s not an idiot, he’s actually very smart.”
Fox News suggests a likely location may be the Principality of Sealand.
“… a rusty, World War II-era, former anti-aircraft platform off the coast of England in the North Sea. Based on a 1968 British court ruling that the facility is outside the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, Sealand’s owner has declared the facility a sovereign state, or “micro-nation.”
Prince Michael Bates of Sealand stands atop the helipad on his World War II era “micronation” — a possible future location for Wikileaks’ servers.
Image: Source: FOXNEWS.com
And while this move has been unconfirmed, it has been widely suspected that housing the servers in international waters will legally keep global authority’s hands off the sensitive information, and keep it online.
However, the legality of this manoeuvre has yet to be tested, and will probably become a bureaucratic and diplomatic nightmare, which may prove out to be no protection in the slightest.
Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy with the Washington, D.C., think tank Center for Democracy and Technology, said moving WikiLeaks’ servers to Sealand wouldn’t matter — unless the people behind WikiLeaks moved themselves.
“Where the data resides isn’t what determines jurisdiction,” Dempsey said. “You prosecute real people, you don’t prosecute servers. So if the WikiLeaks people want to live on a platform in the North Sea and educate their children there … for people who have lives, that doesn’t make sense.”
Dempsey makes a valid point about the feasibility of the alleged plan, but also warns, chillingly, that when you try to play outside the rules, the game becomes a free-for-all:
“Once you put yourself outside the realm of law, then you’re outside the realm of law, rules on search warrants and excessive force and all that — the reach of the Constitution — none of that applies,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey is seemingly willing to interpret constitutional law and how it applies to US citizens in a sweeping manner, which coming from a policy maker in Washington, seems like a dismaying erosion. Follow our laws or you have no human rights?
But, constitutional law and admiralty or maritime law is not as simple as FoxNews or Jim Dempsey make it seem. Maritime law can extend from shore to shore, include continental shelves, and there are ways to classify and encompass vessels and islands, and laws that apply to those structures.
If these allegations are true about WikiLeaks’ servers, it conjures up the events surrounding Radio Caroline.
“Radio Caroline is an English radio station founded in 1964 [...] to circumvent the record companies’ control of popular music broadcasting in the United Kingdom and the BBC’s radio broadcasting monopoly. Unlicensed by any government for most of its early life, it was considered a pirate radio station.”
Radio Caroline broadcast from floating ships 5km (3 miles) off the coast of England, just outside British territorial waters.
In 1966 the British Postmaster General, Anthony Wedgwood Benn, introduced a Bill to Parliament that outlawed unlicensed offshore broadcasting. This Bill became the Marine Offences Act and was enacted on 14 August 1967. The two Radio Caroline ships continued to broadcast with operations controlled from the Netherlands. In March 1968, both ships were towed to the Netherlands, because of unpaid bills, by the Wijsmuller tug company.
Floating vessels, like those used by Radio Caroline, must be registered by a country, and as such they come under the laws of that country no matter where the vessel goes. For example, the ships of the GreenPeace fleet have flown flags of many different nations at different times after governments deemed the vessels were involved in inappropriate activities and stripped them of their registration.
Conversely, the Principality of Sealand is fixed to the sea floor, like an island.
The famous royal fort Roughs Tower situated slightly north of the estuary region of the Thames River. Source: Sealandgov.org
During World War II, the United Kingdom decided to establish a number of military bases, the purpose of which was to defend England against German air raids. These sea forts housed enough troops to man and maintain artillery designed to shoot down German aircraft and missiles. They were situated along the east coast of England on the edge of the English territorial waters.
Even though it’s on the edge of territorial waters, there is contention as to its international status, no matter what the self-proclaimed “Prince of SeaLand” declares.
While it has been described as the world’s smallest nation, or a micronation, Sealand is not currently officially recognised by any sovereign state. Although Roy Bates claims it is de facto recognised by Germany as they have sent a diplomat to the micronation, and by the United Kingdom after an English court ruled it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand, neither action constitutes de jure recognition as far as the respective countries are concerned.
In the end, if these allegations regarding WikiLeaks’ servers are true, they will still need a country to work with. They’ll either require satellite communications, or fiber-optic cables to function. And while the US continues to seek extradition of founder Julian Assange, and payments to the pariah organization WikiLeaks are difficult to give through reluctant banks and online transaction-sites like Paypal, the pressure will be on countries to not treat with WikiLeaks, or suffer the consequences.
Source: Elizabeth Leafloor | RedIceCreations.com
“Echoing Angela Merkels call for a more united Europe, European Central Bank president Jean Claude Trichet calls for further fiscal and monetary consolidation of EMU countries.
Talking about the current EMU crisis, which he characterizes as “the gravest crisis since World War I” , he calls for further financial consolidation which, he hopes, would stabilize the economies of the members of EMU.” Source
A lot has been said about the Euro’s problems, most from a purely economic standpoint. It is clear that the imbalances that the Euro created in Europe are not sustainable.
Germany and its satellites (Netherlands, Finland, Austria) are much more competitive than Club Med. Because of the Euro the latter group of nations cannot devalue their currencies resulting in trade deficits and net capital out flow to the North.
Therefore the Euro’s existence depends on a permanent bail out mechanism for the South which not sustainable.
But economics are of lesser import here. The Euro was not created to build wealth but as a step toward a World Currency. To rule the world, one must first rule Europe. Clearly, the Euro is the central bankers’ pet project.
The current crisis is not at all unexpected. The Eurocrats couldn’t get their coveted Federation in 1992, at the time of the Maastricht Treaty so they had to settle for the Euro.
They reasoned the ‘right major crises’ would pop up at some point, making clear that monetary union without fiscal union is impossible. They expect the nation states of Europe to surrender fiscal sovereignty to save the Euro
In a recent article, an insider journalist, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, exposed this process:
“Certain architects of EMU calculated that the single currency would itself become the catalyst for a quantum leap in integration that could not be achieved otherwise….. This was the Monnet Method of fait accompli and facts on the ground. These great manipulators of Europe’s destiny may yet succeed, but so far the crisis is not been remotely beneficial.”
He ends his intriguing report with the point that, “I think it is fair to say events are unfolding more or less as we expected.”
WILL THE EURO FAIL?
If you look at the economic data, IT SHOULD. But if you realize the world is run by a few bankers who want World Government, with a World Currency the answer is ‘no’.
However, over the last two years, the Eurocrats have suffered badly. The popular resistance, both in the North and the South, is dramatic. Recently, the German Supreme Court allowed Merkel to go ahead with what had been done, but clearly reprimanded her for the lack of democratic legitimacy and the breach of the Maastricht Treaty, which does not allow fiscal or bond cooperation.
What happens if Greece leaves the Euro? Could they ever allow Romania, Bulgaria, and all these other second-rate nations in if even Greece couldn’t deal with the Euro’s dynamics? How would they ever sell World Currency if they cannot even make the Euro work?
Their biggest problem is that they lack all legitimacy. In 2005, France and the Netherlands rejected their ‘European Constitution’ by a resounding 60-40 margin. They pushed ahead with Lisbon anyway, but this was a disaster.
They need the popular vote. The Protocols make clear they need to say: ‘you wanted this, you voted for it’. Without this legitimacy, they face revolt at any time. They can’t push ahead if the underlying treaties and laws were never accepted by the populace.
So when Papandreou calls a referendum and ‘the markets’ and Merkozy are in total shock, what does this show? It just exposes the quicksand under their feet
They know this, but they are losing. They are losing the battle for the mind and they are pushing ahead because they have no other way.
WORLD GOVERNMENT AT STAKE
This whole European mess represents massive crisis for mankind. If the Euro fails, a death blow will be landed on their NWO project. It will take them decades to recover and resume the march to World Government. But they don’t have this time, because people are waking up.
True, the Occupiers are still largely clueless, but in Europe, where austerity is already biting badly, people are being forced to look for answers. There is talk of debt repudiation; there is the Icelandic example and there is of course interest free currency. In Germany dozens of regional currencies are flowering: they report 100% per annum growth.
It is now more important then ever to start talking solutions. We must keep in mind that this credit crunch is a total fabrication that could be solved over night.
Interest free currency is the main solution. Debt free Government currencies are a quick fix, but far from ideal. Much better isPublic Banking, which is interest free credit provided by state-owned banks. But eventually the Illuminati (Masonic Jewish) monopoly of currencies must end.
With the Oceans on the brink of collapse after Deep Horizon and Fukushima, with the Credit Crunch, with (HAARP induced) earthquakes everywhere and wars and rumors of wars its fair to say the NWO is preparing for their endgame.
But seeing their weakness in Europe, the result is not a foregone conclusion.
The challenge is to provide real alternatives. It is not enough to expose them. They expect a fight, but they expect to succeed,because they don’t think we can create the right solutions.
Jacques Attali, another insider: ‘Most of these new contestants will propose no system of substitution… Except for a handful who will propose a return to theocracy.’
So we know what to do. Let’s get going.
Each has attended meetings of the Bilderberg Group, a secretive, invitation-only organization whose annual conferences for the most part remain mysteriously off the record.
A recently published thriller novel, The Ninth Orphan, by James and Lance Morcan, shines a light on the little known Bilderberg Group and portrays it as being America’s, and the world’s, shadow government. The authors claim their book, which merges fact with fiction, exposes a secret elite pulling the strings of various administrations.
Is there any truth behind this supposed political conspiracy? Well, that depends on who you ask.
Conspiracy theorists have long said the Bilderberg Group undermines democracy and influences everything from nations’ political leaders to the venue for the next war; the politicians and industrialists who attend say it’s nothing more than a think-tank, conducted without media coverage so the world’s most powerful can speak freely.
Certainly, it’s easy to see why conspiracy theories plague the group.
Bilderberg takes its name from a hotel of the same name in the Netherlands where the first meeting took place in 1954. Ever since, every Bilderberg conference has received almost complete media blackouts despite being held at prominent five-star resorts.
Conspiracy theorists point out this dearth of media coverage is highly unusual given the veritable who’s who of world leaders and movers-and-shakers in attendance each year.
Other notable US political figures to have officially attended Bilderberg meetings include current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Colin Powell, former President Gerald Ford as well as Texas Governor and 2012 Presidential hopeful Rick Perry.
Some say these and all other US attendees have been in direct violation of the Logan Act, a Federal law which prevents US citizens and representatives from making policy decisions in secret with foreign government officials. However, no Bilderberger has ever acknowledged engaging in policy-making during the meetings and there is no clear proof that any of them do.
On the international roster, Bilderbergers have included leaders of almost every Western nation, Swiss bankers, EU Commissioners and Royalty. Among past and present attendees are current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Margaret Thatcher, the King of Spain Juan Carlos I and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip.
Beyond these confirmed Bilderbergers, there’s also a raft of other high profile figures suspected to have participated in conferences – according to the conspiracy theorists at least. For example, shortly before becoming the US President, Barack Obama was rumored to have met with key Bilderberg members at or near their conference venue in Chantilly, Virginia, in 2008.
Veteran Bilderberg observer, Jim Tucker, phoned Obama’s office during the campaign to confirm whether he had attended the conference. A campaign spokeswoman refused to discuss the matter, but would not deny that Obama had attended.
Other rumored attendees include Rupert Murdoch, George Bush, Sr. and George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton also denies having attended any Bilderberg meetings despite reported sightings of her at the locations of the 2006 (Toronto) and 2008 (Virginia) conferences.
Bill Clinton, however, was an official attendee of the 1991 Bilderberg conference in Germany while still a little known Governor of Arkansas; the following year he won the US Presidential Election.
So what does all this mean exactly? Is it just a pile of the usual circumstantial evidence that seems to conveniently support most conspiracy theories?
According to Belgian magnate and Bilderberg chairman Étienne Davignon, that is exactly the case. Davignon says an attraction of Bilderberg Group meetings is they provide an opportunity for participants to speak candidly and to find out what major figures really think without the risk of off-the-cuff comments becoming fodder for media controversy. However, partly because of its working methods to ensure strict privacy, the Bilderberg Group is often accused of conspiracies.
Then again, it is hard to believe the only decisions the world’s elite make at these exclusive resorts each year is what to order for dinner or what time to play golf.
How You Are Always Living In the Past, and Other Quirks of Perception…
I always knew we humans have a rather tenuous grip on the concept of time, but I never realized quite how tenuous it was until a couple of weeks ago, when I attended a conference on the nature of time organized by the Foundational Questions Institute. This meeting, even more than FQXi’s previous efforts, was a mashup of different disciplines: fundamental physics, philosophy, neuroscience, complexity theory. Crossing academic disciplines may be overrated, as physicist-blogger Sabine Hossenfelder has pointed out, but it sure is fun. Like Sabine, I spend my days thinking about planets, dark matter, black holes—they have become mundane to me. But brains—now there’s something exotic. So I sat rapt during the neuroscientists’ talks as they described how our minds perceive the past, present, and future. “Perceive” maybe isn’t strong enough a word: our minds construct the past, present, and future, and sometimes get it badly wrong.
Neuroscientist Kathleen McDermott of Washington University began by quoting famous memory researcher Endel Tulving, who called our ability to remember the past and to anticipate the future “mental time travel.” You don’t use the phrase “time travel” lightly in front of a group of physicists for whom the concept is not a convenient metaphor but a very real possibility. But when you hear about how our minds glide through time—and how our memory provides a link not only to the past but also to the future—you see Tulving’s point.
McDermott outlined the case of Patient K.C., who has even worse amnesia than the better-known H.M. on whom the film Memento was based. K.C. developed both retrograde and anterograde amnesia from a motorcycle crash in 1981. (The literaturedoesn’t say whether he was wearing a helmet, but let this be a lesson.) He can’t remember anything that happened more than a few minutes ago. He retains facts and skills, but can’t remember actually doing anything or being anywhere.
Tellingly, not only can he not recall the past, he can’t envision the future. When researchers ask him to picture himself somewhere he might go, he says that all he sees is “a big blankness.” Another patient McDermott has worked with can explain the future in the abstract, but says he can’t imagine himself in it.
To investigate the perception of past and future in people without brain injuries, McDermott did fMRI brain scans of 21 college students, asking them to recall a specific incident in their past and then envision themselves in a specific future scenario. Subjectively, the two feel very different. Yet the scans showed the same patterns of activity. Areas scattered all over the brain lit up; our temporal perception is distributed. As a control, McDermott also asked the students to remember events involving Bill Clinton (presumably, ones they were not personally involved in), and the patterns were very different. In a follow-up study, McDermott asked 27 students to anticipate an event in both a familiar and an unfamiliar place. The brain scan for the familiar one resembled the one for the act of remembering; the unfamiliar one was the odd man out.
The bottom line is that memory is essential to constructing scenarios for ourselves in the future. Anecdotal evidence backs this up. Our ability to project forward and to recollect the past both develop around age 5, and people who are good at remembering also report having vivid thoughts about the future.
McDermott’s colleague Henry Roediger studies metacognition—thinking about thinking. We express varying degrees of confidence in our memories. How we do this is clearly an issue for the court system. The N.J. Supreme Court recently tightened standards on the consideration of eyewitness testimony, citing the risk of false positives. Roediger pointed out that false negatives get less attention, but are equally bad. The worst eyewitnesses are full of passionate intensity, and the best lack all conviction. In both cases, innocent people can be sent to death row while the guilty walk.
Cognitive psychologists find that confidence sometimes correlates with accuracy, sometimes not. Roediger gave volunteers a memory word test. They had to study a list of words; afterwards, they were presented with a series of words and had to indicate whether each had been on the original list. They also had to say how confident they felt about their answer.
Whenever I hear about such tests, I brace myself for bad news. But Roediger said people actually did pretty well, and their confidence scores tracked the accuracy of their recall. Their blind spots were predictable. They systematically messed up, both in recall accuracy and self-assessment, when presented words that weren’t on the list but were synonyms of ones that were. The findings match what happens with eyewitnesses. We get things broadly right, but are easily confused by similar situations and faces.
It’s not that our memory is a glitchy wetware version of computer flash memory; it’s that the computer metaphor just doesn’t apply. Roediger said we store only bits and pieces of what happened—a smattering of impressions we weave together into feels like a seamless narrative. When we retrieve a memory, we also rewrite it, so that the time next we go to remember it, we don’t retrieve the original memory but the last one we recollected. So, each time we tell a story, we embellish it, while remaining genuinely convinced of the veracity of our memories.
So go easy on your friend who caught the 150-pound catfish. He wasn’t consciously lying, which is why he spoke with conviction, but that still doesn’t mean you should swallow his tale. To confuse is human; to accept we confuse, divine.
Speaking of fish, as neuroscientistMalcolm MacIver of Northwestern once put it to me, electric fish are the fruit flies of neuroscience—model organisms for studying how we sense the world. MacIver told the FQXi conference about his astoundingly comprehensive, leave-no-stone-unturned study of a species of Amazonian electric fish, using everything from supercomputer fluid simulations to an working model of the fish (captured in this video) and even an art installation.
The fish generates an electric field of about 1 millivolt per centimeter at a frequency that ranges from 50 to 2000 hertz. Water fleas, its prey, give themselves away by disrupting the field. (You can build a proximity sensor based on this concept. I use one to control the lights in my study.) What gets ichthyologists flapping is that, when this fish is out hunting, it doesn’t swim straight ahead, but at a 30-degree angle to the axis of its body—a seemingly cuckoo behavior that nearly triples the water drag force.
But MacIver demonstrated that the orientation also increases the effective volume of water sensed by the electric field. The fish strikes a balance between mechanical and sensory efficiency. Generalizing this insight, he distinguished between two distinct volumes around an organism: its sensory volume (the region it can scan for prey) and its motor volume (the region it can directly reach). For this fish and most other aquatic animals, the two are comparable in size—there’d be no point in looking out any farther. A fish’s reach does not exceed its grasp.
For land animals, though, things are quite different: their sensory volume is much bigger than their motor volume, since light travels much farther in air than in seawater. So when our ancestors crawled out of the sea, they gained the opportunity to plan their behavior in advance. No longer restricted to reacting to immediate stimuli, they had time to take in the scene and deliberate before moving. Animals that could arbitrage the difference in sensory and motor volumes gained an evolutionary advantage.
MacIver speculated that this set the stage for the evolution of consciousness. After all, what is consciousness, but the ability to make plans and gain some advantage over our environment, rather than lurching from crisis to crisis? Psychologist Bruce Bridgemanproposed this view of consciousness in the early 1990s. MacIver elaborated in a poston his blog, Science Not Fiction, earlier this year.
The fun thing about neuroscience is that you can do the experiments on yourself.David Eagleman of the Baylor College of Medicine proceeded to treat us as his test subjects. By means of several visual illusions, he demonstrated that we are all living in the past: Our consciousness lags 80 milliseconds behind actual events. “When you think an event occurs it has already happened,” Eagleman said.
In one of these illusions, the flash-lag effect, a light flashes when an object moves past it, but we don’t see the two as coincident; there appears to be a slight offset between them. By varying the parameters of the experiment, Eagleman showed that this occurs because the brain tries to reconstruct events retroactively and occasionally gets it wrong. The reason, he suggested, is that our brains seek to create a cohesive picture of the world from stimuli that arrive at a range of times. If you touch your toe and nose at the same time, you feel them at the same time, even though the signal from your nose reaches your brain first. You hear and see a hand clap at the same time, even though auditory processing is faster than visual processing. Our brains also paper over gaps in information, such as eyeblinks. “Your consciousness goes through all the trouble to synchronize things,” Eagleman said. But that means the slowest signal sets the pace.
The cost of hiding the logistical details of perception is that we are always a beat behind. The brain must strike a balance. Cognitive psychologist Alex Holcombe at Sydney has some clever demonstrations showing that certain forms of motion perception take a second or longer to register, and our brains clearly can’t wait thatlong. Our view of the world takes shape as we watch it.
The 80-millisecond rule plays all sorts of perceptual tricks on us. As long as a hand-clapper is less than 30 meters away, you hear and see the clap happen together. But beyond this distance, the sound arrives more than 80 milliseconds later than the light, and the brain no longer matches sight and sound. What is weird is that the transition is abrupt: by taking a single step away from you, the hand-clapper goes from in sync to out of sync. Similarly, as long as a TV or film soundtrack is synchronized within 80 milliseconds, you won’t notice any lag, but if the delay gets any longer, the two abruptly and maddeningly become disjointed. Events that take place faster than 80 milliseconds fly under the radar of consciousness. A batter swings at a ball before being aware that the pitcher has even throw it.
The cohesiveness of consciousness is essential to our judgments about cause and effect—and, therefore, to our sense of self. In one particularly sneaky experiment, Eagleman and his team asked volunteers to press a button to make a light blink—with a slight delay. After 10 or so presses, people cottoned onto the delay and began to see the blink happen as soon as they pressed the button. Then the experimentersreduced the delay, and people reported that the blink happened before they pressed the button.
Eagleman conjectured that such causal reversals would explain schizophrenia. All of us have an internal monologue, which we safely attribute to ourselves; if we didn’t, we might think of it as an external voice. So Eagleman has begun to run the same button-blink experiment on people diagnosed with schizophrenia. He reported that changing the delay time did not cause them to change their assessment of cause and effect. “They just don’t adjust,” Eagleman said. “They don’t see the illusion. They’re temporally inflexible.” He ventured: “Maybe schizophrenia is fundamentally a disorder of time perception.” If so, it suggests new therapies to cajole the brains of schizophrenic patients into recalibrating their sense of timing.
In the experiment for which Eagleman is best known, he sought to find out why time passes more slowly when we’re scared. Does something really happen in the brain—for instance, the time resolution of perception speeds up—or do we just think it does, in hindsight? After brainstorming scare tactics that probably wouldn’t have passed muster with a university ethics committee, he hit upon asking volunteers to take one of those Freefall or Demon Drop rides you find in amusement parks. They wore a special watch whose digits counted up too quickly for people to register them under normal conditions—thinking that, if perception really did speed up, people would be able to read the digits.
Alas, they couldn’t. Although they consistently reported that the ride took about a third longer than it really did, this must have been a trick of memory; their hyperacuity was a mirage.
Our memory becomes distorted because our brains react more strongly to novelty than to repetition. Eagleman investigated this effect by asking volunteers to estimate the duration of flashes of light; those flashes that were the first in a series, or broke an established pattern, seemed to last longer. This feature of consciousness, like the 80-millisecond rule, explain so much about our daily experience. When we’re sitting through a boring event, it seems to take forever. But when we look back on it, it went by in a flash. Conversely, when you’re doing something exciting, time seems to race by, but when you look back on it, it stretched out. In the first case, there was little to remember, so your brain collapsed the feeling of duration. In the second, there was so much to remember, so the event seemed to expand. Time flies when you’re having fun, but crawls when you recollect in tranquility.
I suspect that this inverse relation in our perception of time also explains how our experiences shift as we age. When you’re a kid, you wake up and say to yourself: “I’ve got a whole day ahead of me. How will I possibly fill it all?” But when you’re an adult, it’s more like: “I’ve got a day ahead of me. How will I possibly get it all done?” And don’t get me started on how people swear that the first year of their baby’s life went by so fast. (A second child is usually enough to disabuse them.)
You can probably tell from my lengthy description of Eagleman’s talk that it seemed to zip by at the time. The physicists in attendance found it one of the highlights of the conference. Not only was it engrossing in its own right, it had some professional interest for them. All theories of physics begin with sense-data. As Eagleman said, “We build our physics on top of our intuitions.”
We also build our physics on a recognition of the limits of perception. The whole point of theories such as relativity is to separate objective features of the world from artifacts of our perspective. One of the most important books of the past two decades on the physics and philosophy of time, Huw Price’s Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point, argues that concepts of cause and effect derive from our experience as agents in the world and may not be a fundamental feature of reality.
Time plays a variety of roles in physics, from defining causal sequences to giving a direction to the unfolding of the universe. How many of these roles are rooted in the contingent ways our brains perceive time? How might an alien being, who perceives time in a radically different way, formulate physics?
Source: George Musser | ScientificAmerican.com
The European Union appear concerned about the new Israeliherem law. The law suggests that a person or an organisation calling for the boycott of Israel , including the settlements, can be sued by the boycotts’ targets, without having to prove that they sustained any damage.
“We are concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on the freedom of Israeli citizens and organisations to express non-violent political opinions” said spokesperson for foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
More and more people and institutions now understand that Israel is not a ‘civilised society’: it is impervious to notions of human and civil rights, and it also does not share the common and fundamental foundations of a Western value system. Israel is not a democracy and it has never been one. At the most, Israel has managed to mimic some of the appearances of a Western civilisation, but it has clearly failed to internalise the meaning of tolerance and freedom.
This should not take us by surprise: Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and Jewishness is, sadly enough, inherently intolerant; indeed, it may be argued that Jewish intolerance is as old as the Jews themselves.
Regarding legislation then, how are we to understand the implications of the word ‘herem’? The Hebrew word herem in its contemporary usage refers to a ban, boycott and sanction. However, within the biblical context, the word suggests the total destruction of the enemy and his goods at the conclusion of a campaign.
The emergence of Christianity then, can be viewed as an attempt to rectify such a situation of stark intolerance — it can be understood as an attempt to drift away from The Old Testament’s dark ideology. Christianity introduced ideas of harmony and love. And it is no wonder that the man who dared suggest to his Judean contemporaries to ‘love their neighbours’ ended up nailed to wood. He himself ended up being subject to a vile homicidal herem campaign.
Uriel Da Costa
The spirit of herem is intrinsic to the Judaic teaching and spirit. Many people are aware of Spinoza being subject to a Rabbinical herem. Yet, not many are familiar with the story of Uriel Da Costa.
Da Costa was born a Catholic in 1585 in Porto, Portugal. From an early stage, Da Costa was aware that his family had Jewish origins, and in the course of his studies, he began to consider a return to Judaism. By 1617, Da Costa and his family had decided to return to Judaism, and they fled Portugal for Amsterdam, which was soon to become a thriving centre of the Sephardic Diaspora.
Once in the Netherlands though, Da Costa very quickly became disenchanted with Rabbinical Judaism. He came to believe that the Rabbinic leadership was consumed by rituals and (Talmudic) legalism. In 1624 Da Costa published a book entitled “An Examination of the Traditions of the Pharisees”, which questioned the fundamental belief in the immortality of the soul. The work also pointed out the discrepancies between biblical Judaism and Rabbinical Judaism.
The book was considered controversial and publicly burned. Da Costa was called before the Rabbinic leadership of Amsterdam for uttering blasphemous views against Judaism and Christianity, was fined a significant sum, and subject to herem.
In 1633 Costa sought reconciliation with the community. He vowed to go back to being “an ape amongst the apes.” However, soon enough, he began to express rationalistic and skeptical views again, for instance, expressing doubts whether biblical law was divinely sanctioned, or whether it was simply written down by Moses. He came to the conclusion that all religions were human inventions, ultimately rejecting formalised, ritualised religion. Possibly the first atheist Jew, Da Costa came to believe that religion should be based only on natural law, believing that God resides in nature, which is full of peace and harmony, whereas organised religion is marked by violence and strife.
It did not take long before Da Costa became, once again, subject to Rabbinical herem. For seven years he lived in virtual isolation, shunned by his family and loved ones. Ultimately, the loneliness was too much for him to bear, and he recanted once more.
As a punishment for his heretical views, he was publicly given thirty nine lashes at the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam, then forced to lie on the floor while the congregation trampled over him. The events left Da Costa traumatised, and he became suicidal. After writing his autobiography, “Exemplar Humanae Vitae” (1640), in which he disclosed his experience as a victim of Jewish intolerance, he set out to end the lives of both his cousin and himself. Seeing his relative approach one day, he grabbed a pistol and pulled the trigger, but it misfired. Then he reached for another, turned it on himself and fired, reportedly dying a terrible death.
Zionists and ‘Anti Zionists’ Alike
The record of vile Rabbinical measures against dissidence is staggering. But unfortunately, Jewish intolerance exceeds far beyond religious institutions. In Israel, it seems that Jews imposeherems on each other on a daily basis. The so called ‘Israeli left’ imposes herem on the West Bank settlements (as if Tel Aviv is not a settlement), and in response, the right wing governmentherems the left heremiates .
And as we all know, prominent Jewish critical voices outside of Israel too such as Norman Finkelstein, have been subject to relentless Zionist herems over the years.
However, one may find it astonishing that Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ who claim to be ‘progressive’, godless ‘atheists’ and ‘cosmopolitans,’ also consistently use the exact same Talmudicherem tactics that have been employed by their Rabbinical ancestors for hundred of years.
In the last decade we have come across more than a few Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ herem campaigns. Jewish ‘anti- Zionists’ single mindedly dedicated themselves to the destruction of Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR),which was at the time the biggest and most successful pro-Palestinian organisation in the UK. Monitoring the contemptible language used by Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ campaigners and observing the strategies they implement against fellow anti- Zionist Jews and Palestinian solidarity activists reveals a very grim picture and a repetition of the most horrendous Rabbinicalherem tactics.
But such a realisation and understanding of these Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ tactics should not really take us by surprise, after all, just like the Jewish State, the Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ also identify as Jews.
However, unlike Rabbinical Jews — who at least provide some reasoning for their severe judgements based on supposed transgression of Biblical tenets — the Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ concentrate solely on measures of punishment. Yet such a fact is hardly surprising : whilst hardly any of the so called ‘progressive’ Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ believe in God or follow the Torah — they have clearly managed to draw from Judaism its very worst methods i.e. brute and crude intolerance.
I too am obviously subject to on going and constant herem campaigns, conducted by various ethnic Jewish activists, both Zionist and crypto-Zionists.
However, I am delighted to report that my detractors are not at all successful. In fact, they are by now growing accustomed to learn that their hopeless herem attempts to excommunicate me simply backfire, time after time, leaving them frustrated and more and more isolated from the public discourse regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict.
On reflection, I would conjecture that the growing circulation of my work has little to do with my talent or wisdom though. It is much more simple than that: rather, my perspective on humanism and ethics is probably more straightforward, coherent, inclusive and consistent than the Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ pseudo progressive ethno-centric exclusivism, so clearly manifested in each of their herem campaigns and implicit in much of their writing.
Jews and the BDS
As one would expect, world Jewry welcome the new Israeli heremlaw. According to Ha’aretz, the umbrella organisation of French-Jewish groups in France (CRIF) hailed the new Israeli herem law : “the CRIF’s director general Haim Musicant pointed out that a similar such law has long existed in France, much to the satisfaction of the French Jewish community.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also defended the new law, saying “what stains (Israel’s) image are those savage and irresponsible attacks on a democracy’s attempt to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not.”
Netanyahu sums it up eloquently — the new Talmudic law is there to highlight and establish the terms regarding what is acceptable within ‘Kosher democracy’: it is a non-civilised setting driven by blatantly exclusivist policies. In a very similar manner, the Jewish so called ‘anti Zionists’ often enough claim to know what ‘Kosher anti Zionism’ is all about, and how its boundaries should be defined. Incredibly enough, the Jewish ‘anti Zionists’ also repeatedly preach to us about ‘who is good’ and ‘who is bad’ for the Palestinians.
I presume that by now, the continuum between Netanyahu’s attitudes and those of the crypto-Zionists within our midst is pretty well established, and clear enough for all of us to see.
In April, the renowned journalist and film maker Max Blumenthal addressed some questions regarding the Jewish hegemony within the BDS movement. The BDS is a call initiated by Omar Barghouti and Palestinian civil society to impose boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel.
Blumenthal wrote, “last night I went to Columbia University to see Omar Barghouti discuss his new book, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights… During his talk, Barghouti mentioned that he had approached J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami about arranging a debate on BDS. The response from Ben-Ami was as follows, according to Barghouti: ‘We want to keep this debate inside the Jewish community. So we won’t participate in a debate with any Palestinians.’”
“Last December”, Blumenthal continues, “I debated the issue of BDS against the director of J Street U, Daniel May. My debate partner was Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace. Daniel May’s partner was a Jewish student from Princeton also named Daniel May. Everyone involved in the debate was an Ashkenazi Jew, yet we were debating a movement founded and controlled by Palestinian civil society.”
If you should ask yourself why J Street insists on running the BDS as a ‘Jewish internal affair,’ or why the BDS has become a ‘Jewish call’, here is the answer – the BDS is interpreted by most Jews as a call for a herem, and this is what Jews do best : destroying, excluding, excommunicating, silencing, boycotting, sanctioning. After all, Jews have been doing this for centuries.
But here arises another problem regarding Jewish over representation and control within the boycott movement. As much as many of us sympathise with the Palestinian civil society call, hardly any of us actually want to operate within, or take direction on what we should do and think from a Jewish ‘anti Zionist’ Trotsky-ite synagogue. And as it happens — and this makes me very sad at times — some of the crypto Zionists who operate within the BDS movement are now using this important Palestinian call in order to promote Jewish interests, or to fight other Palestinian solidarity activists.
But I believe that for the BDS to be successful, this movement must be attentive first and foremost to the Palestinian call, and to that call above all others. For the BDS to be effective it must transcend itself beyond the banal herem type activity. It must be a universal call, and managed as a civil society campaign.
Herem, Post Herem and a Joke
Israel and Zionism then, has proved to be a short lived dream. It was initiated to civilise Jewish life, and to dismantle the Jewish self-destructive mode. It was there to move the Jew into the postherem phase. It vowed to make the Jew into a productive being. But as things turned out, neither the Zionists nor the ‘anti Zionists’ managed to drift away from the disastrous heremculture. It seems that the entire world of Jewish identity politics is a matrix of herems and exclusion strategies. In order to be ‘a proper Jew’, all you have to do is to point out whom you oppose, hate, exclude or boycott.
Such a state of affairs is indeed pretty tragic, but it certainly brings to mind the old Jewish joke:
Q: How many synagogues are needed in a village with just one single Jewish habitant?
A: Two synagogues; one that he goes to, and one he would never set foot in.
This fascinating new study shows how the CIA and the British secret service, in collaboration with the military alliance NATO and European military secret services, set up a network of clandestine anti-communist armies in Western Europe after World War II.
These secret soldiers were trained on remote islands in the Mediterranean and in unorthodox warfare centres in England and in the United States by the Green Berets and SAS Special Forces. The network was armed with explosives, machine guns and high-tech communication equipment hidden in underground bunkers and secret arms caches in forests and mountain meadows. In some countries the secret army linked up with right-wing terrorist who in a secret war engaged in political manipulation, harrassement of left wing parties, massacres, coup d’états and torture.
Codenamed ‘Gladio’ (‘the sword’), the Italian secret army was exposed in 1990 by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to the Italian Senate, whereupon the press spoke of “The best kept, and most damaging, political-military secret since World War II” (Observer, 18. November 1990) and observed that “The story seems straight from the pages of a political thriller.” (The Times, November 19, 1990). Ever since, so-called ‘stay-behind’ armies of NATO have also been discovered in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Greece and Turkey. They were internationally coordinated by the Pentagon and NATO and had their last known meeting in the NATO-linked Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) in Brussels in October 1990.
In a dramatic series of events since late 2010, a new and intensified phase of public protest has erupted across both wealthy and poor regions of the world. Right across Europe, harsh programs of financial austerity have led to escalating protests and mass public campaigns; in the Middle East and North Africa, a revolutionary wave of civil unrest is gripping the international media; and less reported are countless smaller anti-government demonstrations taking place across diverse continents. As commentators struggle to keep up with the rapid unfolding of these events, it is worthwhile to reflect on the basic connections between these varied struggles, and to pose a simple question: are we witnessing the birth of a truly international public voice calling for wealth redistribution and wholesale political reform?
The pan-European protests were sparked by government plans to cut public spending, slash welfare benefits and freeze pay in response to economic recession and the debt crisis. With European Union finance ministers agreeing rules that would punish countries that fail to bring their debts under control, a new austerity drive swept across the 16-nation eurozone as governments struggled to trim their huge budget deficits. Both the German and UK coalition governments approved their biggest austerity plans since World War II; Italy and Spain joined Europe’s austerity club with massive cuts to public services; France announced its controversial plans to cut spending and raise its retirement and pension ages; while the most debt-stricken countries in the EU – Portugal, Greece and the Irish Republic – committed to draconian austerity packages to please international investors, not to mention the ongoing budget cuts in various other EU countries such as Hungary, Latvia, Romania and the Netherlands.
What’s most striking about the public outcry that followed is not only the vast scale of civic protests, but the sense that a majority of European people believe that government austerity measures are unnecessary and deeply unjust. On 29th September 2010, the European Trades Union Confederation (ETUC) organised coordinated demonstrations in European cities, with hundreds of thousands of union members across the region amassing under the banner ‘No to Austerity’. Countless new campaign groups and social movements have also highlighted the distorted priorities of governments who cut public spending as opposed to targeting the excesses of big corporations, bankers and international investors. This included the voices ofleading economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Christopher Pissarides who argued that austerity measures go in exactly the wrong direction, and are more likely to result in lower economic growth, worsening unemployment and protracted recession. In the words of Attac, the French campaign group who stood by the anti-austerity protesters across Europe: “The radical austerity policies now demanded by the EU are a solution in the interest of the wealthy and the financial actors alone. EU governments intend to implement austerity policies everywhere. …Their policies can only deepen social inequalities and the present crisis, while making the economic situation in Greece and the rest of the EU even worse.”
Out of the scores of anti-cuts groups still springing up at a local and national level across Europe, one that has captured the public imagination more than most is UK Uncut. In late October 2010, a group of London-based young activists thought up an ingenious way of highlighting an alternative to the British governments harsh austerity measures. Rather than simply protesting against public spending cuts, they focused upon the tax-avoidance strategies of rich individuals and big corporations. In a series of direct action protests organised spontaneously through the internet, the informal group has mobilised local protests and temporarily closed down more than a hundred stores in towns and cities across the country. The message of an alternative to austerity measures was brilliantly straight-forward: if the government clamped down on corporate tax avoidance, it would greatly reduce the need for public spending cuts. As the fastest-growing protest movement in the UK, its focus is now shifting to the greed and reckless practices of high street banks. And it’s now emerged that similar protests are being organised in North America under the banner US Uncut, with more than 30 demonstrations planned for 26 February – the date of UK Uncut’s second “day of action” against the banks.
No to Austerity and Ideology
Common to all the protests in Europe is a recognition of the pro-market ideology that is driving government policies to the detriment of the public good. Since the world stock market crash of 2008, it is increasingly evident that a number of governments are using the economic crisis as an excuse to re-shape the economy in the interests of business. In the UK, for example, George Monbiot recently wrote an article in the Guardian showing how the Chancellor of the Exchequer plans to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it reaches the UK, accompanied by a rapid reduction in the official rate of corporation tax – the lowest rate of any major Western economy. At the same time, the British government is slashing social benefits and public-sector jobs, cutting budgets for government departments, transferring the onus for creating new jobs onto the private sector, and incrementally privatising the National Health Service and state education (with an attempt to privatise thousands of hectares of England’s national forests being recently defeated in Parliament). There is no shortage of commentary in the UK pointing out that such policies are ideologically-driven, opportunistic while the country is on the brink of bankruptcy, and even wider in scope than Margaret Thatcher’s swingeing program to cut government presence in the economy during the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Greece’s 110 bn euro rescue package was agreed on the back of a huge austerity drive, civil service and pension cuts, the easing of restrictions on private-sector layoffs, and a large privatisation and structural adjustment programme that is geared more to saving European banks than protecting the livelihoods of the Greek public. The Irish Republic is suffering a comparable fate in return for a joint EU-IMF bailout package worth 85 bn euros. Alongside the harshest tax hikes and budget cuts in the nation’s history, the terms of the bailout stipulate that Ireland must get its budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2015 – promising further budget cuts year-on-year regardless of the effect on jobs, welfare rights or the living standards of the majority. Portugal, Spain and possibly Belgium are all lined up for similar treatment. The message is clear: it is not the nation’s people that must be bailed out but the financial plutocrats who hold the nation’s debt, even if this spells the destruction of the entire post-war European social welfare system.
As many analysts are now pointing out, these savage austerity packages being unleashed across Europe mirror the fate that many developing nations have faced for decades. Scores of indebted countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia have long endured the savage IMF structural adjustment programmes that Ireland, Greece and other EU countries are now suffering. A recent briefing by the Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC) explains the similarities and differences between the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, and responses to the debt crisis in the Global South by international financial institutions since the late 1970s. Zambia, for example, made extreme cuts in government spending throughout the 1980s and 1990s under pressure from the IMF, yet the cuts failed to prevent the country’s debt from doubling while its economy plunged into recession.
A similar logic was applied to Asian countries following the financial crisis in 1998; foreign private lenders were bailed out, government spending was severely cut back, public companies were further privatised, yet the economy still continued to decline. According to JDC, a common theme is that the public face the costs, not private lenders. And not only is private debt paid for by the public, but the cut-backs in public spending by no means guarantees a reduction in national debt. In effect, ordinary people are forced to pay for the reckless behaviour and mistakes of the financial sector – a reality that is now shared and understood by citizens in both the Global North and South.
Growing gap between rich and poor
A major difference for people in the South is that there is often no guaranteed state provisions or social safety nets that exist for them in the first place. Even in those developing countries still experiencing economic prosperity, most notably in the globalisation “success stories” of India and China, rapid GDP growth is being matched by deepening inequalities and social insecurity. As we know from the World Bank’s global poverty statistics, at least 80 percent of the 1.1 billion people who live in India somehow manage to survive on less than $2 a day. In China, still 36 percent of its population survives on less than $2 a day, while the rural-urban income gap has continued to widen alongside increases in inequality of health and education outcomes. As what some call “the greatest migration in world history” continues across China, rural migrant workers arriving in industrial areas often find themselves trapped in abysmal working and living conditions, many without basic health and safety protections.
This definite growth in inequality and the lack of economic opportunity and social security that underpins it has long been a recurring theme across the world. A recent UNCTAD reportrevealed that there are now twice as many low-income countries than there were 30-40 years ago, and twice as many poor people living in them. Even more indicative of this worrying trend in global inequality is the evidence that a new ‘bottom billion‘ of the world’s poor live in middle-income countries – a dramatic change from just two decades ago when the majority of the poor lived in low-income nations. A growing gulf between the rich and poor is also continuing in many high-income countries, not least in the United States where the top 20 percent of wealthy individuals own about 85 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 40 percent own very near 0 percent. As the Economist magazine is keen to point out in a special report, there is an ongoing rise in the share of income going to the very top – the highest 1 percent of earners – who constitute a global power elite or ‘superclass’ in many countries. At the other end of the scale, evidence suggests that the number of people living in relative poverty could possibly be 4 billion and rising.
This is the context in which we can better understand the sudden eruption of civil unrest across North Africa and the Middle East. Whilst much of the mainstream media focussed on the repression of public freedoms, corruption and a lack of democracy as the main cause of popular insurrection, common underlying factors also include the growing levels of inequality, ongoing hikes in the price of basic food and energy, and poor access to housing and welfare services. Whilst Mubarak left office in Egypt with a reported $70 bn dollars of stolen public money, citizens remain saddled with $30 bn of debts despite a poverty rate of 1 in 4 and a recurring food crisis. Tunisia, a regional poster child for the success of pro-market reforms, is in a similar predicament with crippling graduate unemployment rates of up to 46 percent, despite strong GDP growth. This underlying pattern of protest against social and economic deprivation alongside political repression is being repeated across Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Syria, Iran, Morocco, Oman, and a number of other countries in the region. All have been spearheaded by the countries’ youth, fuelled by social media and television, yet broadly supported by the middle class. In an unprecedented outpouring of goodwill and solidarity, these millions of people on the streets are claiming their democratic right to a fairer share of the vast wealth that their rulers have hoarded for decades.
The pan-Arab protests clearly have much in common with those reacting to austerity across Europe, as well as the millions who have mobilised in support of debt cancellation and an end to ‘economic adjustment’ in the South. In every country, the widespread outcomes of debt, austerity, poverty and inequality are the product of political choices – the consequences of a disastrous neoliberal approach to managing a nation and its finances. What we may be witnessing in the popular responses to these hardships is an emerging global consensus in favour of a fundamental reordering of government priorities. In the space of barely a few months, the rapid growth of anti-austerity demonstrations across Europe and massive anti-government protests all over the Middle East indicate the potential for public opinion to take on an international dimension. Given the determination of policymakers across the globe to continue with business as usual, the strengthening of a world public opinion in favour of a more equitable distribution of resources may constitute the first step toward meaningful reforms.
As this increasingly global call for justice unfolds across several continents, an underlying demand being voiced by protesters in different countries is the urgent need for redistribution. Calls for an end to austerity measures, more progressive taxation and the cancellation of debt in the developing world all reflect the need to redistribute wealth and political power downward. An implicit understanding common to all these demands is that governments are better able to secure basic human needs for their citizens through the provision of more effective welfare and social services. The question that remains is whether the need for redistribution can be recognised at the international level where the unequal distribution of power and resources manifests in extreme differences in living standards between the richest and poorest nations. If the case for international sharing captures the public imagination as quickly as the calls for distributive justice in individual countries, the elimination of global poverty could finally become a realistic possibility.
Wednesday’s press conference with ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet turned out to be a real jaw-dropper. While Trichet didn’t commit himself to massive bond purchases (Quantitative Easing) as many had hoped, he did impress the gathering with his magical skills. The Financial Times recounts Trichet’s what happened like this:
“…as Trichet started to speak, his ECB troops stepp ed into the market to buy as many peripheral bonds as they could, particularly Portugal and Ireland. Started evidently in bidding for 10 -25 mln € clips and then moved onto 100 mln € clips … which is very rare indeed.”
Nice trick, eh? So while Trichet was somberly reading from the ECB’s cue cards, his central bank elves were beating down bond yields to convince investors that the contagion had been contained. Not bad for a 70-something bankster with no background in the paranormal. And it seems to have worked, too, at least for the time being. But, unlike the Fed, Trichet can’t simply print money. He’s required to “sterilize” the bond purchases, which means he’ll have to mop up the extra liquidity created by the program. And, that’s the hard part. If he pushes down yields in Ireland and Portugal, he has to tighten up somewhere else.
Trichet’s critics, like Bundesbank President Axel Weber, think he’s gone too far by buying up the bonds of struggling PIGS. (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) But these countries borrowing costs have skyrocketed and they’re quickly losing access to the markets. The more it costs to borrow, the quicker the slide to default, which is trouble for the EU, because it means a wider meltdown across the continent. So what better time for Trichet to stretch the rules?
Maybe Weber hasn’t noticed, but the EU is disintegrating, and if Irish voters reject the budget in the December 7 elections or if Spain starts to teeter, the dominoes could start tumbling and bring down the entire EU project. That’s why Portugal, Spain and the rest are counting on the ECB to lend a hand despite Berlin’s relentless fingerwagging. Here’s an excerpt from the Telegraph which gives a good summary of what’s going on:
“Spain’s former leader Felipe Gonzalez warned that unless the European Central Bank steps into the market with mass bond purchases, the EMU system will lurch from one emergency to the next until it blows up….
Arturo de Frias, from Evolution Securities, said the eurozone will have to move rapidly to some sort of fiscal union to prevent an EMU-break up and massive losses on €1.2 trillion of debt lent by northern banks to the southern states….
The market will keep selling until the yields of Spanish and Italian bonds (and perhaps Belgian and French also) reach sufficiently horrendous levels. (“Mounting calls for ‘nuclear response’ to save monetary union”, Telegraph)
The Irish bailout solved nothing. Brushfires are breaking out everywhere. Bondholders have figured out that Ireland and Portugal are broke and their debt will have to be restructured. Its just a matter of time before the haircuts. That’s why bond buyers have gone into hibernation. It’s not really a panic; it just shows that investors know how to read the financial tea leaves and make rational choices. Here’s more analysis from Michael Pettis who points out the inherent contradictions of the one-size-fits-all currency (euro) and the urgency of settling on a remedy:
“If Europe is going to “resolve” the current crisis in an orderly way, it is going to have to move very quickly – not just for the obvious financial reasons, but for much narrower political reasons. I am pretty sure that the evolution of European politics over the next few years will make an orderly solution progressively more difficult.
For ten years I have used mainly an economic argument to explain why I believed the euro would have great difficulty surviving more than a decade or two. It seemed to me that the lack or fiscal centrality and full labor mobility (and even some frictional limits on capital mobility) would create distortions among countries that could not be resolved except by unacceptably high levels of debt and unemployment or by abandoning the euro. My skepticism was strengthened by the historical argument – no fiscally fragmented currency union had ever survived a real global liquidity contraction……The eurozone is maneuvering itself into a position where it confronts the choice between two alternatives considered “unimaginable”: fiscal union or break-up.” (“The rough politics of European adjustment”, Michael Pettis, China Financial Markets)
The real problem is political not economic, which is why Trichet’s “liquidity injection” snakeoil won’t do anything. The euro just isn’t going to work unless it is backed by a centralized fiscal authority and perhaps an EU-wide bond market. But that means that every nation will have to sacrifice some of their own sovereignty, and no one wants to do that. So, the 16-state union keeps inching closer and closer to the chopping block and the inevitable day of reckoning.
Meanwhile, Trichet continues to do exactly what he has done from the beginning; extend more cheap loans to sinking banks, more low rates, and more propping up of collapsing bond markets. The only difference now, is that investors see the political roadblock ahead and are getting nervous. EU leaders will have to agree to a “quasi” fiscal union or the current slow-motion bank run will turn into a full-blown stampede.
From the Wall Street Journal: “The market was hoping the ECB would get ahead of the curve. They’ve disappointed us,” said Marc Chandler, an analyst at Brown Brothers Harriman. Merely declining to unwind liquidity measures will do little to combat the risk of contagion on distressed assets in Spain and Portugal, he said, describing Trichet’s comments as “toothpaste coming out of the tube.”
Ireland’s problems are just the tip of the iceberg, but its a good place to start. The easiest way to explain what’s going on, is by using an example:
Imagine you owe the bank $100, but you can only pay $10 per year. The bank agrees to the payment-schedule but only if you accept a rate of 15% per annum.
“Okay”, you say. “I accept your terms.”
At the end of the first year, you make your payment of $10 which reduces the amount you owe to $90. But the interest on the loan turns out to be $15, which means that you now owe $105 –more than you owed at the beginning. Finally, you realize that every year the debt will get bigger and harder to pay.
This is the pickle that Ireland is in. The IMF/EU loans put them in a fiscal straightjacket from which there is no escape. They’d be better off defaulting now and restructuring their debt so they can start over. It’s better to put oneself on a sustainable growth-path than to submit to long-term economic hardship, harsh austerity measures, loss of sovereignty and civil unrest. That’s just a lose-lose situation. For Ireland, leaving the EU is not the just best choice; it is the only choice. Here’s how economist Barry Eichengreen sums it up:
“The Irish “program” solves exactly nothing – it simply kicks the can down the road. A public debt that will now top out at around 130 per cent of GDP has not been reduced by a single cent. The interest payments that the Irish sovereign will have to make have not been reduced by a single cent, given the rate of 5.8% on the international loan. After a couple of years, not just interest but also principal is supposed to begin to be repaid. Ireland will be transferring nearly 10 per cent of its national income as reparations to the bondholders, year after painful year.
This is not politically sustainable, as anyone who remembers Germany’s own experience with World War I reparations should know. A populist backlash is inevitable. The Commission, the ECB and the German Government have set the stage for a situation where Ireland’s new government, once formed early next year, rejects the budget negotiated by its predecessor. Do Mr. Trichet and Mrs. Merkel have a contingency plan for this?” (“Ireland’s Reparations Burden”, Barry Eichengreen, The Irish Economy)
Still Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is moving forward with the faux-bailout, perhaps to endear himself to his ruffle-shirt EU overlords. And even though his administration has lost all public support, he’s still pushing through his slash-and-burn budget that will pare 15 billion form public spending–raise taxes on the poor, reduce the minimum wage, slash social welfare programs and fire thousands of government workers. Irish workers will see their standard of living plunge, only to find that at the end of the year they are more in the red than ever. Here’s how Edward Harrison of Credit Writedowns sums it up:
“…given the debt burdens in the periphery, some combination of monetisation and default is the most likely eventual scenario for Europe. Ireland, for example, cannot grow nominal GDP at or above the 5.8% interest rate on offer under the bailout terms. Unless the country sheds its bank debt guarantee as I recommend, default is likely. Therefore, the ECB will have to step in or Europe will risk a meltdown and dissolution.” (“Brynjolfsson bets on spread convergence…”, Edward Harrison, Credit Writedowns)
Ireland is being thrust into a Depression. Its leaders have chosen obsequiousness and expediency over clear-headed resolve to face the challenges ahead. Cowen is condemning his people to years of high unemployment and grinding poverty for nothing. There are alternatives. It will just take a little guts.
The Irish people are being asked to suffer needlessly so that bondholders in Germany, France and England get paid-in-full on their soured investments. It’s worse than a bad idea; it won’t work. Ireland is just digging itself a deeper hole. But there is a way out, as Wolfgang Münchau points out in a recent op-ed in the Irish Times. Here’s what he said:
“What should be done now? My ideal solution – from the perspective of the euro zone – would be a common bond to cover all sovereign debt to be followed by the establishment of a small fiscal union; furthermore, banks should be taken out of the hands of national governments and put under the wings of the European Financial Stability Facility. That would clearly solve the problem.
If this is not going to happen, what can Ireland do unilaterally now?…
First, Ireland should revoke the full guarantee of the banking system, and convert senior and subordinate bondholders into equity holders.” (“Will it work? No. What can Ireland do? Remove the bank guarantee and default”, Wolfgang Münchau, The Irish Times)
Sure, the experts know what needs to be done, but nothing will come of it. German voters will never support stronger ties with the other EU nations which they have already dismissed as profligate spenders. Nor will the other countries surrender more of their own sovereignty when they see how Ireland and Greece have been treated. That means, the EU is probably headed for the dumpster. And, maybe, that’s a good thing. After all, behind all the public relations hoopla, the real goal of the EU was always to create Corporutopia, a place where bankers, business chieftains and other elites lined their pockets while calling the shots. Just look at the Lisbon Treaty fiasco back in 2008, when the EU’s corporate Mafia used every trick in the book to push through an agreement that ran roughshod over basic democratic principles and civil rights. Fortunately, the Irish people saw through the ruse and sent the Treaty to defeat. Here’s what a spokesperson for the “No Campaign” said at the time:
“The Irish people have spoken. Contrary to the predictions of social and political turmoil, we believe that hundreds of millions of people across Europe will welcome the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. This vote shows the gulf that exists between the politicians and the elites of Europe, and the opinions of the people. As in France and the Netherlands, the political leaders and the establishment have done everything they could to push this through – and they have failed. The proposals to further reduce democracy, to militarize the EU and to let private business take over public services have been rejected. Lisbon is dead. Along with the EU Constitution from which it came, it should now be buried.”
On December 7, Irish MPs will vote on Cowen’s austerity budget. If they reject the budget, then the IMF/EU loan package will probably not go through and the eurozone will begin to splinter. Once again, Ireland finds itself with an opportunity to strike a blow against the EU and end the dream of a corporate superstate. All they need to do is vote “No”.
Surveys show 30 percent of Germans believe the country is overrun by foreigners. An equal number believe the foreigners come to feed off German welfare. The same figures grow in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Holland, France, Norway, Sweden and Austria.
Merkel noted that the Muslim Turks, that arrived as “gastarbeiters” or guest workers, in the 50s and 60s, grew to 2.5 million in Germany. Arabs and East Europeans arrived later. Surveys place the Muslim population at five million.
“Multikulti is dead,” says Horst Seehofer of Merkel’s sister party, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria. He dreads further immigration of “alien cultures.” Aliens fail to learn the German language and do not assimilate to become Germans.
9/11 A BIG PARTY BASH FOR GERMAN MUSLIMS
Pundit Patrick Buchanan said, “Awareness of deep differences with Turkish neighbors became acute for Germans when, grieving in solidarity with America after 9/11, they learned that Turkish sectors of Berlin were celebrating Islam’s victory with barrages of bottle rockets. Like all of Europe, Germany grows nervous.
“This summer, Thilo Sarrazin, who sat on the Bundesbank board, published “Germany Abolishes Itself,” which sold 300,000 copies in seven weeks. Sarrazin argued that Germany’s Muslim population is intellectually inferior and unable or unwilling to learn the language or culture, and mass immigration is destroying the nation.”
Buchanan, author of Death of the West, said that mass immigration from third world countries to first world countries destroys western culture and values. He said, “Across Europe, there is a resurgence of ethno-nationalism that is feeding the ranks of populist and anti-immigrant parties that are gaining respectability and reaching for power. Austrian nationalists triumphed in 2008 when the Freedom Party of Joerg Haider and the Alliance for the “Future of Austria” together took 29 percent of the vote. The Swiss People’s Party of Christoph Blocher, largest in Bern, was behind the successful referendum to change the constitution to outlaw minarets and prohibit the wearing of burqas.
“Hungary’s Jobbik Party, which to the Financial Times “sits squarely in Europe’s most repulsive arch-nationalist tradition and which blames Jews and Roma for the hardships of other Hungarians,” pulled 17 percent of the vote this year and entered parliament with 47 seats, up from zero seats in 2006.”
Additionally, “The Sweden Democrats just captured 6 percent of the vote and entered parliament for the first time with 20 seats, joining right-wing folk parties in Norway and Denmark.”
Another anti-immigration voice in Holland, Geert Wilders, a rising figure in Dutch politics, stands trial today for expressing his freedom of speech rights, but suffered charges of hate speech for equating Islam and Nazism.
“More security, less crime, less immigration, less Islam — that is what the Netherlands has chosen,” said Wilders.
Buchanan said, “In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy — one eye on Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the other on the 2012 elections — rejecting cries of “Nazism” and “Vichyism,” is dismantling Gypsy camps and deporting Gypsies to Romania. Milan is now following the French lead. What is happening in Europe partakes of a global trend. Multiracial, multi-ethnic, multicultural nations are disintegrating.
Former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm spoke about it in his speech on October 3, 2004 in Washington, DC, “How to Destroy America.”
Lamm said, “Here is how they destroyed their countries: First, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way, “The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon—all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons and Corsicans.”
Buchanan said, “Russians battle ethnic Muslim separatists in the North Caucasus. Seventy percent of Americans support an Arizona law to identify and expel illegal aliens. Beijing swamps the homelands of Tibetans and Uighurs with Han Chinese. India fights secession in Kashmir, Nagaland and the Naxalite provinces.”
“Wars between nations have given way to wars within nations,” said Barack Obama in his Nobel Prize address.
Germany’s condition may prove unsolvable. At 1.4 birth rate, it’s running out of native people while Muslims reproduce at an average in Europe of 8.1 children per female.
As one Muslim said, “We won’t have to use bombs or violence; we will out populate them as Allah wishes.”
Following Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman’s address at the UN last week, Aluf Benn wrote (1) in Haaretz:
“During the past few weeks, Netanyahu invested a great deal of effort in trying to convince the leaders of the world that he is serious about peace with the Palestinians. He asked them to ignore the resumption of settlement construction, and convinced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to quit the negotiations.
Now comes Lieberman, Israel’s most senior diplomat, and tells all those leaders that… Netanyahu is faking. Even worse: the foreign minister is implying that Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is merely cover for the expulsion of Arab citizens.”
Netanyahu, Barak and many other Israelis are often ‘outraged’ by FM Lieberman. I guess that Israelis grasp that their senior diplomat exposes the Israeli ploy: when Israelis talk peace — what they really mean is war with no end. When Israeli government spokesmen insist that Lieberman “misrepresents Israeli Government’s policies” — what they really mean is that he fails to repeat the Israeli official lies. As it stands, Lieberman’s UN speech few days ago, conveys not only Israeli cabinet vision, it is also a devastating glimpse into the Israeli mindset, worldview and spirit. Lieberman is a transparent image of the Israeli desire for racial and cultural homogeneity. Many Israelis claim to detest him and his ideas: but my guess is that they grasp that Lieberman is actually their true mirror. Otto Weininger wrote in “Sex & Character” that people hate in others that which they detest in themselves. Many Israelis ostensibly oppose Lieberman because he reminds them of the bigot whom they can’t stand in themselves. Some people do not like to look in the mirror; others are devastated when the mirror gazes back at them with pity.
“We, the Israelis are united”, Lieberman told the UN assembly (2) , “now we have a stable coalition, stable government and we have the support of a majority of Israel’s citizens.” Lieberman is obviously correct: the Israelis are now more united than ever. In fact, there is no political opposition in Israel except from the Arab parties. Yet, “we are not ready to compromise our national security or the vital interests of the State of Israel” Lieberman continued.
This says it all : unlike the rest of humanity who regard the concept of peace as a means towards reconciliation and harmony, for Lieberman — and in fact for every Israeli politician I can think of – the word ‘peace’ only translates as ‘security for the Jews’
Lieberman is no fool. Unlike the Israeli so called ‘peace camp’ who rally for Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, the Israeli Foreign minister knows that occupation alone is not the root of the problem. He also understands that a further Israeli withdrawal won’t significantly change anything. Rather, Lieberman fully understands that the right of return is actually at the heart of the Palestinian cause, yet he is not willing to discuss it. Instead, Lieberman insists that “recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people” is of the essence, because he basically wants Israel to be a ‘Jews only’ club. And it is crucial to admit here, that this point is also totally vital for Israelis and Zionist Jews around the world too.
But here, there is a shocking twist: whilst we understand that Zionists insist on operating within a ‘Jews only’ club — the Jewish anti Zionists are apparently not much different. For some reason, the Jewish opponents of Israel also insist on operating in what seem to be just more Judeo-centric tribal dissident political cells. It is pretty obvious that the ‘Jewish boat to Gaza’ was a Jews only vessel. I can only assume that ‘Jews for Peace’, ‘Jews for Palestine’, and ‘Jews against Zionism’ are then, all simply different exercises in a Jewish national and tribal politics that is also racially orientated, or, at the very least ethno centric. For some reason ‘Political Jews’ do not like to mix with others, whether it is the Likud party, ‘Yisrael Beiteinu or ‘Jews for Peace in Palestine’.
Lieberman was actually totally honest in the UN when he admitted: “we should focus on coming up with a long-term intermediate agreement, something that could take a few decades.” It is completely obvious that the Israelis are not ready for peace. It may, indeed, take decades before they encompass the notion of harmony and reconciliation. One may also wonder at this stage, if the Jewish left is any different? How many years will it take before ‘Jews for Peace’ understand that solidarity with Palestine is a universal humanitarian cause? Is not 200 hundred years of Jewish assimilation* enough time for Jews to join the battle for humanism as ordinary participants? I myself would love to believe that even a day is more than enough. Clearly the facts suggests otherwise.
Lieberman admits that “the guiding principle for a final status agreement must not be land-for-peace but rather, exchange of populated territory”. This idea obviously appeals to most Israelis — because it emphasizes and expresses the true meaning of a Jewish affinity towards segregation.
Embarrassingly enough, this affinity toward isolation is also inherent within the Jewish left. On the one hand, we have the Global BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction for Palestine) (3), a movement driven by a universal and ethical call to boycott Israeli Goods — yet on the other hand we have also the J-BIG (Jews For Boycotting Israeli Good) (4) who rally for the exact same cause — but would accept Jews only. For some reason, even the ‘good Jews’ ( those who oppose Israel and Zionism ) refuse to share political space with the Goyim. One may also wonder at this stage, how can anyone ‘boycott as a Jew’? What is implied by this ethno centric political call? Do they really refuse to buy Caterpillar boots or Motorola phones — ‘as Jews’? I was a Jew for the first four decades of my life, and I somehow, never managed to do a single thing solely and exclusively ‘as a Jew’.
Along the years I have challenged a few secular Jewish anti Zionists : I ask them why do they insist on operating politically as Jews — especially considering the fact that they claim to be secular, or even atheist? What do they actually mean then, when they say, ‘as a Jew I support X or oppose Y’. I have never yet heard an answer that was decent enough to report.
I am afraid that Lieberman is brave enough to provide an answer : He does speak ‘as a Jew,’ and it seems he is at least consistent and coherent, though somewhat deluded. Expressing it as ‘historical truth’, he speaks of “almost 4000 years during which the Jewish People were born in the Land of Israel, while developing the corpus of ethical and intellectual treasures that have been instrumental in giving rise to Western Civilization.” Lieberman goes on to claim that “2000 years of forced exile, and interim conquest by Byzantines, Arabs, Mamelukes, Ottomans and others, cannot, and never will, impair the unbreakable bonds of the Jewish People to its homeland. Israel is not only where we are. It is who we are.”
Evidently, Lieberman regards the Bible as a historical text. He believes in a Jewish continuum. He seems to consider that the Old Testament’s ‘eye for an eye’ is the spiritual foundation of Western Civilization. He is obviously wrong : he is probably not familiar enough with Athens. Lieberman also fails to realize that Jesus’ preaching for universal brotherhood was actually an attempt to counter, revise and amend Hebraic tribalism.
Yet, Lieberman is at least crystal clear in his vision. He believes in an ‘eternal bond’ between ‘spirit’ and geography: Israel is not ‘just where we are’ — it is also ‘who we are’. This statement is actually crucial for an understanding of what is assumed by Zionists to be a ‘magical’ power inherent within their world view.
However, Lieberman is clearly misinformed — a brief reading of Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People would help him trace his Khazarian ancestors. And yet, Lieberman is at least articulate . His identity assumes meaning, because it cements Jewish contemporary existence with Talmudic supremacy. It sets out to frame the ‘here and now’ within an historical context. It bonds the current robbery of Palestine with a very similar Biblical tale of plunder. I guess that these facts alone explain why Lieberman is a major political player in the Jewish state. It also explains why the Israeli government followed and approved his demand for a ‘Loyalty oath’ to the Jewish state.
If we want to understand Jewish political identity; If we want to understand the depth of Israeli belief in racial supremacy (or alternatively why nine brave Jews insist on breaking the siege on Gaza in a ‘Jews only’ yacht), Lieberman is a key figure. It is actually Lieberman the right wing hawk who helps us to understand the insular ‘Jews for Palestine’, J-BIG and J- Street.
Lieberman is becoming more and more popular amongst Jews and Israelis. He is a key member in the Israeli coalition. Jewish anti Zionism, on the other hand, is far from being popular amongst the Jewish masses. If we talk in terms of numbers, it is not even marginal. True, it is loud, occasionally verging on noisy, but it is far from being clear about what it is trying to achieve. It is inconsistent and still apparently founded on a misleading myth of ‘Jewish universal and ethical tradition’. The truth of the matter though, is devastating: There is no coherent Jewish secular value system; instead, there are just different modes of Jewish political exceptionalisms.
For some peculiar reason, the Jewish left refuses to intermingle within the rest of the solidarity movement. Instead of grasping, once and for all, the true dynamic meaning of universalism, pluralism and ethics, it is there to exchange symbolism. ‘We want to show’, they seem to be saying, ‘that there are some good Jews around’.
I guess however, that Jewish leftists are too intellectually lame to grasp that such a statement is actually the ultimate form of anti Jewish racism : because it says to the world that ‘the rest of the Jews’ are indeed, little more than reactionary Zionists.
It refers to ‘the rest of the Jews’ then, as a non ethical collective.
I do realize that many of us detest Lieberman, but the truth must be said — the Israeli Foreign Minister is an eloquent glimpse into contemporary Jewish politics and identity politics.
* On September 29, 1791, France became the first country in the world to emancipate its Jewish population. By 1796, Britain, and the Netherlands had granted the Jews equal rights with gentiles. Napoleon also freed the Jews in areas he conquered. By the beginning of the 20th century Jews were emancipated throughout Europe. And yet, for some reason, Jewish left has failed to assimilate. It operates as an exclusive political cell.
The 6 Monolithic Corporations That Control Almost Everything We Watch, Hear And Read
From: The Economic Collapse…
Back in 1983, approximately 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the United States. Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations. These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day. They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites. Sadly, most Americans don’t even stop to think about who is feeding them the endless hours of news and entertainment that they constantly ingest. Most Americans don’t really seem to care about who owns the media. But they should. The truth is that each of us is deeply influenced by the messages that are constantly being pounded into our heads by the mainstream media. The average American watches 153 hours of television a month. In fact, most Americans begin to feel physically uncomfortable if they go too long without watching or listening to something. Sadly, most Americans have become absolutely addicted to news and entertainment and the ownership of all that news and entertainment that we crave is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands each year.
The six corporations that collectively control U.S. media today are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal. Together, the “big six” absolutely dominate news and entertainment in the United States. But even those areas of the media that the “big six” do not completely control are becoming increasingly concentrated. For example, Clear Channel now owns over 1000 radio stations across the United States. Companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are increasingly dominating the Internet.
But it is the “big six” that are the biggest concerns. When you control what Americans watch, hear and read you gain a great deal of control over what they think. They don’t call it “programming” for nothing.
Back in 1983 it was bad enough that about 50 corporations dominated U.S. media. But since that time, power over the media has rapidly become concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people….
In 1983, fifty corporations dominated most of every mass medium and the biggest media merger in history was a $340 million deal. … [I]n 1987, the fifty companies had shrunk to twenty-nine. … [I]n 1990, the twenty-nine had shrunk to twenty three. … [I]n 1997, the biggest firms numbered ten and involved the $19 billion Disney-ABC deal, at the time the biggest media merger ever. … [In 2000] AOL Time Warner’s $350 billion merged corporation [was] more than 1,000 times larger [than the biggest deal of 1983].
–Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, (Beacon Press, 2000), pp. xx—xxi
Today, six colossal media giants tower over all the rest. Much of the information in the chart below comes from mediaowners.com. The chart below reveals only a small fraction of the media outlets that these six behemoths actually own….
Home Box Office (HBO)
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
ABC Television Network
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Country Music Television (CMT)
Nick at Nite
The Movie Channel
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
My Network TV
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
CBS Television Network
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CW Network (50% ownership)
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network
NBC Television Network
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Studio Home Video
These gigantic media corporations do not exist to objectively tell the truth to the American people. Rather, the primary purpose of their existence is to make money.
These gigantic media corporations are not going to do anything to threaten their relationships with their biggest advertisers (such as the largest pharmaceutical companies that literally spend billions on advertising), and one way or another these gigantic media corporations are always going to express the ideological viewpoints of their owners.
Fortunately, an increasing number of Americans are starting to wake up and are realizing that the mainstream media should not be trusted. According to a new poll just released by Gallup, the number of Americans that have little to no trust in the mainstream media (57%) is at an all-time high.
That is one reason why we have seen the alternative media experience such rapid growth over the past few years. The mainstream media has been losing credibility at a staggering rate, and Americans are starting to look elsewhere for the truth about what is really going on.
Do you think that anyone in the mainstream news would actually tell you that the Federal Reserve is bad for America or that we are facing a horrific derivatives bubble that could destroy the entire world financial system? Do you think that anyone in the mainstream media would actually tell you the truth about the deindustrialization of America or the truth about the voracious greed of Goldman Sachs?
Sure there are a few courageous reporters in the mainstream media that manage to slip a few stories past their corporate bosses from time to time, but in general there is a very clear understanding that there are simply certain things that you just do not say in the mainstream news.
But Americans are becoming increasingly hungry for the truth, and they are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the dumbed down pablum that is passing as “hard hitting news” these days.
The world countries are competing with each other in imposing new financial sanctions against Iran. While the Iranian people still hasn’t forgotten the bitter memory of 8-year war with the Baathist Iraq which was masterminded and fostered by the United States and its European allies, new rounds of crippling sanctions directed against the most strategic industries of Iran come after one another in what is claimed to be the international movement of preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Although the International Atomic Energy Agency and the G5+1 have so far failed to put forward hard evidence that demonstrates the deviation of Iran in its nuclear activities towards military purposes, the fourth round of United Nations Security Council sanctions was agreed on June 9, 2010, targeting a number of Iranian companies and individuals who have allegedly participated in Iran’s nuclear and missile program.
The Iranian people still remember the painful days of war with Iraq under the late dictator Saddam Hussein who was armed and equipped by the United States and 14 European countries. The First Persian Gulf War cost the lives of more than 500,000 Iranians and imposed some US $500 billion damage on Iran.
On June 9, 1992, Ted Koppel reported on ABC’s Nightline program that Saddam Hussein received much of its financing, intelligence and military help from the United States and the administration of George H. Bush. In 1982, Iraq was removed from the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and this enabled the Reagan Administration to transfer a huge amount of dual-use technology to Iraq. According to a May 1994 report by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, pathogenic (disease producing), toxigenic (poisonous), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq [during the 8-year war with Iran] pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The United Kingdom, Soviet Union, Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany also played their own role in helping Saddam massacre and slaughter the Iranian people. Britain was said to have exported thiodiglycol (a mustard gas precursor) and thionyl chloride (a nerve gas precursor) to Iraq in 1988 and 1989. France sold first-line Mirage F-1 fighter-bombers to Iraq, as well as providing Super Etendard attack aircraft. Between 1977 and 1987, Paris contracted to sell a total of 133 Mirage F-1 fighters to Iraq. In 1984, Italy’s state-owned Agusta helicopter manufacturer sold $164 million worth of helicopters to Iraq. In early 1987, Moscow delivered a squadron of twenty-four MiG-29 Fulcrums to Baghdad. Soviet Union also helped train the Iraq’s infantry and delivered a number of surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air missiles, helicopters and interceptors to Baghdad.
The erosive war was claimed to be a counterbalance to the post-revolutionary Iran which was experiencing the first years of extrication from the monarchy of a U.S.-backed Shah. It was declared to be a battle against the newly-established government; however, it paralyzed the economy of the country, killed thousands of innocent civilians, immersed the nation into a long period of social crisis and aggravated the daily lives of ordinary people.
Seemingly, the history is being repeated once again. The western leaders send sympathetic messages to the Iranian people and declare that they want the well-being of our nation. They express their understanding of the status of Iranian people and assert that they want to empower the “subjugated” and “oppressed” Iranians. In a March 2010 televised message directed at Iran, the U.S. President Barack Obama stated the willingness of his country to provide the Iranians with the facilities of a more hopeful future. He said that his country believes in the dignity of every human being. He vowed the pursuance of diplomatic efforts to incorporate Iran into the international community and expressed hopes that his country can reach out to the Iranian people in peaceful, constructive ways.
“Our offer of comprehensive diplomatic contacts and dialogue stands,” Mr. Obama said in the video. “Indeed, over the course of the last year, it is the Iranian government that has chosen to isolate itself and to choose a self-defeating focus on the past over a commitment to build a better future.
However, the United States and its European allies, in long with their past trajectory, are recurrently failing to practice what they preach. The financial sanctions which have been imposed on Iran by the UNSC, U.S. and EU tend to worsen the daily life of ordinary Iranians whose are inextricably dependent on the state revenues of oil and gas industry. Already stricken with the consequences of continued domestic failures in economy and growing inflation, the new sanctions will harm the Iranians by doubling the prices and reducing their purchasing power.
The new sanctions against Iran have nothing to do with the government of Iran which the western leaders are entangled in a tedious and uninteresting conflict with. These sanctions, and any kind of unpremeditated actions like this, will only injure the ordinary people of Iran who should suffer from the effects of power game between the governments.