On March 6 President Obama said in Washington that the Crimean authorities’ plans for a referendum “violate the Ukrainian Constitution and violate international law.” “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. We are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratically elected leaders,” he added. “Crimea is Ukraine,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Rome on the same day.
Interesting. Six years ago the United States enthusiastically recognized the Kosovo Albanian authorities’ self-proclaimed independence, which violated the Serbian constitution and violated international law. The legitimate government of Serbia was not included in any discussions which preceded the American decision. The United States initiated the redrawing of Serbia’s borders with an act of armed aggression in 1999, and then formally condoned it in February 2008, over the heads of Serbia’s democratically elected President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica. Furthermore, in September 2012 Obama’s then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “the boundaries of an independent, sovereign Kosovo are clear and set.” A few days earlier Obama himself claimed, incredibly, that “Kosovo has made significant progress in solidifying the gains of independence and in building the institutions of a modern, multi-ethnic, inclusive and democratic state.”
A President capable of thus characterizing that KLA-run black hole of thuggery and lawlessness – the worst-ruled spot by far in all of Europe – is beyond logic or reason. It would be therefore useless to point out to Obama that the government in Kiev has no legitimacy whatsoever, having grabbed power through a sustained campaign of revolutionary brutality and having violated the Ukrainian constitution and other laws in the process. Obama’s claim that the leaders of the regime in Kiev were “democratically elected” is unsurprising, however, coming as it does from a man whose hold on reality – at home and abroad – is becoming more tenuous by the day.
Lest we forget, on February 21 President Viktor Yanukovich and three Ukrainian parliamentary party leaders signed a “reconciliation agreement” co-signed by foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland – implying that their countries and the EU guaranteed the deal – and approved by a Russian representative. The document provided for constitutional reform reducing presidential powers, the creation of a government of national unity, early presidential election, and disbandment of Maidan armed factions. Far from disbanding, within hours those same armed factions forced Yanukovich to flee Kiev and stage-managed a parliamentary “vote,” worthy of the proceedings of the Supreme Soviet ca. 1937, which ushered in the putschist regime.
As Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on March 4, Yanukovich “had in fact given up his power already, and as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer.” Well, there is one, and he knows it. As a BBC commentator pointed out on March 5, what makes Putin mad is the feeling that he is being deceived:
We saw that with Libya in 2011. Moscow was persuaded not to block a UN Security Council resolution on a no-fly zone to protect civilians. But NATO’s military action led to regime change and the death of Col Muammar Gaddafi – far beyond what Russia had expected. It helps explain why Russia has been quick to veto resolutions on Syria. On Ukraine, too, President Putin feels the West has tricked him. Last month he sent his envoy to Kiev to take part in negotiations on a compromise agreement … It remained words only. Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Yanukovych was on the run, the parliament removed him from power and appointed a new acting president from the opposition. The pace of events took Moscow completely by surprise. Russia says the February 21 agreement must be implemented. The opposition signed it, yet allows an uncontrolled militia of violent armed radicals send fear and loathing across a large swath of Ukraine. The US says the agreement no longer matters…
THE GHOST OF WARREN ZIMMERMANN – Washington saying “the agreement no longer matters” brings us to another parallel between the crisis in Ukraine and the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990’s: the role of the United States in subverting agreements that were meant to save peace. Similar U.S. subterfuges contributed to the outbreak of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina exactly 22 years ago. In March 1992 the late Warren Zimmermann, the last U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia before its breakup and civil war, materially contributed, more than any other single man, to the outbreak of that war. The facts of the case have been established beyond reasonable doubt, and are no longer disputed by experts.
Following the unconstitutional and illegal Muslim-Croat referendum on Bosnia’s independence (February 28-29), then-Portuguese foreign minister Jose Cutileiro persuaded the leaders of the three constituent nations that Bosnia-Herzegovina should be independent, but internally based on autonomous ethnic “cantons.” The breakthrough was due to the Bosnian Serbs’ acceptance of an externally sovereign B-H state, provided that the Muslims give up their ambition of an internally centralized, unitary one. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader, accepted the plan. Only days after it was signed, however, Zimmermann flew from Belgrade to Sarajevo to tell Izetbegovic that the deal was a means to “a Serbian power grab” that could be annulled. State Department later admitted that the U.S. policy was to encourage Izetbegovic to break with the plan.
As early as August 29, 1993, The New York Times brought a revealing quote from the key player himself: “Immediately after Mr. Izetbegovic returned from Lisbon, Mr. Zimmermann called on him in Sarajevo… ‘He said he didn’t like it; I told him, if he didn’t like it, why sign it?’” After that moment Izetbegovic had no motive to seek compromise. He felt authorized to renege on the tripartite accord, which inevitably ignited the Bosnian war. Cutileiro himself insisted later that, but for Izetbegovic reneging, “the Bosnian question might have been settled earlier, with less loss of life and land.” He also noted that “Izetbegovic was encouraged to scupper that deal and to fight for a unitary Bosnian state by foreign mediators.”
In the fullness of time we shall learn which “foreign mediators” played the role of Zimmermann in Kiev in February 2014. Whoever it was – Victoria “f… the EU” Nuland, her ambassador in situ Pyatt, or Kerry himself – the intervention was a malicious attempt to encourage one side in Ukraine’s multiethnic, multi-denominational mosaic to fight for an unitary Ukrainian state. If the result turns out to be the same or similar as that in Bosnia two decades ago, those “mediators” will have blood on their hands no less than Warren Zimmermann had blood on his. He died in February 2004, having greatly contributed to the death of a hundred thousand Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims in 1992-1995.
“UKRAINE” AS “BOSNIA” – A key element in the Western propagandistic misrepresentation of the situation in Ukraine is the claim that it is a coherent nation-state of “Ukrainians,” which is subjected to an unprovoked foreign aggression. On March 6 the House adopted a package of “sanctions against Russia, and “lawmakers are also acting in other ways to show solidarity with Ukrainians.” Two days earlier John Kerry flew to Kiev to show solidarity with Ukraine’s new leaders. Everybody and his uncle, including various MEPs, Canadian MPs, etc. flew to Kiev “to show solidarity with Ukrainians.”
In exactly the same manner, in 1992 it was asserted ex hypothesi by the American (and to a lesser extent West European) political elite, and parroted ad nauseam by the media machine, that if there is a “Bosnia” there must be a nation of “Bosnians.” In both cases the claim was tantamount to the assertion, in 1861, that “the American nation” was resisting an illegal rebellion. In fact today’s Ukraine is like Ireland in 1920: impossible to survive intact, let alone prosper in peace, on the basis of the aspirations and assumptions of one community which are inherently incompatible with those of another. The rights of the legislators in the Crimean Peninsula, Odessa, Kharkov, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk etc. vis-à-vis Kiev are exactly the same as those of the Stormont were vis-à-vis the Irish Free State in 1921.
COMMUNIST-DRAWN INTERNAL BOUNDARIES – The problem of internal boundaries between the constituent republics, arbitrarily drawn by communist dictators in complete disregard of the wishes and aspirations of the people thus affected, has been the key foundation of the Yugoslav conflict ever since the first shots were fired in the summer of 1991. Even someone as unsympathetic to the Serb point of view as Lord David Owen, the EU negotiator in 1992-1993, conceded that Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s administrative boundaries between Yugoslavia’s republics were grossly arbitrary, and that their redrawing should have been countenanced before the issue escalated into a fully-fledged war:
Incomprehensibly, the proposal to redraw the republics’ boundaries had been rejected by all eleven EC countries… [T]o rule out any discussion or opportunity for compromise in order to head off war was an extraordinary decision. My view has always been that to have stuck unyieldingly to the internal boundaries of the six republics within the former Yugoslavia… as being those for independent states, was a folly far greater than that of premature recognition itself.
The manner in which Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukraine in February 1954 is a particularly egregious example of the communist border-changing. The shoe-banger must be having a hearty laugh in his current hot abode at the readiness of the United States to risk a major confrontation with Russia – a minus-sum-game if there ever was one – for the sake of upholding the legacy of his stroke of pen 60 years ago.
REDUCTIO AD HITLERUM – And finally, just as Slobodan Milosevic was the Hitler-du-jour during the Bosnian war, Vladimir Putin is becoming one now. His current transformation could be predicted with mathematical precision. Most notably, Hillary Clinton likened Putin’s actions in the Crimean peninsula to those of Hitler in the Sudetenland. On March 3 Zbigniew Brzezinski called Putin “a partially comical imitation of Mussolini and a more menacing reminder of Hitler.” (“We haven’t seen this kind of behavior since the Second World War,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, not that anyone cared.) Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) agreed with Clintonwholeheartedly. The obvious comparison, with Oleh Tyagnybok and other black-and-red Svoboda Party heirs to Bandera and the SS Division Galizien, unsurprisingly eludes them. These people are McCain’s good buddies, after all – every bit as good as the warriors in the path of Allah in Syria.
As I’ve noted in these pages before, the final corollary of various ad-hoc Hitlerizations is that we are all potential Fuhrers, and only by vigilantly guarding against deviant thoughts (“I like Americans better than Somalis”), emotions (“I enjoy Wagner’s Ring more than Porgy & Bess”) and practices (“I enjoy walking my German Shepherd in the Bavarian Alps”) can we protect ourselves from the lure of the inner Adolf. Having experienced the reductio myself – having been called “Hitler in full oratorical flight,” to be precise – I hereby wish Vladimir Vladimirovich a hearty welcome to the club.
Perhaps Arizona governor Jan Brewer was sincere when saying that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 1062) she vetoed yesterday could “create more problems than it purports to solve.” After all, observers such as Napp Nazworth at The Christian Post contend that SB 1062 might actually — contrary to all the hysteria — have made it harder for most business owners to refuse service to homosexuals. This analysis may have merit and can be read here, but it’s irrelevant to a larger point:
The GOP’s handling of this matter was a good illustration of conservatism’s fatal flaw.
Whatever the legal realities, about something we can be sure: many conservatives believed in SB 1062. And as with the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the bill but turned against it after the heat was turned up, many of those conservatives caved under great pressure from greedy businesses, limp-wristed neo-con artists (John McCain) and that great leftist public-relations team (the media).
I’ve long lamented that conservatives are conservative; that is to say, they play defense and just try to protect the status quo, which was, though conservatives generally appear oblivious to the fact, created by yesterday’s liberals.
So they never actually try to rescind those efforts at thought control called hate-crime laws, but just hope to limit the scope of new proposals for them. They never really endeavor to eliminate government programs and bureaucracies; they just aim to slow down their metastasizing. They hardly ever try to reduce spending and shrink government, but just seek to limit the rate at which both balloon. And with the Arizona effort, they weren’t really willing to do what was necessary to reclaim freedom of association. They just proposed a half measure and then folded like cheap cameras.
As for the Three Mouseketeers who ran for cover — senators Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce — they wrote in a letter to Brewer that while they wanted “to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance.”
Wow, is that all it takes?
We might as well just bow down and lick the left’s jackboots right now.
How did these three chronologically adult politicians think the left would characterize their effort? Who are these guys, Beaver and Wally Cleaver and Dennis (the Menace) Mitchell? Of course the left is going to call you names! That’s what they do. And now you’ve just confirmed for them, once again, that this is all they have to do to bring you to your knees. Welcome to How to Lose a Culture War 101.
How should conservatives handle such name calling?
Hurl names right back.
Call the leftists what they are: tyrants, socialists and haters of liberty. Explain that they want to destroy freedom of association. Seek to control the language of the debate and to frame the narrative — and use their own Alinsky tactics against them. And we do have one great advantage: we’re right and righteous.
As for strategy, realize that framing this as a matter of freedom of religion makes it seem a special-interest cause, as not everyone considers himself “religious.” What we really need is a Freedom of Association Restoration Act.
For this freedom is increasingly trampled. A photographer in New Mexico being sued and two Oregon bakers forced to close their business — both for refusing to be party to lesbian so-called “weddings” — are just two examples of the phenomenon.
But think about the supposition justifying this kind of government coercion: no one would deny me the right to include in or exclude from my home whomever I please. Why should I lose this right simply because I decide to erect extra tables and sell food?
It’s still my private property, paid for with my own money and created by the sweat of my own brow. It’s tyranny to give me a choice between relinquishing my rights — and starving.
Likewise, no one would force you to bake cakes for or take pictures of people with whom you didn’t want to consort. Why should this change just because you decide to bake cakes or take pictures for money? The principle is simple: your home, your oven, your camera — your choice.
The hypocrisy here is thick, too. We wouldn’t force a Muslim butcher to deal in pork or a Jewish baker to place Nazi symbols on a cake; in fact, there’s a story about a supermarket that refused to place the name of a neo-Nazi’s son — Adolf Hitler Campbell — on a birthday cake. And even more recently we heard about a bar in California denying service to legislators seeking to protect marriage. Of course, the left will claim there’s no comparison, as pork eaters, Nazis and pro-marriage individuals aren’t protected groups. So let’s get this straight:
They trumpet discrimination as an argument for disallowing discrimination.
And what invidious discrimination theirs is. They somehow think that supporting the granting of just some groups “protected status” — and thus leaving other groups, apparently, “unprotected” — gives them moral high ground in trying to discriminate against yet other groups by forcing them, but not others (e.g., those opposing and denying service to traditionalist legislators), to violate their deeply held convictions. Only a twisted mind could consider this justice. Of course, though, with liberals telling us via a high-school textbook (Magruder’s American Government & Civics) that justice “is difficult to define for justice is a concept, an idea, an invention of the human mind [and that] [l]ike other concepts such as truth, liberty, and fairness justice means what people want it to mean,” this is no surprise.
Some will balk at my argument, saying that my position on freedom of association would allow businesses to discriminate even on the basis of race or sex. The answer to this is illustrated with a simple analogy: does freedom of speech mean anything if only extended to popular speech? It then isn’t freedom of speech at all, but merely the establishment of different prohibitions than may exist in Iran, North Korea or Cuba. Likewise, the true test of whether we really believe in freedom of association is if we’ll extend it to even those who would exercise it in a way we abhor.
As for businesses that must operate in today’s tyrannical, rights-squelching environment, I have a solution. If, for instance, people forced me through law to provide bakery services for them, the trauma just might affect my ability to identify and measure ingredients and follow a recipe. And I would then show them that you can have your cake, but you can’t eat it, too.
Many benefit programs have gone high tech with debit cards and J.P. Morgan Chase and others are making a pretty penny charging users fees. What is there to be done?
The Agricultural Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama last Friday, includes $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade. One way the bill proposes to accomplish these savings is by reducing food stamp fraud. When the new farm bill is enacted, many of America’s hardest working families will experience cuts in services and have trouble putting food on their family’s table. But there will be major gains for an industry that most Americans might not expect: banking.
Banks reap hefty profits helping governments make payments to individuals, business that only got better when agencies switch from making payments on paper—checks and vouchers—to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards look and work like debit cards, and by 2002, had entirely replaced the stamp booklets that gave the food stamp program its name. SNAP is the most well-known program delivered via EBT, but they also carry payments for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); childcare subsidies; state general assistance; and many other programs. EBT use is widespread, from the corner store to the supercenter. According to a 2012 USDA report, SNAP funds, averaging $133 per family member per month, can be spent at more than 246,000 authorized stores, farmers’ markets, farms, and meal providers nationwide.
Not only are the operating costs of delivering benefits by EBT lower—no paper checks to cut, envelopes to stuff, or postage to pay—but electronic forms of payment allow banks to multiply opportunities for revenue generation. Banks hold contracts with federal, state, and municipal agencies to provide EBT cards and services, collect interest on federal reserve money held for government programs (though not on SNAP funds), charge transaction fees for merchant use of bank technology and infrastructure, and levy penalties on users for EBT card loss, out-of-network use, and balance inquiries. Banks make money distributing government benefits if the economy is bad, because more people sign up for assistance; they make money if the economy is good, because rising interest rates mean more profit on the money they hold to distribute to beneficiaries.
Distributing government benefits is a lucrative industry. According to theGovernment Accountability Institute, J.P. Morgan Chase, which currently controls EBT contracts in 21 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, made more than half a billion dollars between 2004 and 2012 providing government benefits to U.S. citizens. In New York alone, J.P. Morgan Electronic Financial Services (EFS) holds a nine-year, $177 million EBT services contract with the State Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA). New York currently pays $0.95 per month for each its 1.7 million SNAP cases. In addition, J.P. Morgan EFS collects penalties and fees from benefit recipients: $5 to replace a lost EBT card, $0.40 for each balance inquiry, $0.50 each time their cards are declined for insufficient funds, and $1.50 per withdrawal if they use ATMs to get cash more than once a month. While information about profit margins on EBT contracts is neither collected at the national level nor released by banks, EBT is a significant growth area for big banks. Last year, the Federal Reserve Payments Study reported that the number of EBT transactions more than doubled since 2006.
Electronic benefits delivery is such a rewarding business that banks seem to fear only two things: policy changes and bad publicity. The publicity problems of EBT programs became obvious over the last three months of 2103 when three major EBT system failure scandals erupted. The threat of policy change is perhaps less visible. New regulations could take distribution of these benefits out of the hands of for-profit banks, limit the fees they are able to collect, or mandate a switch from EBT cards to different kinds of electronic funds transfer with fewer opportunities for generating revenue, such as direct deposit. But banks have nothing to fear in the new Agricultural Act; it’s only good news for the finance sector.
The new farm bill lowers benefit levels somewhat, exempts new categories of people—college students, ex-felons, and lottery winners—from SNAP eligibility, and prohibits advertising to increase enrollment of eligible individuals, like radio and television campaign launched by the USDA in 2004. But the bill’s sponsor, Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), and other members of the House Committee on Agriculture seem to trust that detecting and preventing fraud will accomplish much of the hoped-for savings. The new Act includes numerous fraud-fighting provisions, including those that:
- Require merchants to maintain unique terminal identification numbers for point of sale machines, further restrict the kinds of food that can be bought with SNAP, and bar manual sales of food items without bar codes;
- Improve procedures and technologies to facilitate state-to-state and state-to-federal information sharing;
- Invite federal-state collaborative pilot projects to “identify, investigate, and reduce fraud” by merchants; and
- Set aside $40 million to help the USDA store information, such as food purchase data from chain stores and loyalty card companies, and data-mine it, by linking store sales and EBT transaction data at the household level to uncover purchasing patterns, for example.
In short, the SNAP fraud provisions will increase the ability of state and federal agencies to track who bought what food, where, and for how much. A vast amount of information on the purchases of millions of U.S. citizens will be collected by state agencies and private entities, stored by the USDA, and data-mined for patterns of EBT use that indicate fraud.
Why will this intensified focus on fraud work out so well for banks? First, banks innovate and control the most cutting-edge technologies that detect and prevent fraud in electronic funds transfer. The financial sector employs armies of computer programmers, IT specialists, and software engineers, and banks hold dozens of patents on biometric technology, data-mining systems, and payment tracking software. State and federal agencies can develop fraud-fighting code and procedures themselves, but many lack sufficient capacity and choose instead to contract with banks. Florida, for example, piloted an eight-month EBT abuse detection project in 2012 that was staffed by both J.P. Morgan and state employees, as Peter Schweizer reported in The Daily Beast. The anti-fraud provisions of the farm bill, thus, provide a significant opportunity for more, and more lucrative, contracts for banks.
Second, fraud in food stamps, despite public perceptions, is already low, and getting from very little fraud to zero fraud is prohibitively expensive. This is especially true for trafficking—the trading of SNAP benefits for cash—the most common form of SNAP fraud. Merchants and recipients must work together to traffic SNAP benefits. Recipients approach a merchant, who might offer 50 cents on the dollar to convert food stamps to cash. The merchant runs the EBT card, hands over cash, and then reports sales for reimbursement by the Treasury. Current fraud detection and prevention focuses on suspicious patterns—merchants who claim lots of even-dollar sales, recipients who spend all of their SNAP benefits in the first week of the month—but traffickers have adjusted quickly, learning to input odd dollar amounts and to spread requests for reimbursement over time.
The USDA estimates that the amount of SNAP benefits being trafficked has been reduced by 145 percent since 1993. According to a March 2011 Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) report, for the period of 2006-2008, trafficking diverted about 1 cent of each benefit dollar. Trafficking is difficult to detect and prevent, because retailers and recipients who commit fraud adapt as fast as banks, states, and the USDA can develop new data-mining and investigative procedures. This fraud-detection arms race is expensive and time-consuming for government agencies and contractors, and adds cumbersome limits and procedures for users—both merchants and recipients—most of whom aren’t committing fraud.
What cost are we willing to bear to reduce SNAP fraud to less than a penny per dollar? Federal and state government agencies invest astronomical sums in high-tech tools to address a financially negligible problem. For comparison’s sake, while we lose $330 million a year to SNAP trafficking, Ashlea Ebeling of Forbesestimates that the U.S. government loses $40 to $70 billion a year to offshore tax evasion. Nevertheless, in 2012, the FNS conducted 4,396 undercover investigations of retail grocers suspected of fraud, at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers, identifying violations in about 40 percent of cases. In 2011, Alabama’s RFP for EBT services strongly encouraged potential vendors to “recommend the use of new and innovative technologies” to “improve detection and prevention of fraud” and integrate biometrics in their proposals for the state’s SNAP program. The five-year Alabama contract, worth $51 million, went to Xerox, the same company that denied SNAP users in 17 states access to food for several hours when they shut down their EBT system without any warning last October.
Third, only three firms handle the majority of EBT contracts with states and U.S. territories: J.P. Morgan EFS (23 contracts); Xerox State and Local Solutions, Inc. (17 contracts); and eFunds Corporation, a subsidiary of FIS Global (11 contracts). On February 10, J.P. Morgan confirmed that it plans to sell its prepaid card business, including U.S. Public Sector and EBT programs, after suffering a serious data breach on debit cards used at Target stores and facing inquiries from Connecticut and New York about its lack of sufficient privacy safeguards and high card fees. This may leave even fewer players in the mix, and that’s a bad thing, according to Michele Simon, author of the report, “Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting From Hungry Americans?”, who provided a copy of the New York/J.P. Morgan EBT contract for this story. When so few firms control such significant market share, it implies limited competition and excessive market power. Simon suggests, in fact, that the recent changes to SNAP represent a large, mostly overlooked corporate subsidy. “The real policy challenge in SNAP is not fraud. It is the fact that we have an $80 billion a year program that does not solve hunger, and certainly does not provide good nutrition, but instead is a boon for banks, big box retailers, and junk food companies.”
If banks are secret winners, the losers are pretty clear: taxpayers, particularly those who receive nutritional support through the SNAP program. That’s one in seven Americans at this moment, and 52 percent of all Americans at some point in their lifetimes, according to Mark Rank, author of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All. Put simply, the Agricultural Act of 2014 takes money from a program that serves the majority of Americans and gives it to banks and high-tech companies.
But it does something else. These provisions improve a system meant to collect information on the food purchases of more than half of the U.S. population, and fund the development of increasingly sophisticated technology to sift and analyze it. In the same year that we expressed shock and outrage that the NSA is collecting meta-information on our cellphone calls and Google searches, why are we acquiescing, even welcoming, a sophisticated new program to collect American consumer information? Do we really want the federal and state governments data-mining our grocery lists?
We need a solution that contains bank profits and prevents this kind of mass surveillance. The answer’s simple: stop trying to predict fraud, eliminate complicated rules about what can and cannot be bought with food stamps, and switch to direct deposit.
A key challenge of this solution is connecting benefits recipients with affordable bank accounts, because for-profit banks are not particularly interested in low-balance, high-transaction customers. But, according to Aleta Sprague, policy analyst in the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, strategies that focus on eliminating barriers to bank accounts will provide significant benefits for poor and working Americans. Connecting benefits recipients to the financial mainstream poses real challenges to both the public assistance system and current financial practices, but there are intriguing experiments already underway. In Washington state, for example, a collaboration of the Department of Commerce and Burst for Prosperity is connecting households on public assistance with affordable banking services and requiring that no-fee accounts be included in future EBT provider contracts.
“Instead of seeking to monitor and regulate every purchase a low-income consumer makes,” says Sprague, “we should recognize and capitalize on the potential of the public assistance system to serve as a mechanism for financial inclusion. That way, rather than constructing the safety net around distrust of the poor, we would leverage the system to increase families’ financial autonomy and capabilities.”
Direct deposit is more efficient, cheaper, and requires less administrative oversight. That’s why the IRS, Social Security, and Unemployment Insurance encourage us to use it. What direct deposit would not allow is paternalistic rules about how public assistance beneficiaries choose to use their resources to best support their families. Treating SNAP recipients like the reasonable, hard-working adults they are is not only simpler and less expensive; it is most just.
I recently interviewed Daniel Estulin the author of what will be the newest best seller,TransEvolution: The Coming Age of Human Deconstruction.
Estulin wrote the book based largely on a Bilderberg white paper which was smuggled to him by a Bilderberg insider. The document was filled with information which spelled the end of the human race as we know it.
Hollywood Prepares the American Public for the Inevitable
Hollywood has made millions on movies like The Terminator, Blade Runner, and RoboCob, just to name a few. In fact, Robocop is being re-released in the next several weeks. Estulin states that cyborgs or man-machines are the future in a post-human world. Yes, you read that correctly, we could soon find ourselves living in a post-human world.
You may be familiar with the new TV series on FOX called Almost Human where one of the main characters is a cyborg cop. We could see such an interaction between nonhuman and morphed humans in the near future (i.e. Robocop).
Rules for Thee but Not for Me
In the future of transevolution we will be witnessing a literal fountain of youth, which will result from becoming a cyborg as it will soon be possible to purchase immortality in the future. However, everyone except the super elite will be banned from purchasing this literal fountain of youth.
Your existence, my common brethren, will be similar to what movie goers saw in the Summer of 2013 in the movie, Man of Steel. In the opening 30 minutes of the movie, it was revealed that every resident of Krypton had certain genes “turned on” and certain genes “turned off”. And everyone from Krypton, except for Superman, had been artificially bred for specific purposes. This is what humanity is quickly moving towards and unless you are the elite, you will be bred, dumbed down if needed, to serve a purpose for the global elite.
The Purpose for the Destruction of the Global Economy
Estulin mentioned that the wholesale destruction of the world’s economy is not an accident, nor is it a miscalculation or the result of political shenanigans. This destruction is being done on purpose, absolutely on purpose. Estulin revealed that his Bilderberg insider told him that the slave masters on this planet want to collapse the economy, force people into the stack and pack cities of mega millions and then exterminate most of humanity.
Estulin and I explored the methods that the super elite may use to exterminate 90% of all people on this planet. We both agreed that starvation is the most likely candidate. Starvation is a clean method of killing, it is quick and it would leave the planet in good shape for the global elite to establish their paradise on Earth.
Some of my readers and listeners have asked me about why I am so opposed to Agenda 21 and devote so much time fighting against it? To these and all others, I answer that forcing humanity to forsake rural and suburban living and move into the soon-to-be death traps of these mega cities, is very consistent with the tenets of Agenda 21 (i.e. Earth First).
Monsanto: The Great Satan of Food Production
I recently interviewed my good friend, Barbara Peterson, who presented evidence which demonstrated that the super elite are in the process of attacking not just humans with GMO’s which will eventually kill you, the GMO’s are also sterilizing our food supply. And then, as if by magic, Peterson and I took calls on my show from farmers all across the country, who confirmed the sterilization of both crops and farm animals was well under way.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. Monsanto is not alone in this conspiracy against humanity. In Chapter two of his book, Estulin, details how huge corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, and Archer Daniels are plotting to set up mass starvation on the planet. These corporate names became household names and they have become an “interlocked self perpetuating syndicate that will decide who eats and who doesn’t, who lives and who dies.”
Why are mega corporations, such as these and a small socio-political elite, allowed to own our food and control the very basis of humanity? The simple answer is, because they can.
Studies have shown that rats that are fed with genetically modified organisms (GMO), like potatoes, showed structural changes in their white blood cells making them more vulnerable to infection and disease, which could indicate a greater future risk of developing cancer, when compared to other rats fed non-GMO potatoes. Estulin’s research indicates that GMO food was the creation of the Rockefeller Foundation, who are members of the Bilderberg Group. This all part of the plan for total control of mankind. As an aside, Barbara Peterson noted in my interview with her that McDonalds fries will soon all be made of GMO’s.
Genetic engineering is about taking control of nature, redesigning it and rebuilding it. The phrase “playing God” comes up in almost every conversation about genetic engineering. This is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Nothing good comes from genetic engineering as this generation of children will be the last generation which will be human in the sense that we define humanity today.
Estulin documented how insects are being weaponized for combat through chipping as a result of recent DARPA projects. Humans will soon be chipped, not necessarily for warfare, but for the purpose of transformation into something hideous which will serve the whims of the global elite.
The National Security State
Presently, all the communication happening on the planet right now can be monitored in real time and it is being done to control us, to dumb us down, to brainwash, to influence, and to predict our future behavior. The super elite is doing this so that we don’t get in the way of important people by doing too much thinking on our own. A simple example of this fact is in evidence in an ever-increasing number of airports as facial scanning techniques are designed to reveal to security individuals who are angry, malevolent, etc. This technology is right here, right now!
Estulin mentions Nazi Germany, in his book, numerous times throughout the book, Estulin drew a similarity between the mass control the Nazis had in comparison to the control the super elite has over the human race right now. Presently, America is the 21st century fulfillment of what Hitler, Stalin and Mao as they attempted to initiate their genocidal regimes.
Off World Escape Plan If Things Get Ugly
According to USA Today,
“NASA recently revealed that their Mars robotic rover has found signs that a vast and hospitable lake once spread over the now-desolate surface, a potential home to past life for centuries or more.”
With this new discovery that life may be possible on Mars, the elite could easily, through nanotechnology subsequently build a homestead there! There are many private corporations on the planet who are ready to go to Mars within five years. Some speculate that billionaire, Robert Bigelow, is ready now.
Apparently, if the elite cannot exterminate humanity in the clean and neat ways that they have designed, it may be necessary to temporarily move off world while the job is completed in more “messy” ways. According to some, this is their “Plan B”.
A Cowardly New World
Unlike Huxley, I have seen nothing brave about this new world. Nanotechnology is a powerful new technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic level. Scientists are acting like God to manipulate life through the use of this technology. I can only imagine all the horrible things nanotechnology can do to the human race.
Nothing good with regard to nanotechnology can or will come from this blatant insanity. The plans of the global elite constitute an abomination before God.
Right now, the elite are employing their “Promethean plans” which will change the world and will transform the very essence of humanity. Again, this is happening Now!!!
Let’s make no mistake about it, the super elite are attempting to become more powerful than God. The super elite controls the human race in every imaginable possible way. Just the term, “conspiracy theorist”, was invented by the global elite as a marginalizing tool to keep the public from believing in conspiracy theories that will enslave humanity.
Absolutely nothing that happens in our world is an accident; it’s all part of this grand plan. Because of this, there is no hope for humanity if we do not rise up and defeat Agenda 21 and force a change in the leadership of the world, and it must be done RIGHT NOW, before the personal control mechanisms of this new system are locked into place.
My fellow human beings, we do not have five years. You sit idly by on the sidelines at the risk of not only your life but the lives of your children and grandchildren, born or not yet born. Soon, we will be saying “Welcome to Krypton”, as humanity becomes the weak puppets in the theatre of life created by the super elite.
In 1979, Iran shocked the world—and directly confronted America’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East — by charting its own revolutionary course toward participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence. Over the past thirty-five years the Islamic Republic of Iran has held dozens of presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections and attained impressive developmental outcomes—including more progressive results at alleviating poverty, delivering health care, providing educational access, and (yes) expanding opportunities for women than the last shah’s regime ever achieved. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic has done these things while withstanding significant regional challenges and mounting pressure from the United States and its allies. Below, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett suggest that like 1979, 2014 is likely to be, in unique ways, another Year of Iran, when Tehran’s foreign policy strategy will either finally compel Western acceptance of Iran’s sovereign rights—especially to enrich uranium under international safeguards—or fundamentally delegitimise America’s already eroding pretensions to Middle Eastern hegemony.
Hassan Rohani’s election as Iran’s president seven months ago caught most of the West’s self-appointed Iran “experts” by (largely self-generated) surprise. Over the course of Iran’s month-long presidential campaign, methodologically-sound polls by the University of Tehran showed that a Rohani victory was increasingly likely. Yet Iran specialists at Washington’s leading think tanks continued erroneously insisting (as they had for months before the campaign formally commenced) that Iranians could not be polled like other populations and that there would be “a selection rather than an election,” engineered to install Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “anointed” candidate—in most versions, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. On election day, as Iranian voters began casting their ballots, the Washington Post proclaimed that Rohani “will not be allowed to win”—a statement reflecting virtual consensus among American pundits.
Of course, this consensus was wrong—as have been most of the consensus judgments on Iran’s politics advanced by Western analysts since the country’s 1979 revolution. After Rohani’s victory, instead of admitting error, America’s foreign policy elite manufactured two explanations for it. One was that popular disaffection against the Islamic Republic—supposedly reflected in Iranians’ determination to elect the most change-minded candidate available to them—had exceeded even the capacity of Khamenei and his minions to suppress. This narrative, however, rests on agenda-driven and false assumptions about who Rohani is and how he won.
“The Islamic Republic aims to replace American hegemony with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and by leveraging participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”.”
At sixty-five, Rohani is not out to fundamentally change the Islamic Republic he has worked nearly his entire adult life to build. The only cleric on the 2013 presidential ballot, Rohani belongs to Iran’s main conservative clerical association, not its reformist antipode. While he has become the standard bearer for the Islamic Republic’s “modern” (or “pragmatic”) right, with considerable support from the business community, his ties to Khamenei are also strong. After Rohani stepped down as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in 2005, Khamenei made Rohani his personal representative on the Council.
Backing Rohani was thus an unlikely way for Iranian voters to demand radical change, especially when an eminently plausible reformist was on the ballot—Mohammad Reza Aref, a Stanford Ph.D. in electrical engineering who served as one of reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s vice presidents. (Methodologically-sound polls showed that Aref’s support never exceeded single digits; he ultimately withdrew three days before Iranians voted.) The outcome, moreover, hardly constituted a landslide—not for Rohani and certainly not for reformism: Rohani won by just 261,251 votes over the 50-percent threshold for victory, and the parliament elected just one year before is dominated by conservatives.
The other explanation for Rohani’s success embraced by American elites cites it as proof that U.S.-instigated sanctions are finally “working”—that economic distress caused by sanctions drove Iranians to elect someone inclined to cut concessionary deals with the West. But the same polls that accurately predicted Rohani’s narrow win also show that sanctions had little to do with it. Iranians continue to blame the West, not their own government, for sanctions. And they do not want their leaders to compromise on what they see as their country’s sovereignty and national rights—rights manifest today in Iran’s pursuit of a civil nuclear program.
The Iranian Challenge
Iran’s presidential election and the smooth transfer of office to Rohani from term-limited incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stand out in today’s Middle East. Compared to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia, the Islamic Republic is actually living up to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s description of Iran as “an island of stability” in an increasingly unsettled region. And compared to some Gulf Arab monarchies, where perpetuation of (at least superficial) stability is purchased by ever increasing domestic expenditures, the Islamic Republic legitimates itself by delivering on the fundamental promise of the revolution that deposed the last shah thirty-five years ago: to replace Western-imposed monarchical rule with an indigenously generated political model integrating participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance.
“Partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests.”
These strengths have enabled the Islamic Republic to withstand sustained regional and Western pressure, and to pursue a foreign policy strategy likely to reap big payoffs in 2014. This strategy aims to replace American hegemony, regionally and globally, with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and institutions, and by leveraging the Islamic Republic’s model of participatory Islamist governance, domestic development, and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”—not just with a majority of Iranians living inside their country, but (according to polls) with hundreds of millions of people across the Muslim world and beyond, from Brazil to China and South Africa. Such soft power was on display, for example, in the last year of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, when, during a trip to China, he won a standing ovation from a large audience at Peking University, where a representative sample of next-generation Chinese elites showed themselves deeply receptive to his call for a more equitable and representative international order.
In the current regional and international context, the West is increasingly challenged to come to terms with the Islamic Republic as an enduring entity representing legitimate national interests. In Tehran, the United States and its European allies could have a real partner in countering al-Qa’ida-style terrorism and extremism, in consolidating stable and representative political orders in Syria and other Middle Eastern trouble spots, and in resolving the nuclear issue in a way that sets the stage for moving toward an actual WMD-free zone in the region. But partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests—something that Western powers have refused to accord to any Iranian government for two centuries.
President Obama’s highly public failure to muster political support for military strikes against the Assad government following the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21, 2013 has effectively undercut the credibility of U.S. threats to use force against Iran. On November 24, 2013, this compelled an American administration, for the first time since the January 1981 Algiers Accords that ended the embassy hostage crisis, to reach a major international agreement with Tehran—the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1—largely on Iranian terms. (For example, the interim nuclear deal effectively negates Western demands—long rejected by Tehran but now enshrined in seven UN Security Council resolutions—that Iran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment).
But recent Western recognition of reality is still partial and highly tentative. The United States and its British and French allies continue to deny that Iran has a right to enrich uranium under international safeguards. They also demand that, as part of a final deal, Tehran must shut down its protected enrichment site at Fordo, terminate its work on a new research reactor at Arak, and allow Western powers to micromanage the future development of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Such positions are at odds with the language of the interim nuclear deal and of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They are also as hubristically delusional as the British government’s use of the Royal Navy to seize tankers carrying Iranian oil on the high seas after a democratically-elected Iranian government nationalised the British oil concession in Iran in 1951—and as London’s continued threat to do so even after the World Court ruled against Britain in the matter.
If Western powers can realign their positions with reality on the nuclear issue and on various regional challenges in the Middle East, Iran can certainly work with that. But Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Western powers may not be capable of negotiating a nuclear settlement grounded in the NPT and respectful of the Islamic Republic’s legal rights—just as Britain and the United States were unwilling to respect Iran’s sovereignty over its own natural resources in the early 1950s. Under such circumstances, more U.S.-instigated secondary sanctions that illegally threaten third countries doing business with Iran will not compel Tehran to surrender its civil nuclear program. Rather, Iran’s approach—including a willingness to conclude what the rest of the world other than America, Britain, France, and Israel would consider a reasonable nuclear deal—seeks to make it easier for countries to rebuild and expand economic ties to the Islamic Republic even if Washington does not lift its own unilaterally-imposed sanctions.
“Continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East.”
Likewise, Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Washington cannot disenthrall itself from Obama’s foolish declaration in August 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go—and therefore that America cannot contribute constructively to the quest for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict. If the United States, Britain, and France continue down their current counter-productive path in Syria, Tehran can play off their accumulating policy failures and the deepening illegitimacy of America’s regional posture to advance the Islamic Republic’s strategic position.
How Will the West Respond?
Coming to terms with the Islamic Republic will require the United States to abandon its already eroding pretensions to hegemony in the Middle East. But, if Washington does not come to terms with the Islamic Republic, it will ultimately be forced to surrender those pretensions, as it was publicly and humiliatingly forced to do in 1979. Moreover, continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East. Less than a month after Rohani’s election, it was widely perceived that the United States tacitly supported a military coup that deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected (and Islamist) government. The coup in Egypt hardly obviates the fact that, when given the chance, majorities in Middle Eastern Muslim societies reject Western intervention and choose to construct participatory Islamist orders. Refusing to accept this reality will only accelerate the erosion of U.S. influence in the region.
The United States is not the first imperial power in decline whose foreign policy debate has become increasingly detached from reality—and history suggests that the consequences of such delusion are usually severe. The time for American elites to wake up to Middle Eastern realities before the United States and its Western allies face severe consequences for their strategic position in this vital part of the world is running out.
About the Authors
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett are authors of Going to Tehran: America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York: Metropolitan, 2013), which has just been released in paperback, with a new Afterword. They had distinguished careers in the U.S. government before leaving their positions on the National Security Council in March 2003, in disagreement with Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror. They teach international relations, he at Penn State, she at American University.
Source: The World Financial Review
An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”
The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.
The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.
While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.
Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch—the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.
The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.
Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance. The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.
Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.
In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead—a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking. The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive—thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”
By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power. Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.
Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other. The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.
While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Times editorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.
However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production—that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown. The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite. The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.
It seems as if certain purported civil-rights activists think homosexuals are like some organized-crime groups: you can join the gang, but the only way you can leave is feet first.
A case in point is a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey against JONAH International — a Judaic organization that helps people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA) — and some of its associates by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). And what is the basis for the lawsuit? As co-founder of JONAH Arthur Goldberg explained to me:
[T]he lawsuit was filed under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act alleging the commission of a consumer fraud on the unproven theory that same-sex attraction is inborn and unchangeable. Therefore, the programs and counselors to which we refer people have allegedly committed a consumer fraud because those seeking such services allegedly cannot change. Their goal is to put us (and other small organizations like ours) out of business.
Fraud? People with SSAs cannot change? JONAH’s satisfied program participants say otherwise. And here are just a few of their testimonials:
- Daniel Meir Horowitz wrote in a post titled “A Long, Hard Road: How Reparative Therapy Saved My Life,” “I want to shout to all those plagued by SSA who wish they were not: Don’t give up. Please. Despite what you read and hear in our secular culture about the false idea that change is impossible, a ray of light might be just around the corner.”
- Nathan wrote, “The insight [JONAH provided] also allows me to see this pattern [of SSA] for what it is not: the thinking that I was born this way as many elements of society continually preach or a belief that my SSA is so ingrained that it can never be overcome.”
- “Jonah Wife,” whose husband’s SSA had impacted negatively upon their marriage for years, wrote, “[The Therapy] really is working and since JIM [a program JONAH recommends] came into our lives we haven’t had one glitch in our personal life. And that’s really something to shout about!!”
But Goldberg offers more than just anecdotes. He also told me, “About two thirds of the clients referred to us report significant reductions in their unwanted behaviors and feelings. These results are consistent with other programs that utilize both spiritual and psychological work to help people seeking to change.”
Given this track record, it’s not surprising that those helped by JONAH are upset that pro-SSA activists are trying to squelch their freedom. As JONAH recently disseminated in an email:
A respondent who was sexually abused as a young boy reports, …I am so tired of politically correct hate groups that do everything they claim to despise in the name of tolerance – when they tolerate nothing but strict conformity to narrow ideological dogma…. I chose to have gay change therapy.”
A client who struggled with SSA for over 10 years says, “The gay movement is becoming one of the most destructive moments [sic] in history. They who want their rights acknowledged are the first ones to take away mine. I have the right to pursue whatever journey I value in life….”
Not according to the “civil rights” group the SPLC, he doesn’t. They and other activists claim that SSA is inborn, and, therefore, therapy designed to ameliorate it is ineffective, traumatic and fraudulent. And they have their own anecdotes. So let’s go beyond he said-she said and the here and now and examine the testimonial of time.
Homosexuality was institutionalized in Spartan military camps — which all boys were conscripted into at age seven — during the city state’s mid and late periods. And widely practiced homosexual behavior was common in much of ancient Greece. For example, we understand that the Sacred Band of Thebes warrior group comprised pederastic man-youth pairings. This raises a question: did all, or most, ancient Greeks have a “gay gene” or some other inborn cause of SSA? Logic dictates that their homosexuality was a purely psychological phenomenon (in many cases, if not most) that was culturally promoted and approved.
Now, has the human mind undergone some great transformation since the Hellenic period that would account for how SSA could never, ever be a purely psychological phenomenon today? Is it reasonable to say that it couldn’t be purely psychological in even 1 out of 1000 cases? That would be a radical position.
But if it can be so, then it could be psychological in 2 out of 1000 cases, or 30, 50, or 50 percent of them, correct? So at this point — even if we accept, for argument’s sake, that SSA could be inborn or at least have inborn factors — you’d have to admit that you really can’t know which cases are congenital and which are purely psychological.
Of course, there are people with SSA who defend the inborn thesis with the claim, “I’ve had these feelings my whole life.” This is a tendentious conclusion, however. This is not just because they’re extrapolating their own experience to all people with SSA, but also because we don’t have memories from prior to the age of three, four or five. So all these individuals can really say is, “I’ve had these feelings for as long as I can remember.” And what occurs during those tender, lost-memory years can have profound and far-reaching effects.
Moreover, what is the nature of these feelings? As Goldberg points out, since young children don’t have libidos and generally aren’t sexual, what the individuals in question actually sense is that they feel “different.” But identifying as homosexual? Hardly.
The point here is that the SPLC and other activists aren’t basing their opposition to SSA therapy on reason or science. As to this, note that no “gay gene” has ever been found; moreover, theories pertaining to hormonal anomalies during intrauterine development are at best inconclusive. So this raises a question: why are these activists so opposed to SSA therapy? I doubt it’s really because they think it’s fruitless and will harm people in its failure.
It’s because they’re afraid it will succeed.
You see, the pro-homosexuality lobby has made it a dogma in recent times that same-sex attractions are inborn and cannot be changed, in an effort to legitimize homosexual behavior. The idea is that if you were made that way, how can it be questioned? In fact, you will often hear pro-SSA activists say, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” And, no, He doesn’t, but the line of reasoning here is nonetheless mistaken.
First, whether you believe man is naturally flawed or tragically fallen, it’s clear we aren’t born perfect. Cleft lips, spina bifida, Down’s syndrome and many other congenital abnormalities attest to this, and no one refuses an infant with hypoplasia (a heart defect) surgery with the claim that “God doesn’t make mistakes.”
And consider the implications of the inborn-SSA justification. After all, the same social scientists who tell us SSA is congenital also say that sociopaths are born and not made. Now, if, further, someone was born with homicidal instincts, would this give him license to commit murder?
In other words, the inborn-SSA justification places us on a dangerous road, as it eliminates morality and replaces it with biological determinism. Translated simply, it asserts that if a feeling is inborn, it is okay to act upon it. But to reduce behavior to pure instinct is to reduce man to animal. Genetics does not determine morality.
Yet as true as this is, it’s not relevant to JONAH’s activities. Those who participate in the organization’s programs certainly don’t believe their SSA is inborn and irremediable, and they pursue remedies voluntarily. Moreover, their testimonials bear witness to how heartfelt their desire to live a normal life is and to how they appreciate the assistance of a group that has helped approximately two-thirds of the people seeking assistance to feel better about themselves and to reduce their homosexual feelings and/or behavior. So why should they be denied the choice to avail themselves of the therapy they so desperately want?
Yet this is what the tyrannical SPLC aims to do with an army of lawyers and its $256 million war chest, resources that, of course, JONAH can’t even begin to match. And while the organization is being represented pro-bono by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund — which has already devoted almost a million dollars in legal time to the case — Goldberg tells me that JONAH has suffered significantly from the filing of the lawsuit. Cooperating therapists and those who struggle to overcome SSA have been intimidated. And JONAH has incurred significant costs deficit financing additional staff and other outlays directly attendant to the lawsuit. These are expenses it can ill afford.
But they pale in comparison to the costs of losing the suit. Goldberg warns, “It is important to note that we are simply SPLC’s initial target.” For sure. The SPLC calls their action against JONAH a “groundbreaking lawsuit,” and breaking ground is a precursor to further development. What they don’t tell you is that they will be building downwards, on broken hearts, broken hopes, broken families and broken liberties.
If you’d like to donate to JONAH and help it fight the SPLC, click here
After Connecticut enacted one of the most draconian gun-control regimes in America, official estimates suggest that the overwhelming majority of the citizens targeted by the latest assault on gun rights failed to comply. Indeed, analysts say it appears that most people largely ignored the new statute, which purports to ban numerous non-registered “assault” weapons and standard-capacity magazines. Now, despite resistance by the governor, state lawmakers are reportedly “scrambling” to come up with a possible amnesty plan allowing gun owners to register past the deadline.
According to news reports, some 50,000 newly mislabeled “assault weapons” and 40,000 so-called “high-capacity” magazines (10 or more rounds) targeted under the scheme were registered with state officials by the January 1 deadline. However, estimates and an official report by the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research issued before the new law suggest there are many, many more that went unregistered. Massive non-compliance with gun-registration schemes has been the norm in the United States and abroad, experts pointed out — and analysts say that is likely what happened in Connecticut.
Noting that the real number of “large-capacity” magazines in the state was unknown, the 2011 Connecticut Office of Legislative Research report said that it “could be in the tens of millions.” Estimates on the number of guns subject to the legislation, meanwhile, indicate that there may be as many as 500,000. Based on those figures, analysts suggested that perhaps less than 10 percent — possibly even less than five percent — of the items subject to the draconian new gun-control regime were registered with authorities by the deadline.
“Governor Dannel Malloy and the government of the state of Connecticut are having their own ‘Oh, poop’ moment, now that they’ve tallied the number of citizens who have registered their ‘assault weapons’ and ‘high-capacity magazines’ required by the state’s unconstitutional gun laws, compared that to the estimated number of applicable weapons and magazines in the state, and realize they’ve been ignored,” observed Bob Owens, editor of the pro-Second Amendment website BearingArms.com.
“Historically speaking, 90-percent or more of those required to comply with gun registration laws in the U.S. refuse to do so, and there is no reason to suspect that this registration attempt in Connecticut is any different,” Owens continued in comments about the radical new registration scheme. “I’ve seen estimates of 1,000,000 firearm magazines that should have been registered under the law, but the state reports registering only 40,000 … just 4 percent.”
Other analysts came up with similar non-compliance estimates, suggesting that the new anti-gun scheme — widely lambasted as unconstitutional and currently being fought in court — has been largely ignored by the public. “In past cases of firearms bans, noncompliance with registration is not uncommon,” pointed out Chris Eger in an analysis for Guns.com, another popular pro-Second Amendment website. “In California in 1990, out of an estimated 300,000 guns classified as ‘assault weapons’ just 7,000 were registered.”
Even in other nations without strong gun rights traditions and constitutional guarantees for the unalienable right to keep and bear arms, citizens have balked at registration. After all, historically, tyrants have almost always tried to force subjects to register their weapons prior to confiscation and eventual totalitarianism. When the Canadian government tried to register guns, Eger said, there was massive civil disobedience, with estimates indicating that the compliance rate was less than a third. Even in Austria and Germany, the number of guns registered was drastically below what authorities had estimated.
As The New American reported a year ago, in the state of New York, a radical assault on gun rights dubbed the “SAFE Act” was met with open calls for defiance. Setting the stage for what some analysts said might be the largest act of civil disobedience in New York history, countless gun-rights activists and owners vowed never to register their weapons. Even some lawmakers took to the floor of the legislature and said they would not comply with the draconian law. Sheriffs and other law enforcement officials also vowed to fight it as unconstitutional.
In Connecticut — ironically, also known as the “Constitution State” — lawmakers are now reportedly seeking to offer “amnesty” in an apparent bid to raise compliance levels. “It had come to my attention and the attention of others that many people who were attempting in good faith to comply with the law … were not able to because of what I would argue were circumstances not under their control,” Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) was quoted as claiming by the Hartford Courant.
In the state House, Rep. Rob Sampson is also working to extend the registration period, and other lawmakers have been involved in the discussions. News reports, citing officials, said that “many citizens” had tried to register their purportedly banned property by mail on December 31. However, because post offices closed, the documents were postmarked January 2 and were returned by state officials due to being past the statutory deadline. Pro-amnesty lawmakers are hoping an extension would encourage more citizens to obey.
The Democrat governor’s office, however, opposes the so-called “amnesty” effort, sending a letter to legislators saying that gun owners who failed to comply by the deadline were just “too late” to do anything about it. “Individuals whose late registrations were not processed,” the message to lawmakers says, “can render their magazine or firearm inoperable, sell it to a licensed gun dealer, remove it from the state, or turn it over to law enforcement.”
The penalty for being found with an “unregistered” standard-capacity magazine or semi-automatic firearm misclassified as an “assault” weapon under the new scheme is a fine — the first time. Further violations of the unconstitutional statute can result in up to five years in prison. While the long lines to register guns by the deadline drew numerous comparisons to historical instances of tyranny — as well as sympathy from gun owners across America — it remains unclear how many citizens failed to comply, and for what reasons.
Suggesting that some gun owners may have simply not known about the purported registration requirements, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League is calling on authorities to extend the deadline for compliance. “There are still too many gun owners that either do not know about this new law, or do not realize that it applies to them,” said CCDL President Scott Wilson. “I would ask the governor and state legislators what there would be to gain by punishing persons that are otherwise law abiding that do not legitimately know about this law?”
In addition to extending the deadline, the organization, which represents more than 10,000 members and has challenged the statute in federal court, is also urging officials to adopt an open-ended “amnesty” scheme to avoid criminalizing potentially massive numbers of everyday citizens. “CCDL also suggests that the state should consider an ongoing amnesty program in the future, for those that discover they own banned firearms or magazines that are not registered,” Wilson said. “This would likely alleviate some of the concerns people may have about the intent of the state.”
Gun rights proponents, meanwhile, ridiculed state officials for expecting citizens to comply with the oppressive gun-control regime — and for efforts in the legislature to save it. “They’re calling for an amnesty period because their internal estimates likely show that their attempt to browbeat the citizenry into registering their arms for future confiscation has been an abject failure, and they are desperate to do anything they can do to encourage compliance now that their threats have failed,” wrote Bob Owens at BearingArms.com.
Other pro-Second Amendment commentators made similar remarks. “So, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people waited until the last absolute second to send in this paperwork? I’m thinking not,” said Dan Cannon at GunsSaveLives.net. “I think this ‘amnesty’ deal is a chance for anti-gun politicians to try and save face after a massive civil disobedience movement was discovered.”
At the federal level, the Obama administration has continued to issue unconstitutional decrees on gun control after failing spectacularly last year in its push for Congress to approve more infringements on the human right to keep and bear arms. Ironically, however, as The New American reported this month, the nationwide assault on gun rights by Obama, the establishment media, and certain extremist Democrats has backfired, big time. In addition to sparking record firearm sales across America, dozens of state laws easing restrictions were enacted — almost double the number of laws purporting to impose new infringements. Efforts to fight the radical new scheme in Connecticut are ongoing.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Source: The New American
The rancour between Japan and China was on public display at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his keynote speech to the gathering of billionaires, bankers, CEOs, and political leaders on Wednesday.
After expounding on his “Abenomics” pro-market restructuring agenda, Abe spent the second half of his speech making barely-veiled jabs at China that were calculated to further inflame tensions.
Abe began by declaring that “freedom of movement” was of particular importance—a reference to the dangerous dispute that emerged last month over China’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea, including the disputed islets known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The US, followed by Japan, immediately flew war planes into the zone unannounced, challenging Chinese authority and sharply escalating tensions. As China scrambled its own fighters in response, the danger emerged of a clash precipitated by a mistake or miscalculation on either side.
Referring to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, Abe repeated his adage that disputes should be resolved through dialogue and the rule of law, not through force and coercion. In fact, his government refuses to even recognise that there is a dispute over the rocky outcrops and has stepped up military measures in the area, raising the risk of a military clash.
Again pointing to China, Abe proclaimed the need to “restrain military expansion in Asia, which could otherwise go unchecked.” He called for military budgets to be made “completely transparent”—a criticism repeatedly made by the US and its allies over China’s military spending.
While repeatedly declaring his commitment to peace, Abe last year announced the first increase in the Japanese military budget in a decade. His government continued to shift the strategic focus of the Japanese military to “island defence” and Japan’s southern island chain adjacent to the Chinese mainland.
Japan’s defence expansion has been encouraged and backed by the Obama administration, as part of its “pivot to Asia” that includes strengthening of alliances and partnerships throughout the region aimed against China.
Making clear the dangers of war were real, Abe warned his audience: “If peace and stability were shaken in Asia, the knock-on effect for the entire world would be enormous.”
Asked by the chair of the session, Abe defended his visit in December to the notorious Yasukuni war shrine—a hated symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s, where many “Class A” Japanese war criminals are buried. Abe claimed he was simply “praying for the souls of the departed,” which should be “something quite natural for a leader of any country in the world.”
While Abe did not name China in the course of his speech, the target of his remarks was unmistakable.
In another Davos session, Chinese academic Wu Xinbo responded by calling Abe a “troublemaker”, likening him to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “Political relations between our two countries will remain very cool, even frozen for the remaining years of Abe in Japan,” he warned.
In a less public forum at Davos with international journalists, Abe was more explicit. Asked by Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman if war with China was “conceivable”, the Japanese prime minister did not rule it out. Instead, he compared the current tensions between China and Japan to the rivalry between Britain and Germany in the years before the World War I, saying that it was a “similar situation”.
While various commentators have made the same comparison, such remarks carry added significance coming from Japan’s prime minister. Abe reinforced the point by declaring that China’s increase in military spending was a major source of instability in the region.
As reported in Rachman’s blog, Abe noted that, “Britain and Germany—like China and Japan—had a strong trading relationship. But in 1914, this had not prevented strategic tensions leading to the outbreak of conflict.” He warned of the danger of “some conflict or dispute arising out the blue, on an ad hoc level… or inadvertently”—a reference to the killing of the Austrian archduke in 1914 that sparked war.
Abe offered no suggestion as to how conflict could be avoided, other than a half-hearted proposal for a “military-force level communications channel” between Beijing and Tokyo. “Unfortunately we don’t have a clear and explicit roadmap,” he said, adding later than Japan would “very much like to strengthen our military relationship with the US.”
This last remark highlights the role of the Obama administration is stoking up tensions throughout the region. Its “pivot to Asia” has encouraged allies as Japan and the Philippines to take a far more aggressive stance in their maritime quarrels with China. Four years ago, the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands barely registered in international politics. Today it has become a dangerous flashpoint for war in Asia.
Abe’s speech is part of an escalating propaganda war between Japan and China. Following Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, Chinese and Japanese ambassadors have engaged in embittered exchanges in the newspapers in at least a dozen countries, including the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
In Britain, the exchange took the bizarre form of likening the other country to Lord Voldemort—the ultimate incarnation of evil the Harry Potter children’s novels—and accusing it of militarism and aggression.
Like the Abe government, the Chinese regime has seized on the dispute to whip up reactionary patriotic sentiment, seeking to divert attention from the social crisis at home and manoeuvre diplomatically abroad. Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming concluded his diatribe against Japan with an appeal for Britain and China to renew the World War II alliance—that is, against Japan—in order “to safeguard regional stability and world peace.”
The tensions between Japan and China at Davos, where business and political leaders are supposedly gathered to iron out the problems of global capitalism, underlines the bankruptcy of the social order that they all defend. Five years after the global financial crisis, the economic breakdown continues unabated, fuelling geo-political rivalries that are driving towards a catastrophic war.
It is obviously clear. President Obama is a threat not only to the American people. He is destabilizing the United States every way he can. He did this paying for Treyvon protest trying to start race wars as one example. He is a threat to world peace. He has to be neutralized before he takes the world into an age of war and destruction. Now how can that be done? Congress can pass all the impeachment bills. The US Senate will not by two thirds vote him guilty removing him from office. Politically there is very little that can be done to interpose between Obama and him destroying the world.
So who will step in and take action to avert a disaster from happening? The usurper in the White House is the most lawless President in history that makes Nixon and Clintonlook like choir boys in comparison. President Obama does not respect the Constitution and international law. He is waging war against the American people economically and shredding our Bill of Rights daily.
He is waging war against Christianity on the domestic front attacking religious freedom by forcing people of conscience to pay for Obamacare the pays for abortions. He is attacking Christians in the military daring to say the name of Jesus forcing chaplains to marry homosexuals against the moral conviction of the clergy. At the same time erecting Pagan places of worship on military installations. For this matter I call on the Patriots to relieve officers of duty and command who attack the religious freedom of the men and women in uniform. I do not care if the commander is a Buddhist and gay. He must respect and defend all faiths and conscience. If he is willing to follow an unlawful, immoral order without question that will weaken the fighting strength. Then the commanders and officers who carry these immoral orders need to be relieved of command.
President Obama is waging war on Christians in Syria, Egypt and now in Kenya. He is waging war against Christians world wide. He is a threat to the faith. He is arming the enemies of Christianity who are murdering unarmed woman and children. His actions are bringing instability to the world. He does not regard public opinion at all when it comes to gun control when the people are buying guns in record numbers and the citizens reluctance to go to war with Iran and Syria. Obama is a dangerous loose cannon that must be stopped.
First, Obama may be a natural born US Citizen because he was born in Hawaii. But he renounced his US citizenship becoming an Indonesian citizen taking on the name Barry Soetoro. His records are sealed where we do not know his immigration and naturalization records documenting repatriation or if he is a US citizen. Therefore he might be ineligible to hold office. Obama by his actions says he is an agent of a foreign power working against the United States. He is a domestic enemy of the United States.
He is arming Al Qaeda. The same terrorist that killed and maimed soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s half brother is being funded by the CIA to fund the Muslim brotherhood. Obama’s cousin Odinga is destabilizing Kenya. Odinga was given advice from Obama when he was a US Senator on how to cause havoc and destabilize Kenya for political gain.
Now with this massacre in Nairobi Kenya killing Christians in a Shopping mall. Now there are calls for the TSA to be in Shopping Malls that are another gun free zone. It would not surprise me if there are shootings in the malls in the states to further a police state here. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was calling for small scale attacks on US soil. Al Zawahri is a CIA backed operative who was behind the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Obama is the head of the Muslim Brotherhood and backs AL Qaeda therefore must be taken down and brought to justice.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
President Obama is commiting treason daily against the Americans people waging war every way possible to weaken our republic. He is involved in insurrection and rebellion against the laws of the Union.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.
If we took the oath. We are all duty bound to uphold that oath against all enemies foreign and domestic.
Those who are commissioned Officers in the Armed forces take the oath below:
I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”
(DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution ofthe United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the UnitedStates and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
(Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
That oath does not say to defend unconstitutional laws and illegal orders. It does not say defend a political agenda or corrupt politicians. It does not say defend the dictator. If the laws contradict the USMJ and the Constitution of these United States. The people in the Armed forces are duty bound not to carry out the order.
We are very unique because our oaths are not to a person. But to the US Constitution. The people who written the Constitution and requiring an oath of affirmation to support and defend the Constitution. Not a monarchy. They knew the British Redcoats were bound to the will of the King. Not to any morals. They had to follow the decrees of the King without question. We do not serve a monarchy. We never swore to a dictator. We serve the cause of freedom defending and preserving our Constitution. Our oath to preserve, protect and defend out Constitution is a vital check and balance against tyranny and despotism. The UCMJ requires us to follow lawful orders and not illegal edicts that goes against the law of the land
President Obama through insurrection is working hard to overthrow the government ofthe United States. Obama is trying to find an excuse to declare a national emergency to place the USA under Martial law. He can announce the President is suspending the Constitution so continuity of government declaring the President Dictator under PD-51 President Bush singed. This makes the President a Dictator under any national emergency the chief executive decides what is and what isn’t . Congress has no say to review. This is a classified document congress is not allowed to read.
Right now in Benjamin Fulford newsletter he says with much skepticism from a source inside the Pentagon. General Staff officers are making a list of 30,000 people who are New World Order thugs including the President. All to be arrested for treason and insurrection attempting to overthrow the Constitutional government.
It has been rumored the Provost Marshal was going to arrest Obama for attempting to detonate a nuclear device in Washington DC on the 12th Anniversary of Sept 11th. The shooting in the Navy yard could be a smoke screen of the attempted arrest of Obama for treason. I can tell the Military is getting ready to act to defend this nation. When Secretary of State John Kerry signed the UN Small Arms Trade Treaty. That was an act of treason trying to repeal the Second Amendment by underhanded means using treaty law.
I do not see much of the Military going out to confiscate guns. It is not 2005 in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It is a different world.
The Military is very awake now to the President’s treasonous ways. It is my hope the Military stands down instead of carrying out illegal orders where Obama is crowned King Nothing.
Source: From The Trenches World Report
Obama’s war on Syria rages. It’s taken a horrific toll nationwide. Tens of thousands died. Dozens more do daily.
Millions were displaced. Numbers internally and abroad range up to one-third of Syria’s population. Humanitarian crisis conditions exist. Human suffering is extreme.
Peace talks reflect more illusion than reality. On January 22, they’re scheduled to begin.
On Sunday and Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with so-called Friends of Syria countries in Paris.
They include America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and UAE.
They’re imperial collaborators. They no friends of the great majority of Syrians. On Sunday, they issued a joint statement, saying:
“Assad and his close associates with blood on their hands will have no role in Syria.”
Throughout nearly three years of conflict, they’ve wrongfully blamed him for Western-backed insurgent crimes.
They’re imperial collaborators. They’re responsible for horrific bloodshed. They want regime change. They want mass slaughter and destruction to achieve it.
They want sole right to choose who’ll rule. They want Syrians having no say. They want pro-Western stooges in charge. They’re ravaging and destroying a once peaceful country.
They’re responsible for high crimes against peace. No end of conflict looms. It’s unclear if talks will take place as scheduled. It’s unclear if it matters.
It’s unclear who’s attending. Divided opposition groups may not come. They’re preoccupied with slaughtering each other instead.
On January 12, AFP headlined “700 killed in Syria rebel-jihadist battle: monitor.”
Hundreds more are missing. Fighting rages. It’s been ongoing for days. Civilians are caught in the middle. Perhaps well over 1,000 died. Expect many more to perish.
Northern provinces are affected. Aleppo, Idlib and Raqa are hard hit. So are Hama and Homs. At least 16 suicide attacks occurred. Dozens were killed. More die daily. Syria remains a cauldron of violence.
On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius lied, saying:
“It’s the regime of Bashar al-Assad that is feeding terrorism. We must bring that regime to an end.”
“There is no solution to the Syrian tragedy apart from a political solution. And there is no possibility to achieve (it) if Geneva two does not take place.”
Geneva I ended in failure. Washington and other opponents demanded he must go. They demand he go now. They do so illegitimately.
On Sunday, John Kerry discussed prospects for Middle East peace. He addressed Syria. He blamed Assad for Obama’s war.
“There is an urgent need for the Syrian regime to implement its obligations under the UN Security Council Presidential Statement,” he said.
“We believe it is possible for the regime to (cease fighting) before Geneva – local ceasefires if necessary – a ceasefire with respect to Aleppo, and send the signal that they are prepared to set a different mood, a different climate, a different stage for the possibility of success in Geneva.”
“They have the power to do that. And the opposition has pledged that if they will do that. The opposition will live by it.”
False! Kerry knows it. Extremist elements continue fighting. They reject peace talks. Washington bears full responsibility for ongoing conflict. Assad defends Syria responsibly.
He’s battling US-backed foreign invaders. Don’t expect Kerry to explain. Continued aggression is planned.
Washington is directly involved in supplying lethal aid. It’s been doing it all along. It’s coming cross border from Turkey and Jordan. Israel is supplying weapons. CIA and US special forces are directly involved.
Kerry lied saying Assad “disregard(s) the most basic human rights.” Extremist opposition forces are barbaric. They’ve committed numerous atrocities. Assad is wrongfully blamed.
Washington wants war on Syria continued. Geneva II won’t end it. Demanding Assad must go is illegal.
Syrians alone have sole right to decide who’ll lead them. Foreign interference violates international law.
Kerry is an unindicted war criminal. He has no legitimacy whatever. He’s less than optimistic about Syria.
“None of us have an expectation,” he said. “(F)ull agreement” is unlikely.
“What we do expect is to begin to get the parties at the table convened and negotiating and beginning a process of waging an even stronger effort to provide for this political solution.”
“It’ll take a little bit of time, but I’m confident that it needs that forum. It needs all the players at the table.”
“It needs the umbrella of the United Nations.” It needs Assad gone, according to Kerry.
On Sunday, Friends of Syria countries issued a statement saying Geneva Two’s objective is replacing Assad with transitional governance.
They want one fully empowered. They want pro-Western stooges in charge. They want what Syrians won’t tolerate.
Ahmad Jarba heads the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. He replaced Moaz al-Khatib. He’s no friend of Syrians. He’s one-sidedly pro-Western.
He issued a statement saying:
“The most important aspect of today’s meeting is that we all agree to say that the Assad family has no future in Syria.”
“Removing Assad from Syria for the future has now been clearly established in a unanimous decision adopted by (Friends of Syria countries) without the possibility for ambiguity.”
Lavrov responded saying:
“Our partners are blinded by an ideological mission for regime change.”
“I am convinced that the West is doing this to demonstrate that they call the shots in the Middle East. This is a totally politicized approach.”
Russia is fundamentally opposed. It respects Syrian sovereignty. International laws matter. Putin calls force against sovereign nations unacceptable. He said waging it is aggression.
Removing Assad assures endless conflict. Doing so frees jihadists to run wild. Syria will resemble Iraq and Libya.
Daily conflict kills dozens in both countries. Violence shows no signs of ending. Pro-Western puppet governance can’t stop it.
Institute of World Economy and International Relations senior fellow Stanislav Ivanov believes peace in Syria remains elusive.
He doubts Geneva II will work. Given what remains ongoing, it’s destined to fail, he said.
He believes a UN-sponsored conference should precede Geneva. All relevant international parties should be involved.
Iran should be invited unconditionally. It won’t attend Geneva any other way.
Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies Rajab Safarov calls Geneva talks this month futile.
“The conference will not take place because of the US,” he said. “Washington cannot get rid of the heavy pressure from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are not interested in finding a solution to the Syrian issue,” he added.
“There are almost no chances this conference and even holding it can succeed,” he said.
“Assad needs 4-6 months (more fighting) maximum. After that there will be no opposition in Syria. And no need” for peace talks, he believes.
At the same time, he thinks Geneva II can achieve something positive. Geneva I failed by demanding Assad must go.
Friends of Syria countries demand it now. Doing so runs counter to what most Syrians wish. Peace remains a convenient illusion.
Expect conflict without end to continue. It’s virtually certain without Iran’s involvement to end it.
Regional violence shows no signs of ending. Greater war looms possible. Post-9/11, millions died. Washington bears full responsibility.
It’s waging war on humanity. Expect other countries to be ravaged and destroyed before it ends.
The entire region may become embroiled in conflict. Global war is possible. Imagine the potential consequences. Imagine what no responsible leaders should risk.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
The globalists put their plan into motion decades ago. The proper meaning of the headline is not that China is an economic miracle, but that the United States, systematically stripped of its industrial might, is destined to fall even further. The Chinese economy is a haven of direct transnational integration. The outsourcing of manufacturing from domestic capacity is not solely a response of cheaper economic cost of goods production. No, the underlying reason for the migration of product assemblage is to weaken an independent American economy.
The news of this long awaited milestone, primarily announced in the foreign press, almost has a ring of glee. The Guardian reports that China surpasses US as world’s largest trading nation.
“China’s annual trade in goods passed the $4tn (£2.4tn) mark for the first time last year according to official data, after exports from the world’s second largest economy rose 7.9% to $2.21tn and imports rose 7.3% to $1.95tn.
As a result total trade rose 7.6% over the year to $4.16tn. The US is yet to publish its 2013 trade figures, but with trade totaling $3.5tn in the first 11 months of the year, it is unlikely to beat China.”
“It’s always been a matter of time until China surpasses the US … and there are good reasons to believe that China is likely to retain this pole position for the foreseeable future.
“The trade figures look very healthy and the factors underpinning them are structurally sustainable. It is hard to see them being reversed significantly, at least in the short to medium term.”
Contrast this viewpoint with the assessment out of Marketwatch.
“And let’s not forget: The economic data out of Chinese agencies has long been seen as a bit questionable. Even the country’s own statistics office has said it is trying to clean up the inaccuracies. As our own Michael Kitchen points out, trade data has come under particular suspicion, as businesses disguise some money flows as trade to try to bypass controls.”Of course, the U.S. press continues to make excuses that conceal the betrayal of American trade policy goals and practices. These are the same business journalists that repeat the statistical figures coming out of recent administrations that need revisions, when caught in dramatic errors of omission or deception.
Proponents of a structured destruction of America’s economy, laud international trade, as long as it slanted to eliminate domestic survival and reduces our standard of living. This lunacy, stated in Benefits of International Trade, does not square with the aftermath of a trade deficit that has become a permanent fixture.
Some important benefits of International Trade
- Enhances the domestic competitiveness
- Takes advantage of international trade technology
- Increases sales and profits
- Extend sales potential of the existing products
- Maintain cost competitiveness in your domestic market
- Enhance potential for expansion of your business
- Gains a global market share
- Reduce dependence on existing markets
- Stabilize seasonal market fluctuations
Now examine the real significance of this “Free Trade” globalist plan for America.
1. How can domestic competitiveness improve, when entire industries move offshore?
2. Where is the advantage in developing new technology domestically and transferring it to foreign plants, even if owned by “so called” U.S. national companies?
3. Increase sales and profits, booked by foreign subsidiaries, means that the capital is not repatriated back.
4. If products produced domestically, shipped, and sold to overseas markets, there would be a valid benefit. However, the direction is in reverse.
5. Maintaining cost competitiveness translates into closing domestic facilities.
6. Expansion of business means look overseas because domestic consumers have less money to spend.
7. Oh yes, the holy grail of market share, means last company standing, since domestic markets have reduced sales.
8. Yep, now that existing domestic markets are sinking, move your boat to a different ocean.
9. Seasonal fluctuations means that booms are past profit spikes, the new normal is a perpetual dip.
The Chinese perspective as reported in China Daily from Wang Haifeng, a researcher with the Institute for International Economic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission, needs especial emphasis.
“The size of the value of the trade in goods tells just one side of the story. The other side is that China’s export competitiveness, as well as the competitiveness of its trade structure, is far behind the US. The competitive advantage of US exports centers on its technology, quality and brands, with added-value being very significant. China’s export prices are much cheaper on average and a large part of its exports are from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers),” Wang said.
When an economic system intentionally transfers their technological advantages, inventions and intellectual edge to a foreign country so that companies can avoid domestic taxation or onerous regulation, the future adverse and inevitable consequences with such relocations, are preordained.
According to World Bank data, in 2011, the US GDP reached $15 trillion while China totaled $7.3 trillion. Just how long will it take this gap to narrow and surpass the U.S. GDP?
If a comparison of gambling revenue is a leading indicator, just look at Chinese Territory Broaden Lead as Global Casino Capital. “It now takes Macau’s gamblers just one day to wager what’s bet in an entire week on the Las Vegas Strip.” To make thing even worse, Nevada’s biggest casinos lose $1.35B in 2013.
This example demonstrates the extravagant cash flow and disposable income that is circulating in China. Much of this opulence comes from the pocketbooks of struggling Americans, who buy essential or sustainable goods that have a made in China label.
Tech firms transfer the secrets of their products and software to their Chinese partners as the U.S. government subsidized consumer or the remnant middle class, just deepen this destructive cycle. This absurd economic bargain drives the wealth disparity to irrational levels. That is exactly the objective of the globalists, and the rest of us are mere spectators as the Chinese laugh at our stupidity.
It’s starting to appear as if marijuana users have become the homosexual lobby of the chemically dependent. What do I mean? Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson could mention one sexual behavior (adultery) as disqualifying someone from the “kingdom of God,” but mentioning that “other” sexual behavior? That’s a boycottin’, pardner! Likewise, there’s no shortage of articles about the perils of smoking tobacco — about how it causes lung cancer, emphysema and premature aging; about how it’s a dirty, nasty habit — all without indignant smokers crawling out of the woodwork to protest, between hacking coughs, that their passion is being unfairly demonized. But dare imply that inhaling copious amounts of marijuana smoke may not be one of Dr. Oz’s top ten health recommendations, and, well, the potheads cometh.
Let’s begin here with a simple but apparently radical premise: habitually sucking into your lungs hot gases containing carbon particles probably isn’t the most healthful practice. This is true whether the source is a Marlboro, a truck’s tailpipe or a bong loaded with cannabis. Agreed?
Apparently not. As with this article about pot use’s correlation with psychotic behavior, such assertions not only bring out the potheads — who do seem to have the ambition to defend their vice — but also some apologists who claim that marijuana smoking is actually a good. It’s for medicinal purposes, you see.
So we hear about how negative reporting on pot is all Puritan propaganda, about how tobacco is far worse, about how I’m 49 and toked since I were a teen and I funkshun fein, about how if you purge the THC, it’s a perfect drug (somehow every pothead is Linus Pauling). And then there’s the old standby: alcohol is legal and is worse. Alcohol is more addictive. Alcohol this and alcohol that. Potheads love the alcohol comparison. Okay, then, let’s compare the two.
While most agree that casual drinking — one or two drinks — is fine and may even offer health benefits, it’s universally acknowledged that drunkenness is destructive, ugly and reckless. In accordance with the old PSA, “If you have to drink to be social, it’s not social drinking,” it’s accepted that if you have to get inebriated to deal with life, you have a problem. Even drunkards tend to acknowledge this (they just usually deny that they have a problem). And we certainly shouldn’t exercise double standards.
So I’ll say that if you want to have one or two small puffs of a marijuana cigarette, fine.
But you’ve crossed the line if you get high.
This puts the lie to the alcohol/pot comparison. There are millions of casual drinkers who may have a beer or glass of wine with dinner but have no intention of getting tipsy. Except, however, for the few who use pot for legitimate medical purposes (and I’m dubious about the necessity of this, mind you), the goal of a marijuana smoker is ever and always to get high (drunk). The intention is always to alter his mental state.
This is why the proper comparison is not pot smoking and “drinking,” but pot smoking and drunkenness. It is why legal marijuana doesn’t correspond to legal alcohol as much as it does to legal cocaine, another drug that takes you from sober to stewed with one dose.
And it’s why there’s no such thing in the real world as “casual” marijuana use. Millions of “drinkers” can honestly say that they have no chemical dependency issue, but not one regular pot user can. By definition, pot smokers’ goal is to get “drunk.”
So one drink doesn’t equal one joint — one bottle does. But to further cement the point, imagine alcohol really was pot’s equivalent, that even just one six-ounce drink got you plastered. Would we find any degree of alcohol consumption tolerable? Would Prohibition ever have ended?
Note here what I am not doing. I’m not making any claims about whether pot is more unhealthful than tobacco; I’m not denying that a pothead is a safer driver than a drunkard, or opining on whether or not marijuana use increases the incidence of psychosis or lowers I.Q. when used by the young (as another study indicated). I’m not weighing in right now on whether or not the drug should be legal. I’m simply pointing out that the main arguments used to legitimize pot are pap.
And “legitimize” is the operative word. When people editorialized against Prohibition, their argument perhaps was of the nature G.K. Chesterton presented in a 1935 radio talk when he opined, “The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.” But I don’t know of anyone who claimed that drunkenness should be considered a desired state or even acceptable. Yet this notion runs through pro-pot commentary: the idea that potheads’ form of drunkenness is okay. And it has to run through it — because, again, to advocate pot use is to advocate “drunkenness.”
So while we may argue about whether pot is a gateway drug, advocacy of it is certainly a gateway idea. Inherent in it is the notion that altering your mind is okay, getting high is fine. Of course, some potheads might tell us that their form of drunkenness is different, that the acceptance of it won’t lead to the acceptance of getting high via other means. Hey, all these things occur in a bubble, there is no slippery slope, and precedents don’t precede. (And where have we heard that before?)
Wherever you stand on pot legalization, about legitimization there should be no debate. A nation that does not maintain stringent social prohibitions (in the least) against chemical dependency will not likely remain strong and vibrant. Thus, we always must be able to unabashedly say: if you’re using marijuana habitually, face it, you’re a pothead. You’re self-medicating. You’re chemically dependent. You have a problem. And drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
This is true whether it’s by bottle or bong.
“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” – President Woodrow Wilson, Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The horrors reported each day from Syria and Iraq are enough to make one cry; in particular, the atrocities carried out by the al-Qaeda types: floggings; beheadings; playing soccer with the heads; cutting open dead bodies to remove organs just for mockery; suicide bombers, car bombs, the ground littered with human body parts; countless young children traumatized for life; the imposition of sharia law, including bans on music … What century are we living in? What millennium? What world?
People occasionally write to me that my unwavering antagonism toward American foreign policy is misplaced; that as awful as Washington’s Museum of Horrors is, al-Qaeda is worse and the world needs the United States to combat the awful jihadists.
“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote. “They are different from you and me.”
And let me tell you about American leaders. In power, they don’t think the way you and I do. They don’t feel the way you and I do. They have supported “awful jihadists” and their moral equivalents for decades. Let’s begin in 1979 in Afghanistan, where the Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”) were in battle against a secular, progressive government supported by the Soviet Union; a “favorite tactic” of the Moujahedeen was “to torture victims [often Russians] by first cutting off their nose, ears, and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another”, producing “a slow, very painful death”.
With America’s massive and indispensable military backing in the 1980s, Afghanistan’s last secular government (bringing women into the 20th century) was overthrown, and out of the victoriousMoujahedeen arose al Qaeda.
During this same period the United States was supporting the infamous Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; yes, the same charming lads of Pol Pot and The Killing Fields.
President Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a leading force behind the US support of both the Moujahedeen and the Khmer Rouge. What does that tell you about that American leader? Or Jimmy Carter – an inspiration out of office, but a rather different person in the White House? Or Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama, who chose Brzezinski as one of his advisers?
Another proud example of the United States fighting the awful jihadists is Kosovo, an overwhelmingly Muslim province of Serbia. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began an armed conflict with Belgrade in the early 1990s to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against Serbia. But Washington’s imperialists, more concerned about dealing a blow to Serbia, “the last communist government in Europe”, supported the KLA.
The KLA have been known for their torture and trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
More recently the US has supported awful jihadists in Libya and Syria, with awful consequences.
It would, moreover, be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
Not exactly the grand savior our sad old world is yearning for. (Oh, did I mention that Washington’s policies create a never-ending supply of terrorists?)
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club when she wrote that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
If you’ve never done anything you wouldn’t want the government to know about, you should re-examine your life choices.
“The idea is to build an antiterrorist global environment,” a senior American defense official said in 2003, “so that in 20 to 30 years, terrorism will be like slave-trading, completely discredited.”
One must wonder: When will the dropping of bombs on innocent civilians by the United States, and invading and occupying their country become completely discredited? When will the use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, CIA torture renditions, and round-the-world, round-the-clock surveillance become things that even men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and John Brennan will be too embarrassed to defend?
Last month, a former National Security Agency official told the Washington Post that the Agency’s workers are polishing up their résumés and asking that they be cleared – removing any material linked to classified programs – so they can be sent out to potential employers. He noted that one employee who processes the résumés said, “I’ve never seen so many résumés that people want to have cleared in my life.”
Morale is “bad overall”, said another former official. “The news – the Snowden disclosures – it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.”
President Obama was recently moved to declare that he would be proposing “some self-restraint on the NSA” and “some reforms that can give people more confidence.” He also said “In some ways, the technology and the budgets and the capacity [at NSA] have outstripped the constraints. And we’ve got to rebuild those in the same way that we’re having to do on a whole series of capacities … [such as] drone operations.”
Well, dear readers and comrades, we shall see. But if you’re looking for a glimmer of hope to begin a new year, you may as well try grabbing onto these little offerings. When the American Empire crumbles, abroad and at home, as one day it must, Edward Snowden’s courageous actions may well be seen as one of the key steps along that road. I’ve long maintained that only the American people have the power to stop The Imperial Machine – the monster that eats the world’s environment, screws up its economies, and spews violence on every continent. And for that to happen the American people have to lose their deep-seated, quasi-religious belief in “American Exceptionalism”. For many, what they’ve been forced to learn the past six months has undoubtedly worn deep holes into the protective armor that has surrounded their hearts and minds since childhood.
A surprising and exhilarating example of one of these holes in the armor is the New Year’s day editorial in the New York Times that is now well known. Entitled “Edward Snowden, Whistle-blower” – itself a legitimation of his actions – its key part says: “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”
The president has been moved to appoint a committee to study NSA abuses. This of course is a standard bureaucratic maneuver to keep critics at bay. But the committee – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – did come up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:
“Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”
“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.”
The first recommendation refers to a practice, though certainly despicable, that is something the United States has been doing, and lying about, for decades. Just this past September, James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, declared: “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies.”
Clapper is the same gentleman who told Congress in March that the NSA does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans; and, when subsequently challenged on this remark, declared: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no’.”
The second recommendation had not been revealed before, in a Snowden document or from any other source.
“That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about,” observed the director of a government transparency group.
ABC News reported that “A spokesperson for the NSA declined to comment on the issue of bank account hacking, and a representative for U.S. Cyber Command did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.”
Manipulating bank records is about as petty and dishonorable as a superpower can behave, and could conceivably, eventually, lead to the end of the NSA as we’ve all come to know and love it. On the other hand, the Agency no doubt holds some very embarrassing information about anyone in a position to do them harm.
The bombing of Flight 103 – Case closed?
When the 25th anniversary of the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 occurred on December 21 I was fully expecting the usual repetitions of the false accusation against Libya and Moammar Gaddafi as being responsible for the act which took the lives of 270 people over and in Lockerbie, Scotland. But much to my surprise, mingled with such, there were a rash of comments skeptical of the official British-US version, made by various people in Scotland and elsewhere, including by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Libya.
In a joint statement the three governments said they were determined to unearth the truth behind the attack. “We want all those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed”, they declared.
Remarkable. In 1991, the United States indicted a Libyan named Adelbaset al-Megrahi. He was eventually found guilty of being the sole perpetrator of the crime, kept in prison for many years, and finally released in 2009 when he had terminal cancer, allegedly for humanitarian reasons, although an acute smell of oil could be detected. And now they speak of bringing to justice “those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism”.
The 1988 crime was actually organized by Iran in retaliation for the American shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in July of the same year, which took the lives of 290 people. It was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), a 1968 breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation Organization, with some help from Syria. And this version was very widely accepted in the Western world, in government and media circles. Until the US buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed. Then, suddenly, we were told that it was Libya behind the crime.
If the US and UK now wish to return to Iran, and perhaps Syria, as the culprits, they will have a lot of explaining to do about their previous lie. But these two governments always have a lot of explaining to do. They’re good at it. And the great bulk of their indoctrinated citizens, with little resistance, will accept the new/old party line, and their mainstream media will effortlessly switch back to the old/new official version, since Iran and Syria are at the top of the current list of Bad Guys. (The PFLP-GC has been quiescent for some time and may scarcely exist.)
If you’re confused by all this, I suggest that you start by reading my detailed article on the history of this case, written in 2001 but still very informative and relevant. You may be rather surprised.
The UK, US and Libyan governments have now announced that they will co-operate to reveal “the full facts” of the Lockerbie bombing. And Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, said he believes more people will be charged. This could be very interesting.
Free books of historical value
- The complete set, less one volume, of the 15 Church Committee (1975-6) volumes. Lacking only Final Report, book 6: “Congressional Research Service. Supplementary Reports on Intelligence Activities.”
- The complete set, less one volume, of the 6 Pike Committee volumes. Lacking only volume 6: “Committee Proceedings, part II”
- The Rockefeller Commission Report, one volume.
- Hearings on FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (same as Church Committee), one volume.
Total of 21 volumes, all from 1975-1976, all in good condition. Either pick them up in Washington, DC or send me $10 for postage.
- Washington Post May 11, 1979; New York Times, April 13 1979
- William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower” (2005), chapter 10
- RT TV (Russia Today, Moscow), May 4, 2012
- Associated Press, December 14, 2010
- Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000 issue
- New York Times, January 17, 2003
- Washington Post, December 7, 2013
- Washington Post, December 18, 2013
- Washington Post, December 7, 2013
- “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”, p.221
- See Anti-Empire Report, #118, June 26, 2013, second part
- Statement by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper on Allegations of Economic Espionage, September 8, 2013
- NBC News, June 9, 2013
- Kel McLanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, speaking to ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
- ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
- Reuters news agency, December 22, 2013
What really happened in the Ukrainian crisis?
It is freezing cold in Kiev, legendary city of golden domes on the banks of Dnieper River – cradle of ancient Russian civilisation and the most charming of East European capitals. It is a comfortable and rather prosperous place, with hundreds of small and cosy restaurants, neat streets, sundry parks and that magnificent river. The girls are pretty and the men are sturdy. Kiev is more relaxed than Moscow, and easier on the wallet. Though statistics say the Ukraine is broke and its people should be as poor as Africans, in reality they aren’t doing too badly, thanks to their fiscal imprudence. The government borrowed and spent freely, heavily subsidised housing and heating, and they brazenly avoided devaluation of the national currency and the austerity program prescribed by the IMF. This living on credit can go only so far: the Ukraine was doomed to default on its debts next month or sooner, and this is one of the reasons for the present commotion.
A tug-of-war between the East and the West for the future of Ukraine lasted over a month, and has ended for all practical purposes in a resounding victory for Vladimir Putin, adding to his previous successes in Syria and Iran. The trouble began when the administration of President Yanukovich went looking for credits to reschedule its loans and avoid default. There were no offers. They turned to the EC for help; the EC, chiefly Poland and Germany, seeing that the Ukrainian administration was desperate, prepared an association agreement of unusual severity.
The EC is quite hard on its new East European members, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria et al.: these countries had their industry and agriculture decimated, their young people working menial jobs in Western Europe, their population drop exceeded that of the WWII.
But the association agreement offered to the Ukraine was even worse. It would turn the Ukraine into an impoverished colony of the EC without giving it even the dubious advantages of membership (such as freedom of work and travel in the EC). In desperation, Yanukovich agreed to sign on the dotted line, in vain hopes of getting a large enough loan to avoid collapse. But the EC has no money to spare – it has to provide for Greece, Italy, Spain. Now Russia entered the picture. At the time, relations of the Ukraine and Russia were far from good. Russians had become snotty with their oil money, the Ukrainians blamed their troubles on Russians, but Russia was still the biggest market for Ukrainian products.
For Russia, the EC agreement meant trouble: currently the Ukraine sells its output in Russia with very little customs protection; the borders are porous; people move freely across the border, without even a passport. If the EC association agreement were signed, the EC products would flood Russia through the Ukrainian window of opportunity. So Putin spelled out the rules to Yanukovich: if you sign with the EC, Russian tariffs will rise. This would put some 400,000 Ukrainians out of work right away. Yanukovich balked and refused to sign the EC agreement at the last minute. (I predicted this in my report from Kiev full three weeks before it happened, when nobody believed it – a source of pride).
The EC, and the US standing behind it, were quite upset. Besides the loss of potential economic profit, they had another important reason: they wanted to keep Russia farther away from Europe, and they wanted to keep Russia weak. Russia is not the Soviet Union, but some of the Soviet disobedience to Western imperial designs still lingers in Moscow: be it in Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Venezuela or Zimbabwe, the Empire can’t have its way while the Russian bear is relatively strong. Russia without the Ukraine can’t be really powerful: it would be like the US with its Mid-western and Pacific states chopped away. The West does not want the Ukraine to prosper, or to become a stable and strong state either, so it cannot join Russia and make it stronger. A weak, poor and destabilised Ukraine in semi-colonial dependence to the West with some NATO bases is the best future for the country, as perceived by Washington or Brussels.
Angered by this last-moment-escape of Yanukovich, the West activated its supporters. For over a month, Kiev has been besieged by huge crowds bussed from all over the Ukraine, bearing a local strain of the Arab Spring in the far north. Less violent than Tahrir, their Maidan Square became a symbol of struggle for the European strategic future of the country. The Ukraine was turned into the latest battle ground between the US-led alliance and a rising Russia. Would it be a revanche for Obama’s Syria debacle, or another heavy strike at fading American hegemony?
The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.
The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.
Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.
Like the fiery Bretons, the Galicians are fierce nationalists, bearers of a true Ukrainian spirit (whatever that means). Under Polish and Austrian rule for centuries, whilst the Jews were economically powerful, they are a strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Polish lot, and their modern identity centred around their support for Hitler during the WWII, accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of their Polish and Jewish neighbours. After the WWII, the remainder of pro-Hitler Galician SS fighters were adopted by US Intelligence, re-armed and turned into a guerrilla force against the Soviets. They added an anti-Russian line to their two ancient hatreds and kept fighting the “forest war” until 1956, and these ties between the Cold Warriors have survived the thaw.
After 1991, when the independent Ukraine was created, in the void of state-building traditions, the Galicians were lauded as ‘true Ukrainians’, as they were the only Ukrainians who ever wanted independence. Their language was used as the basis of a new national state language, their traditions became enshrined on the state level. Memorials of Galician Nazi collaborators and mass murderers Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych peppered the land, often provoking the indignation of other Ukrainians. The Galicians played an important part in the 2004 Orange Revolution as well, when the results of presidential elections were declared void and the pro-Western candidate Mr Yuschenko got the upper hand in the re-run.
However, in 2004, many Kievans also supported Yuschenko, hoping for the Western alliance and a bright new future. Now, in 2013, the city’s support for the Maidan was quite low, and the people of Kiev complained loudly about the mess created by the invading throngs: felled trees, burned benches, despoiled buildings and a lot of biological waste. Still, Kiev is home to many NGOs; city intellectuals receive generous help from the US and EC. The old comprador spirit is always strongest in the capitals.
For the East and Southeast of the Ukraine, the populous and heavily industrialised regions, the proposal of association with the EC is a no-go, with no ifs, ands or buts. They produce coal, steel, machinery, cars, missiles, tanks and aircraft. Western imports would erase Ukrainian industry right off the map, as the EC officials freely admit. Even the Poles, hardly a paragon of industrial development, had the audacity to say to the Ukraine: we’ll do the technical stuff, you’d better invest in agriculture. This is easier to say than to do: the EC has a lot of regulations that make Ukrainian products unfit for sale and consumption in Europe. Ukrainian experts estimated their expected losses for entering into association with the EC at anything from 20 to 150 billion euros.
For Galicians, the association would work fine. Their speaker at the Maidan called on the youth to ‘go where you can get money’ and do not give a damn for industry. They make their income in two ways: providing bed-and breakfast rooms for Western tourists and working in Poland and Germany as maids and menials. They hoped they would get visa-free access to Europe and make a decent income for themselves. Meanwhile, nobody offered them a visa-waiver arrangement. The Brits mull over leaving the EC, because of the Poles who flooded their country; the Ukrainians would be too much for London. Only the Americans, always generous at somebody’s else expense, demanded the EC drop its visa requirement for them.
While the Maidan was boiling, the West sent its emissaries, ministers and members of parliament to cheer the Maidan crowd, to call for President Yanukovich to resign and for a revolution to install pro-Western rule. Senator McCain went there and made a few firebrand speeches. The EC declared Yanukovich “illegitimate” because so many of his citizens demonstrated against him. But when millions of French citizens demonstrated against their president, when Occupy Wall Street was violently dispersed, nobody thought the government of France or the US president had lost legitimacy…
Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, shared her biscuits with the demonstrators, and demanded from the oligarchs support for the “European cause” or their businesses would suffer. The Ukrainian oligarchs are very wealthy, and they prefer the Ukraine as it is, sitting on the fence between the East and the West. They are afraid that the Russian companies will strip their assets should the Ukraine join the Customs Union, and they know that they are not competitive enough to compete with the EC. Pushed now by Nuland, they were close to falling on the EC side.
Yanukovich was in big trouble. The default was rapidly approaching. He annoyed the pro-Western populace, and he irritated his own supporters, the people of the East and Southeast. The Ukraine had a real chance of collapsing into anarchy. A far-right nationalist party, Svoboda (Liberty), probably the nearest thing to the Nazi party to arise in Europe since 1945, made a bid for power. The EC politicians accused Russia of pressurising the Ukraine; Russian missiles suddenly emerged in the western-most tip of Russia, a few minutes flight from Berlin. The Russian armed forces discussed the US strategy of a “disarming first strike”. The tension was very high.
Edward Lucas, the Economist’s international editor and author of The New Cold War, is a hawk of the Churchill and Reagan variety. For him, Russia is an enemy, whether ruled by Tsar, by Stalin or by Putin. He wrote: “It is no exaggeration to say that the [Ukraine] determines the long-term future of the entire former Soviet Union. If Ukraine adopts a Euro-Atlantic orientation, then the Putin regime and its satrapies are finished… But if Ukraine falls into Russia’s grip, then the outlook is bleak and dangerous… Europe’s own security will also be endangered. NATO is already struggling to protect the Baltic states and Poland from the integrated and increasingly impressive military forces of Russia and Belarus. Add Ukraine to that alliance, and a headache turns into a nightmare.”
In this cliff-hanging situation, Putin made his pre-emptive strike. At a meeting in the Kremlin, he agreed to buy fifteen billion euros worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds and cut the natural gas price by a third. This meant there would be no default; no massive unemployment; no happy hunting ground for the neo-Nazi thugs of Svoboda; no cheap and plentiful Ukrainian prostitutes and menials for the Germans and Poles; and Ukrainian homes will be warm this Christmas. Better yet, the presidents agreed to reforge their industrial cooperation. When Russia and Ukraine formed a single country, they built spaceships; apart, they can hardly launch a naval ship. Though unification isn’t on the map yet, it would make sense for both partners. This artificially divided country can be united, and it would do a lot of good for both of their populaces, and for all people seeking freedom from US hegemony.
There are a lot of difficulties ahead: Putin and Yanukovich are not friends, Ukrainian leaders are prone to renege, the US and the EC have a lot of resources. But meanwhile, it is a victory to celebrate this Christmas tide. Such victories keep Iran safe from US bombardment, inspire the Japanese to demand removal of Okinawa base, encourage those seeking closure of Guantanamo jail, cheer up Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, frighten the NSA and CIA and allow French Catholics to march against Hollande’s child-trade laws.
What is the secret of Putin’s success? Edward Lucas said, in an interview to the pro-Western Ekho Moskvy radio: “Putin had a great year – Snowden, Syria, Ukraine. He checkmated Europe. He is a great player: he notices our weaknesses and turns them into his victories. He is good in diplomatic bluff, and in the game of Divide and Rule. He makes the Europeans think that the US is weak, and he convinced the US that Europeans are useless”.
I would offer an alternative explanation. The winds and hidden currents of history respond to those who feel their way. Putin is no less likely a roguish leader of global resistance than Princess Leia or Captain Solo were in Star Wars. Just the time for such a man is ripe.
Unlike Solo, he is not an adventurer. He is a prudent man. He does not try his luck, he waits, even procrastinates. He did not try to change regime in Tbilisi in 2008, when his troops were already on the outskirts of the city. He did not try his luck in Kiev, either. He has spent many hours in many meetings with Yanukovich whom he supposedly personally dislikes.
Like Captain Solo, Putin is a man who is ready to pay his way, full price, and such politicians are rare. “Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman’s mouth?”, asked a James Joyce character, and answered: “His proudest boast is I paid my way.” Those were Englishmen of another era, long before the likes of Blair, et al.
While McCain and Nuland, Merkel and Bildt speak of the European choice for the Ukraine, none of them is ready to pay for it. Only Russia is ready to pay her way, in the Joycean sense, whether in cash, as now, or in blood, as in WWII.
Putin is also a magnanimous man. He celebrated his Ukrainian victory and forthcoming Christmas by forgiving his personal and political enemies and setting them free: the Pussy Riot punks, Khodorkovsky the murderous oligarch, rioters… And his last press conference he carried out in Captain Solo self-deprecating mode, and this, for a man in his position, is a very good sign.
A few years back, at the end of 2009, I was approached on two separate occasions by people claiming to be “representatives” of a digital alternative currency format. I was, of course, intrigued by the initial proposal, being that I had been writing for some time on the concept of non-participation as a way to insulate average Americans from the dangers of our unstable fiat driven mainstream economy. Before that, I had already dealt with just about every currency alternative one could imagine; from paper scripts backed by goods, to scripts backed by time or labor, to gold and silver laden currency cards, etc, etc. All of them had the advantage of NOT relying on private Federal Reserve notes, and all of them had flaws as well. The proposed digital script, which the representatives called “Bitcoin”, was no different.
The idea was to recruit my website as a promoter for bitcoin, but I had many questions before I would stick my neck out on a brand new high-tech anti-currency, and most of these question were not answered in any satisfactory manner.
There is no shortage of “solutions” in Liberty Movement circles, but many of these solutions require that we work within the system according to establishment rules (which they can change at any given moment). They assume that the system will abide by some kind of internal code, that our candidates will be treated fairly, that elections will not be rigged, that a better methodology or technology will be acknowledged and eventually adopted, that the “majority” of the public will someday see the light and back our cause, that the elite will not simply decide to put a bullet in our head.
The reality is, if a solution is dependent on a paradigm controlled by the corrupt system you are trying to change, it is no solution at all. Because of this, my focus has always been on methods that separate Americans from reliance on the system as much as possible.
When first confronted with bitcoin activism, I recognized almost immediately that this was NOT a method that operated outside the system, even though it tried very hard to appear that way. It was high-tech, it was sexy (admittedly far sexier in its presentation than gold and silver), and it catered to the egos of the digital generation, the loudest voices in media today. This thing was certainly marketable. However, just because something is highly marketable does not make it a good idea, or a meaningful alternative.
The Tantalizing Allure Of Non-Solutions
When a person invests a sizable amount of capital into an idea, not to mention a sizable amount of philosophical faith, they tend to lose a measure of objectivity. This is not just a struggle for proponents of bitcoin but for proponents of ALL methodologies. I do believe that many bitcoin promoters have the best of intentions, and that they are seeking some way to break from what they understand is a corrupt financial structure. That said, there is an escalating streak of elitism within the bitcoin culture, and I have witnessed on numerous occasions the kind of anger and immediate dismissal the average statist would spew when they are confronted with criticism. If you dare to question the greater details behind Bitcoin, be prepared to be accused of anything from “conspiracy theory”, to “jealousy” for missing the boat on bitcoin profits, to “ignorance” of the genius of cryptography.
What I came to realize through my questions to bitcoin followers was that many of them were not actually involved in the deeper aspects of the Liberty Movement, constitutional activism, sound money, self defense, and so on. Almost none of them had a preparedness plan, few of them had experience with precious metals, none of them owned firearms, and none of them had any inclination towards the building of local networks for mutual aid. Worst of all, many of them had no understanding of the wider threat of economic collapse that America faces today. In fact, when the possibility of full spectrum collapse is brought up, many Bitcoiners actually respond with the same brand of shallow dismissals that one would expect from the Paul Krugman’s and Ben Bernanke’s of the world.
This reaction is not necessarily shocking. Most people imagine themselves accomplishing heroic feats, and why not? It is one of the more noble and beautiful traits of mankind. For the crypto-engineers of the new century and the digital generation overall, heroics have felt unattainable. Elections are finally being recognized as the sham they represent, while protest activism has fallen flat on its face. The concept of peaceful redress of grievances has been met with rather frightening displays of state violence and censorship to which a physical response for the common protestor is unthinkable. The signs and slogan chants may have inspired the education of some, but in the meantime, they have accomplished very little in terms of political or social change. The bottom line is that the establishment LOVES non-aggression protests – they have no plan, few concrete goals, and present no overt threat to the elite.
The system only grows more despotic, more invasive, and more dangerous. Anti-establishment champions have been searching for something that goes beyond mere “education”, or clamoring like caged monkeys for media attention. They want to storm the castle, they want to fight back, but they haven’t the slightest clue how. They desire an intellectual method of combat, something with far less fear, far less risk, and far less pain. Enter Bitcoin.
Bitcoin gives the digital generation the chance to feel heroic where they never could before. They don’t have to face the machine head on. They don’t have to fight. They don’t have to suffer. They don’t have to die. All they have to do is utilize some cryptographic wizardry within the supposedly anonymous safety of the web, buy bitcoins en masse, and the system would crumble at their feet, rebuilt in the name of free markets by the electronic commons and without a shot fired. Again, very sexy…
Unfortunately, the real world does not necessarily lend itself to the demands of the digital. The digital world is at the mercy of physical. The real world is rarely sexy; often it is ugly, brutal, hypocritical, illogical, and psychotic. The real world, at times, can break, and when it does the digital will break with it. The digital world is in large part a fantasy supported by the whims of the real. Which leads me to the core failings of the bitcoin adventure…
We’ve all heard praises lavished on bitcoin, not only from the web activists but from the mainstream media itself. Establishment controlled outlets like Reuters and Bloomberg have an astonishing number of bitcoin stories per week, and most of these stories paint the crypto-currency in a positive light. We’ve heard about bitcoin’s “unbreakable” cryptography. Its finite supply. The inability to duplicate the currency from thin air. Its rising acceptance in the corporate world. The Cinderella stories of bitcoin investors buying Lamborghinis and New York brownstones. Even Ben Bernanke seems to have a soft spot for bitcoin:
But is bitcoin’s rise really all it’s cracked up to be? Here are just a few of the problems which lead me to believe the digital currency is ultimately a clever distraction.
Who really started Bitcoin?
One of my first questions to bitcoin representatives back in 2009 was WHO, exactly, founded the operation? Well, Satoshi Nakamodo, everyone knows that, right? But who the hell is Satoshi Nakamodo? Who is the original designer of bitcoin? Who holds the foundational key to the structure of bitcoin’s cryptography? Is Nakamodo a person, or a group? Why should we trust him, or them, to safeguard our wealth any more than the Federal Reserve? The fact is no one except maybe Gavin Andresen, the chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, knows who is behind the digital currency. We actually know more about the banking elites behind the Fed than we do about the founders of bitcoin.
The common response to this concern is to suggest that it doesn’t really matter, bitcoin is secure, it is open source, it is cryptography’s holy grail, the creators are protecting their identities against retribution from the establishment, and the excuses go on…
I’m sorry, but this attitude constitutes an act of blind faith in a currency mechanism, which is exactly what proponents of the dollar are guilty of. If an activist individual or group is going to offer a solution to the movement, then they had better be willing to take the risk of being personally available to the movement. If you don’t have the balls to show your face to help legitimize your idea, I can’t take your idea seriously. Maybe I’m just old fashioned…
For all we know, bitcoin is a creation of the establishment, not a creation countering the establishment. After all, the globalists WANT the destruction of the dollar – why not let the public destroy the dollar using a mechanism that ultimately does not represent a threat to the greater bankster cartel?
The Media Love Affair With Bitcoin
During the first and second Ron Paul campaigns, the mainstream media made a blatant and obvious effort to purposely ignore the candidate, his arguments, and his successes. Coverage was next to nil. His expansive crowds of supporters were edited out of news footage. His high polling numbers were censored. If not for the independent media, you wouldn’t have known the guy existed. When someone or something presents a legitimate threat to the establishment, the establishment’s first tactic is to make sure no one knows.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, has received a steady flow of positive media attention, with the random critical piece thrown in for good measure. Overall, the establishment has embraced, if not directly fueled, the bitcoin trend. This is rather surprising to me considering the “destroyer of the dollar” has only been around for four years.
When an anti-establishment vehicle suddenly becomes the center focus of establishment affections, and when globalist monsters like Ben Bernanke throw flower petals in its path, I have to wonder if Bitcoin is a real threat, or just a ruse.
Bitcoins Can Indeed Be Confiscated
Some of the early hype surrounding Bitcoin claimed that the currency could not be confiscated, making it “better than gold” (the better than gold motto has been widely espoused by Gavin Andresen). This claim turned out to be false when the FBI became the holder of the world’s LARGEST Bitcoin wallet:
I find arguments that this is only a temporary condition and that the feds will eventually auction off their holdings a bit laughable, but indicative of the denial inherent in Bitcoin culture.
Bitcoin Values Can Be Manipulated
Another claim heard was the assertion that bitcoins cannot be created out of thin air, they must be “mined” using powerful computers, which removes centralized manipulation of value. This may be true in certain respects (for now), but anything digital can be exploited in one way or another.
Bitcoin malware, for instance, hijacks the computers of unwitting people and uses them to artificially “mine” the currency.
The bitcoins mined are then transferred into the hands of anonymous hackers. This represents a serious threat to the stability of bitcoin because it creates an invasive form of attack speculation. Bitcoins can be removed from the market and deliberately hoarded. Hackers, or governments could conceivably kill bitcoin by mining a large portion of them out of circulation, artificially hyperinflating the value of the remaining coins (like a speculator would do with commodities), or dumping a large portion and abruptly cutting the value. Major bitcoin hoarders could use their massive bitcoin stakes to shift values at will. As long a Bitcoin operates on supply and demand, it can be threatened through speculation like ay other commodity (if you consider digitized numbers floating around the web a commodity).
Bitcoin Is Not Private
While bitcoins can apparently be stolen or criminally mined by anonymous persons or organizations, honest users are subject to considerable scrutiny. A disturbing aspect of bitcoin is the group surveillance that goes into tracing transactions, otherwise known as the “proof of work system”. The bitcoin network is constantly dependent on decoders who track and verify bitcoin trades in order to ensure that the same bitcoins are not used during multiple trades or purchases. Anyone with the desire could decode the transaction history of the network, or “block chain”, including governments. Though Bitcoiners are considered “partially anonymous”, tracking the individual identity of a bitcoin trade is not difficult for entities such as the NSA because every transaction leaves a digital trail..
The use of anonymising browsers like Tor also have not produced the kind of privacy that was promised when bitcoin was introduced.
This is exactly the kind of currency system global bankers have sought for some time – total information awareness of all financial transactions and purchases within the system. While bitcoin proponents claim that their currency is a revolution against centralized oversight of monetary transactions, the truth is they have built the perfect centralized surveillance solution. Paper dollar purchases are difficult to trace. Gold, silver, and barter purchases are nearly impossible to track. Bitcoin, though, is the most traceable form of currency on the planet, and this is basically REQUIRED by the network itself. The entire trade history of every bitcoin is recorded. The digital landscape is the ultimate form of privacy invasion, especially for the likes of super computer wielding agencies like the NSA. Bitcoin aids the development of this intrusive system.
Bitcoin Relies On The Continued Survival Of The Open Web
Yes, bitcoins can be stored on physical wallet devices, but the majority portion of bitcoin trading and bitcoin mining requires the continued operation of the web. The internet is NOT a creative commons, as many believe. It is in fact a controlled networking system that we have simply been allowed to use. The exposure by Edward Snowden of NSA activities has proven once and for all that nothing you do on the web is private. Everything is tracked and recorded. Period.
Web access can also be easily denied by governments, and power centers around the globe have been utilizing this option more and more. During a national crisis, whether real or engineered, the continued function of the internet as we know it is not guaranteed. A currency relying on a government dominated internet is not truly independent. A grid down situation would also make bitcoin stores virtually useless.
The Suspicious Nature Of Bitcoin
Bitcoin is consistently touted as a superior option to precious metals as a way to decouple from central bank fiat. Under examination, though, it appears to me that bitcoin is instead a deliberate distraction away from gold and silver, and other tangible solutions; in other words, I believe it to be a form of controlled opposition.
A vital aspect of physical gold and silver investment is not only to break from the dollar, but to also remove physical metal from the system and starve international banks that issue millions of fraudulent unbacked paper certificates. The strategy, which I still stand by, is for the public to absorb as much of the precious metals market as possible until manipulators like JP Morgan finally have to admit that they don’t have the coins and bars to back all the fake ETF’s they have been issuing investors for years. In the process, we decouple from the dollar AND do damage to the banking cartel itself. The bitcoin fad, in my opinion, is designed to lure the public away from overtaking the metals market while banks and foreign governments vacuum up remaining physical in preparation for a dollar collapse.
Bitcoin’s market value is not only extremely volatile, the currency is also subject to replacement at any time. Anyone with an interest can create a cryptocurrency. There is nothing particularly special about the bitcoin design, and if someone offered a digital currency tomorrow that was truly anonymous, it could quickly supplant bitcoin. Though its cryptography makes it difficult to artificially inflate (again, for now), other digital currencies can still be produced out of thin air. Bitcoiners desperately want to equate cryptography with tangibility, but the truth is that there is no comparison. Physical gold and silver cannot be artificially produced by anyone, anywhere. Digital currencies can be produced at will and hyped like Dutch tulip mania.
The most unsettling aspect of bitcoin, however, is not its distraction away from precious metals. Rather, it is the distraction away from localized solutions. Bitcoin proponents may be searching for decentralization, but they seem to have forgotten the most most important part of the process – localism. The trade of digital mechanisms over impersonal web networks and online marketplaces is not conducive to local economic stability or sustainability. Bitcoin does not encourage people to build local markets, to adopt useful trade skills, to prepare for a grid down scenario, or circulate wealth within one’s community. Bitcoin only furthers the removal of independence and self sustainability from local economies by fooling activists into thinking that buying things without dollars is enough.
If Americans in particular want to pursue any solution to the threat of globalism or dollar collapse, they are going to have to start with themselves, and the community around them. Online trade is the last thing they should be worried about. Only when neighborhoods, towns, and counties become producers and self suppliers will they be safe from financial instability. Only when those same communities band together for mutual aid and self defense will they be safe from tyrannical political entities. Bitcoin accomplishes nothing in either of these categories, making it possibly the most popular non-solution for liberty to date.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market