Saudi Arabia has been dominating the Middle Eastern news recently. Its bombing of the Shia Houthis in Yemen, supported by Washington, and its ambivalent stand on ISIS, concealed in Washington, should raise questions about the nature and long-term ambitions of the desert kingdom. On those key issues there is an apparent conspiracy of silence in the American mainstream media and the policy-making community.
Saudi Arabia, the most authentically Muslim country in the world, is a polity based on a set of religious, legal, and political assumptions rooted in mainstream Sunni Islam. To understand its pernicious role in the ongoing Middle Eastern crisis, and to grasp the magnitude of its ongoing threat to America’s long-term strategic interests and security, we should start with the early history of that strange and unpleasant place.
MUHAMMAD IBN ABD AL-WAHHAB was born in central Arabia over three centuries ago, but his legacy is alive and well. Wahhab was a zealous Muslim revivalist who lived in the period of the Ottoman Empire’s early decline. He felt that Islam in general, and Arabia in particular, needed to be spiritually and literally re-purified and returned to the true tenets of the faith. Like Islam’s prophet he married a wealthy woman much older than himself, whose inheritance enabled him to engage in theological and political pursuits. His Sharia training, combined with a brief encounter with suffism – which he rejected – produced a powerful mix. From the suffis he took the concept of a fraternal religious order, but rejected initiation rituals and music in any form. He also condemned the decorations of mosques, however non-representational, and sinful frivolities such as smoking tobacco. This Muslim anabaptist rejected veneration of saints and sites and objects connected with them, and gave rise to a movement that sees itself as the guardian of true Islamic values. His ideas were espoused in the Book of Unity which gave rise to the name of the movement, al-Muwahhidun, or Unitarians.
By the middle of the 18th century Wahhab, like Muhammad eleven centuries earlier, found a politically powerful backer for his cause. In 1744 he struck a partnership with Muhammad ibn-Saud, leader of a powerful clan in central Arabia, and moved to his “capital,” the semi-nomadic settlement of ad-Dir’yah (Riyadh). Since that time the fortunes of the Wahhabis and the Ibn Said family have been intertwined. Under ibn-Saud’s successor Abdul-Aziz, the Wahhabis struck out of their desert base at Najd with the fury unseen in a millennium. In what looked for a while like the repetition of Muhammad’s and the Four Caliphs’ phenomenal early success a millennium earlier, they temporarily captured Mecca and Medina, marched into Mesopotamia – forcing the Ottoman governor to negotiate humiliating terms – and invaded Syria.
This was an unacceptable challenge to the Sultan, the heir to the caliphate and “protector of the holy places.” In 1811 he obtained the agreement of Ali Pasha, Egypt’s de facto autonomous ruler following Napoleon’s withdrawal, to launch a campaign against the Wahhabis. After seven years they were routed. Later in the century, however, the sect revived under Faysal to provide the focus of Arab resistance to the Ottoman Empire, which they considered degenerate and corrupt.
In 1902 a daring and bellicose prince of the ibn-Saud family, named after Abdul-Aziz “the warrior,” returned from exile with 40 horsemen and took control of Riyadh. He exploited the terminal weakness of the Ottoman Empire, soon to be embroiled in revolution and beset by external threats to its crumbling empire in the Balkans and Libya. Fired by the spirit of Wahhabism, Abdul Aziz embarked on a campaign to recover control over the whole of Arabia. In 1912 the Wahhabi revival prompted the founding of a religious settlement at Artawiyah, 300 miles north of Riyadh, under the auspices of theIkhwan, the Brotherhood. This was a stern Arabian variety of Plymouth, a Muslim New Jerusalem in which people were dragged from their homes and whipped for failing to attend Friday prayers.
IN THE CHAOTIC YEARS after the demise of the Ottoman Empire the Ikhwan proved to be an able and fanatical fighting force, securing victory for Ibn Saud, their leader and the founder of the present royal dynasty. In 1925 they carried out Ibn Saud’s order that all revered burial sites in Mecca and Medina be destroyed, including the “heavenly orchard” in Medina, where relatives and many early companions of Muhammad were buried. In 1926 they proclaimed Abdul-Aziz the King of Hejaz. Within a decade he had united the rest of Arabia and imposed the Wahhabist view of the world, man, law, and Allah, on most of the peninsula.
It is incorrect to say that the Wahhabi movement is to Islam what Puritanism is to Christianity, however. While Puritans could be regarded as Christianity’s Islamicists sui generis with their desire to turn Christianity into a druly scriptural, literalist theocracy, Wahhabism is unmistakably “mainstream” in its demand for the return to the original glory of the early Islamic Ummah. Their iconoclastic zeal notwithstanding, the Wahhabis were no more extreme or violent than the models for Islam – the “prophet” and his companions – have been in all ages and to this day.
THE HEIRS OF ABDUL WAHHAB are still heading the Saudi religious establishment. They resisted the introduction of “heathen” contraptions such as radio, cars, and television, and relented only when the King promised to use those suspect mediums to promote the faith. They stopped the importation of all alcohol, previously sold to foreigners (1952), and banned women driving motor vehicles (1957). The Kuran and Sunna are formally the country’s constitution and the source of its legal code. The original sources of Islamic orthodoxy – the Kuran and Hadith – provide ample and detailed evidence that Saudi Arabia is as close as we can get to an Islamic state and society. The State Department report on human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia published 15 years ago offers an accurate glimpse of that vision in action:
Freedom of religion does not exist. Islam is the official religion and all citizens must be Muslims. Neither the Government nor society in general accepts the concepts of separation of religion and state, and such separation does not exist. Under Shari’a conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy. Public apostasy is a crime punishable by death -if the accused does not recant. Islamic religious education is mandatory in public schools at all levels. All children receive religious instruction… Citizens do not have the right to change their government. The Council of Senior Islamic Scholars… reviews the Government’s public policies for compliance with Shari’a. The Government [views] Islamic law as the only necessary guide to protect human rights. There is legal and systemic discrimination based on sex and religion.
Nothing has changed since: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world. While the Saudis continue to build mosques all over the world, tens of thousands of Christians among the millions of foreign workers from Asia, Europe and America must worship in secret, if at all. They are arrested, lashed or deported for public display of their beliefs. The Saudi religious police, known as the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, continues to routinely intimidate, abuse, and detain citizens and foreigners. In 2002 they pushed girls escaping from burning school buildings back into the inferno and certain death because they did not have their heads properly covered. Its detainees are routinely subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation and torture. Punishments include flogging, amputation, and public execution by beheading, stoning, or firing squad – over 50 were performed so far this year.
Women are second class citizens: according to the CIA world factbook, 82.2% of females are literate, in comparison to 90.8% literacy rates in males. The testimony of one man equals that of two women, and female parties to court proceedings must deputize male relatives to speak on their behalf. Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment (often for wounds resulting from domestic violence) without the consent of a male relative. In public a woman is expected to wear an abaya (a black garment that covers the entire body) and to cover her head and face. Daughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers. Women must demonstrate Sharia-specified grounds for divorce, but men may divorce them without giving any cause. In addition women must not drive cars, must not be driven except by an employee, or husband, or a close relative, and even then must not occupy the front seat. Women may study abroad if accompanied by a spouse or an immediate male relative. Women may own a businesses, but they must deputize a male relative to represent it.
Political detainees commonly are held incommunicado in special prisons during the initial phase of an investigation, which may last weeks or months, without access to lawyers. Defendants usually appear without an attorney before a judge, who determines guilt or innocence in accordance with Shari’a standards. Most trials are closed, and crimes against Muslims receive harsher penalties than those against non-Muslims. A sentence may be changed at any stage of review, except for punishments stipulated by the Koran.
The only expanding industry in Saudi Arabia is that of Islamic obscurantism. Some examples are grotesque: in 1966 the Vice-President of the Islamic University of Medina complained that Copernican theory was being taught at Riyadh University; it has been banned ever since. Three hundred years after the Christian theologians had to concede that the Earth went around the Sun, the geocentric theory was reaffirmed in the centers of Saudi learning. Segregation of the sexes at schools is set at age nine, which is the age for girls to start to wear the veil.
The opinions of the ullema are the only internal check and balance on the ruling family. Five Saudi Islamic universities produce thousands of clerics, many more than will ever be hired to work in the country’s mosques. Thousands end up spreading and promoting Wahhabism abroad. The King of the Saudis remains their Imam. He and the Wahhabi religious establishment see it as their sacred duty and purpose to evangelize the world. The petro-dollar windfall has paid for the construction of some ten thousand mosques and “Islamic centers” in the United States and other parts of the world. All along, needless to say, no churches (let alone synagogues) can be built in Saudi Arabia, and all non-Muslim religious practice is strictly forbidden.
His last name was Bushnell, and if his voice had not been raised during jury deliberations in 1670 William Penn, who had defied the Crown and preached his Quaker faith, would not have lived to found Pennsylvania. Many in Ashtabula have roots in the former colony east of here, which he named.
Bushnell and his fellow jurors were confined and fined for their temerity when they defied the royal mandate to find Penn guilty. The lives of Penn and his friend, Mead, hung by two dissenting votes.
The judge sent the jury back three times to reconsider their verdict saying, “a verdict that the court will accept, and you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco….We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it.”
It took a writ of Habeas Corpus to free the jurors, Penn and Mead. Penn came to the colonies and so was Pennsylvania founded.
The English tradition for the Common Law and the rights of the people to defy the dictates of authority again influenced the writing in 1735 during the trial of John Peter Zenger, who had defied the Royal Governor of New York and published the truth about him.
Zenger languished in prison for eight months before standing trial. But the publication of his newspaper continued, overseen by his wife.
Words, the truth, are the first defense against oppression. Disinformation and the suppression of truth destroy freedom. The Founders, who were certainly aware of both precedents, Penn and Zenger. They understood the nasty tendencies of government to use its power to stifle dissent and the truth.
The ratification of the Constitution hung in the balance as Mason traded with Madison and the deciding factor was the inclusion of the Bill of Rights that secured to each of us guarantees for the limitation of government power.
It is the ideas thus enshrined that connect us to the truth of America’s Mission Statement. America is made up of people who are, themselves, the government. The truth matters.
Today, it is the suppression of the truth by authorities by redaction, evasion and deceit again threaten the essential freedoms won for us by our ancestors. We need the facts because truth is the foundation of freedom.
April 18th marks the 260th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Get the truth, it matters to each of us.
The concept of banning lead was floated before, but this latest effort to impose back door gun control has all the marking of a tin horn dictator stripping the peasants of any means of resistance. Drop the pretense. All you need to know is WHY IS GOVERNMENT STOCKPILING GUNS, AMMO?, while you are being told you are not allowed to have your own horde. How you answer this question, reveals much about your attitude towards government, and level of concern for protecting yourself from tyrannical edits. It is startling just how much of the population will accept de facto gun control for any trumped up scheme to impose further governmental mastery.
SCOPE reports on the recent announcement on M855 ammunition.
On 13 February 2015, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) released a document [PDF ] that proposed the reclassification of “5.56mm constituent projectiles of SS109 and M855 cartridges” from the category of “primarily used for sporting purposes” to that of “armor piercing ammunition.” The 17-page document was titled
“ATF FRAMEWORK FOR DETERMINING WHETHER CERTAIN PROJECTILES ARE ‘PRIMARILY INTENDED FOR SPORTING PURPOSES’ WITHIN THE MEANING OF 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C)” and uploaded to ATF.gov , in part to enable interested parties to review it and submit comments before 16 March 2015.
The proposal cited the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-408, known as “LEOPA”) and referenced discussions with law enforcement agencies across the country about whether “green tip” ammunition could reasonably be construed an exempt form of sporting ammo under the 1986 guidelines. The publicly available document noted that handguns made to employ the potentially affected ammunition were not available to civilians at the time the exemption was initially granted, and that the ammo type in question did not appear to meet the standard for a sporting purpose exemption:
Applying the sporting purposes framework set-forth above, the 5.56mm projectile that ATF exempted in 1986 does not qualify for an exemption because that projectile when loaded into SS109 and M855 cartridges may be used in a handgun other than a single-shot handgun. Specifically, 5.56mm projectiles loaded into the SS109 and M855 cartridges are commonly used Framework for Deciding Sporting Purpose Ammunition pursuant to 18 USC 921(a) in both “AR-type” rifles and “AR-type” handguns.
The AR platform is the semi-automatic version of the M16 machinegun originally designed for and used by the military. The AR-based handguns and rifles utilize the same magazines and share identical receivers. These AR-type handguns were not commercially available when the armor piercing ammunition exemption was granted in 1986. To ensure consistency, upon final implementation of the sporting purpose framework outlined above, ATF must withdraw the exemptions for 5.56 mm “green tip” ammunition, including both the SS109 and M855 cartridges.
The video BATF Ammo Ban Violates Federal Law As Well As The Constitution and Infowars article provides the legal definition: AR-15 AMMO NOT “ARMOR PIERCING” ACCORDING TO LAW, BUT ATF BANNING IT ANYWAY, both explains the dubious methods being used to circumvent the 2nd Amendment.
To be considered “armor piercing” under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a)(17)(B) , a bullet must have an entirely metal core or have a jacket weighting more than 25% of its weight, which wouldn’t include M855 rounds because their bullets are partly lead .
The definition in full:
(A) The term “ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellent powder designed for use in any firearm.
(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means- (i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or (ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.
(C) The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.
Now all this legal mumbo jumbo may seem archaic to anyone other than gun enthusiasts, but in fact allowing the government to banish the business end of shells, because the government fears such bullets might be pointed at them, is an admission of despotic panic.
Governments have little need to feel apprehension from citizens, when their conduct is measured by legal and ethical standards. Just ask, what in the world is this contrived necessity to undertake punitive and restrictive measures to strip the public of their legitimate right for self-defense, really all about?
If there is any doubt how the people are responding, just examine the trend in gun and especially further ammo sales.
“If ammunition does become the focus for gun owners, that could become another hot-button topic.
Last year, the Homeland Security Department had to explain to Congress its contracts to buy up to 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition.
Some gun owners believed the department was trying to crowd out private consumers in the ammunition market, but federal officials said their purchases amounted to a tiny fraction of the ammunition produced every year.”
Obviously, buying up the market is too slow a way to crowd out the public. With no constrains in the last two years of the Obama administration, what is one more show of contempt for the rule of law? Yet, proponents of an ammunition free zone cheer last year’s UN Arms Trade Treaty ATT as another component in the efforts to “piecemeal enactment of costly and increasingly restrictive controls on ammunition, private sales and transfers, firearms parts, registration, etc.”
Yes, Obama’s bureaucrats are walking lock step in line with the global objective of having non elites stripped of their armor. If .223 ammo is slated for a meltdown, what will be next?
The Global Gulag essay, Guns, Guts and Goons foretells the dilemma.
“Gun ownership in America is the primary reason why the internationalists fear the wrath of an armed citizenry. The destruction of the Bill of Rights is a prime objective of the beltway statists. Conversely, the elimination of the remnants of an American federalist constitutional republic is the key eliminate required for imposition of the global Illuminati matrix. The primal reason to foster a society that bears weapons is to maintain the means to fight tyranny on your native soil. The United Nations is a subversive and diabolical appendage of world despotism. The choice has never been clearer. Lock and load or kneel and grovel. Guns are mere instruments of force or defense, while government oppression is the reason why the public must possess the means of accountability.”
In the brave new world that is being engineered, going back to archery using rubber tips might be the only option, assuming that stringing for the bow would be allowed.
The list of government warfare against citizen’s right to bear arms just grows. Obama’s feds hid key data to get Calif. lead ammo ban passed in backdoor gun control move comes as no surprise. “Other states have also wrestled with the lead ammunition issue, but California is the first and only state to ban it altogether.”
From that other bastion of individual rights, the New York Times cannot conceal their joy in the item, Move to Ban a Bullet Adds to Its Appeal. However, in the spirit of balance the NYT quotes:
“Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, urged the agency to reconsider the rule.
“Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet A.T.F. has not even alleged, much less offered evidence, that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer,” Mr. Goodlatte writes in a letter to the agency’s director, B. Todd Jones, to be sent this week.”
Surely there must be some compelling argument missing that proposes to criminalize the magic tip projectile.
This is a laughable proposal if the underlying intentions for disarming the citizenry was not the ultimate motive were not so draconian.
Do you have the guts to stand up to the goons? You don’t need to have guns to resist if they have their way. What good is a gun without bullets? What is needed is a concerted effort to support organizations and representatives that will fight against this tyranny now, before we all bleed because Americans allowed their disarmament.
The charade of false flag gun crimes used to enact more restrictive laws and regulations needs to be exposed as absolute folly and soul-destroying despotism.
After Paris, condemnation of religious fanaticism is at its height. I’d guess that even many progressives fantasize about wringing the necks of jihadists, bashing into their heads some thoughts about the intellect, about satire, humor, freedom of speech. We’re talking here, after all, about young men raised in France, not Saudi Arabia.
Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?
In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not , leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.
In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.
In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.
And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices.
However, despite it all, the world was made safe for capitalism, imperialism, anti-communism, oil, Israel, and jihadists. God is Great!
Starting with the Cold War, and with the above interventions building upon that, we have 70 years of American foreign policy, without which – as Russian/American writer Andre Vltchek has observed – “almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders”. Even the ultra-oppressive Saudi Arabia – without Washington’s protection – would probably be a very different place.
On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis Charlie … Nous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.
No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.
Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”
And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage.
I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:
“On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?
“Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”
Dumb and Dumber
Remember Arseniy Yatsenuk? The Ukrainian whom US State Department officials adopted as one of their own in early 2014 and guided into the position of Prime Minister so he could lead the Ukrainian Forces of Good against Russia in the new Cold War?
In an interview on German television on January 7, 2015 Yatsenuk allowed the following words to cross his lips: “We all remember well the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. We will not allow that, and nobody has the right to rewrite the results of World War Two”.
The Ukrainian Forces of Good, it should be kept in mind, also include several neo-Nazis in high government positions and many more partaking in the fight against Ukrainian pro-Russians in the south-east of the country. Last June, Yatsenuk referred to these pro-Russians as “sub-humans” , directly equivalent to the Nazi term “untermenschen”.
So the next time you shake your head at some stupid remark made by a member of the US government, try to find some consolation in the thought that high American officials are not necessarily the dumbest, except of course in their choice of who is worthy of being one of the empire’s partners.
The type of rally held in Paris this month to condemn an act of terror by jihadists could as well have been held for the victims of Odessa in Ukraine last May. The same neo-Nazi types referred to above took time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Russians, Communists and Jews, and burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded … Try and find a single American mainstream media entity that has made even a slightly serious attempt to capture the horror. You would have to go to the Russian station in Washington, DC, RT.com, search “Odessa fire” for many stories, images and videos. Also see the Wikipedia entry on the 2 May 2014 Odessa clashes.
If the American people were forced to watch, listen, and read all the stories of neo-Nazi behavior in Ukraine the past few years, I think they – yes, even the American people and their less-than-intellectual Congressional representatives – would start to wonder why their government was so closely allied with such people. The United States may even go to war with Russia on the side of such people.
L’Occident n’est pas Charlie pour Odessa. Il n’y a pas de défilé à Paris pour Odessa.
Some thoughts about this thing called ideology
Norman Finkelstein, the fiery American critic of Israel, was interviewed recently by Paul Jay on The Real News Network. Finkelstein related how he had been a Maoist in his youth and had been devastated by the exposure and downfall of the Gang of Four in 1976 in China. “It came out there was just an awful lot of corruption. The people who we thought were absolutely selfless were very self-absorbed. And it was clear. The overthrow of the Gang of Four had huge popular support.”
Many other Maoists were torn apart by the event. “Everything was overthrown overnight, the whole Maoist system, which we thought [were] new socialist men, they all believed in putting self second, fighting self. And then overnight the whole thing was reversed.”
“You know, many people think it was McCarthy that destroyed the Communist Party,” Finkelstein continued. “That’s absolutely not true. You know, when you were a communist back then, you had the inner strength to withstand McCarthyism, because it was the cause. What destroyed the Communist Party was Khrushchev’s speech,” a reference to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 exposure of the crimes of Joseph Stalin and his dictatorial rule.
Although I was old enough, and interested enough, to be influenced by the Chinese and Russian revolutions, I was not. I remained an admirer of capitalism and a good loyal anti-communist. It was the war in Vietnam that was my Gang of Four and my Nikita Khrushchev. Day after day during 1964 and early 1965 I followed the news carefully, catching up on the day’s statistics of American firepower, bombing sorties, and body counts. I was filled with patriotic pride at our massive power to shape history. Words like those of Winston Churchill, upon America’s entry into the Second World War, came easily to mind again – “England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations would live.” Then, one day – a day like any other day – it suddenly and inexplicably hit me. In those villages with the strange names there were people under those falling bombs, people running in total desperation from that god-awful machine-gun strafing.
This pattern took hold. The news reports would stir in me a self-righteous satisfaction that we were teaching those damn commies that they couldn’t get away with whatever it was they were trying to get away with. The very next moment I would be struck by a wave of repulsion at the horror of it all. Eventually, the repulsion won out over the patriotic pride, never to go back to where I had been; but dooming me to experience the despair of American foreign policy again and again, decade after decade.
The human brain is an amazing organ. It keeps working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year, from before you leave the womb, right up until the day you find nationalism. And that day can come very early. Here’s a recent headline from the Washington Post: “In the United States the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”
Oh, my mistake. It actually said “In N. Korea the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”
Let Cuba Live! The Devil’s List of what the United States has done to Cuba
On May 31, 1999, a lawsuit for $181 billion in wrongful death, personal injury, and economic damages was filed in a Havana court against the government of the United States. It was subsequently filed with the United Nations. Since that time its fate is somewhat of a mystery.
The lawsuit covered the 40 years since the country’s 1959 revolution and described, in considerable detail taken from personal testimony of victims, US acts of aggression against Cuba; specifying, often by name, date, and particular circumstances, each person known to have been killed or seriously wounded. In all, 3,478 people were killed and an additional 2,099 seriously injured. (These figures do not include the many indirect victims of Washington’s economic pressures and blockade, which caused difficulties in obtaining medicine and food, in addition to creating other hardships.)
The case was, in legal terms, very narrowly drawn. It was for the wrongful death of individuals, on behalf of their survivors, and for personal injuries to those who survived serious wounds, on their own behalf. No unsuccessful American attacks were deemed relevant, and consequently there was no testimony regarding the many hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts against Cuban President Fidel Castro and other high officials, or even of bombings in which no one was killed or injured. Damages to crops, livestock, or the Cuban economy in general were also excluded, so there was no testimony about the introduction into the island of swine fever or tobacco mold.
However, those aspects of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare waged against Cuba that involved human victims were described in detail, most significantly the creation of an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized; this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died. That only 158 people died, out of some 116,000 who were hospitalized, was an eloquent testimony to the remarkable Cuban public health sector.
The complaint describes the campaign of air and naval attacks against Cuba that commenced in October 1959, when US president Dwight Eisenhower approved a program that included bombings of sugar mills, the burning of sugar fields, machine-gun attacks on Havana, even on passenger trains.
Another section of the complaint described the armed terrorist groups, los banditos, who ravaged the island for five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the last group was located and defeated. These bands terrorized small farmers, torturing and killing those considered (often erroneously) active supporters of the Revolution; men, women, and children. Several young volunteer literacy-campaign teachers were among the victims of the bandits.
There was also of course the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion, in April 1961. Although the entire incident lasted less than 72 hours, 176 Cubans were killed and 300 more wounded, 50 of them permanently disabled.
The complaint also described the unending campaign of major acts of sabotage and terrorism that included the bombing of ships and planes as well as stores and offices. The most horrific example of sabotage was of course the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner off Barbados in which all 73 people on board were killed. There were as well as the murder of Cuban diplomats and officials around the world, including one such murder on the streets of New York City in 1980. This campaign continued to the 1990s, with the murders of Cuban policemen, soldiers, and sailors in 1992 and 1994, and the 1997 hotel bombing campaign, which took the life of a foreigner; the bombing campaign was aimed at discouraging tourism and led to the sending of Cuban intelligence officers to the US in an attempt to put an end to the bombings; from their ranks rose the Cuban Five.
To the above can be added the many acts of financial extortion, violence and sabotage carried out by the United States and its agents in the 16 years since the lawsuit was filed. In sum total, the deep-seated injury and trauma inflicted upon on the Cuban people can be regarded as the island’s own 9-11.
- US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
- Counterpunch, January 10, 2015
- Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001
- The Independent (London), April 24, 1999
- “Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talking to Pinar Atalay”, Tagesschau (Germany), January 7, 2015 (in Ukrainian with German voice-over)
- CNN, June 15, 2014
- See William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, chapter 3
- Washington Post, January 17, 2015, page A6
- William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 30, for a capsule summary of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare against Havana.
- For further information, see William Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly magazine (Washington, DC), Fall/Winter 1999, pp.26-29
In 1964, the Brazilian military, in a US-designed coup, overthrew a liberal (not more to the left than that) government and proceeded to rule with an iron fist for the next 21 years. In 1979 the military regime passed an amnesty law blocking the prosecution of its members for torture and other crimes. The amnesty still holds.
That’s how they handle such matters in what used to be called The Third World. In the First World, however, they have no need for such legal niceties. In the United States, military torturers and their political godfathers are granted amnesty automatically, simply for being American, solely for belonging to the “Good Guys Club”.
So now, with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, we have further depressing revelations about US foreign policy. But do Americans and the world need yet another reminder that the United States is a leading practitioner of torture? Yes. The message can not be broadcast too often because the indoctrination of the American people and Americophiles all around the world is so deeply embedded that it takes repeated shocks to the system to dislodge it. No one does brainwashing like the good ol’ Yankee inventors of advertising and public relations. And there is always a new generation just coming of age with stars (and stripes) in their eyes.
The public also has to be reminded yet again that – contrary to what most of the media and Mr. Obama would have us all believe – the president has never actually banned torture per se, despite saying recently that he had “unequivocally banned torture” after taking office.
Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.”
The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, amongst other torture centers employed by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business, as is the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.
Moreover, the key Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?
The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions, amongst other charming examples of American Exceptionalism.
After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ … But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.”
The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely and solely because they were willing and able to torture them.
Four months after Obama and Panetta took office, the New York Times could report that renditions had reached new heights.
The present news reports indicate that Washington’s obsession with torture stems from 9/11, to prevent a repetition. The president speaks of “the fearful excesses of the post-9/11 era”. There’s something to that idea, but not a great deal. Torture in America is actually as old as the country. What government has been intimately involved with that horror more than the United States? Teaching it, supplying the manuals, supplying the equipment, creation of international torture centers, kidnaping people to these places, solitary confinement, forced feeding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Chicago … Lord forgive us!
In 2011, Brazil instituted a National Truth Commission to officially investigate the crimes of the military government, which came to an end in 1985. But Mr. Obama has in fact rejected calls for a truth commission concerning CIA torture. On June 17 of this year, however, when Vice President Joseph Biden was in Brazil, he gave the Truth Commission 43 State Department cables and reports concerning the Brazilian military regime, including one entitled “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives.”
Thus it is that once again the United States of America will not be subjected to any accountability for having broken US laws, international laws, and the fundamental laws of human decency. Obama can expect the same kindness from his successor as he has extended to George W.
“One of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.” – Barack Obama, written statement issued moments after the Senate report was made public.
And if that pile of hypocrisy is not big enough or smelly enough, try adding to it Bidens’ remark re his visit to Brazil: “I hope that in taking steps to come to grips with our past we can find a way to focus on the immense promise of the future.”
If the torturers of the Bush and Obama administrations are not held accountable in the United States they must be pursued internationally under the principles of universal jurisdiction.
In 1984, an historic step was taken by the United Nations with the drafting of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (came into force in 1987, ratified by the United States in 1994). Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity. We cannot slide back. If today it’s deemed acceptable to torture the person who supposedly has the vital “ticking-bomb” information needed to save lives, tomorrow it will be acceptable to torture him to learn the identities of his alleged co-conspirators. Would we allow slavery to resume for just a short while to serve some “national emergency” or some other “higher purpose”?
If you open the window of torture, even just a crack, the cold air of the Dark Ages will fill the whole room.
Cuba … at long, long last … maybe …
Hopefully, it’s what it appears to be. Cuba will now be treated by the United States as a country worthy of at least as much respect as Washington offers to its highly oppressive, murdering, torturing allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Honduras, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
It’s a tough decision to normalize relations with a country whose police force murders its own innocent civilians on almost a daily basis, and even more abroad, but Cuba needs to do it. Maybe the Cubans can civilize the Americans a bit.
Let’s hope that America’s terrible economic embargo against the island will go the way of the dinosaurs, and Cuba will be able to demonstrate more than ever what a rational, democratic, socialist society can create. But they must not open the economy for the Yankee blood-suckers to play with as they have all over the world.
And I’ll be able to go to Cuba not as a thief in the night covering my tracks and risking a huge fine.
But with the Republicans taking over Congress next month, all of this may be just a pipe dream.
Barack Obama could have done this six years ago when he took office; or five years ago when American Alan Gross was first arrested and imprisoned in Cuba. It would have been even easier back then, with Obama’s popularity at its height and Congress not as captured by the Know-Nothings as now.
So, Cuba outlasted all the punishment, all the lies, all the insults, all the deprivations, all the murderous sabotage, all the assassination attempts against Fidel, all the policies to isolate the country. But for many years now, it’s the United States that has been isolated in the Western Hemisphere.
Reason Number 13,336 why capitalism will be the death of us.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria – the “superbugs” – if left unchecked, could result in 10 million deaths a year by 2050. New drugs to fight the superbugs are desperately needed. But a panel advising President Obama warned in September that “there isn’t a sufficiently robust pipeline of new drugs to replace the ones rendered ineffective by antibiotic resistance.”
The problem, it appears, is that “Antibiotics generally provide low returns on investment, so they are not a highly attractive area for research and development.”
Aha! “Low returns on investment”! What could be simpler to understand? Is it not a concept worth killing and dying for? Just as millions of Americans died in the 20th century so corporations could optimize profits by not protecting the public from tobacco, lead, and asbestos.
Corporations are programmed to optimize profits without regard for the society in which they operate, in much the same way that cancer cells are programmed to proliferate without regard for the health of their host.
Happy New Year. Here’s what you have to look forward to in 2015.
- January 25: 467 people reported missing from a university in Mexico. US State Department blames Russia.
- February 1: Military junta overthrows President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Washington decries the loss of democracy.
- February 2: US recognizes the new Venezuelan military junta, offers it 50 jet fighters and tanks.
- February 3: Revolution breaks out in Venezuela endangering the military junta; 40,000 American marines land in Caracas to quell the uprising.
- February 16: White police officer in Chicago fatally shoots a 6-year old black boy holding a toy gun.
- March 6: Congress passes a new law which states that to become president of the United States a person must have the surname Bush or Clinton.
- April 30: The Department of Homeland Security announces plan to record the DNA at birth of every child born in the United States.
- May 19: The Supreme Court rules that police may search anyone if they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person has pockets.
- May 27: The Transportation Security Administration declares that all airline passengers must strip completely nude at check-in and remain thus until arriving at their destination.
- June 6: White police officer in Oklahoma City tasers a 7-month-old black child, claiming the child was holding a gun; the gun turns out to be a rattle.
- July 19: Two subway trains collide in Manhattan. The United States demands that Moscow explain why there was a Russian citizen in each of the trains.
- September 5: The Democratic Party changes its name to the Republican Lite Party, and announces the opening of a joint bank account with the Republican Party so that corporate lobbyists need make out only one check.
- September 12: White police officer in Alabama shoots black newborn, confusing the umbilical cord for a noose.
- November 16: President Obama announces that Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, North Korea, Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba all possess weapons of mass destruction; have close ties to the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Taliban; are aiding pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine; were involved in 9-11; played a role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the attack on Pearl Harbor; are an imminent threat to the United States and all that is decent and holy; and are all “really bad guys”, who even (choke, gasp) use torture!
- November 21: The United States invades Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, North Korea, Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba.
- December 10: Barack Obama is awarded his second Nobel Peace Prize
- December 11: To celebrate his new peace prize, Obama sends out drones to assassinate wrong-thinking individuals in Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
- December 13: Members of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi parties, which hold several high positions in the US-supported government, goose-step through the center of Kiev in full German Storm Trooper uniforms, carrying giant swastika flags, shouting “Heil Hitler”, and singing the Horst Wessel song. Not a word of this appears in any American mainstream media.
- December 15: US Secretary of State warns Russia to stop meddling in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of wanting to re-create the Soviet Union.
- December 16: White police officer shoots a black 98-year-old man sitting in a wheel chair, claiming the man pointed a rifle at him. The rifle turns out to be a cane.
- December 28: The Washington Redskins football team finish their season in last place. The White House blames Vladimir Putin.
- Associated Press, December 11, 2014
- New York Times, December 11, 2014
- Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
- New York Times, February 6, 2009
- New York Times, May 24, 2009
- Washington Post, December 11, 2014
- National Security Archive’s Brazil Documentation Project
- Washington Post, December 10, 2014
- See note 7
- Washington Post, December 13, 2014
“If manufacturers are so sure there is nothing wrong with genetically modified foods, pesticides and cloned meats, they should have no problems labeling them as such. “After all, cancer will kill one in every two men and one in every three women now alive,” reports Samuel Epstein, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. Like our ancestors, we act in ways that will bemuse future societies. The military-industrial complex lubricates the mass-agriculture system with fossil fuels. Tons of heavy metals and other hazardous waste is sprayed on American agricultural soil.” – Adam Leith Gollne, The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession
During WWII, chemical companies like Chevron manufactured Mustard gas to kill enemies by disrupting troops’ nervous systems. They changed their focus to continue their profits. They decided that crops growing in the fields of America needed poisons to stop the insects that nurtured them like bees, wasps and bats—all pollinators that make crops multiply and thrive.
They campaigned with “higher crop yields” and paid off a lot of U.S. Congressmen who “okayed” the poisons via legislation. Chevron and other companies amassed a fortune with DDT and other nerve gases that crippled mosquitoes, flies and gnats, but quickly killed birds, rodents, hawks, eagles and countless other species living on the ground floor of Earth.
Why did those companies do that? Answer: billions upon billions of dollars. You could call them financial terrorists because that’s how they must be defined. They kill anyone for a few billion bucks.
Today, every single American faces cancers affecting himself, herself or a friend. I lost four friends to cancer last year and two already this year with one more hanging on for another 30 days. A doctor cut cancer out of my sister (melanoma) and me 19 years ago. Terror gripped me until I cleared that drama. To this day, I eat only organic, only filtered water, only non-GMOs, live in the country and eat nothing in a can, package or box.
The fact remains: The American Cancer Society solicits funds to eradicate cancer, but they will not “touch” the fact that we poison our foods to such an extent that our bodies respond with aberrant cell behavior, i.e., cancers in all their forms.
Every fruit and vegetable suffers chemical sprays that become part of the produce that enters your stores and you buy it. And, you eat it.
Jeffrey Smith, www.organicconsumers.org, said, “Did you know GMO plants such as soybean, corn, cottonseed and canola have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. And the inserted genes come from species, such as bacteria and viruses that have never been in the human food supply.
“Did you know genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not safe? They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.”
Why isn’t the FDA protecting us?
“In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration claimed that they had no information showing that GMO foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods and therefore were safe to eat,” said Smith. “But internal memos made public by a lawsuit reveal that their position was staged by political appointees under orders from the White House to promote GMOs. FDA scientists, on the other hand, warned that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems.
“They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored. The FDA does not require any safety evaluations for GMOs. Instead, biotech companies, who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products, are now in charge of determining whether their GMO foods are safe.” (The FDA official in charge of creating this policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney and later their vice president.)
From everything I have studied, the worst men of humanity run Monsanto and ADM. They create synthetic sugars like Aspartame, High Fructose Corn Syrup and other chemicals that you see in “Diet Coke” and in your sugar packets at every lunch counter and restaurant in America. Top scientists implicated Aspartame as a precursor to Lupus and Fibromyalgia along with a growing list of deleterious human conditions.
Same with the tobacco barons: do you think they care that 450,000 Americans die of tobacco-induced lung cancer annually for the past 50 years? Answer: they laugh during their golf games.
While GMO barons live in luxury, Lear jets and country mansions, Americans suffer diseases by the millions. And, we die for it by the millions.
Widespread, unpredictable changes of GMOs
During GMO “Frankensteinization”, natural genes suffer deletion or become permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their levels of expression.
*The inserted gene is often rearranged.
*It may transfer from the food into our body’s cells or into the DNA of bacteria inside us
*The GMO protein produced by the gene may have unintended properties or effects.
Why do they do it?
The primary reason companies genetically engineer plants: to make them tolerant to their brand of herbicide. The four major GMO plants, soy, corn, canola, and cotton, are designed to survive an otherwise deadly dose of weed killer like Round-up or Weed-B-Gone. The second GM trait: built-in pesticide.
In other words, kill the insects that allow the world to thrive. It becomes more insane the more I research this series.
GM food supplement caused deadly epidemic
In the 1980s, a contaminated brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness and disability in another 5,000-10,000 people. If GMO foods on the market cause common diseases or if their effects appear only after long-term exposure, we may not be able to identify the source of the problem for decades. No one monitors GMO-related problems and no long-term animal studies. Heavily invested biotech corporations gamble away the health of our nation for profit.
Go to www.responsibletechnology.org to get involved and learn how to avoid GMOs. Look for Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
Start buying non-GMO today.
Help stop the genetic engineering of our food supply.
You may become involved:
Read the book—Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risk of Genetically Engineered Foods by Jeffrey M. Smith.
ATF agents raided a gun parts store over the weekend to obtain a customer list.
The raid began after Dimitri Karras, the owner of Ares Armor, in National City, Calif., refused to turn the customer list over to the federal government as demanded. A retired Marine, Karras said agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) wanted to investigate a list of 5,000 customers who unknowingly had purchased an allegedly illegal part at the store.
The customers reportedly purchased a specific 80 percent lower receiver — used to build an AR-15 rifle – that the Department of Justice and the ATF contend is illegal because it does not have a serial number.
Ares Armor was among a handful of stores which recently received a letter from ATF agents demanding that they not only turn the non-compliant gun part over to the federal government, but provide the names of all customers who bought the item as well.
Karras’ attorney asked for and received a temporary restraining order against the ATF from a federal judge, Janis L. Sammartino, who was nominated by President George W. Bush. A preliminary hearing is scheduled to review the situation on March 20.
Karras previously had said federal officials had told him to turn over the files “or we are coming in and taking pretty much anything.”
“Which is a huge privacy concern and something we are not willing to do,” he had said. “They were going to search all of our facilities and confiscate our computer and pretty much shut our business down. The government invades our privacy on a daily basis and everyone thinks it’s okay. This is one of those situations where hopefully the government institutions come in and say, ‘This is protected and you’re not taking it from them.’”
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During the Saturday ATF raid on Ares Armor, the agent converged upon the store in full tactical gear and confiscated the remaining AR-lower receivers. Just prior to the raid, both plain clothes and undercover ATF agents reportedly questioned customers outside of the California gun store.
The customers who purchased the part likely will be contacted by federal officials soon.
“If you have purchased an 80% lower receiver from a storefront location or over the Internet from any vendor, I think it is safe to assume that the federal government either has your customer data, or is in the process of trying to obtain your customer data,” wrote BearingArms.com editor Bob Owens. “If you want a truly anonymous 80% lower, pay cash via a private sale, the same as you would with a serialized firearm.
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“We have to wonder if this raid wasn’t as much an attempt to send a message to 80% lower customers as it was a raid for user data. Perhaps they’re attempting to scare people away from buying from these companies, so that they go out of business.”
Source: (Tara Dodrill | Off The Grid News)
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.
“No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.”—John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States
“How ‘secure’ do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and … forcibly enter?”—Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the lone dissenter in Kentucky v. King
If the government can tell you what you can and cannot do within the privacy of your home, whether it relates to what you eat, what you smoke or whom you love, you no longer have any rights whatsoever within your home.
If government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property. If school officials can punish your children for what they do or say while at home or in your care, your children are not your own—they are the property of the state.
If government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family, your property is no longer private and secure—it belongs to the government. Likewise, if police can forcefully draw your blood, strip search you, and probe you intimately, your body is no longer your own, either.
This is what a world without the Fourth Amendment looks like, where the lines between private and public property have been so blurred that private property is reduced to little more than something the government can use to control, manipulate and harass you to suit its own purposes, and you the homeowner and citizen have been reduced to little more than a tenant or serf in bondage to an inflexible landlord.
Examples of this disregard for the sanctity of private property—whether in the form of one’s home, one’s possessions, or one’s person—abound. Here are just a few.
In San Rafael, California, it is now illegal to smoke a cigarette or other tobacco product inside “apartments, condos, duplexes, and multi-family houses.” Although lawmakers hope the ordinance will be “self-enforcing,” they’re encouraging landlords to threaten tenants with eviction should they run afoul of the law.
In Ohio, it’s illegal to alter one’s car with a hidden compartment if the “intent” is to conceal illegal drugs. Although Norman Gurley had no drugs on his person, nor in his car, nor could it be proven that he intended to conceal drugs, he was still arrested for the “crime” of having a hidden compartment in the trunk of his car.
In Florida and elsewhere throughout the country, home vegetable gardens are being targeted as illegal. For 17 years, Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll have tended the vegetable garden in their front yard, relying on it for 80 percent of their food intake, only to be told by city officials that they must get rid of it or face $50 a day in fines. The reason? The vegetable garden is “inconsistent with the city’s aesthetic character.”
In Iowa, a war veteran attempting to wean his family off expensive corporate farm products, GMOs and pesticides has been charged with violating a city ordinance and now faces up to 30 days in jail and a $600 fine for daring to raise chickens in his backyard for his personal use, despite statements of support from his neighbors.
In Virginia, school officials suspended two boys for the remainder of the school year and charged them with possession of a firearm after they were reported to the police for playing with toy airsoft guns in their front yard, while waiting for the morning school bus. At no time did the boys attempt to take the toy guns on the bus or to school.
The most obvious disrespect for property rights comes in the form of the tens of thousands of SWAT team raids that occur across the country on a yearly basis. Usually undertaken under the pretense of serving a drug warrant, these raids involve police arriving at a private residence in SWAT gear, armed to the hilt, kicking down doors, apprehending all persons inside the home, then determining if a crime has been committed. That was Judy Sanchez’s experience when FBI agents investigating gang activity used a chainsaw to cut through her door, then forced Sanchez and her child to the ground. It was only after invading Sanchez’s home and terrorizing her family that agents realized they had targeted the wrong address.
Unfortunately, we in America get so focused on the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant before government agents can invade our property (a requirement that means little in an age of kangaroo courts and rubberstamped warrant requests) that we fail to properly appreciate the first part of the statement declaring that we have a right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” What this means is that the Fourth Amendment’s protections were intended to not only follow us wherever we go but also apply to all that is ours—whether you’re talking about our physical bodies, our biometric data, our possessions, our families, or our way of life. However, in an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court sanctioned SWAT teams smashing down doors of homes or apartments without a warrant if they happen to “suspect” you might be doing something illegal in your home.
At a time when the government routinely cites national security as the justification for its endless violations of the Constitution, the idea that a citizen can actually be “secure” or protected against such government overreach seems increasingly implausible, while suggesting that a person take steps to secure his person and property against the government could have one accused of fomenting anti-government sentiment.
Nevertheless, the reality of our age is this: if the government chooses to crash through our doors, listen to our phone calls, read our emails and text messages, fine us for growing vegetables in our front yard, jail us for raising chickens in our backyard, forcibly take our blood and saliva, and probe our vaginas and rectums, there’s little we can do to stop them. At least, not at that particular moment. When you’re face to face with a government agent who is not only armed to the hilt and inclined to shoot first and ask questions later but also woefully ignorant of the fact that he works for you, if you value your life, you don’t talk back.
This sad reality came about as a result of our being asleep at the wheel. We failed to ask questions and hold our representatives accountable to abiding by the Constitution, while the government amassed an amazing amount of power over us, and backed up that power-grab with a terrifying amount of military might and weaponry, and got the courts to sanction their actions every step of the way.
However, once the dust settles and you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, I hope you’ll remember that the Constitution begins with those three beautiful words, “We the people.” In other words, there is no government without us—our sheer numbers, our muscle, our economy, our physical presence in this land. There can also be no police state—no tyranny—no routine violations of our rights without our complicity and collusion—without our turning a blind eye, shrugging our shoulders, allowing ourselves to be distracted and our civic awareness diluted.
So where do we begin? How do we go about wresting back control over our freedoms and our lives in the face of such seemingly insurmountable odds?
There’s an old adage, albeit not a very palatable one, that says “when eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” The point is this: when facing a monumental task, take it one step at a time. In other words, we’re going to have to wage these battles house by house, car by car, and body by body. Most importantly, as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we’re going to have to stop the partisan bickering—you can leave that to the yokels in Congress—and recognize that the suffering brought about by a police state will be the great equalizer, applying to all Americans, regardless of their political leanings (the fact that we are all now being targeted for government surveillance is but a foretaste of things to come).
As John Adams rightly noted, “The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”
It’s time for a second American Revolution. Not a revolution designed to kill people or tear down and physically destroy society, but a revolution of the minds and souls of human beings—a revolution promulgated to restore the freedoms for which our founders sacrificed their fortunes and their lives.
It is natural for a society to search for explanations and motivations in the wake of a man-made tragedy. It is also somewhat natural for people to be driven by their personal biases when looking for someone or something to blame. In recent years, however, our country has been carefully conditioned to view almost every criminal event from an ideological perspective.
The mainstream media now places far more emphasis on the political affiliations and philosophies of “madmen” than it does on their personal disorders and psychosis. The media’s goal, or mission, if you will, is to associate every dark deed whether real or engineered to the political enemies of the establishment, and to make the actions of each individual the collective shame of an entire group of people.
I could sift through a long list of terror attacks and mass shootings in which the establishment media jumped to the conclusion that the perpetrators were inspired by the beliefs of Constitutional conservatives, “conspiracy theorists”, patriots, etc. It is clear to anyone paying attention that the system is going out of its way to demonize those who question the officially sanctioned story, or the officially sanctioned world view. The circus surrounding the latest shooting of multiple TSA agents at Los Angeles International Airport is a perfect example.
Paul Ciancia, the primary suspect in the shooting, was immediately tied to the Liberty Movement by media outlets and the Southern Poverty Law Center, by notes (which we still have yet to see proof of) that law enforcement claims to have found on his person. The notes allegedly use terms such as “New World Order” and “fiat money”, commonly covered by those of us in the alternative media. The assertion is, of course, that Paul Ciancia is just the beginning, and that most if not all of us involved in the exposure of the globalist agenda are powder kegs just waiting to “go off.” The label often used by the MSM to profile people like Ciancia and marginalize the organizational efforts of liberty based culture is “anti-government.”
The establishment desires to acclimate Americans to the idea that being anti-government is wrong; that it is a despicable philosophy embracing social deviance, aimless violence, isolation and zealotry. Looking beyond the mainstream position, my question is, is it really such a bad thing to be anti-government today?
The terms “anti-government” and “conspiracy theorist” are almost always used in the same paragraph when mainstream media pundits espouse their propaganda. They are nothing more than ad hominem labels designed to play on the presumptions of the general population, manipulating them into dismissing any and all alternative viewpoints before they are ever heard or explained. The establishment and the media are ill-equipped to debate us on fair terms, and understand that they will lose control if Americans are allowed to hear what we have to say in a balanced forum. Therefore, their only fallback is to bury the public in lies so thick they won’t want to listen to us at all.
The Liberty Movement now has the upper hand in the war for information. The exposure of multiple conspiracies in the past several years alone has given immense weight to our stance, and reaffirmed warnings we gave long ago.
When we spoke out against the invasion of Iraq, commissioned by George W. Bush on the dubious claim that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were an immediate threat to the security of our nation, we were called “liberals” and “traitors.” Today, Bush and Cheney have both openly admitted that no WMD’s were ever present in the region. When we attempted to educate the masses on the widespread surveillance of innocent people by the NSA, some of them laughed. Today, it is common knowledge that all electronic communications are monitored by the Federal government. When we refused to accept the official story behind the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Fast and Furious program, we were called “kooks”. Today, it is common knowledge that the Obama Administration purposely allowed U.S. arms to fall into the hands of Mexican cartels. When we roared over the obvious hand the White House played in the Benghazi attack, we were labeled “racists” and “right wing extremists.” Today, it is common knowledge that the White House ordered military response units to stand down and allow the attack to take place. I could go on and on…
Events that were called “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream yesterday are now historical fact today. Have we ever received an apology for this slander? No, of course not, and we don’t expect one will ever surface. We have already gained something far more important – legitimacy.
And what about Paul Ciancia’s apparent belief in the dangers of the “New World Order” and “fiat money”? Are these “conspiracy theories”, or conspiracy realism? The Liberty Movement didn’t coin the phrase “New World Order”, these political and corporate “luminaries” did:
Is economic collapse really just a fairytale perpetrated by “anti-government extremists” bent on fear mongering and dividing society? Perhaps we should ask Alan Greenspan, who now openly admits that he and the private Federal Reserve knew full well they had helped engineer the housing bubble which eventually imploded during the derivatives collapse of 2008.
Or, why not ask the the White House, which just last month proclaimed that “economic chaos” would result if Republicans did not agree to raise the debt ceiling.
Does this make Barack Obama and the Democratic elite “conspiracy theorists” as well?
It is undeniable that government conspiracies and corporate conspiracies exist, and have caused unquantifiable pain to the American people and the people of the world. Knowing this, is it not natural that many citizens would adopt anti-government views in response? Is it wrong to distrust a criminal individual or a criminal enterprise? Why would it be wrong to distrust a criminal government?
The Purpose Behind The Anti-Government Label
When the establishment mainstream applies the anti-government label, they are hoping to achieve several levels propaganda. Here are just a few:
False Association: By placing the alleged “anti-government” views of violent people in the spotlight, the establishment is asserting that it is the political philosophy, not the individual, that is the problem. They are also asserting that other people who hold similar beliefs are guilty by association. That is to say, the actions of one man now become the trespasses of all those who share his ideology. This tactic is only applied by the media to those on the conservative or constitutional end of the spectrum, as it was with Paul Ciancia. For example, when it was discovered that Arizona mass shooter Jared Loughner was actually a leftist, the MSM did not attempt to tie his actions to liberals in general. Why? Because the left is not a threat to the elitist oligarchy within our government. Constitutional conservatives, on the other hand, are.
False Generalization: The term “anti-government” is so broad that, like the term “terrorist”, it can be applied to almost anyone for any reason. The establishment does not want you to distinguish between those who are anti-government for the wrong reasons, and those who are anti-government for the right reasons. Anyone who questions the status quo becomes the enemy regardless of their motives or logic. By demonizing the idea of being anti-government, the establishment manipulates the public into assuming that all government by extension is good, or at least necessary, when the facts actually suggest that most government is neither good or necessary.
False Assertion: The negative connotations surrounding the anti-government stance also suggest that anyone who defends themselves or their principles against government tyranny, whether rationally justified or not, is an evil person. Just look at how Washington D.C. has treated Edward Snowden. Numerous political elites have suggested trying the whistle-blower for treason, or assassinating him outright without due process, even though Snowden’s only crime was to expose the criminal mass surveillance of the American people by the government itself. Rather than apologizing for their corruption, the government would rather destroy anyone who exposes the truth.
False Shame: Does government criminality call for behavior like that allegedly taken by Paul Ciancia? His particular action was not morally honorable or even effective. It helped the establishment’s position instead of hurting it, and was apparently driven more by personal psychological turmoil rather than political affiliation. But, would it be wrong for morally sound and rational Americans facing imminent despotism within government to physically fight back? Would it be wrong to enter into combat with a totalitarian system? The Founding Fathers did, but only after they had exhausted all other avenues, and only after they had broken away from dependence on the system they had sought to fight. Being anti-government does not mean one is a violent and dangerous person. It does mean, though, that there will come a point at which we will not allow government to further erode our freedoms. We will not and should not feel shame in making that stand.
I do not agree with every element of the “anti-government” ethos that exists in our era, but I do see the vast majority of reasons behind it as legitimate. If the establishment really desired to quell the quickly growing anti-government methodology, then they would stop committing Constitutional atrocities and stop giving the public so many causes to hate them. If they continue with their vicious bid to erase civil liberties, dominate the citizenry through fear and intimidation and steal and murder in our name, then our response will inevitably be “anti-government”, and we will inevitably move to end the system as we know it.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
In 2009, Jim Rickards, a lawyer, investment banker and adviser on capital markets to the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, participated in a secret war game sponsored by the Pentagon at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). The game’s objective was to simulate and explore the potential outcomes and effects of a global financial war. At the end of the war game, the Pentagon concluded that the U.S. dollar was at extreme risk of devaluation and collapse in the near term, triggered either by a default of the U.S. Treasury and the dumping of bonds by foreign investors or by hyperinflation by the private Federal Reserve.
These revelations, later exposed by Rickards, were interesting not because they were “new” or “shocking.” Rather, they were interesting because many of us in the field of alternative economics had ALREADY predicted the same outcome for the American financial system years before the APL decided to entertain the notion. At least, that is what the public record indicates.
The idea that our government has indeed run economic collapse scenarios, found the United States in mortal danger, and done absolutely nothing to fix the problem is bad enough. I have my doubts, however, that the Pentagon or partnered private think tanks like the RAND Corporation did not run scenarios on dollar collapse long before 2009. In fact, I believe there is much evidence to suggest that the military industrial complex has not only been aware of the fiscal weaknesses of the U.S. system for decades, but they have also been actively engaged in exploiting those weaknesses in order to manipulate the American public with fears of cultural catastrophe.
History teaches us that most economic crisis events are followed or preceded immediately by international or domestic conflict. War is the looming shadow behind nearly all fiscal disasters. I suspect that numerous corporate think tanks and the Department Of Defense are perfectly aware of this relationship and have war gamed such events as well. Internal strife and civil war are often natural side effects of economic despair within any population.
Has a second civil war been “gamed” by our government? And are Americans being swindled into fighting and killing each other while the banksters who created the mess observe at their leisure, waiting until the dust settles to return to the scene and collect their prize? Here are some examples of how both sides of the false left/right paradigm are being goaded into turning on each other.
Conservatives: Taunting The Resting Lion
Conservatives, especially Constitutional conservatives, are the warrior class of American society. The average conservative is far more likely to own a firearm, have extensive tactical training with that firearm, have military experience and have less psychological fear of conflict; and he is more apt to take independent physical action in the face of an immediate threat. Constitutional conservatives are also more likely to fight based on principal and heritage, rather than personal gain, and less likely to get wrapped up in the madness of mob activity.
What’s the greatest weakness of conservatives? It’s their tendency to entertain leadership by men who claim exceptional warrior status, even if those men are not necessarily honorable.
Constitutional conservatives are the most substantial existing threat to the establishment hierarchy because, unlike dissenting groups of the past, we know exactly who the guiding hand is behind economic and social calamity. In response, the overall conservative culture has come under relentless attack by the establishment using the Administration of Barack Obama as a middleman. The goal, I believe, is to misdirect conservative rage toward the Democratic left and away from the elites. The actions of the White House have become so absurd and so openly hostile as of late that I can only surmise that this is a deliberate strategy to lure conservatives into ill-conceived retaliation against a puppet government, rather than the men behind the curtain.
Department of Defense propaganda briefings with military personnel have been exposed. These briefings train current serving soldiers to view Tea Party conservatives and even Christian organizations as “dangerous extremists.” Reports from sources within Fort Hood andFort Shelby confirm this trend.
The DOD has denied some of the allegations or claimed that it has “corrected” the problem; however, Judicial Watch has obtained official training documents through a Freedom of Information Act request that affirm that extremist profiling is an integral part of these military briefings. The documents also cite none other than the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a primary resource for the training classes. The SPLC is nothing more than an outsourced propaganda wing for the DHS that attacks Constitutional organizations and associates them with terrorist and racist groups on a regular basis. (Check pages 32-33.)
This indoctrination program has accelerated since January 2013, after Professor Arie Perliger, a member of a West Point think tank called Combating Terrorism Center (and according to the sparse biographical information available, a man with NO previous U.S. military experience), published and circulated a report called “Challengers From The Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right” at West Point. The report classified “far right extremists” as “domestic enemies” who commonly “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government , believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional right.” The profile goes on to list supporting belief in “civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government” as the dastardly traits of evil extremists.
Soldiers have been told that associating with “far right extremist groups” could be used as grounds for court-martial. A general purge of associated symbolism has ensued, including new orders handed down to Navy SEALs that demand that operators remove the “Don’t Tread On Me” Navy Jack patch from their uniforms.
The indoctrination of the military also follows on the heels of a massive media campaign to demonize Constitutional conservatives who fought against Obamacare in the latest debt ceiling debate as “domestic enemies” and “terrorists.” I documented this in my recent article “Are Constitutional Conservatives Really the Boogeyman?”
Obama and his ilk have been caught red-handed in numerous conspiracies, including Fast and Furious, which shipped American arms through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. And how about the exposure of the IRS using its bureaucracy as a weapon to harass Tea Party organizations and activists? And what about Benghazi, Libya, the terrorist attack that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton allowed to happen, if they didn’t directly order it to happen? And let’s not forget about the Edward Snowden revelations, which finally made Americans understand that mass surveillance of our population is a constant reality.
To add icing to the cake, a new book called Double Down, which chronicles the Obama campaign of 2012, quotes personal aides to the President who relate that Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, when discussing his use of drone strikes, bragged that he was “really good at killing people.”
Now, my question is, why would the Obama Administration make so many “mistakes,” attack conservatives with such a lack of subtlety, and attempt to openly propagandize rank-and-file soldiers, many of whom identify with conservative values? Is it all just insane hubris, or is he serving his handlers by trying to purposely create a volatile response?
Liberals: Taking Away The Cookie Jar
Many on the so-called “left” are socially oriented and find solace in the functions of the group, rather than individualism. They seek safety in administration, centralization and government welfare. Wealth is frowned upon, while “redistribution” of wealth is cheered. They see government as necessary to the daily survival of the nation, and they work to expand Federal influence into all facets of life. Some liberals do this out of a desire to elevate the poverty-stricken and ensure certain educational standards. However, they tend to ignore the homogenizing effect this strategy has on society, making everyone equally destitute and equally stupid. Their faith in government subsidies also makes them vulnerable to funding cuts and reductions in entitlements. The left normally fights only when their standard of living and comfort to which they have grown accustomed plummets below a certain threshold, and mob methods are usually their fallback form of retaliation.
Austerity cuts, which the mainstream media calls the “sequester,” are beginning to take effect. But, they are being applied in areas that are clearly meant to create the most public anger. Reductions in welfare programs are also being implemented in a way that will certainly agitate average left-leaning citizens. The debt debate itself revolved around those who want the government to spend within its means versus those who want the government to spend even more on welfare programs no matter the consequence. The loss of subsidies is at bottom the greatest fear of the left.
A sudden and inexplicable shutdown of electronic benefit transfer cards (EBT cards or food stamps) occurred in more than 17 States while the debt debate just happened to be climaxing. This month, cuts to existing food stamp funds have taken effect, and food pantries across the country are scrambling against a sharp spike in demand.
Remember, about 50 million Americans are currently dependent on EBT welfare in order to feed themselves and their families. The response to the relatively short EBT shutdown last month was outright fury. Imagine the response in the event of a long-term shutdown, or if extraneous cuts were to occur? And where would that anger be directed? Since the entire debt debacle has been blamed on the Tea Party, I suspect conservatives will be the main target of welfare mobs.
The left, once just as opposed to government stimulus and banker bailouts as the right, is now unwittingly throwing its support behind infinite stimulus in order to cement the continued existence of precious Federal handouts. The issue of Obamacare has utterly blinded liberals to fiscal responsibility. Universal healthcare, perhaps the ultimate Federal handout, is a prize too titillating for them to ignore. Democrats will now go to incredible lengths to defend the Obama White House regardless of past crimes.
They are willing to ignore his offenses against the 4th Amendment and personal privacy. They are willing to look past his offenses against the 1st Amendment, including the Constitutional right to trial by jury for all Americans, and Obama’s secret war against the free speech of whistle-blowers. They are willing to shrug off his endless warmongering in the Mideast, his attempts to foment new war in Syria and Iran, and his support for predator drone strikes in sovereign nations causing severe civilian collateral damage. They are willing to forget Snowden, mass surveillance and executive assassination lists — all for Obamacare.
And the saddest thing of all? It is likely that Obamacare was never meant to be successful in the first place.
Does anyone really believe that the White House, with billions of dollars at its disposal, could not get a website off the ground if it really wanted to? Does anyone really believe that Obama would launch the crowning jewel of his Presidency without making certain that it was fully operational, unless this was part of a greater scheme? And how about his promise that pre-existing health care plans would not be destroyed by Obamacare mandates? Over 900,000 people in the state of California alone are about to lose their health care insurance due to the Affordable Healthcare Act. Why would Obama go back on such a vital pledge unless he WANTED to piss off constituents?
Already, liberal websites and forums across the blogosphere are abuzz with talk of sabotage of the Obamacare website by “the radical right” and the diabolical Koch Brothers (liberals had no idea who they were a year ago, but now, they the go to scapegoat for everything). Once again, conservatives are presented as the culprits behind all the left’s troubles.
As I have stated in the past, Obamacare is designed to fail. The government has no capacity to fund it, and never will. Its only conceivable purpose is to further divide the country and excite both sides of the false paradigm into attacking each other as the reason the system is failing, when both sides should be questioning whether the current system should exist at all.
As the situation stands today, at least 50 million welfare recipients and who knows how many others exist as a resource pool for the establishment to be used to wreak havoc on the rest of us. All they have to do is take away the cookie jar.
Who Would Win?
Who would prevail in a second American civil war? Tactically speaking, conservatives have the upper hand and are far better prepared. Food rioters wouldn’t last beyond three to six weeks as starvation takes its toll, and mindless mobs would not last long against seasoned riflemen. The military, though suffering purges by the White House, still contains numerous conservatives within its ranks. Outside influences, including NATO or the United Nations, are a possibility. There are numerous factors to consider. But I would point out that the most dangerous adversary Constitutional conservatives face is not the left, Obama, or a Federal government gone rogue. Rather, our greatest adversary is ourselves.
If lured into a left/right civil war, would most conservatives be able to see beyond the veil and recognize that the fight is not about Obama, or the Left, or tyrannical government alone? Could we be co-opted by devious influences disguised as friends and compatriots? Will we end up following neocon salesmen and military elites who materialize out of the woodwork at the last minute to “lead us to victory” while actually leading us towards globalization with a slightly different face?
If a civil conflict has been war gamed by the establishment, you can bet they have contingency plans regardless of which side attains the upper hand. In the end, if we do not make the fight about the bankers and globalists, the Federal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund, the Council On Foreign Relations, etc., then everyone loses. Who wins in a new American civil war? If we become blinded by the trespasses of a certain White House jester, only the globalists will win.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
Millions around the world today are hoping the US federal government shuts down at midnight on Monday. Many have thoughts of wars and occupations ending in their regions… but, sadly, this is not part of the “services” that will be cut during a shutdown.
In fact, not only will the Department of Offense continue on as usual but so will all the tyrannical agencies such as the DEA, IRS, ATF, CIA and countless other alphabet soup agencies of oppression.
What will “shut down”? According to CNN these are the Top 10 Ways A Government Shutdown Would Affect Your Daily Life:
1. I’m Proud To Be An American. According to CNN, “the biggest hit would be to the collective psyche. America is the largest economy in the world and a beacon for how democracy ought to work”. It is sad if even one person in the US has their “psyche” hurt because of this! It is sad how many people in the US now consider their country/region and the government that rules it as being one in the same. Not to mention that the US was never designed to be a democracy… it was set-up as a Republic and all the founding fathers spoke very warily against any sort of democracy. Democracy, fundamentally, is mob rule and anti-freedom. It is the tyranny of the majority against the minority.
2. Anything Dirty or Dingy or Dusty. It is unbelievable that this #2 reason from CNN warns people of how dramatically their lives will be affected if the federal government shuts down (and this after #1 was that it might hurt their “psyche”). It goes on to say that the only region in the entire country where trash pickup may stop in the event of a shutdown is in Washington, District of Criminals. Hardly a national disaster! And, not to mention, that if that really were the case, free market private enterprise would spring up, like in Detroit, and people would actually have good options for waste disposal rather than a communist style, centrally planned garbage pickup.
3. Money. According to CNN, if you need a loan from the government, you won’t be able to get it in event of a shut down. Good! If you are such a credit risk that no one in private enterprise will lend you money then, definitely, the government shouldn’t lend you the money they stole from the innocent victims in their tax farm! They also mention that Socialist InSecurity (SS) cheques may stop coming. This is often one of the first things the government tries to scare people with, as Barack Obama did in 2011, during the last event of this type. Why? Because old people vote in much greater numbers than younger people and scaring them with threats of withheld money works. What should really scare them is that both the US government and its SS Ponzi scheme is bankrupt.
4. Ammunition. According to CNN, “A shutdown would affect the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Translation: That gun permit you wanted processed wouldn’t happen anytime soon”. The ATF shutting down would be a wonderful thing. So sad in the “land of the free” that one of the biggest threats to a government shutdown is that you may not get permission from the government to have a gun!
5. Drugs. According to CNN, “The Republicans want to defund Obamacare in exchange for funding the government. But the health care act at the center of this storm would continue its implementation process during a shutdown. That’s because its funds aren’t dependent on the congressional budget process”. CNN is really reaching to find 10 ways this shut down will affect people when they explicitly state that #5 won’t affect drugs or Obamacare!
6. The Mail. CNN is really running out of ideas now that they have to bring up the post office, that bankrupt, antiquated, 1800s style of delivering information that the internet, FedEx and UPS rendered it obsolete decades ago. Oh, but here CNN again let’s us know that even that embarrassing anachronism won’t actually shut down! “You know that whole ‘Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night’ thing? Apparently, the U.S. Postal Service works through shutdowns as well.”
7. The Roads! Muh Roads! For the third time in a row CNN says this will be unaffected (what was the point of this list again?). They pitch this one as, “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street” as though to lead you into thinking the roads will close without the federal government, but then they don’t mention roads again. Here’s what they had to say on it, “You may be thinking, ‘No functioning government, no need to pay taxes.’ Think again. The Man would continue to collect taxes. U.S. bonds would still be issued. And other essential banking functions would go on”. So, here is another one that won’t affect you, unfortunately. You still have to pay extortion to the federal government, even if they are “shut down”.
8. The Military. CNN says, “The good news (for you) is that the men and women in uniform would continue to keep you safe. “… okay, that’s four in a row that won’t affect people on a list of 10 ways the shut down will affect you! Instead it is the usual propaganda trying to make people feel like the US military “protects” Americans.
9. Celebrate! Seriously, this is #9 on the list. Here’s what they said, “Don’t come to work if you’re a federal employee. You’re on furlough. (Offer not valid for workers in ‘critical services,’ such as air traffic controllers, hazardous waste handlers and food inspectors.) Do take some time to celebrate. In previous shutdowns, everyone who stayed home was paid retroactively after peace returned to Washington”. So, the shutdown is a good thing because millions of federal government employees get a free vacation that will be paid by Americans who will be paying for them to do nothing.
10. National Parks. According to CNN, “Need to get away? Well, you can’t. At least not to national parks. Or to national zoos. Or to national museums. They’d all be closed. That’s 368 National Park Service sites closed, millions of visitors turned away. Were you thinking more along the lines of a trip to France? If you don’t already have a passport, you might have to bid that adieu — you might not get your blue book in time. The last time the government threw a hissy fit, 200,000 applications for passports went unprocessed. Tourism and airline revenues reeled”. So, some parks may be shuttered and your permission to travel may be withheld.
That’s it? That’s the best that CNN can come up with on how a potential government shutdown will affect people? Your psyche may get hurt (if you had a delusional belief in the US government being the same as yourself); there may not be garbage collection in Washington, Den of Criminals; you won’t be able to get a federal loan and you may not get permission from the government to have a gun or travel.
And this is what has the mainstream media talking about non-stop?
Of course, if the Federal Reserve did not print the money (QE2Infinity) to keep the US government going with over a $1 trillion deficit per year, 90% plus of what the government does would come to an immediate halt. Then there would be countless very serious things that would “affect your life”. Anyone depending on food stamps (which is now over 50 million people), anyone depending on SS to survive would definitely be affected as there’d be no money to pay them. And, not to mention, every bank in the US would be insolvent and all depositor’s money would be lost as the FDIC is also bankrupt.
But, we aren’t betting on that ever happening. This is democracy, after all. And that means keeping the debts and new money flowing until the economic system collapses as the printing of money causes the eventual demise of the dollar and The End Of The Monetary System As We Know It (TEOTMSAWKI).
This system is now down to two options: massive debt default or massive inflation and neither is particularly good for anyone living in the US. Every major government or empire in history when faced with those two options chose to continue printing money until the currency collapsed.
In either case, what is happening today is nothing compared to what is going to happen. Use this time to prepare and get your assets, and if you can, even your own ass outside of what will be ground zero for this economic collapse, the US.
We talk about all the ways to do that at the TDV newsletter including things like putting your IRA into a self-directed IRA and getting the assets internationalized (into precious metals offshore – like we talk about in Getting Your Gold Out Of Dodge – and foreign real estate like Galt’s Gulch in Chile), getting offshore bank accounts and set-up with an offshore corporation for your business endeavors (TDV Offshore), getting a foreign residency or passport (TDV Passports) and, if you have assets over $1 million, using TDV Wealth Management to get the assets safely outside of the blast radius.
What is going on in Washington, DC, today could mean postponing a trip to Yellowstone national park or having delayed garbage pickup in DC itself. What is coming in the next few months and years has the potential to destroy all your assets and leave you devoid of any way of earning income as the economy is totally destroyed by a currency collapse.
The best case scenario for the populace of the US in the long run is for a complete shutdown of the US federal government… But, that collapse is going to be messy and a lot of people are going to get hurt in the short term during that collapse.
Anarcho-Capitalist. Libertarian. Freedom fighter against mankind’s two biggest enemies, the State and the Central Banks. Jeff Berwick is the founder of The Dollar Vigilante, CEO of TDV Media & Services and host of the popular video podcast, Anarchast. Jeff is a prominent speaker at many of the world’s freedom, investment and gold conferences as well as regularly in the media including CNBC, CNN and Fox Business.
Source: Jeff Berwick | The Dollar Vigilante
Edward Joseph Snowden follows a noble tradition. Others before him established it. Daniel Ellsberg called his NSA leak the most important in US history. More on him below.
Expressions of patriotism can reflect good or ill. Samuel Johnson said it’s the last refuge of a scoundrel. Thomas Paine called dissent its highest form. So did Howard Zinn.
According to Machiavelli:
“When the safety of one’s country wholly depends on the decision to be taken, no attention should be paid either to justice or injustice, to kindness or cruelty, or to its being praiseworthy or ignominious.”
“In our day the feeling of patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling, and a cause of a great part of the ills from which mankind is suffering; and consequently, this feeling should not be cultivated, as is now being done, but should, on the contrary, be suppressed and eradicated by all means available to rational men.”
Philosophy Professor Stephen Nathanson believes patriotism involves:
special affection for one’s own country;
a sense of personal identification with the country;
special concern for the well-being of the country; and
willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good.
Socrates once said:
“Patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does, and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be.”
The best involves strict adherence to the highest legal, ethical and moral standards. Upholding universal civil and human rights is fundamental. So is government of, by and for everyone equitably. Openness, accountability and candor can’t be compromised.
When governments ill-serve, exposing wrongdoing is vital. It takes courage to do so. It involves sacrificing for the greater good. It includes risking personal harm and welfare. It means doing what’s right because it matters. It reflects patriotism’s highest form.
Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are best known. So is Mordechai Vanunu. More on him below. Few remember Peter Buxtun. He’s a former US Public Health Service employee.
He exposed the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. About 200 Black men were infected. It was done to watch their progression. They were left to die untreated. Whistleblowing stopped further harm.
A. Ernest Fitzgerald held senior government positions. In 1368, he exposed a $2.3 billion Lockheed C-5 cost overrun. At issue was fraud and grand theft. Nixon told aides to “get rid of that son of a bitch.”
Defense Secretary Melvin Laird fired him. Fitzgerald was a driving force for whistleblower protections. He fought for decades against fraud, waste and abuse. He helped get the 1378 Civil Reform Act and 1389 Whistleblower Protection Act enacted.
Gregory Minor, Richard Hubbard and Dale Bridenbaugh are called the GE three. They revealed nuclear safety concerns. So did Arnold Gundersen, David Lochbaum and others. At issue then and now is public safety over profits.
Mordechai Vanunu was an Israeli nuclear technician. He exposed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. He paid dearly for doing so.
He was charged with espionage and treason. In 1386/87, he was secretly tried and sentenced. He was imprisoned for 18 years. He was confined in brutalizing isolation. He’s been harassed and deprived of most rights since.
Daniel Ellsberg called him “the preeminent hero of the nuclear era.” In July 2007, Amnesty International (AI) named him “a prisoner of conscience.” He received multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
Vanunu said “I am neither a traitor nor a spy. I only wanted the world to know what was happening.” People have every right to know.
Mark Whitacre was an Archer Daniels Midland senior executive. He exposed price-fixing, wire and tax fraud, as well as money laundering.
He had his own cross to bear. He was prosecuted and imprisoned. He lost his whistleblower immunity. After eight and a half years, he was released on good behavior.
Jeffrey Wigand was Brown & Williamson’s research and development vice president. He went public on 60 Minutes. He exposed deceptive company practices. He was fired for doing so.
B & W enhanced cigarette nicotine content. It was done without public knowledge. At issue was increasing addiction. Wigand told all. He received death threats for doing so. He now lectures worldwide and consults on tobacco control policies.
Gary Webb was an award-winning American journalist. His investigative work exposed CIA involvement in drugs trafficking. His book “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion” told what he knew.
New York Times, Washington Post, and other media scoundrels assailed him. They did so wrongfully and viciously. Then and now they support CIA crimes. They abhor truth and full disclosure. They ruined Webb’s career. They did so maliciously.
In December 2004, Webb was found dead at home. He died of two gunshot wounds to the head. Reports called it suicide. Critics believe otherwise. Two wounds suggest murder. Doing the right thing involves great risks. Webb paid with his life.
Swiss lawyer Marc Hodler was International Ski Federation president and International Olympic Committee member.
In 1398, he exposed 2002 Salt Lake City winter games bid-rigging. Olympism profiteering, exploitation and corruption is longstanding.
Deceptive hyperbole promotes good will, open competition, and fair play. Olympism’s dark side reflects marginalizing poor and other disenfranchised groups, exploiting athletes and communities, as well as sticking taxpayers with the bill for profit.
Harry Markopolos exposed Bernie Madoff’s hedge fund operations. He called them fraudulent. He obtained information firsthand. He got them from fund-of-fund Madoff investors and heads of Wall Street equity derivative trading desks.
He accused Madoff of operating “the world’s largest Ponzi scheme.” Large perhaps but not the largest.
Wall Street firms make money the old fashioned way. They steal it. They do so through fraud, grand theft, market manipulation and front-running. They scam investors unaccountably. They bribe corrupt political officials. In return, they turn a blind eye.
Compared to major Wall Street crooks, Madoff was small-time. Others mattering most control America’s money. They manipulate it fraudulently for profit.
Coleen Rowley’s a former FBI agent. She documented pre-9/11 Agency failures. She addressed them to Director Robert Mueller. She explained in Senate Judiciary Committee testimony. She now writes and lectures on ethical decision-making, civil liberty concerns, and effective investigative practices.
Joseph Wilson’s a former US ambassador. He exposed Bush administration lies. He headlined a New York Times op-ed “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”
“Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq,” he asked?
“Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”
Bush administration officials accused Wilson of twisting the truth. So did Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other scoundrel media editors. They front for power. Wilson explained what people have a right to know. He was unjustifiably pilloried for doing so.
Wendell Potter was a senior CIGNA insurance company executive. He explained how heathcare insurers scam policyholders. They shift costs to consumers, offer inadequate or unaffordable access, and force Americans to pay higher deductibles for less coverage.
Sibel Edmonds is a former FBI translator. She founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). She did so to aid “national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods.”
The ACLU called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States.” She knows firsthand the consequences of secret, unaccountable government operations.
Her memoir is titled “Classified Woman: the Sibel Edmonds Story.”
Previous articles discussed Mark Klein. He’s a former AT&T employee turned whistleblower. He revealed blueprints and photographs of NSA’s secret room inside the company’s San Francisco facility. It permits spying on AT&T customers.
Karen Kwiatkowski’s a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel. She exposed Defense Department misinformation and lies. She discussed how doing so drove America to war.
Ann Wright’s a former US Army colonel/State Department official. In 1397, she won an agency award for heroism.
She’s more anti-war/human rights activist/person of conscience than whistleblower. In 2003, she resigned from government service. She did so in protest against war on Iraq.
Edward Joseph Snowden continues a noble tradition. On June 8, London’s Guardian headlined “Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower: ‘I do not expect to see home again.’ ”
He leaked information to The Guardian and Washington Post. He exposed unconstitutional NSA spying. He served as an undercover intelligence employee.
Asked why he turned whistleblower, he said:
“The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting.”
“If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things.”
“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
NSA spies globally, he said. Claims about only doing it abroad don’t wash. “We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians,” he said.
Previous articles said NSA works with all major US telecom companies. They do so with nine or more major online ones. They spy on virtually all Americans.
They target everyone they want to globally. NSA capabilities are “horrifying,” said Snowden. “You are not even aware of what is possible.”
“We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify (it). You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Asked what he thought might happen to him, he said “Nothing good.”
He left America. He moved to Hong Kong. He fled for his safety. He knows he can’t hide. If US authorities want him targeted, they’ll act no-holds-barred.
If they want him arrested, they’ll find him. If they want him disappeared, imprisoned and tortured, he’s defenseless to stop them. It they want him dead, they’ll murder him. Rogue states operate that way. America’s by far the worst.
DNI head James Clapper accused Snowden of “violat(ing) a sacred trust for this countryâ¤|.I hope we’re able to track whoever is doing this,” he said.
These type comments expose America’s dark side. So does unconstitutional NSA spying and much more. Washington flagrantly violates fundamental rule of law principles. It does so ruthlessly. At stake is humanity’s survival.
Snowden fears recrimination against his family, friends and partner. He’ll “have to live with that for the rest of (his) life,” he said.
“I am not going to be able to communicate with them. (US authorities) will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night.”
Asked what leaked NSA documents reveal, he said:
“That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America.”
America “hacks everyone everywhere.” he said. “(W)e are in almost every country in the world.”
“Everyone, everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten – and they’re talking about it.”
On June 9, London Guardian editors headlined “Edward Snowden: more conscientious objector than common thief,” saying:
What’s next is certain. US authorities “will pursue Snowden to the ends of the earth.” America’s “legal and diplomatic machinery is probably unstoppable.”
Congress should eagerly want to hear what Snowden has to say, said Guardian editors. They should “test the truth of what he is saying.”
They know full well. Many or perhaps most congressional members are fully briefed on what goes on. They’re condone it. So do administration and judicial officials.
Obama could stop it with a stroke of his pen. So can congressional lawmakers. Supreme Court justices could uphold the law.
Lawlessness persists. Moral cowardice pervades Washington. America’s dark side threatens everyone. There’s no place to hide.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached 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 most amazing thing I learned on my first safari trip in South Africa is that elephants have the most incredible, very long black eyelashes. Second, lions could not care less about nearby trucks and people, nor lights at night. Third, though giraffes seem to walk slow and gracefully, their legs are so long that they cover long distances very quickly.
When it comes to the political world, I was dismayed to learn that the illiteracy rate among South Africans exceeds 70 percent, 60 percent of school teachers lack a college degree, only 10 percent pay income tax, the public health care system is abysmal, virtually every house is surrounded by an electrified security barrier, and though apartheid is formally and legally gone the small white population at about 10 percent still rules the economy. Nelson Mandela is universally revered, almost closer to a deity than a political leader; his image and name are ubiquitous. Sadly, there is no one in the South African system with similar public respect and capability to help the country solve its severe root problems.
Countless people from all over the globe book African safari tours because of the widespread desire to see exotic, beautiful animals in their native habitat. I can attest as someone who has traveled very widely internationally for decades that taking a safari vacation is one of the best, most rewarding things a tourist can do. I want to share some things I have learned from my recent trip that can help others make good decisions, because these safari tours are pretty expensive. The toughest decision is what tour company to select of the great many in the market.
A critically important issue is how many game drives you actually get, usually one in the early morning and one in the evening at safari lodges. These drives in specially designed vehicles usually last for three hours or more and can be very rough rides over dirt roads and sometimes directly into the bush landscape. Each vehicle has a ranger who drives and provides information continuously to usually four to six guests in the vehicle. He also has a rifle that is always at hand, just for that remote possibility of an animal charging people. Check out this reference for general information on safari trips.
Up front on a special seat sits a tracker who, in the daylight, is continuously examining the ground for evidence of specific animals. At night the tracker continuously directs a large flashlight into the bush to spot the eyes of animals. It is truly amazing how the trackers actually locate various animals, including lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, giraffes and many more so that guests can get up close to magnificent creatures.
On my tour there were blankets for passengers because of the chill in the morning and nighttime hours. In the morning there was also a much appreciated hot water bottle. Midway during the drives drinks and snacks are served. Upon return from drives there is a sumptuous breakfast and dinner.
Everything is done to make it easy for people to take pictures of the wildlife, often getting extremely close to the animals. Most people take many hundreds of photos on these trips.
For months my wife and I researched a great many African safari tours and finally selected the Tauck company and its South Africa: An Elegant Adventure tour; it offered eight animal drives in two different safari areas in Kruger Park; and the itinerary included seeing more than just wildlife in safari regions, including Cape Town and surrounding areas as well as Johannesburg and Victoria Falls. Second, we had the distinct impression that it would be a luxury tour with true first class hotels and other amenities. Other tours at lower cost, perhaps half as much, mean roughing it and this may appeal to many people.
Let me emphasize that we absolutely loved our trip just as everyone else we met while traveling who were on different tours, mostly because of so many wonderful experiences seeing all the animals in glorious settings. Local guides and staff were excellent. Yet there were some disappointments. Of the five hotels the first three were wonderful five star hotels with great food and amenities, including the waterfront Cape Grace hotel in Cape Town, the best South African city, and the two safari lodges, Tinga and Sabi Sabi. But all the satisfaction of staying there set us up for disappointment.
The last two hotels did not live up to the Tauck reputation for elegant accommodations and supplying comfort to its clients. The rooms at the DaVinci hotel in Johannesburg were in the two star category, small, poorly designed and dysfunctional in many respects. The tour director upon hearing complaints justified the hotel on the basis of its location, the safe Sandton suburb with interconnected underground malls. But nearby was an Intercontinental hotel and the Saxon Boutique Hotel that would surely offer superior rooms. Whatever safari tour companies you consider, question them not only about what hotels or lodges they use but also what type rooms in them you will get; all too often tour companies like Tauck buy the cheapest rooms.
You definitely want to see Victoria Falls if you travel to Africa; they are truly electrifying. Boat rides along the Zambezi River that feeds the falls are usually included in tours; ours was wonderful, including close up views of an elephant and a hippo. But disappointing was the much acclaimed Victoria Fall Hotel. While the location, grounds, exterior and public rooms define a historic, elegant five star venue, nearly all the guest rooms were quite small with very old and drab furnishings and poor views. There are some very fine rooms which a few people on the tour got (including suites), which raises ethical questions why some people were better treated by Tauck. Our room was so awful with a thick smell of tobacco that we demanded and received a different room, which still was a one star accommodation. There are other hotels and lodges in the Victoria Falls area that merit consideration when researching possible safari tours, including The Kingdom, a modern hotel, and the luxury Royal Livingstone Hotel. If you go to the falls, definitely go to the local market where artisans sell their goods; the variety and prices are just about the best we saw on our entire trip.
Tauck proclaims that it offers personalized service with each guest treated as an individual, with their own needs understood, and most safari tour companies also seem to promise this. However, we did not experience this. Unlike luxury, small ship cruises where the cruise director and other staff go out of their way to make you feel cared for, at no point did the Tauck tour director seek to discover whether or not we were fully satisfied and having all our needs satisfied. In particular, it was very disappointing that the tour director did not facilitate shopping at local artisan venues, especially in Victoria Falls. Lastly, there is a valid view that Tauck tours like other companies are relatively small group ones, but there were 31 people in our group, not exactly small and intimate. Pay close attention to any safari tour company with regard to group size.
Most important, give serious thought to going to Africa for a memorable safari tour. Though there are other countries where safari trips are highly praised, starting with South Africa and seeing some of its cities is a good choice, especially for people interested in politics and culture.
Freedom is a four-letter word. It’s fast disappearing. It’s an endangered species. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. America’s war on terror priorities advance them.
International, constitutional and US statute laws are spurned. Rogue state ruthlessness replaced them. Boston’s unprecedented lockdown suggests what’s coming. It covered a two hundred square mile area. An important threshold was crossed.
Martial law terrorized city residents. Constitutional rights were suspended. Perhaps it was prelude to what’s coming. It can happen anywhere across America. It can show up nationwide.
Thousands of heavily armed militarized police, National Guard troops, FBI Swat teams, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operatives, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and perhaps other federal, state and local enforcers showed what full-blown tyranny looks like.
Defying public diktats risked arrest or getting shot. Helicopters hovered low over neighborhoods. House-to-house searches ordered pajama-clad families outside.
Without probable cause, some were handcuffed and/or placed face down on sidewalks. Others were publicly strip-searched. Imagine what’s coming next time. Freedom in America’s on the chopping block for elimination.
What’s ongoing already includes:
• numerous police state laws;
• waging war on humanity;
• indefinite detentions without evidence, charges or trials;
• forced disappearances;
• targeted assassinations;
• torture and other forms of abuse;
• Big Brother surveillance;
• warrantless searches;
• other privacy invasions;
• false flag national security abuses;
• war on terror fear-mongering;
• military commission trials, including for US citizens;
• domestic military force deployments;
• secret FEMA concentration camps;
• racial profiling and persecution;
• militarized local police;
• criminalizing whistleblowers; and
• targeting non-believers for supporting right over wrong.
Tyranny isn’t in the eye of the beholder. It’s escalating in plane sight. It’s just a matter of time until it’s full-blown. Washington’s bipartisan criminal class plans it.
It’s hard-right, unbridled, reactionary, and pro-corporate. It’s anti-democratic, anti-dissent, anti-freedom, anti-civil and human rights, anti-social justice, anti-environmental sanity, and anti-government of, by and for everyone.
It’s dangerous living in America at the wrong time. Supporting right over wrong is threatened. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all. Guilt by accusation is policy. Diktat authority has final say.
The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) includes national and local organizations. Its mission is:
“To educate the public about the erosion of civil and political freedoms in the society, and the abuses of prisoners within the US criminal justice system especially after 9/11, and to advocate for the preservation of those freedoms and to defend those rights according to the US Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its related UN Conventions, and the Geneva Conventions.”
Civil liberties are threatened, it warns. Public safety at the expense of freedom assures neither.
Post-9/11, thought crime prosecutions followed. Individuals and groups were targeted for “their beliefs, thoughts, or associations.”
Doing so violates constitutional protections. First Amendment freedoms are compromised. They’re fundamental. Without them, all others are at risk.
They include free speech, a free press, free thought, culture and intellectual inquiry, assembly, freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice, and to petition government for redress of grievances.
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) “defend(s) the rule of law and rights and liberties challenged by overbroad national security and counter-terrorism policies.”
It “support(s) an ideologically, ethnically, geographically, and generationally diverse grassroots movement to protect and restore these principles by encouraging widespread civic participation; educating people about the significance of our rights; and cultivating grassroots networks to convert concern, outrage, and fear into debate and action.”
Its “Campaign for the Constitution” headlines: “Building a Movement. Restoring Rights. Reclaiming Our Constitution.” At issue is restoring lost rights. Bipartisan complicity compromised them en route to eliminating them altogether.
Rule of law protections “withered under warrantless surveillance, rampant racial and religious profiling, and torture – and even human experimentation – with impunity.”
The ACLU highlights lost digital age civil liberties. New technologies compromised existing protections. Post-9/11, they’ve undergone serious erosion.
Web site visits are tracked. Cell phones log our movements. Emails and social network communications are monitored and stored. Warrantless spying is policy.
“Things we once thought could only happen in far-away enemy states or distant dystopias are suddenly happening here in America” said ACLU.
Privacy laws haven’t kept up with technology. War on terror priorities matter most.
Protecting civil liberties in the digital age requires “ensur(ing) that expressive, associational, and privacy rights are strengthened rather than compromised by new technology.”
It’s also about “protect(ing) these core democratic rights against intrusive corporate and government practices that rely on new technology to invade these rights.”
They’re being systematically destroyed. According to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Washington “consistently (doesn’t) recognize the protections afforded by the US Constitution and international law, and in doing so, it has failed in its responsibility to maintain a democratic society that is both open to, and accountable to, the people.”
Government is shrouded in secrecy. Checks and balances no longer matter. Bill of Rights freedoms are fading. They’re fundamental in democratic societies.
War on terror priorities breached First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment freedoms. At issue are search and surveillance authority, indefinitely detaining citizens and non-citizens uncharged, and undermining free expression, due process, and equal protection.
Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan. Ahead expect much worse. Old time radio listeners recall a memorable Jack Benny skit. “Your money or your life,” a robber asked?
After a pause, he was asked again. He responded saying “I’m thinking it over.”
Today no one’s asked. It isn’t either-or. It’s both.
A Final Comment
Fixing America’s dysfunctional system demands fundamental change. It starts by reforming the nation’s sham electoral process. Throwing out bums assures new ones.
Both major parties are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime’s worth of difference separates them. Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Duopoly power rules.
Party bosses chose candidates. Big money owns them. Voters have no say. They get the best democracy money can buy. It happens every time.
The entire process was constitutionally flawed by design. Over time, things got worse. Bipartisan politics serves serves wealth, power, and privilege. Popular interests go begging.
Money power runs America. It games the system. It does so destructively. Controlling money, credit and debt for private enrichment assures speculation, booms, busts, inflation, deflation, instability, crisis, recessions and depressions.
It assures transferring enormous amounts of wealth from ordinary people to corporate giants and super-rich elites already with too much.
Washington is Wall Street occupied territory. What financial giants want, they get. They’re waging financial war on humanity. They’re more powerful than standing armies.
Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished and left out. Vital needs go begging.
Money power in private hands and democracy can’t co-exist. Complicit politicians betray the public trust. They do so for benefits they derive.
Social injustice defines official policy. Class war rages more than ever. America’s on a fast track toward tyranny. Stopping it requires free, fair and open elections. It’s also about returning money to public hands where it belongs.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
As any honest observer of the dire fiscal nature of U.S. budgets would conclude, the driving section of deficit expenditures are entitlements. The two areas, based upon predictable demographics, that scream out for rational and extensive surgery are Social Security and Medicare. The Obama administration has a long record of gutting Medicare as part of the Obama care malady that is transforming into a national plague as the detail regulations unfold. For a summary of reporting on the subject, review the media accounts on the Kaiser Health News. One of such analysis, found in the New York Times item, Obama Budget to Include Cuts to Programs in Hopes of Deal, identifies the smoke and mirrors modifications, designed to push the Medicare medical reimbursement into insolvency.
“Mr. Obama’s budget will propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said. The idea, known as chained C.P.I., has infuriated some Democrats and advocacy groups to Mr. Obama’s left, and they have already mobilized in opposition.
Mr. Obama will propose other spending and tax credit initiatives, including aid for states to make free prekindergarten education available nationwide — a priority outlined in his State of the Union address in February. He will propose to pay for it by raising federal taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
In Medicare, the savings would mostly come from payments to health care providers, including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, but Mr. Obama also proposes that higher-income beneficiaries pay more for coverage.”
The mere notion that the Obama administration is submitting a budget at all may be news, but the devil is in the details, within the projected outline is expected. This political kabuki theatre gives little solace to the actuary process that crunches the numbers of an aging society.
The first acknowledgment out of the lack of a grand arrangement, cited by Money News in, Obama Proposes Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, calls for reductions in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs.
“Administration officials have said Obama would only agree to the reductions in benefit programs if they are accompanied by increases in revenue, a difficult demand given the strong anti-tax sentiment of House Republicans.”
The glaring omission from this, and any discussion on Social Security and Medicare, is the need to revise eligibility and age admission criteria. The political psyche of the public is stuck on the myth that an entitlement society can be funded on a systemic shortfall of revenue. The perennial cry for just raising taxes on the rich is a fool’s gameand does harm by continually reinforcing the denial of inevitable reality, that services and programs must be dramatically curtailed or eliminated.
Much of the partisan banter and face-off skirts this underlying issue. Feeding this self-denial culture is an electorate and a population that has become comfortable consuming their “so called” free lunch diet. The fact that the eating habits of the majority attempt to digest the social programs off the government menu, without paying for the cost of the meal is inescapable.
The longevity of recent age brackets has caused a fiscal crisis that has only one outcome, namely, national bankruptcy without fundamental changes to such programs. Impoverishment of the younger generations to fund a mathematically impossible obligation is the key element missing from any rational discussion or debate.
The central transformation of medical institutions from a proprietary return on assets system to a not for profit reimbursement corporative would allow for major reductions in the costs of medical delivery services, while enhancing patient recovery. The elimination of bureaucratic defensive medicine, driven by the practice of fear from legal litigation is absent within Obama’s budget.
The assault on holistic medicine in favor of pharmaceutical drugs is a core reason why Medicare is a failed approach to health and wellbeing. Individual Americans are walking cadavers waiting for their expected stroke or heart attack. The diet of the average consumer of fast food drives up the tolls of medical treatment and should not become a public burden upon taxpayers that strive to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
While any form of a socialistic medical payer system guarantees a reduction in the quality of medical services, the Medicare program has a large constituency and lobby influence upon legislation and administration. Only a total breakdown in health care under the Obamacare formula, might offer the slightest opportunity to revamp the entire governmental run fiasco that has an inane disconnect between treatment and the cost of the service.
Social Security has become an unfunded ponzi scheme that in unsustainable as the work force declines. Cutting the rate of growth by a recalculation of the already shaded inflation statistics is the very definition of kicking the can down the road. This time that canister might just injure your toe to the point of needing medical assistance that is certainly not covered under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.Postponing a dialogue on serious entitlement reform or preferably dramatic scale back is playing with national suicide. As the country dissolves into a more democratic frenzy, the addition of millions of more illegal immigrants will add gasoline to the fiscal inferno that is already burning out of control.
Regrettably, the will for an electoral resolution through the ballot box, when the voter has an insatiable desire to live off the tax payments of others, guarantees a day of reckoning. The eugenics outcome that leads to euthanasia acceptance certainly will not be one of the cuts in the federal budget.
The long path to nationwide insanity is paved with governmental programs that claim to help citizens, while pushing the fiscal burden unto the unborn, millions upon which are aborted. Money in government is like poison to a drug addict. In this case, the junkie does not die it only spends more. Good health demands rational behavior.