Talk:Represent The People

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Additional Research Notes; Follow-Up

Links and notes (potentially) related to main article. Figure out where to insert later. Might fold into main article or jump to separate article.

The hope is for the main article's underlying theme to eventually lead into a discussion of strategies and tactics people can use to

- recognize the benefits of organizing at the community level
- refashion local and regional economies to directly benefit the long-term interests of the people who live there (as opposed to, for instance, a transnational entity with no interest in the community beyond the "value" it is motivated to extract)
- build healthy communities while warding off any kind of Balkanization (self-imposed or imposed by other means)
- understand the reasons why "business as usual" (ie: the globalized neoliberal economic policies imposed by the "developed world's" primary institutions and planners) is collapsing, and how people at the community level might respond

Contents

News / Actions / Events -- Local, National, International

N3: Solidarity Against Austerity Call to Action - Enough is Enough

Black Lives Matter

A vision for Black Lives. Policy demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice.

Films & Documentaries

Rebellions

The new technological environments generate the most pain among those least prepared to alter their old value structures. When an individual or social group feels that its whole identity is jeopardized by social or psychic change, its natural reaction is to lash out in defensive fury. But for all their lamentations, the revolution has already taken place.[1]
 
MURTAZA HUSSAIN, THE INTERCEPT: Online organizing and propaganda can be legitimately useful for destabilizing regimes, especially rigidly authoritarian ones that need to strictly control the flow of information. But because of the speed with which it can precipitate change, it is less useful for building up the networks and organizations needed to fill the gap created when old governments actually fall.
  • Rural Rebels and Useless Airports: La ZAD – Europe’s largest Postcapitalist land occupation.
Part One
Part Two

Kill Wall Street

Aiming to spark a “mass upsurge of debt resistance”, the Strike Debt campaign is one of the most promising initiatives to have emerged out of Occupy to date.
Join your host Robert Foster and his guests, Terrence Moonseed and General Baxter, as they conduct an in-depth rap analysis into the future, and humanity's place in it.

Upcoming

Past Events

On April 4th, 2014 we will launch the first phase of the Worldwide Wave of Action by gathering at former occupation sites throughout the world to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King....

Occupy Portland Past Events

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET
September 17th 2011 -- Is America Ripe for a Tahrir Moment?
Occupy Portland!
The revolution is here.
The revolution is now.
The revolution is being wikified.
Occupy Portland | Occupy Portland
Occupy Portland is a nonviolent movement for accountability in the United States government. At 12PM on October 6th, 2011. We will assemble at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 1020 Southwest Naito Parkway in Portland, Oregon.

Organizing

By far the most effective way to turn out voters is with high-quality, face-to-face conversations that urge them to vote. How do we know? Nearly two decades of rigorous randomized experiments have proven it.

Health

Human culture has mutated into a sociopathic marketing machine dominated by economic priorities and psychological manipulation. Never before has a cultural system inculcated its followers to suppress so much of their humanity. Leading this hostile takeover of the collective psyche are increasingly sophisticated propaganda and misinformation industries that traffic the illusion of consumer happiness by wildly amplifying our expectations of the material world. Today’s consumers are by far the most propagandized people in history. The relentless and repetitive effect is highly hypnotic, diminishing critical faculties, reducing one’s sense of self, and transforming commercial unreality into a surrogate for meaning and purpose.
Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.

Legal; Law; Legislation; Juridical

Amid the headlines, one could easily forget the more sustained and entrenched forms of oppression through which hierarchies of race, citizenship, nationality, and class are produced and maintained—in the United States as well as Israel. Among the most significant of these is mass incarceration.
In the chamber where Officer Darren Wilson received a commendation six months before killing Michael Brown, a minor court generates major money from the city’s poor and working people.
Last week's decision is the latest in a 200-year-long line of rulings giving businesses the same rights as humans. If a corporation has First Amendment rights, could it also claim Second Amendment protections? Amazingly, this is a question some scholars are seriously pondering.
Billions worldwide agreed that, by this point in human civilization, they would have expected a better process than entrusting all their political, commercial, and social decisions to vindictive, self-absorbed fuckers.
Did you know that, no matter the evidence, if a jury feels a law is unjust, it is permitted to “nullify” the law rather than finding someone guilty? Basically, jury nullification is a jury’s way of saying, “By the letter of the law, the defendant is guilty, but we also disagree with that law, so we vote to not punish the accused.” Ultimately, the verdict serves as an acquittal.

Voting; Voter Suppression

The abysmally low turnout in last week’s midterm elections — the lowest in more than seven decades — was bad for Democrats, but it was even worse for democracy. In 43 states, less than half the eligible population bothered to vote, and no state broke 60 percent.
In the three largest states — California, Texas and New York — less than a third of the eligible population voted. New York’s turnout was a shameful 28.8 percent, the fourth-lowest in the country, despite three statewide races (including the governor) and 27 House races.
Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent; only the 1942 federal election had a lower participation rate at 33.9 percent. The reasons are apathy, anger and frustration at the relentlessly negative tone of the campaigns.
Al Jazeera, which recently finished a months-long investigation of the program, found an astonishing 7 million Americans suspected of voter fraud on the Crosscheck lists. That despite the fact that voter fraud is almost unbelievably rare. One dogged investigator, a professor focused on election administration at Loyola University Law School, found just 31 credible incidents between 2000 and mid 2014, nationwide.
Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.
  • In defense of ACORN: The right-wing crusade against ACORN is a far bigger fraud than any misdeeds a few employees might have committed.
For many years the combined forces of the far right and the Republican Party have sought to ruin ACORN, the largest organization of poor and working families in America. Owing to the idiocy of a few ACORN employees, notoriously caught in a videotape “sting” sponsored by a conservative Web site and publicized by Fox News, that campaign has scored significant victories on Capitol Hill and in the media.
Read More: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Militarism; War Profiteering

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. War is not the answer. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Beyond Vietnam: A Call to Conscience | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There have been so many wars, practically every year throughout the world for the last five thousand years and more. War, that means, every year killing, killing, killing; how many millions have suffered, shed tears, felt the flame of loneliness, and yet we do not apparently use our intelligence to stop this cruelty, this bestiality of violence...
J. Krishnamurti Ojai 5th Public Talk 15th May 1982 | Jiddu Krishnamurti
Information warfare uses disinformation and propaganda to condition a population to hate a foreign nation or population with the intent to foment a war, which is the routine “business” of the best known U.S. think tanks. There are two levels to this information war. The first level is by the primary provocateur, such as the Rand Corporation, the American Enterprise Institute and the smaller war instigators... They use psychological “suggestiveness” to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the U.S. population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover. Once that fear and paranoia is instilled in much of the population, it can then be manipulated to foment a readiness or eagerness for war, in the manner that Joseph Goebbels understood well.
Foreign governments are 100 times more likely to intervene in civil wars if the troubled state is home to hydrocarbon reserves, according to a new report by academics from the universities of Warwick, Portsmouth and Essex. Following systemic analysis, the academics found that economic incentives are major drivers of foreign intervention. One of the report’s authors, Dr. Petros Sekeris of the University of Portsmouth, told the Independent he and his colleagues had uncovered “clear evidence that countries with potential for oil production are more likely to be targeted by foreign intervention if civil wars erupt.” “Military intervention is expensive and risky. No country joins another country’s civil war without balancing the cost against their own strategic interests,” he added.
Massive military exercises and a troop buildup on NATO’s eastern flank reflect a dangerous new strategy.
War of Aggression: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
--The International Military Tribunal for Germany: Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals: The Nazi Regime in Germany
The U.S. was considered to be the greatest threat to world peace, followed by Pakistan and China, in a WIN/Gallup End of Year survey across 65 countries.
Results - (jump to section): US - really the biggest threat? The US was the overwhelming choice (24% of respondents) for the country that represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today. This was followed by Pakistan (8%), China (6%), North Korea, Israel and Iran (5%). Respondents in Russia (54%), China (49%) and Bosnia (49%) were the most fearful of the US as a threat.
Militarism is like a lethal virus that takes as its first victim both historical memory and any sense of moral and social responsibility. In the United States and Israel, at the present moment, it is no longer one strain of ideology that permeates these societies; it is a general condition that gives meaning to almost all aspects of life.
Austerity is for losers. There’s always money to wage war and build weapons, indeed, to continue developing weapons, generation after generation after generation. The contractors are adept at playing the game. Jobs link arms with fear and patriotism and the next war is always inevitable. And it’s always necessary, because we’ve created a world of perpetual — and well-armed — instability.
With the vast amounts spent so far on the aircraft, the United States could have worked wonders, including providing every homeless person in the U.S. a $600,000 home.
While not often on the news, the efficacy of the peace movement is being documented elsewhere. Analysing a century’s worth of data, the World Peace Foundation found that between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent movements had a 53-percent success rate, compared to a 22-percent success rate for violent movements. Other tangible successes include the long list of victories recently secured by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
More than 50 years after President Eisenhower's warning, Americans find themselves in perpetual war.
A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.
Veteran New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges has covered conflicts in Bosnia, El Salvador and Israel. Tune in for this thought-provoking lecture based on his best selling book that argues life is lived most intensely in times of war, often with tragic consequences.
Ray McGovern introduces a short documentary deconstructing events revealed by WikiLeaks. Original version broadcast by German television program Panorama.
Did the killing of Osama bin Laden have an unintended victim: the global drive to eradicate polio? In Pakistan, where polio has never been eliminated, the C.I.A.’s decision to send a vaccination team into the Bin Laden compound to gather information and DNA samples clearly hurt the national polio drive. The question is: How badly?

New Cold War

Retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, (now a VP at L-3 Communications): “Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.”
The unthinkable may now be rapidly unfolding in Ukraine: not just the new Cold War already under way but an actual war between US-led NATO and Russia. The epicenter is Ukraine’s eastern territory, known as the Donbass, a large industrial region heavily populated by Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens and closely tied to its giant neighbor by decades of economic, political, cultural and family relations.
Hours after the U.S. State Department on Thursday claimed (though failed to describe) new evidence that Russia's military was both increasing the flow of arms to rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine and firing artillery at Ukrainian Army positions across its border, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey elevated the rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin and directly invoked the idea that a new Cold War-like posture is now being taken by the U.S. military.
All parties know that there will be a battle, either today or tomorrow, over – fossil – energy. And all are preparing for that battle, moving pawns across the board, planting ideas in people’s heads that will make them easy to direct when the time comes.
The last time the U.S. accused Russia of downing a civilian airliner, nuclear war nearly broke out.
To understand what’s really happening in Ukraine (and for a portion of the reason the U.S. and NATO are instigating a "New Cold War"), one must follow the money — or, in this case, the gas pipe.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: What we need to do, Putin, the European Union, and United States, and Ukrainians of any type, separatist or in the East, West, Crimea, Odessa, or wherever, is stop this business of killing one another and seek a political solution to the problem. We need to have a neutral Ukraine, neither aligned with Russian nor the United States nor the European Union, a Ukraine that nonetheless is helped by all three to become more stable, politically and economically, and a Ukraine that is not coveted by anyone.
A group of neocon senators proposes to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a new round of Cold War with Russia, introducing the so-called "Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014". The bill S.2277 focuses on further NATO expansion in Central and Eastern Europe as well as strengthening the US propaganda in ex-Soviet countries. If enacted, the law would impose the same level of draconian sanctions on Russia currently levied against Iran, Syria, and Sudan.
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass -- at the expense of the United States.
Mikhail Gorbachev and his supporters hoped that ending the Cold War would enable Russia to dismantle the arms race whose costly military overhead prevented the Soviet Union from devoting resources to produce consumer goods and adequate housing. In addition to the peace dividend, the aim was to establish a price feedback system that would raise industrial productivity and living standards. The West’s ideological victory – or more to the point, the neoliberal anti-labor, anti-government and pro-Wall Street game plan – was sealed at the Houston summit in July 1990. Russian Prime Minister Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders endorsed the World Bank/USAID plan for shock therapy, privatization, deindustrialization and a wipeout of domestic personal savings (characterized as an “overhang”) to start by impoverishing the population at large and vesting an overclass with the most unequal distribution of wealth in the Northern Hemisphere.
In its eagerness to complete the encirclement of Russia by turning Ukraine into a forward country for positioning NATO bases, the U.S. is paving the way for fraternal genocide and ethnic cleansing. A closer strategic alliance between Russia and China may well be the one positive outcome of the Ukrainian fiasco.
What is at stake is not a competition between irreconcilable social systems, as in the Cold War of yesteryear, but a reconfiguration of capitalist power on a global scale. This historical phase must be understood on its own terms, not through a weak analogy with the Cold War.
The threat of civil war and disintegration looms large over Ukraine, caught between the European Union and Russia.
The New York Times reported last week that President Obama and his national security team are forging “a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment.” Hawks in the State and Defense Departments are pushing for more comprehensive sanctions and the White House has already drafted a new list of Russian political figures and institutions to target. Speaking on The Thom Hartmann Program, Russia scholar and Nation contributor Stephen Cohen stressed the gravity of this development: “I think future historians are going to look back and say…this is the week that the United States officially declared Cold War on Russia.”
Even as the crisis in Ukraine continues to defy easy resolution, President Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the immediate conflict to forge a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment.
In the name of ‘democracy,’ the West has unrelentingly moved its military, political and economic power ever closer to post-Soviet Russia.

Blowback

Isis is simply the latest in a series of fanatical, violent movements born out of the disastrous consequences of US military intervention argues Alastair Stephens

Deep State

The Obama team is mere road kill for the U.S. version of the “deep state” – which here in the United States is charmingly called “the national security establishment.” That establishment’s specialty is not so much torture and waterboarding – for those dirty jobs it has the hapless CIA. The deep state’s particular specialty – from official postings to TV pundit perches – is to bottle up any serious attempt to restrain its own near-unlimited range of maneuver.
If you haven’t read (former congressional staffer Mike) Lofgren’s essay, “Anatomy of the Deep State,” which was published on Bill Moyers’ website last February, it might be the most important document of American political journalism in this decade, let alone this year. Lofgren, who spent almost three decades on Capitol Hill as, in effect, an adjunct or employee of the Deep State, describes it as “a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently ruled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”
In the name of fighting the post-9/11 “War on Terror” Western states have with increasing impunity bent, stretched and broken the rule of law on the pretext of defending national security: the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq; the politicisation and fabrication of intelligence on WMD; the routine use of torture in Iraqi prisons; the violation with impunity of the Geneva Conventions and other laws of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan; the arbitrary labelling of ordinary citizens as “terror suspects” without evidence, their kidnapping and human trafficking in the form of extraordinary rendition, their indefinite detention in inhumane conditions; Guantanamo Bay; military commissions run by military officers outside the jurisdiction of domestic and international law; the regular input of false information gleaned from torture into the production of “ intelligence” to justify new counter-terror and surveillance operations; and so on.
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.
This development of a two-level or dual state has been paralleled by two other dualities: the increasing resolution of American society into two classes – the “one percent” and the “ninety-nine percent” – and the bifurcation of the U.S. economy into two aspects: the domestic, still subject to some governmental regulation and taxation, and the international, relatively free from governmental controls.

Mercenary Gangs; War Profiteers; Praetorian Guards; Privatized Killer-Thugs

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

9/11

9/11 Not an "Intelligence Failure" Ray McGovern and Jason Leopold:
The intelligence agencies had the information, the question is why didn't they use it.
Intelligence on Bin Laden, 9/11 Targets Withheld From Congress' Probe
Jeffrey Kaye: Senior military commanders prior to 9/11 blocked intelligence
that located Bin Laden and predicted WTC and Pentagon were likely targets.
Suspicious in-flight activity by Saudis in the US two years before 9/11 is fueling a suit against the Riyadh government.
New York Post reports FBI evidence in a lawsuit alleges Saudi Arabia's US embassy may have funded test run for Sept 11.
The U.S. government and mainstream media are playing down the long-hidden 9/11 chapter on official Saudi connections to Al Qaeda’s hijackers, hoping most Americans won’t read it themselves, as 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser observes.
The 28-page document is a wide-ranging catalog of alleged links between Saudi officials and Qaeda operatives. It details contacts that Saudi operatives in Southern California had with the hijackers, and describes the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda operative’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing a Colorado home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Much of what we've been told about 9/11 is inconsistent, incoherent bullshit. Based on my years of work on this issue, which have contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner's Inquest, I argue that certain things can be proven as fact: US intelligence, and several other intelligence agencies including Britain, did receive abundant, precise advanced warning of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; numerous standard emergency response procedures on 9/11 did collapse; the US relationship with states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan directly correlates with high-level blocks on intelligence investigations into terror networks (including al-Qaeda) subsidised by those regimes; for decades, long after the Cold War, elements of the US military intelligence community continued to use al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups for short-sighted geopolitical purposes linked to rolling back Russian and Chinese influence in Central Asia and Eastern Europe; the 9/11 attacks likely received significant direct state-sponsorship in the form of logistical and financial support from key US allies (including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan), which US authorities have systematically attempted to conceal from public understanding.
Sen. Bob Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
Sen. Bob Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 2
Sen. Bob Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 3
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the mass of invoices, receipts, contracts and email correspondence – submitted as evidence to a court in upstate New York – provides a unique glimpse into a world in which the "war on terror" became just another charter opportunity for American businesses.
"Ten years have passed, and there is still much to grieve about September 11, 2001." In the weeks and years that followed 9/11, we lost the chance for a politics built around the kind of social solidarity embodied by those law enforcement officers and firefighters who responded first to the attacks and expressed by the society so moved by their sacrifice.
Ten years after 9/11, the “entire litany of vicious crimes against humanity, fitting for horrid, inhuman terrorist groups or Third World mongrels, now belongs to America”.
TEN YEARS AGO America and the world were shocked by the most horrific foreign attack on U.S. soil in our history. In the decade since we have learned a great deal about ourselves, about how to handle the terrorist threat and about what works and doesn’t work in combating terrorism.
Perhaps it was inevitable in America’s self-absorbed culture that the tragedy of 9/11 would be politicized and counter-politicized, forged into a weapon by ideological forces to wield against their enemies in the never-ending “culture wars.”
The terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, sent the United States into a 10-year downward spiral, not because of the attacks themselves but because of disastrous political judgments that followed.
What if the United States had responded with demands for justice, not wars of conquest.
Senior Pentagon officials scrubbed key details about a top-secret military intelligence unit's efforts in tracking Osama bin Laden and suspected al-Qaeda terrorists from official reports they prepared for a Congressional committee probing the 9/11 terrorist attacks, new documents obtained by Truthout reveal.
The "intelligence failures" leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are an issue the media - and lawmakers - put to bed years ago, despite the fact that new information continues to trickle out, undercutting the integrity of the official investigations into who knew what and when.
Part One: Saudi link to 9/11 hijackers found in Sarasota but not revealed by FBI
Part Two: Sen. Bob Graham wanted to publish results of Saudi investigation, Bush ordered it redacted

Pentagon

War Is Peace - Lockheed Martin.jpg
With mission accomplished in Libya, Africom now has few obstacles to its military ambitions on the continent
The military-industrial complex is pulling out all the stops to ensure that not one dime of its vast federal largess is taken away even as the nation faces nearly $15 trillion in debt. Defense contractors, Representatives and Senators, and current and former Defense Secretaries are working together to thwart actual and potential cuts in defense spending resulting from the August debt ceiling deal.
We've spent nearly $8 trillion on counterterrorism since 9/11. It's time to assess the results.
New projects, including Kathryn Bigelow's bin Laden film, show rising pressure on filmmakers to please the military.
Despite budget woes, the military is preparing for a conflict with our biggest rival -- and we should be worried.
China just launched a refitted Ukrainian aircraft carrier from the 1990s on its first test run -- and that’s what the only projected "great power" enemy of the U.S. has to offer for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carrier task forces to cruise the seven seas and plans to keep that many through 2045. Like so much else, when it comes to the American military, all comparisons are ludicrous. In any normal sense, the United States stands alone in military terms. Its expenditures make up almost 50% of global military spending; it dominates the global arms market; and it has countless more bases, pilotless drones, military bands, and almost anything else military you’d care to mention than does any other power.
As President Obama gives his speech on how important it is for the government and the country to produce more jobs, and as the budget noose starts to tighten on all government programs, including the Department of Defense (DoD) this time, the DoD will flood the Congress with charts and statistics on how cutting the DoD will also cut important defense manufacturing jobs across the US.
While often deemed synonymous with "neoconservative" (a label given to defectors from the Left who came to embrace this approach in light of the Cold War) foreign policy, emphasis on strong national defense, active promotion of democracy around the globe, and attempts at "nation building" have become the reality of America's role in the world today.

Secret Detention • Torture • Kill Lists

President Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.
A majority of nearly every group — non-whites, women, young adults, the elderly, Midwesterners, suburbanites, Catholics, moderates, the wealthy — said that torture of suspected terrorists can be often or sometimes justified. A majority of only one other group beyond liberals and Democrats disagreed: people with no religion.
Just over half of Americans say they believe the interrogation methods the CIA used against terrorism suspects in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, polling data showed.
Brian Zahnd, Lead Pastor, Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri: You cannot be Christian and support torture. I want to be utterly explicit on this point. There is no possibility of compromise. The support of torture is off the table for a Christian. I suppose you can be some version of a “patriot” and support the use of torture, but you cannot be any version of Christian and support torture. So choose one: A torture-endorsing patriot or a Jesus-following Christian. But don’t lie to yourself that you can be both. You cannot.
As Americans from the Beltway to the heartland debate—again—the legality and efficacy of “enhanced interrogation,” we are reminded that “torture” has lost its stigma as morally reprehensible and criminal behavior. Human experimentation, in contrast, has not been politically refashioned into a legitimate or justifiable enterprise. Therefore, it would behoove us to appreciate the fact that the architects and implementers of black-site torments were authorized at the highest levels of the White House and CIA to experiment on human beings.
Americans like punishment. Not only do we have the world’s highest incarceration rate—716 inmates for every 100,000 people, compared to 475 for every 100,000 in Russia and 121 for every 100,000 in China—but we also have among the most draconian punishments of any nation in the developed world. But here’s what’s key: It’s not just that Americans want a system that metes out punishment, it’s that—despite our Eighth Amendment—we are accepting of the cruelest punishment. And while it’s not legal, it exists and it’s pervasive. In theory, our prisons are holding cells for the worst offenders and centers for rehabilitation for the others. Inmates can work, learn, and prepare themselves for a more productive life in society. In reality, they are hellscapes of rape, abuse, and violence from gangs and guards.
PATRICK L. SMITH: As soon as I started thinking about the Senate’s torture report in the context of America’s conduct abroad, many other things seemed immediately of a piece. The string of police murders. The Surveillance State. The license granted corporations and the wealthy to purchase elections. No welfare for the poor but welfare for Wall Street. A minimum wage no one can live on. The bold-faced biases of our highest court—and when the judiciary goes, I learned during my years as a correspondent, all else is either gone already or on the way down.
For the CIA officials involved in torture, one thing was clear from the very beginning: The only way they would be forgiven for what they did was if they could show it had saved lives. It was the heart of their rationale. It was vital to public acceptance. It was how they would avoid prosecution. The executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s grindingly exhaustive torture report released Tuesday indelibly captures CIA officials turning their back on human decency.
Globalizing Torture is the most comprehensive account yet assembled of the human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. It details for the first time what was done to the 136 known victims, and lists the 54 foreign governments that participated in these operations. It shows that responsibility for the abuses lies not only with the United States but with dozens of foreign governments that were complicit.
Survey shows Obama has done little to rescue civil liberties from predecessor's damage and much to deepen concern.
The president's partisan lawyers purport to vest him with the most extreme power a political leader can seize
How a Washington Global Torture Gulag Was Turned Into the Only Gulag-Free Zone on Earth
After the 9-11 attacks against the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency conspired with dozens of governments to build a secret extraordinary rendition and detention program that spanned the globe. Extraordinary rendition is the transfer—without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation. The program was intended to protect America. But, as described in the Open Society Justice Initiative’s new report, it stripped people of their most basic rights, facilitated gruesome forms of torture, at times captured the wrong people, and debased the United States’ human rights reputation world-wide. To date, the United States and the vast majority of the other governments involved—more than 50 in all—have refused to acknowledge their participation, compensate the victims, or hold accountable those most responsible for the program and its abuses.
Such accountability for high-level government officials is inconceivable in the US, highlighting its culture of impunity.

Killer Drones & Robotic Warfare

U.S. DRONE OPERATORS are inflicting heavy civilian casualties and have developed an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents, four former operators said at a press briefing [on Thursday, November 19, 2015] in New York.
Imagine an army of robots with the power to decide whom and when to kill. Brace yourself, because it's happening. “Lethal autonomous robotics (LARS) are weapon systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further human intervention.”
The use of drones against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, begun by the George W. Bush administration and greatly expanded by President Obama, risks becoming “a long-term killing program based on secret rationales,” warns a new report published by the Stimson Center on Thursday, June 26, 2014.[2]
The drone industry is exploding so fast that colleges are trying to catch up and opening new programs in the engineering schools and so on, and teaching drone technology because that’s what students are dying to study because of the fantastic number of jobs going on.
What does the administration have to say in response to evidence that a child was killed? Nothing.
US drone kills in Pakistan are not the precision strikes against top-level al-Qaeda terrorists they are portrayed as by the Obama administration. Instead, many of the attacks are aimed at suspected low-level tribal militants, who may pose no direct danger to the United States.
Other than invading Afghanistan and Iraq, this shift from capturing suspected terrorists to killing them was the most important and enduring counterterrorism policy decision made since 9/11.
Counterterrorism officials began to rethink the strategy for the secret war. Armed drones, and targeted killings in general, offered a new direction. Killing by remote control was the antithesis of the dirty, intimate work of interrogation. Targeted killings were cheered by Republicans and Democrats alike, and using drones flown by pilots who were stationed thousands of miles away made the whole strategy seem risk-free. Before long the C.I.A. would go from being the long-term jailer of America’s enemies to a military organization that erased them.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the department will not use two small drones it obtained through a federal grant. The unmanned aerial vehicles will be returned to the vendor.
The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp.
While four American citizens are known to have been killed by drones in the past decade, the strikes have killed an estimated total of 2,600 to 4,700 people over the same period.

The focus on American citizens overshadows a far more common, and less understood, type of strike: those that do not target American citizens, Al Qaeda leaders, or, in fact, any other specific individual.

In these attacks, known as “signature strikes,” drone operators fire on people whose identities they do not know based on evidence of suspicious behavior or other “signatures.” According to anonymously sourced media reports, such attacks on unidentified targets account for many, or even most, drone strikes.

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI)[3], a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans calls Obama's policy on the right to kill Americans who are associated with terrorist organizations either at home or abroad murder, which constitutes evil in the Christian tradition. The Holy Scripture says, "THOU SHALT NOT KILL".
In our own country, we don't allow the government to torture criminal suspects and/or kill people without trial – because it's wrong. If it's wrong here, it's wrong in Yemen or Iraq or Afghanistan; if it's wrong to do it to an American citizen, it's wrong to do it to a Pakistani. Our failure to recognize that and our increasingly desperate attempts to rationalize or legitimize this hideous program gives the entire world an automatic show of proof of American bigotry and stupidity. And cowardice, by the way. What kind of a people kills children by remote control? If you're going to assassinate someone, you'd better be able to look him in the eye first – and not hide behind some rubber-stamp secret court that tells you it's okay.

Meet a new breed of flying robots, from tiny swarming vehicles to giant unmanned planes.

Lockheed's sponsorship of Nova's Rise of the Drones violates underwriting rules.
A United Nations expert has launched an investigation of drone attacks and targeted killings, scrutinizing a deeply controversial tool in the United States’ battle against Al Qaeda. Though other countries are believed to have drones or the technology behind them, the debate over the unmanned aircraft most often swirls around the United States, which has intensified drone use under the Obama administration.
You might have heard about the “kill list.” You’ve certainly heard about drones. But the details of the U.S. campaign against militants in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia -- a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s national security approach – remain shrouded in secrecy. Here’s our guide to what we know—and what we don’t know.
Everyone is talking about drones. Also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, remote-piloted aircrafts have become a controversial centerpiece of the Obama administration's counter-terrorism strategy. Domestically, their surveillance power is being hyped for everything from fighting crime to monitoring hurricanes or spawning salmon. Meanwhile, concerns are cropping up about privacy, ethics and safety. We've rounded up some of the best coverage of drones to get you oriented.
President Obama handed the agency extraordinary authority in Pakistan. Now it wants these powers in Yemen too.
Book Review: Killing by remote control is no game, peace activist Medea Benjamin argues in “Drone Warfare.” We know that drones kill civilians and inflame hatred against the United States—but can we stop them?
A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can't do it anymore.
This 50-page report outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.
Sure, we as a nation have always killed people. A lot of people. But no president has ever waged war by killing enemies one by one, targeting them individually for execution, wherever they are. The Obama administration has taken pains to tell us, over and over again, that they are careful, scrupulous of our laws, and determined to avoid the loss of collateral, innocent lives. They're careful because when it comes to waging war on individuals, the distinction between war and murder becomes a fine one. Especially when, on occasion, the individuals we target are Americans and when, in one instance, the collateral damage was an American boy.
‘It is beyond my imagination how they can lack all mercy and compassion, and carry on doing this for years. They are not human beings.’
The Air Force is pursuing a game based on remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) to help persuade recruits that this could be a cool career path to explore.
The global market for drones is booming. But what does the coming arms race mean for US national security interests — and the future of warfare? GlobalPost correspondents report from critical locations around the world, from Israel to Iran to Yemen to Brazil — where unmanned aerial vehicles are radically transforming combat and surveillance.
In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false.
CIA drone strikes tend to be reported on a case-by-case basis. Yet it became clear to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that a number of specific tactics were being deployed. These included multiple attacks by drones on rescuers attempting to aid victims of previous strikes. There were also a number of credible reports of funerals and mourners being attacked by CIA drones.
According to new study released by the US Air Force, an overwhelming number of the pilots that command unmanned robotic drones from operation centers in America are suffering from intense stress, even if they are on the other side of the world from where their attacks are being carried out. With the US continuing drone strikes despite opposition from allies overseas such as Pakistan, the toll that the task of commanding the controversial crafts could be having on its pilots could be detrimental to the Department of Defense, who insists on pushing through with the program even with the end result including droves of dead civilians since the missions began.
Drone-related coverage from The Real News Network.

Clandestine & Covert Wars

Here's a handy A to Z guide to U.S.-backed international crime.
The Contra-cocaine scandal was one of the best-documented real conspiracies of recent decades.

War On Drugs

Police enlist young offenders as confidential informants. But the work is high-risk, largely unregulated, and sometimes fatal.
Gary Webb's outstanding investigative report on the CIA's complicity with and contribution to the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon: “It is impossible to pass tons of drugs or cocaine to U.S. without some grade of complicity of some American authorities.”
Spokesman for Chihuahua state says US agencies don't want to end drug trade, a claim denied by other Mexican officials.
Jiddu Krishnamurti: Is There Security At All Psychologically?

One of the greatest difficulties lies in this constant struggle to reach, to understand, to acquire; for we are trained from childhood to acquire, to achieve... psychological security.... The mind wants to be completely certain - but there is no certainty. We may demand security in all our relationships, our attitudes, our activities - but actually there is no such thing as being secure; ... we may be thinking in terms of this urge to be psychologically secure ... and that dominates all our attitudes, all our activities, all our thinking, and hence that becomes a block. So before we can begin to understand something much more fundamental, we have to be clear about this matter of security. Psychologically, is there such a thing as "to be secure"?

Thought has created all the various forms of illusion - nationalities, class, different gods, different beliefs, different dogmas, different rituals and the extraordinary religious superstitions that pervade the world - and in them it has sought security. And one does not see the danger of this security, of this illusion. When one sees the danger - not as an idea but as an actual fact - that seeing is intelligence, the supreme form of absolute security. So there is absolute security: it is to see the truth in the false.[4]

Homeland Secure? The Rise of the Police & Surveillance State

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.
 
  • How the CIA made Google: Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet
By Nafeez Ahmed, INSURGE INTELLIGENCE
INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’
Halper’s new book sheds light on the arms industry, arguing that Israel is now the go-to nation for armies and police forces around the world.
Jeff Halper: “What we are seeing is the rise of the human-security state – endless ‘war on terror’, the world in a permanent state of emergency. The traditional hard walls between the police and the military, between domestic and overseas intelligence agencies – between the FBI and the CIA , if you like – crumble.”
The National Security Agency’s ability to capture Internet traffic on United States soil has been based on an extraordinary, decadeslong partnership with a single company: AT&T.
Edward Snowden: “If I am traitor, who did I betray? I gave all my information to the American public, to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason, I think people really need to consider who they think they’re working for. The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy. Beyond that as far as my personal safety, I’ll never be fully safe until these systems have changed.”
Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data. But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.
Julian Assange, who went into exile in the Ecuadorean embassy two years ago, has blown apart the myth of western liberty
The agency collected and stored intimate chats, photos, and emails belonging to innocent Americans—and secured them so poorly that reporters can now browse them at will.
Files provided by Snowden show extent to which ordinary Web users are caught in the net
This is a plot of the NSA programs revealed in the past year according to whether they are bulk or targeted, and whether the targets of surveillance are foreign or domestic. Most of the programs fall squarely into the agency’s stated mission of foreign surveillance, but some – particularly those that are both domestic and broad-sweeping – are more controversial.
It has already been widely reported that the NSA works closely with eavesdropping agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as part of the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance. But the latest Snowden documents show that a number of other countries, described by the NSA as “third-party partners,” are playing an increasingly important role – by secretly allowing the NSA to install surveillance equipment on their fiber-optic cables.
Some of the listed companies include well-known global organizations, such as Telecommunications and Network Service Providers – AT&T, Verizon and Qwest (now part of Centurylink); Network Infrastructure – Cisco and HP; Hardware Platforms Desktops/Servers – HP, Intel, Qualcomm, IBM, EDS (now HP); Operating Systems – Microsoft; Applications Software – Oracle, EDS (now HP) and Microsoft; Security Hardware and Software – Cisco, Oracle, EDS (now HP); System Integrators – HP, IBM, Cisco and EDS (now HP)
There’s simply no way to forecast how these immense powers -- disproportionately accumulating in the hands of corporations seeking financial advantage and governments craving ever more control -- will be used. Chances are Big Data and the Internet of Things will make it harder for us to control our own lives, as we grow increasingly transparent to powerful corporations and government institutions that are becoming more opaque to us.
In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.
The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.”
Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?

Government spying has always focused on crushing dissent … not on keeping us safe.

(List includes lots of links to informative sources.)
Those who believed that drone attacks in Pakistan or the camp at Guantanamo were merely regrettable events at the end of the world should stop to reflect. Those who still believed that the torture at Abu Ghraib or that the waterboarding in CIA prisons had nothing to do with them, are now changing their views. Those who thought that we are on the good side and that it is others who are stomping all over human rights are now opening their eyes. A regime is ruling in the United States today that acts in totalitarian ways when it comes to its claim to total control. Soft totalitarianism is still totalitarianism.
The scariest explanation of all? That the NSA and GCHQ are just showing they don't want to be messed with.
Incarcerated, persecuted and put on show trials, today’s digital dissenters — from Manning and Assange to Snowden — continue to speak truth to power.
"The last time 10 terrorists were in the same place at the same time was September 11th, and all these [armored] vehicles wouldn't have prevented it, nor would they have helped anything."
Promising sensitive information, the stranger told Poitras to select long pass phrases that could withstand a brute-force attack by networked computers. “Assume that your adversary is capable of a trillion guesses per second,” the stranger wrote.
NSA » Leaks shed light on how spy agency may use supercomputers, gigantic hard drives. Leaked documents dating back to 2005 show the Pentagon pouring immense effort, hundreds of acronyms and mind-boggling sums of money into modernizing its technology, networks, hardware and data sharing as it seeks to build a "global information grid."
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.
Deep in the oceans, hundreds of cables carry much of the world's phone and Internet traffic. Since at least the early 1970s, the NSA has been tapping foreign cables. ... Tapping into those cables allows the NSA access to monitor emails, telephone calls, video chats, websites, bank transactions and more. It takes powerful computers to decrypt, store and analyze all this information, but the information is all there, zipping by at the speed of light.
America’s National Security Agency collects more information than most people thought. Will scrutiny spur change?
Police already abuse the immense power they have, but if everyone’s every action were being monitored, and everyone technically violates some obscure law at some time, then punishment becomes purely selective. Those in power will essentially have what they need to punish anyone they’d like, whenever they choose, as if there were no rules at all.
Manning is unable to appeal to the Nuremberg principles, a set of guidelines created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations after World War II to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles make political leaders, commanders and combatants responsible for war crimes, even if domestic or internal laws allow such actions. The Nuremberg principles are designed to protect those, like Manning, who expose these crimes. Orders do not, under the Nuremberg principles, offer an excuse for committing war crimes. And the Nuremberg laws would clearly condemn the pilots in the “Collateral Murder” video and their commanders and exonerate Manning. But this is an argument we will not be allowed to hear in the Manning trial.
That the National Security Agency has engaged in such activity isn’t entirely new: Since 9/11, we've learned about large-scale surveillance by the spy agency from a patchwork of official statements, classified documents, and anonymously sourced news stories.
Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama
The unrelenting attack on our civil liberties and our privacy continues.
Cyber-threats are the new pretext to justify expansion of power and profit for the public-private National Security State
This Article analyzes corporate-government agreements and provides the rationale and blueprint for shifting the principal locus of compliance with existing laws (and oversight obligations) from the intelligence officials to the corporations.
Most recent Transparency Report from web giant reveals 136% increase in user data requests from US since 2009
The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.
New emails released by WikiLeaks indicate that TrapWire, a defense contractor owned and operated by ex-CIA operatives, sits at the heart of American intelligence. Everything from incidents on military base to calls to NYC's "See Something, Say Something" are routed through TrapWire.
Across the United States, abusive and unlawful protest regulation and policing practices have been and continue to be alarmingly evident. This 195 page report follows a review of thousands of news reports and hundreds of hours of video, extensive firsthand observation, and detailed witness interviews.
With Occupy protesters gearing up for a spring resurgence, Salisbury spells out just what activists will be up against -- think unmanned drones, tanks, and super-sophisticated surveillance systems from New York City to Scottsbluff, Nebraska -- in the months ahead.
At the height of the Occupy Wall Street evictions, it seemed as though some diminutive version of “shock and awe” had stumbled from Baghdad, Iraq, to Oakland, California. American police forces had been “militarized,” many commentators worried, as though the firepower and callous tactics on display were anomalies, surprises bursting upon us from nowhere. There should have been no surprise. Those flash grenades exploding in Oakland and the sound cannons on New York’s streets simply opened small windows onto a national policing landscape long in the process of militarization — a bleak domestic no man’s land marked by tanks and drones, robot bomb detectors, grenade launchers, tasers, and most of all, interlinked video surveillance cameras and information databases growing quietly on unobtrusive server farms everywhere.
Kolin, a political science professor at Hilbert College in Buffalo, New York, has done a masterful job of tracing the origins of the "political repression of mass-based movements" and the rise of the "police state" in his exhaustively researched book, State Power and Democracy: Before and During The Presidency of George W. Bush. All police states, "and Germany in the [1930s] is the classic example," develop by "crushing democracy."[5][6]
Fifty years ago, President Eisenhower warned of the ‘disastrous rise’ of the military-industrial complex. His fears proved all too accurate. Now in the post-9/11 world, the threat goes even further: the military-industrial complex is evolving into the military-intelligence complex. It is a world, I fear, that is propelling us into a dystopian surveillance nightmare.
Ten years after the devastating attacks on New York and Washington, the fundamental promises of American democracy are hanging by a thin thread. Promoted by a culture of war and fear, the US government has steadily chipped away at those legal protections that enabled 'we the people' to rule ourselves. "Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the Homeland"[7] charts the course of this shift, exposing the rapid advent of a technologically advanced surveillance state in the shadows of the Twin Towers.
"Top Secret America" is a project nearly two years in the making that describes the huge national security buildup in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. When it comes to national security, all too often no expense is spared and few questions are asked - with the result an enterprise so massive that nobody in government has a full understanding of it. It is, as Dana Priest and William M. Arkin have found, ubiquitous, often inefficient and mostly invisible to the people it is meant to protect and who fund it.
Border security constitutes the single largest line item in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget. Nonetheless, DHS has failed to develop a border security strategy that complements US domestic and national security objectives.
The Department Of Homeland Security is the very epitome of unnecessary bureaucracy. Its formation was predicated on the existence of terrorist threats, many of which the U.S. government and orbiting alphabet agencies either created through acts of war, or fabricated out of thin air. Its policies of centralization were sold to the public as necessary to prevent systemic “miscommunications” that never actually took place. Throughout our history, it has been a rare occasion indeed when an attack falls upon American infrastructure or interests that was not influenced, directly or indirectly, by the actions of agencies which were supposedly employed to prevent such events from ever occurring. Whether through ‘blowback’, or through ‘false flag’, frankly, most of the harm that comes to our nation is perpetrated by the guiding hand of our inexorably corrupt government.
America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

Your Defense Against The Surveillance State

Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.
Open Source security for mobile devices.

Environment; Energy Consumption; Climate Change

Guy McPherson at Bluegrass Bioneers 2012

Excerpts from talk:

One degree (celsius average temperature rise) is catastrophic. A one degree temperature rise leads to rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead, will lead and have led to extensive ecosystem damage. We've known this for 20 years. (The fact that this information isn't widely reported) is one of the biggest corporate media cover-ups (ever).

The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008) says we're headed for a two degrees (celsius) warmer world by the end of the century.[8] Two degrees -- because of positive, self-reinforcing feedback loops -- leads almost immediately, and with great certainty, to a six degrees (celsius) warmer world. The last time there was six degrees warmer world (than baseline) there were snakes the size of yellow school buses living in the Amazon and the largest mammal on the planet was the size of a shrew.
Eleven young Oregonians are among the 21 youth from around the country who have filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, alleging that the failure to take action to slow catastrophic climate change violates their Fifth Amendment rights. Renown climate change scientist and activist James Hansen has joined the suit, filed in federal district court in Eugene. Hansen and the other plaintiffs say that the president’s recently announced Clean Power Plan and other policy changes aimed at reducing carbon emissions, are grossly inadequate.
Forced relocations in China’s arid Ningxia province underline the difficulties of adapting to climate change.
San Francisco-based photographer Beth Moon has spent the last 14 years in search of the world’s oldest trees. In the most remote and obscure locations she has uncovered the most spectacular trees, many of which appear old enough to hold long buried secrets of the world.
Fifty years ago this month President Johnson voiced concern over invisible fossil fuel emissions in a special message to Congress. It was the first time a U.S. president warned the nation about our carbon habit.
“This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”
- President Lyndon B. Johnson. Monday, 8 February 1965.[9]
Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year. Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.
In the wake of the climate disaster that was Hurricane Katrina almost ten years ago, I saw the same images of police, pointing war-zone weapons at unarmed black people with their hands in the air. In the name of “restoring order,” my family and their community were demonized as “looters” and “dangerous.” When crisis hits, the underlying racism in our society comes to the surface in very clear ways. Climate change is bringing nothing if not clarity to the persistent and overlapping crises of our time.
The End Age for humanity will not be a date known to man, but a point of no return from climate change, about which we shall be as oblivious as if we had sleepwalked out of an airplane without a parachute. Scientists will describe their shock at the free fall, estimate the time of impact and ask for more funds to refine their estimates. World agencies will organize meetings to exotic places, to which people will fly long distances at great costs in emissions, to discuss how to mitigate the effects of climate change and promote a capitalist notion of buying and selling carbon credits. All will be helpless against our catastrophic crash once we pass the turning point. Are we there now, as the Hopi and Mayans have predicted? Is there time left and, if so, how long?
It's especially worrying because the Arctic is warming faster than nearly anywhere else on Earth. Now, along with melting sea ice and thawing permafrost, we have to add to our list of 'feedback loop' concerns that warming Arctic oceans may be releasing fonts of methane. That is, the warmer the ocean gets, the more methane gets spewed out of those stores on the continental shelf, and the warmer the ocean gets, ad infinitum.
The battle against global warming is going to continue to require an uprising on behalf of the planet. That is because the fossil fuel and extraction (along with other profiteering) industries are actually rooting on behalf of negative climate change.
Current theories on the cause of abrupt climatic change focus on sudden shut downs and start-ups of the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) (also referred to as the thermohaline circulation), which is a global network of density-driven ocean currents. The Meridional Overturning Circulation transports a tremendous amount of heat northward, keeping the North Atlantic and much of Europe up to 9°F (5°C) warmer, particularly in the winter. A sudden shut down of this current would have a ripple effect throughout the ocean-atmosphere system, forcing worldwide changes in ocean currents, and in the path of the atmospheric jet stream. Studies of North Atlantic Ocean sediments have revealed that the Meridional Overturning Circulation has shut down many times in the past, and that many of these shut downs coincide with the abrupt climate change events noted in the Greenland ice cores.
ALEC has once again returned its attention to the low-profile war it’s waging to keep renewable energy from gaining territory. The secretive organization that brings together conservative politicians and major corporate interests — is looking to recalibrate their approach to repealing or obstructing a range of clean energy initiatives. ALEC is also infiltrating local politics through a new initiative called the American City County Exchange. Legislators will be schooled on how industry wants them to talk about climate change.
Certain forms of infrastructure also effectively preclude others. Once you have built a city, you can’t use the same land for agriculture. Historians call this the “infrastructure trap.” The aggressive development of natural gas, not to mention tar sands, and oil in the melting Arctic, threaten to trap us into a commitment to fossil fuels that may be impossible to escape before it is too late. Animals are lured into traps by the promise of food. Is the idea of short-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions luring us into the trap of long-term failure?
Science tells us what must happen; capitalism tells us that it doesn’t matter. Such is the psychosis buried at the heart of a system whereby money overrides physics. The fact that continued operation calls into question, in its current form, the sustained existence of our entire biosphere, still cannot overcome the remorseless logic of capital accumulation.
Personal attacks are common among deniers. Their lies are continually debunked, leaving them with no rational challenge to overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is warming and that humans are largely responsible. Comments under my columns about global warming include endless repetition of falsehoods like “there’s been no warming for 18 years”, “it’s the sun”, and references to “communist misanthropes”, “libtard warmers”, alarmists and worse…
All the international negotiations and agreements to date are not going to help avert the imminent catastrophe. Not even the boldest targets to reduce carbon pollution put forward by the smartest nations are going to move the dial. It’s all an illusion of movement, kind of like Alice in Wonderland’s Red Queen, running and running but not going anywhere.
Not only is the United States clearly the worst in its climate denial, but Great Britain and Australia are second and third worst, respectively. Canada, meanwhile, is the seventh worst.
Arctic sea ice in all seasons is declining and the rate of loss is increasing. Multiple lines of study show this is impacting weather outside of the Arctic. Increased energy (heat) in the Arctic is slowing the progress of the jet stream around globe, allowing weather systems to linger, increasing the risk of severe weather happening more often in any one place. Increased warmth also means increased moisture in the Arctic - which increases the amount of snow, which in turn causes the jet stream to concentrate winter weather in North America and Eurasia.
It should surprise no one that energy plays such a significant role in these conflicts. Oil and gas are, after all, the world’s most important and valuable commodities and constitute a major source of income for the governments and corporations that control their production and distribution. Indeed, the governments of Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, South Sudan, and Syria derive the great bulk of their revenues from oil sales, while the major energy firms (many state-owned) exercise immense power in these and the other countries involved. Whoever controls these states, or the oil- and gas-producing areas within them, also controls the collection and allocation of crucial revenues. Despite the patina of historical enmities, many of these conflicts, then, are really struggles for control over the principal source of national income.
THIS REPORT IS INTENDED as a non-technical examination of a basic question: Can any combination of known energy sources successfully supply society’s energy needs at least up to the year 2100? In the end, we are left with the disturbing conclusion that all known energy sources are subject to strict limits of one kind or another. Conventional energy sources such as oil, gas, coal, and nuclear are either at or nearing the limits of their ability to grow in annual supply, and will dwindle as the decades proceed—but in any case they are unacceptably hazardous to the environment. And contrary to the hopes of many, there is no clear practical scenario by which we can replace the energy from today’s conventional sources with sufficient energy from alternative sources to sustain industrial society at its present scale of operations. To achieve such a transition would require (1) a vast financial investment beyond society’s practical abilities, (2) a very long time—too long in practical terms—for build-out, and (3) significant sacrifices in terms of energy quality and reliability.
"What's so significant is that there was a unanimous vote on an issue that can be so divisive," said Laura Huffman, director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. "When you peel away the high-level arguments and deal with the ground-level issues everyone just rolls up their sleeves and gets to work."
“Human action which is not respectful of nature becomes a boomerang for human beings that creates inequality and extends ‘the globalization of indifference’ and the ‘economy of exclusion’ (Evangelii Gaudium), which themselves endanger solidarity with present and future generations.”
New data show glacial retreat could add four feet to earlier predictions of a three-foot sea level rise by 2100.
  • Climate of Doubt: FRONTLINE's 2012 investigation into how skeptics transformed the direction of the climate change debate.
FRONTLINE explores the massive shift in public opinion on climate change, and goes inside the groups who shifted the direction of the climate change debate.
As with all addictions, the first and most crucial step is to acknowledge that our addiction to fossil fuels has reached such an advanced stage as to pose a direct danger to all humanity. If we are to have any hope of averting the worst effects of climate change, we must fashion a 12-step program for universal carbon renunciation and impose penalties on those who aid and abet our continuing addiction.
Despite the overwhelming consensus among climate experts that human activity is contributing to rising global temperatures, 66 percent of Americans incorrectly believe there is "a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening." The conservative media has fueled this confusion by distorting scientific research, hyping faux-scandals, and giving voice to groups funded by industries that have a financial interest in blocking action on climate change. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets have shied away from the "controversy" over climate change and have failed to press U.S. policymakers on how they will address this global threat. When climate change is discussed, mainstream outlets sometimes strive for a false balance that elevates marginal voices and enables them to sow doubt about the science even in the face of mounting evidence.
Even though 97 percent of experts agree climate change is happening and we humans are causing it, Americans remain under the impression that the question is still unsettled. According to a 2013 report by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 33 percent of Americans said they believed there was widespread disagreement among scientists and four percent said that “most scientists think global warming is not happening.” Only 42 percent of Americans knew that “most scientists think global warming is happening.”
A new post-carbon era dawns as the old fossil fuel system dies. It's time to step up.
Earth's climate is already beyond the worst scenarios. Could a new Dark Age save us?
The reality of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) continues to outstrip our ability to model worst-case scenarios, as it is happening so much faster than was ever anticipated. Sixty-three percent of all human-generated carbon emissions have been produced in the last 25 years, but science shows us that there is a 40-year time lag between global emissions (our actions) and climate impacts (the consequences). Hence, we haven't even begun to experience the worst of our emissions, and won't, until at least 2054.
In Brief: The rate at which the earth's temperature has been rising eased slightly in the past decade, but temperature is still increasing; calling the slowdown a “pause” is false. New calculations by the author indicate that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global warming will rise to two degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will harm human civilization. To avoid the threshold, nations will have to keep carbon dioxide levels below 405 parts per million.
Recorded in early February, Mcpherson goes through the evidence, challenges techno-fixes, such as geo-engineering and re-location to the planet Mars, and reflects on the opportunities that arise when one is faced with the end of everything.
This week's programme is dedicated to climate collapse, and more particularly, the thesis that Global Warming will contribute to the demise of the human species within the next two or three decades. Guy McPherson is the figure most associated with this gloomy outlook. He is Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. He is also the author of Going Dark and the blog Nature Bats Last. This interview was recorded on February 7, 2014 following a public talk he gave in Winnipeg, Canada. He presents the science, refutes false solutions such as moving to Mars, geo-engineering and other techno-fixes, and derives a positive message for Homo Sapiens at the dusk of their reign.
The idea that economies must keep growing is an underlying cause of the climate crisis.
Investigating claims of near-term extinction for humans. Clips from Guy McPherson, John D. Cox, Dr. David Archer. Interview with John Michael Greer. Analysis of predictions by Malcolm Light of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG).
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.
The Arctic's permafrost soils have NASA worried. Scientists monitoring carbon levels in the top layers of Arctic soils have identified huge deposits that, if thawed sufficiently, could upset its carbon balance and magnify the impacts of global warming. The agency estimates that the Arctic's permafrost soils store as much as 1,850 petagrams (one petagram equals 1 billion metric tons), comprising around half of all the carbon stored in Earth's soils — most of it lying within 3 meters of the surface.
It’s been called the Methane Bomb — a stash of gas buried under the Arctic seafloor whose heat-trapping power is much greater, molecule for molecule, than the carbon dioxide people usually worry about. As climate change forces the Arctic to warm, experts warn that methane could escape, speeding global warming. They can’t predict when the great escape might begin, however, or how fast it might proceed. They can’t even rule out the possibility that it might have already started. So they’ve been cruising Arctic waters to get a better handle on where things stand.
Some mainstream environmental organizations are trying to wean themselves from fossil fuel investments—but some aren’t.
Hopes for 'safe' temperature increase within 2C fade as Hawaii station documents second-greatest emissions increase
Are we on the road to climate extinction? Dr. Guy McPherson lays out the case in this speech at Bluegrass Bioneers in Kentucky. Then the World Bank says "Turn Down the Heat". Daphne Wysham on their coal addiction, and Olivia Maria Serdeczny from the Potsdam Institute in Germany, authors of the report for the Bank. Is collapse our best way out of a Hellish future?
- NOTES FROM GUY MCPHERSON SPEECH NOVEMBER 2ND, 2012
Fast-rising carbon emissions mean that worst-case predictions for climate change are coming true
University of Utah Physics Professor Dr. Tim Garrett explains why fossil-based wealth leads to both hyper-inflation and a ruined climate. All from a published, peer-reviewed paper in Journal Climatic Change. According to our energy and wealth equation, only a sudden economic collapse could save us from 5 degrees Celsius global temperature rise (or more) by 2100. And we'll get over 100% inflation along the way.
- ENERGY = WEALTH = INFLATION + RUINED ATMOSPHERE (Transcript)
Since 1999, the non-profit charity Donors Trust has handed out nearly $400 million in private donations to more than 1,000 right-wing and libertarian groups.
While the secretive Donors Trust has given millions to a variety of right-wing causes, denying climate change appears to be its top priority. An analysis by the environmentalist group Greenpeace reveals Donors Trust has funneled more than one-third of its donations — at least $146 million — to more than 100 climate change denial groups over the past decade. In 2010, 12 of these groups received between 30 to 70 percent of their funding from Donors Trust.
The secretive funding network distributed $118m to 102 groups including some of the best-known thinktanks on the right
Philippines is having to adapt and adjust to rapidly deteriorating climatic trends at a great cost to its economy
Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science
The secretive funding network distributed $118m to 102 groups including some of the best-known thinktanks on the right
Here is the reality: the burning of fossil fuels is the leading contributor of gases that are already changing the planet’s delicate climate, and the climate will continue to change in an exponentially increasing and worsening way unless we reduce emissions.
Here is the gap: we continue to make decisions in every phase of our lives ignoring the reality of climate change. Incrementally, each of our decisions might be, or at least appear to be, minor in the grand scheme of things. Combined, they propel us forward on a path to disaster.
Environmental devastation of the land, water, and air - the largest industrial energy project in the world is extracting crude oil from bitumen found beneath the pristine boreal forest of Alberta, Canada. Effecting a land mass equivalent in size to Florida or England, Both industry and government are putting money before the health and security of its people and the environment. Tar sands take 3 barrels of water to process every barrel of oil extracted. Ninety percent of this water becomes so toxic that it must be stored in tailing ponds. Unfortunately these ponds regularly leach pollution into the third largest watershed in the world. Water depletion, exploitation, privatization and contamination has become one of the most important issues facing humanity this century.
“Renewable technologies are now the most economic solution for new capacity in an increasing number of countries and regions,” IRENA concluded upon analyzing the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) among the some 8,000 renewable power projects in its database and related literature.
Proposed Export Pipeline Will Significantly Expand Tar Sands Industry
The impacts of climate change driven by human activity are spreading through the United States faster than had been predicted, increasingly threatening infrastructure, water supplies, crops and shorelines, according to a federal advisory committee.
Emissions are rising, ice is melting and yet the response of governments is simply to pretend that none of it is happening
Climate change can reasonably be expected to increase the frequency and intensity of a variety of potentially disruptive environmental events-slowly at first, but then more quickly. It is prudent to expect to be surprised by the way in which these events may cascade, or have far-reaching effects. Over the coming decade, some climate-related events will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of affected societies or global systems to manage; these may have global security implications. Although focused on events outside the United States, Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis recommends a range of research and policy actions to create a whole-of-government approach to increasing understanding of complex and contingent connections between climate and security, and to inform choices about adapting to and reducing vulnerability to climate change.
With Arctic ice melting at record pace, the world’s superpowers are increasingly jockeying for political influence and economic position in outposts like this one, previously regarded as barren wastelands.
Recordings from The New Emergency Conference: Managing Risk and Building Resilience in a Resource Constrained World.
The scientific community has long agreed that our dependence on fossil fuels inflicts massive damage on the environment and our health, while warming the globe in the process. But beyond the damage these fuels cause to us now, what will happen when the world's supply of oil runs out? Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg and the other scientists, researchers and writers interviewed throughout “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” describe the diminishing returns our world can expect as it deals with the consequences of peak oil even as it continues to pretend it doesn’t exist. These experts predict substantially increased transportation costs, decreased industrial production, unemployment, hunger and social chaos as the supplies of the fuels on which we rely dwindle and eventually disappear.
"Phase out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge. However, if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over. There is no practical way to capture the CO2 emitted while burning oil, which is used principally in vehicles."
--Jim Hansen
The fight against oil and gas giants is heating up in the U.S., with new waves of protest and civil disobedience springing up across the country.
A new era of depletion, collapse and austerity
Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade--like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over.

Ecological Collapse

From grasslands to tropical forests, humans are using more and more land for agriculture, to live on, to build roads and infrastructure upon. When we take over, we clear the land or otherwise convert it for our purposes. This doesn’t always cause extinctions, but it does reduce the abundance of species and what researchers call the “intactness” of ecosystems — and when biodiversity levels fall too low, it can mean that larger ecosystems lose their resilience or even, at the extreme, cease to function.
Hidden in an unknown corner of China is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, gadgets and green tech.
“Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.”
Of nine worldwide processes that underpin life on Earth, four have exceeded “safe” levels – human-driven climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and the high level of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the oceans due to fertiliser use.
Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity, says an international team of 18 researchers in the journal Science (16 January 2015). The four are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen). Two of these, climate change and biosphere integrity, are what the scientists call "core boundaries". Significantly altering either of these "core boundaries" would "drive the Earth System into a new state".
Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats
Our consumption is trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce
From our current depletable and polluting energy sources to the rare minerals that are vital to modern technology, the earth's nonrenewable resources are not far from disappearing. Once they are gone, they won't be returning.
Animal species are going extinct anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times the rates that would be expected under natural conditions. According to Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction and other recent studies, the increase results from a variety of human-caused effects including climate change, habitat destruction, and species displacement. Today's extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
The United States has a trash problem. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces more than 4 pounds of garbage per day. That’s more than double the amount produced in 1960, and it’s 50 percent more than the amount produced by Western Europeans. In January, photographer Gregg Segal decided to put some imagery to those numbers. His ongoing series, “7 Days of Garbage,” shows Californian friends, neighbors, and relative strangers lying in the trash they created in one week.
On Monday, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii told Climate Central that June would be be the third month in a row where, for the entire month, average levels of carbon dioxide were above 400 parts per million (ppm). In other words, that’s the longest time in recorded history that this much carbon dioxide has been in the atmosphere. The finding is troubling to climate scientists, several of whom told ThinkProgress on Monday that the levels are a reminder that humans are still pumping too much carbon dioxide into the sky. If the trend continues, some said, carbon levels will soon surpass 450 ppm — a level that many scientists agree would create a level of global warming that would be too difficult for some humans to adapt to.
Human waste of every kind is now poisoning the natural environment, which is so overwhelmed that it can no longer absorb our waste or replace our consumption. We have destroyed the balance of nature. By burning the forests and fossil fuels, we have changed the atmosphere. As the temperature climbs, it intensifies heat waves, fires, storms and floods. If we do not change, these effects will increase until human life and the nature that sustains it is lost, possibly forever.
From nuclear war to the destruction of the environment, humanity is steering the wrong course.
By shying away from the idea of a living planet, we rob environmentalism of its authentic motive force, engender paralysis rather than action, and implicitly endorse the worldview that enables our destruction of the planet.
As climate change works against the browning landscape of the American West, crazed humans use all the water they can find to make still more methane and carbon dioxide, to make more money with oil and gas.
Within a week of the ExxonMobil tar sands oil pipeline burst in Mayflower, Arkansas, ExxonMobil was in charge of the clean-up, the U.S. government had established a no-fly zone over the area, some 40 residents were starting their second week of evacuation, ExxonMobil was threatening to arrest reporters trying to cover the spill...
After two years of collaborative research, storysharing, metaphor crafting, and meticulous illustrating, the bees have completed an epic illustration about mountaintop removal coal mining!
- Video: the beehive collective: the true cost of coal (part 1)
- Video: the beehive collective: the true cost of coal (part 2)
Coal accounts for more than half of America's electricity because it is so cheap—and it remains cheap because no one pays the very large hidden costs of its mining and burning
The great pacific garbage patch, also described as the pacific trash vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central north pacific ocean.

Water

Kim Hammond, Arthur & Orum (well drilling company): “We’re having to go deeper and deeper. They say we’re tapping water millions of years old. That boggles the mind. I can hardly grasp it.”
Plagued by prolonged drought, California now has only enough water to get it through the next year, according to NASA.
The last time California endured a drought, legislators set their sights on the state’s heaviest water users: farmers. The state designed laws to pushagricultural water districts to closely track their water flow and make the largest districts charge farmers based on how much they use. The economic theory is simple: If you aren’t paying for how much water you actually use, you have little incentive to try to consume less.
Michael Specter, New Yorker: The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950. As the country’s population rises, that amount is falling fast. Dozens of other countries face similar situations—not someday, or soon, but now. Rapid climate change, population growth, and a growing demand for meat (and, thus, for the water required to grow feed for livestock) have propelled them into a state of emergency.
Many irrigation districts and cities in California lay claim to enormous amounts of water issued under rights prior to 1914, which are not included in the State Water Resources Control Board’s data. That means the study likely underestimated the degree to which rights overshoot the supply, and the California government doesn’t even know who has what rights in many cases.
If the American Breadbasket cannot help supply ever-growing food demands, billions could starve.
The world risks an "insurmountable" water crisis by 2040 without an immediate and significant overhaul of energy consumption and demand, a research team reported on Wednesday. "There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we're doing today," said Professor Benjamin Sovacool of Denmark's Aarhus University, who co-authored two reports on the world's rapidly decreasing sources of freshwater.
According to an internal memorandum obtained by Postmedia's Mike De Souza, the tailings ponds holding billions of litres of tar sands waste are leaking into Alberta's groundwater. The document, released through Access to Information legislation, confirms groundwater toxins related to bitumen mining and upgrading are seeping from tailings ponds and are not naturally occurring as government and industry have previously stated.
Energy production will increasingly strain water resources in the coming decades even as more than 1 billion of the planet’s 7 billion people already lack access to both, according to a United Nations report. “There is an increasing potential for serious conflict between power generation, other water users and environmental considerations,” said the UN World Water Development Report. Ninety percent of power generation is “water-intensive,” it said.

Food

The study found severe liver and kidney damage as well as hormonal disturbances in rats fed with GM maize in conjunction with low levels of Roundup that were below those permitted in most drinking water across Europe. Results also indicated high rates of large tumors and mortality in most treatment groups.

Permaculture

After the Cold War, Cuba faced many of the agricultural challenges that the rest of the world is now anticipating.

Drivers Not Wanted

Mobility is an intrinsic part of a thriving urban ecosystem. However, many cities still struggle to provide comprehensive transportation systems for their inhabitants. A major component of this struggle is the privatization this infrastructure has been subject to through the last century — both in terms of private companies operating the services, as well as the widespread private ownership of vehicles. And in an era of toxic oil extraction methods, irreversible climate change, and the increasingly evident drawbacks of urban sprawl — such as traffic congestion and poor air quality — mobility policies should be seeking to reduce car dependency as much as possible.
6,000 Americans were killed by cars while walking city streets last year. As terrorists embrace this deadly power, car-free cities make even more sense.
Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions from diesel. Here are 13 cities leading the car-free movement.
Motor City Detroit built the automobiles, oil capital Houston fuelled them and Los Angeles was carved up by freeways in their honour. Yet now all three cities are pushing walking, cycling and the use of public transport. So does this mean America’s love affair with the car is finally waning?
Urban planners are finally recognizing that streets should be designed for people, not careening hunks of deadly metal.
The dangers of all this motor vehicle growth are obvious. In addition to causing crippling traffic jams, cars are now the world’s fastest-growing source of CO2. A recent study found that transportation in cities accounted for about 2.3 gigatons of CO2 in 2010, almost one-quarter of all urban carbon emissions. If those trend lines hold, cars will soon outpace all other causes of climate change, and like climate change, the world has a certain window of time to stop car growth before it’s too late.
The motive for Peoples Climate March was to change perceptions of the scale of the climate movement, in the eyes of our fossil-fueled politicians and in our own eyes, too. The feeling that we are powerful and on the rise – this is key to our faith that we can change this gone-wrong system. However, the no-politics-please soft center of the march leaves us after a couple months with a very big selfie and a lot of fading pixels.
Over the past hundred years, as automobiles have been woven into the fabric of our daily lives, our legal system has undermined public safety, and we’ve been collectively trained to think of these deaths as unavoidable “accidents” or acts of God. Today, despite the efforts of major public-health agencies and grassroots safety campaigns, few are aware that car crashes are the number one cause of death for Americans under 35.

Nuclear Meltdowns

As the fossil fuel industry races to destroy the planet in order to swill champagne bottles of profit as the earth's nurturing eco systems erode into toxic destructive forces, the nuclear industry rushes to justify even more nuclear power as the deadly impact of its current plants is still literally leaking into our environment: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat from the oceans.
1. Part ONE
Instead of honoring its victims at this time Chernobyl is referenced to minimize the impact of Fukuchima. Supposedly only 35 people died. The World Health Organization and the IAEA, whose mission is to promote nuclear power, claim that "there is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure from Chernobyl." That the reality on the ground is very different comes to life in a book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.
2. Part TWO
The extensive section on health effects in this book offers a whole new view of the consequences of radiation induced disease. Yes, there are cancers to specific organs, many thyroid cancers caused by Iodine 131 and 129 but there are also diseases that affect body systems such as the whole endocrine system, not just the thyroid, or the immune system, the respiratory and the reproductive systems. - Also a brief explanation of "half life" "hot spots" and why background radiation is different from radiation from nuclear processes.
3. Part THREE
This program presents the consequences of the Chernobyl explosion on the environment. How has the radiation affected - and continues to affect air, water, the soil, plants and animals. How does radiation move, disperse, bio-accumulate and enter the food chain. Specific examples are from studies on rivers and lakes, wild and domestic animals, birds, fish, fungi, bacteria, viruses, studies that show that they were all affected, in varying degrees, but without exception.
4. Part FOUR
This last episode presents important information on the plight of the children of Chernobyl who - to this day - need vacations in uncontaminated areas to detoxify their bodies from some of the embedded radioactive substances that they absorb in every day life, substances such as cesium, cobalt, thorium, plutonium etc. Also explained is the danger of contaminated food, and how to set up ongoing projects, under control of local communities, to deal with the persisting radiation and find methods to measure the burden of internal radiation.
Governor: "This is disturbing news"
Google Voice / Google Text Fun

Misrouted call to unsuspecting Google Voice mailbox:

+1425xxxxxxx Add - Bothell, WA
8/23/11 10:44 AM 65 minutes ago
And I'm calling For the Mario and ready. Actually the Auto Club beat Speedway, I'm interested in getting some driving time for my brother, around October 15th. Time Frame in, fontana, california possible. My mobile number is (425) xxx-xxxx. And it is. I'm calling from Seattle, Washington. Thank you. No. 00:35
Call Text more? Transcript useful?

Texted reply to caller, and caller's response:

Me to +1425xxxxxxx Add - Bothell, WA
8/23/11 11:47 AM 2 minutes ago
Me: Hello! Thank you for your inquiry about driving time. Due to the unfolding economic collapse driven by peak oil we ask folks to refrain from driving. -xoxo 11:41 AM
+1425xxxxxxx: Ok thanks, all the best 11:47 AM
Call Text more?

Global Pandemics

Attention, World: You just don't get it. You think there are magic bullets in some rich country's freezers that will instantly stop the relentless spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa? You think airport security guards in Los Angeles can look a traveler in the eyes and see infection, blocking that jet passenger's entry into La-la-land? You believe novelist Dan Brown's utterly absurd description of a World Health Organization that has a private C5-A military transport jet and disease SWAT team that can swoop into outbreaks, saving the world from contagion? Wake up, fools. What's going on in West Africa now isn't Brown's silly Inferno scenario -- it's Steven Soderbergh's movie Contagion, though without a modicum of its high-tech capacity.

Relocalization; Degrowth; Peak Oil; Economic Collapse

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system
Link to actual study: A Minimal Model for Human and Nature Interaction
Criticism of study: What did that ‘NASA-funded collapse study’ really say?
There’s nothing special or peculiar, let alone wrong, about the fact that a system, any system, may at some point reach the boundaries to its growth potential. And by flatly denying that these boundaries are even possible at all, we not only risk doing enormous damage to our economies, societies and natural world, we guarantee and lock in that damage. A system that has reached the boundaries to its growth potential tends to self destruct looking for additional but elusive growth.
Conventional economic theory flies in the face of ecological reality. How can a global economy premised on perpetual growth survive in a closed system, which is our planet earth? On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Richard Heinberg, author of a new book, The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, which proposes a startling diagnosis: the expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits which include resource depletion, environmental impacts of unfettered industrial growth and crushing levels of debt. We discuss what policymakers, communities, and families can do to build a new economy that operates within Earth’s budget of energy and resources and how we can thrive during the transition if we set goals that promote human and environmental well-being, rather than continuing to pursue the now-unattainable prize of ever-expanding GDP.
Media Education Foundation - Michael Klare: The primary US objective in the region is to support authoritarian regimes that guarantee the flow of oil.

Community Solutions

Ron Finley (featured in report): "It's about you changing your life and being responsible for your health, and for your community. It's you taking a stand that this is mine. ... We've basically been enslaved by food companies, and they're killing us slowly. There's other means and other ways to supply food. ... I have birds that I'd never seen in my life before coming to my garden now. And you're filtering the air. People walk by and see beautiful things, instead of just concrete."
Call it the Solutions Movement. Something is stirring in northern California and it feels a lot like the future – not the Android kind, and definitely not the Wall Street kind, but a more abundant, collective form of wealth that's being generated in a community whose new energy, food and economic systems seem to be falling in sync.
Inherent within the challenges of peak oil and climate change is an extraordinary opportunity to reinvent, rethink, and rebuild the world around us.
- Rob Hopkins, The Transition Handbook.
Transition PDX: Recovery Zone on 08/24/11
- Program: Recovery Zone | Air date: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 11:00am - 11:30am
- Short Description: Transition PDX working for sustainability and ecological resilience.
We live in an oil-dependent world, and became this dependent in a very short space of time, using vast reserves of oil in the process – without planning for when the supply is not so plentiful. The Transition Movement began in 2005 in Totnes in the UK with a vote by the town council to work toward energy independence and a sustainable future. The idea spread quickly. There are now over 300 communities recognized as official Transition Towns in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Italy and Chile.[10] Host Stephanie Potter will be speaking with David Johnson and Jim Newcomer who are with the Transition PDX here in Portland, Oregon. Johnson is also on the Board of Transition US[11] and serves as a Transition Trainer. Transition PDX is loosely organized into a network of groups comprised of people coming together to overcome the challenges of peak oil, economic stagnation and the climate crisis, and to explore how the transition model can be applied in the Portland area to create thriving neighborhoods.
City Repair is an organized group action that educates and inspires communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live.

Human Impact

Manufactured Landscapes is a 2006 feature length documentary film about the work of photographer Ed Burtynsky. It was directed by Jennifer Baichwal and is distributed by Zeitgeist Films.
The problem that faces our societies is that we have developed industries and policies that were appropriate at a certain moment, but now start to reduce human welfare, like for example the oil and car industry. Their political and financial power is so great and they can prevent change. It is my expectation that they will succeed. This means that we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.
Arithmetic, Population, and Energy
Eight-part video series uses simple math to demonstrate why unfolding catastrophes involving global finance, peak oil, climate change and severe natural resource depletion are underway now.
Sustainability & Collapse Mitigation With Cuban Characteristics
Only Cuba provides a decent standard of living for its people without consuming more than its fair share of (global) resources.

Collapse Network

Collapse Network's so-called "Compass Points" are one of the "core documents" from Michael Ruppert's Collapse Network." The compass points include (in directional order):
NORTH – A New, Sustainable Human Paradigm Must Be Rooted In Local, Chemical-Free Food Production, Extended Family And Community
SOUTH – Until The Way Money Works Changes, Our Species Is Trapped In An Infinite-Growth Paradigm Which Threatens All Life
EAST – Infinite Growth On A Finite Planet Is Not Possible
WEST – Human Population Will Inevitably Reduce By Billions Of People Amidst Great Suffering As The Sun Sets On Industrial Civilization
The collapse prep checklist includes
  1. Acquire at least three month’s worth of food for your household and encourage everyone close to you to do the same.
  2. Secure an emergency water supply.
  3. Acquire Potassium Iodide for radioactive fallout protection.
  4. Get in shape.
  5. Stockpile at least ten gallons of fuel.
  6. Keep a small store of physical cash but trade in most of your dollars for tangible goods and/or precious metals.
  7. Conduct yourself with confidence.
  8. Sell off luxuries and acquire essentials.
  9. Put together a bailout kit and make contingency plans.
  10. Share your plans with friends, family, and trustworthy neighbors.
"Unless you change how money works, you change nothing. We live in an infinite growth economy, in other words -- a ponzi scheme. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible. Those species who cannot get out of their paradigm are doomed to go extinct. Can we disengage from our paradigm?"

Dmitry Orlov & Peak Oil Lessons From The Soviet Union

Dmitry Orlov, engineer and author, warns that the US's reliance on diminishing fuel supplies might be sending it down the same path the Soviet Union took before it collapsed. Orlov, who was an eyewitness to the collapse of the Soviet Union, asserts that run-away debt and national bankruptcy will lead the US to its demise, just as it did for Moscow. "As oil becomes more expensive and scarcer, the US will no longer be able to finance its importation and the economy will hit a wall. Sixty percent of all of our transportation fuels are imported—a lot of that is on credit. A large chunk of the trade deficit is actually in transportation fuels. When those stop arriving because of our inability to borrow more money, then the economy is at a standstill."
The Twilight of the Antipodes and the Cultural Flip (Power point presentation from talk.)
Comment from viewer: "Very good synthesis, and honest, radical views. Think for a second about a future where you have to unlearn consumerism, bike around more and recycle your plastic bottles. Then ponder a future where the only reliable forms of transportation available are boats, horses and your feet! :D That's what I mean by an honest view on the current collapse. We're very far from sustainabilty, and it's time we get a clear picture. No matter how ridiculously scary."
Dmitry Orlov, author of Reinventing Collapse:The Soviet Example and American Prospects, explored the question “What is it that we are looking at here, and what can we do about it?” He believes that there is not much hope for a global financial system and economy, nor should there be given the huge problems it is causing with the environment. If this is the case, then what can people do, in terms of coping with financial collapse, creating community resilience, and re-skilling for the new, local, self-reliant, highly manual age that is coming?
Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation (Orlov's notes and power point slides.)

The Tyranny of the CorpoReich

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.
 
Advocates of privatizing public services promise that the magic of the free market will result in better services for fewer tax dollars, but time and again those ideological claims run headlong into reality. Private companies have to turn a profit, and that means cutting corners, paying lower wages and often failing to provide quality goods and services. Case in point: Officials in Michigan are already regretting a recent move to privatize food services for inmates in the state’s prison system. Early results have proven disastrous.
We don’t think enough about the economic functions of social welfare policy, or about the relationship between the safety net and labor markets, and this hinders our ability to make sense of why some people fight so hard against programs that aid poor and low-income people: We mistake them for anti-welfare ideologues, and dismiss them as cruel or ignorant, but there’s an economic logic to their activism.
In many states, major providers of high-speed Internet connections have successfully lobbied state lawmakers to deliver legislation that bars community-owned ISPs from expanding beyond their home territories. The Federal Communications Commission has the authority to intervene and preempt such state laws to enable smaller Internet providers to compete with larger national firms. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee as an amendment to an annual spending bill, would strip the FCC of this power.
In the age of innocence that was brought to an end by Edward Snowden's revelations, we broadly knew of three kinds of surveillance: the classic kind, by countries against other countries; the industrial kind, by companies against companies; and -- the most recent addition -- the Google/Facebook kind, carried out by companies against their customers. Snowden made us aware that countries also carried out large-scale surveillance against huge numbers of their own citizens, the vast majority of whom had done nothing to warrant that invasion of their privacy. But there's a fifth kind of surveillance that has largely escaped notice, even though it represents a serious danger for democracy and freedom: spying carried out by companies against non-profit organizations whose work threatens their profits in some way.
Privatisation isn't working. We were promised a shareholding democracy, competition, falling costs and better services. A generation on, most people's experience has been the opposite. From energy to water, rail to public services, the reality has been private monopolies, perverse subsidies, exorbitant prices, woeful under-investment, profiteering and corporate capture. Private cartels run rings round the regulators. Consumers and politicians are bamboozled by commercial secrecy and contractual complexity. Workforces have their pay and conditions slashed. Control of essential services has not only passed to corporate giants based overseas, but those companies are themselves often state-owned – they're just owned by another state.
The Corporate Security State is increasingly stealing our rights to safety, liberty and fairness, and granting ever-growing power to the corporate elite.
In trying to come to terms with the nature of the beast at hand, a capitalist system running amok, we need to look at the overall structure of the system; that is, we need to comprehend the different constitutive parts of the system that keep it together and running in ways which are harmful to the interests of the great majority of the population, dangerous to democracy and public values, and detrimental to the environment and earth's ecosystem. Focusing on one element of the system while ignoring other things (perhaps because we think that they constitute incidental outcomes or processes of secondary nature) may limit our understanding by creating a flawed perspective about the dynamics and the contradictions of contemporary capitalism and thereby undermine our ability to propose sound and realistic solutions.
Contemporary capitalism is characterized by a political economy which revolves around finance capital, is based on a savage form of free market fundamentalism, and thrives on a wave of globalizing processes and global financial networks that have produced global economic oligarchies with the capacity to influence the shaping of policymaking across nations.
What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks.
The report mentions 25 human rights issues where the United States is failing. This article focuses on a few of those issues - Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, accountability for Bush-era human rights violations, drone strikes, racism in the prison system, racial profiling, police violence, and criminalization of the homeless.
A list of one-on-one meetings between VIP donors and the Kochs and their operatives offers a revealing look into their mighty political machine.
Over the past two years, state legislators across the country have launched an unprecedented series of initiatives aimed at lowering labor standards, weakening unions, and eroding workplace protections for both union and non-union workers. This policy agenda undercuts the ability of low- and middle-wage workers, both union and non-union, to earn a decent wage.
Rummaging over the current and historical larger-scale threats to entire societies, countries and mankind in general, we see a grotesque, recurrent theme - corporations willing to kill, maim and destroy even their own creators in the name of profit.
Did you know that less than 1% of the world’s transnational corporations, mostly banks, control the share of 40% of global businesses? Did you know that 0.001% of the world’s population (corresponding to roughly one pixel on your computer screen) controls assets worth $14.6 trillion — or over 20% of global annual GDP?
Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying and the revolving door of jobs between government and industry; and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation and sweetheart contracts between government and industry. Wealth begets power, and power begets wealth.
- Bill Moyers: Politics Today is Money Laundering (Part One)
- Bill Moyers: Politics Today is Money Laundering (Part Two)
“Wall Street owns the country…. Money rules…. Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The [political] parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us.”
(The Powell Memo) laid out a plan to take control off all the institutions that determine the direction of the United States, not just the government but the media and academia as well. Forty years later we can see that this plan has been followed, pro-business think tanks have been developed along with pro-corporate publications, colleges and universities have been greatly influenced by corporate funding and the power of corporations to influence elections has dramatically increased thanks to a series of court and legislative decisions. Today, concentrated corporate power has a grip on all of these institutions and sets the direction for U.S. policy through government and other institutions.
Stocks have become the playthings of hedge funds, warping corporate motivation and eroding stock market returns. The biggest ill has been to align top executives pay with performance, usually measured by the stock price. This has proven to be "a disaster." Managers have become share price obsessed. By focusing on short-term stock moves, prices managers are eroding the long-term value of their franchises. Economists have promulgated the idea of shareholder über alles, based on a misreading of corporate law. In 1970, Milton Friedman wrote an article for The New York Times Magazine that contended "the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits." Two business professors, Michael Jensen and William Meckling, expanded on the idea in their paper "The Theory of the Firm," arguing that the only obligation corporations had was to increase profits for their owners, the shareholders.
Many people are spending a lot of their time volunteering to stop specific environmental threats, to address a specific labor issue, or to stop various other corporate abuses to our communities. The number of problems seems endless. Isn't there a faster way to save the world? This page is devoted to those who are interested in getting to the root of society's problems.
Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy issued a major study of the federal income taxes paid, or not paid, by 280 big, profitable Fortune 500 corporations. That report found, among other things, that 30 of the companies paid no net federal income tax from 2008 through 2010. New information for 2011 shows that almost all these 30 companies have maintained their tax dodging ways.

“Free” Trade

Neoliberal financial-market capitalism has dragged the world into a crisis which threatens human civilisation as such. It is characterised by an extreme form of the combination of, on the one hand, the expansion of production, transport and life-style, with, on the other, the destruction of its own foundations, and suffers from a crisis of social reproduction, societal integration, democratic identification and security. Climate destruction, resource wars, terror, the transformation of democracy into oligarchy, class divides, a new racism and fundamentalism, etc. are unavoidable. It therefore leads to a crisis of civilisation, and produces ever stronger elements of barbarism and authoritarian power, which can only be contained at ever greater expense.
 
— The World Crisis and Beyond - Building a New Global Solidarity[12]
The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.
These three agreements solidify the creeping corporate coup d’état along with the final evisceration of national sovereignty. Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions. The agreements—filled with jargon, convoluted technical, trade and financial terms, legalese, fine print and obtuse phrasing—can be summed up in two words: corporate enslavement.
- Tech companies depend on child labor for their raw materials.
- At least 40,000 children are forced to mine the minerals in our smartphones and laptops.
- The groups behind the 1994 Rwandan Genocide operate the mines that supply the US tech industry.
- Apple’s largest manufacturer installed nets to prevent workers from committing suicide — but workers are still killing themselves.
- Foxconn workers make $17 a day. Foxconn’s CEO is worth at least $5.9 billion.
- Tech industry mining produces miles-wide lakes of toxic waste.
- America’s biggest tech companies are some of the nation’s biggest corporate tax avoiders.
- Tech workers are gentrifying San Francisco so much, their bus drivers have to sleep in cars.
The new chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), made a speech this week announcing that he was working to introduce a new version of trade promotion authority that he is propagandistically calling “smart-track,” but which sounds more like fast track in sheep’s clothing. Wyden was vague on the details, but this far into the process any fast track bill being pushed will still rig trade in favor of transnational corporations.
(The next time Wall Street melts down, or a major corporate scandal emerges) we will not get it. Yes, we will get mad when we first hear about what’s happened. The financial thieves of tomorrow will put it in our faces, just like the Enron bosses who cashed out as the company sank and the bonus-grabbing AIG execs in 2009. Americans will be infuriated. We will buzz like bees. We will scream for blood. Then we will proceed to do exactly what Enron or AIG or Goldman Sachs wanted us to do all along. We will convince ourselves that these terrible things happened to us because markets aren’t free enough — that our only mistake was in not carrying our campaigns for deregulation or tax cuts to their logical conclusions. After Enron collapsed, let’s recall, the nation decided that Enron had been right all along: California had such terrible problems because it was run by tree-hugging liberals who stifled entrepreneurship with their preposterous interfering ways.
Mammoth companies are trying to collect water that all life needs and charge for it as they would for other natural resources.
One morning in November 2010, a Philips executive no one recognized drove up and walked into the plant, accompanied by a security guard wearing sunglasses and a sidearm. He summoned all the employees back to the shipping department and abruptly announced that the plant would be shut down. Though the workers didn’t know it at the time, most of their jobs would be offshored to Monterrey, Mexico. The two of them then walked out the door and drove off.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is coming, and it could give multinational corporations even more influence over global policy. That’s what critics of the trade deal between 12 countries along the Pacific Rim (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam) are saying. It’s not helping that the contents of the agreement have largely been kept secret, even though the TPP is the biggest trade deal since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.
Shady magnates and corrupt politicians from all over the globe are stashing their ill-gotten wealth in luxurious Manhattan apartments.
Why the secrecy? Why shut down the marketplace of ideas? The answer becomes obvious upon reading the draft: It is intended to subvert the creation, by governments, of rules that benefit all of society and instead make sure the rules enhance the power of the financial services industry and reduce its accountability.
The WTO demonstrators were the "Occupy" movement of the late-20th century—mocked, maligned, and mostly right.
Most of us are never farther than arm's reach of our smartphones. We use them constantly to snap pictures and post tweets, oblivious to the sacrifices that must be made in order for billions of people around the world to have smartphones in their pockets. In the October 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic magazine, documentary photographer and filmmaker Marcus Bleasdale's stunning images pull back the curtain of our ignorance. The full spread depicts the men, women, and children who put their lives on the line, enduring horrifying conditions, in order to harvest the precious minerals needed to make each and every smartphone on the market.
The Colombia Free Trade Agreement opens Colombia to foreign corporations and investment, creating an improved environment for the exploitation of natural resources and labor. Union leaders, activists, farmers, indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples are paying the price - in blood.

Corporate Welfare

So now let’s look at the big picture. The final totals are $59 billion, 3 percent of the total federal budget, for regular welfare and $92 billion, 5 percent of the total federal budget, for corporations. So, the government spends roughly 50% more on corporate welfare than it does on these particular public assistance programs.
Welfare queens may actually look more like giant corporations. The government spent about $59 billion to pay for traditional social welfare programs like food stamps and housing assistance in 2006, while Uncle Sam doled out $92 billion in assistance to corporations during the same year. That means that big, and in many cases profitable, corporations got nearly double the money from the government that needy individuals got.
A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.
This report analyzes the retirement policies of the U.S. corporations leading the “Fix the Debt” campaign, which is calling for reduced spending on senior citizens’ benefits as part of a deal on the national debt.
The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database and found that local governments give up:
- $80.4 billion in incentives each year
- 1,874 No. of programs

Prison Industrial Complex

From enabling disaster capitalism to compounding horrid living conditions, this infographic exposes the connections between the prison system and climate change.
A recent study suggests that, if you are white, and you are presented with evidence that our criminal justice system disproportionately targets black people, then you are more likely to support harsh criminal justice policies than if you were unaware of this evidence. According to a study by Rebecca Hetey, a post-doctoral fellow in Stanford’s Psychology department and Jennifer Eberhardt, her faculty advisor, informing white people that African Americans are significantly over-represented in the prison population “may actually bolster support for the very policies that perpetuate the inequality.” Forty percent of the nation’s prison population is black, as compared to only 12 percent of the population as a whole.
US breeds a Chinese-style inmate labor scheme on its own soil. Both state and some of the biggest private companies are now enjoying the fruits of a cheap and readily available work force, with tens of millions of dollars spent by private prisons to keep their jails full.
Prison Labor as the Past -- and Future -- of American “Free-Market” Capitalism
"This is an industry that needs misery, long sentences, rounded-up undocumented immigrants and increasing crime to flourish."

Big Oil, Gas, Coal, Nuclear

The U.S. drive for energy independence is backed by a surge in junk-rated borrowing that’s been as vital as the technological breakthroughs that enabled the drilling spree. While the high-yield debt market has doubled in size since the end of 2004, the amount issued by exploration and production companies has grown nine-fold, according to Barclays Plc. That’s what keeps the shale revolution going even as companies spend money faster than they make it.
Critics question the legitimacy of industry-funded ‘frackademia.’

Big Pharma & The Medical-Industrial Complex

The lawsuits describe a wide-ranging strategy that is said to have relied on a mix of sophisticated software systems, financial incentives and threats in an attempt to inflate the company’s payments from Medicare and Medicaid by admitting patients like an infant whose temperature was a normal 98.7 degrees for a “fever.” The accusations reach all the way to the former chief executive’s office, whom many of the whistle-blowers point to as driving the strategy.
Each year as many as 100,000 Americans die in hospitals from preventable medical mistakes.
Medical debt is a weapon of the class war because when patients cannot afford medical care, they are forced into debt, often with far-ranging and catastrophic consequences.
If you still doubt that the profit motive is one of the most horrific curses on humanity, listen to this report. The profit motive drove Big Pharma to kill up to twelve million people -- double what Hitler's Holocaust murdered -- by blocking availability of generic AIDS drugs to impoverished Africans. It's no wonder that the lust for money is considered at the root of all evil. The profit motive is the taproot of all evil.
Big Pharma pushes American diplomats to pressure host countries -- the Philippines, Turkey, and India, for example -- to help them make more money, often by limiting the country from making its own generic version of the drugs and extending the length of patents so the companies can charge a premium price for longer.
Prometheus gave man fire, thankfully he didn’t charge every time man lit a match. Prometheus Labs in contrast wants to charge patients for a rule that says when to increase or decrease a drug in response to a blood test.

Industrial Food

The Future of Food is a 2004 American documentary film which makes an in-depth investigation into unlabelled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have made their way onto grocery stores in the United States for the past decade. In addition to the US there is a focus on Canada and Mexico.
Food, Inc. is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner.[13] The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees.
  • Food Inc. (Full-length documentary -- with Spanish subtitles -- available on Vimeo as of 11:09, 22 July 2012 (PDT).)
Super Size Me is a 2004 American documentary film directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker. Spurlock's film follows a 30-day period from February 1 to March 2, 2003 during which he eats only McDonald's food. The film documents this lifestyle's drastic effects on Spurlock's physical and psychological well-being, and explores the fast food industry's corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit.
The World According to Monsanto is a 2008 documentary film directed by Marie-Monique Robin. Originally released in French as Le monde selon Monsanto, the film is based on Robin's three-year long investigation into the US agricultural giant Monsanto corporation's practices around the world.[14] The World According to Monsanto is also a book written by Marie-Monique Robin winner of the Rachel Carson Prize (a Norwegian prize for female environmentalists), [15] the book was translated to many languages.
The World According to Monsanto is a documentary first aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural TV channel). It was produced by French journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin. It's unlikely you'll see this documentary on American television. The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.

Economics & Inequality

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
The wealth of white households was 13 times the median wealth of black households in 2013, compared with eight times the wealth in 2010, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. Likewise, the wealth of white households is now more than 10 times the wealth of Hispanic households, compared with nine times the wealth in 2010.
If education is not dedicated to empowering our youth to solve the problems they face in their communities, in our nation, and in our world, then it isn’t really an education at all—it is an indoctrination designed to reproduce oppression. As Richard Shaull explains in the forward to Paulo Freire’s masterwork, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Critics warn Obama's multibillion dollar push to open Africa for U.S. business will further dispossess and impoverish people across the continent.
"Strip away all the modern PR and prettified palaver and it’s an ugly scramble for oil, minerals, and markets for U.S. goods. Everyone wants a piece of Africa: drooling outsiders, corrupt insiders, cynical middle men." —John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus
"If there is business as usual, we will continue to have a situation where people on whose land resources lie will be pushed further and further to the brink, left without health care, housing, education, or any means of benefiting." —Emira Woods, ThoughtWorks
What can be done: The United Nations uses the report to call for universal access to social programs, including health and education. The report also highlights unemployment insurance and pensions as ways to keep citizens afloat despite high unemployment rates. "If you invest in people, if you upgrade your infrastructure and increase the choices available to all, you will have a more stable society," the lead author, Khalid Malik, told CBC News. Employment security is also a big theme in the report, which notes that 1.5 billion workers — nearly half the world's total — take part in "informal or precarious employment." That's a contributing factor to the 842 million people worldwide who suffer from chronic hunger.
College graduates in America aren't simply gaining access to higher wages. They're gaining access to high-cost cities like New York or San Francisco that offer so much more than good jobs: more restaurants, better schools, less crime, even cleaner air.
Why should right-wing sentiments go hand in hand with inflation paranoia? One answer is that using monetary policy to fight slumps is a form of government activism. And conservatives don’t want to legitimize the notion that government action can ever have positive effects, because once you start down that path you might end up endorsing things like government-guaranteed health insurance. But there’s also a much more direct reason for those defending the interests of the wealthy to complain about easy money: The wealthy derive an important part of their income from interest on bonds, and low-rate policies have greatly reduced this income.
The southern state ranks dead last in per capita tax revenue, and its low-income families are paying the price. Employment opportunities also are extremely poor for the poor. Only 25% have full-time jobs, 45% are employed part-time, and a whopping 30% have no jobs at all. So what do you do with all those low-income folks who don’t have decent jobs? You put a good number of them in jail. In fact, only Louisiana, Georgia and New Mexico have higher jail incarceration rates.
American democracy is no longer very democratic, according to a new university study.[16] Instead, it's dominated by moneyed elites in a process where public opinion has little to no impact on policy.
Are they afraid the people’s patience is not endless? The growing concentration of wealth is creating an increasingly antagonistic society, which is why we have seen the buildup of the police state and the rise of unregulated markets appear in tandem. This is why the prisons are bursting at the seams with the poor.
One of the slogans of the 2011 Occupy protests was 'capitalism isn't working'. Now, in an epic, groundbreaking new book, French economist Thomas Piketty explains why they're right.
There is an increasing wealth gap of immense proportions in the United States. For decades, the nation's assets have grown more and more concentrated in the hands of a few, while the rest of the nation makes do with the crumbs. This skewed economic distribution within the US is reflective of an even worse economic disparity in the world in general.
Special Report: Marinaleda is run along the lines of a communist Utopia and boasts collectivised lands
America is a plutocracy through and through -- what are we going to do about it?
The total wealth of this global ruling class grew 35 per cent year to year topping $3.5 trillion, while income levels for the lower 55 per cent of the world’s 6-billion-strong population declined or stagnated. Put another way, one hundred millionth of the world’s population (1/100,000,000) owns more than over 3 billion people. Over half of the current billionaires (523) came from just 3 countries: the US (415), Germany (55) and Russia (53). The 35 per cent increase in wealth mostly came from speculation on equity markets, real estate and commodity trading, rather than from technical innovations, investments in job-creating industries or social services.
More than 90% of Americans polled said that wealth should be divided more equitably than what they thought was the current wealth division. Unfortunately, the "unequal" division of wealth they thought was the current reality is itself a much more equitable distribution of wealth than that which actually exists in the United States.
As private interests have come to wield more influence over public policy, with ever larger sums of money shaping elections and the policymaking process, our political system has become less responsive to those looking for a fair shot to improve their lives and move upward.
The world must urgently set goals to tackle extreme inequality and extreme wealth
In some countries there are genuine oligarchies that govern economic and political affairs. Elsewhere there are classes of self-styled "job creators" who believe their wealth and financial acumen alone entitle them to special treatment under the law. Pointing out that no entrepreneur or mogul is an island of economic productivity too often elicits cries of "class warfare" from the right and the rich. But if we are to maintain and improve the institutions and ideas (public education and affordable healthcare among them) that underpin modern society and its aspirations, every individual, particularly the wealthy, has a civic responsibility to pay his or her fair share.
This document focuses on the "Top 1%" as a whole because that's been the traditional cut-off point for "the top" in academic studies, and because it's easy for us to keep in mind that we are talking about one in a hundred. But it is also important to realize that the lower half of that top 1% has far less than those in the top half; in fact, both wealth and income are super-concentrated in the top 0.1%, which is just one in a thousand. (To get an idea of the differences, take a look at an insider account by a long-time investment manager who works for the well-to-do and very rich.
While other Americans’ life expectancy has advanced, the life expectancy of whites without high school diplomas has declined since 1990 — by three years among men and five years among women. The market is not just redistributing income in the United States, then. It is redistributing life.
  • Professor Richard D. Wolff - Class Warfare (Alternative Radio Podcast)
People dread taxes. The tax code is a labyrinth few citizens dare to enter save for the rich and powerful who hire lawyers and accountants to figure out ways to game the system. One corporation paid $26,000 a year to maintain a post office box in Bermuda as its legal headquarters. That little trick saved them $40 million in corporate taxes. Not bad. Taxes on the wealthy used to be high. During the Eisenhower years in the 1950′s, a fairly conservative period which saw tremendous economic growth, the tax rate for the haves was 91 percent. Today it’s a third of that, and few actually pay that much. In true Orwellian fashion, if you raise these issues you are accused of class warfare. There is class warfare all right. It’s been successfully waged by the affluent 1 percent against everybody else.
From Coastal Progressives -- "This is an excellent review of, and wide-ranging discussion about, our current economic situation. It's clear, comprehensive, enlightening (he even talks about Oregon, if you can imagine!), insightful and frank. He covers an incredibly complex field of information about history, culture, psychology, ethics, and economics easily and lucidly. It really needs to be seen by more people. The not so rhetorical questions he asks need to be more widely known."
From web site -- Watch as Professor Richard Wolff breaks down the root causes of today's economic crisis, showing how it was decades in the making and in fact reflects seismic failures within the structures of American-style capitalism itself. Wolff traces the source of the economic crisis to the 1970s, when wages began to stagnate and American workers were forced into a dysfunctional spiral of borrowing and debt that ultimately exploded in the mortgage meltdown. By placing the crisis within this larger historical and systemic frame, Wolff argues convincingly that the proposed government "bailouts," stimulus packages, and calls for increased market regulation will not be enough to address the real causes of the crisis, in the end suggesting that far more fundamental change will be necessary to avoid future catastrophes. Richly illustrated with motion graphics, this is a superb introduction designed to help ordinary citizens understand, and react to, the unraveling economic crisis.
So, what are the protesters so upset about, really? Do they have legitimate gripes? To answer the latter question first, yes, they have very legitimate gripes. And if America cannot figure out a way to address these gripes, the country will likely become increasingly "de-stabilized," as sociologists might say. And in that scenario, the current protests will likely be only the beginning. The problem in a nutshell is this: Inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation's history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high. In other words, in the never-ending tug-of-war between "labor" and "capital," there has rarely—if ever—been a time when "capital" was so clearly winning.
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Cliché, sure, but it's more true than at any time since the Gilded Age. While politicians gloat about our "recovery," our poor are getting poorer, our average wages are still falling behind inflation, and social mobility is at an all-time low. But, yes, if you're in that top 1%, life in America is grand.
Back in 1981 David Stockman was the wonderkid of the Reagan administration--the director of the Office of Management and Budget who’d craft in actual budgets the trickle-down miracle Reagan had promised on the campaign trail: lower budgets, lower spending, higher tax revenue. But trickle-down economics was a wish, not a reality. It’s never worked. Lower taxes don’t generate more revenue. They generate deficits. Reagan knew it. So did Stockman. So did their guru, Friederich von Hayek. The deficits were intentional all along. They were designed to “starve the beast,” meaning intentionally cut revenue as a way of pressuring Congress to cut the New Deal programs Reagan wanted to demolish. “The plan,” Stockman told Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan at the time, ”was to have a strategic deficit that would give you an argument for cutting back the programs that weren’t desired. It got out of hand.”
If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt — if honestly reckoned to include municipal bonds and the $7 trillion of new deficits baked into the cake through 2015 — will soon reach $18 trillion. That’s a Greece-scale 120 percent of gross domestic product...
A grand delusion has been planted in the minds of Americans, that privately run systems are more efficient and less costly than those in the public sector. Most of the evidence points the other way. Private initiatives generally produce mediocre or substandard results while experiencing the usual travails of unregulated capitalism -- higher prices, limited services, and lower wages for all but a few 'entrepreneurs.'

Finance

What we do know is that the financial collapse and economic crisis cost many tens of trillions of dollars and it also caused vast, often unquantifiable, and still-ongoing human suffering, from skyrocketing unemployment, millions of home foreclosures, widespread poverty, and enormous wealth destruction, to lost retirements, obliterated college funds, and, for many, the loss of faith in the American Dream. These events and their costs proved yet again that, other than war, nothing devastates a country more than the economic ruin that follows a financial crisis such as the one that began in 2007.
 
Lessons from Mehrsa Baradaran’s How the Other Half Banks: Government makes banking possible, and it can democratize banking, too.
When the economy nose-dived in 2008, it didn’t take long to find the crucial trigger. Wall Street banks had peddled billions of dollars in toxic securities after packing them with subprime mortgages that were sure to default. Behind the bankers’ actions, however, stood a less-visible part of the finance industry that also came under fire. The big credit-rating firms – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – routinely blessed the securities as safe investments. Two U.S. investigations found that raters compromised their independence under pressure from banks and the lure of profits, becoming, as the government’s official inquiry panel put it, “essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.”
The U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Carl Levin, released an alarming 396-page report that details how Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks have quietly, and often stealthily through shell companies, gained ownership of a stunning amount of the nation’s critical industrial commodities like oil, aluminum, copper, natural gas, and even uranium. The report said the scale of these bank holdings “appears to be unprecedented in U.S. history.”
Wash trades were a practice by the Wall Street pool operators that rigged the late 1920s stock market, leading to the great stock market crash from 1929 through 1932 and the Great Depression. Wash trades occur when the same beneficial owner is both the buyer and the seller. Wash trades are banned under United States law because they can falsely suggest volume and price movement. The strategy works like this, according to the complaint: “HFTs [high frequency traders] continuously place small bids and offers (called bait) at the back of order queues to gain directional clues. If the bait orders are hit, the algorithm will place follow-up orders to either accumulate favorable positions or exit ‘toxic’ risks, a process which leverages bait orders to gain valuable directional clues as to which way the market will likely move. The initial bait orders are very small while subsequent orders, once market direction has been identified, are very large. A portion of the large orders that follow the smaller bait orders are wash trades.”
It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there's value, there's money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula...
I think the spotlight on the financial sector did make apparent just how bizarrely skewed our economy is in terms of who gets rewarded and for what. There was this pall of mystification cast over everything pertaining to that sector—we were told, this is all so very complicated, you couldn’t possibly understand, it’s really very advanced science, you know, they are coming up with trading programs so complicated only astro-physicists can understand them, that sort of thing. We just had to take their word that, somehow, this was creating value in ways our simple little heads couldn’t possibly get around. Then after the crash we realized a lot of this stuff was not just scams, but pretty simple-minded scams, like taking bets you couldn’t possibly pay if you lost and just figuring the government would bail you out if you did. These guys weren’t creating value of any kind. They were making the world worse and getting paid insane amounts of money for it.
The Bank of England's dose of honesty throws the theoretical basis for austerity out the window
Link to report: Money creation in the modern economy
(Numerous reports.)

Student Debt

Also see Student & Teacher Strikes and Student & Teacher Strikes, Update elsewhere in this wiki.

Nearly $1 trillion in debt, millions in unpaid loans: the numbers behind how Americans are struggling to pay for college.
Unlike private lenders, the federal government has extraordinary tools for collection that it has extended to the collection firms.
As debt provides a gateway into a radical conversation about the capitalist system itself, strategic and analytical questions arise about the role of the state — questions that have always haunted OWS as a movement grounded in anarchist principles. What can we learn from the debt cancellation forced upon the Icelandic government by citizens earlier this year? How do we connect the dots between “personal” debt and the public debt of municipalities and governments subjected to corporate bondholders and credit-rating agencies? How do we link struggles against budgetary austerity with the grievances of the indebted? As Andrew Ross asked on Democracy Now! last fall, “How might debt be rethought as something socially productive and collectively managed, rather than as an engine of predatory profiteering for the 1%?”[17][18]

Wall Street Caused The Crisis

Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures[19], proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets. The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multi-nationals – mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt – into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers. The leaked draft also shows that the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.
Systemic corruption and a fundamental conflict of interest are driving us toward the precipice of new economic crises.
The senior executives who played leading roles in the 2008 financial crisis can breathe a sigh of relief: If any committed crimes, the statute of limitations will run out for most of them this year. It's safe to say nobody will go to jail.
Meet the only Wall St. executive prosecuted as a result of the financial crisis. Has justice been served?
(In a word: no.)
This suit has the potential to demonstrate that Wells constructed a well-oiled machine to flout the law.
Senior bankers guilty of reckless misconduct should be jailed, a long-awaited report on banking commissioned by the (UK) government has recommended.
Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.
On March 16, 2007, Morgan Stanley employees working on one of the toxic assets that helped blow up the world economy discussed what to name it. Among the team members' suggestions: "Subprime Meltdown," "Hitman," "Nuclear Holocaust," "Mike Tyson's Punchout," and the simple-yet-direct: "Shitbag." Ha ha. Those hilarious investment bankers. Then they gave it its real name and sold it to a Chinese bank.
Consumer advocates have complained that U.S. mortgage lenders are getting off easy in a deal to settle charges that they wrongfully foreclosed on many homeowners. Now it turns out the deal is even sweeter for the lenders than it appears: Taxpayers will subsidize them for the money they're ponying up. The Internal Revenue Service regards the lenders' compensation to homeowners as a cost incurred in the course of doing business. Result: It's fully tax-deductible.
Some four years after the 2008 financial crisis, public trust in banks is as low as ever. Sophisticated investors describe big banks as “black boxes” that may still be concealing enormous risks—the sort that could again take down the economy. A close investigation of a supposedly conservative bank’s financial records uncovers the reason for these fears—and points the way toward urgent reforms.
The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come.
One outcome of the TARP and other bank rescue efforts following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008 is that the United States has essentially formalized a commitment to a “too big to fail” (TBTF) policy for major banks. This paper uses data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on the relative cost of funds for TBTF banks and other banks, before and after the crisis, to quantify the value of the government protection provided by the TBTF policy.
The nation’s largest banks are facing a fresh torrent of lawsuits asserting that they sold shoddy mortgage securities that imploded during the financial crisis, potentially adding significantly to the tens of billions of dollars the banks have already paid to settle other cases.
CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly. As part of their push, they are advocating a "territorial tax system" that would exempt their companies' foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled "The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks" -- money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.
Interest charges are a strongly regressive tax that the poor pay to the rich. A public banking system could realize savings up to 40 percent - allowing taxes to be cut, services increased and market stability created - with banks feeding the economy rather than feeding off it.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has produced several timelines to illustrate how events have unfolded. In both timelines, each event entry contains a link that takes you to the original government announcement or a recent news source for additional information.
That number includes – lost gross domestic product, destroyed household wealth, unemployment and underemployment, foreclosures, government bailouts, emergency spending measures, and other government actions that prevented a second Great Depression.
REPORT: The Cost of the Wall Street-Caused Financial Collapse and Ongoing Economic Crisis is More Than $12.8 Trillion
Washington coddles and subsidizes the biggest banks - not to encourage lending, not to encourage saving, and not to better the country, but to contain harsh truths about how badly banks played, and are still playing, the nation.
How the GOP presidential candidate and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs – and stuck others with the bill
Thanks to a leaked video, we know that Mitt Romney divides the country into those who pay taxes and those who don't, the makers and the moochers. There is one perhaps surprising group you can put in the latter category: the nation's banks.
The Mapping Financial Secrecy project is the database that lies behind the Financial Secrecy Index. It should also be considered a major research project in its own right, with extensive and varied findings. Like its predecessor in 2009, entitled Mapping the Faultlines, this is the largest single research project into global financial secrecy in world history.
The Financial Secrecy Index is a tool for understanding global financial secrecy, corruption and illicit financial flows. By ranking secrecy jurisdictions according to both their secrecy, and the scale of their activities, it allows a politically neutral ranking of the biggest players.
(Series produced by The Real News Network.)
Wall Street banks and the hedge fund Magnetar worked together to build mortgage-backed deals that the hedge fund also bet against. The more than $40 billion of deals helped fuel the crash of 2008.
Thomas Palley, the former Bernard L. Schwartz Economic Growth fellow at the New America Foundation and former assistant director of public policy at the AFL-CIO, makes the case that the 2008 financial crisis was a “crisis of bad ideas.”
A far-reaching new study suggests a staggering $21tn in assets has been lost to global tax havens. If taxed, that could have been enough to put parts of Africa back on its feet – and even solve the euro crisis
A new study from Switzerland's University of St. Gallen (shows) that the most successful of the global financial elite probably pose more of a menace to society than known psychopaths. The researchers note that achieving overall success was less important to the stock speculators than the sadistic drive "to damage their opponents."
The bank has defrauded everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed. So why does the government keep bailing it out?
Inside Job (2010) is a documentary film about the late-2000s financial crisis directed by Charles H. Ferguson. The film was screened at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in May and won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Ferguson has described the film as being about "the systemic corruption of the United States by the financial services industry and the consequences of that systemic corruption."[20] In five parts, the film explores how changes in the policy environment and banking practices helped create the financial crisis. Inside Job was well received by film critics who praised its pacing, research, and exposition of complex material.
In just this one peek we got at its operations, we learned that the Fed doled out $12.3 trillion in near-zero interest loans, without Congressional input. The audacity and absurdity of it all is mind boggling. It seems that the average person doesn’t comprehend how much a trillion dollars is, let alone 12.3 trillion. You might as well just say 12.3 gazillion, because people don’t grasp a number that large, nor do they understand what would be possible if that money was used in other ways. Can you imagine what we could do to restructure society with $12.3 trillion? People also can’t grasp the colossal crime committed because they keep hearing the word “loans.” People think of the loans they get. You borrow money, you pay it back with interest, no big deal. That’s not what happened here. The Fed doled out $12.3 trillion in near-zero interest loans, using the American people as collateral, demanding nothing in return, other than a bunch of toxic assets in some cases.[21] They only gave this money to a select group of insiders, at a time when very few had any money because all these same insiders and speculators crashed the system.
Rob Johnson: Financial institutions planning to use crisis to privatize and monopolize.
EDITOR NOTES: This topic is crucial for people to understand. The same forces whose antics brought the global economy to its knees while accumulating unimaginable "paper" wealth are scooping up every tangible asset they can get their hands on while prices for those assets are cheap and before their currency becomes worthless.
- Wall Street lobbyists trying to slow down trading regulations and defund Commission
- Massive spikes in price of food, oil, natural gas and silver cannot be the result of supply and demand
- For regulations to be effective, there has to be political will and proper resources
- Regulator gets "around 100 visits from finance reps for every one from community advocates"
Iceland was one of the hardest hit nations in the immediate aftermath of the September 2008 economic meltdown. Asked by their own government to pay Britain and Holland for bailing out their Icesave-exposed banks, the people overwhelmingly said "no." Do the actions of the Icelandic people present an example for the rest of the world as we see the global economy teetering on the edge of collapse?
The "money note" comes at the end of the discussion:
Q: Do we need Goldman Sachs? What do they contribute to the economy? Is there any need for any of these institutions?
A: These are very large institutions, very profitable institutions with essentially zero social value. If they disappeared overnight, I think the world would be a better rather than a worse place.
SHORT STORY: Pick something of value, make bets on the future value of "something", add contract & you have a derivative. Banks make massive profits on derivatives, and when the bubble bursts chances are the tax payer will end up with the bill. This visualizes the total coverage for derivatives (notional). Similar to insurance company's total coverage for all cars.
How America's biggest banks took part in a nationwide bid-rigging conspiracy - until they were caught on tape.
Without accountability, says former watchdog, the 'unending parade of megabanks scandals will inevitably continue'
Former Tarp Inspector General, Neil Barofsky discusses his new book Bailout: An Insider Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street. Topics include the widespread fraud in the TARP program, how the HAMP program was designed to provide a "soft landing" for banks the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street and getting a "Bullet or Bribe" Colombian Drug Cartel Style offer from the former head of TARP, Herb Allison.
Goldman Sachs pays vast fines to avoid prosecution for mortgage securities fraud. Barclays manipulates interest rates. The Senate exposes HSBC as a racketeering enterprise, laundering money for drug cartels. Banks are laden with bad assets. And Wall Street, Washington, the press corps, everyone sits and stares like so many dumb cows.

The Big Lie of Blaming the Community Reinvestment Act for the Great Recession

From Study: "The large majority of mortgage dollars originated between 2002 and 2006 are obtained by middle- and high-income borrowers (not the poor). In addition, borrowers in the middle and top of the distribution are the ones that contributed most significantly to the increase in mortgages in default after 2007."
The Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977, requires banks to lend in the low-income neighborhoods where they take deposits. Just the idea that a lending crisis created from 2004 to 2007 was caused by a 1977 law is silly. But it’s even more ridiculous when you consider that most subprime loans were made by firms that aren’t subject to the CRA.
It is important to remember that the biggest peddlers of subprime loans were mortgage lenders like Ameriquest and Countrywide. These lenders were for the most part not subject to the CRA since they were not banks (they raised money through the capital markets, not by taking deposits). Therefore the CRA was not a gun to the head of these lenders forcing them to make bad loans.
A McKinsey Global Institute report noted “from 2000 through 2007, a remarkable run-up in global home prices occurred.” It is highly unlikely that a simultaneous boom and bust everywhere else in the world was caused by one set of factors (ultra-low rates, securitized AAA-rated subprime, derivatives) but had a different set of causes in the United States. Indeed, this might be the biggest obstacle to pushing the false narrative. How did U.S. regulations against redlining in inner cities also cause a boom in Spain, Ireland and Australia? How can we explain the boom occurring in countries that do not have a tax deduction for mortgage interest or government-sponsored enterprises? And why, after nearly a century of mortgage interest deduction in the United States, did it suddenly cause a crisis?
The FBI warned as early as September 2004 that there was an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud and predicted that it would cause an economic crisis if it is not contained – and economists ignore even the possibility that fraud could cause bad loans to be made. White-collar criminologists have testified that the epidemic of mortgage fraud consisted overwhelmingly of “accounting control fraud” and drove the crisis. They also explained what lending behavior optimizes such frauds – the accounting control fraud “recipe” for a lender. The recipe has four ingredients:
  1. Grow extremely rapidly by
  2. Making terrible loans at a premium yield while
  3. Employing extreme leverage and
  4. Providing only grossly inadequate allowances for loan and lease losses (ALLL)

Dogma; Ideology; Sociology

At its most basic, this strategy calls for pulling time, energy, and resources out of capitalist civilization and putting them into building a new civilization. The image, then, is one of emptying out capitalist structures, hollowing them out, by draining wealth, power, and meaning from them until there is nothing left but shells. The strategy clearly recognizes that capitalism is the enemy and must be destroyed, but it is not a frontal attack aimed at overthrowing the system; it is an inside attack aimed at gutting it, while simultaneously replacing it with something better, something we want.
Ten years ago, it was wildly controversial to talk about psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. Today, it's becoming hard not to.

Religion, Religious Dogma & Religious Cults

Morality, not moralism, is an almost ineluctable force. We talk a lot about grass-roots politics. We need to talk as well about grass-roots morality. Put simply: If you want to defeat Trump where it really counts, live ethically. The rest will follow.
In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.
Churches used to be liberal for the most part during the modern history of Christianity in the United States, with notable periods of exception of course. Then came Ronald Reagan and Paul Weyrich among others. Weyrich, the late religious conservative political activist, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, and Godfather of The “Christian” Right, literally shopped issues trying to galvanize a conservative “Christian” movement: His hypothetical “moral majority” needed a catalyst—a standard around which to rally. For nearly two decades, Weyrich, by his own account, had been trying out different issues, hoping one might pique evangelical interest: pornography, prayer in schools, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, even abortion.
Why is it that Paul’s many letters (epistles) so consistently and repeatedly contradict and undermine the teachings attributed to Jesus? Perhaps this admitted persecutor of Christians found a more effective way to subvert the followers of Jesus. Perhaps he infiltrated their ranks and taught a doctrine that opposed Jesus, replacing Jesus’ selfless teaching of universal compassionate action with a selfish teaching of desire to gain a “free gift” of salvation based only on faith and completely devoid of any behavioral requirement or obedience to law, thus distracting us from the selfless teachings of Jesus.
The Republican party platform of 1912 did not contain a single reference to God. The word faith appeared once, in the phrase “faith in government.” A century later, the 2012 Republican platform contains 10 references to God and 19 to faith — in phrases like “faith-based organizations,” and “faith communities.” What changed?
Visions of apocalyptic battles are not only taking place at conferences of far-right organizations, in End Times novels, and on theater and television screens these days. Some in what might be considered mainstream right-wing circles also seem to be cranking up the rhetoric and spoiling for such battles.
Some Christian Right activists have lost hope that a Christian Nation can be achieved in the United States through the formal political process—including a high-level GOP operative. They are calling for martyrs and thinking about religious war.
We have our very own ISIS and very own Taliban right here in the United States. It's called the Christian hard-right, it's been in America for a very long time, and it's pushing beliefs that share a worldview and a face with those of ISIS and the Taliban.
Lonny Lee Remmers, 56, Nicholas James Craig, 24, and Darryll Duane Jeter Jr., 30, tortured the boy in the church-run group home where he lived, according to a witness report in affidavits for search warrants. The March 2012 incidents included Craig and Jeter driving the victim to the desert and forcing him to dig his own grave. They then made him get in and threw dirt on him. They were responding to Remmers' instruction to "scare" the boy, according to the affidavits.
Blame religious fundamentalism and the poor quality of science education in America's schools.
When critics appeared online, employees say the evangelical financial whiz went ballistic, allegedly firing innocent employees and offering bounties for information.
They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.
Jesus would not be a “Bible believer,” as we use that term in the post Billy Graham era of American fundamentalist religiosity.
Conservative commentators are freaking out about Pope Francis’ views on economic inequality, but the pope is in line with traditional Catholic teaching.
Modern biblical scholarship has enabled critically thinking Christians to understand what the historical Jesus actually said and what was tacked on later to serve the interests of Rome and early church leaders, but those original messages remain politically inconvenient today.

Fascism; Populism

BadSamaritan.jpg
Trump’s political rhetoric helped propel him into office by playing on the fears and resentments of the electorate. He labeled out-groups, hinted at dark conspiracies, winked at violence and appealed to nativist and nationalist sentiments. He has demanded discriminatory policies including travel restrictions and gender-based exclusions.
Violence helped the fascists enormously. Violent confrontations with antifascists gave the Nazis a chance to paint themselves as the victims of a pugnacious, lawless left. They seized it. It worked.
The German American Bund promoted campaigns of anti-Semitism, anti-Communism and violent rhetoric, but wrapped them in patriotic, pro-American symbolism, holding up portraits of George Washington as “the first Fascist.” The Bund reached the height of its prominence on February 20, 1939, when some 20,000 members held a “Pro-America Rally” in Madison Square Garden.
I joined this group with a genuine open mind having met political opposites before, finding more common ground than I might expect and forming long lasting friendships despite ideological differences. Any surprise I did experience pointed in the wrong direction as it seems things are worse than I thought. I wrote earlier that I used to think that trump supporters were “backward, inward looking, and racist”. Were I to re-evaluate my views of Trump supporters based on the time I’ve spent in the group, the only thing that would change would be the addition of deluded and vindictive to that list.
Across the United States a growing fascist movement known as “Independent Trumpism” is uniting neo-Nazis, members of the alt-right, Patriot movement paramilitaries and Trumpist Republicans.
The British vote in favour of an exit from the EU has thrown the UK’s political system into chaos and shocked Europe and the world. The long-term consequences of this vote are still unclear, but some fear it could trigger the undoing of the UK and accelerate the disintegration of the EU. Many see this outcome as a new victory for populist movements, which are on the rise across much of the Western world. Something more fundamental, however, might be at play.
New Yorker writer Jane Mayer examines the origins, rise and dominance of a billionaire class to whom money is no object when it comes to buying power
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions.” The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.
It used to be more difficult for the ultra wealthy to buy American democracy.
“American Sniper” caters to a deep sickness rippling through our society. It holds up the dangerous belief that we can recover our equilibrium and our lost glory by embracing an American fascism.
  • New York’s Cop Coup: In the face of the NYPD, it’s not just that New York City’s leaders are spineless. They’re frightened, which is far more dangerous.
On Saturday, a gunman shot and killed two police officers at close range in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The murders come on the heels of weeks of protest in New York (and elsewhere) against the rampant lawlessness and brutality of the police. Instantly, the police and their defenders moved into high gear, blaming the murders on the protesters; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had been gesturing toward the need for police reform; and US Attorney General Eric Holder. Many have called for the mayor’s resignation.
No one is really speaking up for those who are left behind. Conventional parties of the so-called left are barely audible in France, Britain and the U.S. Leaders like Obama are too afraid to "challenge elite priorities, in particular the obsession with budget deficits, for fear of being considered irresponsible," Krugman writes. "And that leaves the field open for unconventional leaders — some of them seriously scary — who are willing to address the anger and despair of ordinary citizens."
In a manner similar to the "good Germans" of the 30's and 40's who greeted Hitler's meteoric rise with placid complacency, sealing the doomed fate of tens of millions of human beings all over the world, a noxious cloud of denial and fear regarding an insidious and growing domestic extremist threat has paralyzed many of us. Hiding behind the dangerously disingenuous watchwords of "family values", "home-schooling" and "tradition," a spectrum of figures ranging from the soft-spoken to the obnoxiously bloviating are waging a relentless campaign against secular laws and trends otherwise designed to ensure equal rights for all Americans regardless of their faith, or no faith, traditions. Meanwhile, the U.S media has been pitifully remiss in sounding the clarion call alarm regarding this festering, open wound on the American body politic, allowing this sick sectarian infection of fundamentalist Christian fascism to appear "mainstream" and metastasize.
The kindling for the fire of fascism has already been lit. ... Long-term unemployment promises to be the norm, as well stagnant and poverty-level wages, foreclosures, crippling personal debt and bankruptcies, the evaporation of savings and retirement funds, the outsourcing of jobs, the continued dilapidation of our schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and airports, and the regulations that safeguard our food, water, and clean air. All this comes courtesy of obscene profits, bonuses, taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and compensation being doled out to our corporate overlords.
Twenty-first century fascism evokes mystifying ideologies, often involving race/culture supremacy and xenophobia, embracing an idealized and mythical past. Neo-fascist culture normalizes and glamorizes warfare and social violence, indeed, generates a fascination with domination that is even portrayed as heroic.
Article based on this paper: Global Capitalism and its Anti-‘Human Face’: Organic Intellectuals and Interpretations of the Crisis
The power of truth-tellers like Edward Snowden is that they dispel a whole mythology carefully constructed by the corporate cinema, the corporate academy and the corporate media.
Fascism today is a political response to globalization – capitalism in the age of electronics – and the U.S. battle to dominate the global economy. It is the political expression of the objective concentration of wealth and the spread of poverty. Fascism is not about reaction, that is, returning to some past period. It is a revolutionary political movement that arises in response to a threat to private property relations. It seeks not to adjust this or that policy, that is, to “reform” the system. It seeks to release the capitalists from the restrictions of bourgeois democracy and all that entails. It seeks the replacement of one state form with another – the unrestrained rule of capitalist interest and the consolidation and legalization of their openly terrorist dictatorship.
Those seething with so much rage and xenophobia that they’d hurl ugly epithets in the faces of children fleeing bloody violence in Central America bring shame to the whole nation. But the response of mainstream America hasn’t been much better.
Gun rights activists who cite the dictator as a reason against gun control have their history dangerously wrong.
The group, called Operation Secure Our Border-Laredo, was identified to the San Antonio Express-News as “Patriots,” “Oathkeepers” and “Three Percenters,” a reference to the 3 percent of colonists who took up arms against England during the Revolutionary War. Organizers are using social media and a 24-hour hotline to recruit and mobilize armed volunteers to send to Laredo, Tex., within the coming weeks.
Crusading to restore a holy social order, Tea Partiers have promoted disorder. Claiming to protect democracy, they smashed windows of elected representatives.
“You see an illegal? You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’”
Published on Jul 4, 2014 - A full report on the situation in Ukraine, from the Euromaidan in December 2013, to the present situation today in July 2014. Footage from the most important moments during the crisis have been compiled into this full length documentary from a Politically Neutral Standpoint.

Israel-Palestine & Middle East

With its latest offensive, Israel’s objective is simple: to return to the status quo.
'We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die.'
All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories—required under the rules of American journalism—although we know they are untrue.
The new Snowden documents illustrate a crucial fact: Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government, which is anything but a neutral, peace-brokering party in these attacks. And the relationship between the NSA and its partners on the one hand, and the Israeli spying agency on the other, is at the center of that enabling.
In an interview, human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, said, "The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about cease-fire: Everybody says it's better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don't want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: Everybody is saying that."
After Hamas' takeover, Israel imposed a heavy embargo on Gaza intended to just barely avoid "pushing it over the edge."
Too many Israelis have justifications in their minds for genocide. This includes alleging that children are not innocent non-combatants. And the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, makes another thing clear: Advocating genocide is a crime for which one can be tried at the Hague.
“Both governments under Netanyahu have been responsible for inciting racism. They’ve put in place a long list of anti-equality and anti-Palestinian legislation in all areas of life. That’s why it’s become normal in political discourse to express extreme ideas toward Palestinians. The obsession with a state only for Jews has brought Israeli society into a racist abyss.” ... For those who live in Israel and do not support the war or the right-wing government, it is becoming more difficult to voice an opinion, and some people are weighing their options. “Two nights ago there was a big protest in Tel Aviv. A long-time leftist was holding up a sign that said ‘flee while you can.’ In conversations I’ve had with hardcore activists, everyone has said they are preparing an escape plan. For people who have children or want to have children, this is no place to raise them.”
On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not. Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace.
Since the finding of the bodies of the three kidnapped teenagers, there's been just a rampant and uncontrollable wave of neofascism on the streets here. There've been groups mobilizing all around the country that have been attacking on the streets people who speak Arabic. They've been attacking all the antiwar protests, trying to pick off activists one by one and beat them. Recently, the police decided to do its job and separate them from the antiwar protests, but what they do more often than not is that when the neofascists attack the antiwar protesters, they separate the two groups and then kick the antiwar demonstration out of the streets, so, again, helping in stopping dissent.
Since hi-tech states can and do kill hundreds or thousands of civilians, they have to provide moral justification for their action in order to preserve their standing in the international arena; they have to demonstrate that they are protecting the principles of liberal democracy.
Washington’s good faith as honest broker goes largely unquestioned in the US, even though the country annually provides Israel with billions of dollars in aid and military support of the kind that enables these repeated attacks on Gaza.
The main demands of this proposal revolve around lifting the Israeli siege in Gaza through the opening of its borders with Israel to commerce and people, the establishment of an international seaport and airport under U.N. supervision, the expansion of the permitted fishing zone in the Gaza sea to 10 kilometers, and the revitalization of Gaza industrial zone. None of these demands is new. The United Nations among others have repeatedly demanded the lifting of the siege, which is illegal under international law, as a necessary condition to end the dire humanitarian situation in the Strip.
Children in Gaza have been consistently targeted by Israeli forces.
There is a standard script for how to deal with Palestinian casualties. After Israel killed four boys on the Gaza beach on July 16, the U.S. establishment media fell in line behind Israel’s PR framework: acknowledge the tragedy but blame Hamas. This framework, developed in 2009, can be found in The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary. The Orwellian manual provides a detailed outline on how to “communicate effectively in support of Israel.”
One can say many things about a military operation that results in more than 75% of the dead being civilians, many of them children, aimed at a population trapped in a tiny area with no escape. The claim that there is no intent to kill civilians but rather an intent to protect them is most assuredly not among them. Even stalwart-Israel-supporter Thomas Friedman has previously acknowledged that Israeli assaults on Lebanon, and possibly in Gaza, are intended ”to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties” because “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians” (which, to the extent it exists, is the classic definition of “terrorism”). The most generous claim one can make about what Israel is now doing in Gaza is that it is driven by complete recklessness toward the civilian population it is massacring, a form of intent under centuries of well-settled western law.
Never mind the 'war on terror' rhetoric, writes Nafeez Ahmed. The purpose of Israel's escalating assault on Gaza is to control the Territory's 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas - and so keep Palestine poor and weak, gain massive export revenues, and avert its own domestic energy crisis.
While U.S. policies in the region are certainly irrational and conflicting from the standpoint of international peace, or even from the standpoint of the U.S. national interests as a whole, they are quite logical from the viewpoint of economic and geopolitical beneficiaries of war and international hostilities, that is, from the viewpoint of (a) the military-industrial complex, and (b) the militant Zionist proponents of “greater Israel.”
What first may seem like hyperbole is in fact exactly what pro-Palestinian, anti-occupation Jewish-Israeli activists have been describing for the last week: mobs of right-wing fascists chasing peaceful protesters and violently attacking them in the centers of West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The American establishment – and most of the American public, if polls are to be believed – continues to identify strongly with the Israeli point of view, and views the marginalized, oppressed and displaced Palestinian population as an unmanageable Other, Islamic “militants” or “terrorists” who practice inhuman methods in pursuit of irrational goals. When we see those soccer-playing boys dead on the beach, who look surprisingly like individual human beings for whose deaths we bear some ultimate responsibility, the contradictions become exceedingly painful.
The “Unthinkable” is Now Inevitable
A new study by a University of Chicago professor reveals the obvious about what actually causes terrorism

Propaganda; Corporate Media; Fake News

Once democracy becomes the object of propaganda, it also becomes as totalitarian, authoritarian, and exclusive as dictatorship.
 
A University of Washington professor started studying social networks to help people respond to disasters. But she got dragged down a rabbit hole of twitter-boosted conspiracy theories, and ended up mapping our political moment.
Evidence of human-made climate change is so conclusive that it’s wrong for journalists to treat its denial like a reasonable point of view. But it is a new low for major media groups to sell their brand to lobbyists and let climate truthers go unchallenged.
As traditional advertising revenue has collapsed over the last two decades, many newspapers and magazines have turned to sponsored events for income. Many media outlets have embraced native advertising, an industry term for advertisements that looks like editorial content, except for a small disclosure to identify the content as sponsored.
Promoting the image of a world full of enemies creates a “security psychosis” that misshapes our view of the world. It tempts us to interpret defensive steps taken by other countries as threatening. In extreme cases, it pushes us into wars aimed at preempting threats that do not actually exist. Arms manufacturers profit from the security psychosis even more directly than militarists. Americans take our staggeringly large defense budget almost for granted, and lament continuously that other countries do not build as many exotic weapons systems as we do. Finding new threats is always good business for someone.
We live in a world of illusion. So many of the concerns that occupy the mind and the tasks that fill the calendar arise from planted impulses to become someone or something that we are not. This is no accident. As we are indoctrinated into this authoritarian-corporate-consumer culture that now dominates the human race, we are trained that certain aspects of our society are untouchable truths, and that particular ways of being and behaving are preferred.
Erin Quinn and Chris Young explain how they investigated the top message peddlers influencing public policy — and why you should care.
The recent episode in which the ugly reality of our new Gilded Age manifested itself most clearly was the financial crisis and the investment-bank bailouts. Together, these made up the greatest economic and political debacle of our time, the perfect expression of everything that has been going wrong with this country for decades. Yes, everything that is wrong with the USA in one episode, and still the Democrats couldn’t figure out how to handle it in a way that was much different from how those despicable Republicans handled it. Not only did our Democratic administration leave Wall Street standing after Wall Street plunged the nation into a slump without parallel in most people’s lives—but our government allowed Wall Street to grow more concentrated and more powerful than ever. Our government made it plain that there are to be no consequences for Wall Street’s misbehavior—that the bonuses will always flow, that the obvious fraudsters will never be prosecuted, that this one industry essentially stands above the law.
  • Propaganda (Various quotes, notes and a series of audio lectures.)
"Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist."[22]
Orwell's chilling vision of the future in '1984' is happening today in the form of media manipulation and unnecessary wars.
(Original source: The return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s war on Palestine, Ukraine and the truth)
Electronic Privacy Information Center files a complaint against Facebook alleging that its news feed experiment deceived users and violated a 2012 Consent Order.
The Department of Defense's investment in the mechanics of psychological contagion and Facebook's assistance, have some very serious implications, particularly when placed in context with other scandals which have broken in the past two years. First of all we know that Facebook willingly participated (and presumably is still participating) in the NSA's PRISM program by giving the agency unfettered access to user communications. We also know that the U.S. government has invested heavily in technology used to track and model the spread of opinions on social media.
Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments, with people transferring positive and negative emotions to others. Data from a large real-world social network, collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks [Fowler JH, Christakis NA (2008) BMJ 337:a2338], although the results are controversial. In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. This work also suggests that, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people.
Secret documents explicitly discuss "ways to exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media as secret platforms for propaganda."
Cass Sunstein wants the government to "cognitively infiltrate" anti-government groups
The campaign against Initiative 522 drew millions of dollars from major corporations and out-of-state organizations who spent more than $22 million to defeat it, including Monsanto, which donated more than $5 million, and DuPont, which gave almost $4 million. Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle dedicated more than $1.5 million each. This comes as a recent New York Times poll found 93 percent of Americans want labels on food containing GM ingredients. Sixty-four countries require it.
Fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch have, through Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group they back, succeeded in persuading many members of Congress to sign a little-known pledge in which they have promised to vote against legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts. Since most solutions to the problem of greenhouse-gas emissions require costs to the polluters and the public, the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning, and acts as yet another roadblock to action.
Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held corporations in the world and principally owned by billionaires Charles and David Koch, has developed what may be the best funded, multifaceted, public policy, political and educational presence in the nation today.
Nonprofit group lets donors fly 'totally under the radar'
Steve Horn: ALEC is only one of several right wing organizations that write model big business friendly laws for state legislatures across the country.
Psywar Film Reveals The Hidden Battle for Your Mind: Psywar explores corporate and government use of propaganda and public relations to manipulate American people. The movie shows how the U.S. government staged events to manipulate public opinion about the Iraq war, like the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, the supposedly spontaneous mob that pulled over the larger-than-life statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It also discusses the Pentagon pundit scandal, and the hidden activities of the Rendon Group, a PR firm specializing in spinning war. The film exposes government and corporate activities to blur the lines between real news and fake news, as well as the development over time of public relations misinformation campaigns, strategic corporate campaigns to generate goodwill and the perception of good works, the use of staged photo-ops, and other manipulative PR tools that have turned the land of the free and the home of the brave into a place where citizens are now manipulated with great efficiency, and on a massive scale.[23]
Summary: The people of the US have been subjected to the most costly, unparalleled, 3/4 century propaganda effort by corporations in order to expand corporate rights, limit democracy and destroy the unions. This two part radio broadcast explores the history From WWI to Reagan.
Credits: Producer: Maria Gilardin tuc@tucradio.org
- "...Americans are the most propagandized people of any nation."
- "...The success of business propaganda in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth century."
- "[The common man's] most intimate conceptions of himself, of his needs, and indeed of the very nature of human nature, have been subject to skilled manipulation and construction in the interests of corporate efficiency and profit."
Carey was a professor of psychology and industrial relations at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
From Publisher: This compelling book examines the twentieth-century history of corporate propaganda as practiced by U.S. businesses and its export to and adoption by other western democracies, chiefly the United Kingdom and Australia.
Praise:
"A uniquely important work on the 'ideal of a propaganda-managed democracy."
--Noam Chomsky
"Illuminates how big business propaganda, waged by PR experts, subverts democracy and ensures corporate dominance."
--John Stauber, coauthor of Toxic Sludge Is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
"A unique study of the growth and development of corporate propaganda in western democracies. . . . Timely, and useful for anyone concerned about the influence of methods of mass persuasion in undermining democracy."
--Elaine Bernard, Harvard University Trade Union Program
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, is an analysis of the news media as business. The title derives from the phrase “the manufacture of consent” that essayist–editor Walter Lippmann (1889–1974) employed in the book Public Opinion (1922).
Noam Chomsky's talk called "Controlling the Public Mind", taped March 1 1996, sponsored by the B.C. Federation of Labour and the Vancouver and District Labour Council. Over 1000 people came to hear Dr. Chomsky at the Hotel Vancouver on a cold rainy Sunday night. His flight from Boston was delayed and he didn't arrive till after 11 pm, for an event scheduled to begin at 7 pm. Nevertheless the room was full when he began speaking. Nearly everyone had waited over 4 hours to hear him.
“The Century of the Self”, reveals the intricacies of psycho-manipulative social engineering through propaganda. Propaganda is a type of communication which is aimed at influencing a community toward a cause. Media utilizes propaganda by constantly dispersing certain information over a wide spectrum of mainstream media outlets (e.g.:ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News) or more recently internet social networks (e.g:Facebook and Twitter) to sequester the desired attitudes from it.
The financial crisis, which is very much still with us, did not result from accident or miscalculation; neither did it result because of a flaw in Alan Greenspan’s theory, as he told Congress when a feeble effort was made to hold him accountable. It was the intentional result of people motivated by short-term profits who wanted to get theirs and get out.
Back in 1983, approximately 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the United States. Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations. These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day. They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites.

Hey Sport!

The religious reverie—repeated in sports arenas throughout the United States—is used to justify our bloated war budget and endless wars. Schools and libraries are closing. Unemployment and underemployment are chronic. Our infrastructure is broken and decrepit. And we will have paid a crippling $4 trillion for the useless and futile wars we waged over the last 13 years in the Middle East. But the military remains as unassailable as Jesus, or, among those who have season tickets at Fenway Park, the Red Sox. The military is the repository of our honor and patriotism. No public official dares criticize the armed forces or challenge their divine right to more than half of all the nation’s discretionary spending. And although we may be distrustful of government, the military—in the twisted logic of the American mind—is somehow separate.
Even though soccer is thought of as a kind of “religion” in Brazil, with the nation having won more championships than any other, millions are calling bullshit and have been protesting the event for over a year. Many see it as an opportunity to funnel tax money into the hands of corrupt politicians, real estate developers, hotel conglomerates, sex traffickers and mostly prominently FIFA, the tax-exempt, “comically grotesque” organization that produces the event.
All eyes are on Brazil as it endures *hosts* the 2014 soccer World Coup – the most watched sporting event on the planet. Join Robert Foster as he investigates why many Brazilians are protesting against THIEFA, the shady organisation that runs the World Cup, and the rather fascist policies it has introduced to their country “for the good of the game”. But Brazil is not the only country to get shafted in this epic episode, which features exclusive interviews with captains of the strongest teams in the running for the notorious WORLD COUP. So, click play and find out why they really call it “The World Game.”

Money in Politics

The ultra-conservative funders the Koch brothers don't directly fund media—and they don't have to. Instead, they've successfully funded the politicians and the "experts" who create the context for what the media debates.
Beginning here in the hometown of Senator Rand Paul and the Chevy Corvette, groups including the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heritage Foundation and a newly formed nonprofit called Protect My Check are working together to influence local governments the same way they have influenced state legislatures, and anti-union ordinances are just the first step in the coordinated effort they envision.
The Supreme Court's ruling "benefits no one except for a handful of very wealthy donors (and the candidates they give to). Who else can say that they’ve already given more than a hundred thousand dollars worth of donations and that they are upset that they cannot give even more?"
Any doubts about the determination of an activist United States Supreme Court to rewrite election rules so that the dollar matters more than the vote were removed Wednesday, when McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was decided in favor of the dollar.
Dark Money and Big Data
While other campaign committees, from labor unions to Super PACs, face strict transparency rules, trade associations enjoy unparalleled power to covertly manipulate elections using corporate money. Ads bankrolled by entities like American Petroleum Institute (API) helped deliver one of the greatest midterm election upsets in American history. For the first time, outside spending groups eclipsed party spending. The young president, with his party’s ranks decimated and the House flipped into the hands of the far right, was forced to abandon much of his domestic agenda.
Despite unprecedented spending at all levels of elections this cycle, the Washington Post reports that “three-quarters of Americans have either heard 'a little' (36 percent) or 'nothing at all' (39 percent) about 'increased spending in this year’s presidential election by outside groups not associated with the candidates or campaigns.'"
- 94% of all individual donations to super-PACs in the 2012 cycle came from just 1,082 people.
- 57% of all individual super-PAC donations came from just 47 people, each giving $1M or more.
- The top five dark-money nonprofit groups have spent $53 million on ads. They disclosed just $420,920--or 0.79%.
- Five big outside-spending groups have accounted for over half of all outside spending in the 2012 cycle.

International Governance

Governments do not have principles, only interests. Since the end of the Cold War, the Palestinians have had no sponsors or patrons. ... Since (major United Nations member nations) see few tangible diplomatic, economic or political benefits from backing the Palestinians, let alone Hamas, they allow atrocities to go unchecked in Gaza.

Narrative of a Failed State

Twilight is on the horizon for American culture. After spreading an ideology of endless economic growth around the world, the definition of modernity has been defined by the United States. American values are now written into the cultural textbook for nations across the globe. Now that America is failing, what does it feel like to look back and what did we achieve? Was the collapse written in the opening chapters? What if our technological legacy comes with a terrible dark side?

Social Control Through Fear & Hate

WHY VIOLENCE?
Fearless and Fearful Psychology
- In an ideal world, a child would be socialized in an environment devoid of fear and in which they are loved, there is no ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ or ‘utterly invisible’ violence damaging them in any way, they have their needs met and they are utterly free to choose (and later change if they wish) the values, myths, ideas, attitudes, beliefs and doctrine by which they will live their life, preferably with the benefit of substantial aware listening from adults while they work this out for themselves.
- Needless to say, this never happens. In fact, the typical child is endlessly terrorized into adopting some version of the individual ideologies and religions, which are sometimes bizarrely conflicting, of the people around them. This means that a fixed set of values, myths, ideas, attitudes, beliefs and doctrine – including those in relation to violence – become fearfully and unconsciously embedded in the child’s mind and they cease to be values, myths, ideas, attitudes, beliefs and doctrine that are easily and consciously accessible for review and reconsideration in light of new information or evidence.
- Most children are terrorized into believing what the adults around them want them to think. This is because most adults are far too (unconsciously) frightened to let children think for themselves and to then let them believe and behave as they choose. Consequently, therefore, it is fear, often mediated through ideology and religion, that drives most human behavior.
Racism is subtle, racism is insidious, and our culture is so deeply steeped in it that it’s impossible to grow up in the US and not be racist. It’s a kind of brainwashing: a set of default configuration files that come with the culture. It’s a filter, built up from birth, that alters our perception of the world.
From Report: As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the Islamophobia network will be working overtime. The anniversary could be manipulated to ratchet up the nonexistent threat of Sharia and warn of apocalyptic dangers stemming from Muslims living in America.[24]
Selected Quotes From Report
From Page 2: A small group of foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America, providing critical funding to a clutch of right-wing think tanks that peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam—in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points that anti-Islam grassroots organizations and some right-wing religious groups use as propaganda for their constituency.
Full Report: Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America
Related Article: New report maps the roots of Islamophobia: A new report traces the flow -- and funding -- of anti-Muslim ideas >> In a 140-page report released Friday, researchers at the Center for American Progress have traced the origins of rising Islamophobia in the United States to what they call a "small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing."

References

  1. Marshall McLuhan at 100: Excerpts from his Playboy Interview
  2. Recommendations And Report Of The Stimson Task Force On US Drone Policy
  3. National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) Main Web Site
  4. Jiddu Krishnamurti on Security
  5. State Power and Democracy
  6. State Power and Democracy: Before and During the Presidency of George W. Bush (Excerpt from book.)
    With the recent emergence of the nationwide “Occupy” movement in the United States, there is reason to hope that a mass-based progressive movement could develop to challenge the power of an American police state.
  7. Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the "Homeland"
  8. Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path (McPherson actually understated the Hadley prediction.)
  9. President Lyndon B. Johnson's Special Message to the Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty - Monday, February 8, 1965
  10. Transition Initiatives Directory
  11. Transition United States: Bringing a new world to life.
  12. The World Crisis and Beyond - Building a New Global Solidarity
  13. Severson, Kim. "Eat, Drink, Think, Change." The New York Times. June 3, 2009.
  14. The World According to Monsanto IMDb Page
  15. The World According to Monsanto
  16. Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
  17. Occupy Student Debt: Students Urged to Refuse to Pay Off Loans as Schools Hike Tuition
  18. OCCUPY STUDENT DEBT CAMPAIGN
  19. Report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the United Nations General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System - September 21, 2009
  20. "Charlie Rose Interviews Charles Ferguson on his documentary 'Inside Job'", February 25, 2011
  21. Usage of Federal Reserve Credit and Liquidity Facilities
    The Federal Reserve also provided credit to several systemically important financial institutions. These actions were taken to avoid the disorderly failure of these institutions and the potential catastrophic consequences for the U.S. financial system and economy. All extensions of credit were fully secured and are in the process of being fully repaid.
  22. Garth Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion, 4th ed. Sage Publications, p. 7
  23. Psywar Film Reveals The Hidden Battle for Your Mind
  24. Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America -- Conclusion