Slavery, Genocide, Abuse: The Dark Side of Asia's "Tiger Economies" »»
A few years ago, Southeast Asia's rapidly growing "tiger economies" were the envy of the world. Today, the area is better known for a trio of maladies: ethnic cleansing, burgeoning inequality, and super-exploited labor.
The sorry state of human rights and labor protections in the region has been driven home by three events that captured the world's attention.
On the high seas, thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar found themselves stranded and desperate when neighboring states refused to accept them. In Indonesia, investigators discovered illegal fish factories run by captive migrant laborers. And last May in the Philippines, 72 workers perished in a horrific factory fire.
As the Association of Southeast Asian States, or ASEAN, prepares to integrate the region's economies by the end of 2015, it's worth asking what it is these countries will be combining - their markets or their deep-seated social problems?
Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar
The plight of the Rohingya is the culmination of three years of riots and violent attacks directed at Burma's Muslim minority, who make up over 30 percent of the population in the state of Rakhine.
Tensions between the Rohingya and the Buddhist majority have been building for years. With the easing of military control as the country makes its jerky transition to democracy, friction has given way to violence, oftentimes sparked by wild allegations of Rohingya men raping Buddhist women.
Burmese authorities officially consider the 1.3 million Rohingya to be stateless intruders from neighboring Bangladesh, largely abandoning them to the tender mercies of Buddhist mobs often led by monks. The result has been the region's worst case of ethnic cleansing in modern memory.
To escape brutal persecution, many Rohingya have increasingly resorted to flight, contracting smugglers and traffickers to bring them by sea and land to other countries. This option has turned out to be as perilous as staying. Traffickers have sold many Rohingya, along with other Burmese, as forced labor to the notorious Thai fishing industry. Others are met with hostile receptions from neighboring countries.
Last month, an estimated 7,000 Rohingya refugees crammed into fragile boats bound for friendlier shores. Yet they were repelled by the Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian navies and left floating aimlessly in the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea.
Under pressure from the United Nations and other international bodies, Myanmar's neighbors eventually softened their stance toward the refugees. The Philippines opened its borders to some. And after heavy criticism, so did Malaysia and Indonesia - if only grudgingly. Thailand, however, made clear it would not offer asylum to any of them, a hardline stance also adopted by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Voices from all over the globe, including the United Nations General Assembly, have called on the Myanmar government to end the ethnic cleansing and give citizenship rights to the Rohingya. One voice, however, has been notably silent: Nobel Prize laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
Never in the last three years has the famed pro-democracy advocate spoken on behalf of the Rohingya, even if only to ask her Buddhist compatriots to stop persecuting them. Owing to international pressure, her party, the National League for Democracy, has - finally and grudgingly - called for citizenship for the Rohingya. But the statement was not issued in her name.
Observers speculate that Suu Kyi hopes to avoid offending the country's Buddhist majority, whose votes her party needs in Burma's coming electoral contests - and which she herself will need if she runs for president. But the longer "Daw Suu" stays silent, the more people will conclude that she doesn't believe the Rohingya deserve to be citizens either - and the more this global moral icon will be regarded as complicit in genocide.
Slave Labor in Thailand's Fishing Industry
This March, a superb Associated Press report on forced labor on the Indonesian island of Benjina called the world's attention to one of Southeast Asia's unspoken dirty secrets: the dependence of the Thai fishing industry on slavery. Over 500 workers were found imprisoned on the island.
The resort to slave labor, according to a report by the International Labor Organization and Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, comes as profits are being squeezed by smaller catches, higher fuel costs, and the reluctance of Thai nationals to work in a low-paying, hazardous industry involving long periods at sea.
So Thai fishing and canning factories have turned to foreign workers - especially from Burma and Cambodia, where smuggling networks have sprung up to recruit workers. Deception is almost invariably involved, with prospective workers promised higher-paying construction or agriculture jobs only to be sold to fishing vessels, where they work for a pittance or nothing at all.
The traffickers treat these undocumented workers with extreme brutality. Recently discovered mass graves - reportedly containing the remains of hundreds of people along smuggling routes in Thailand and Malaysia - bear mute testimony to what happens to those who get sick, suffer accidents, or resist.
Government officials are often worse than useless. As the ILO-Chulalongkorn report notes, "The direct involvement and/or facilitation of law enforcement officials in these crimes is a significant problem that has remained inadequately addressed. Although authorities reportedly investigated several cases of complicity by law enforcement officials during 2011-2012, no prosecutions or convictions were carried through." Not surprisingly, "rather than seeking out protection for abuses or filing complaints to the proper authorities, many migrant fishers will choose to keep quiet out of fear of blacklisting, arrest, or deportation."
The highly publicized recent arrest of a three-star Thai general for human trafficking underlines how deeply government officials are involved in the business. Yet few anticipate that he'll be successfully prosecuted.
In interviews with some 30 survivors, I learned that both national and local authorities had issued safety clearances for the Kentex footwear factory, despite the fact that it had no emergency exits, the windows were barred, no fire drills were conducted, and no serious fire inspections were carried out. The obviously lax enforcement of safety regulations is not accidental. Kentex incarnates the Philippine government's lenient treatment of the capitalist enterprises it sees as a source of growth, wealth, and jobs.
According to the survivors, some 20 percent of the workforce at the factory consisted of casual workers or "pakyawan," including some minors brought in by their mothers to earn some extra money for the family over the summer. They received about $4.50 for a day's work, or less than half the current minimum wage for the national capital region.
Another 40 to 60 percent were contractual workers recruited by a "manpower agency," an organization devised to allow employers to avoid regularizing workers who might otherwise vote to form a union. While these non-unionized workers received the minimum daily wage, the agency skimmed off the required social security, health, and housing benefits provided by the employer. "They don't pay our monthly installments," one survivor angrily told me.
At the most, 20 percent of the workers were regular employees who belonged to a union. But as one of the union members himself volunteered cynically, "We are a company union."
A Secret No Longer
Kentex is a microcosm of labor-capital relations in Southeast Asia today.
The trend toward contractualization - pushed by local and foreign investors, accommodated by governments, and legitimized by economists - has led to the disorganization and de-unionization of the labor force, which in turn makes rights abuses and disasters all the more likely. Today, only about 10 percent of the Philippine work force is organized, with one prominent labor leader admitting, "Ironically, labor unions are not as politically strong today as during the dictatorial regime of President Marcos."
In his "State of the Nation" address last year, President Benigno Aquino III boasted that there were only two worker strikes in 2013 and just one in 2014. That the president considered this news positive only showed how detached from reality he was, for the radical reduction of the number of strikes doesn't come from improving living standards but from the weakening of labor's bargaining power. It comes from pro-management government policies, a widespread failure to enforce labor laws, and aggressive union-busting by employers.
Some labor leaders see a silver lining in the Kentex tragedy. "The 72 lives lost were a terrible, terrible loss," said Josua Mata, secretary general of the labor federation Sentro. "But if this tragedy brings to the national consciousness the unacceptable state to which management and government have reduced our workers and inaugurates an era of reform, then their sacrifice might not be in vain."
That remains to be seen. But when it comes to declining workers' rights, violent labor trafficking, and ethnic cleansing, no one can say the dark underbelly of the "tiger economies" is a secret any longer.
John Repp on the Promise of Public Banking in Seattle »»
In 2008, dismayed by the role played by large, private banks in the financial meltdown, a group of Washington state residents began advocating for a state-sponsored public bank like the only state-owned bank in the United States, the Bank of North Dakota. When their movement failed to gain traction in the state legislature, they shifted their focus to Seattle. Today, the Seattle Public Bank Coalition educates local policymakers and the public about the capacity of public banks to provide robust banking services while returning profits to the community.
John Repp has been active in the campaign to start a Seattle municipal bank from the beginning. Last month I spoke to him via Skype about the benefits of public banking, the nature of local debate on the subject, and the state of the public banking movement in Seattle. Our discussion revealed what a practical solution public banking is for Seattle and other cash-strapped cities.
In December 2008, I read an article in YES! Magazine by Ellen Brown, who had been writing about and leading the public banking effort in this country. My wife and I were members of a study group called Just Sustainable Economy. I talked to the group about it, and wrote letters to state officials. At that time, we were focusing on the state of Washington.
About a year later, I talked to Bob Hasegawa. He is a state representative from the 11th District. He already knew about the Bank of North Dakota, and knew about public banking. He asked me to write a bill - that was kind of scary. But I got a copy of the legislation that established the Bank of North Dakota, and I had some help from people in the national public banking [movement].
For five years we had bills in the Washington state legislature. The second year, I think, we had 44 co-sponsors, including the support of the Speaker of the House. But we couldn't get it through the committee. The chair of the committee was a centrist Democrat, and he wouldn't let it through.
So after five years - and with Hasegawa's okay - we decided to focus on Seattle and the Seattle City Council. There are nine [councilmembers], so we only had to convince five - instead of 51. There, we found Nick Licata to be our champion. He's been working with us for about a year. That's where we are now.
We've had different people in and out of our group over the last seven years. Some of the people who are not in Seattle have peeled away for now. But in the progressive community, [public banking] is a very popular idea.
I might add that one of the pieces of literature we circulate is from a group in California who puts out "Occucards." The cards talk about issues like climate change and debt. Interestingly, their public banking card - number 20 - is the only one that focuses on a positive proposal.
And our local Occupy movement: when they realized that Seattle was banking with Wells Fargo, they went to the city council and put some pressure on them to at least more tightly regulate what the bank does with the city's money.
Why public banking?
As you well know, the private banking system, based in Wall Street, nearly collapsed the world economy in 2008. A study of the economic history of Europe and the United States shows that this type of economic crisis happens at least once every generation. Actually, the longest time we didn't have one was after the New Deal, when our banking system was very tightly regulated. It was when they got rid of Glass-Steagall during the Clinton administration that the problems began.
That's the big background. I've been interested in the economy for a long time, but I didn't really understand the central role [played by] banking, and how it worked, and the possible abuses under the private system when not tightly regulated. And, of course, I think the banking system now is almost 20 percent of our economy. That's too big. Manufacturing used to be a lot bigger; now it's smaller, since we've exported jobs.
Forty percent of the banking around the world is done through public banking. We had a forum in December - you'll see some press reports from the forum on our website. [Thomas Keidel] came over from Germany and talked about the public banking system they have there, the Sparkasse savings banks. They're a full-service bank, where people can come and get savings accounts, checking accounts, and loans. They're a retail bank.
Our model, the Bank of North Dakota, is a banker's bank. One of our biggest [challenges is that] we've not been able [to convince] the community banking system that this would be a good thing for them. If they would look at the Bank of North Dakota, they would see that the Bank of North Dakota is like a Federal Reserve for the community banking system. It backs them up. [The community banks] are the ones that actually make most of the loans. Then the Bank of North Dakota either writes letters of credit, or buys the loans so that the community bank, which knows the customers better, can make more loans.
We want our bank to be run by bankers. It's not meant to be a lender of last resort. It's not meant to be a place where politicians get their favorite projects funded. It's meant to be a bank that would fund, for lower interest, projects for which the big banks would be happy to carry the loan.
Why is a public bank a good fit for Seattle, in particular?
JR: Seattle, like other cities, is strapped for money. We're the fastest-growing city in the country, and we need to build infrastructure to support that growth. We would also like to build more affordable housing, and create good family-wage jobs.
We are close to our debt limit. Because Seattle and Washington state have the most regressive tax systems, we're constantly having to go to the levy system to get more money, or borrow it. We've borrowed [billions of] dollars. Big banks, mostly, have bought those bonds - they loaned the money to us.
So even though Seattle is prosperous compared to Detroit, or Baltimore, it still has a lot of needs.
How would a Seattle public bank work?
To start a public bank in Seattle, we would need a capital investment. We see that coming from the investments that Seattle already makes, mostly in savings treasury bonds and CDs. I think [they are valued at] about $800 million. We're only getting 0.67 percent [interest] on those investments right now - that's not much of a return.
We're thinking some of that investment money [could be used to start the bank]. It takes at least $100 million - but the more robust, the better. We could get a much higher rate of return through our own bank.
That makes the politicians a bit nervous. Our biggest opponent at the state level was the State Treasurer, whose job is to invest the money not immediately needed by the state. If there were a state bank, his office would shrink to a few employees, because the [public] bank would be doing that. He didn't like that. But that's not the reason he said that he was against it.
[It represents] a reorganization of how the city uses its finances. So the people involved in the way it's done now don't want to make the change, even though the arguments [in favor of a public bank] are pretty strong.
The deposits at the bank are the taxes and fees that come into the [city]. And, of course, Seattle has business-type activities. They have the water, and the utilities; they have a downtown garage, they have affordable housing. So the Seattle public bank would be another business-type activity.
It would be regulated by the state. The employees of the bank would be civil service employees - they would not be getting bonuses like the private bankers do. And it would be tightly regulated.
[Here's] the interesting thing about the Bank of North Dakota. People hardly believe this, but North Dakota did not suffer from the credit crisis. Their unemployment rate was about two percent during the worst part of the crisis. Of course, people now think it was the oil boom. But the oil boom came after the crash.
The [real] reason is that the Bank of North Dakota was standing behind the community banks. The Bank of North Dakota has been in business for ninety-some years. They were focused on old-fashioned conservative banking: loaning money to businesses that had a good plan; loaning money to farmers who needed to buy seed and fertilizer in the spring; loaning money to people to buy houses; and loaning money to students.
Old-fashioned stuff. They weren't involved in any of the derivatives, or credit default swaps, that Wall Street was pushing all over the country. And if you think about it, we don't want our bankers to be creative. We want them to be conservative. It's a conservative state, and it's a conservative model.
Even though we're seen by some of the politicians as radicals or reformers, we actually want the system to be more old-fashioned, more conservative.
Another thing: the loan portfolio of the bank. It could be done through the community banking system. It could be done through loaning money to other jurisdictions, like Seattle City Light or the water department, just like the bonds are done now. You put out the loan, and then the principal and interest comes back. The interest would be the profit of the bank. That would go either to expand the bank, or it could go back into the Seattle General Fund.
[For] the last few years the Bank of North Dakota has not returned money to the general fund of North Dakota. But from 1998 to 2008, it did return $300 million to the general fund. [Since 2008] - I believe because their infrastructure needs are so great, with the oil boom - the Bank of North Dakota has kept the profits, and expanded quite a bit. [It's become] one of the most profitable banks in the country.
We've talked to retired Bank of North Dakota bankers. And we talked to people from North Dakota who got their education [loans] through the bank - the Bank of North Dakota was one of the first that loaned money to students.
I'd like to hear more about the local debate regarding a municipal public bank.
At one point, Bob Hasegawa said, "When I talk to ordinary people, after a few sentences describing this idea, they say, 'That's great!'" And there are a fair amount of people from North Dakota living in this area, so they know about it.
But when you talk to politicians or policymakers, their eyes glaze over. We think it's because they know who the real power in society is: it's the bankers and the large corporations. They don't want to buck that power.
[Recently] I was at a city council candidates' forum for the two at-large positions. They were asked if they would support a Seattle municipal bank, and they all said yes - except the incumbent, Tim Burgess. He said he didn't know anything about the Bank of North Dakota. So we have some work to do with him.
What we are doing as SPBC right now is to try to get all the candidates for city council to learn about the bank, and endorse the idea. After our December 2014 forum, Nick Licata said the next step would be a request to Seattle City Council to get some money to study this. [But] that's been stopped. [Licata] told us that the legal department has some questions about it - whether this was legal.
So now they're working on the idea of Seattle taking some of its investment money and putting it in a fund to loan out to build affordable housing. But that would be what they call a revolving fund, and it would not have the leverage of a bank.
Among other things, the legal question [has to do with] three clauses in the Washington state constitution that say that the state cannot lend its credit - they don't say lend its money, they say lend its credit - to private parties. The case law on those three clauses [indicates that] if it's in the public interest, then it can be done.
The state and the city already loan money out to private parties, through the revolving funds. Again, they're not banks. But if you think about it, the bank would be loaning out the principal, and then receiving back the principal and interest - so it is in the public interest. Not to mention the jobs that would be created, the new businesses that could be created.
We think there's a strong case [in favor of a public bank being legal]. A former [Washington] Supreme Court justice agrees with us. (He's in private practice now, so he doesn't want to write a brief to that effect). We think the city or the state should go ahead and establish a public bank. There's going to be a challenge anyway, from the opponents. The private banking system really doesn't want any competition.
So that's where we are. The city council candidates are quite open, and if they don't know much about it, they'll ask, and be willing to learn. We have people in most of the districts who are showing up at the forums, and we have communicated with all of the candidates, and gotten some replies.
Are you doing any outreach to the general public?
At the beginning, we went to a lot of Democratic Party district meetings, and we went to some church meetings. We even went to a Rotary meeting once. At some public events we leaflet and talk to people. It's pretty well-known among the progressive community, but that's a small community, unfortunately.
Other than our website, and leaflets, we don't have a lot of resources. We're not a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4), we don't have a lot of [resources]. It's an ad hoc network.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
There's a lot of residual anger about what happened to our economy, caused by the banks. And the fact that they were bailed out, and the people weren't. They convinced the president that the only solution was shoring up these banks, when that was not the only solution.
They could have nationalized these banks, they could have broken up these banks, they could have taken a lot of that money to start rebuilding our infrastructure, and start pushing us in the direction of getting off of fossil fuels. Of course, there was a lot of pushback from the banks and the oil companies.
But that's really where I'd like to see our country go, and the sooner the better. A public bank could help fund a green and sustainable economy. In Germany, they've made so much progress on rooftop solar. And they did it because of two things. One, you could get a mortgage to do that. Second, you would have an agreement with the local utility to buy back your power for twenty years at a certain price. So it actually costs you nothing; you end up making money right away.
That kind of situation could happen here, and a public bank could be part of that effort. The German manufacturing sector, which is very vital, has not exported its jobs all over the world. A lot of [the manufacturing companies] are smaller family businesses. From time to time they need credit, and they go to the [public banks]. We hear about Siemens, we hear about Mercedes Benz - the big companies. But the heart of German manufacturing is smaller businesses. And they have been able to survive, and to resist offers to sell to bigger corporations, because they have a public bank standing behind them.
EPA's New Fracking Study: A Close Look at the Numbers Buried in the Fine Print »»
When EPA's long-awaited draft assessment on fracking and drinking water supplies was released, the oil and gas industry triumphantly focused on a headline-making sentence: "We did not find evidence of widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States."
But for fracking's backers, a sense of victory may prove to be fleeting.
EPA's draft assessment made one thing clear: fracking has repeatedly contaminated drinking water supplies (a fact that the industry has long aggressively denied).
Indeed, the federal government's recognition that fracking can contaminate drinking water supplies may prove to have opened the floodgates, especially since EPA called attention to major gaps in the official record, due in part to gag orders for landowners who settle contamination claims and in part because there simply hasn't been enough testing to know how widespread problems have become.
And although it's been less than a month since EPA's draft assessment was released, the evidence on fracking's impacts has continued to roll in.
A study in Texas' Barnett shale found high levels of pollutants - volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and known carcinogens - in many people's drinking water, based on testing from over 500 water wells. The contaminants found were associated with the shale drilling industry, but the researchers cautioned it was too soon to say whether the industry actually caused the contamination.
But the association was strong, the researchers said. "In the counties where there is more unconventional oil and gas development, the chemicals are worse," lead researcher Zachariah Hildenbrand told Inside Climate News. "They're in water in higher concentrations and more prevalent among the wells. As you get away from the drilling, water quality gets better. There's no doubt about it."
Those who might have hoped that EPA's national study would help resolve questions swirling around fracking were largely disappointed, saying that EPA's new draft assessment is largely a review of the current literature. EPA also heavily relied on data that was self-reported by drillers to FracFocus or to various states, leaving open questions about whether the accident rates they found are in fact under-stated.
Historically, the executive summary from EPA's assessments on the oil and gas industry has provided a much rosier picture than the details included in the body of the report. And a close look at EPA's new draft assessment reveals some striking results that haven't made headlines.
EPA couldn't say with certainty how many fracked wells there are in the US, nor could it say how much wastewater was produced from fracking. They could say that overall, the oil and gas industry is producing billions of gallons of wastewater a day - hundreds of billions of gallons per year - but couldn't say how much of that was tied to fracking.
Roughly a third of America's newly fracked wells that EPA could find were drilled in densely populated areas - either metropolitan areas or what the EPA calls "micropolitan" centers, where over ten thousand people live close together (p. 109).
Wells have been fracked as little as 0.01 miles away from a public drinking water supply, which supplies homes that do not use well water (p. 111) But despite how close fracking is to people's homes and public drinking water supplies, the EPA admitted it knows shockingly little about how risky the chemicals used are to human health (p. 38).
Meanwhile, accidents keep on happening, both above-ground and under, by the hundreds or thousands. One in a dozen spills by drillers wasn't contained before it hit drinking water sources - and the spills that hit water supplies tended to be much larger spills than those that didn't (p. 38). Although gas wells are generally depicted as having numerous layers of concrete and steel casings to prevent the gas, wastewater and chemicals inside the well from interacting with the environment outside it, two thirds of wells had no cement along some portions of their bores (p. 275), an EPA review found. And conditions underground, which can leave wells under high pressure, high temperatures or in "corrosive environments" sometimes caused well casings to have "life expectancies" that run out in under a decade (p. 281) - but the oil and gas industry has told investors that shale wells are expected to keep pumping for 30 years or more.
Here's a look at more of the evidence that's buried in the fine print on the EPA's study.
First and foremost, fracked wells can contaminate underground drinking water supplies and there are multiple documented cases where that has occurred. The EPA's assessment, for example, concluded that in Pennsylvania, "in some cases, the methane [found in drinking water wells] appears to have originated from deeper layers such as those where the Marcellus Shale is found." The agency also cited cases of water contamination tied to the Vermejo coalbeds in Colorado's Raton basin. (See p. 284-5 of the report).
In fact, at the five sites EPA selected for its retrospective studies, they found problems everywhere and most of the time, the only available explanation was fracking. An aquifer was contaminated with wastewater and tert-butyl alcohol in North Dakota and EPA concluded that the only possible cause was a blow-out during fracking; in Northeastern PA, where gas is often naturally found in water supplies, 9 out of the 36 wells EPA analyzed were newly contaminated due to fracking activities (25%); salty groundwater contamination in Southwestern PA likely came from a fracking wastewater pit; in two of the drinking wells EPA studied in Wise County, TX, the only explanation consistent with the EPA found contamination was brines from fracked rock layers and a third drinking well may have also been similarly polluted; and in Raton Basin, CO, EPA found pollution but couldn't "definitively" link it to the coalbed fracking done in the area.
The agency also cited examples of lesser-known problems elsewhere in the US. For example, "[i]n Bainbridge, Ohio, inadequately cemented casing in a hydraulically fractured well contributed to the buildup of natural gas and high pressures along the outside of a production well," EPA said (p. 40-41). "This ultimately resulted in movement of natural gas into local drinking water aquifers."
At least 12.2 million people live or drink water from within a mile of a fracked well, but that is almost certainly an under-count because EPA couldn't locate all the wells that were fracked. (p. 31-32; 116) Tens of thousands of new wells are drilled and fracked every year, EPA found, and half of the states in the country have now been fracked. So even if problems occur a small percent of the time, vast numbers of individual people could be impacted.
And companies have been allowed to frack using over a thousand different chemicals nationwide even though scientists have a very poor understanding of the ways that they affect people (p. 176). Little is known about the human health effects for the vast majority of the chemicals used in fracking, a problem that EPA labeled "a significant data gap for hazard identification." The risks of long-term exposure were not know for 92% of the chemicals used during fracking (p. 38). Much also remains unknown about the health risks associated with 38-48 percent of the naturally-occurring materials that get mixed in with injected fluids underground, though more is known about these than the chemicals deliberately used by drillers.
The few chemicals whose health risks have been studied can have severe impacts on people's bodies, causing cancer, kidney, brain and liver problems, and pose harm to developing fetuses and babies (though EPA cautioned that so little is known about the more commonly used chemicals that it wasn't clear what risks an average well might pose) (p. 39).
This means that people whose health is harmed could have a hard time tying their ailments to fracking in court, because the science has lagged so far behind. It also makes it hard for regulators to know what chemicals are riskier or how best to prevent people from getting sick.
Although the oil and gas industry often focuses on "best practices" in describing how the modern shale rush has used emerging technology, even basic precautions are not routinely taken. Roughly 3 percent of fracked wells in one part of North Dakota - in other words, hundreds of wells per year - were deliberately built short on the well casings that are designed to protect drinking water supplies. And without enough casing, the risk of contamination spikes 1,000- fold, EPA noted (p. 39).
Much has been made of the long distances that fracking chemicals would have to travel to move from shale layers buried sometimes thousands of feet below the surface to the depths that people's drinking water wells reach. But it turns out that twenty percent of fracked wells are considered "shallow," which means that fracking happens much closer to drinking water supplies, EPA found (p. 41).
And, in a practice that has gotten very little attention, drilling companies are sometimes deliberately fracking directly into drinking water supplies. "The practice of injecting fracturing fluids into a formation that also contains a drinking water resource directly affects the quality of that water, since some of the fluid likely remains in the formation following hydraulic fracturing," EPA wrote. "Hydraulic fracturing in a drinking water resource is a concern in the short-term (should there be people currently using these zones as a drinking water supply) and the long-term (if drought or other conditions necessitate the future use of these zones for drinking water" (p. 41).
Of course, it's not just problems underground that cause contamination.
No one knows how much wastewater from fracking is produced nationwide, EPA reported, because states don't consistently track the industry's waste. This means there is no reliable way of knowing what percentage of wastewater winds up injected, dumped, spilled, deliberately evaporated in evaporation ponds, sent to treatment plants, sprayed on roads, or otherwise handled or mishandled. The amount of wastewater from a given well can be millions of gallons - sometimes even more than companies pumped in, or sometimes up to 90 percent of what's inject remains below ground, EPA said.
Sewage treatment plants cannot handle fracking wastewater, and there is no evidence proving that commercial wastewater treatment plants can handle it either (p. 46).
Hundreds or thousands of chemical or wastewater spills can be expected annually, and an average spill is over 400 gallons (picture eight 50-gallon drums), EPA found, despite limited reporting. About one in ten spills reached surface waters, and nearly two thirds soaked into the ground. "These spills tended to be of greater volume than spills that did not reach a water body," EPA noted (p.45).
Unlined wastewater storage pits can create "plumes" in underground water supplies, when fluids seep down through the soil into aquifers, and those plumes can create problems for a very long time and even reach nearby lakes, rivers or streams, EPA reported (p. 45).
And as droughts extend across much of the US, the sheer amount of water consumed by fracking - often permanently removed from the water cycle - also impacts America's drinking water supplies. In some counties, fracking consumes more than half of all the water that is used annually, based on the industry's own self-reporting, EPA noted (p. 35).
Problems underground have also dogged the fracking industry, and evidence is growing despite the complex and expensive technical problems that confront investigators into specific incidents.
Modern fracking techniques, where 10 or more wells are drilled from the same pad, may increase the risks of groundwater contamination, EPA found. In some parts of Oklahoma, fractures from two different wells accidentally crossed each other nearly half of the time. When this happens, fluids pumped down into one well can erupt out of a different well, causing fracking-fluid spills at ground-level (p. 42).
These risks are especially high if one of the over 1 million wells that were drilled and abandoned "prior to a formal regulatory structure" turns out to have been nearby (but that's hard to anticipate because "the status and location of many of these wells are unknown" (p. 42).
About 1,380 wells over a decade old were fracked in 2009 and 2010, despite concerns that older wells were not tested to withstand modern fracking techniques. "The EPA estimated that 6% of 23,000 oil and gas production wells were drilled more than 10 years before being hydraulically fractured in 2009 or 2010. Although new wells can be designed to withstand the stresses associated with hydraulic fracturing operations, older wells may not have been built or tested to the same specifications and their reuse for this purpose could be of concern. Moreover, aging and use of the well can contribute to casing degradation, which can be accelerated by exposure to corrosive chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, carbonic acid, and brines." (p. 41)
While all of this shows EPA's baseline for talking about fracking's impacts, there are many reasons to believe that the agency's numbers represent just the tip of the iceberg. In its executive summary, EPA acknowledged that its numbers "may be an underestimate as a result of several factors," citing a lack of available data (p. 50).
EPA's study also took a narrow approach and left out many issues related to fracking, including problems that emerge during drilling or constructing well pads (even at sites where fracking is necessary to get the well to begin producing oil and gas), the impacts of mining of sand used as proppant, and what happens to wells once they stop producing oil and gas and are abandoned. Early plans to study air emissions and other effects were also dropped.
And of course, since the assessment is only a draft, it is still open for public comment. Public meetings and teleconferences to discuss EPA's findings are scheduled for this fall.
I've spent my whole life in the Northeast, but I have Southern roots. My late grandfather came from a long line of sharecroppers who toiled in the fields of Decatur, Georgia for generations. Their history of hardship was common in the South.
Where my grandfather grew up, poor whites often blamed their misfortune on the only group of people less fortunate than they: black people. For these marginalized whites, the Confederate battle flag came to symbolize what might have been.
To me, the Confederate battle flag represents the dehumanization of black people. Renewed calls to banish it from public spaces across the South pit a national drive to stamp out prejudice against the region's pride in its history - even if that particular history is nothing to be proud of.
Many Southerners insist that the emblem merely salutes Southern heritage. But lynch mobs have never rallied behind sweet tea and collard greens.
Separatist flags signified white defiance during the Civil War. A century later, they were embraced by the millions of whites who refused to acknowledge black people's rights amid the racist backlash against the civil rights movement.
Dylann Roof, who was fond of photographing himself with the rebel flag, made his sentiments clear when he allegedly murdered nine African Americans in a historically black Charleston church. Extremist groups that burn crosses on front lawns, set black churches on fire, and commit violent hate crimes often fly the same banner.
Confederate flags, in short, epitomize white supremacy.
In the Charleston tragedy's wake, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the Confederate battle flag to be taken down from state property. As far as Haley is concerned, South Carolinians should retain the right to fly the flag on their own property, but "the State House is different."
Most South Carolina lawmakers agree, though the flag still flew as President Barack Obama delivered a rousing eulogy for the late Reverend Clementa Pinckney - the most prominent of the nine people killed in Charlestown.
Alabama governor Robert Bentley banned the flag from his state's capitol. Other states, like Mississippi, are considering whether to drop Confederate symbols from their state flags. Virginia and Georgia are phasing out their Confederate-themed specialty license plates.
What exactly are they waiting for?
How many more churches must be spattered with bullets, or set on fire, before more Southern politicians admit that Confederate flags represent hatred and incite violence? It shouldn't have taken 150 years - and the recent deaths of nine innocent churchgoers - for Southern states to renounce this symbol.
Furling those flags won't bring back lives or end systemic racism. But it will send a message that our state governments at least reject symbols of racist brutality.
As states remove the flag from public property, they should raise up the ideals of liberty and equal rights. Southern governments have an opportunity to shatter their racist reputations and prove that Southern hospitality is second to none.
What's Good About Guaranteed Basic Income »»
(Image: Writing check via Shutterstock)If conservatives really want to do away with "wasteful" and "overly bureaucratic" social services in the US - services like Medicaid, Social Security and foodstamps - there's an easy alternative.
It's simple. It encourages personal responsibility. And it will do away with our current mess of programs that make up our social safety net.
All we have to do is guarantee every person a universal, and unconditional, minimum income.
It sounds unusual. It sounds like we'd just be paying people not to work. And why would anyone choose to work if they're receiving FREE money already?
That's the knee-jerk response - but it doesn't hold up in real-world experiments.
A paper published in 2013 looked at two groups in Uganda: one group that received a no-strings attached grant equal to their annual income - about 380 dollars per person - and a control group that received no grant.
What did the unemployed youth do when they were "paid not to work"?
The group that received the grant worked on average an extra 17 hours in comparison to the control group. They showed a 41 percent increase in earnings four years after receiving the grant.
They invested in skills and businesses. Individuals were 65 percent more likely to practice a skilled trade two years after receiving the grants.
Researchers have seen similar results from other experiments with unconditional income. In Kenya incomes increased by 33 percent and assets increased by 58 percent just one year after people received an unconditional $513 grant.
Those researchers also found that the grant reduced hunger and that the recipients were better off in terms of psychological well-being.
Which just makes sense. A guaranteed income lets households make a real budget and frees people from focusing only on where their next meal will come from.
Those are numbers that show that a guaranteed minimum income promotes economic productivity and real growth from the base of the market.
But those are just examples in the developing world. What about evidence from the world's developed countries?
Well, the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands will run its own experiment with basic minimum incomes.
Starting at the end of the summer, the city of Utrecht and University College Utrecht will give some welfare recipients a living income instead.
Instead of receiving welfare, individuals will receive a 900 euro monthly check, and a couple or a family will receive up to 1,300 euros.
According to the Alderman for Work and Income, Victor Everhardt, the questions at the core of the experiment are: "What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone sit passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?"
Based on what we've seen in similar experiments in Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa and Mexico: People will develop themselves and contribute to real economic growth and the wealth of the nation.
People want to contribute. They want to be productive members of society.
The problem in the US, and in many other parts of the world, is that the majority of workers have to work just to survive.
And again, the knee-jerk reactions is that that's how it should be, or at least that's what billionaires who inherited their fortunes say!
But that mentality goes against the core notion of having an inalienable right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
When are individuals supposed to pursue happiness in a society where both parents in a household have to work two or three jobs with constantly changing schedules - just to pay the rent and keep the water running?
How are people supposed to start businesses based on their own talents and innovation if they are working dead-end jobs that require and teach no skills - just to keep food on the table?
How can anyone invest their hard earned money into a start-up business or just into savings - if every cent of their income goes to just the bare essentials?
Providing a guaranteed minimum income makes people freer and more able to participate in society. And that translates to a freer market where more people are able and willing to participate.
"Where does the money come from?!" the conservatives will shriek.
Why don't we ask Sarah Palin and the good people of Alaska?
Alaska collects royalties on oil that's extracted within the state, those royalties go to the state's Permanent Fund, and then that fund pays out about $1,800 a year to every man, woman and child in the state.
So a good start would be to charge fossil fuel companies royalties for extracting resources on federal and state land, and to close the loopholes that companies use to avoid paying those royalties right now.
Then you cut the $52 billion that we give out to those companies in subsidies, and there's a real basis for a US permanent fund.
Combine that basis with the savings from eliminating the rest of the social safety net, and there's more than enough money for every man woman and child to not just survive - but to contribute meaningfully to our economy and society.
So the next time a conservative tells you about government waste and fraud with Medicaid and foodstamps, just remind them.
We could eliminate every single social welfare program and streamline our social safety net if we simply set up a guaranteed minimum income based on living wages around the country.
The extremism of David Cameron »»
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is not only in complete denial about his role in facilitating the rise of ISIS, but his “response” to last Friday’s attacks will facilitate it even further. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
21yo woman dies in fall from Moscow bridge while taking selfie »»
A young Russian woman has died after a fall from the bridge where she was trying to make a memorable selfie next to the Moscow City financial district, police sources say. Her death is the latest in a rash of fatal and near-fatal selfie incidents. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
Daredevil speed-flyer jumps from Alps into moving cable car at 50mph (VIDEO) »»
Professional speed flyer Arnauld Longobardi may as well just put movie studios out of business. The daredevil has just flown into a moving cable car thousands of meters above sea level, and has the crazy footage to prove it. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
BRICS: A new way of global partnership »»
BRICS is a product of the dynamic development of globalization and new centers of economic growth and political influence, aligning the interests of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
Der Spiegel: US ousted our source in German govt, chancellery hushed up the spying »»
In 2011 the US had a top German counterterrorism official sidelined over his contacts with the media, and the German government failed to act in response to illegal surveillance on home turf, Der Spiegel reports. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
New Eastern Outlook
Saudi Arabia – Russia: a New Alliance? »»
“Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys’ house“. Such is the beginning of “Anna Karenina” – a novel by the great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy that comes to mind of everyone who follows the latest world news. Indeed, all was mixed up on the global arena, where former friends become bitter enemies, and those who […] Read more...
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this, If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth.” – Dr. Carl Sagan Before the bodies of the unfortunate victims in Charleston were cold, the usual “exploiteers” were rushing to use […] Read more...
Mohammed Bin Salman’s Visit to Russia: View from the Region »»
The recent visit to Russia by the successor to the Crown Prince, Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, the son of the reigning King Salman, invoked a torrent of responses in the media and public circles of the kingdom. The local newspaper “Arab News” called the visit “successful”, and the agreements concluded […] Read more...
ISIL: Total War Goes International »»
On July 1 Egypt experienced the inevitable – a massive terrorist attack carried out by “Islamic State” (ISIL) terrorists. This time, Islamists paid no heed to civilian targets, instead assaulting regular army units head-on. ISIL militants attacked five police and army checkpoints in the northern part of Egypt. According to recent reports, a local police […] Read more...
What Stinks about Varoufakis and the Whole Greek Mess? »»
Something stinks very bad about Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the entire Greek mess that has been playing out since the election victory of the nominally pro-Greek Syriza Party in January. I am coming to the reluctant conclusion that far from being the champion of the hapless Greek people, Varoufakis is part of a […] Read more...
The rise and fall of great powers and their imperial domains has been a central fact of history for centuries. It’s been a sensible, repeatedly validated framework for thinking about the fate of the planet. So it’s hardly surprising, when faced with a country once regularly labeled the “sole superpower,” “the last superpower,” or even the global “hyperpower” and now, curiously, called nothing whatsoever, that the “decline” question should come up. Is the U.S. or isn’t it? Might it or might it not now be on the downhill side of imperial greatness?
Take a slow train -- that is, any train -- anywhere in America, as I did recently in the northeast, and then take a high-speed train anywhere else on Earth, as I also did recently, and it’s not hard to imagine the U.S. in decline. The greatest power in history, the “unipolar power,” can’t build a single mile of high-speed rail? Really? And its Congress is now mired in an argument about whether funds can even be raised to keep America’s highways more or less pothole-free.
Sometimes, I imagine myself talking to my long-dead parents because I know how such things would have astonished two people who lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and a can-do post-war era in which the staggering wealth and power of this country were indisputable. What if I could tell them how the crucial infrastructure of such a still-wealthy nation -- bridges, pipelines, roads, and the like -- is now grossly underfunded, in an increasing state of disrepair, and beginning to crumble? That would definitely shock them.
And what would they think upon learning that, with the Soviet Union a quarter-century in the trash bin of history, the U.S., alone in triumph, has been incapable of applying its overwhelming military and economic power effectively? I’m sure they would be dumbstruck to discover that, since the moment the Soviet Union imploded, the U.S. has been at war continuously with another country (three conflicts and endless strife); that I was talking about, of all places, Iraq; and that the mission there was never faintly accomplished. How improbable is that? And what would they think if I mentioned that the other great conflicts of the post-Cold-War era were with Afghanistan (two wars with a decade off in-between) and the relatively small groups of non-state actors we now call terrorists? And how would they react on discovering that the results were: failure in Iraq, failure in Afghanistan, and the proliferation of terror groups across much of the Greater Middle East (including the establishment of an actual terror caliphate) and increasing parts of Africa?
They would, I think, conclude that the U.S. was over the hill and set on the sort of decline that, sooner or later, has been the fate of every great power. And what if I told them that, in this new century, not a single action of the military that U.S. presidents now call “the finest fighting force the world has ever known” has, in the end, been anything but a dismal failure? Or that presidents, presidential candidates, and politicians in Washington are required to insist on something no one would have had to say in their day: that the United States is both an “exceptional” and an “indispensible” nation? Or that they would also have to endlessly thankour troops (as would the citizenry) for... well... never success, but just being there and getting maimed, physically or mentally, or dying while we went about our lives? Or that those soldiers must always be referred to as “heroes.”
In their day, when the obligation to serve in a citizens' army was a given, none of this would have made much sense, while the endless defensive insistence on American greatness would have stood out like a sore thumb. Today, its repetitive presence marks the moment of doubt. Are we really so “exceptional”? Is this country truly “indispensible” to the rest of the planet and if so, in what way exactly? Are those troops genuinely our heroes and if so, just what was it they did that we’re so darn proud of?
Return my amazed parents to their graves, put all of this together, and you have the beginnings of a description of a uniquely great power in decline. It’s a classic vision, but one with a problem.
A God-Like Power to Destroy
Who today recalls the ads from my 1950s childhood for, if I remember correctly, drawing lessons, which always had a tagline that went something like: What’s wrong with this picture? (You were supposed to notice the five-legged cows floating through the clouds.) So what’s wrong with this picture of the obvious signs of decline: the greatest power in history, with hundreds of garrisons scattered across the planet, can’t seem to apply its power effectively no matter where it sends its military or bring countries like Iran or a weakened post-Soviet Russia to heel by a full range of threats, sanctions, and the like, or suppress a modestly armed terror-movement-cum-state in the Middle East?
For one thing, look around and tell me that the United States doesn’t still seem like a unipolar power. I mean, where exactly are its rivals? Since the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries, when the first wooden ships mounted with cannons broke out of their European backwater and began to gobble up the globe, there have always been rival great powers -- three, four, five, or more. And what of today? The other three candidates of the moment would assumedly be the European Union (EU), Russia, and China.
Economically, the EU is indeed a powerhouse, but in any other way it’s a second-rate conglomeration of states that still slavishly follow the U.S. and an entity threatening to come apart at the seams. Russia looms ever larger in Washington these days, but remains a rickety power in search of greatness in its former imperial borderlands. It’s a country almost as dependent on its energy industry as Saudi Arabia and nothing like a potential future superpower. As for China, it’s obviously the rising power of the moment and now officially has the number one economy on Planet Earth. Still, it remains in many ways a poor country whose leaders fear any kind of future economic implosion (which could happen). Like the Russians, like any aspiring great power, it wants to make its weight felt in its neighborhood -- at the moment the East and South China Seas. And like Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the Chinese leadership is indeed upgrading its military. But the urge in both cases is to emerge as a regional power to contend with, not a superpower or a genuine rival of the U.S.
Whatever may be happening to American power, there really are no potential rivals to shoulder the blame. Yet, uniquely unrivaled, the U.S. has proven curiously incapable of translating its unipolar power and a military that, on paper, trumps every other one on the planet into its desires. This was not the normal experience of past reigning great powers. Or put another way, whether or not the U.S. is in decline, the rise-and-fall narrative seems, half-a-millennium later, to have reached some kind of largely uncommented upon and unexamined dead end.
In looking for an explanation, consider a related narrative involving military power. Why, in this new century, does the U.S. seem so incapable of achieving victory or transforming crucial regions into places that can at least be controlled? Military power is by definition destructive, but in the past such force often cleared the ground for the building of local, regional, or even global structures, however grim or oppressive they might have been. If force always was meant to break things, it sometimes achieved other ends as well. Now, it seems as if breaking is all it can do, or how to explain the fact that, in this century, the planet’s sole superpower has specialized -- see Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere -- in fracturing, not building nations.
Empires may have risen and fallen in those 500 years, but weaponry only rose. Over those centuries in which so many rivals engaged each other, carved out their imperial domains, fought their wars, and sooner or later fell, the destructive power of the weaponry they were wielding only ratcheted up exponentially: from the crossbow to the musket, the cannon, the Colt revolver, the repeating rifle, the Gatling gun, the machine gun, the dreadnaught, modern artillery, the tank, poison gas, the zeppelin, the plane, the bomb, the aircraft carrier, the missile, and at the end of the line, the “victory weapon” of World War II, the nuclear bomb that would turn the rulers of the greatest powers, and later even lesser powers, into the equivalent of gods.
For the first time, representatives of humanity had in their hands the power to destroy anything on the planet in a fashion once imagined possible only by some deity or set of deities. It was now possible to create our own end times. And yet here was the odd thing: the weaponry that brought the power of the gods down to Earth somehow offered no practical power at all to national leaders. In the post-Hiroshima-Nagasaki world, those nuclear weapons would prove unusable. Once they were loosed on the planet, there would be no more rises, no more falls. (Today, we know that even a limited nuclear exchange among lesser powers could, thanks to the nuclear-winter effect, devastate the planet.)
Weapons Development in an Era of Limited War
In a sense, World War II could be considered the ultimate moment for both the narratives of empire and the weapon. It would be the last “great” war in which major powers could bring all the weaponry available to them to bear in search of ultimate victory and the ultimate shaping of the globe. It resulted in unprecedented destruction across vast swathes of the planet, the killing of tens of millions, the turning of great cities into rubble and of countless people into refugees, the creation of an industrial structure for genocide, and finally the building of those weapons of ultimate destruction and of the first missiles that would someday be their crucial delivery systems. And out of that war came the final rivals of the modern age -- and then there were two -- the “superpowers.”
That very word, superpower, had much of the end of the story embedded in it. Think of it as a marker for a new age, for the fact that the world of the “great powers” had been left for something almost inexpressible. Everyone sensed it. We were now in the realm of “great” squared or force raised in some exponential fashion, of “super” (as in, say, “superhuman”) power. What made those powers truly super was obvious enough: the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union -- their potential ability, that is, to destroy in a fashion that had no precedent and from which there might be no coming back. It wasn’t a happenstance that the scientists creating the H-bomb sometimes referred to it in awestruck terms as a “super bomb,” or simply “the super.”
The unimaginable had happened. It turned out that there was such a thing as too much power. What in World War II came to be called “total war,” the full application of the power of a great state to the destruction of others, was no longer conceivable. The Cold War gained its name for a reason. A hot war between the U.S. and the USSR could not be fought, nor could another global war, a reality driven home by the Cuban missile crisis. Their power could only be expressed “in the shadows” or in localized conflicts on the “peripheries.” Power now found itself unexpectedly bound hand and foot.
This would soon be reflected in the terminology of American warfare. In the wake of the frustrating stalemate that was Korea (1950-1953), a war in which the U.S. found itself unable to use its greatest weapon, Washington took a new language into Vietnam. The conflict there was to be a “limited war.” And that meant one thing: nuclear power would be taken off the table.
For the first time, it seemed, the world was facing some kind of power glut. It’s at least reasonable to assume that, in the years after the Cold War standoff ended, that reality somehow seeped from the nuclear arena into the rest of warfare. In the process, great power war would be limited in new ways, while somehow being reduced only to its destructive aspect and nothing more. It suddenly seemed to hold no other possibilities within it -- or so the evidence of the sole superpower in these years suggests.
War and conflict are hardly at an end in the twenty-first century, but something has removed war's normal efficacy. Weapons development has hardly ceased either, but the newest highest-tech weapons of our age are proving strangely ineffective as well. In this context, the urge in our time to produce “precision weaponry” -- no longer the carpet-bombing of the B-52, but the “surgical” strike capacity of a joint direct attack munition, or JDAM -- should be thought of as the arrival of “limited war” in the world of weapons development.
The drone, one of those precision weapons, is a striking example. Despite its penchant for producing “collateral damage,” it is not a World War II-style weapon of indiscriminate slaughter. It has, in fact, been used relatively effectively to play whack-a-mole with the leadership of terrorist groups, killing off one leader or lieutenant after another. And yet all of the movements it has been directed against have only proliferated, gaining strength (and brutality) in these same years. It has, in other words, proven an effective weapon of bloodlust and revenge, but not of policy. If war is, in fact, politics by other means (as Carl von Clausewitz claimed), revenge is not. No one should then be surprised that the drone has produced not an effective war on terror, but a war that seems to promote terror.
One other factor should be added in here: that global power glut has grown exponentially in another fashion as well. In these years, the destructive power of the gods has descended on humanity a second time as well -- via the seemingly most peaceable of activities, the burning of fossil fuels. Climate change now promises a slow-motion version of nuclear Armageddon, increasing both the pressure on and the fragmentation of societies, while introducing a new form of destruction to our lives.
Can I make sense of all this? Hardly. I’m just doing my best to report on the obvious: that military power no longer seems to act as it once did on Planet Earth. Under distinctly apocalyptic pressures, something seems to be breaking down, something seems to be fragmenting, and with that the familiar stories, familiar frameworks, for thinking about how our world works are losing their efficacy.
Decline may be in the American future, but on a planet pushed to extremes, don’t count on it taking place within the usual tale of the rise and fall of great powers or even superpowers. Something else is happening on Planet Earth. Be prepared.
Greeks Turn To Bitcoin To Dodge Capital Controls »»
There is at least one legal way to get your euros out of Greece these days, to guard against the prospect that they might be devalued into drachmas: convert them into bitcoin. As Reuters reports, although absolute figures are hard to come by, Greek interest has surged in the online "cryptocurrency", as new customers depositing at least 50 euros with BTCGreece, the only Greece-based bitcoin exchange, open only to Greeks, rose by 400% between May and June.
Using bitcoin could allow Greeks to do one of the things that capital controls were put in place this week to prevent: transfer money out of their bank accounts and, if they wish, out of the country.
"When people are trying to move money out of the country and the state is stopping that from taking place, bitcoin is the only way to move any value," said Adam Vaziri, a board member of the UK Digital Currency Association.
"There aren't any other options unless you buy diamonds, and that's very difficult to move."
But Marinos said the bitcoin buyers' main aim was to shield their money against the prospect that Greece might leave the euro zone and convert all the deposits in Greek banks into a greatly devalued national currency. If voters reject the demands of international creditors in a referendum on Sunday, this becomes much more likely.
"A lot of people are keeping all the bitcoins they buy on our platform, until they understand what to do with them," Marinos said. "In their eyes, now they have bitcoins, they're safe."
* * *
With Bitcoin having surged from $238 to $268 in the last few days since Greek PM Tsipras announced Greferendum, it is clear it's not just the Greeks that are losing faith in faith-based fiat currencies.
Ironically, on June 20, Greece got its first bitcoin "ATM", in a family-run bookstore in Acharnes on the outskirts of Athens.
On Tuesday, someone broke into an underground vault in Sacramento, and cut several high-capacity internet cables. Nobody knows who this person is or why they did it, but since that time the FBI has revealed that it was not an isolated incident. They’ve been investigating 10 other recent attacks on the internet infrastructure of California, and they seem to be deeply troubled by the vulnerability of these cables.
The FBI is investigating at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in California’s San Francisco Bay Area dating back a year, including one early Tuesday morning.
Agents confirm the latest attack disrupted Internet service for businesses and residential customers in and around Sacramento, the state’s capital.
FBI agents declined to specify how significantly the attack affected customers, citing the ongoing investigation. In Tuesday’s attack, someone broke into an underground vault and cut three fiber-optic cables belonging to Colorado-based service providers Level 3 and Zayo.
The attacks date back to at least July 6, 2014, said FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich.
“When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing,” Wuthrich said. “We definitely need the public’s assistance.”
A security professional who was interviewed for that article, also suggested something that should perk the ears of any American that hears it.
“When it’s situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact,” Thompson said. “That is a security person’s nightmare.”
The article goes on to compare these incidents to similar attacks that happened in Arizona last year, as well as California in 2009. However, they may be missing the bigger picture. This whole situation reminds me of an article I wrote just over a year ago about several attacks that were carried out against the power grid, which again, occurred in California and Arizona (weird right?). This included the very unsettling attack against a power station in San Jose, which wasn’t revealed until 10 months after the fact, and to date, there has been no explanation for the incident.
Rather than a bomb, the San Jose attack turned out to be a frighteningly coordinated shooting. It’s estimated that 6 individuals approached the facility late at night armed with AK-47’s, and opened fire, but not before sneaking onto the property and disabling the alarm system. The attackers managed to disrupt a total of 10 transformers, and escaped just before police arrived. Investigators would later find more evidence of just how professional the attack was:
“After walking the site with PG&E officials and FBI agents, Mr. Wellinghoff said, the military experts told him it looked like a professional job. In addition to fingerprint-free shell casings, they pointed out small piles of rocks, which they said could have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.”
It should be abundantly clear now that some organization out there is quietly coordinating small-scale attacks against America’s power grid and internet lines. In my previous article, I suggested that they’re probing our infrastructure for weaknesses, and gauging reaction times and security. I still think that may be the case.
It’s possible that these attacks are all unrelated, but it sure doesn’t look like it to me. I won’t suggest who may be doing it since it’s impossible to know for sure, but it definitely looks like there is an organized effort of some kind to disable the electricity and communications of Arizona and California. We probably won’t know who it is until they get around to a full-scale attack, which given the vulnerability of America’s power grid, may be absolutely devastating.
The $100 Trillion Bond Bubble Just Burst »»
The big story in the world is the bond bubble.
For over 30 years, sovereign nations, particularly in the West have been buying votes by offering social payments in the form of welfare, Medicare, social security, and the like.
The ridiculousness of this should not be lost on anyone. Politicians, in order to be elected, promise to allocate taxpayer funds on social programs that will benefit said taxpayers down the road (we’re simply talking about social spending, not infrastructure or other costs.
The concept that taxpayers might simply just keep the money to begin with never enters the equation. And because everyone believes that they are somehow spending someone else’s money, they play along.
When you believe that you are spending someone else’s money, it’s very easy to write a blank check, which is precisely what Western nations have been doing for years, promising everyone a safe and secure retirement without ever bothering to see where the money would come from.
When actual bills came due to fund this stuff, Governments quickly discovered that current tax revenues couldn’t cover it… so they issued sovereign debt to make up the difference.
And so the bond bubble was created.
The large banks, that have a monopoly on managing sovereign debt auctions, were only too happy to play along with this. The reasons are as follows:
1) They can use these alleged “risk-free” assets as collateral to backstop tens of trillions worth of derivatives trades. A $1 million investment in your typical US Treasury can backstop over $15 million worth of derivatives if not more. The profits from the derivatives markets remains a primary source of revenue for the banks.
2) Sovereign Governments are only too happy to bail out the big banks if the stuff ever hits the fan on the trades that are backstopped by the sovereign debt (see 2006 onwards). Since the banks are the ones holding the sovereign debt, they can always threaten to dump bonds, which would render the whole social welfare Ponzi bankrupt (see what happened in Europe when sovereign bonds collapsed in 2011-2012).
3) In a debt-based financial system such as the current one, sovereign bonds are the senior most assets in the system. Those who own these in bulk are at the top of the financial food chain in terms of financial, economic, and political clout.
Since it was rarely if ever a problem to issue sovereign debt, Governments kept promising future payments that they didn’t have until we reach today: the point at which most Western nations are sporting Debt to GDP ratios well north of 300% when you consider unfunded liabilities (the social spending programs mentioned earlier).
Now, cutting social spending is usually considered political suicide (after all, the voters put you in office in the first place based on you promising to pay them welfare payments down the road). So rather than default on the social contract made with voters, the political class will simply push to issue MORE debt to finance old debt that is coming due.
The US did precisely this in the fourth quarter of 2014, issuing over $1 trillion in new debt simply to pay back old debt that was coming due.
This is how the bond market becomes a bubble. Between 2000 and today, the global bond market has nearly TRIPLED in size. Today, it’s north of $100 trillion in size. And it’s backstopping over $555 trillion in derivatives trades.
There is literally no easy fix to any of this. The pain will be severe. And so everyone in charge of the important decisions (the political elite, the big banks, and the Central Banks) will push this as far as it can possibly go before taking the inevitable hit.
Greece just took a hit… and once again it’s depositors that will take it on the chin. But this process is only just begun. Similar Crises will be spreading throughout the globe in the coming months.
If you’ve yet to take action to prepare for the second round of the financial crisis, we offer a FREE investment report Financial Crisis "Round Two" Survival Guide that outlines easy, simple to follow strategies you can use to not only protect your portfolio from a market downturn, but actually produce profits.
US-Sponsored Terrorism in Iraq and “Constructive Chaos” in the Middle East »»
Washington is overtly supporting the Iraqi Shiite government, while covertly training, arming and funding the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Supporting the influx of terrorist brigades into Iraq is an act of foreign aggression by the US and its allies Read more...
Greece – Risk of False-flagging Greece into Submission and Chaos? »»
As we move closer to the 5 July referendum, it becomes clearer every day – Brussels, Washington and Berlin are waging an open “class war” against Greece, because the Greek people, the citizens of a sovereign country – the first… Read more...
ИПАП – шематски план за уништење Србије под палицом НАТО »»
Србија ће бити ремоделована на основу ИПАП-а чак и више него што је до сада реструктурирана. НАТО, у ствари, има надзор над целим процесом реконфигурације и званичници НАТО-а ће усмеравати процес кроз радне групе.
Индивидуални акциони план партнерства (ИПАП) Републике… Read more...
US Employs Trojan Horse Strategy with Cuba »»
Image: Chief of Mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis (C, L) talks to Cuba’s interim Foreign Minister Marcelino Medina in Havana July 1, 2015 (Reuters / Enrique de la Osa)
The US restoring diplomatic relations with… Read more...
EPA Forced to Study Syngenta’s Atrazine and Monsanto’s Glyphosate’s Effects on Endangered Species »»
More than 1500 endangered plants and animals in the US are under attack by two of the most widely used pesticides known – Atrazine and Glyphosate. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be forced to research why this is… Read more...
New York governor orders more July Fourth security after alert »»
"We are keenly aware that New York State remains a top target for terrorists." Read more...
Greek banks prepare plan to raid deposits to avert collapse »»
Greek banks are preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of depositors. Read more...
Greece and Other Musings On July 4th »»
Are the values that Western civilization allegedly represents still extant? Read more...
What It All Comes Down To On Sunday »»
"No" means a lot of pain now and recovery later. "Yes" means less pain now but no hope of recovery ever. Choose wisely... Read more...
‘No’ and ‘Yes’ bailout referendum rallies gather thousands in Athens »»
Two rival rallies took place in Athens on Friday. Read more...
The 4th Media
The West Has Normalised Racist Wars – But You Can’t Solve Complex Problems with 1,000lb Bombs »»
‘Radicalisation’ is our new dirty word in the US and UK, yet radical change is needed. Here’s an idea: stop trying to fix the world with high explosives An icon for killing dozens of Iraqis … Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Photograph: Allstar I suppose that whether this article prompted by the […] Read more...
Tit for Tat: Now You Understand WHY Russians Are in favor of EU Sanctions »»
Russia: Tit for Tat Hail, fire and brimstone, new sanctions or the US tanks on its borders, Russia takes things in stride. President Putin could adopt the motto of William of Orange: saevis tranquillus in undis, calm amidst the tempest. The tempest is all around. American tanks moved into the Baltic states. American warships sail up the Black sea. The EU sanctions against Russia were extended for another six months. Russian assets were seized in France and Belgium. In Syria, Damascus is threatened by the US-armed rebels. Greece wants to embrace Russia, but probably will not dare. Armenia, a small country hidden between Iran and Turkey, just joined the Eurasian Union of Russia-led states, and already there are public disturbances ominously reminding everyone of Kiev 2013. Ukraine is in shambles, sending waves of refugees to Russia. A weaker nation would become hysterical. Putin and Russia remain nonplussed. Read more...
In the World as a “Hybrid Soft-Power/Hard-Power Tactic” »»
Electric Yerevan and Lessons on the Color-Spring Tactic The Electric Yerevan protest provides us with an excellent opportunity to review some of the basic underlying mechanics and psychology of the Color-Spring tactic. It is important to share these publicly, for it is indeed probable that the Color-Spring tactic will be increasingly applied in the world […] Read more...
Europe Agonistes: A Divided Continent Plays Out a Greek Drama »»
Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic recently launched a book titled, “Europe of Sarajevo 100 Years Later: From WWI to www.” Only Prof. Anis, I think, can write a book of that title, just as he’s the only intellectual I know who argues passionately that Google is the Gulag of our time, the prison of the free […] Read more...
Care & Feeding of a Financial Black Hole »»
A while ago I had the pleasure of hearing Sergey Glazyev—economist, politician, member of the Academy of Sciences, adviser to Pres. Putin—say something that very much confirmed my own thinking. He said that anyone who knows mathematics can see that the United States is on the verge of collapse because its debt has gone exponential. […] Read more...
21WIRE + RT | The $1.5 TRILLION jet that does not work. Read more...
Cold War Redux: Do you want to fight in World War Three? »»
21WIRE + CrossTalk | The Western establishment is pushing us closer and closer to a hellish scenario. Read more...
Source of Chaos: Tunisia Shooter Trained in LIBYA »»
Stuart J. Hooper | We need to solve problems by finding their source. Read more...
BUZZSAW: Host Sean Stone with guest Jay Dyer on the ‘Philosophy of the Apocalypse’ »»
21WIRE + The Lip TV | We traverse through the pantheon of philosophy, consumerism, sex and PsyOps in today's world. Read more...
TRIPLE TERROR ATTACK: What’s Behind the Events in France, Tunisia and Kuwait? »»
Shawn Helton | What will come next in the global theater play of security and terror, as we approach the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings? Read more...
1 killed, 2 injured in clashes marking 2nd anniversary of Morsi’ ouster »»
TCP : A civilian was killed during clashes erupted between security forces and pro-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) who staged protests south of Cairo Friday, Ministry of Health said in a statement. In commemoration of the second anniversary of the military ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, supporters of the MB outlawed group, from which Morsi hails, […] Read more...
Ukraine’s Right Demands Military Action against rebelling Donbas »»
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Some 4,000 members of Ukraine’s ultra-right Pravy Sector, UNA-UNSO and other ultra nationalists were marching in the capital Kiev on Friday, demanding an end to the Minsk Accords and military action against south-eastern Ukraine’s rebelling Donbas republics. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Justice Ministry refused the registration of UNA-UNSO as political party. The UNA-UNSO […] Read more...
Obama Memorandum Could Make Regulating GMOs Much Easier »»
Susanne Posel (OC) : The Obama administration has initiated a review of the efficacy of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with a memorandum directed at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The memorandum “initiates a process to modernize the Federal regulatory system for the products of […] Read more...
Revolutionary Pope Calls for Rethinking the Outdated Criteria That Rule the World »»
Ellen H. Brown (nsnbc) : Pope Francis’ revolutionary encyclical addresses not just climate change but the banking crisis. Interestingly, the solution to that crisis may have been modeled in the Middle Ages by Franciscan monks following the Saint from whom the Pope took his name. Pope Francis has been called “the revolutionary Pope.” Before he became […] Read more...
NASA: Outsourcing launches causes a dilemma for the space agency »»
Hamza Bendemra (TC) : The spectacular failure of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last week underscores a growing problem for NASA: its reliance on private companies and Russia in order to launch many of its crucial missions. The seed of this problem was planted several years ago with several cuts to NASA’s budget and the […] Read more...
How the TPP is going to affect you »»
Makia Freeman | The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) has moved one step closer to becoming law in the US after the Senate voted to give Fast Track authority to the President Read more...
9 solutions for overcoming humanity’s original distortion »»
Makia Freeman | The Original Distortion is what lies at the root of the conspiracy Read more...
Officials warn of dirty bomb attack on July 4th weekend as terror panic grips nation »»
Intellihub News | Threat of dirty bomb attack in New York exposed Read more...
Disaster “role-player” orientation, scenario, exposed from the inside *Video* »»
Shepard Ambellas | "Plane" will crash into Texas "chemical plant [...] there will be a lot of casualties" Read more...
TSA seizes 75,000 in cash from traveler, tweets picture of it, but probably won’t give it back (update) »»
Melissa Dykes | The gestapo continues to steal everything from us, including our money Read more...
Ron Paul: It’s All Coming Apart »»
“The day of reckoning is at hand,” he said The United States will likely suffer a Greek-style economic collapse soon because, like Greece, it’s impossible for the U.S. to pay its debt, according to former congressman Dr. Ron Paul. Dr. Paul pointed out that the U.S. is currently facing several financial bubbles of the […]
Drug Cops Took a College Kid’s Savings and Now 13 Police Departments Want a Cut »»
Began when DEA seized $11,000 in cash from 24-year-old student In February 2014, Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport seized $11,000 in cash from 24-year-old college student Charles Clarke. They didn’t find any guns, drugs or contraband on him. But, according to an affidavit filled out by one of the agents, the task force officers reasoned […]
Teachers granted power to ‘confiscate and destroy’ unhealthy school lunches »»
The British government is urging school leaders to use their “common law powers” to search student lunches and potentially confiscate any items they deem “unhealthy or inappropriate.” Education minister Lord Nash tells Express, “Schools have common law powers to search pupils, with their consent, for items. “There is nothing to prevent schools […]
HHS pays $1.3 billion in ‘secret settlements’ »»
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services secretly paid out over a billion dollars in improper hospital claims earlier last month, despite auditors labeling them unnecessary previously. The payments, which were quietly announced on June 1 by CMS, totaled $1.3 billion and involved 1,900 hospitals and 300,000 claims that had been already denied by CMS […]
How The Mainstream Media Will Spin Unemployment »»
This is a simple lesson in how the current administration and its willing accomplices in the mainstream press ‘spin’ the unemployment facts into so called ‘good news’. What all Americans will hear on their alphabet channels tonight is that the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.3%, such as this AP headline today “US […]
How dare they vote: False-flagging Greece into submission and chaos? »»
As we move closer to the 5 July referendum, it becomes clearer every day - Brussels, Washington and Berlin are waging an open "class war" against Greece, because the Greek people, the citizens of a sovereign country - the first democracy in Europe, the country that gave Europe her name - these people have had the audacity to democratically elect a socialist government. Now they have to suffer. They do not conform to the self-imposed rules of the neoliberal empire of unrestricted globalized privatization of public services and public properties from which the elite is maximizing profits - for themselves, of course - it is outright theft of public property.
The weapon is finance; the instruments are the mega-banksters of Europe and Washington. They are like dehumanized missiles. The fight is no-holds-barred - all out, no scruples. The savages of Brussels have the audacity to call for Mr. Tsipras' resignation in case the Greek referendum rejects the austerity package. - Can you imagine!
Madame Lagarde, the heartless Iron Lady of the IMF, keeps referring to the Greek government as 'children'. She keeps asking to talk to 'adults' - inferring that what Greece suggests and proposes as an alternative to the killer plan of the troika is mere child's talk. - What an abject arrogance.
And that in the face of senior IMF economists who have already months ago declared that austerity doesn't work in the case of Greece - and, in fact, in no case. To revive the economy of a country, the economy needs oxygen to breathe, to recover - just the contrary of an austerity program. Austerity is strangulation by debt and suffocation by complete annihilation of a nation's social safety net.
In the early 2000's the independent Evaluation Department of the World Bank issued an analysis of structural adjustment and so-called budget support loans of the 1990s around the world. The report was negative throughout. It was an internal report and, as far as I know, never hit the road, i.e. the media. Even as an internal report it disappeared quickly form the Bank's intranet. A 'structural adjustment' loan is exactly that - a blank check against severe austerity. Austerity doesn't work. And less so with a heavy debt burden at 6% or 7% interest, money that the ECB generates electronically (as all banks do), lends it to European predator banks in Germany, France - you name it - for 1% or less - which in turn onlend the money at usurious rates of up to 7% to Greece and other which are in the crosshairs of the troika.
Madame Lagarde of the IMF knows it; the Goldman Sachs banker who heads the European Central Bank (sic) knows it - and even in the European Commission there must be some economists who understand 101 of economics. Read more...
Alligator kills man swimming at marina in Orange, Texas »»
A man was killed early on Friday when an alligator attacked him during a late-night swim at a south-east Texas marina, according to police.
Orange police captain Robert Enmon said Tommie Woodward, 28, suffered severe trauma to a limb when he was attacked early on Friday morning at the private marina, which is along a bayou extending from the Sabine River near the Louisiana line.
Orange County sheriff's deputies and a Texas game warden found his body nearby about two hours later.
Police said Woodward, who lived near the marina in Orange, was swimming with a woman, but Justice of the Peace Rodney Price told KFDM-TV in Beaumont that the woman only jumped from a dock after he screamed for help. The woman was not hurt.
Price said it appeared Woodward was bitten soon after he jumped in. Read more...
Mongol ship sent by Genghis Khan's grandson to invade Japan is discovered after 700 years underwater »»
The Mongolian ship which was sent to invade Japan in the 13th Century had been decaying underwater for over 700 years.
Dispatched by Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai, it formed part of two massive armadas - made up of 4,000 ships and 140,000 men - tasked with invading the island and expanding the legendary Yuan Dynasty in 1274 and 1281.
But both fleets were destroyed by destructive typhoon winds which have gone down in Japanese history as 'kamikaze' - or the divine wind - which saved the country from foreign invasion.
It was found in a bay close to the city of Matsuura on the west coast of Kyushu island - and archaeologists believe it was taking shelter from the storm when it sunk. Read more...
No independent diabetes research: Only 6% of all publications without "conflict of interest" »»
In a new study, Frits Holleman and colleagues searched PubMed for all randomised controlled studies (RCTs) on glucose lowering treatments for diabetes from 1993 to 2013.
In total, they identified 3,782 articles with 13,592 authors.
The top 110 authors were named in a third (32.4%) of all articles, and they authored 991 RCTs, equivalent to 20 RCTs per author.
Of these 110 authors, 44% were employed by pharmaceutical companies and 56% were academics who worked closely with the industry. And of the 991 RCTs, 906 were commercially sponsored.
More than 80% of the top 110 authors came from four countries -- the USA, Italy, the UK or Germany.
A group of 11 authors, referred to as 'supertrialists', contributed to 397 (10%) of all articles, including 354 RCTs, equivalent to 42 publications each.
Overall, 704 articles could be assessed for conflicts of interest, and only 42 (6%) were considered fully independent. In articles with at least one pharmaceutical author, 89% of the co-authors had a conflict of interest. Read more...
Putin: We don't expect any change in hostile policies toward Russia »»
Russia is not expecting a soon change in the hostile policies it's subject to, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the country's Security Council, adding that Moscow is not going to "trade its sovereignty."
"We cannot expect a change in the hostile policies of some of our geopolitical opponents in the immediate future," Putin said, without elaborating on the countries he was referring to.
"The reasons for pressuring Russia are clear: the country is conducting an independent policy and doesn't trade its sovereignty. This is not to everyone's liking, but it can't be any other way," he said.
Comment: Unlike those NATO members who have renounced their sovereignty
Putin pointed to what he called attempts to split Russian society "to find the weak link," but maintained that they had not yielded the desired results. Those attempts came from those who introduced and continue to support "restrictive measures" against Russia, the president said.
Russia should look into all challenges it now faces and define the strategy of the country's national security, Putin said.
"It is necessary to quickly analyze the entire spectrum of potential challenges and risks - political, economic and informational, and others, and on this basis to adjust the strategy of the national security."
Putin's statement comes after the Pentagon unveiled its new military strategy where it said that Russia, North Korea and Iran are among its new challenges together with non-state groups - particularly the "violent extremist organizations" such as Islamic State and the Taliban. Read more...
The Vigilant Citizen
Muse’s “The Handler” : A Song about a Mind Control Slave Singing to His Handler »»
Muse’s The Handler is one of the most obvious music videos about Monarch mind control ever created. However, it takes some basic knowledge on the subject to understand the true meaning of the video. Here’s a closer look at The Handler. Muse’s lead singer Matt Bellamy was never a stranger to themes relating to the [...]
In this edition of SPOTM : Miley Cyrus, CERN, and more proof that the one-eye sign is taking over the world. This bizarre video entitled “Dance of Destruction” posted by CERN ahead of re-launch conveys a dark, ritualistic and occult [...]
The 2015 Bilderberg Conference will reunite, once again, representatives of the international elite to discuss world issues in total secrecy. Here’s the full list of attendees and the official agenda of the conference. The 2015 Bilderberg Conference will take place from June 11-14 in Telfs-Buchen, Austria at the luxury InterAlpen Hotel. Police state-style measures are [...]
Bruce Jenner is now known as Caitlyn Jenner and, for some reason, all media outlets have converged to turn this personal transformation into a massive, all-encompassing media event. Why is that? Because Jenner’s transformation was not personal, it is a planned event meant to support an ongoing agenda. After the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, Bruce [...]
“The Briefcase” is a reality TV show that gives $101,000 to poor people … to then guilt them into giving that money away. It is a Hunger Games of human misery. Since the late nineties, television networks have thrown themselves into the production of “reality TV” because it is an inexpensive way to attract idle [...]
The Birth of Patrice Lumumba and the Assassination of a Free Africa »»
Congolese human rights advocate and Student Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo Kambale Musavuli talks about the 90th birthday of slain revolutionary Patrice Lumumba and the continuing negative impact of that assassination on all of Africa Read more...
Puerto Rico on the Brink of Financial Collapse »»
Economist James Henry breakdowns the hedge funds, bond holders, and wealthy individuals who have benefited from Puerto Rico's triple tax exempt status Read more...
North Korea's "Hate America Month"? »»
Activist and author Brian Becker discusses the most recent naval incident between North and South Korea and gives much needed political and historical context to ongoing media coverage of that region Read more...
The family claims that after shooting their daughter, the officer walked away without offering any kind of medical assistance. Read more...
Desperate Greeks Dumpster Dive for Food As Crisis Means “Americans May Face Severe Food Shortages” Too »»
It wouldn't take much for these events to come home to America... and plenty of fuel for a deeper economic crisis is on the way. Read more...
FBI Reveals 11 Attacks Against Internet Lines in California »»
No one is sure why someone broke into an underground vault in Sacramento, and cut several high-capacity internet cables. Read more...
Stop Making Sense
Obama’s Terror Policy Criticized Amid Claims of “Progress” — Wars Causing “A Lot of Unintended Consequences” »»
Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar: ‘The Anbar capital city of Ramadi falls, and Pentagon officials shrug. 300 people are killed in Kobani, and US officials tout the fact that ISIS didn’t capture the city outright. Not a day goes by lately, it seems, that the Obama Administration isn’t touting their “progress” in the ongoing war […] Read more...
Trevor Aaronson: How this FBI strategy is actually creating US-based terrorists »»
Editor’s Note: I would highly recommend reading Trevor Aaronson’s book, The Terror Factory: Inside The FBI’s Manufactured War On Terrorism. ‘There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI. How? Why? In an eye-opening talk, investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson reveals a disturbing FBI practice […] Read more...
No Evidence of Threat, But U.S. On “High Alert” for July 4th »»
Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar: ‘An NBC News report on the latest round of security alerts, which have put the United States at a high alert level despite officials conceding there is zero evidence of any actual plot as the Fourth of July holiday begins. Terrorists have not used July 4 as a particular date […] Read more...
Russell Brand: Tunisia Minute Of Silence Is Propaganda To Justify More War and Surveillance »»
If the war on terror fuels terrorism, how does terrorism actually end? It isn’t Facebook that feeds terror, it’s war and tyranny UK condemned over arms sales to repressive states Blood money: UK’s £12.3bn arms sales to repressive states How the west created the Islamic State …with a little help from our friends Gen. Wesley Clark: “ISIS […] Read more...
The forgotten origins of Greece’s crisis will make you think twice about who’s to blame »»
Ana Swanson reports for The Washington Post: ‘[…] In the mid-1990s, even before it came into existence, markets made a huge bet that the euro would be a reality. Specifically, investors, many in northern Europe, bet that interest rates in northern and southern Europe would converge. At the time, interest rates in southern Europe were much higher than […] Read more...
The Economic Collapse Blog
Guess What Happened The Last Time The Chinese Stock Market Crashed Like This? »»
The second largest stock market in the entire world is collapsing right in front of our eyes. Since hitting a peak in June, the most important Chinese stock market index has plummeted by well over 20 percent, and more than 3 trillion dollars of “paper wealth” has been wiped out. Of course the Shanghai Composite [...]
Why The Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Is Such A Huge Threat To The U.S. Financial System »»
The debt crisis in Puerto Rico could potentially cost financial institutions in the United States tens of billions of dollars in losses. This week, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla publicly announced that Puerto Rico’s 73 billion dollar debt is “not payable,” and a special adviser that was recently appointed to help straighten out the [...]
The 75 Trillion Dollar Shadow Banking System Is In Danger Of Collapsing »»
Keep an eye on the shadow banking system – it is about to be shaken to the core. According to the Financial Stability Board, the size of the global shadow banking system has reached an astounding 75 trillion dollars. It has approximately tripled in size since 2002. In the U.S. alone, the size of the [...]
16 Facts About The Tremendous Financial Devastation That We Are Seeing All Over The World »»
As we enter the second half of 2015, financial panic has gripped most of the globe. Stock prices are crashing in China, in Europe and in the United States. Greece is on the verge of a historic default, and now Puerto Rico and Ukraine are both threatening to default on their debts if they do [...]
And So It Begins – Greek Banks Get Shut Down For A Week And A ‘Grexit’ Is Now Probable »»
Is this the beginning of the end for the eurozone? For years, European officials have been trying to “fix Greece”, but nothing has worked. Now a worst case scenario is rapidly unfolding, and a “Grexit” has become more likely than not. On Sunday, the European Central Bank announced that it was not going to provide [...]
Air Clinton RICO evidence in court, watchdog demands »»
A well-known Washington watchdog who has sued the Clinton Foundation and Bill and Hillary Clinton under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act for allegedly running a criminal enterprise is telling a federal court it would be wrong to dismiss the case without even looking at the evidence.
Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch brought the complaint [...] Read more...
Rosy jobless numbers cover up bad news »»
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series about the unprecedented dependence Americans have on their federal government. The first story shows how the food-stamp program has doubled under President Obama, as it did under President George W. Bush. The second story reports the strain on the welfare system caused by record numbers of [...] Read more...
Greece is out of money, 'on war footing' »»
Editor’s note: Mark Leibovit is one of the investment world’s top-rated gold timers, and helps investors anticipate and benefit from both the ups and the downs of the precious metals markets with his Leibovit VR Gold Letter (available to WND readers at a huge discount).
From the (UK) Telegraph:
Greece is out of money, ‘on war footing’
By [...] Read more...
Judge's 'bias' behind ruling in counseling dispute »»
It was a judge’s “bias” that prompted a jury to award about $72,000 to plaintiffs who sued under a New Jersey consumer fraud law after they said their counseling sessions aimed at getting rid of unwanted same-sex attractions failed, according to a licensed counselor.
The verdict recently was announced in New Jersey for plaintiffs who brought [...] Read more...
French offer deterrent to 'lone-wolf' threats »»
U.S. officials have been sending out alerts and issuing warnings all week of the possibility of a “lone-wolf” terror attack on the homeland over the July 4 holiday weekend.
Counter-terrorism officials have boosted the security at national landmarks. Public events are getting extra attention, and a higher level of vigilance by the public is sought everywhere.
They [...] Read more...
Earlier this year, a US drone strike killed two innocent hostages, one American and one Italian citizen near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The incident spurred outrage across the media, resulting in Obama having to apologize for the grave error. If only one could expect the same apology for the thousands of drone victims across the Muslim World since the advent of … Read More Read more...
Chelsea Manning & the Military Entertainment Industrial Complex »»
As the futures of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange hang in the balance, the fate of another has been sealed for 35 years. Chelsea Manning sacrificed it all to leak classified information which exposed some of the most heinous US war crimes from Iraq and Afghanistan.Manning shattered paradigms yet again by coming out as transgender. In a recent interview from jail, she discusses her … Read More Read more...
Baltimore Uprising, Freddie Gray & the Police State »»
Despite bizarre allegations that Freddie Gray killed himself by those trying to justify abominable police brutality, a medical examiner’s report officially ruled Gray’s death a homicide. After more than two weeks of sitting idly while the city erupted into protest, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor charged six officers with crimes including murder and manslaughter. The arrests are likely due to enormous community pressure, as … Read More Read more...
Saudi Arabia’s Yemen War, Factory of Terror & American Bribery »»
Saudi Arabia’s American backed war in Yemen continues, yet it is massively failing to achieve its stated objectives. The Houthis continue to advance in the region, and the instability is causing Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to gain more ground.Bombing civilians in the poorest country in the Arab World is only exacerbating the crisis. Before the bombing campaign even … Read More Read more...
Washington, DC: The Emperor Wears No Clothes »»
Those that have been paying attention to the war hawks in DC know about the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a neocon think tank that rose out of the ashes of infamous Project for a New American Century (PNAC). When Abby was placed in the crosshairs of war mongers last year during the Ukraine incursion, Media Roots was repelled by the … Read More Read more...
American Free Press
Happy 4th, From Your Friends at AFP! »»
Happy 4th of July 2015 from AMERICAN FREE PRESS, America’s Last Real Newspaper. In honor of our independence . . . we’re offering this once in a lifetime promotion. Get $73 worth of items for only $17.76! Over 75% off! 2 Books, 2 PDFs, 1 subscription! 6-MONTH Read more...
Black Guy Takes a Cue From the Jews »»
Jews have been doing it for decades, and maybe millennia: spray-painting swastikas and other “anti-Semitic” messages on homes, cars, streets and businesses in hopes of drumming up sympathy for their poor cult and for a variety of other reasons. Here are just a few examples. The first one’s Read more...
Free Speech Under Assault in Landmark Montana Case »»
• Americans need to be aware: Internet speech rights threatened. By John Friend — A 28-year-old man is being charged and prosecuted for “hate crimes” in Flathead County, Montana, after he allegedly threatened children and Jews in a series of posts he made to his personal social media Read more...
Octogenarian Arrested for Questioning WWII History on TV »»
By John Friend — Ursula Hedwig Meta Haverbeck-Wetzel, an 86-year-old German woman who was ethnically cleansed from her home following WWII, has been arrested following her appearance on a public television program in Germany. There, she openly disputed the state-sanctioned-and-enforced “Holocaust” narrative of WWII, describing it as “the Read more...
• Educators sacked for voicing their opinions points to irrelevancy of free speech guarantees. By Dave Gahary — If you had any reservations that freedom of speech in the United States is a quaint concept that has been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and expediency, it’s Read more...
Strategic Culture Foundation
Putin: We don’t expect any change in hostile policies toward Russia »»
Baskin’s Generous Offer: Making Peace with Israeli Occupation »»
t would be fair to assume that Gershon Baskin’s recent article in the Jerusalem Post, Encountering Peace: Obviously no peace now, so what then? (June 24), is not a mere intellectual exercise aimed at finding ‘creative’ solutions to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Baskin is a regular contributor to the Jerusalem Post, a rightwing newspaper. […]
"We Shall Overcome": Remembering Folk Icon, Activist Pete Seeger in His Own Words & Songs »»
We end our Fourth of July holiday special remembering the late legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger. For nearly seven decades, Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. We air highlights of two appearances by Seeger on Democracy Now!. Interspersed in the interviews, Seeger sings some of his classic songs, "We Shall Overcome," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." He also talks about what has been described as his "defiant optimism." "Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That's what [the album] 'Seeds' is all about," Seeger said. "And there's a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don't grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don't grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you've done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of?"
Seeger led an illustrious musical career. In the 1940s, he performed in The Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Then he formed The Weavers. In the 1950s, he was blacklisted after he opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy's political witch hunt and was almost jailed for refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger became a prominent civil rights activist and helped popularize the anthem "We Shall Overcome." In the 1960s, he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and inspired generations of protest singers. He was later at the center of the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. With his wife Toshi, Pete helped found Clearwater, a group to clean up the Hudson River. Toshi died in 2013 just weeks before their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2009, he and Bruce Springsteen performed Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama. Read more...
"This Flag Comes Down Today": Bree Newsome Scales SC Capitol Flagpole, Takes Down Confederate Flag »»
On June 27, Bree Newsome, a 30-year-old African-American woman, was arrested at the state Capitol after scaling the 30-foot flagpole and unhooking the Confederate flag. As police officers shouted at her to come down, Bree Newsome shimmied to the top, took the flag in her hand and said, "You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today!" Newsome recited Psalm 27 and the Lord’s Prayer as she brought the flag down. As soon as she reached the ground, she was arrested, along with James Tyson, who had stood at the bottom of the pole to spot her as she climbed. The action went viral and was seen around the world. Democracy Now! was at the jail where Newsome was taken, where we spoke with her supporters. The flag was replaced about an hour after Newsome took it down. We also spoke with supporters of the flag, who rallied at the Capitol Saturday, and with the counter-protesters who confronted them. Read more...
"What to the Slave is 4th of July?": James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglass' Historic Speech »»
In a Fourth of July holiday special, we begin with the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro." He was addressing the Rochester Ladies Antislavery Society. This is actor James Earl Jones reading the speech during a performance of historian Howard Zinn's acclaimed book, "Voices of a People’s History of the United States." He was introduced by Zinn. Read more...
As Black Churches Burn Across the South, Are White Supremacist Attacks Continuing After Charleston? »»
The FBI is launching an investigation into fires set at seven different African-American churches in seven days. So far none of the blazes have been labeled as hate crimes, but investigators say at least three fires were caused by arson. The fires began on June 21, just days after the Charleston massacre, and have occurred in six different states: Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Ohio. We are joined by Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking these most recent fires. Read more...
As France Suspends Soldiers for Child Sexual Abuse, Will UN Tackle Impunity for Western Peacekeepers? »»
In the latest allegations of child sex abuse by Western troops in the countries they are supposed to be protecting, France has suspended two soldiers accused of sexually abusing two children in Burkina Faso. The soldiers reportedly filmed themselves abusing one of the victims, a five-year-old girl. The suspension of the French soldiers comes weeks after it emerged the U.N. failed to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation of children by French troops in the Central African Republic. Even after the exploitation was brought to the attention of senior U.N. officials, the U.N. never reported it to French authorities — nor did it do anything to immediately stop the abuse. A forthcoming report by the U.N.'s Office of Internal Oversight Services says peacekeepers frequently engage in "transactional sex," forcing impoverished citizens to perform sexual acts in exchange for food and medication. We are joined by Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World. Her group has launched the Code Blue campaign, which seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations military and nonmilitary peacekeeping personnel. Read more...
Why the Clinton campaign isn't sweating the Sanders surge. Read more...
My Independence Day Open Letter to Government »»
By Bernie Suarez
Today I want to openly declare to the current control system what Independence Day means to me and why it is the most important holiday of the year.
Dear controlling (federal) government,
Do you know what today is? That's right. It's the one day of the year where we the little people celebrate Independence from you the larger control system. That is after all at the heart of Independence Day. This is the day when individuals with a conscience, not groups like government and corporations but individual human beings get to reminisce on the idea of freedom. And how can we blame humans for doing that? Freedom, after all is the most prized right to yearn for. It's a right, it's a moral code, it's an expectation and desire that all humans quietly yearn for, hope for and dream of. Freedom from you, the government. Freedom from external control and manipulation. Freedom from coercion, intimidation and forced slavery based on fear of harm, fear of being robbed and fear of being locked up. All three of these threats are the essence of what government does, but you already know that.
Governments exist to force others to behave in a certain way in order for that government to maintain its power over you. Whether it's the issuing of taxes, fines, imprisonment or even execution, the job gets done every time.
Today we celebrate the concept of freedom from that very perpetual enslavement. This is after all the only true freedom that exists. Freedom from coercive and intimidating government to forcefully make you do something you don't want to do.
There is so much irony in having a nation celebrate "Independence" day just a few weeks prior to the start of Jade Helm 15 and in the center of a massive (Northwoods II style) push for the new world order of enslavement here in the U.S., but nonetheless I want to celebrate this day and remind you (government) that we all still cherish freedom from you.
And no one should be surprised that during this day no one in government or mainstream media will spell it out and honor this day word for word for what it really stands for -- Freedom and Independence of the individual. That was, after all, at the heart of America's independence as reflected in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Read it, review it and see the magic we little people see in it. Hopefully, it will inspire you and remind you what this is all about.
They say there are two kinds of people in this world: those who want to be free, and those who want to control you. Which are you? Do you really want to be free yourself? Do you think you are already free because you work for government? Think again.
If you had a choice to make a decision that encourages human freedom versus more government control which would you choose? Do you really understand the meaning of this holiday? Do you understand what is happening today, where we've been and where we are going? Do you truly understand the meaning of Independence Day?
If you are part of government please take a minute today and meditate on this meaning. I say this only because humanity is in a state of emergency. Freedom really is threatened and the dangers of tyranny are looming greater than ever. The horrors of tyranny are about to repeat and, in fact, are already happening. Humanity, and America in particular, is on the verge of repeating costly mistakes of the past. The clock is almost at midnight and the time to stop this horrific road we are on is running out.
Know that the essence of Independence is freedom; specifically humanity's freedom from the current control system that you work for. Find that quiet place, then ask yourself: What is life all about? Do you really think you are on earth to work for government then die? Do you think that the meaning of life is to work for government and help the control system? Don't you think there might be more to this journey that humanity is fighting for, and that might be why government's job is never easy? Have you thought about the history of humanity's resistance to tyrannical governments? Have you thought about where your place in history might be? Do you want to be someone who stood for humanity or government?
Independence Day in America is indeed a special day. I'm thankful that we still celebrate this day even if government and its mouthpiece media gloss over it because it represents everything opposite of what they are trying to do to humanity now. I'm also thankful that I can still write this open letter and express my gratitude freely.
I know that if government has their way all forms of free speech will soon be silenced. I know that freedom is not free and governments never stop reaching for more and more power and control. I absolutely realize the fragile nature of freedom and government control. The pendulum can swing in any direction from one day to another.
So on this Independence Day please stop what you are doing and think. With the uncertainties we all face it's good to remember why we do what we do. I still live in America because I believe in freedom. I understand the principles America was founded on and I believe these are principles that help humanity thrive. I still believe we have every reason to fight for and stand for these principles.
Think about those before you who have given their lives or their freedom for the sake of freedom. Many within government itself have died or been imprisoned fighting for what they believed was the right thing to do and we should remember these people and be inspired by them.
If, however, you feel that your only purpose on earth is to obey government and help government carry out tyranny and control, then realize you are on the wrong side of history. You have today to think about the topic. Think about freedom and what it can do for you. Do you think you can do that for one day?
Realize that there are many of us who can't even imagine living a life of slavery and we won't have anything but freedom. Realize that the idea we celebrate today is the greatest threat to a controlling government. Please don't underestimate freedom and how much some of us really value it. Stare at this Independence Day today face to face and remember what it means. Let the meaning sink in and don't forget how important this holiday is to many of us.
So today I wave my American flag and the symbolic freedom right in your face and hope you smile with me or are afraid of me. This is consistent with a quote from one of your own kind in government. It was your Thomas Jefferson who said:
When the government fears the people there is liberty, when the people fear the government there is tyranny.
Peace and love,
Human being and lover of freedom
Bernie is a revolutionary writer with a background in medicine, psychology, and information technology. He has written numerous articles over the years about freedom, government corruption and conspiracies, and solutions. A former host of the 9/11 Freefall radio show, Bernie is also the creator of the Truth and Art TV project where he shares articles and videos about issues that raise our consciousness and offer solutions to our current problems. His efforts are designed to encourage others to joyfully stand for truth, to expose government tactics of propaganda, fear and deception, and to address the psychology of dealing with the rising new world order. He is also a former U.S. Marine who believes it is our duty to stand for and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. A peace activist, he believes information and awareness is the first step toward being free from enslavement from the globalist control system which now threatens humanity. He believes love conquers all fear and it is up to each and every one of us to manifest the solutions and the change that you want to see in this world, because doing this is the very thing that will ensure victory and restoration of the human race from the rising global enslavement system, and will offer hope to future generations.
Secretary of State Hillary’s Arms Sales—Yes, Presidential Candidate Clinton »»
By Catherine J. Frompovich
Talk about a whistleblower! Who would have thought that Judge Andrew P. Napolitano would be blowing the whistle on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approval of arms sales to terrorist enemies of the USA?
In the Judge’s July 1, 2015 article in The Washington Times, he says,
I read the transcripts of an interview Ms. Browne did with a man named Marc Turi, and Ms. Herridge asked me to review emails to and from State Department and congressional officials during the years when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state. 
She [Hillary] obtained permission from President Obama and consent from congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and in both parties to arm rebels in Syria and Libya in an effort to overthrow the governments of those countries.  [CJF emphasis added]
How was U.S. Secretary of State Hillary capable of pulling off such clandestine transactions? Well, here’s what the Judge found.
That’s where Mrs. Clinton’s secret State Department and her secret war come in. Because Mrs. Clinton used her husband’s computer server for all of her email traffic while she was the secretary of state, a violation of three federal laws, few in the State Department outside her inner circle knew what she was up to.  [Collusion to commit crimes?]
Many of the rebels Mrs. Clinton armed, using the weapons lawfully sold to Qatar by Mr. Turi and others, were terrorist groups who are our sworn enemies. There was no congressional declaration of war, no congressional vote, no congressional knowledge beyond fewer than a dozen members, and no federal statute that authorized this.  [CJF emphasis added]
Shouldn’t those dozen congressional members, along with Hillary, be prosecuted for treason?
Consequently, in 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason is defined as:
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.  [CJF emphasis added]
If Hillary did that as Secretary of State, what do you think she would be capable of doing as President?
Can she be trusted?
Furthermore, Hillary denied any knowledge of American arms shipment to the Middle East, Turkey or other countries during her testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 23, 2013, when Senator Rand Paul asked her if she knew of any such sales of arms.
Isn’t lying before a congressional hearing a crime? Isn’t it called “perjury”? Are criminals permitted to run for the office of President? Is Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton allegedly guilty of Treason and Perjury? That has to be investigated thoroughly before the Democratic convention in 2016. We’ve had enough ‘dirty pool’ playing from politicians—haven’t we?
Why did Hillary want us involved in undeclared wars in Syria and Libya?
Andrew P. Napolitano is a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, who knows what it means to make false statements. I think we can take his report on 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “to the bank,” as they say, as it’s that credible a report. Furthermore, he’s taught Constitutional law and written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. Shouldn’t we take his report seriously?
Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.
It's here. We're finally starting to see the electronic big brother control grid of the technocrats' wildest dreams being rolled out. Because the gas tax is no longer viable, you know, what with all the fuel-efficient hybrids and electric cars on the roads out there. Now the only possible solution the system and its minions can apparently come up with is to track us all everywhere we go and tax us for each and every mile we drive.
Classic problem — reaction — solution.
Although this is starting on a volunteer basis in Oregon, they are beta testing it before it becomes mandatory. Some 28 other states are currently working on similar plans, and the federal government has its own nationwide version as well. As we've said before, it's like we're living in the period just before every dystopic future movie you've ever seen (in this case, In Time immediately comes to mind).
According to the official Oregon DOT website (myorego.org), this is "a fair and sustainable way to fund road maintenance, preservation and improvements for all Oregonians."
Check that site out and read between the lines. Just... Wow. Guess we'll be a really "efficient, sustainable" society, but we won't be a very free one.
The United States Celebrates Independence Day — a Time for Re-evaluation »»
By Janet Phelan
The fourth of July. This is the day for Americans to go down to the beach with a picnic basket loaded up with ham sandwiches and to drink more beer than can possibly be recommended during the work week. This is the day to gather with friends and family and to ooh and aah at pyrotechnics dazzling the sky. It is a day, if we stop to think, to be grateful that we are not living in a country which produces lock-step conformity and fear in its citizenry. It is a day, traditionally, to be thankful for our freedoms.
This July 4th, it would be useful to take a look at what we have lost, in terms of freedoms, and what we still stand to lose. Like some other institutions in America, the July 4th celebration of freedom has become something of an obligatory exercise of patriotic fervor. And given the developments of the last few years, it may now be relatively empty of meaning.
For the first time in US history, we have a President who has created—and invoked — the executive privilege of ordering the murders of US citizens without due process. While this has only been exercised a few times (to our knowledge), most notably with the 2011 assassination by drone strike of US born Muslim cleric Anwar al -Awlaki and subsequently of his son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the precedent now exists. This is not a privilege generally granted to a President in a free society. In fact, it is an action that is more redolent of a dictator, a Hitler or a Pol Pot whose purges of not only “enemies of the state,” but also of whomever pissed off the dictator, became part of our collective awareness that we, as Americans, were very fortunate not to live under these sorts of rulers.
The media seems to have forgotten the lessons of history, as far as tracking the slide into tyranny. Certainly, we are not seeing any general forum of public discussion as to how to respond to this level of legalized attack.
In 2014, the Department of Justice reluctantly declassified and released the DOJ memo which provided the legal analysis to support murder by Presidential dictum. This memo was released when its author, David Barron, was up for Congressional approval as a federal judge (He was subsequently approved for the position). Alarmingly, the memo was not released in its entirety. Critical sections dealing with how to resolve the inherent contradictions between the right of a President to decide whom to kill and the Fifth Amendment were redacted, so that we were not able to see how the right to not be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” could be reconciled with murder by Presidential order.
The potential repercussions of this prerogative seized by President Obama await realization. In the meantime, certain other blips on the political radar point to possible future outcomes. One of these potential outcomes is the possibility of the deployment of drones against US citizens within the borders of the US.
In a widely circulated letter, written by former US Attorney General Eric Holder in response to an inquiry by US Senator Rand Paul, Holder admitted that such drone deployment could be lawful. Wrote Holder:
It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.
There is more evidence that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” have gone out the window. When The Guardian broke the story this past February that the Chicago police were using a “black site” to detain people in Illinois without processing them legally and without allowing the detainees the right to contact anyone on the outside world, those on the “human rights watch” felt a collective shiver. Subsequent revelations that a mini-“black site” was extant in Los Angeles County simply confirmed the perception that the erosion of rights has become a landslide.
It is not only illegal police detentions that should alarm us about the boys in blue. Police in the US are now murdering US citizens — largely black, Latino or allegedly mentally ill—at an alarming rate and with virtually no culpability.
What we are seeing is in part the disparity between “paper rights” and real rights.
In other words, what is considered to be lawful versus what really happens may be two entirely different critters. Recent US Supreme Court decisions affirmed that the detainees in Guantanamo have rights under US law. Even with the highest court in the land affirming these rights, the detainees have remained in custody for years without a single habeas corpus being granted and, in many cases, without being charged.
One bright spot, according to the Second Amendment’ers, is that our gun rights are still intact. Those who believe that guns are a protection against intrusive government agents are still pounding on their virtual pulpits, insisting that these rights to bear arms will prove to be our salvation, should push come to, well, shoot.
Let’s get real, here. The US government has stockpiles of both chemical and biological weapons, and as far as “paper rights” go, the government has great latitude to use these against US citizens. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which the US is a party to, allows the discretion of the party nations to allow domestic law enforcement agencies to use these weapons against their own citizens.
According to the Biological Weapons Convention, the use of biological weapons is not so permitted. However, when the United States Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, that permission was indeed self-dealt. In the now infamous Section 817, the Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute, the US government gave itself immunity from violating its own biological weapons laws.
And as far as this being a domestic violation of the BWC, one can imagine the satisfaction of the legal team who cooked up Section 817, given their awareness that there is nothing that the treaty organization can do about this. The BWC, unlike other arms treaties, has no verification protocol and no mechanisms to enforce its own regulations.
In addition, there has been a landslide of reports that directed energy weapons,which are classified as non-lethal, are being tested on US citizens, without consent.
In the face of the reality that the US has drones, chemical and biological weapons and a whole mish mosh of other assault capabilities, and can use these against its citizens without legal culpability — at least given how the laws are currently configured — how does the gun lobby actually imagine that a .22 rifle is going to protect anyone? Did anyone at the shooting range ever try to shoot a germ?
Snowden’s revelations of the extent of US spying clarified and confirmed for us the uneasy perception that we had utterly lost our privacy rights. As it turns out, we have lost a whole lot more.
It might be time to reassess the fourth of July celebrations. Rather than munching on hot dogs and downing a few Budweisers and cooing at the gorgeous pyrotechnics, it might be time instead to hold a wake. And after we have buried Lady Liberty, maybe we can get down to the serious work of figuring out what to do now.
Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”, where this article first appeared.
The second largest stock market in the entire world is collapsing right in front of our eyes. Since hitting a peak in June, the most important Chinese stock market index has plummeted by well over 20 percent, and more than 3 trillion dollars of “paper wealth” has been wiped out.
Of course the Shanghai Composite Index is still way above the level it was sitting at exactly one year ago, but what is so disturbing about this current crash is that it is so similar to what we witnessed just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 in the United States. From October 2006 to October 2007, the Shanghai Composite Index more than tripled in value. It was the greatest stock market surge in Chinese history. But after hitting a peak, it began to fall dramatically. From October 2007 to October 2008, the Shanghai Composite Index absolutely crashed. In the end, more than two-thirds of all wealth in the market was completely wiped out. You can see all of this on a chart that you can find right here.
What makes this so important to U.S. investors is the fact that Chinese stocks started crashing well before U.S. stocks started crashing during the last financial crisis, and now it is happening again. Is this yet another sign that a U.S. stock market crash is imminent?
Over the past several months, I have been trying to hammer home the comparisons between what we are experiencing right now and the lead up to the U.S. financial crisis in the second half of 2008. Today, I want to share with you an excerpt from a New York Times article that was published in April 2008. At that time, the Chinese stock market crash was already well underway, but U.S. stocks were still in great shape…
The Shanghai composite index has plunged 45 percent from its high, reached last October. The first quarter of this year, which ended Monday with a huge sell-off, was the worst ever for the market.
Suddenly, millions of small investors who were crowding into brokerage houses, spending the entire day there playing cards, trading stocks, eating noodles and cheering on the markets with other day traders and retirees, are feeling depressed and angry.
This sounds almost exactly like what is happening in China right now. First we witnessed a ridiculous Chinese stock market bubble form, and now we are watching a nightmarish sell off take place. This next excerpt is from a Reuters article that was just published…
Shanghai’s benchmark share index crashed below 4,000 points for the first time since April – a key support level that analysts said had been seen as a line in the sand that Beijing had to defend, below which more conservative investors would start ejecting from their leveraged positions, widening the rout.
Chinese markets, which had risen as much as 110 percent from November to a peak in June, have collapsed at an incredibly rapid pace in since June 12, losing more than 20 percent in jaw-dropping volatility as money surges in and out of the market.
That drop has wiped out nearly $3 trillion in market capitalization, more than the GDP of Brazil.
Did you catch that last part?
The amount of wealth that has been wiped out during this Chinese stock market crash is already greater than the entire yearly GDP of Brazil.
Just as in 1929, flighty retail investors make up the bulk of China’s stock market and, just as in 1929 in the U.S., they have heavily margined their accounts. The Financial Times puts the number of retail investors in the Chinese stock market at 80 to 90 percent of the total market. Retail investors, unlike sophisticated institutional investors, are prone to panic selling, which explains the wild intraday swings in the Shanghai Composite over the past week.
Last night, the Shanghai Composite broke a key technical support level, closing below 4,000 at 3,912.77. The index is now down 24 percent since it peaked earlier this month and has wiped out more than $2.4 trillion in value. China’s stock market is the second largest in the world in terms of market capitalization, with the U.S. ranking number one.
Making world markets even more worried about the situation in China, its regulators are showing a similar brand of leadership as Mario Draghi. After previously pledging to trim back risky margin lending, they have now done a complete flip flop and are permitting individual brokerage firms to avoid selling out accounts that miss margin calls by setting their own guidelines on the amount of collateral needed.
I know that a lot of Americans don’t really care about what happens over in Asia, but when the second largest stock market in the entire world crashes, it is a very big deal.
1) Numerous emerging market countries to default and most emerging market stocks to lose 50% of their value.
2) The Euro to break below parity before the Eurozone is broken up (eventually some new version of the Euro to be introduced and remain below parity with the US Dollar).
3) Japan to have defaulted and very likely enter hyperinflation.
4) US stocks to lose at least 50% of their value and possibly fall as far as 400 on the S&P 500.
5) Numerous “bail-ins” in which deposits are frozen and used to prop up insolvent banks.
I tend to agree with most of that. I don’t agree that the euro is going to go away, but I do agree that the eurozone is going to break up and be reconstituted in a new form eventually. And, yes, we are going to see tremendous inflation all over the world down the road, but I wouldn’t say that it is imminent in Japan or anywhere else. But overall, I think that is a pretty good list.
So what do you think is coming? Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…
Ted Cruz calls on US to withdraw from UN rights body over Israel »»
US presidential candidate Ted Cruz urges the US to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council after the body voted to condemn Israel’s war on Gaza. Read more...
Met failing to protect children online »»
UK police have failed so far to protect children in cyberspace. Read more...
Iran presenting new deal to oil companies »»
Iran says it has started to present the much-awaited new format of its oil contracts to European and Asian energy corporations. Read more...
Iran’s repatriated gold worth $700 million »»
Iran says the value of 13 tons of gold returned from South Africa this week as part of a nuclear deal is $700 million. Read more...
No Iranian military advisors in Yemen: Official »»
A senior Iranian official says Iran has no military advisors in Yemen. Read more...
End The Lie
Assange’s open letter was not ‘explicit’ application for French asylum – WikiLeaks »»
Published time: July 03, 2015 22:47 General view of the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris (Reuters / Christian Hartmann) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s open letter to the French president was not an asylum application to France, the whistleblower platform says. Paris had rejected a possible request before the clarification from WikiLeaks was released. […] Read more...
EFF Launches Badge Hacking Contest for DEF CON 23 »»
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is proud to present the DEF CON 23 Badge Hack Pageant (1337 skills required, swimsuit optional). Now is the time to bring out your sweetest hacks and sickest mods in a no-holds-barred battle for hardware supremacy. You are free to excel in practicality, absurdity, devastating good looks, or all three. Break […] Read more...
‘Wow, pulled back wrong side throttle’: Taiwanese pilot accidentally turned off engine »»
Published time: July 02, 2015 22:16 Emergency teams remove pieces of wreckage at the site of the crashed TransAsia Airways plane Flight GE235 in New Taipei City February 5, 2015.(Reuters / Pichi Chuang) The pilot of TransAsia flight GE235 inadvertently switched off his plane’s only working engine, making a crash inevitable, Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council […] Read more...
EFF Is Turning 25 and We Want to Celebrate With You »»
We’re the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and we’re thrilled to be celebrating a quarter-century of fighting for digital rights. We’re kicking off this milestone in two ways: a membership drive and a party and minicon in San Francisco on July 16 . We’re asking people to donate and become members because we fight passionately for the […] Read more...
Digital drawing: Novel holographic device allows mid-air index finger artistry »»
Published time: July 02, 2015 14:50 Screenshot from vimeo.com video Hong Kong scientists have come up with an incredible invention – an interactive 3D fog display that plucks full-color holographic images out of thin air. Holograms allow you to draw in midair without using any kind of special equipment – just your own forefinger. High-resolution […] Read more...
Famous Rothschild Banking Dynasty Facing Fraud Charges In France »»
In addition to being accused of defrauding British retirees, Rothschild Bank AG was also recently fined millions for U.S. tax dodging. Read more...
Just Before Round of Negotiations on the Proposed 'Trade in Services Agreement' (TISA), Wikileaks Releases Updated Secret Documents »»
Today, Wikileaks released a second batch of the most updated draft texts on the proposed TISA, along with substantive analysis, on each of four massive services sectors: Financial Services, Telecommunications Services, Electronic Commerce, and Maritime Transport. This follows on their release yesterday of cross-cutting annexes on Domestic Regulation, the "Movement of Natural Persons," Transparency, and Government Procurement, and the Agenda for next week's negotiations, along with what Wikileaks called the journalistic holy grail: the Core Text of the proposed agreement. The negotiating texts are supposed to remain secret for five years after the deal is finalized or abandoned. Read more...
Schools Implant IUDs in Girls as Young as 6th Grade Without Their Parents Knowing »»
Earlier this month, LifeNews.com reported on a high school in Seattle, Washingtonthat is now implanting intrauterine devices (IUD), as well as other forms of birth control and doing so without parental knowledge or permission. Read more...
California woman killed by brain-eating amoeba »»
A 21-year-old California woman died from an amoeba that settles in the brain and destroys its tissue. The disease she contracted is called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). It is rare, with only zero to eight cases reported a year, says Inyo Public Health officer Dr. Richard Johnson. But it is almost 100 percent fatal. Read more...
For those who labor under the misguided delusion that Europe defines its own destiny independently, no clearer wake up call could have been given than the latest US-French spying scandal. It is a wake up call not because of revelations that the United States has been spying on the French government, but because the French government, like its neighbor Germany who was also a victim of US spying, has predictably let the matter drop with no apparent repercussions for the perpetrators. Read more...
A Greek doctor's report: “Those who have no money, die”, Interview with Giorgios Vichas / Greece, Germany and the Eurozone, Speech delivered by Yanis Varoufakis / Economies without boundaries – a pitfall for all, by Reinhard Koradi / “Du sollst nicht töten – Mein Traum vom Frieden” (Thou shalt not kill – My dream of peace), Book review by Henriette Hanke Güttinger / On the significance of direct democracy to ensure social peace (part 3). How can we protect direct democracy in difficult times? by W. Wüthrich / Sound small and medium enterprises guarantee sustaining our democratic state, by Thomas Kaiser / Labelling high-quality Swiss products with the crossbow, Interview with Ruedi (...) Read more...
Malthusian Atheist Enters Pontifical Academy Of Sciences, by Webster G. Tarpley »»
Supreme Court Rats Cabal Splinters Out of Fear of Popular Backlash over Healthcare Stripping; More Free Trade Sellouts Can Still Be Stopped, but only with 15% Protective Tariff; Anti-Establishment Mood Grows Among Primary Voters; Relentless Insanity of Germany's Merkel and IMF's Lagarde Forcing Greece to Prepare Economic Self-Defense Based on Dirigism; Ukraine Bankruptcy Looms; NATO Attempting Color Revolution in Russian-Allied Armenia; Malthusian Atheist Enters Pontifical Academy Of Sciences; Confederate Flag Being Expunged from American Life 150 Years after Appomattox. Read more...
Journalists and War, by Thierry Meyssan »»
Considering that journalists work in the service of peace, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution designed for their protection in combat zones. However, only two weeks later, the US Department of Defence published instructions for the arrest of media professionals who engage in espionage – an initiative which could harm journalists from the member states of NATO, observes Thierry Meyssan. Read more...
The Troika pretends to suffocate Greece at all costs, by Ariel Noyola Rodríguez »»
On June 18, negotiations between Greece and the Eurogroup stagnated again. The Troika insists that Yanis Varoufakis, finance minister, must present a “credible” plan with reform proposals for its creditors, in other words destroying labor rights, boosting austerity and along with that, giving maximum priority to paying its debts. Time is running out along with the confidence in Syriza. Therefore Greece needs to find oxygen more than a monetary union. Read more...
Madame Bokova, Palmyra, Sana'a and Niniveh demand your resignation, by Hassan Hamadé »»
Madame, It is almost a month and a half that of one of our most prestigious archaeological remains, the pearl of our ancient patrimony ,other similar headlights of Syrian Mesopotamian culture have fallen into the destructive hands of Daesh , total destruction, be it by bulldozers or explosion. Therefore this letter addressed to you is a cry of alarm, an SOS which can be summarized in one word. Palmyra. Have you heard of this word before? It does not seem so alas! (...) Read more...
A Revolutionary Pope Calls for Rethinking the Outdated Criteria That Rule the World »»
Pope Francis’ revolutionary encyclical addresses not just climate change but the banking crisis. Interestingly, the solution to that crisis may have been modeled in the Middle Ages by Franciscan monks following the Saint from whom the Pope took his name. Pope Francis has been called “the revolutionary Pope.” Before he became Pope Francis, he was […] Read more...
Ecuador Fights against Elitism »»
To overlook the tremendous progress that Ecuador registered under the current administration, would take great determination and discipline. New airports, highways, hospitals and culture centers are everywhere, and they are impressive. Cities are counting with wide sidewalks, and public parks are equipped with all sorts of playgrounds for children, some extremely innovative. There are public […] Read more...
The Pain of Modern Life: Loneliness and Isolation »»
Humanity is a group. As Mohandas Gandhi famously said: “All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family.” This is not a sycophantic religious concept, but the fact of our inherent nature; a nature that the current World socio-economic order systematically works against, forcing us to live in unnatural, unhealthy, un-fulfilling, and unjust ways. The negative […] Read more...
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as world governments, ignores the risks of an ice-free Arctic (Wadhams). Rather, an ice-free Arctic is widely applauded by much of the world as a positive way forward for re-opening of northern shipping routes, new trips for cruise lines, and access to a huge cache of […] Read more...
The BBC News recently reported that Kubra Khademi, an Afghani female artist, wore unusual armor called “iron underwear” on the streets of Kabul’s western district during her performance to highlight the sexual harassment faced by women. Within minutes she was forced back into her car by an infuriated mob of men. She says she has since gone […] Read more...
The Most Dangerous Mountain In The United States: What Would Happen If Mt. Rainier Erupted? »»
Is the next major volcanic eruption in the United States just around the corner? Mount St. Helens and the Yellowstone supervolcano get most of the attention, but many geologists are actually far more concerned about the potential danger that Mt. Rainier poses. It has been called a “time bomb“, “the most dangerous mountain in the United
John F. Kennedy’s Speech Sounded Like Prophecy (VIDEOS) »»
(The Real Agenda) John F. Kennedy knew, as president, that he was in a position where he could fight the system whose birth was brewing. JFK knew it because previous presidents had spoken about that system. They had been tempted and recruited to carry out what the shadow government wanted to be a coup d’Etat
Greece May Become BRICS Member »»
In May, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak invited Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to become the sixth BRICS member – joining Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. At the time, Tspiras said he was interested – giving Greece access to its $100 billion capitalized New Development Bank (NDB), aiming to break Western dominance
Obama Removes TPP’s Anti-Slavery Clause, Then Attacks Confederate Flag As “Symbol Of Slavery” »»
By: Kit Daniels | Infowars.com – Hypocrisy: Obama defends slavery, then attacks rebel flag for ties to slavery. Right before he publicly attacked the Confederate flag as a “symbol of slavery,” President Obama quietly removed an anti-slavery provision from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement. “The provision, which bars countries that engage in slavery from being
8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System »»
Maybe you have something as simple as a cold, or perhaps you’re just looking for a little boost in immunity. With the right vitamins and minerals, smart dietary choices can pack a healthy punch. Although diet gets little attention in conventional media when it comes to supporting the immune system, it is one of the
NSA Spied on Key Brazilian Government Officials – Wikileaks »»
The US National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapped 29 key Brazilian government officials, not only targeting those closest to President Dilma Rousseff, but also waging economic espionage, the WikiLeaks said in a press release on Saturday. Read more...
BRICS Network University to Expand Access to Education »»
According to head of the Russian Federal Agency for international cooperation, establishing the BRICS Network University will broaden the access to higher education for the young people from the bloc's member countries. Read more...
Home Secretary Theresa May Named UK ‘Internet Villain’ of Year »»
Internet Service Providers Association called British Home Secretary Theresa May the “Internet Villain” of the year. Read more...
Syrian Army, Hezbollah Take Over City Near Border With Lebanon »»
The Syrian army with the support of the Shiite Hezbollah militant group stormed the town of Zabadani in southwestern Syria, near the border with Lebanon, previously held by Islamists, a military source told Sputnik on Saturday. Read more...