In charge of truth? Google considers ranking sites on facts, not popularity »»
Google is considering putting itself in charge of online truth, in order to assist users in an age of information overload. The web giant would rank search results based on each site’s 'truth score' instead of its popularity level. Read more...
Dramatic video captures LAPD shooting of homeless man »»
A homeless man was shot dead by police in Los Angeles on Sunday following a dramatic confrontation that was caught on video. Read more...
Ebola survivor nurse to sue Texas hospital over neglect »»
A Texas nurse who survived Ebola says she will file suit against her employer, claiming the hospital where she worked and its parent company failed her and other employees as they dealt with the first diagnosed case of Ebola on US soil. Read more...
Israel surprises with unexpected military drills in West Bank »»
Israel's army announced it is carrying out a two-day “surprise exercise” in the West Bank, with thousands of reservists participating in what marks the first drill of its kind in three years. Read more...
Search for missing MH370 may be called off soon »»
Australia says the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may soon be called off, as no trace of the aircraft has been found since it disappeared over the Indian Ocean a year ago this week. Read more...
New Eastern Outlook
A year after Euro-Maidan, Ukraine coming apart at the seams »»
It has been a year since protestors descended on Kiev’s Independence Square calling for the ouster of President Victor Yanukovich. Though the movement consisted of both liberal pro-European elements and rightwing quasi-fascist groups, most international media chose to frame the events of Maidan in a way that misleadingly obscured the role of the latter. While […] Read more...
Europe and the Politics of Russian Gas »»
The recent announcement of a lucrative new gas contract between Hungary and Russia is certainly beneficial to both countries. Perhaps more significant however, is the fact that Russian energy supplies, and the political conflict between Europe and Russia, is drawing dividing lines all over the map. By allowing Washington to drive European policy vis-à-vis Ukraine, […] Read more...
Turkey on the Сrossroads, or ‘Erdogan the Compromiser’. »»
Recently in regional, and perhaps in international politics, Turkey has begun to attract more and more attention. The root of this behaviour isn’t the growing economic, military, or political role of the NATO member state. It is simply that Erdoğan, like all of Turkey, is tired of waiting for a verdict from Grand Old Europe […] Read more...
Canada’s Russian Sanctions And The Matrix of Empire »»
Canada, once again playing the role of court jester to America’s imperial throne, has announced the same set of new sanctions against Russia that were announced by the EU and the USA a day after the Minsk agreement was signed. To add salt to the wound, this action was taken on the same day that […] Read more...
War in Ukraine: Propaganda Lies and Casualties »»
While cleaning the ruins of the Donetsk Airport, New Russia military forces discovered in the rubble 16 Ukrainian soldiers. Initially, there were about 30 of them. However, only 16 survived. The rest died waiting for aid promised by their commanders. But help did not come. Each of them received a solar powered recorder with a […] Read more...
In Anti-Discrimination Suit, Haiping Su Took on Big Government and Won »»
Dr. Haiping Su was a victim of racial profiling and he sued the United States government and NASA for smearing his reputation, invading his privacy, depriving him of realizing his full career potential and causing him emotional stress and mental anguish. He sued to clear his name and asked for $5.2 million in damages.
Six years later, after various delays, legal maneuvers and challenges, the judge heard the arguments and ruled in favor of the plaintiff, namely Dr. Su, and against the defendant, in this rare case the U.S. government. As compensation for damages, Su was awarded $10,000.
The lesson of Su’s experience with American justice has implications for all Chinese Americans working in technical disciplines in the United States and is worthy of more detailed examination.
In June 2008, Su was abruptly escorted off the premises of Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California and his access badge taken from him. The only explanation given to him was that he had somehow become a security risk to NASA.
At the time, he had been working for about three years as a staff member of University Affiliated Research Center, operated by UC Santa Cruz under contract to NASA. He had come to the United States from China in 1986, earned his PhD in agriculture science from Kansas State five years later and became a U.S. citizen. His work for NASA related to his technical expertise. The work was non-classified.
Approximately a month after getting his new identification badge to Ames in January 2008, the FBI asked to interview him for a “background check.” The FBI did not approach any other member of his work group for a similar sort of background interview.
There was a second interview in March at the end of which he was told that he needed to take a lie detector test. Afterwards, the FBI agent told him that he “did not do well” on the polygraph test but did not otherwise explain why Su was being investigated.
Early in April, Su was grilled by four people representing FBI and NASA security to “clarify issues raised by the polygraph.” Then on June 24, Su was handed a letter signed by Robert Dolci, head of security at Ames, stating that his continued presence constituted a security risk and he was escorted off the premises.
Dolci then called a meeting of Su’s coworkers and to their surprise, informed them that Su constituted a security risk. Some of his coworkers later testified that Dolci implied that Su was removed from NASA Ames because he took money from a foreign government.
Early in July, Su’s supervisor at UCSC issued a letter of dismissal because he had allegedly failed the lie detector test. Fortunately for Su, his supervisor compared the flimsy accusations against Su’s exemplary work record and decided to rescind his letter of dismissal. He simply asked Su to telecommute and continue working from his home.
Su was understandably distraught by the treatment he received. He contacted me and his story was still fresh in my mind when I happened to attend a recent Silicon Valley dinner meeting for technical professionals. Jim McManis, partner in charge at McManis Faulkner, a prominent law firm in San Jose, was the speaker and he spoke about fair employment practices.
I was impressed by his forthrightness and his attitude about the importance of being fair, so I related Su’s story to him. McManis was appalled and invited Su to contact him. His willingness to take up Su’s case without fee made the historic lawsuit possible.
McManis’ firm filed the complaint on behalf of Su against NASA and the FBI on the grounds that Su was not involved in classified work, had no criminal history, was never told of the charges against him nor given a chance to defend himself, and lastly was not told of his right to appeal.
The complaint further charged that NASA, in handling this case, did not follow their own internal procedure and policy and thus deprived Su of due process, ruined his reputation and caused undue hardship and mental anguish.
In the court hearing, testimony by Su and his wife indicated that he had suffered greatly from this experience. His wife testified that Su had undergone a personality change from outgoing to reclusive, from engaging to distrustful of people, and suffered from frequent bouts of depression.
The trial judge acknowledged that Dolci invaded Su’s privacy but he was unable to accurately assess damages done to Su, because Su continued to be employed. In the end, the judge found for Su a sum of $10,000 as compensation for damages he suffered.
After the judge rendered his verdict, I asked Su if he felt vindicated and if he had any regrets. He said that even though it became a six-year nightmare and he had to pay a personal price suffering from insomnia and hypertension, he would do it again.
He was convinced that the only way to stop racism was to stand up and object. He didn’t fight just for himself, he said, but also for all Chinese Americans working in the U.S.
The Wen Ho Lee case at the turn of the century was perhaps the most notorious, but racial prejudice since then against professional Chinese Americans working in technical disciplines has not subsided.
Chinese Americans have continued to be accused, harassed, and thrown out of work. Subjected to personal ordeal, including sitting in jail without bail, the victims frequently find the government accusers lose interest and drop all charges—not before, of course, having inflicted financial devastation and character destruction on their hapless victims.
Su’s case is exemplary only in that the culprit – the government in this case – did not get away with discriminatory actions and that Su was willing to take on the legal challenge, despite the personal cost.
"A Red Letter Day" at the FCC: Net Neutrality Wins »»
There was snow in Washington, DC, Thursday morning, which always throws the federal capital into tailspins. So the marching band that the media reform group Free Press had hired to throw a parade for Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler canceled, the wimps. Nevertheless, a small, hearty group of activists braved the flurries and slippery streets to gather outside the FCC before the day’s historic meeting. They were there to thank Wheeler and celebrate the imminent passage of new rules to protect Net neutrality and preserve a free and open Internet.
“You did this,” Free Press President Craig Aaron told the gathering, as they held up signs and stamped their feet against the cold. “This is your victory, we did it together. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we defend this win in Congress, in the courts and in the streets.”
Another speaker exclaimed, “It’s snowing and we’re winning Net neutrality,” as former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, now an adviser to Common Cause, joked, “This is democracy as pure as the driven snow. Who says people power can’t work?” He added, “Don’t be surprised if this isn’t in court by nightfall, but the decision will stand.”
Others anticipated extended saber rattling among members of Congress opposed to Net neutrality, with some worried about a possible conservative attempt to punish the FCC by interfering with its budget. On Thursday, it was announced that Chairman Wheeler and the four other commissioners, Democrats and Republicans, will testify at a March 18 oversight hearing called by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune to “allow me and my colleagues to directly question the chairman about the overreaching broadband order.”
But the official decision hadn’t actually been made yet. The FCC meeting did not begin until 10:30 a.m., delayed by the weather. The room was packed; unusual, if not unprecedented for an open commission meeting. The Democratic commissioners arrived first, and then something even more unusual and unprecedented occurred: a sustained, standing ovation as Wheeler took his seat.
Almost the first hour was spent on another decision, preempting state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee and allowing two community broadband providers to expand service. This move by the FCC, another decisive step toward making the Internet more accessible, teed up what was to come next.
Before each commissioner explained how he or she would vote, one last, brief panel told those assembled why Net neutrality was so important. Speakers included Chad Dickerson, CEO of the handicrafts website Etsy; and Veena Sud, writer and executive producer of the TV series The Killing (she explained how an open Internet had saved her series twice: once when fan demand over the web kept the show going; the second time when its final season was bankrolled and distributed by Netflix). Also appearing — via shaky video from Britain — Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, who declared that the new Net neutrality rules would preserve, “the ethos of permissionless innovation.”
Then came Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn – “We are here to ensure there is only one Internet,” she said. “…We want to enable those with deep pockets as well as those with empty pockets the same opportunities.” She thanked the American people “for your amazing role in framing this historic order… Today, because of your efforts, we are better able to allow millions of Americans to tell their stories.”
Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, “We have … a duty to protect what has made the Internet the most dynamic platform for free speech ever invented. It is our printing press. It is our town square. It is our individual soapbox – and our shared platform for opportunity.”
The two Republican commissioners dissented, at length. Ajit Pai claimed, “If this order manages to survive judicial review, these will be the consequences: higher broadband prices, slower broadband speed, less broadband deployment, less innovation, and fewer options for American consumers.” And Michael O’Rielly said that in the new rules, “every bad idea ever floated in the name of Net neutrality has come home to roost” and decried “substantial factual errors underlying the decision.”
Finally, it was Chairman Wheeler’s turn. Just weeks ago, he had been accused of vacillation and undermining Net neutrality with a plethora of ifs and buts that would diminish its effectiveness. But on Thursday he appeared resolute. “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate freedom of speech,” he declared, and added, “This is the FCC using every tool in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers.”
Wheeler declared it a “red letter day” and took the vote. As the clock struck 1 p.m. Thursday, he banged down the gavel and another standing ovation erupted as he announced passage of the new rules. At a press conference just minutes later, Wheeler announced, “This is the proudest day of my public policy life.”
You can read here the official FCC press release and the statements of each of the five commissioners.
Dying on the Digital Streets: The Tech Addiction of Our Children »»
“You gave away his Xbox?” With a look of terror, my 11-year-old son’s friend was desperately hoping this news was not true. “Yes, I did, and if he was given another one, I’d give that away too.” Since my son was born, I have been living in fear of the impending threat of digital games, phones, pads, pods, chats, tweets, tubes and teeth. This hilariously serious conversation came flooding into my mind when I heard the most recent case of Tech Addiction - (my new name for child addicts dying on the digital streets) - the murder of an entire family by 16-year-old Jason Hendrix of Corbin, Kentucky.
Like the fostering of any new addiction, it always begins with the ready supply of the substance to the potential user and the easy access to the substance dealer. To lock in and broaden the potential reach and success of the substance, it must receive complicit or explicit societal support, such as the coming of age alcohol-induced parties and celebrations practiced across Mama Earth by so many of us colonized peoples, normalizing the man's poison, aka alcohol, for all of our young people.
For the first two years of my son’s life, my family was in deep poverty and struggle. Me, juggling the extensive care for my mama, who was very sick, as well as the always hard care of my then infant child. I was unable to work and therefore unable to afford child care and rent - much less food and diapers. It was at this time in the middle of so much struggle that I launched Mamahouse - a collective home for poor single mamas like myself - so we could support each other with child care and shared resources and support, the one thing so many of us single parents lack. It got me out of homelessness and was beautiful in all the ways of interdependence, sharing and collective work that it should have been, except for one thing. I was now in the position of saying no to my 2-year-old son, who was already being offered a video game to play, a computer to play on, and a phone to “use.”
I said no many times, even in the face of so many introductions to the digital streets. "You will be forced to come around someday," my co-madres all warned me, shaking their heads. "Just wait and see."
Now, don’t get it twisted. I am not a hippie mama with back to nature privilege and no phones, TVs or computers in the house. I am a concrete jungle survivor who barely made it out of a life of poverty and houselessness. I was raised by a poor single Afro-Puerta Rican mama who had followed the Bernie Mac school of child raising and was still slapping me upside the head til the day she transitioned if I “did something wrong.” But I knew the terrifying way Facebook had so easily become “face-crak” to my already-formed brain, and therefore knew in my deepest heart that these digital streets were no place for a child, much less a young person’s un-hardened skull open to all the force a satellite transmission ever needs.
From the video game themes, ranging from fetishized gendered characters like movie star planet that helps young girls and boys be rich and famous so they can spend thousands of “fake” dollars buying inappropriate clothes and things, to Grand Theft Auto, that promotes young men and women hurting, stealing, killing or cheating each other in some criminalized image of “pseudo-gangster” (read cool Black, Brown and working-class youth) all created/designed by 20-something mostly white, middle-class tech designers who were raised in the suburbs of Amerikkka. Or military-industrial complex video sponsored killing games like Halo, Dark Souls or Dead Rising, where you can be the shooters, snipers, killers or zombie killers in the omnipresent zombie apocalypse we all have been waiting for.
And then the endless chatting, texting, tweeting, role-playing and tagging. Between all this simulated life who has time for real life? especially real, boring, hard-working, not-really-that-exciting life.
And although I think it is actually urgent for us to completely move off the killer digital streets, or at least severely limit our use, if for nothing else to stop the never ending hunger for more and more of Mama Earth's finite energy, the reality is that the internet is a powerful research tool and there are thousands of great math, science, art, media and music sites that can be used for learning and teaching, talking and communicating.
And yes, as a poor single mama, I have needed a “break” raising my energetic son multiple times, just like the next in-struggle mama. When we were in our deepest financial stress, I went through elaborate schemes to prop my son up in front of a cartoon show that I thought was age-appropriate so I could get some work done, help my mama, or just rest. I can’t always be there to entertain this goofy child who is endlessly wanting my attention. But books and art and drawing and sports are real too. And so I would limit the TV and cartoons and the movies to a minimum of one night a week. And I begged, borrowed and stole for endless paper and art supplies and went to the library a lot.
And no matter how tired or depressed I was, I would read to him and tell him bedtime stories when I didn’t have to work at night. And most importantly, I began teaching him very early on that if he ever wanted to play a “video” game he would have to learn to make one. I taught him the little I knew about the “code source” - the root, back-end of every website and video game and digital application from Twitter to Face-crak. And perhaps most important of all, I taught him to be conscious. I explained to him in detail who owned most of the games and phones he and his friends desired so much, how the Zuckerbergs of the world made millions of billions of dollars off him and his friends every time he would click, chat, drag, text or tweet, only to flood our no longer affordable city with more 20-something over-paid employees riding in private buses. The same 20- and 30-something people who would rather my son and his poor, working class Black and Brown friends and their families were no longer living in Gentrification City, USA. Yes, I made the connection between video games, tweeting, Face-craking, i-phoning and gentrification and the direct impact it all had on our lives.
The final tragic irony was both Mamahouseswere ended by greedy, gentryFUKing landlords, burning us out in MamaHouse 1, and raising our rent by $700.00 in one month in MamaHouse 2, scattering all of us formally houseless mamas into houselessness, again, gentrified out of our working class neighborhoods of color forever by the same forces, industries and tax breaks who were supplying our children with so much digital distraction.
Then, in the last three months, dozens of different mamas and aunties have come to me with stories of 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16-year-old children screaming, destroying things, and/or becoming dangerously violent against their own families when their technology was taken away, limited or withheld. And then the story of Jason Hendrix, 16, of Corbin, Kentucky, who killed his parents, and his sister Grace Hendrix, execution-style in their home, police believe, after his computer privileges were taken away.
In our own Deecolonize Academy - a revolutionary indigenous -run/poor people-led, arts - based school at POOR Magazine and Homefulness, we have addicted children who don’t sleep all night because they proudly announce, “ I’m a gamer, yo.” We have a no-technology rule at school, but sometimes they are so tired they can barely get through a school day. We are hoping to break this addiction next semester when we ask them to lead a WeSearch investigation on the radiation, racist and classist stereotypes and military industrial complex lies funneling into their young heads from the devices. Not to mention their current investigations into gentrification and climate change, both side effects of these extremely wealthy tech dealers who ride private buses and never get arrested for their drug pushing into our children’s minds.
So this is my point fellow mamas and uncles and grammas and dads: You aren’t being mean 'cause you make your child read a paper book, or go outside and play with a ball or have them sit in a car and look out the window without something in their head, hand, ear or eyes, endlessly distracting them, exciting them, stimulating them. This is called Life, and its not always that fun, and there are real tangible ways to interact and get along and learn and be in the world that has NOTHNG to do with digital interaction.
You aren’t being mean if you just say no to a phone at 10 or a computer at 12 or an iPad or tablet at 5. It's not necessary. Your children will live, and guess what: They will thrive and not be in any creeping danger of never spoken of but very real, brain tumors, early cataracts, glaucoma or thyroid cancers caused by phones, pads, wifi signals or computer blue screens. And if they challenge you, "Well you use the phone, ipad and computer," remember who the parent is and say, "That's right, I do, and I'm an adult and you are not, and you have no business comparing yourself to me" (followed up by other issues like who pays the bills, rent, food, clothes, etc if you even entertain their "challenge" this long).
Actually, with this "no," you will be saving your child from the increasing robotization and corporate theft of our bodies, minds, souls and neighborhoods, and your children will be the few among us actually awake and aware enough to help heal this very tortured mama earth, help their lost, evicted and zombified friends and families and as an extra added bonus they will be ready for the real zombie apocalypse when it arrives.
Bigger Than Science, Bigger Than Religion »»
(Image: Planet Earth via Shutterstock)We're closer to environmental disaster than ever before. We need a new story for our relationship with the Earth, one that goes beyond science and religion.
The world as we know it is slipping away. At the current rate of destruction, tropical rainforest could be gone within as little as 40 years. The seas are being overfished to the point of exhaustion, and coral reefs are dying from ocean acidification. Biologists say that we are currently at the start of the largest mass extinction event since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. As greenhouse gases increasingly accumulate in the atmosphere, temperatures are likely to rise faster than our current ecological and agricultural systems can adapt.
It is no secret that the Earth is in trouble and that we humans are to blame. Just knowing these grim facts, however, won’t get us very far. We have to transform this knowledge into a deep passion to change course. But passion does not come primarily from the head; it is a product of the heart. And the heart is not aroused by the bare facts alone. It needs stories that weave those facts into a moving and meaningful narrative.
We need a powerful new story that we are a part of nature and not separate from it. We need a story that properly situates humans in the world—neither above it by virtue of our superior intellect, nor dwarfed by the universe into cosmic insignificance. We are equal partners with all that exists, co-creators with trees and galaxies and the microorganisms in our own gut, in a materially and spiritually evolving universe.
This was the breathtaking vision of the late Father Thomas Berry. Berry taught that humanity is presently at a critical decision point. Either we develop a more heart-full relationship with the Earth that sustains us, or we destroy ourselves and life on the planet. I interviewed the white-maned theologian (he preferred the term “geologian,” by which he meant “student of the Earth”) in 1997 at the Riverdale Center of Religious Research on the Hudson River north of New York City. Berry spoke slowly and with the hint of a southern drawl, revealing his North Carolina upbringing.
“I say that my generation has been autistic,” he told me. “An autistic child is locked into themselves, they cannot get out and the outer world cannot get in. They cannot receive affection, cannot give affection. And this is, I think, a very appropriate way of identifying this generation in its relationship to the natural world.
“We have no feeling for the natural world. We’d as soon cut down our most beautiful tree, the most beautiful forest in the world. We cut it down for what? For timber, for board feet. We don’t see the tree, we only see it in terms of its commercial value.”
It is no accident that we have come to our current crisis, according to Berry. Rather, it is the natural consequence of certain core cultural beliefs that comprise what Berry called “the Old Story.” At the heart of the Old Story is the idea that we humans are set apart from nature and here to conquer it. Berry cited the teaching in Genesis that humans should “subdue the Earth … and have dominion over every living thing.”
But if religion provided the outline for the story, science wrote it large—developing a mind-boggling mastery of the natural world. Indeed, science over time became the new religion, said Berry, an idolatrous worship of our own human prowess. Like true believers, many today are convinced that, however bad things might seem, science and technology will eventually solve all of our problems and fulfill all of our needs.
Berry acknowledged that this naive belief in science served a useful purpose during the formative era when we were still building the modern world and becoming aware of our immense power to transform things.
Like adolescents staking out their own place in the world, we asserted our independence from nature and the greater family of life. But over time, this self-assertion became unbalanced, pushing the Earth to the brink of environmental cataclysm. The time has come to leave this adolescent stage behind, said Berry, and develop a new, mature relationship with the Earth and its inhabitants.
We’ll need to approach this crucial transition on many different fronts. Scientific research has too frequently become the willing handmaiden of what Berry called “the extractive economy,” an economic system that treats our fellow creatures as objects to be exploited rather than as living beings with their own awareness and rights. Moreover, technology, in Berry’s view, potentially separates us from intimacy with life. We flee into “cyberspace”— spending more time on smart phones, iPods, and video games than communing with the real world.
Science and technology are not the problem. Our misuse of them is. Berry said that science needs to acknowledge that the universe is not a random assemblage of dead matter and empty space, but is alive, intelligent, and continually evolving. And it needs to recognize that not only is the world alive, it is alive in us. “We bear the universe in our beings,” Berry reflected, “as the universe bears us in its being.” In Berry’s view, our human lives are no accident. We are the eyes, the minds, and the hearts that the cosmos is evolving so that it can come to know itself ever more perfectly through us.
It’s a view that has been winning some surprising adherents. Several years ago, I had dinner with Edgar Mitchell, one of only a dozen humans who have walked upon the lunar surface. Mitchell, the descendant of New Mexico pioneers and an aeronautical engineer by training, spoke precisely and almost clinically—until he related an experience that happened on his way back to Earth during the Apollo 14 mission. At that point, his voice brightened with awe.
“I was gazing out of the window, at the Earth, moon, sun, and star-studded blackness of space in turn as our capsule slowly rotated,” he said. “Gradually, I was flooded with the ecstatic awareness that I was a part of what I was observing. Every molecule in my body was birthed in a star hanging in space. I became aware that everything that exists is part of one intricately interconnected whole.”
The Overview Effect
In a recent phone chat, Mitchell called this realization “the Overview Effect,” and he said that virtually all of the moon astronauts experienced it during their flights. In his case, it changed the direction of his life: “I realized that the story of ourselves as told by our scientific cosmology and our religion was incomplete and likely flawed. I saw that the Newtonian idea of separate, independent, discrete things in the universe wasn’t a fully accurate description.”
In pursuit of a holistic understanding, Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) to explore the nature of human consciousness. The question of consciousness might seem remote from issues like climate change. But it is central to the question of how we treat the world. At the core of our abuse of nature is the belief that we humans are essentially islands unto ourselves, alienated from the world beyond our skins. A little god locked within the gated community of his or her own skull won’t feel much responsibility for what goes on outside.
“The classical scientific approach says that observation and consciousness are completely independent of the way the world works,” IONS Chief Scientist Dean Radin told me. But physics has known for decades that mind and matter are not as separable as we once supposed. Radin cites as an example Heisenberg’s discovery that the act of observation changes the phenomenon that is being observed.
Moreover, quantum physics has shown that subatomic particles that are separated in space are nevertheless responsive to one another in ways that are not yet fully understood. We are discovering that there is “some underlying form of connection in which literally everything is connected to everything else all of the time,” asserts Radin. “The universe is less a collection of objects than a web of interrelationships.”
As we come to grasp how inextricably embedded in this vast web of cosmic life we are, Radin hopes that humans will be persuaded to move beyond the idea of ourselves as masters and the world as slave to embrace an equal and mutually beneficial partnership.
Another prophet of a new scientific paradigm is renowned Harvard biologist Edward (E.O.) Wilson. Wilson is best known for his biophilia hypothesis, which says there is an instinctive emotional bond between humans and other life forms. Evolution has fostered in us the drive to love and care for other living beings, Wilson says, as a way to promote the survival not just of our own kind but of life as a whole.
Darwin’s theory of natural selection is invoked to argue that we humans are conditioned by nature to struggle tooth and nail for access to limited resources. But Wilson contends that evolution does not just promote violent competition but also favors the development of compassion and cooperation—traits that serve the interests of the group as a whole.
He calls this radical new idea “group selection.” Groups of altruistically inclined individuals have an evolutionary advantage over groups that are composed of members pursuing only their own survival needs. This collective advantage, he argues, has helped to promote powerful social bonds and cooperative behaviors in species as diverse as ants, geese, elk, and human beings.
In championing the evolutionary importance of love and cooperation in the flourishing of life, Wilson is not just revolutionizing biology. He is also venturing into territory usually occupied by religion. But, like Berry, Wilson argues that we need a story that cuts across traditional boundaries between fields to present a new, integral vision. “Science and religion are two of the most potent forces on Earth,” Wilson asserts, “and they should come together to save the Creation.”
A thousand-year worldview
At its heart, the new story that Wilson and Berry advocate is actually a very old one. Indigenous spiritual traditions taught that all beings are our relatives long before the science of ecology “discovered” the seamless web of life that binds humans to other creatures. “The world is alive, everything has spirit, has standing, has the right to be recognized,” proclaims Anishinaabe activist and former Green Party candidate for vice president Winona LaDuke.
“One of our fundamental teachings is that in all our actions we consider the impact it will have on seven generations,” LaDuke told an audience at the University of Ottawa in 2012. “Think about what it would mean to have a worldview that could last a thousand years, instead of the current corporate mindset that can’t see beyond the next quarterly earnings statement.”
When LaDuke speaks of Native values, people sometimes ask her what relevance these have for us today. She answers that the respect for the sacredness of nature that inspired people to live in harmony with their environment for millennia is not a relic of the past. It is a roadmap for living lightly on the Earth that we desperately need in a time of climate change.
This ethic has spread beyond the reservation into religiously inspired communities, like Genesis Farm, founded by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey. Set on ancestral Lenape lands amidst wooded hills and wetlands and within view of the Delaware Water Gap, Genesis has served for the last quarter century as an environmental learning center and working biodynamic farm grounded in Berry’s vision.
I spoke to the community’s founder Sister Miriam MacGillis, a friend and student of Berry, in a room studded with satellite images of the farm and its bioregion. MacGillis told me that she underwent decades of struggle trying to reconcile Berry’s 13-billion-year vision of an evolutionary cosmos with the ultimately incompatible biblical teachings that “creation is finished: Humans were made, history began, there was the fall, and history will end with the apocalypse.” She says, “The pictures I had of God were too small, too parochial, too much a reflection of the ways humans think. We made God in our image!”
Taking the long view fundamentally transforms the basis for environmental action, says MacGillis: “We need to realize that we are the universe in the form of the human. We are not just on Earth to do good ecological things. That is where the religious perspective takes us with the stewardship model—take care of it; it’s holy because God made it. That hasn’t worked real well … The idea of stewardship is too small, it’s too human-centered, like we can do that. It’s really the opposite. Earth is taking total care of us.”
Genesis Farm has propagated these ideas through its Earth Literacy training, which has now spread to many places throughout the world. Their work is a small part of a larger greening of religion, says Yale religious scholar Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-creator with Brian Swimme of Journey of the Universe, an exhilarating trek through time and space portraying an evolutionary universe.
Tucker expects that the upcoming encyclical on climate change and the environment that Pope Francis will issue in early 2015 will be “a game changer” for Catholics. She adds that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has also been outspoken, labeling crimes against the natural world “a sin.” The Dalai Lama, for his part, has been speaking about the importance of safeguarding the environment based on Buddhism’s sense of the profound interdependence of all life. China has recently enshrined in its constitution the need for a new ecological civilization rooted in Confucian values, which preach the harmony between humans, Earth, and Heaven.
“All civilizations have drawn on the wisdom traditions that have gotten people through death, tragedy, destruction, immense despair,” says Tucker, adding that we are currently in a perilous rite of passage. “We will need all of the world’s religions to help as well as a shared sense of an evolutionary story to get us through this.”
Jury Awards Guestworkers Over $14 Million in Landmark Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Case »»
Indian workers demonstrate on June 11, 2008, after being lied to about the status of their visas and forced to work in deplorable conditions by Signal International. (Image: barbndc)
New Orleans - Earlier this month, a jury awarded over $14 million in damages to the plaintiffs of David v. Signal International, the first of a series of lawsuits that together constitute one of the largest human trafficking and forced labor cases in U.S. history. After more than four weeks of testimony and several days of deliberations, the jury found that marine construction company Signal International and its agents engaged in human trafficking, forced labor and racketeering, among other violations.
It is “an historic verdict,” said Alan Howard, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, “finding damages against every defendant on every single claim that we brought, and finding punitive damages against every defendant for every claim for which we were entitled to ask for punitive damages.” Signal must pay over $12 million to the five plaintiffs, while the company’s recruiter and its immigration lawyer must pay over $900,000 each.
The original suit, filed on behalf of almost 600 Indian welders and pipefitters, alleged that the workers had been lured to the United States with false promises of green cards, which enable permanent residency. They paid $11,000-25,000 in recruiting fees for the opportunity, the complaint said, selling property, pawning jewelry, and taking out high-interest loans to finance the fees. The suit was brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization, which enlisted the cooperation of several top law firms to litigate multiple cases pro bono after the original was not certified as a class action.
While the workers believed they were paying to immigrate permanently, they actually came to the US on visas for temporary work. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Gulf Coast company Signal International brought in the skilled welders and pipefitters from India through the H-2B federal guestworker program. Under the terms of the program, H-2B visa holders can work only for the company that sponsors them; it is meant to help U.S. companies fill seasonal or temporary labor shortages. Signal said it could not find enough skilled workers domestically after the devastation and displacement of Hurricane Katrina, so in 2006 the company contracted with a network of recruiters and labor brokers to bring the Indian workers on H-2B visas to its worksites in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Orange, Texas.
When the workers arrived, they were unpleasantly surprised to discover their accommodations: “man camps,” as they were referred to throughout the trial, where they were housed in trailers with 24 men and just two toilets each. They complained of unsanitary conditions, lack of privacy, and constant noise from proximity to the worksites, which operated day and night.
A man camp manager wrote in his private journal, “Our Indians have been dropping with sickness like flies. … Water has leaked everywhere and stagnated as a result, which serves as a bacterial breeding ground.” The Pascagoula facility had been built over a lead contamination site that Signal says was safe.
The men paid $35 a day—over $1,000 a month—for room and board. Signal says it did everything it could to make them feel at home, including hiring an Indian caterer to cook them three meals a day, adding a prayer room and a quiet room to the camps, and providing a bus to take them to Walmart and church. The camps were under guard 24 hours a day, which the company says was intended to protect workers’ belongings.
The plaintiffs, however, say they were the ones being monitored and that the guards conducted surprise searches of their belongings. Perhaps more rankling, they were at first not allowed to find their own accommodations—and when Signal did eventually relent on this point, it said the $35-a-day fee would be deducted from their paychecks whether they lived in the man camps or not.
While Signal was clearly responsible for the conditions of the camps, what is less clear is who was responsible for the false promises and deep debt the jury ultimately decided constituted forced labor and human trafficking.
The original suit, which was filed as a class action on behalf of hundreds of workers, named six defendants: Signal, a U.S. recruiter, an Indian recruiter, an immigration lawyer, and two labor brokers. When a judge denied class action certification, the suit was broken up into 12 separate lawsuits; this one, the first to be heard, ended up with only five plaintiffs and three defendants.
Nevertheless, the number of middlemen and the complexity of the connections between them illustrates the opacity of labor recruiting for the H-2B and other guestworker programs—and the diffusion of responsibility that comes from long labor supply chains.
All of the defendants painted themselves as innocent victims of their codefendants’ deception. Signal even filed cross claims against the other defendants. The jury did not find those defendants liable for the only cross claim to make it to the end of the trial, an indemnity claim that would have made them responsible for Signal’s losses.
Signal’s strongest claim to innocence may be that its codefendants advertised green cards and started collecting payments for them long before Signal was looking for foreign workers—as far back as 2003, before Katrina even hit. Much of the case pivoted on whether and when the company knew that the H-2B workers had been told Signal would sponsor them for green cards.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, however, had clearly identified Signal as their chief target. While they sought compensatory damages against all defendants, they sought punitive damages only against Signal. (The jury awarded punitive damages against all defendants.) In closing arguments, Howard stressed the egregiousness of the false promise of green cards, which he called “the big scam.”
“So at the end of the day, you might actually decide,” he said of the other defendants, “…maybe they’re not responsible for the promises. But no matter what, Signal is. Signal authorized the promises, they benefited from it, they knew what they were doing.”
And while trafficking, forced labor, racketeering and fraud claims were brought against all defendants, Signal alone was sued for discrimination, unlawful retaliation, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Just one of the five plaintiffs, Jacob Joseph Kaddakkarappally (or “Mr. Jacob,” as he was known throughout the trial), brought the last three claims. Those claims pertain to the fateful day of March 9, 2007. An attendee of a nearby church he attended had put Mr. Jacob in touch with local organizers about the problems the Indian workers experienced in the man camps. The organizers contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center, which sent a letter to Signal asking to have a discussion about the workers’ conditions.
An internally circulated email concerning the letter from Signal’s senior vice president read, “The next time some disgruntled employee barks, they’ll think twice about wasting their time again. Before the weekend is over, the Indians will know we’re not afraid to fight and so should their liberal lawyers.”
Indeed, before the weekend was over, in the dawn hours of March 9, Signal seized the men it suspected of organizing, locked them in a trailer under guard, terminated their employment and told them they would be deported. One man was so distraught he attempted suicide and had to be taken to the hospital while Mr. Jacob, who had seen him “bleeding profusely” after the attempt, remained locked in the trailer.
David v. Signal was tried in federal court, where jury verdicts must be unanimous. Nevertheless, after the jury returned the portion of its verdict finding Signal liable for every claim brought against it, lead counsel for Signal requested a poll of the jury: each of the nine jurors was asked by name, “Is this your verdict?” The mic went from juror to juror as each said “yes.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyers see the verdict as a victory not just for guestworkers but for all workers vulnerable to exploitation.
“We asked the jury for an award that would send a message” both to Signal and to other companies, Howard said. “I think the jury has done that.”
In the 1980’s, Canada was governed by (at that time) the most incompetent, fiscally irresponsible regime in the Western world: Brian Mulroney’s “Conservative” government. In a mere eight years; Canada’s national debt tripled, and its debt-to-GDP ratio soared to what was (at the time) an astronomical level above 70%.
Canada was considered to be in an official “debt crisis”. What is meant by the term debt-crisis? It’s all a function of simple arithmetic. It is where the total debt-load approaches a point where it is no longer mathematically possible for the economy to remain viable over the long term.
While the precise quantum where an economy passes “the point of no return” is somewhat dependent upon economic assumptions; a very crude standard is the 100%-level. Once an economy accumulates a mountain of debt equal to its entire, national, economic output; that economy no longer has sufficient financial/economic mass to (responsibly) “service” this mountain of debt.
In other words, once past that point-of-no-return, as a simple function of arithmetic it is inevitable that total debt (and thus total interest payments) must just continue to go higher and higher and higher, until…? Outright bankruptcy. The economic Holy Grail of a “balanced budget” is no longer even mathematically possible; maintaining the same fiscal course is nothing less than economic suicide.
With the only possible (long-term) outcome being national bankruptcy, and with every year a government continues past the point-of-no-return inflicting enormous, additional, economic harm; once past the point-of-no-return any legitimate/responsible government would immediately look to either “restructure” (i.e. reduce) its total debt-load – or simply default (i.e. declare Debt Jubilee).
In the case of Canada, its debt-crisis of the 1980’s led to a new, fiscally responsible government taking power: Jean Chretien’s Liberal government. Its harsh fiscal management produced a full decade of budget surpluses, where the debt-to-GDP ratio was roughly cut in half.
It was an example of successful “Austerity”, the only such success, anywhere in the Western world, over the past quarter-century. It was successful precisely because Canada had not yet passed that economic point-of-no-return.
Flash ahead roughly a quarter century. Canada has a new Conservative regime, meaning another woefully incompetent/grossly irresponsible government. Not only has Stephen Harper undone all of Canada’s previous debt-reduction during his “reign of error”; but Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio has exploded to a level more than three times higher than the “debt-crisis” created by the last Conservative regime.
Canada’s debt-to-GDP level has skyrocketed to more than 220%. It is not simply (way) past the economic point-of-no-return (mere insolvency); this nation is bankrupt – in blatant economic terms. Continuing to service this obviously unsustainable debt is nothing more than economic sadism, perpetrated by Stephen Harper against the people of Canada.
However, as indicated in the chart below (originally produced at Zero Hedge); Canada is far from alone. Membership in the international Bankruptcy Club has soared to roughly 40 nations. Canada’s previous “debt crisis” would no longer even earn it a place in the world’s “top-40” of most-indebted nations today.
A quarter-century ago, discussing nations being economically past the point-of-no-return was theoretical and predictive. Today, the 21st century’s Bankruptcy Club provides unequivocal, empirical proof (in the form of dozens of examples) that continuing to service these unsustainable debt-loads is pure sadism, and thus effectively economic treason, on the part of all of these illegitimate regimes.
In collective terms, the unequivocal proof that these regimes must (immediately) declare Debt Jubilee comes in many forms. We start with the fact that none of the members of the Bankruptcy Club ever manage to improve their fiscal standing (i.e. lessen their level of obvious insolvency). While there may be occasional, annual “blips” in the economic self-destruction of these nations; examine the balance sheet of any member of the Bankruptcy Club over five-year increments, and their fiscal position is always worse.
What is the colloquial definition of “insanity”? Repeating a past (failed) policy, but expecting a different outcome. What is the definition of economic treason? Continuing to pursue the same, failed economic policies year after year, despite their self-destructive consequences, but pretending that repeating this failure will lead to a different outcome.
For many years (decades?), “extend and pretend” has been the unofficial mantra of the entire, U.S. economy. Roll-over the corporate debt, despite the fact that much/most of it is unsustainable. Roll-over the municipal debt, despite the fact that much/most of it is unsustainable. Roll-over the state debt, despite the fact that much/most of it is unsustainable. And roll-over the gigantic debts/obligations of the U.S.’s federal government, despite the fact that its $100+ TRILLION in debt/liabilities is roughly ten times greater than what can be sustained by this crippled, and relatively tiny economy (tiny relative to the size of its gigantic obligations).
The reality with an entire economy based upon “extend and pretend” is that it has no future. The economic suicide/self-destruction continues on and on and on until…? Total economic implosion. It begs the question: why wait? Why inflict more and more damage on their own economies, when any politician capable of operating a calculator knows that the only, possible long-term outcome is national bankruptcy?
In the corporate world, honest management teams never prolong such financial/economic death-spirals, because it is a well-known economic reality that “resolving” insolvency as early as possible minimizes total harm and economic loss. It is only the corporate entities run by fraudulent individuals where bankruptcy is a “sudden” event – i.e. the fraudsters managing the corporate entity are forced to acknowledge their insolvency when the entity literally implodes financially.
The fact that no Western government (other than Greece’s new government) is (a) acknowledging its own, obvious insolvency, and (b) taking concrete steps to seek to reduce (or simply erase) these gargantuan debts is prima facie proof that none of these other regimes are legitimate. They represent not their own peoples, but the banksters who are continuing to rape us for “interest payments” on these ridiculously excessive/unsustainable debts.
As noted in previous commentaries, Debt Jubilee is a long-standing economic “tradition” of our species, as financial mismanagement (at the national level) is an endemic problem of our species, irrespective of the historical era, or the system of government. Arithmetic is arithmetic. Continuing to (attempt to) “sustain” the unsustainable is at best economic suicide, at worst economic treason.
Moreover, our own sovereign debts are fraudulent, on several different levels. Wiping away these gargantuan debts, and restoring solvency to the Western world is not only economically necessary and morally imperative, it is legally justifiable. The “legal remedy” for fraud is a very simple one: the fraudulent transactions (i.e. our debts and accumulated interest) are instantly rendered null-and-void. For injured parties with “clean hands”; they can seek restitution for any losses through the branch of law known as Equity. Needless to say there would not be any bankers standing in that line.
Clearly if Western governments were ‘merely’ drowning in debt-to-GDP ratios of roughly 100%, then they could still argue that attempting to manage these debt-loads was legitimate rather than treasonous. However, Germany’s government (debt-to-GDP of 188%) can no longer make that claim. Nor can:
Canada’s government (221%), Austria’s government (225%), the U.S. government (233%), Finland’s government (238%), Norway’s government (244%), the UK government (252%), Italy’s government (259%), France’s government (280%), Sweden’s government (290%), Denmark’s government (302%), Spain’s government (313%), the Netherlands’ government (325%), Belgium’s government (327%), Portugal’s government (358%), or Ireland’s government (390%).
Further absolutely irrefutable proof that all of these Traitor Governments are past the economic point-of-no-return comes in the form of all the failed examples of European “Austerity” following the Crash of ’08. Unlike Canada; which produced budget surpluses and cut-in-half its debt-to-GDP ratio; not one of these debt-bloated governments has been able to produce a single budget-surplus (despite the most-extreme belt-tightening possible). Every one of these European “debt crises” has simply continued to worsen.
Unless we are to believe that only (some) Canadians are capable of managing an economy in an economically competent manner; then the only possible conclusion that we can reach is that European Austerity has failed (again and again) because it was never possible to succeed. They have proven that they are all past the point-of-no-return.
If a nation (or any entity) can never reduce its debt – even under the most-extreme financial management – but rather its (enormous) debt simply grows larger and larger; that is the literal definition of insolvency. It is a state of existence which must inevitably result in outright bankruptcy. Yet when Greece attempts to stand-up to these corrupt governments and argue that its debt-load must be reduced (and not increased ad infinitum), every one of these traitorous “extend-and-pretend” regimes is endeavouring to bully Greece into bowing to the will of their true Master: the One Bank.
Pay the bankers their interest. Increase the debts until these bankrupt economies literally collapse under the weight of their own interest payments (as has already happened to Greece once). The politicians are too corrupt to care. Our Zombie populations are too stupid to notice/understand – apparently none of them can operate a calculator, either.
When Western debt-levels began soaring past the point-of-no-return at the beginning of this millennium; it suggested that the West (and thus the whole global economy) was due for the latest Debt Jubilee. When these already-excessive debt levels exploded to a ludicrous level, following the so-called “bail-outs” (to these same bankers) from the Crash of ’08; this required an immediate Debt Jubilee. However, the insane/treasonous numbers in the previous, current chart shout out an even simpler message: we demand Debt Jubilee.
This Is The Chinese Documentary That Got Over 30 Million Views In One Day »»
While the citizenry of America remains transfixed by the ever-changing color of some Scottish wedding dress; this weekend saw an even more massively viral social media phenomenon as tens of millions of Chinese watched, gripped and outraged, a 104-minute video entitled "Under The Dome" exposing the ugly truth about Chinese air pollution. What is perhaps most stunning - aside from the fact that something so 'important' can go viral without Kim Kardashian's ass all over it - is that the Chinese government, so far, has not shut off the documentary, and recently appointed minister of environmental protection, Chen Jining, even praised the video; suggesting a growing conflict between Beijing and the Chinese industrial complex.
Full documentary here - with English subtitles (with over 35 million views since its release yesterday on YouKu)
As The NY Times reports, the documentary, funded and narrated by a former Chinese TV reporter, recounts her journey of discovery, hunting for the sources of China’s bad air and inquiring why repeated government promises have done so little to clear it up, while coping with a daughter born with a tumor...
[In 2013], she did not pay much attention to the smog engulfing much of China and affecting 600 million people, even as she traveled for work from place to place where the air was acrid with fumes and dust.
“But,” Ms. Chai says with a pause, “when I returned to Beijing, I learned that I was pregnant.”
Since its online debut on Saturday, Ms. Chai’s documentary, “Under the Dome,” has inspired an unusually passionate eruption of public and mass media discussion. Many messages were from Chinese parents identifying with Ms. Chai’s fears that pollution has imperiled their children’s health.
“When I heard her heart beating, the only thing I wished for her was good health,” Ms. Chai explains of her then-unborn daughter in the documentary.
“But she was diagnosed with a benign tumor and had to have surgery after birth,” she adds. “I’d never felt afraid of pollution before, and never wore a mask no matter where. But when you carry a life in you, what she breathes, eats and drinks are all your responsibility, and then you feel the fear.”
On Youku, a popular Chinese video-sharing site, “Under the Dome” had been played more than 14 million times by Sunday afternoon. The Paper, a Chinese news website, estimated that by Saturday night, the documentary had been opened more than 35 million times across various websites.
Many Chinese viewers praised Ms. Chai for forthrightly condemning the skein of industrial interests, energy conglomerates and bureaucratic hurdles that she says have obstructed stronger action against pollution.
* * *
While the documentary has gripped almost 40 million Chinese so far, what is perhaps more intriguing is that the Chinese government has not shut it down yet...
So far at least, the government has not shut off the documentary, and some officials may welcome the chance to build greater support for cutting pollution. The website of People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s main newspaper, was one of the first to post “Under the Dome.” And the recently appointed minister of environmental protection, Chen Jining, praised the video. He told Sina.com, a Chinese website, that he had watched it and sent a message to Ms. Chai.
“Chai Jing’s documentary calls for public environmental consciousness from the standpoint of public health,” Mr. Chen said. “It deserves admiration.”
Does this suggest there is a growing conflict between Beijing and the Chinese Industrial Complex (as the corruption probe grows and impacts multiple industries). Further, this of course, means even more Chinese growth slowdown if and when there is a crackdown on pollution/rampant industrialization.
David Stockman Warns "It's One Of The Scariest Moments In History" »»
"The Fed is out of control," exclaims David Stockman - perhaps best known for architecting Reagan's economic turnaround known as 'Morning in America' - adding that "people don't want to hear the reality and the truth that we're facing." The following discussion, with Harry Dent, outlines their perspectives on the looming collapse of free market prosperity and the desctruction of American wealth as policymakers "take our economy in a direction that is dangerous, that is not sustainable, and is likely to fully undermine everything that's been built up and created by the American people over decades and decades." The Fed, Stockman concludes, "is a rogue institution," and their actions have led us to "one of the scariest moments in our history... it's a festering time-bomb and we're not sure when it will explode."
David Stockman:People don't want to hear the reality and the truth that we're facing. But I think there is an enormous appetite out in the country to get a different perspective than what you have from the media day in and day out, so I say the fed is out of control. Its balance sheet is exploded. It's printing money like never before.
Zero interest rates for 70 months have basically destroyed the pricing function in the financial markets. I said that as a result of this, Wall Street has become a huge casino which basically rewards gamblers, but it is not functioning as a capital raising, capital allocating instrument, which really is what the financial markets should do in a free market system. I warned about the size of the federal debt. I'm an old budget director from the Reagan days. We had a trillion dollar national debt, a 3 trillion economy when I started. Today, it's 18 trillion. Eighteen fold gain in the last 35 years versus maybe a fourfold gain in the economy. So all of these trends are taking our economy in a direction that is dangerous, that is not sustainable, and is likely to fully undermine everything that's been built up and created by the American people over decades and decades.
So people don't want to hear the warning. They don't want to hear the truth in the establishment, in Wall Street, in Washington, but I think out in the country they must.
* * *
David Stockman: Well it's obvious that Wall Street is addicted to cheap money and unlimited flow of new liquidity into the markets. Traders can then borrow money on an overnight basis for five basis points, which is nothing. Buy anything with a yield like a ten-year or five-year bond or speculate in stocks that they think might be going up or even get fancier and go into derivatives or commodity futures or whatever. And then capture the profit or the spread between the cheap money that the fed is putting into the overnight market and the yield or profit they're making on the asset, and they're leveraging way up.
You know, 90 percent, 95 percent in many cases. So obviously, the whole financial market is dependent on this, but it comes at a cost. It is destroying savers in America. If you worked a lifetime and saved $100,000.00, you're making $400.00 a year in interest from a lifetime of savings. I think there will be a revolt sooner or later of the American public against this disastrous crushing of the saver in order to essentially accommodate Wall Street's appetite for liquidity.
* * *
David Stockman: Well you know, the problem is the fed, I've described, is a rogue institution. It's operating beyond any of the legislative intent or statutory authority that's been given to them over the years. They have essentially become a national monetary planning agency that has decided they can drive the daily, weekly, monthly movement of the economy by manipulating interest rates and the yield curve by putting a put under the stock prices by essentially trying to drive the entire 18 trillion or 17 trillion US economy from Wall Street. That is fundamentally at variance with the requisites of a healthy capitalist economy. You need an honest financial market. Not a manipulated one.
You need price discovery by people that have their money at risk, not the central bank.
Harry Dent: Actually, it's a centrally planned economy, isn't it?
David Stockman: Right, exactly.
* * *
So David, do you think the republican congress can save us from this economic sundown that we've been discussing today?
David Stockman: Well I would like to think so, and they talk a good game, but unfortunately when push comes to shove, they're in the consensus with everyone else in the beltway in Washington and are unwilling to take on the hard issues. We are borrowing still $600 billion in the last year, six years after allegedly the great recession ended, and we are setting ourselves up for trillion dollar deficits again, the next time the economy stumbles or we have a recession or some other dislocation. The fact is the fed is not abolished the business cycle. The fed has not made the world completely safe from these kinds of dislocations. So therefore, we need to look at what's driving this huge deficit, and the answer is big entitlements and big defense spending, and the republicans are unwilling to take on the Pentagon. They want more, and they're afraid to take on Social Security and the entitlements because they believe that is going to be problematic politically.
So therefore, nothing is being done about the structure of this deficit problem, and we're just basically stumbling our way into another huge crisis in ballooning national debt.
* * *
David Stockman: Well, it's one of the scariest moments I think in our history, but also we need to recognize we're in uncharted waters. No central bank has ever printed this much money this long, kept interest rates at zero, fueled so much speculation. Not just here, but worldwide. Not just in the normal stocks and bonds, but the whole shale boom, for instance, in the United States was massively funded by cheap debt based on oil prices that weren't sustainable, and now that's all coming unwound. We have never had deficits of ten percent of GDP back to back, or even still four or five percent four or five years into a recovery.
We have a runaway budget where the population is getting older and older, 10,000 people are retiring every day. Nothing is being done about Social Security. It's a festering time bomb, and we're not sure how it will explode, but we know it isn't sustainable. We have a Wall Street that is more addicted to pure overnight gambling and trading and speculation for the ultra short run that is driven by robo traders, the so-called HFT money, like never before. It's unstable. That's why we see things happen like the overnight 40 percent gain with the Swiss Franc when the Swiss National Bank pulled the pay.
Forty percent overnight – not overnight, but in a couple of minutes or seconds when there were hundreds of billions of short positions in the Swiss Franc. All of these things have never existed simultaneously, not only in the United States, but worldwide. All the central banks are doing it. We're reaching the point where it's unsustainable, things are going to give and break, but the good thing is it's going to be more a disaster in the financial markets in my view, less some kind of Great Depression impact on Main Street. It will be difficult on Main Street, but Wall Street is in the gun sites of this disaster coming.
* * *
David Stockman: I agree. In the long run, we have to get off this debt addiction. We need to get back to sound finance both in government and households, but beginning between here and there is going to cause enormous pain for millions of households who have been herded into risky investments, junk bond funds, stock market funds, high flying biotech stocks and on and on because they were told it's the only place to be. If you put your money in a CD, you get no return. If you put your money in a safe bond, you get almost no return. Now when the big reset, as Harry calls it, happens, and the stock market drops by large magnitudes, 50 percent, more, those people who were herded into these risky investments late in life – Because remember, we have the baby boom, you know, heading towards their retirement homes, are going to be badly hurt at a time that they can't recover, and it will be a massive injustice that is being done by Washington and the fed to this current generation of middle class Americans. That will produce, in my view, a political reaction, a political revolt that will begin to say, "What's wrong here? Who believed that printing money out of thin air can make a society wealthier? Why did we do that? Who believed that we can actually create jobs and new economic output on Main Street simply by having the fed press a button and create another billion dollars?"
* * *
David Stockman: Yeah, I agree with that, and the point to remember is that massive money printing by central banks on a worldwide basis is inherently deflationary for two reasons. One, it fuels massive financial speculation. When we talk about speculation, we're talking about professional gamblers who borrow 95 cents and use that borrowed money that they pay practically nothing for to buy stocks or bonds or commodities or derivatives or biotech stocks and so forth as I indicated. All of that buying power is artificial. That is not coming from production today, real effort in the economy. That's coming from newly minted credit.
So it takes asset prices to unreasonable, unsustainable levels. They crash, and that creates a negative economic cycle. Secondly, massive money printing makes capital and debt too cheap to the real sector of the economy. So therefore, massive capital investments are made on the basis of cheap cost of capital, not on the basis of the likely return or sustainable return over time.
* * * David Stockman: Yeah, a famous American economist once said anything that's unsustainable tends to stop. My argument is that we're at the stop point. The fed has been printing money like there's no tomorrow really for 25 years since Greenspan took over in 1987. They are now at the point where their balance sheet has become so bloated, so enormous that even the people running the fed are confused about what to do. They've painted themselves into a corner, and they're playing it by the day, and they're going to make a huge mistake. So the money printing thing is near an end.
Secondly, our political system has become totally non-functional. We have a lame duck president who can accomplish nothing, a congress that is totally paralyzed, meaning that before 2017 at the earliest, nothing will be done about our fiscal and entitlement explosion. Finally, the American people have believed falsely that all of this is going to work out. It's not going to. When they find out that the adults so called in Washington had no clue what they were doing, there is going to be a collapse of confidence, and that will flow into the system as well.
* * * So it seems like this bubble bursting is inevitable. How much time do we have? Is it years, months? How will we know? Are there some clues we can look into to make sure that we're prepared?
David Stockman: There's really no magic numbers here, but it's remarkable that these central bank driven bubbles tend to peak after about six years. The dot com bubble started really in mid-1994 with the famous Netscape IPO. It crashed in March 2000, six years. The housing bubble roughly started in 2002. It totally crashed in 2008. Six years. The meltdown on Wall Street bottomed in March 2009. Add six years. 2015. I think we're at the end of this bubble simply based on the fact that they can't expand forever. They reach an asymptotic peak, and then confidence is lost, a catalyst occurs, a black swan appears, the selling begins, and there's nothing under this market. There is no safety net under this market.
* * * Is there anything that can save us?
David Stockman: Yes, there are, and in the short run, that will be painful. There will be great dislocations, both in the financial markets and the real economy. But in the long run, that's a good thing. We have become so dependent on government, we have come to believe that the Federal Reserve drives the economy hour by hour, day by day. None of that is historically true. Real wealth, real prosperity comes from the sweat and from the enterprise and from the invention of people on Main Street, not the politicians on Wall Street who are on the central bank. So I think the big inflection point that we're facing is when the big crash comes, on the other side, maybe we can get back to the private enterprise system and the kind of family self-reliance and thrift and prudence that our prosperity was built on 40 years ago.
* * *
David Stockman: Well in The Great Deformation, I said, "We're heading towards a day of reckoning. This isn't sustainable." It's happening in real time, and in the updates, what I try to do is focus on the catalyst events, the catalyzing forces that will warn us when we're really getting to the edge of the cliff.
That is the central banks. Japan's central bank is out of control. I watch that. It's important to know what happens there because if the great money printing debt experience in Japan finally fails, it's going to be noted in markets all around the world. I watch the ECB, European Central Bank. It is divided between Germans who want to try to maintain some semblance of some money and the rest of Europe that would like to print and drown themselves in debt as far as the eye can see. It's important to watch China, which is a giant house of cards, that's on the verge of collapse, and that will ricochet around the world in terms of the countries that supply it. Australia, Korea, the so-called emerging markets, and what it'll do to the theory, which I think is false that China is the engine of growth in the world, it is not. It is the biggest speculative disaster in human history.
* * * David Stockman: Well, the crisis is unfolding by the day. It is not too late to start preparing right noW. Now is the time to begin to save if you can and minimize your outlays for unnecessary luxuries. This is going to be a devastating crisis, and people will be happy down the road if they take the steps to prepare today.
In the modest and unassuming manner natural to this column, I advance a small proposal for the emendation of such tatters of the Constitution as can be found:
For voting in federal elections, we should employ a literacy test to disenfranchise the majority of the population, to the infinite betterment of the country. This wise move should be accompanied by an increase in the voting age to twenty-five.
The necessity cannot be denied. Consider the following:
These numbers may be understood in various ways. To a curmudgeon, who obtains a sour satisfaction from the endless repetition of human folly, they provide the satisfactions of confirmation. We all enjoy being right. In practical terms, they mean that democracy, or our mild approximation thereto, is a sham, a fraud, an impossibility, and a bad idea. No one so blankly ignorant, so mentally without furniture, so muddle-headed, limited, and barren, should be allowed within hailing range of a voting booth.
Such people cannot possibly know anything of national questions. Those who live in a featureless tundra of the mind usually do so from stupidity. It is unreasonable to blame them for a genetic condition over which they have no control, but it is equally unreasonable to allow them to vote. As for the fairly intelligent who through intellectual shiftlessness learn nothing, I have no patience with them. What possible cause is there for thinking the willfully dull, the deliberately ignorant, or the dull and ignorant, are ompetent to influence policy on matters that they cannot spell? Given that everyone today has access to virtually every book ever written and to the internet, there is little excuse for living in Oprah fog and Eminem darkness.
If fourteen percent are illiterate, a larger number must be nearly so. People who can barely read don´t. People so little engaged as to think Iraq attacked New York –forty-six percent!—vote almost at random, or in the direction in which they are shooed by cunning electoral mechanics and fixers.
The educated and thoughtful may have no idea of the night in which the rest live. We tend to associate with people like ourselves. Consequently if you know where Iran is, you probably don’t know anyone who doesn’t. But—a pre-Copernican quarter of the population believes that the sun moves around the earth? As we said in the Sixties, that’s a whole nuther head-space.
Thus a test of literacy, or more correctly of competence to vote. It might involve reading a paragraph of prose at the level of college, or of what used to be the level of college, and answering questions about it. There might be questions such as how many Congressmen are there, name a country bordering of Iraq, list three rights guaranteed (ha!) by the First Amendment, and when did World War Two take place.
This laudable proposal would transform politics. The basalt principle of current American governance is that you can fool enough of the people enough of the time. The smart can safely be ignored. People with capacious and well-stocked mental larders are statistically insignificant. Thus candidates campaign by grinning and smirking, hiding whatever intelligence they may have, and professing sympathy for orphans and the downtrodden. In France, a candidate with the mind of a lawn chair would be held in contempt, but in America he is thought to be of the people, and authentic. Unfortunately, he is.
The current fourth-grade posturing of politicians would last microseconds with an electorate well on the right side of the bell curve. We would have far fewer dolts and poltroons. I'm sure you can think of several of these.
I suspect people would be surprised to learn how little the members of the House of Representatives know. A Congressman of my acquaintance told me of going with a colleague on a junket to Thailand. His fellow legislator repeatedly referred to the country as “Taiwan.” Thus are we ruled. Allowing the foolish to vote makes likely the election of the equally fatuous, or of a wily confidence man.
Objectors to my splendid idea will assert that a government and electorate of the highly intelligent will exploit the rest. The franchise is said to protect the majority from the unscrupulous. But it does not. IQs on Wall Street are said to begin at 145. Has the franchise protected anyone from them? Allowing the dim and untutored to vote simply provides the bright and unscrupulous with gullible vote-fodder. It does not prevent but makes possible the exploitation.
A voting age of twenty-five would ensure some degree of maturity, or might, even in an age of mall rats. It is ludicrous to think that teenagers can vote sensibly. They haven’t lived long enough. Like so much of American life, the adolescent vote sprang from the unrealistic idea that we are all equal in everything. Girls can be SEALs, everyone should go to college, that sort of thing. During Vietnam, the argument was that if the young were old enough to die in Asia, they were old enough to vote. And if six-year-olds are old enough to die in car accidents, they are old enough to drive.
While we are at it, we might as a minimum require candidates for federal office to have scored in the ninetieth percentile on the GREs. Again, It is curious that while in France intelligence and cultivation are regarded as good things, in America the use of words of more than one syllable is regarded as evidence of elitism, both being mortal sins. The only offense worse than being superior is knowing that you are.
But why not do yet better? If I may soar even higher into wild and uncontrolled supposition, suppose that candidates for high national office--Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency--were required to have an IQ of 145 or better. This is the beginning of real intelligence, perhaps aproaching the entry level for Silicon Valley (though intelligence at the level of a valley may not be the image I am looking for). Such men—at this level, almost all are—can keep in mind the various pipelines proposed for Caspian hydrocarbons, the effects of shifting exchange rates, and so on. They are precious hard to con. When they travel, they usually know where they are. Intelligent government: What a concept.
So much for ineffable wisdom and preternatural insight. The implementation of my splendid system is left to the student as an exercise.
Despite a 7% rise in actual tourist arrivals to Macau from China during this Lunar New Year's holiday, 'The Year of The Goat' is off to an extremely inauspicious start. As Bloomberg reports, even with expectations of a 40% drop, Macau casino revenues is now projected to crash a stunning 53.5% from last year. While a decline in VIP gambling was expected (due to, among other things, Xi's extreme crackdown on corruption - and the Macau money laundering schemes), JPMorgan notes, this was still "shockingly bad," as "even premium mass demand remained very muted," and marks the ninth straight month of decline, the longest losing streak since monthly records started in 2005.
The semiautonomous Chinese territory had a bad 2014, as total gambling revenue fell 2.6%, its first decline on record. Beijing’s corruption crackdown and the slowing Chinese economy together mean there are fewer wealthy Chinese willing to lose money at casino tables. As The Wall Street Journal reports,
The Lunar New Year holiday, a weeklong break for mainland Chinese, is typically a high season for Macau. But average gambling table revenue last week, which covered most of the holiday, fell a massive 55% from a year earlier, according to data cited by multiple analysts Wednesday. This puts the territory on track for a revenue decline of 50% or more for all of February.
The weak gambling numbers are especially disappointing because actual tourist arrivals to Macau from China rose 7% over the holiday, according to Barclays. The new visitors are apparently small-time bettors, or perhaps even non-gambling tourists, who can’t begin to make up for the loss of high rollers.
As Bloomberg reports, this year’s downturn comes despite a record high of more than 800,000 Chinese tourists flooded Macau in the first seven days of the Year of the Goat...
“Perhaps the Year of Goat isn’t a lucky year for casinos,” said UOB-Kay Hian Holdings Ltd analyst Victor Yip in an interview, adding that the VIP gambling business still accounts for at least 60 percent of Macau’s gambling revenue. “It won’t work if you only got retail customers but very few VIP gamblers as they fail to boost the gross revenue.”
Of course, it's not just gamboing revenues that are down...
The recent wave of mainland Chinese visitors also spend less than before, a further blow to the fine-dining eateries, luxury retail malls, and high-end hotels that casinos have set up next to their gambling halls. Excluding gambling, per-capita shopping expenses by Chinese tourists dipped 32.8 percent to 1,079 patacas in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to data from the Macau government.
Average occupancy at 3-star to 5-star hotels for the so-called Golden Week period of Chinese holiday, which ran from Feb. 18 to 24, fell 6.9 percentage points to 87.5 percent, while average room rates declined 15.4 percent, the Macau Government Tourist Office announced on Feb. 26.
* * * While casinos and hotels may be lamenting Xi's crackdown, having snared more than 100,000 “flies and tigers,” or low- and high-level officials, according to official data; 'the people' appear pleased, as one tourist noted:
“I’m proud of President Xi because he’s doing something significant and difficult,” Xu said. “Who knows whose money those guys in casinos are spending; if they’re officials, they could be spending mine.”
As far as trading this collapse...
After falling 40% in 2014, the six operators’ stocks are down an average 7% so far this year.
But they still trade at a not-so-cheap 16.4 times forward earnings, only slightly below their five-year average of 17.2 times.
Biotech Corporate Propaganda: The Campaign against GMOs “Condemns Billions to Hunger and Poverty” »»
Speaking last week in Pretoria, former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson described critics of GMOs as comprising part of a privileged class that increasingly fetishizes food and seeks to turn their personal preferences into policy proscriptions for the rest of… Read more...
Towards Police State Canada? Anti-terrorism Bill C 51, To be Adopted by Parliament, The Media Campaign »»
“In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social… Read more...
Netanyahu: “A Danger to Israel”, say 200 Israeli Military and Security Veterans »»
In an unprecedented move, 200 veterans of the Israeli security services accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday of being a “danger” to Israel.
The new group, called Commanders for Israel’s Security, warned that Netanyahu was doing irreparable harm to… Read more...
Israel’s Secret Nuclear Biological and Chemical Weapons (NBC) »»
For years, Syria and Egypt refused to abandon their chemical weapons facing a threatening neighbor, Israel, which develops very sophisticated ones, in addition to biological and nuclear weapons. Read more...
Fifty Years of Imperial Wars: Global Neoliberalism and America’s Drive for World Domination »»
Washington’s drive for world domination has used and combined many forms of warfare, including military invasions, occupations; proxy mercenary armies, military coups, the financing political parties, NGO’s and street mobs to overthrow duly constituted governments. Read more...
Shocking! Torture & Murder in America’s Black Sites Revealed »»
Protestors descended on the site to fight back against the horror taking place inside the Homan Square facility. Read more...
Infowars examines pro-vaccine propaganda meant to scare you into rolling up your sleeves. Read more...
Venezuela to limit staff at U.S. Embassy and require $160 visa for American tourists »»
Americans to pay “the same price that they charge Venezuelans at the U.S. embassy,” $160. Read more...
Google wants to rank websites based on facts not links »»
The trustworthiness of a web page might help it rise up Google's rankings if the search giant starts to measure quality by facts, not just links. Read more...
UN Official Slams UK Police for Recruiting Activists as Spies »»
A senior United Nations official called on a nationwide investigation, specifying that the police had been infiltrating Britain's civic groups at least since 2003. Read more...
The 4th Media
Meet The Big Wallets Pushing Obama Towards A New Cold War With Russia »»
There’s a familiar ring to the U.S. calls to arm Ukraine’s post-coup government. That’s because the same big-money players who stand to benefit from belligerent relations with Russia haven’t forgotten a favorite Cold War tune. President Obama has said that he won’t rule out arming Ukraine if a recent truce, which has all but evaporated, […] Read more...
US Provokes Russia: British, US Troops Parade thru a Border City Narva, Estonia »»
US armored vehicles flying American flags were paraded Tuesday through the Estonian city of Narva, just a few hundred yards from the Russian border. The provocative action, coming on the heels of the first anniversary of the US-orchestrated coup in Kiev, underscores the transformation of the entire region into a zone of military confrontation, with potentially catastrophic implications for the peoples of not only Eastern Europe, but the entire planet. Spearheaded by the fascistic Right Sector militia, the coup that toppled the government of President Viktor Yanukovych on February 22 of last year was carried out with the direct support and intimate involvement of the US government. Read more...
NATO Finds Arab Backdoor to Arm Kiev »»
The announcement this week that the Kiev regime struck a major deal with the United Arab Emirates for military weapons raises strong suspicions that the US-led NATO alliance has found a new backdoor into Ukraine. We say «new» because it is believed that the US and its NATO allies, Poland and Lithuania, are already covertly […] Read more...
False Flag: CIA May Have Assassinated Nemtsov In Moscow To BLAME PUTIN »»
On the heels of the news out of Moscow that Boris Nemtsov was gunned down, today Dr. Paul Craig Roberts spoke with King World News about the CIA and the murder of Nemtsov. This is a fascinating trip down the rabbit hole with the former U.S. Treasury official as he is warning that the CIA may be out of control. Paul […] Read more...
Old Senile Men and Westphalian Fascism: McCain, Kissinger, Scowcroft, Brzezinski, »»
Although it is difficult to determine what the three old men of Western power politics mean in their support of the Westphalian system, it is safe to assume that what they are defending is a world system in which a few elitist regimes dictate international policy for the rest of the world. The leading Republican […] Read more...
21st Century Wire
BBC vs Assad: Britain’s Skewed View of World’s #1 Anti-Terror Leader »»
21WIRE + BBC | While the BBC's state funding shines through, Assad comes across as a very pragmatic leader. Read more...
Episode #74 – SUNDAY WIRE: ‘Road to Damascus’ with Patrick Henningsen and guest Webster Tarpley »»
SUNDAY WIRE | Strap yourselves in and lower the blast shield - this is your brave new world... Read more...
UNMASKED: Just How ‘Well-Known’ Was Jihadi John Prior To Staged ISIS Beheadings? »»
Shawn Helton | Officials are now touting they've unmasked Jihadi John - after claiming to have known his identity for sometime. Read more...
Venezuela BANS ‘Terrorists’ Bush and Cheney »»
21WIRE + RT | This is quite the statement. Will further world leaders follow suit? Read more...
Does Israel Have a Long-term Plan For Palestine? »»
21WIRE + Common Dreams | To understand where Palestine is heading, it's crucial to first understand the real existential goals of Israel. Read more...
Moscow: 21K marched in Memory of slain Boris Nemtsov »»
nsnbc : An estimated 21,000 participated in a mourning march for the slain Russian politician Boris Nemtsov on Sunday. Nemtsov was gunned down in central Moscow on Saturday. The march was held in cooperation with Moscow authorities which had granted a permit for a 50,000 person march. The assassination prompts questions about who would benefit […] Read more...
Sisi to Salman: int’l efforts for Red Sea security a ‘must’ »»
TCP : International efforts are necessary to prevent any harm against Red Sea security and international maritime navigation, said the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during talks with the Saudi Monarch Salman bin Abdulaziz Sunday. President Sisi was paying a one-day visit to the kingdom Sunday, talking with Salman and the Saudi Crown Prince Muqrin bin […] Read more...
Iraqi MP claims Iraq downed British Plane with Arms for ISIS »»
nsnbc : The President of the Iraqi parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee, Al-Zameli, claimed that the armed forces of Iraq downed a British plane that was carrying weapons to the Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIS or ISIL. Al-Zameli’s statement followed reports in US and UK media about the downing of a British plane in Iraq’s […] Read more...
Sisi orders amendment of Egypt’s unconstitutional elections law within month »»
TCP : President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has instructed the government to amend the parliamentary elections law within a month, after one of its articles was ruled unconstitutional by a top court Saturday. The High Elections Committee (HEC) announced the delay of the elections until the law is amended, without setting its own timeframe, Youm7 reported […] Read more...
France loans Egypt 3.2B euros for Defense Deal: French U-Turn? »»
nsnbc : Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi announced on Saturday that the French government of PM Francois Hollande has granted Egypt a 3.2 billion euro loan for deals about military equipment between the two nations. The development comes against the backdrop of an increasingly confident continental European, French – German-led policy that opposes primarily an US/UK driven policy […] Read more...
Become a private cop — little training needed; get a real badge and even a gun »»
Shepard Ambellas | Less than 130 hours of training gets a 'rookie' turned-loose with a gun and a badge Read more...
Senior counter-terrorism official: ‘Travelers, women, may not be allowed to leave London, terror to blame; passports can be revoked’ »»
4 more victims come forward from Chicago secret prison, man tortured over weed »»
Cassius Methyl | Three of them were held in 2006, and one in 2011 Read more...
Whitehouse.gov caught freezing vaccine choice petition to prevent signatures from reaching 100,000 threshold »»
Mike Adams | Petition signatures systematically ignored Read more...
‘Jihadi John’ known to MI5 since 2008, but they let him escape – report »»
RT | Mohammed Enwazi, the Islamic State terrorist known as “Jihadi John,” was identified by British intelligence but allowed to escape to Syria Read more...
R.I.P. :Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83 »»
The Man Who Was Spock Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. […]
COLDEST NYC MONTH IN 80 YEARS! »»
Winter Doesn’t Want to End After a dismally cold winter, New Yorkers are looking to spring to put a long-overdue end to filthy snow and frozen fingers. It will end. Allegedly. It will get warmer. One day. Someday. Won’t it? We have reached the 69th day of winter. It seems […]
US economy slows in fourth quarter of 2014 with GDP rising by just 2.2% »»
Economists, however, remain optimistic that the deceleration was temporary The US economy slowed more sharply in the final three months of the year than initial estimates, reflecting weaker business stockpiling and a bigger trade deficit. The Commerce Department said on Friday that the economy as measured by the gross domestic product grew at […]
Obama Thanks Americans for Supporting Destruction of the Internet »»
Net neutrality is a classic Trojan horse Obama thanked internet users for supporting the FCC’s decision to micromanage the internet: Obama sends handwritten note to Redditors after net neutrality ruling http://t.co/dBtQCNE7Bw pic.twitter.com/MSXryQ2RGQ — The Independent (@Independent) February 27, 2015 As Ron Paul notes today the FCC is a non-elected federal government agency that has […]
The 5 Fatal Self Defense Weapons That You Carry »»
“He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.” One’s right to own and bear arms is clearly stated in our Constitution in the second amendment. We are used to taking that right for granted because it’s always been that way, for as long as we’ve been a country. Unfortunately, it’s no longer that easy. […]
Shellfish population dying in New Zealand harbour »»
A massive pipi bed in Whangarei harbour is dying and there are fears the change could destabilise the harbour - and Marsden Point itself, Radio NZ reports.
The volume of pipis on Mair Bank has slumped from 10,000 tonnes to less than 100 tonnes, sparking fears the massive sandbank, which protects the harbour entrance, will disappear.
The sandbank, shaped similar to a shark's tooth, lies just off Marsden Point. Locals previously waded out at low tide to scoop up the daily limit of 150 of the shellfish in a couple of minutes. But no more.
NIWA fisheries scientist, James Williams, said the decline had been drastic. Over the last four to five years the pipi population has collapsed.
He said the bank had been eroding from the south and gaining height; coinciding with an apparent absence of juvenile pipi.
"There was a huge biomass there of pipi, everywhere pretty much on the bank and sub-tidally of about 10,000 tonnes and that's been reduced to less than 100 tonnes from the 2014 survey," he said.
"So, less than one per cent of what there was in 2005." Read more...
U.S. State Dept. admits Russia had nothing to gain from Nemtsov killing »»
Perhaps believing by virtue of having admitted the murder of Russian opposition member Boris Nemtsov in Russia's capital of Moscow Friday evening in no way served the Russian government's best interests, the US State Department believes it can deflect guilt from being shifted towards its direction.
Indeed, the US State Department through its Voice of America media network - chaired by the US Secretary of State himself - would state in an online article titled, "Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?," that (emphasis added):
With the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, gunned down on a Moscow street, the fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin has been removed from the political stage. But it remains to be seen whether, in death as in life, Nemtsov will remain a threat to Putin's rule.
Already, city authorities have approved a mass march for up to 50,000 people in central Moscow on Sunday. The march, expected to be far larger than the scheduled protest rally it replaces, will provide a powerful platform for Kremlin critics who suspect a government hand in Nemtsov's death.
Even officials in Putin's government seem to sense the danger that the former first deputy prime minister's martyrdom might pose, hinting darkly that Friday night's drive-by shooting may have been an deliberate "provocation" ahead of the planned weekend rally.
While this logic has clearly not escaped the US State Department's media network, it stops short of clearly implicating the Russian opposition and its foreign backers (the US State Department itself) as the chief suspects in Nemtsov's murder - though the article clearly states only the opposition (and in turn, their foreign sponsors) stood to benefit from his death. Read more...
Gardasil vaccine: Spain joins growing list of countries to file criminal complaints »»
Health Impact News Editor Comments
Spain now joins a growing list of countries where criminal lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of the HPV vaccine, which includes France, India, Japan, and many more.
In the United States, however, you cannot sue the manufacturers of vaccines, as they are protected from civil criminal prosecution. As a result, marketing efforts to increase the sale and distribution of the HPV vaccine are increasing. (See: Merck aims to boost HPV vaccination rates amid lagging numbers)
Gardasil: Criminal complaint filed in Spain
By Norma Erickson
June 19 2014, Logroño, Spain: Attorney Don Manuel Sáez Ochoa filed a criminal complaint against Merck-Sanofi Pasteur Laboratories, Spanish National Health authorities, and the regional health authorities of the La Rioja province on behalf of Zuriñe Jiménez Guereño and her mother Doña Maria del Carmen Jiménez Guereño for injuries and disabilities suffered by Zuriñe after the administration of Gardasil.
The complaint states that Merck Laboratories failed to use an inert placebo during clinical trials, thereby manipulating data and marketing Gardasil under false pretences. Despite complaints of several young women with similar new medical conditions after Gardasil injections, the Spanish health authorities ignored calls for a moratorium on the use of Gardasil until the safety issues were resolved.
Both regional and national health authorities made no attempt to verify the accuracy of the safety data Merck submitted to gain approval for the widespread administration of Gardasil as a cancer preventative; nor did they make any attempt to inform the public that an already proven safe and effective means of controlling cervical cancer was already in existence.
The complaint goes on to say both national and local health authorities had adequate knowledge regarding the potential harmful effects of Gardasil and chose to recommend administration of the HPV vaccine anyway. The complaint alleges this showed an absolute disregard for the health and well-being of young Spanish girls.
According to the complaint, the attitude of the Merck pharmaceutical company and Spanish health authorities (both national and regional) before, during and after the administration of Gardasil shows they care nothing about the risk to which medical consumers expose themselves whenever Gardasil is used.
The complaint states, prior to administration, no one was concerned about possible adverse reactions to the vaccine. When adverse reactions did occur, those who experienced them were treated with contempt leaving them in a state of helplessness. There was allegedly not one single official inquiry about the girls' post-Gardasil conditions even though they were healthy prior to being injected with Gardasil.
An outcry from the public calling for a moratorium on the use of Gardasil until safety issues were resolved was ignored by Spanish health authorities. Injections of Gardasil continued despite the damage left behind. Read more...
Getting bored yet? 'Jihadi John' known to MI5 since 2008 - they 'let him escape' »»
Mohammed Enwazi, the Islamic State terrorist known as "Jihadi John," was identified by British intelligence but allowed to escape to Syria. It was also revealed that he had links to the failed 21/7 attacks in London, the Observer reports.
The British intelligence service MI5 had been keeping track of Emwazi since 2008, three years after the attempt by a group of western militants on July 21, 2005 to carry out terrorist attacks on British soil, the report revealed.
Emwazi was a "person of interest" for MI5 as he was a member of a London based jihadi cell that had been set up to recruit militants. Security services were aware that Emwazi had a telephone conversation with Hussein Osman on the day of the 21/7 planned attacks, who was later jailed for life for planting a bomb in a London underground station.
Comment: If Emwazi was in the USA, that would make his job description "FBI".
The planned assaults came just two weeks after the worst terrorist attacks to have hit the UK, when 52 people were killed on July 7, 2005. Read more...
Myth busted: Nemtsov did NOT fear attempt on his life from Putin »»
Sobesednik. Dear. You f$cked up.
I am talking about the website of Sobesednik suddenly posting the "Full version of the interview with Boris Nemtsov".
And now, attention: the original, twenty-days-old:
- Interesting. Did you after such conversations with your mother begin to fear that Putin may soon kill you personally or through intermediaries?
- You know, yes... a little. Not as much as mom, but still... But still I am not so much afraid of him. If I was very afraid, then I would not head the opposition party, would not be engaged in what I do. By the way, please say hello to Dmitry Bykov from me and mama.
- Thank you, I will. Hope, still, common sense will prevail and Putin isn't going to kill you.
- God forbid. And I hope so. Read more...
The Vigilant Citizen
The “Hidden“ Meaning of the Movie Snowpiercer »»
Snowpiercer is a movie about a “rescue train“ that travels around the world, which was destroyed through a climate experiment [...]
Former financial regulator Bill Black details emerging revelations about HSBC bank's tax-evading practices and lack of accountability from European governments who were aware of the practice Read more...
Winter in the Ruins of Gaza (1/2) »»
30 UN Agencies and International NGO's released a letter condemning the lack of reconstruction and development in Gaza after the war last summer. The pledges made in Cairo have not been received and there appears to be a tragic perpetual holding pattern when it comes to Gaza, says Pernille Ironside, Chief of Gaza Field Office, UNICEF Read more...
Netanyahu on a Destructive Path »»
The timing of leaked Mossad documents may undermine Iranian negotiations and escalate the threat of war, says Phyllis Bennis, author of "Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer" Read more...
The Class That Ruled Egypt Under Mubarak Remains in Power »»
The security forces and the police are their tools, and the fight against ISIS has simply emboldened them, says Professor Seif Da'na (pt. 3/3) Read more...
Unions Fight Controversial Charter School Expansion Bill »»
TRNN speaks to supporters and opponents of Gov. Hogan's proposal to increase freedoms for charter schools, while critics warn the measures could lead to abuse and undermine collective bargaining Read more...
Billionaire Warns Of Total Collapse End Game Scenario: ‘No Way Out… Your Money Will Be Worthless’ »»
The consequences of government machinations and central bank manipulations cannot be avoided. Average Americans, billionaires around the world, and even many politicians know this is a foregone Read more...
Attack On Arizona’s Internet Was the Beta Test for the Implementation of Martial Law »»
This was a very sophisticated operation in which these remotely located cables, in rough terrain were located and cut with precision. Read more...
Obama’s Stealth AR-15 Gun Ban Targets Ammo: “No One Can Import, Sell or Even Produce It” »»
President Obama has adamantly stuck to one key promise – the one he made to the Brady Center to pursue gun control 'under the radar.' Read more...
Full Scale Simulation: New Study Reveals Where To Go When Civilization Collapses: “Head For The Hills” »»
If there is ever an outbreak in the United States we are largely doomed, according to researchers. Read more...
The Federal Reserve Has Unleashed a “Virus Of Radical Monetary Policy”… and There’s No Going Back »»
The Federal Reserve unleashed a "virus" on global markets resulting is widespread distortions, and making economic life tough on the average person. Read more...
Her Face by Herbert (2014) Iron Rose by Canniba Ox feat. MF Doom (2015) We Are Undone by Two Gallants (2015) You I Never Knew by Nite Fields (2015) The Beetroot Song by Lance Percival (1963) Pure Radio Cosplay by …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead (2011) Beards by Errors (2010) […] Read more...
The Power of the ISIS PR Stunt: Unmasking of ‘Jihadi John’ Confirms His PR Value »»
Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent: ‘The self-proclaimed “Islamic State” likes to dominate the news agenda and knows how to do so. It also likes to project power at moments of weakness. Thus most of the world knows that Isis burned a Jordanian pilot to death in a cage but few recall that at the […] Read more...
Why Iran Believes ISIS is a U.S. Creation »»
Kay Armin Serjoie reports for Time: ‘[…] Abdullah Ganji, the managing-director of Javan newspaper, which is believed to closely reflect the views of the government and the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards, says that U.S. support for ISIS is in fact a way of ensuring Israel’s security and disrupting the Muslim world in the cause of advancing […] Read more...
Venezuela says it has detained a U.S. pilot for allegedly taking part in a coup »»
Venezuela’s Maduro claims his country has captured U.S. spies Venezuela president Maduro announces diplomatic sanctions against US The Economist: Venezuela is becoming a naked dictatorship Fact Not Fiction: US Aggression Against Venezuela The Assassination of Hugo Chavez (Documentary) White House says considering ‘tools’ to help steer Venezuela Arrest of Caracas mayor sign of broader Venezuela crackdown […] Read more...
The Economic Collapse Blog
The Internet Of Things: A Dystopian Nightmare Where Everyone And Everything Will Be Monitored On The Internet »»
Can you imagine a world where your home, your vehicles, your appliances and every single electronic device that you own is constantly connected to the Internet? This is not some grand vision that is being planned for some day in the future. This is something that is being systematically implemented right now. In 2015, we [...]
The War On Preppers: Obama Bans Ammo For The Most Popular Rifle In America »»
Because he can’t get Congress to approve the things that he wants to do, Barack Obama has apparently decided to rule by decree for the rest of his time in the White House. One of Obama’s latest moves is to try to ban some of the most popular ammunition for the most popular rifle in [...]
The Odds Of A War Between Israel And Iran Just Went Way Up »»
Uh oh – Iran just got caught with both hands in the cookie jar. It turns out that even while Iran has been negotiating a “historic peace deal” with the western world, it has been secretly operating a huge underground nuclear enrichment site that it didn’t tell anyone about. But this is what the Iranians [...]
Why Does Maryland Have The Most Millionaires Per Capita? The Answer Might Make You Angry »»
The fat cats in Washington D.C. are living the high life, and they are doing it at your expense. Over the past decade, there has been one area of the country which has experienced a massive economic boom. Thanks to wildly out of control government spending, the Washington D.C. region is absolutely swimming in cash. [...]
14 Signs That Most Americans Are Flat Broke And Totally Unprepared For The Coming Economic Crisis »»
When the coming economic crisis strikes, more than half the country is going to be financially wiped out within weeks. At this point, more than 60 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a whopping 24 percent of the country has more credit card debt than emergency savings. One of the primary [...]
Report: Hillary to announce run in April »»
(WALL STREET JOURNAL) — Hillary Clinton and her close advisers are telling Democratic donors that she will enter the presidential race sooner than expected, likely in April, a move that would allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising.
Clinton aides have spoken of the earlier timetable in private meetings, according to [...] Read more...
Pat Boone to represent evangelicals at Bibi speech »»
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress Tuesday, seated in the gallery will be a man designated to represent the evangelical Christian community’s support for Israel: recording legend Pat Boone.
Boone, whose record sales were second only to Elvis Presley in the 1950s, is today an author and WND [...] Read more...
Foreigners imported to process unemployment »»
(NEWS10) — It’s nearly 8 p.m., and inside a state office building two dozen computer experts design and troubleshoot a system that will take and process millions of unemployment claims each year.
It’s a $200 million Employment Development Department project, but with the exception of two managers, everyone inside the office is from outside of the [...] Read more...
Kurds 'at point of the spear' against ISIS »»
Former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., is warning that the United States must lead decisive action to protect Christians and other religious minorities facing severe persecution in Iraq, and there may only be months left to save the Christian population there from extinction.
As reported earlier, Wolf recently led a seven-day trip to Iraq, where he [...] Read more...
'Surviving the Medical Meltdown' – $4.95 today only! »»
The reality of Obamacare is beginning to hit Americans.
Even worse, despite the repudiation of Obamacare in the last election, there’s no help from Washington on the way.
Whether you are retired, still working, unemployed, a business owner, healthy or suffering from some pre-existing condition, insured or uninsured, you need to be prepared for more upheaval and [...] Read more...
RT has given me opportunities I will be eternally thankful for and hosting Breaking the Set has been the best and most invaluable experience of my life. I never imagined the kind of support it would generate, proving how many people are hungry for raw truth and systemic change. Throughout the course of the show, I’m most proud of the … Read More Read more...
MLK Jr. – The Uncomfortable Truths History Books Won’t Touch »»
For many, the words “I have a dream” are the only thing they associate with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Dr. King’s legacy is mostly depicted in the context of civil rights, with history books lauding his noble achievements of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts being passed. But Dr. King gave hundreds of unpopular and controversial speeches ranging from the … Read More Read more...
The Official Rwanda Story Unravels »»
For twenty years, Western elites have spun a tale of how Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame heroically ended the 1994 genocide in that country. That narrative has persisted despite the fact that a great deal of evidence shows that Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) did much of the killing and has committed extraordinary levels of violence in neighboring Congo since invading … Read More Read more...
Media Roots Radio – Charlie Hebdo & 9/11 Islamophobia Flashbacks »»
Robbie and Abby Martin discuss the hypocritical and deceptive nature of mainstream and alternative media coverage of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France and why framing the event as a ‘freedom of speech’ issue is an opportunistic attempt to hijack the narrative into “the terrorists hate us for of our freedoms”. The intense global wave of Islamophobia following the attacks … Read More Read more...
Detroit’s Bankruptcy Dictatorship: Extinguishing the Homeless & Shutting Down Human Rights »»
Six years ago, Congress passed a bailout to the tune of 80 billions dollars funded by American taxpayers to rescue the bankrupt auto industry, mostly based in Detroit. But when the Motor City itself needed help and retirees were on the brink of losing everything, the money was nowhere to be found, apparently to avoid “meddling” in the bankruptcy process. Fast forward to today, where … Read More Read more...
American Free Press
BOOK REVIEW: America’s Racial Powder Keg »»
• Is it ready to blow this nation sky high? By John Friend — At a time when the political discourse relating to racial issues, crime and other socioeconomic matters in America could not be more distorted and twisted, AMERICA’S RACIAL POWDER KEG: How a Violent Dependency State Read more...
AMERICAN FREE PRESS’s own Olga Belinskaya, a native of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, conducted a series of raw, unedited interviews with ordinary, peaceful people from the Ukraine’s war zone, who told Olga what life was really like in the war-torn country. Over the course of this year, Olga Read more...
Net Neutrality: Obamacare for the Internet »»
By Victor Thorn — Do United States citizens want an Internet czar or a new federal agency that oversees cyberspace? America’s Internet, one of the most astounding innovations in history, isn’t broken, yet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) insists that its needs fixing under a vague notion called Read more...
GERMANY’S WAR: You Have to Read It to Believe It »»
A new book exclusively from AMERICAN FREE PRESS! First There Was Churchill’s War . . . Then There Was Hitler’s War . . . And Now Possibly the Greatest Book Ever on WWII . . . GERMANY’S WAR THE ORIGINS, AFTERMATH & ATROCITIES OF WORLD WAR II Read more...
America’s Teetering House of Cards »»
By Paul Craig Roberts — As economist John Williams of the website “Shadowstats.com” has observed, the payroll jobs reports issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) no longer make any logical or statistical sense. Ask yourself, do you believe that retailers responded to the very disappointing Christmas Read more...
Strategic Culture Foundation
Lithuania strikes gas supplies deal with US »»
Obama Prioritizes Weakening Russia, Over Weakening ISIS »»
Eric Zuesse Michael Snyder noted at Global Research on March 1st, that the U.S. is now air-dropping weapons into ISIS territory inside Syria. The U.S. is arming ISIS against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama wants to remove. Snyder asks rhetorically: “We have the most sophisticated military on the entire planet and yet we drop weapons ... Read more...
ISIS 101: What’s really terrifying about this threat – JOHN CHUCKMAN »»
ISIS 101 What’s really terrifying about this threat John Chuckman ISIS certainly is not what a great many people think that it is, if you judge what they think by what our corporate press proclaims incessantly. Judging by what ISIS actually does and whom its acts benefit, its clandestine associates, and ... Read more...
US economy in deflation and slump »»
Andre Damon This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. The US Commerce Department said Friday that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, grew by only 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from an earlier estimate of 2.6 percent and a sharp fall from ... Read more...
Making Sense of Obama’s Foreign Policy »»
Eric Zuesse On February 22nd, NBC’s “Meet the Press” presented reporter Richard Engel in a terrific four-minute documentary on Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic policy-results in Libya. (You can watch it by clicking on that link.) The segment concluded that Obama and his Administration (including Hillary Clinton) didn’t know where they were going in this ... Read more...
GMOs And Green Blob Hallucinations: The Twisted World Of Mr Paterson »»
Speaking last week in Pretoria, former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson described critics of GMOs as comprising part of a privileged class that increasingly fetishizes food and seeks to turn their personal preferences into policy proscriptions for the rest of us. He called them backward-looking and regressive. He claimed their policies would condemn billions to ... Read more...
We Are Change
What Children In America Eat At School – Compared To Different Countries »»
Broken windows is a broken policy in US »»
The deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and others at the hands of police demonstrate that the “broken windows” theory of policing doesn’t work and should be eliminated. The theory that targeting low-level crimes will reduce major ones has led to the deaths of unarmed blacks by police over petty crime, mistaken identity, toy guns, bungled raids, and rash judgments based on stereotypes.
Russia, China force US 'de-dollarization' »»
A recent agreement between Russia and China to switch to domestic currencies in bilateral trading will pave the way for the “de-dollarization” of the global economy, a Finnish political economist says.
Lugansk has fully withdrawn heavy weapons, passed info to OSCE – militia »»
Published time: March 01, 2015 17:39 RIA Novosti/Mikhail Voskresenskiy The self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) has announced it has withdrawn all of its heavy weapons from the demarcation line in compliance with the Minsk-2 peace agreements and has informed the OSCE of the hardware’s new location. The withdrawal has been confirmed by LPR Prime Minister […]
Mourning march for slain opposition leader Nemtsov to be held in Moscow »»
Published time: March 01, 2015 10:54 People visit the site where Boris Nemtsov was recently murdered, with St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin walls seen in the background, February 28, 2015. (Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev) A rally in commemoration of the opposition leader Boris Nemtsov is set to be held in the Russian capital Sunday. Demonstrators will […]
Stupid Patent of the Month: Attorney “Inventor” Games the System »»
The worst patent trolls bring weak cases and use the cost of defending a lawsuit as leverage to force settlements. A company called Joao Bock Transaction Systems LLC (“JBTS”) has elevated this business model to an art form. The company is associated with patent attorney and prolific “inventor” Raymond Joao. Apparently not content with drafting […]
Venezuela imposes mandatory visas for all US citizens, bans for Bush & Cheney »»
Published time: March 01, 2015 00:21 Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a new mandatory visa requirement for all Americans visiting the country. The leader also called to review and downsize the number of US embassy staff in Caracas. “In order to protect our country…I have decided to implement […]
You scratch my back: Rats recognize kindness, repay favors »»
Published time: February 28, 2015 18:28 RIA Novosti / Yakov Andreev Humans have long used the behavior of rats to personify the worst qualities in their fellow man. When it comes to acts of kindness, however, it turns out the much maligned creature is willing to repay favors to its fellow rodents. The study , […]
Republican Presidential Contender Scott Walker Compares ISIS Fighters to Wisconsin Protesters »»
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made headlines Thursday when he compared the Islamic State to pro-labor protesters in Wisconsin. A top Republican presidential contender, Walker made the comment at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) when asked about the Islamic State. "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the globe," Walker told the audience. Meanwhile, Walker has announced plans to sign an anti-union right-to-work bill that would eliminate the requirement that workers must pay union fees. On Wednesday, the Wisconsin State Senate passed the measure on a mostly party-line vote of 17 to 15. The Republican-controlled State Assembly is expected to pass the legislation next week. We speak to Madison-based journalist John Nichols of The Nation. He is author of "Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street." Read more...
17 Shots: Police Killing of Unarmed Mexican Farmworker in Washington State Sparks Protest »»
Authorities in Pasco, Washington, have revealed police fired 17 shots at Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an unarmed Mexican farmworker who was shot dead on February 10. Cellphone video shows Zambrano turning to face police and raising his hands before he is shot. The shooting has sparked weeks of protests. Live from Pasco, we speak with Felix Vargas, chairman of Consejo Latino, a group of local businessmen in Pasco who are working with Zambrano's family. We also talk to Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state and a member of the Community Police Commission in Seattle. Read more...
Antiquities Scholar: Islamic State's Destruction of Museum & Library is Cultural & Ethnic Cleansing »»
Video has surfaced showing militants from the Islamic State destroying ancient artifacts at a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Men are seen toppling statues and using sledgehammers and drills to destroy the artifacts. The Guardian reports one of the statues destroyed was a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 9th century B.C. The Islamic State has also reportedly destroyed the Mosul public library, which housed more than 8,000 rare books and manuscripts. On Thursday, UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, called for the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on protecting Iraq's cultural heritage. "I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq's millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred," said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. We speak to Zainab Bahrani, professor of Near Eastern and East Mediterranean art and archeology at Columbia University. She has worked extensively in Iraq, including periods as senior adviser to Iraq's Ministry of Culture and a UNESCO consultant. Read more...
"A Historic Decision": Tim Wu, Father of Net Neutrality, Praises FCC Vote to Preserve Open Internet »»
Advocates of a free and open Internet are celebrating a vote Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission to approve strong net neutrality rules. The move bans "paid prioritization" by Internet service providers who seek to charge extra fees from content producers, as well as blocking and throttling of lawful content. The new rules will also apply to mobile access. The vote is seen as a major victory for grassroots advocacy groups -- including Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, Free Press, Color of Change and Center for Media Justice -- who have spent years campaigning to preserve an open Internet. We speak to longtime open Internet advocate Tim Wu. He is a policy advocate and Columbia University law professor who is known for coining the term "net neutrality" back in 2002. Read more...
Headlines for February 27, 2015 »»
FCC Passes Historic Rules for Open Internet, Congress to Postpone DHS Showdown for 3 Weeks, CAGE: "Jihadi John" "Radicalized" by U.K. Security Agencies, U.N. Finds Torture at U.S. Military Facilities in Afghanistan, European Court: Iraq War Resister Must Give War Crimes Evidence for Asylum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Compares Labor Protesters to Islamic State Fighters, Argentina: Judge Rejects Late Prosecutor's Case Against President, U.S. Diplomats Samantha Power, Susan Rice to Attend AIPAC, Oxfam: Gaza Rebuilding to Take 100 Years Under Israeli Blockade Read more...
Can you imagine a world where your home, your vehicles, your appliances and every single electronic device that you own is constantly connected to the Internet?
This is not some grand vision that is being planned for some day in the future. This is something that is being systematically implemented right now. In 2015, we already have “smart homes”, vehicles that talk to one another, refrigerators that are connected to the Internet, and televisions that spy on us. Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and that opens up some wonderful possibilities. But there is also a downside.
What if we rapidly reach a point where one must be connected to the Internet in order to function in society? Will there come a day when we can’t even do basic things such as buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without it? And what about the potential for government abuse? Could an “Internet of Things” create a dystopian nightmare where everyone and everything will be constantly monitored and tracked by the government? That is something to think about. Today, the Internet has become such an integral part of our lives that it is hard to remember how we ever survived without it. And with each passing year, the number of devices connected to the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate. If you have never heard of the “Internet of Things” before, here is a little bit about it from Wikipedia…
Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.
But there is also a dark side to the Internet of Things. Security is a huge issue, and when that security is compromised the consequences can be absolutely horrifying. Just consider the following example…
It is a strange series of events that link two Armenian software engineers; a Shenzen, China-based webcam company; two sets of new parents in the U.S.; and an unknown creep who likes to hack baby monitors to yell obscenities at children. “Wake up, you little ****,” the hacker screamed at the top of his digital lungs last summer when a two-year-old in Houston wouldn’t stir; she happened to be deaf. A year later, a baby monitor hacker struck again yelling obscenities at a 10-month-old in Ohio.
Both families were using an Internet-connected baby monitor made by China-based Foscam. The hacker took advantage of a weakness in the camera’s software design that U.S.-based Armenian computer engineers revealed at a security conference in Amsterdam last April.
The Internet allows us to reach into the outside world from inside our homes, but it also allows the reverse to take place as well.
Do we really want to make ourselves that vulnerable?
Sadly, we live at a time when people don’t really stop to consider the downside to our exploding technological capabilities.
In fact, there are many people that are extremely eager to connect themselves to the Internet of Things.
In Sweden, there are dozens of people that have willingly had microchips implanted under the skin. They call themselves “bio-hackers”, and they embrace what they see as the coming merger between humanity and technology. The following is what one of the founders of a Sweden based bio-hacking community had to say during one recent interview…
“The technology is already happening,” says Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken. “We are seeing a fast-growing community of people experimenting with chip implants, which allow users to quickly and easily perform a variety of everyday tasks, such as allowing access to buildings, unlocking personal devices without PIN codes and enabling read access to various types of stored data.
“I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen. Identification by touch is innate for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves, be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”
And of course this is happening in the United States as well…
In America, a dedicated amateur community — the “biohackers” or “grinders” — has been experimenting with implantable technology for several years. Amal Graafstra, a 38-year-old programmer and self-styled “adventure technologist”, has been inserting various types of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into the soft flesh between his thumbs and index fingers since 2005. The chips can be read by scanners that Graafstra has installed on the doors of his house, and also on his laptop, which gives him access with a swipe of his hand without the need for keys or passwords.
But you don’t have to have a microchip implant in order to be a part of the Internet of Things.
In fact, there are a whole host of “wearable technologies” that are currently being developed for our society.
For instance, have you heard about “OnStar for the Body” yet? It will enable medical personnel to constantly monitor your health wherever you are…
Smart, cheaper and point-of-care sensors, such as those being developed for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, will further enable the ‘Digital Checkup’ from anywhere. The world of ‘Quantified Self’ and ‘Quantified Health’ will lead to a new generation of wearable technologies partnered with Artificial Intelligence that will help decipher and make this information actionable.
And this ‘actionability’ is key. We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions.
If that sounded creepy to you, this next item will probably blow you away.
According to one survey, approximately one-fourth of all professionals in the 18 to 50-year-old age bracket would like to directly connect their brains to the Internet…
According to a survey by tech giant Cisco Systems, about a fourth of professionals ages 18 to 50 would leap at the chance to get a surgical brain implant that allowed them to instantly link their thoughts to the Internet.
The study was conducted on 3,700 adults working in white-collar jobs in 15 countries. “Assuming a company invented a brain implant that made the World Wide Web instantly accessible to their thoughts, roughly one-quarter would move forward with the operation,” the study found.
In the end, they are not going to have to force most of us to get connected to the Internet of Things.
Most of us will do it eagerly.
But most people will never even stop to consider the potential for abuse.
An Internet of Things could potentially give governments all over the world the ability to continually monitor and track the activities of everyone under their power all of the time.
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing”
Are you starting to get the picture?
They plan to use the Internet of Things to spy on all of us.
But we just can’t help ourselves. Our society has a love affair with new technology. And some of the things that are being developed right now are beyond what most of us ever dreamed was possible.
For example, Microsoft has just released a new promotional video featuring 3D holograms, smart surfaces, next-generation wearable technologies, and “fluid mobility”…
The elaborate, highly produced video shows jaw-dropping technologies like a SCUBA mask that annotates the sea with 3D holograms, a multipart bracelet that joins together to become a communications device, and interactive, flexible displays that automatically “rehydrate” with information specific to the people using them.
This video from Microsoft was posted on YouTube, and I have shared it below…
The militarized Police State has been inching toward using private mercenary groups for law enforcement for some time. Most attempts have failed spectacularly when the public gets wind of it. However, a clever new strategy to achieve this goal was recently deployed and it may appeal to some.
It seems the public has an aversion to large paramilitary contractors sweeping in and claiming police powers. Enter the small, independent, rugged, righteous citizen on patrol. A vigilante of peace. Ah, yes, this is the angle the establishment is now using to get private police accepted on the streets.
The stop was routine police work, except for one fact: Youlen is not a Manassas officer. The citation came courtesy of the private force he created that, until recently, he called the “Manassas Junction Police Department.”
He is its chief and sole officer.
He is a force of one.
And he is not alone. Like more and more Virginians, Youlen gained his police powers using a little-known provision of state law that allows private citizens to petition the courts for the authority to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. The number of “special conservators of the peace” — or SCOPs, as they are known — has doubled in Virginia over the past decade to roughly 750, according to state records.
The very next sentence is where the deception occurs:
The growth is mirrored nationally in the ranks of private police, who increasingly patrol corporate campuses, neighborhoods and museums as the demand for private security has increased and police services have been cut in some places.
Do you see what they did there? Very subtle. The Washington Post conflated "private police" for law enforcement with private security for private property. Big difference. It's the same confusion shared by TPM and TIME.
In theory, I agree completely with the common-law origins of these "special conservators of the peace" (SCOPS) which allows citizens to use necessary force to protect private establishments or make a citizen's arrests when obvious crimes are underway.
I know many free-market libertarians who believe private firms would be more accountable than police are now. That may be true if we had laws that reflect the Constitution or a free market of laws, but since violence will be used against someone selling loose cigarettes on the street, or to detain people at "black sites" these private entities could easily be bribed into bad behavior.
Why do I have visions of judges selling innocent children into private prisons flashing through my mind? Or mercenary firms stealing from people because they're empowered by loose civil forfeiture laws? Or refusing to turn over their records because they claim private corporate status, like Massachusetts SWAT recently did?
The troubling example given by The Washington Post about where these entities are being increasingly used is for code enforcement.
Most SCOPs patrol corporate campuses, work for neighborhood associations or perform code enforcement for counties or cities, but Youlen has pushed the model further by creating his own “department” and turning policing into an enterprise. He contracts his services to nine apartment and housing communities in the Manassas area. That’s up from one in 2012.
This is where their deliberate confusion gets dangerous. Corporate campuses and neighborhood associations are private property. They're free to hire private security.
Using armed mercenaries for code enforcement is unfathomably dangerous. Especially since more people are realizing that building and zoning codes are displacing property rights at a blazing speed. What happens when a private security guard protects his property against a private zoning soldier?
It is true that municipalities are increasingly hiring private police and firms to be petty rule enforcers. However, they usually are some power-tripping geek in a polo shirt as seen in a recent clash with Adam Kokesh.
What happens to Adam and other citizen activists when this guy is carrying an assault rifle and has the same arbitrary arrest powers as current police?
Of note, the paramilitary private police from my above-mentioned article, Lear, also failed to identify themselves. At least our police are still required by law to identify themselves because any thug with a gun and a uniform can abuse, steal from, and kidnap people otherwise.
If we allow the police to be privatized to enforce our overreaching laws, to be empowered by warrantless surveillance, civil forfeiture, detention and arrest powers and perhaps for-profit arrest quotas, it's not difficult to imagine where all this is all headed.
Eric Blair writes and curates news for Activist Post. This article is free to repost in full as long as attribution and links remain.
Ref: Federal Register Doc. 2015-02481 – NAIP Comment due date 3-9-15
Dear Senior Policy Adviser Rebecca Fish:
As requested in the Federal Register of 2-5-15, please accept the following additional comments regarding mandatory adult vaccinations in the USA, the NAIP.
Probably one of the most egregious and scientifically, non-credible problems revolving around vaccines, vaccinations—either pro or con mandatory vaccination programs—is the fact that much of the blame is projected upon the unvaccinated population with no science-based proof.
Here’s what needs to be put in place if HHS/CDC/FDA want to be considered scientific and credible about vaccines, their safety and effectiveness, and transparency of public service announcements, in my candid opinion:
1. An independent retrospective study of the health status of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children and adults must be performed to document the effectiveness of so called vaccine ‘herd immunity’ and the overall health status, e.g., allergies, chronic diseases, cancer, etc. in both vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts.
There are numerous cohorts of unvaccinated children and adults in the USA. Such a study, however, must not be paid for, nor controlled/supervised, or have any input from pharmaceutical or vaccine makers. The study should be done by certified, independent labs and/or researchers under direct contract with HHS/CDC/FDA, I contend.
2. RT-PCR testing for contracted communicable infectious diseases by vaccinees to ascertain if the strain contracted is/was the same as that in the vaccine. If it wasn’t, then identify it for inclusion in CDC/FDA databases. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction testing is a scientific and valid documentation that also can ascertain whether vaccinees may be shedding viruses to others, including vaccinated and unvaccinated children and adults.
RT-PCR testing, especially what’s known as Real-time RT-PCR, is based in science rather than ad hominem remarks bandied around by federal, state, and local health agencies.
Since recent outbreaks of pertussis and measles have been occurring for years in fully-vaccinated individuals around the USA, with up to 90 to 95 percent of those contracting such diseases after having received their required vaccines, it is legally and morally incumbent upon HHS/CDC/FDA to find out what’s actually going on rather than pejoratively blaming it on the unvaccinated, which is a far stretch from being scientific. Where’s the scientific proof?
Can it be provided by RT-PCR?
However, one’s hanging a negative ‘scientific hat’ spin on the “causation and correlation” theoretical regarding vaccines, adverse events, etc., certainly does not “hold water” since ‘safe’ tobacco science has proven much differently.
Tobacco smoking does cause cancer, heart disease, COPD, peripheral vascular disease, and damages reproductive health and neonates.
May I remind everyone at HHS/CDC/FDA just how many medical doctors recommended Camels cigarettes apparently for years?
Touting surveys conducted by “three leading independent research organizations,” one typical advertisement proclaimed that according to “nationwide” surveys of 113597 doctors “from every branch of medicine,” Camel was the brand smoked by most respondents. It also asserted that this statistic was an “actual fact,” not a “casual claim.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470496/
How wrong doctors were then, and why did HHS/CDC/FDA not stop physicians from promoting a health hazard product before tobacco products took off like greased lightning?
Big-Pharma pseudoscience is—and has been—doing the same about vaccines, I allege.
Additionally, Congress wittingly gave subsidies to tobacco farmers for years! How dumb was that? How unscientifically-based was that? Lobbyists probably were involved, no doubt, just like Big Pharma’s lobbyists are today about vaccine information. “The [pharmaceutical] industry has 1,274 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmaceutical_lobby
I respectfully claim similar blunders have been going on with, from and about vaccines and their corporate vested interests, which harm healthcare consumers not only in the USA but globally, especially since 1986.
3. May I suggest that whenever anyone: infant, toddler, teen, adult or senior citizen, contracts any health problem that their vaccination status with corresponding dates be mandated to be reported and recorded as part of the statistical data presented for scientific and media recordkeeping and databases. That, I think, could be very helpful in tracking infectious diseases, identifying strains, and placing blame properly.
Thank you very much for reading my comments, which I truly appreciate.
Catherine J Frompovich
Consumer Health Researcher 35+ years / Retired Healthcare Professional (Consulting Nutritionist) Healthcare Journalist and Blogger
End of Comments
Catherine retired from researching and writing, but felt compelled to write this article.
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.
“…if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth.”(1984, George Orwell)
The New Scientist has the stunning story (2/28/15, “Google wants to rank websites based on facts not links,” by Hal Hodson):
“THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free ‘news’ stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.”
Great idea, right?
Sure it is.
The author of the article lets the cat out of the bag right away with his comment about “anti-vaccination” websites.
These sites will obviously be shoved into obscurity by Google because they’re “garbage”…whereas “truthful” pro-vaccine sites will dominate top ranked pages on the search engine.
This is wonderful if you believe what the CDC tells you about vaccine safety and efficacy. The CDC: an agency that opens its doors every day with lies and closes them with more lies.
The New Scientist article continues: “A Google research team is adapting [a] model to measure the trustworthiness of a [website] page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting incoming links, the [ranking] system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. ‘A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,’ says the team…The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score.”
Right. Google, researchers of truth. Assessors of trustworthiness. Who in the world could have a problem with that?
Answer: anyone with three live brain cells.
Here’s the New Scientist’s capper. It’s a beaut:
“The [truth-finding] software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.”
Right. Uh-huh. So Google, along with its friends at the CIA, will engineer a new and improved, greater flood of (dis)information across the Web. And this disinfo will constitute an overwhelming majority opinion…and will become the standard for measuring truth and trustworthiness.
Think about what kinds of websites will rise like foul cream to the top of Google page rankings:
“All vaccines are marvelously safe and effective, and parents who don’t vaccinate their kids should be prosecuted for felonies.”
“GMOs are perfectly safe. ‘The science’ says so.”
“The FBI has never organized a synthetic terror event and then stung the morons it encouraged.”
“Common Core is the greatest system of education yet devised by humans.”
“People who believe conspiracies exist have mental disorders.”
In other words: (fake) consensus reality becomes reality. Which is the situation we have now, but the titanic pile of fakery will rise much, much higher.
Also, think about this: the whole purpose of authentic investigative reporting is puncturing the consensus…but you’ll have to search Google for a long time to find it.
In the field of medical fraud, an area I’ve been researching for 25 years, the conclusions of standard published studies (which are brimming with lies) will occupy page after page of top Google rankings.
Let me offer a counter-example to the Google “knowledge team.” Here is a woman who has examined, up close and personal, more medical studies in her career than the entire workforce of Google. She is Dr. Marcia Angell. For 20 years, she was an editor at The New England Journal of Medicine.
On January 15, 2009, the New York Review of Books published her stunning statement:
It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.
In two sentences, Angell carries more weight than 20,000 blowhard “science bloggers,” to say nothing of lying drug companies and that criminal agency called the FDA.
Angell torpedoes an entire range of medical literature, based on her hard-won experience.
But you can be sure that when it comes to “medical facts,” the Google “truth team” will ascribe absolutely no merit (ranking) to her conclusion or its implications.
You may say, “But these search engines are already slanting the truth.”
The new Google program is going to double down. It’s going to set up its own Ministry of Truth. It’s going to standardize algorithms that unerringly bring about officially favored lies.
Stories on vote fraud?
Stories contradicting the official line on mass shootings?
Stories on the US government funding terrorist groups?
Stories on the hostile planetary intentions of Globalists?
Stories on corporate criminals? Secrets of the Federal Reserve?
Stories on major media censoring scandals?
Counter-consensus stories on 9/11, the JFK assassination, the US bankers and corporations who funded both sides in WW2? All anti-establishment versions of history?
After Google launches this Ministry of Truth program, you’ll have to put on diving gear and go deep underwater to find any trace of them.
Welcome to a new day.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (Opening line, 1984, Orwell)
Let’s take all this one step further. Google’s director of research is Ray Kurzweil, who many people know as the promoter of a “utopian” plan to hook the population up (through direct brain-machine interface) to a vast super-computer.
The super-computer will pass along virtually all human knowledge. Kurzweil believes such a momentous breakthrough will endow humans with a mystical level of consciousness.
Even if this technological wet dream could be realized, we can now see what “connecting to all human knowledge” means:
It means accepting all official knowledge. Being blind to counter-knowledge.
It’s time to reverse AI (Artificial Intelligence) and call it IA (Intelligent Androids).
IAs would be humans who are programmed to be androids. IAs accept truth as it delivered to them by official sources.
Google makes its contribution by promoting official sources.
And hiding other sources.
Yes, this surely seems like Nirvana.
You will be fed the Good and protected from the Evil.
Thank you, Google. When are you going to apply for non-profit status and open your Holy Church of Information?
“Today’s sermon will be delivered by the director of the CIA. It is titled, ‘Data: everything you need to know, everything you must not believe.’ Breathe deeply. Your neuronal circuits are now being tuned to our channel…”
Jon Rappoport is the author of two explosive collections, The Matrix Revealed and Exit From the Matrix, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com
There’s a big movement towards frugality afoot these days. It probably has something to do with our declining economy, record unemployment levels, and the increasing price of food, but only the wisest families are paying attention to these things. The rest of the folks are blithely going on as they always have, wondering why on earth they keep spending more money each week at the store.
If you are just beginning to move towards a thriftier lifestyle, you might be looking at the big picture. You could be asking yourself things like, “How can I save money on my car?” or “How can I pay less for that new laptop?” These are all fine things to do – paying less is great, but shopping for a bargain is actually not the key to a frugal lifestyle.
Living a life of thrift and frugality is all about the little habits. It’s about your mindset. Saving money on enormous expenditures is great, but it is the small daily actions that add up and change your life. Truly frugal people absolutely LOVE saving money. Embrace these daily habits and make them your own. You’ll soon see an incredible difference in the way you look at pretty much everything.
1. Frugal people use everything right to the last drop. If you go to someone’s home and notice that their ketchup bottles are upside-down in the refrigerator, their toothpaste tube on the bathroom counter is tightly rolled and held in place with a clothespin, and the contents of the liquid soap pump look mysteriously watery, you may be visiting a fellow frugal person. We don’t like to waste stuff, so we use things right to the last drop, until there is absolutely no life left in it. We use rubber spatulas to get one more sandwich from the peanut butter jar. (I even have a special skinny rubber spatula that I purchased for the express purpose of scraping out containers in the kitchen.) We extend our dish soap with a little bit of water. What others throw away, we see as a personal challenge. I don’t know about you, but I get a little rush seeing how many more bangs I can get for my buck when using things that most folks would consider empty.
2. Frugal people like to stay home. Going out costs money. I’m lucky enough to work from home, so I don’t have the daily temptations that folks do who go out to work. First there’s the peer pressure. In my old workplace, I was one of the few people who brought my lunch. Each day, the other ladies would spend half an hour deciding where they were going to go for lunch together. Then there are transportation costs and incidentals. Thirsty? A bottle of water is just $1. I’m not saying that you need to be a hermit on a mountaintop, trekking into the village on foot once a year for salt, sugar, and a box of oranges to offset scurvy, but you don’t have to go out every single day. If you have the day off, why not enjoy your home and your family instead of heading out to an activity that is going to cost for admission, refreshments, and a snazzy item from the gift shop?
3. Frugal people don’t spoil their children. This may not make you popular now, but later your kids just might appreciate it. When my kids were in public school, I was astonished at the cost of various activities and events. There were $40 field trips, $5 “pizza days”, and special $50 hoodies with the school emblem. As a single mom with two kids in school, there was no way I was just forking out the money for this stuff. So, when the girls came home with forms and asked for money, I made a list of extra chores they could do around the house to earn the money for the activity. If they didn’t feel it was worth a little extra work for them, I certainly wasn’t going to hand them my hard-earned cash for it. They learned the value of work, the relationship between work and getting stuff and that, sometimes, what they paid for just wasn’t worth the effort of earning the money for it. As well, they came to appreciate special meals and activities more. I recently took them on a vacation for Christmas and splurged a little. I was touched by how appreciative they were and delighted as I saw them take steps to keep expenses down, like packing a picnic in our little hotel kitchenette instead of planning to eat out all day. When a child is constantly given everything, they grow up to be less satisfied, and they’re a lot harder to make happy. Those are the kids who grow up to be the adults that trade their cars in every two years and keep remortgaging their homes for things like pools and pricey vacations. It is far more loving to raise your children in an atmosphere that encourages thrift, productivity, and personal accomplishment instead of a silver platter environment.
4. Frugal people have productive hobbies. What do you like to do for fun? Does it use up resources or produce them? Productive hobbies should teach something, create something, repair something, or improve something. Think back to the days before television. People worked hard all day long, producing food, cutting wood, cooking, hunting, building…it was a full-time job to survive and thrive. In the evenings, by candlelight, they could stop and put their feet up for a while. Books were not widely available like they are now, so families passed the time by performing stitchery, carving, making furniture, mending things, and creating items that made their lives more pleasant and beautiful. Sometimes a family member would read aloud, play an instrument, or sing. Time was of value and not to be wasted. Most of my hobbies are relatively productive. Sure, I’ll watch a movie on Amazon but, while I do, I’m crocheting a Christmas present, mending clothes, or making some small item for our home. I like to grow vegetables and flowers. Chickens make me happy.
5. Frugal people don’t shop as a form of entertainment. When you shop as “something to do” you are bound to spend money on something you don’t need. I have daughters, and they really don’t love my theory on this, but we shop when we need to get something. We don’t just go hang out at the mall. If it’s time to buy some school clothes, I allot a certain amount of money and time, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I do the same thing with Christmas shopping. The mall is fraught with ways to drain your money – you get thirsty and buy a bottle of water or another drink. You weren’t hungry but the smells from the food court are so tantalizing you can’t resist. That display in front of the store has doohickeys that are ONLY a dollar.
5. Frugal people save pennies throughout every single day.Frugality is a way of life for us. It isn’t saving money on the big things. It is eagerly grasping hold of the challenge of doing everything less expensively. It’s automatically calculating the lowest unit price. It’s making things instead of buying them. It’s choosing to use your own creativity instead of the party supply store’s when throwing a birthday party for your child. It’s putting on a sweater instead of turning up the heat. These small daily actions add up to enormous savings and allow you, unlike the greater majority of our society, to live within your means.
6. Frugal people put aside emergency funds. When times are tight, being taken by surprise over a sudden necessity is sure to turn your budget upside down if you haven’t prepared for it. This is why frugal people keep a rainy day fund and a fully-stocked pantry. Then, if the refrigerator groans and breathes its last, if the car grinds to a halt 50 miles from home, or if a family member needs to go to the doctor, it doesn’t put you in a situation where you must be faced with deciding whether to deal with the emergency or keep your electricity on.
8. Frugal people cook from scratch. One of the most certain ways to destroy your budget is to eat food prepared by other people. Think about it: whether you buy it from a restaurant or from a box on the grocery store shelf, someone spent time making that food. And you are paying for that! Those pouches of pre-cooked rice, those rotisserie chickens, that bag of take-out food, or that just-add-water and heat for 10 minutes meal from a box all include the cost of someone else’s labor. If you don’t know how to cook from scratch, there are simple foods you can start with, like soup, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes, and chicken breast. Get an old-fashioned cookbook for simple instructions to make basic foods.
9. Frugal people do things the low-tech way. There are simple ways to save money that don’t show you an immediate return. Things like hanging your laundry instead of using your dryer. Things like putting on a sweater instead of turning up the heat. Things like taking it easy in the hottest part of a summer afternoon instead of cranking up the air conditioner. Things like using solar lights as night lights. The list could go on and on, but by reducing your dependence on electricity and natural gas (or whatever your heat source is) you can save hundreds of dollars per year.
10. Frugal people repair things. We live in a society of planned obsolescence. Most things aren’t made to last a lifetime anymore, and our society is happy to just toss their doo-dads in a landfill and go get new ones. Frugal people fix things. We mend our clothes, we repair our appliances, we fix broken furniture, and some of us even do unheard of things like darning our socks. We don’t immediately think about replacement. Our first step is always repair.
Real frugality is all in your head.
Hard-core frugality is not just making a choice to buy the generic brand of laundry soap instead of a jug of Tide with scent beads. Hard-core frugality is buying the ingredients to make 5 times the amount of laundry soap for half the price of that name-brand detergent, all the while LOVING the fact that Proctor and Gamble are not getting your money.
Being a black belt in frugality takes creativity and an optimistic outlook. It should never be some grim, sad thing that you have to do. It should be something that you choose to do. By finding joy in your non-consumerism, you will be far more successful at it. It becomes a game that you win if you can do something for free that others spend money on.
When you feel like you require less, then you are happy with less. This means that you have to spend less time working at things you may not truly enjoy to pay for the things that you never actually needed in the first place. This means that the money that you have goes a lot further and that your life feels a lot more satisfying.
When you finally cross that line between resenting the fact that you have to strictly budget to embracing the fact that by being as thrifty as possible, you have achieved freedom you never dreamed of before, you’ve made the conversion. You aren’t just acting with thrift until things get better. You, my friend, are one of those truly joyous frugal people that others look to for inspiration.