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Tax cheats deprive governments worldwide of $427 billion a year, crippling pandemic response: study

U.S. loses the most, $90 billion, according to first country-by-country breakdown of the impact of companies and wealthy elites abusing the tax system. By Jeanne Whalen November 19, 2020

Governments around the world are losing $427 billion each year to tax avoidance and evasion as companies and wealthy individuals shift their money to tax havens, according to a comprehensive new report that urges an overhaul of the “broken” tax system.

The United States government is the single biggest loser in absolute terms, missing out on about $90 billion in tax revenue a year, according to the report, which offers the first detailed breakdown of losses at the country level.

Poorer countries, meanwhile, are losing a larger share of their total tax revenue to the abusive practices — about 5.8 percent vs. 2.5 percent in high-income countries, according to the report, which analyzed data from 2016 and 2017.

The missing tax revenue is particularly harmful during the coronavirus crisis, when many countries are struggling to combat infections and support ailing economies and workers, according to the report from the Tax Justice Network, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and a trade-union group called Public Services International.

“With the coronavirus pandemic shining a harsh light on the grave cost of underfunded health and public services around the world … these figures represent a tragedy,” the authors wrote. “Tax abuse is depriving countries of billions and billions in urgently needed tax and holding us all back from building better, healthier, fairer societies.”

The lost money would be enough to pay the salaries of 34 million nurses a year, the researchers found.

Blame lies not only with multinational companies and wealthy individuals, but with high-income countries that have “stalled meaningful reform of the broken, international tax system and have actively hid the scale and extent of international tax abuse from their populations,” they said.

Alex Cobham, an economist and chief executive of the U.K.-based Tax Justice Network, said in an interview that global tax laws must be overhauled to stop companies from shifting profits to low-tax havens, to expose the size and provenance of the huge private fortunes held offshore, and to protect every country’s right to collect tax from the profit generated within its borders.

The paper is the first to make use of new data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, showing how much profit and revenue multinational companies report in each country, how many employees and assets they have, and how much tax they pay.

The data allowed the researchers to pinpoint where companies are underreporting profit and underpaying taxes based on their real economic activity. The data are aggregated, meaning companies are lumped together in composite figures in each country, so individual corporate behavior isn’t discernible.

The report found that corporations are shifting $1.38 trillion worth of profit each year into tax havens that charge little-to-no tax, causing the governments where that profit is actually earned to miss out on $245 billion in annual revenue.

Using different data sets, the researchers found that countries are losing an additional $182 billion a year from wealthy individuals hiding their fortunes in tax havens.

Hiding income from the tax authorities is illegal, Cobham said. Companies often argue that their profit-shifting and tax-avoidance strategies adhere to the letter of the law, but sometimes wind up in disputes with the tax authorities, he said.

“Whether or not it crosses the line of criminality,” there is a stigma attached to it, he said. “Companies don’t want to publish country by country reporting because it shows profit-shifting … and they know the public at large thinks it’s not okay.”

The OECD has been leading multilateral negotiations aimed at updating the 3,000-odd bilateral treaties that regulate global taxation. A big goal of the drawn-out negotiations is to “prevent income from not being taxed anywhere,” said Reuven Avi-Yonah, a law professor and tax expert at the University of Michigan.

Fair-tax campaigners say legislation making its way through Congress would help crack down on tax evasion by putting an end to anonymous shell companies.

The measure, which has been rolled into an annual defense spending bill, would require companies established in the United States to disclose their real owners to the Treasury Department, making it harder for criminals to evade taxes or anonymously launder money.

Nearly 2 million corporations and limited-liability companies are registered each year in the United States, at the state level. Few states today require companies to disclose their true owners, with Delaware and a few others turning the registration of anonymous companies into big business.

This tolerance for corporate secrecy in the United States undermines the global fight against tax abuse, the new report says.

The researchers also point a finger at the U.K. and its tax-haven territories and crown dependencies, including Bermuda, Cayman, Jersey and the British Virgin Islands. This network is responsible for 37 percent of all losses governments suffer from corporate and private tax abuse, the report says.

When it comes to corporate tax avoidance, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg are also big enablers, the researchers said.

Kimberly Clausing, an economics professor and tax expert at Reed College, said the new report helps flesh out the scale of the problem across countries and regions.

The researchers found that Africa loses about $25 billion a year, mostly from corporate tax abuse. That equals about 7 percent of the continent’s average tax revenue each year.

Europe loses $184 billion a year, more than half of which is from private tax evasion. The losses equal about 3.4 percent of the region’s average tax revenue.

Asia loses about $73 billion, or about 1.5 percent of the region’s annual tax revenue. North America loses $95 million, or about 2.3 percent.

Biden can restore fairness to American life. Here’s how. Opinion by Helaine Olen Columnist November 17, 2020

Regulation has long been seen as a dirty word in American politics. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,’” said Ronald Reagan during his time in office. Donald Trump made cutting regulations the centerpiece of his campaign, promising to overturn two regulations for every one he enacted. They are “a stealth tax on our people,” he recently claimed.

The progressive think tank Data for Progress begs to differ. In a survey released in conjunction with the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards and made exclusively available to The Post, they found that regulation remains broadly popular with the public despite decades of right-wing claims.

When asked to decide whether they think regulations make sure that “everyone has a fair shot” or instead slow economic growth, 7 out of 10 respondents chose the former. When asked if regulations helped keep workers and the environment safe, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans agreed. In fact, a majority of likely voters said that they wanted to see all stakeholders — impacted workers, businesses, scientists, among others — working together. They would also like to see for themselves how regulations are adjusted by the White House to maximize benefits and minimize costs — a secretive process that progressives say stymied more aggressive action on the environment during the Obama years.

Robert Weissman, president of the advocacy group Public Citizen, a member of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, calls the idea that the public doesn’t want to see regulation a myth, and one that is “deeply implanted into the D.C. political talking class.“ It’s not true, he told me, but people believe it to be.

So why do we believe it? Well, consider this: Regulations are not particularly popular with the corporate class, and corporate opponents of government rules to protect Americans have fought back against them for more than 100 years. Corporations will point out that there is always an excuse for why something shouldn’t be done. It’s always too difficult, or costs too much money, will make things worse or isn’t worth the trouble.

And, as a rule, the corporate class (and the wealthiest portions of our society more generally) have the ear of government in a way that you and I do not. As political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page put it in 2014, “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose.”

All of this is incredibly important because if Democrats do not win both of the two Senate races in Georgia scheduled for Jan. 5, Republicans will maintain a majority in the Senate. And unless congressional Republicans experience that “epiphany” President-elect Joe Biden talked about and get cooperative once Trump is no longer residing on Pennsylvania Avenue, Biden’s legacy will almost certainly be one of regulation — both restoring it and adding his own.

Trump launched what I’ve called a smash-and-grab assault on government regulations in areas ranging from the environment to immigration and consumer protection — and even at the end of his term, he is showing no signs of stopping. In its final days, the administration is signing off on new rules allowing poultry plants to speed up their processing lines, something that could lead to an increased number of cases of diseased chickens slipping through — not a delicious result.

Once he takes the reins, Biden will likely need to rely on executive action on the regulatory front to enact a more progressive agenda. All sorts of things can happen this way: The American Prospect’s Day One Agenda has flagged more than 200 action items Biden can enact via executive branch actions, in areas ranging from the environment to student loan repayment processes. He’ll need to get to work.

But all this will be easier if we stop apologizing for good government that’s responsive to the people. So here’s some advice for the new administration: Take a hint from the Data for Progress study and emphasize the word “fairness.” The word “regulation,” no matter how well-meaning, has the sound of “eat your peas.“ Fairness, on the other hand, is a goal sought by almost all. It’s also something in short supply in our economically, racially stratified and politically divided society.

Try it on for size: “Biden is going to not only build back better, he will also build back fairer.” No one should be against that.

American Requiem By Chris Hedges

However inequitable its bias, capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse.

November 06, 2020 "Information Clearing House" - Well, it's over. Not the election. The capitalist democracy. However biased it was towards the interests of the rich and however hostile it was to the poor and minorities, the capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse. The iconography and rhetoric remain the same. But it is an elaborate and empty reality show funded by the ruling oligarchs — $1.51 billion for the Biden campaign and $1.57 billion for the Trump campaign — to make us think there are choices. There are not.

The empty jousting between a bloviating Trump and a verbally impaired Joe Biden is designed to mask the truth. The oligarchs always win. The people always lose. It does not matter who sits in the White House. America is a failed state.

“The American Dream has run out of gas,” wrote the novelist J.G. Ballard. “The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It's over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now.”

There were many actors that killed America's open society.

THE CORPORATE OLIGARCHS who bought the electoral process, the courts and the media, and whose lobbyists write the legislation to impoverish us and allow them to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth and unchecked power.

THE MILITARISTS AND WAR INDUSTRY that drained the national treasury to mount futile and endless wars that have squandered some $7 trillion and turned us into an international pariah.

The CEOs, raking in bonuses and compensation packages in the tens of millions of dollars, that shipped jobs overseas and left our cities in ruins and our workers in misery and despair without a sustainable income or hope for the future.

THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY that made war on science and chose profits over the looming extinction of the human species.

THE PRESS that turned news into mindless entertainment and partisan cheerleading.

THE INTELLECTUALS who retreated into the universities to preach the moral absolutism of identity politics and multiculturalism while turning their backs on the economic warfare being waged on the working class and the unrelenting assault on civil liberties.

And, of course, THE FECKLESS AND HYPOCRITICAL LIBERAL CLASS that does nothing but talk, talk, talk.

If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient.

The liberal class, once again, served as pathetic cheerleaders and censors for a candidate and a political party that in Europe would be considered on the far-right. Even while liberals were being ridiculed and dismissed by Biden and by the Democratic Party hierarchy, which bizarrely invested its political energy in appealing to Republican neocons, liberals were busy marginalizing journalists, including Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, who called out Biden and the Democrats.

The liberals, whether at The Intercept or The New York Times, ignored or discredited information that could hurt the Democratic Party, including the revelations on Hunter Biden's laptop. It was a stunning display of craven careerism and self-loathing.

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are, the election has illustrated, oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing.

Restoring the rule of law, universal health care, banning fracking, a Green New Deal, the protection of civil liberties, the building of unions, the preservation and expansion of social welfare programs, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, the forgiveness of student debt, stiff environmental controls, a government jobs program and guaranteed income, financial regulation, opposition to endless war and military adventurism were once again forgotten.

Championing these issues would have resulted in a Democratic Party landslide.

But since the Democratic Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate donors, promoting any policy that might foster the common good, diminish corporate profits and restore democracy, including imposing campaign finance laws, was impossible.

Biden's campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America. At least the neofascists have the courage of their demented convictions.

The liberal class functions in a traditional democracy as a safety valve. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. It ameliorates the worst excesses of capitalism. It proposes gradual steps towards greater equality. It endows the state and the mechanisms of power with supposed virtues. It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements. The liberal class is a vital component within the power elite. In short, it offers hope and the possibility, or at least the illusion, of change.

The surrender of the liberal elite to despotism creates a power vacuum that speculators, war profiteers, gangsters and killers, often led by charismatic demagogues, fill.

It opens the door to fascist movements that rise to prominence by ridiculing and taunting the absurdities of the liberal class and the values they purport to defend. The promises of the fascists are fantastic and unrealistic, but their critiques of the liberal class are grounded in truth. Once the liberal class ceases to function, it opens a Pandora's box of evils that are impossible to contain.

The disease of Trumpism, with or without Trump, is, as the election illustrated, deeply embedded in the body politic. It is an expression among huge segments of the population, taunted by liberal elites as “deplorables,” of a legitimate alienation and rage that the Republicans and the Democrats orchestrated and now refuse to address. This Trumpism is also, as the election showed, not limited to white men, whose support for Trump actually declined.

Fyodor Dostoevsky saw the behavior of Russia's useless liberal class, which he satirized and excoriated at the end of the 19th century, as presaging a period of blood and terror. The failure of liberals to defend the ideals they espoused inevitably led, he wrote, to an age of moral nihilism. In "Notes From Underground," he portrayed the sterile, defeated dreamers of the liberal class, those who hold up high ideals but do nothing to defend them. The main character in 'Notes From Underground' carries the bankrupt ideas of liberalism to their logical extreme. He eschews passion and moral purpose. He is rational. He accommodates a corrupt and dying power structure in the name of liberal ideals. The hypocrisy of the Underground Man dooms Russia as it now dooms the United States. It is the fatal disconnect between belief and action.

“I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect,” the Underground Man wrote. “And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figure – primarily a limited being.”

The refusal of the liberal class to acknowledge that power has been wrested from the hands of citizens by corporations, that the Constitution and its guarantees of personal liberty have been revoked by judicial fiat, that elections are nothing more than empty spectacles staged by the ruling elites, that we are on the losing end of the class war, has left it speaking and acting in ways that no longer correspond to reality.

~ ~ ~
The “idea of the intellectual vocation,” as Irving Howe pointed out in his 1954 essay "This Age of Conformity," “the idea of a life dedicated to values that cannot possibly be realized by a commercial civilization — has gradually lost its allure. And, it is this, rather than the abandonment of a particular program, which constitutes our rout.”

The belief that capitalism is the unassailable engine of human progress, Howe wrote, “is trumpeted through every medium of communication: official propaganda, institutional advertising and scholarly writings of people who, until a few years ago, were its major opponents.”

“The truly powerless people are those intellectuals — the new realists — who attach themselves to the seats of power, where they surrender their freedom of expression without gaining any significance as political figures,” Howe wrote. “For it is crucial to the history of the American intellectuals in the past few decades — as well as to the relationship between ‘wealth' and ‘intellect' — that whenever they become absorbed into the accredited institutions of society they not only lose their traditional rebelliousness but to one extent or another they cease to function as intellectuals.”

Populations can endure the repression of tyrants, as long as these rulers continue to effectively manage and wield power. But human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded.

This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in the former Yugoslavia, a conflict I covered for The New York Times.

The historian Fritz Stern in "The Politics of Cultural Despair," his book on the rise of fascism in Germany, wrote of the consequences of the collapse of liberalism.

Stern argued that the spiritually and politically alienated, those cast aside by the society, are prime recruits for a politics centered around violence, cultural hatreds and personal resentments.

Much of this rage, justifiably, is directed at a liberal elite that, while speaking the “I-feel-your-pain" language of traditional liberalism, sells us out.

“They attacked liberalism,” Stern writes of the fascists emerging at the time in Germany, “because it seemed to them the principal premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it; the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament and the parties, the lack of political leadership. Even more, they sense in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.”

We are in for it. The for-profit health care system, designed to make money — not take care of the sick — is unequipped to handle a national health crisis. The health care corporations have spent the last few decades merging and closing hospitals, and cutting access to health care in communities across the nation to increase revenue — this, as nearly half of all front-line workers remain ineligible for sick pay and some 43 million Americans have lost their employee-sponsored health insurance.

The pandemic, without universal health care, which Biden and the Democrats have no intention of establishing, will continue to rage out of control. Three hundred thousand Americans dead by December. Four hundred thousand by January. And by the time the pandemic burns out or a vaccine becomes safely available, hundreds of thousands, maybe a few million, will have died.

The economic fallout from the pandemic, the chronic underemployment and unemployment — close to 20 percent when those who have stopped looking for work, those furloughed with no prospect of being rehired and those who work part-time but are still below the poverty line are included in the official statistics — will mean a depression unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s.

Hunger in US households has already tripled since last year. The proportion of US children who are not getting enough to eat is 14 times higher than last year. Food banks are overrun. The moratorium on foreclosures and evictions has been lifted while over 30 million destitute Americans face the prospect of being thrown into the street.

There is no check left on corporate power.

The inevitable social unrest will see the state, no matter who is in the White House, use its three principle instruments of social control — wholesale surveillance, the prisons and militarized police — buttressed by a legal system that routinely revokes habeas corpus and due process, to ruthlessly crush dissent.

People of color, immigrants and Muslims will be blamed and targeted by our native fascists for the nation's decline.

The few who continue in defiance of the Democratic Party to call out the crimes of the corporate state and the empire will be silenced.

The sterility of the liberal class, serving the interests of a Democratic Party that disdains and ignores them, fuels the widespread feelings of betrayal that saw nearly half the voters support one of the most vulgar, racist, inept and corrupt presidents in American history. An American tyranny, dressed up with the ideological veneer of a Christianized fascism, will, it appears, define the empire's epochal descent into irrelevance.

Bidding farewell to America's failed democracy By Pepe Escobar

November 06, 2020 "Information Clearing House" - A gaming exercise of the perfect, indigenous color revolution, code-named Blue, was leaked from a major think tank established in the imperial lands that first designed the color revolution concept.

Not all the information disclosed here about the gaming of Blue has been declassified. That may well elicit a harsh response from the Deep State, even as a similar scenario was gamed by an outfit called Transition Integrity Project.

Both scenarios should qualify as predictive programming – with the Deep State preparing the general public, in advance, for exactly how things will play out.

The standard color revolution playbook rules they usually start in the capital city of nation-state X, during an election cycle, with freedom fighting “rebels" enjoying full national and international media support.

Blue concerns a presidential election in the Hegemon. In the gaming exercise, the incumbent president, codenamed Buffon, was painted Red. The challenger, codenamed Corpse, was painted Blue.

Blue – the exercise – went up a notch because, compared to its predecessors, the starting point was not a mere insurgency, but a pandemic. Not any pandemic, but a really serious, bad to the bone global pandemic with an explosive infection fatality rate of less than 1%.

By a fortunate coincidence, the lethal pandemic allowed Blue operators to promote mail-in ballots as the safest, socially distant voting procedure.

That connected with a rash of polls predicting an all but inevitable Blue win in the election – even a Blue Wave.

The premise is simple: take down the economy and deflate a sitting president whose stated mission is to drive a booming economy. In tandem, convince public opinion that actually getting to the polls is a health hazard.

The Blue production committee takes no chances, publicly announcing they would contest any result that contradicts the prepackaged outcome: Blue's final victory in a quirky, anachronistic, anti-direct democracy body called the “electoral college”.

If Red somehow wins, Blue would wait until every vote is counted and duly litigated to every jurisdiction level. Relying on massive media support and social media marketing propelled to saturation levels, Blue proclaims that “under no scenario" Red would be allowed to declare victory.

Countdown to magic voting

Election Day comes. Vote counting is running smoothly – mail-in count, election day count, up to the minute tallies – but mostly favoring Red, especially in three states always essential for capturing the presidency. Red is also leading in what is characterized as “swing states”.

But then, just as a TV network prematurely calls a supposedly assured Red state for Blue, all vote counting stops before midnight in major urban areas in key swing states under Blue governors, with Red in the lead.

Blue operators stop counting to check whether their scenario towards a Blue victory can roll out without bringing in mail-in ballots. Their preferred mechanism is to manufacture the “will of the people" by keeping up an illusion of fairness.

Yet they can always rely, as Plan B, on urban mail-in ballots on tap, hot and cold, until Blue squeaks by in two particularly key swing states that Red had bagged in a previous election.

That's what happens. Starting at 2 am, and later into the night, enter a batch of “magic" votes in these two key states. The sudden, vertical upward “adjustment" includes the case of a batch of 130k+ pro-Blue votes cast in a county alongside not a single pro-Red vote – a statistical miracle of Holy Ghost proportions.

Stuffing the ballot box is a typical scam applied in Banana Republic declinations of color revolution. Blue operators use the tried and tested method applied to the gold futures market, when a sudden drop of naked shorts drives down gold price, thus protecting the US dollar.

Blue operators bet the compliant mainstream media/Big Tech alliance will not question that, well, out of the blue, the vote would swing towards Blue in a 2 to 3 or 3 to 4 margin.

They bet no questions will be asked on how a 2% to 5% positive ballot trend in Red's favor in a few states turned into a 0.5% to 1.4% trend in favor of Blue by around 4am.

And that this discrepancy happens in two swing states almost simultaneously.

And that some precincts turn more presidential votes than they have registered voters.

And that in swing states, the number of extra mysterious votes for Blue far exceeds votes cast for the Senate candidates in these states, when the record shows that down ticket totals are traditionally close.

And that turnout in one of these states would be 89.25%.

The day after Election Day there are vague explanations that one of the possible vote-dumps was just a “clerical error”, while in another disputed state there is no justification for accepting ballots with no postmark.

Blue operators relax because the mainstream media/Big Tech alliance squashes each and every complaint as “conspiracy theories”.

The Red counter-revolution

The two presidential candidates do not exactly help their own cases.

Codename Corpse, in a Freudian slip, had revealed his party had set up the most extensive and “diverse" fraud scheme ever.

Not only Corpse is about to be investigated for a shady computer-related scheme. He is a stage 2 dementia patient with a rapidly unraveling profile – kept barely functional by drugs, which can't prevent his mind slowly shutting down.

Codename Buffoon, true to his instincts, goes pre-emptive, declaring the whole election a fraud but without offering a smoking gun. He is duly debunked by the mainstream media/Big Tech alliance for spreading “false claims”.

All this is happening as a wily, old, bitter operator not only had declared that the only admissible scenario was a Blue victory; she had already positioned herself for a top security job.

Blue also games that Red would immediately embark on a single-minded path ahead: regiment an army of lawyers demanding access to every registration roll to scrub, review and verify each and every mail-in ballot, a process of de facto forensic analysis.

Yet Blue cannot foresee how many fake ballots will be unveiled during recounts.

As Corpse is set to declare victory, Buffon eyes the long game, set to take the whole thing all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Red machine had already gamed it – as it was fully aware of how operation Blue would be played.

The Red counter-revolution does carry the potential of strategically checkmating Blue.

It is a three-pronged attack – with Red using the Judiciary Committee, the Senate and the Attorney General, all under the authority of codename Buffoon until Inauguration Day. The end game after a vicious legal battle is to overthrow Blue.

Red's top operators have the option of setting up a Senate commission, or a Special Counsel, at the request of the Judiciary Committee, to be appointed by the Department of Justice to investigate Corpse.

In the meantime, two electoral college votes, one-month apart, are required to certify the presidential winner.

These votes will happen in the middle of one and perhaps two investigations focused on Corpse. Any state represented at the electoral college may object to approve an investigated Corpse; in this case it's illegal for that state to allow its electors to certify the state's presidential results.

Corpse may even be impeached by his own party, under the 25th Ammendment, due to his irreversible mental decline.

The resulting chaos would have to be resolved by the Red-leaning Supreme Court. Not exactly the outcome favored by Blue.

The House always wins

The heart of the matter is that this think tank gaming transcends both Red and Blue. It's all about the Deep State's end game.

There's nothing like a massive psy ops embedded in a WWE-themed theater under the sign of Divide and Rule to pit mob vs. mob, with half of the mob rebelling against what it perceives as an illegitimate government. The 0.00001% comfortably surveys the not only metaphorical carnage from above.

Even as the Deep State, using its Blue minions, would never have allowed codename Buffoon to prevail, again, domestic Divide and Rule might be seen as the least disastrous outcome for the world at large.

A civil war context in theory distracts the Deep State from bombing more Global South latitudes into the dystopian “democracy" charade it is now enacting.

And yet a domestic Empire of Chaos gridlock may well encourage more foreign adventures as a necessary diversion to tie the room together.

And that's the beauty of the Blue gaming exercise: the House wins, one way or another.

Pepe Escobar is correspondent-at-large at Asia Times. His latest book is 2030. Follow him on Facebook.

COMMwNTS:

1. John Doranday ago
Top work by Pepe, thank you.
Read "Pawns In The Game" by WWII Canadian naval intelligence officer William Guy Carr. Rothschild + 12 pals met in Frankfurt, 1773, to plot global domination. Chapter 3. Banksters $50,000,000 to finance Bolshevik Revolution, 1917. Chapter 9.

Can be read free online, using the search box at www.bibliotecapleyades.net

Biblioteca Pleyades - Information Depo

Pawns In The Game by William Guy Carr 1978

America's War On Terrorism by Michel Chossudovsky 2005

2. Douglas Jackday ago
Thank you Pepe Escobar for this clear description of Colour Revolution. What is the colour of FALSE 'MONEY' (Greek 'mnemosis' = 'memory') controlling every colonial 'S-ELECTION'? For 5000 years, 'exogenous' (Latin 'other-generated') false-money-issuing oligarch empire rulers, installed through invasion & colonial genocide, have commanded & controlled their puppets in every western government. Colonialism is the export of this failed economic & ecological system worldwide. European 'settlers' were refugees from the failed oligarch-money controlled system. Most being beholding & submissive to their violent colonial masters, colluded to impose the same failure here. The only sovereign humane system foundation for government is 'indigenous' (L 'self-generating') multistakeholder participatory Economic-Democracy. There's a 1st Nation indigenous fractal system of governance here on Turtle-Island (North-America). If people don't control campaign-financing & our money-system, then we don't have 'democracy' (Gk 'power-of-the-people'). Stop chasing oligarch illusions. Stay home & in community to get the jobs, organization & 'economy' (Gk 'oikos' = 'home' + 'namein' = 'care-&-nurture') done.
https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy/8-economic-democracy

Indigene Community - 8) ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY

3. Big Shoots2 days ago
We are NOT a Democracy. We are a Republic. The Founding Fathers hated Democracy.

Steve Breen 9/17/20

The ultra-wealthy must be taught that they're not 'above the law' 10/10/20

When Donald Trump famously declared "I don't take responsibility at all,” demonstrating his utter lack of concern for how the COVID-19 pandemic was throwing millions of his fellow citizens' lives into turmoil, most Americans naturally read this as an attempt to minimize his failure to address the pandemic up to that moment. But as Brooke Harrington observes, writing for The Atlantic, what Americans may not have fully understood was that he was articulating a common ethic and attitude exhibited among a certain set of wealthy individuals, extending all around the world, who have adopted the same attitude that assumes neither rules, laws, nor responsibilities apply to them. Harrington, who has spent over a decade researching the world's wealthiest citizens, points to Trump's recently unearthed tax returns as exemplifying not the fiscal machinations of just one corrupt individual, but a philosophy seen over and over again, as a tiny segment of the world's population accumulates and hoards wealth on a scale that most of us can scarcely comprehend.

Harrington writes:

Those returns, along with Trump's whole approach to governing, are a concrete manifestation of a broader and more troubling phenomenon: an elite insurgency in which wealthy, well-connected people around the world stiff the societies that gave them success. Observing Trump's open defiance of the law and rejection of accountability, many critics have attributed the pattern to the quirks of Trump's individual psychology. But they have missed the larger picture: This president is an entirely ordinary member of a global elite whose members believe that rules are for chumps.

Ted Rall 9/5/20

Media Freedom? Show me the MSM Journalist Opposing the Torture of Assange By Craig Murray 9/7/20

" Today, the corporate media that cried "Media freedom" when Extinction Rebellion blocked the billionaire owned propaganda presses, is silent as Julian Assange's Calvary for bringing real truth unfiltered to the public moves on to its next station; the macabre Gothic architecture of the Old Bailey.

The Tories appeared remarkably tolerant in the days when Extinction Rebellion were causing general disruption to the public. But to threaten the interests of billionaire paymasters is something against which the entire political class will unite. At a time when the government is mooting designating Extinction Rebellion as Serious Organised Crime, right wing bequiffed muppet Keir Starmer was piously condemning the group, stating: "The free press is the cornerstone of democracy and we must do all we can to protect it.”

It is surely time we stopped talking about "free press”, as if it was Thomas Paine or William Cobbett distributing pamphlets. Print media is now the subject of phenomenonal ownership concentration. It broadcasts the propaganda of some very nasty billionaires to a shrinking audience of mostly old people. The same ownerships have of course moved in to TV and Radio and increasingly into new media, and have a political stranglehold over those who control state media. At the same time, the corporate gatekeepers of Facebook and Twitter purposefully strangle the flow of readers to independent online media. The idea of a "free press" as an open marketplace of democratic ideas has no real meaning in modern society, until anti-monopoly action is taken. Which is the last thing those in power will do.

Quite the opposite, they are actively seeking to eliminate dissent even from the internet.

I do not want permanently to close down the Sun or the Telegraph; neither do Extinction Rebellion. But their excellent action is an important opening to the debate about controlled public narrative, not least on climate change. The highly paid stenographers to power have been quick to protest. Murdoch mouthpiece David Aaronovitch tweeted out that in fact 99% of the time there was no editorial interference from Murdoch. But that is the point. Murdoch employs reliable right wingers like Aaronovitch; he does not need to tell them what to write.

David Aaronovitch tweet

It's really complicated by the alternative scenarios. I'm pretty persuaded that we would be two or three titles lighter in this country if not for RM. And as I ought to know there is no direct command structure for the editorial line 99% of the time.

leftworks tweet

There's no need if the right people are picked. You can be relied upon to parrot Establishment bullshit 99% of the time, for example

Show me the Murdoch journalist who has more than once published about the human rights abuses against the Palestinians. Murdoch ejected his own son from his media empire because James was insufficiently enthusiastic about the slow genocide of the Palestinians, and does not believe that the market will magically fix climate change.

The corporate media selects its mouthpieces. Scotland has become an extreme example, where 55% of the population support Independence, but only about 5% of state and corporate media "journalists" support Independence.

Julian Assange has been a light in this darkness. Wikileaks have opened a window into the secret world of war crime, murder and corruption that underlies so much of the governance we live under throughout the "free" world. Coming in the wake of the public realisation that we had been blatantly lied into the destruction of Iraq, there was a time when it seemed Assange would lead us into a new age where whistleblowers, citizen journalists and a democratic internet would revolutionise public information, with the billionaire stranglehold shattered.

That seems less hopeful today, as the internet world itself corporatised. Julian is in jail and continuing today is an extradition hearing that has been one long abuse of process. The appalling conditions of solitary confinement in which he has been kept in the high security Belmarsh Prison, with no access to his legal team or a working computer, to his papers or to his mail, have taken a huge toll on his physical and mental health. The UN Special Representative has declared he is subject to torture. A media which is up in arms about the very dubious attack on Navalny, has no emotion for state torture victim Assange other than contempt.

It is constantly asked by Julian's supporters why the media do not see the assault on a publisher and journalist as a threat to themselves. The answer is that the state and corporate media are confident in their firm alliance with the powers that be. They have no intention of challenging the status quo; their protection from those kicking Assange lies in joining in with the kicking.

I hope to be in court today, and throughout the extradition hearing. The public gallery of 80 has been reduced to 9 "due to Covid”. 5 seats are reserved for Julian's family and friends, and I have one of these today, but not guaranteed beyond that. There are just 4 seats for the general public.

Journalists and NGO's will be following the hearing online – but only "approved" journalists and NGO's, selected by the Orwelian Ministry of Justice. I had dinner last night with Assange supporters from a number of registered NGO's, not one of which had been "approved”. I had applied myself as a representative of Hope Over Fear, and was turned down. It is the same story for those who applied for online access as journalists. Only the officially "approved" will be allowed to watch.

This is supposed to be a public hearing, to which in normal times anybody should be able to walk in off the street into the large public gallery, and anyone with a press card into the press gallery. What is the justification for the political selection of those permitted to watch? An extraordinary online system has been set up, with the state favoured observers given online "rooms" in which only the identified individual will be allowed. Even with approved organisations, it is not the case that an organisation will have a login anyone can use, not even one at a time. Only specifically nominated individuals have to login before proceedings start, and if their connection breaks at any point they will not be readmitted that day.

Given these restrictions, I was very conscious I may need to queue from 5am tomorrow, to get one of the 4 public places, if I drop off the family list. So I went this morning at 6am to the Old Bailey to check out the queue and work out the system. The first six people in the queue were all people who, entirely off their own bat, without my knowledge and with no coordination between them, had arrived while London slept just to reserve a place for me. I was swept up by their goodness, their trust in me and by their sheer humanitarian concern about Julian and the whole miscarriage of justice. I chatted cheerily with them for a while, then came back to write this, but just got round the corner when I burst into floods of tears, overwhelmed by all this kindness.

I have to pull myself together now and get into that court.

Craig John Murray is a British former diplomat turned political activist, human rights campaigner, blogger and whistleblower. Between 2002 and 2004, he was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan during which time he exposed the violations of human rights in Uzbekistan by the Karimov administration.

U.S. Death March, By Chris Hedges 8/10/20

Regardless of the outcome, the election will not stop the rise of hypernationalism, crisis cults and other signs of an empire's terminal decline.

August 10, 2020 "Information Clearing House" - The terminal decline of the United States will not be solved by elections. The political rot and depravity will continue to eat away at the soul of the nation, spawning what anthropologists call crisis cults — movements led by demagogues that prey on an unbearable psychological and financial distress.

These crisis cults, already well established among followers of the Christian Right and Donald Trump, peddle magical thinking and an infantilism that promises — in exchange for all autonomy — prosperity, a return to a mythical past, order and security.

The dark yearnings among the white working class for vengeance and moral renewal through violence, the unchecked greed and corruption of the corporate oligarchs and billionaires who manage our failed democracy, which has already instituted wholesale government surveillance and revoked most civil liberties, are part of the twisted pathologies that infect all civilizations sputtering towards oblivion. I witnessed the deaths of other nations during the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and later in the former Yugoslavia. I have smelled this stench before.

The removal of Trump from office will only exacerbate the lust for racist violence he incites and the intoxicating elixir of white nationalism. The ruling elites, who first built a mafia economy and then built a mafia state, will continue under Biden, as they did under Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, to wantonly pillage and loot.

The militarized police will not stop their lethal rampages in poor neighborhoods. The endless wars will not end. The bloated military budget will not be reduced. The world's largest prison population will remain a stain upon the country. The manufacturing jobs shipped overseas will not return and the social inequality will grow.

The for-profit health care system will gouge the public and price millions more out of the health care system. The language of hate and bigotry will be normalized as the primary form of communication. Internal enemies, including Muslims, immigrants and dissidents, will be defamed and attacked. The hyper-masculinity that compensates for feelings of impotence will intensify. It will direct its venom towards women and all who fail to conform to rigid male stereotypes, especially artists, LGBTQ people and intellectuals.

Lies, conspiracy theories, trivia and fake news — what Hannah Arendt called "nihilistic relativism" — will still dominate the airwaves and social media, mocking verifiable fact and truth. The ecocide, which presages the extinction of the human species and most other life forms, will barrel unabated towards its apocalyptic conclusion.

"We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it,” Pascal wrote.

The worse it gets — and it will get worse as the pandemic hits us in wave after deadly wave with an estimated 300,000 Americans dead by December and possibly 400,000 by January — the more desperate the nation will become. Tens of millions of people will be thrown into destitution, evicted from their homes and abandoned.

Social collapse, as Peter Drucker observed in Weimar Germany in the 1930s, brings with it a loss of faith in ruling institutions and ruling ideologies. With no apparent answers or solutions to mounting chaos and catastrophe — and Biden and the Democratic Party have already precluded the kind of New Deal programs and assault on oligarchic power that saved us during the Great Depression — demagogues and charlatans need only denounce all institutions, all politicians, and all political and social conventions while conjuring up hosts of phantom enemies.

Drucker saw that Nazism succeeded not because people believed in its fantastic promises, but in spite of them. Nazi absurdities, he pointed out, had been "witnessed by a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course.

"Nobody, he noted, "would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite.” The poet, playwright and socialist revolutionary Ernst Toller, who was forced into exile and stripped of his citizenship when the Nazis took power in 1933, wrote much the same in his autobiography: "The people are tired of reason, tired of thought and reflection. They ask, what has reason done in the last few years, what good have insights and knowledge done us.”

After Toller committed suicide in 1939, W.H. Auden in his poem "In Memory of Ernst Toller" wrote:

We are lived by powers we pretend to understand:
They arrange our loves; it is they who direct at the end
The enemy bullet, the sickness, or even our hand.

Crisis Cults Crave Conflict

The poor, the vulnerable, those who are not white or not Christian, those who are undocumented or who do not mindlessly repeat the cant of a perverted Christian nationalism, will be offered up in a crisis to the god of death, a familiar form of human sacrifice that plagues sick societies. Once these enemies are purged from the nation, we are promised, America will recover its lost glory, except that once one enemy is obliterated another takes its place.

Crisis cults require a steady escalation of conflict. This is what made the war in the former Yugoslavia inevitable. Once one stage of conflict reaches a crescendo it loses its efficacy. It must be replaced by ever more brutal and deadly confrontations. The intoxication and addiction to greater and greater levels of violence to purge the society of evil led to genocide in Germany and the former Yugoslavia. We are not immune. It is what Ernst Jünger called a "feast of death.”

These crisis cults are, as Drucker understood, irrational and schizophrenic. They have no coherent ideology. They turn morality upside down. They appeal exclusively to emotions. Burlesque and celebrity culture become politics. Depravity becomes morality. Atrocities and murder become heroism. Crime and fraud become justice. Greed and nepotism become civic virtues.

What these cults stand for today, they condemn tomorrow. At the height of the reign of terror on May 6, 1794 during the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre announced that the Committee for Public Safety now recognized the existence of God. The French revolutionaries, fanatical atheists who had desecrated churches and confiscated church property, murdered hundreds of priests and forced another 30,000 into exile, instantly reversed themselves to send to the guillotine those who disparaged religion. In the end, exhausted by the moral confusion and internal contradictions, these crisis cults yearn for self-annihilation.

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim in his classic book On Suicide found that when social bonds are shattered, when a population no longer feels it has a place or meaning in a society, personal and collective acts of self-destruction proliferate.

Societies are held together by a web of social bonds that give individuals a sense of being part of a collective and engaged in a project larger than the self. This collective expresses itself through rituals, such as elections and democratic participation or an appeal to patriotism, and shared national beliefs. The bonds provide meaning, a sense of purpose, status and dignity. They offer psychological protection from impending mortality and the meaninglessness that comes with being isolated and alone. The breaking of these bonds plunges individuals into deep psychological distress. Durkheim called this state of hopelessness and despair anomie, which he defined as "ruleless-ness.”

Ruleless-ness means the norms that govern a society and create a sense of organic solidarity no longer function. The belief, for example, that if we work hard, obey the law and get a good education we can achieve stable employment, social status and mobility along with financial security becomes a lie.

The old rules, imperfect and often untrue for poor people of color, nevertheless were not a complete fiction in the United States. They offered some Americans — especially those from the white working and middle class — modest social and economic advancement. The disintegration of these bonds has unleashed a widespread malaise Durkheim would have recognized.

The self-destructive pathologies that plague the United States — opioid addiction, gambling, suicide, sexual sadism, hate groups and mass shootings — are products of this anomie. So is our political dysfunction. My book, America: The Farewell Tour, is an examination of these pathologies and the widespread anomie that defines American society.

Mocking Merit

The economic structures, even before the pandemic, were reconfigured to mock faith in a meritocracy and the belief that hard work leads to a productive and valued role in society. American productivity, as The New York Times pointed out, has increased 77 percent since 1973 but hourly pay has grown only 12 percent. If the federal minimum wage was attached to productivity, the newspaper wrote, it would be more than $20 an hour now, not $7.25.

Some 41.7 million workers, a third of the workforce, earn less than $12 an hour, and most of them do not have access to employer-sponsored health insurance. A decade after the 2008 financial meltdown, the Times wrote, the average middle class family's net worth is more than $40,000 below what it was in 2007. The net worth of black families is down 40 percent, and for Latino families the figure has dropped 46 percent.

Some four million evictions are filed each year. One in four tenant households spends about half its pretax income on rent. Each night some 200,000 people sleep in their cars, on streets or under bridges. And these stark figures represent the good times Biden and the Democratic Party leaders promise to restore.

Now, with real unemployment probably close to 20 percent — the official figure of 10 percent excludes those furloughed or those who have stopped looking for work — some 40 million people are at risk of being evicted by the end of the year. An estimated 27 million people are expected to lose their health insurance. Banks are stockpiling reserves of cash to cope with the expected wave of bankruptcies and defaults on mortgages, student loans, car loans, personal loans and credit card debt.

The ruleless-ness and anomie that defines the lives of tens of millions of Americans was orchestrated by the two ruling parties in the service of a corporate oligarchy. If we do not address this anomie, if we do not restore the social bonds shattered by predatory corporate capitalism, the decay will accelerate.

This dark human pathology is as old as civilization itself, repeated in varying forms in the twilight of ancient Greece and Rome, the finale of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, revolutionary France, the Weimar Republic and the former Yugoslavia.

The social inequality that characterizes all states and civilizations seized by a tiny and corrupt cabal — in our case corporate — leads to an inchoate desire by huge segments of the population to destroy.

The ethnic nationalists Slobodan Miloševic, Franjo Tudjman, Radovan Karadžic? and Alija Izetbegovic? in the former Yugoslavia assumed power in a similar period of economic chaos and political stagnation. Yugoslavs by 1991 were suffering from widespread unemployment and had seen their real incomes reduced by half from what they had been a generation before.

These nationalist demagogues sanctified their followers as righteous victims stalked by an array of elusive enemies. They spoke in the language of vengeance and violence, leading, as it always does, to actual violence. They trafficked in historical myth, deifying the past exploits of their race or ethnicity in a perverse kind of ancestor worship, a mechanism to give to those who suffered from anomie, who had lost their identity, dignity and self-worth, a new, glorious identity as part of a master race.

When I walked through Montgomery, Alabama, a city where half of the population is African-American, with the civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson a few years ago, he pointed out the numerous Confederate memorials, noting that most had been put up in the last decade. "This,” I told him, "is exactly what happened in Yugoslavia.”

A hyper-nationalism always infects a dying civilization. It feeds the collective self-worship. This hyper-nationalism celebrates the supposedly unique virtues of the race or the national group. It strips all who are outside the closed circle of worth and humanity. The world instantly becomes understandable, a black and white tableau of them and us.

The Mask Is Off

These tragic moments in history see people fall into collective insanity. They suspend thought, especially self-critical thought. None of this is going away in November, in fact it will get worse.

Joe Biden, a shallow, political hack devoid of fixed beliefs or intellectual depth, is an expression of the nostalgia of a ruling class that yearns to return to the pantomime of democracy. They want to restore the decorum and civic religion that makes the presidency a form of monarchy and sacralizes the organs of state power.

Donald Trump's vulgarity and ineptitude is an embarrassment to the architects of empire. He has ripped back the veil that covered our failed democracy. But no matter how hard the elites try this veil cannot be restored. The mask is off. The façade is gone. Biden cannot bring it back.

Political, economic and social dysfunction define the American empire. Our staggering inability to contain the pandemic, which now infects over 5 million Americans, and the failure to cope with the economic fallout the pandemic has caused, has exposed the American capitalist model as bankrupt.

It has freed the world, dominated by the United States for seven decades, to look at other social and political systems that serve the common good rather than corporate greed. The diminished stature of the United States, even among our European allies, brings with it the hope for new forms of government and new forms of power.

It is up to us to abolish the American kleptocracy. It is up to us to mount sustained acts of mass civil disobedience to bring down the empire. It poisons the world as it poisons us. If we mobilize to build an open society, we hold out the possibility of beating back these crisis cults as well as slowing and disrupting the march towards ecocide.

This requires us to acknowledge, like those protesting in the streets of Beirut, that our kleptocracy, like Lebanon's, is incapable of being salvaged. The American system of inverted totalitarianism, as the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called it, must be eradicated if we are to wrest back our democracy and save ourselves from mass extinction.

We need to echo the chants by the crowds in Lebanon calling for the wholesale removal of its ruling class — kulyan-yani-kulyan — everyone means everyone.

When the U.S Dollar Collapses, the Elites Will Try to Steal Your Money, Concoda 6/28/20

Throughout the ages in times of crisis, out-of-control governments, states, and empires have seized from their citizens what they perceived to be real money.

In recent history, gold has allowed citizens to protect their purchasing power from fiat currency depreciation and escape state-imposed financial repression. Though, it has been the prime asset that authorities confiscate when monetary systems fail.

In 1933, former U.S President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, enacted Executive Order 6102 banning American citizens from hoarding large amounts of gold. In 1959, the Australian Government signed the Banking Act into law allowing Aussie authorities to seize citizen's precious metals. And in 1966, the British government blocked gold imports and banned Brits from owning more than four precious metal coins. These are just a few of the many wealth confiscation episodes over the past century.

Past governments approved these actions without their citizen's consent to achieve "order" and remove "chaos", but this is code-speak for theft via temporary authoritarianism. So when the U.S dollar inevitably collapses, if you think this 21st-century U.S administration won't pursue your precious metals stash, you'll be in for a surprise when the debtor-in-chief's "sound-money hit squad" knocks down your door, empties your safe, and gives you nothing in return.

Unfortunately, protecting your purchasing power from a fiat currency system isn't as straightforward as buying gold, silver, and Bitcoin, and storing it down at your local JPMorgan branch. When it matters, the state will seize your property and will remove your rights to restore — what they believe to be — monetary order, whether that's via a government-created cryptocurrency backed by gold or a new fiat currency backed by IMF (International Monetary Fund) SDRs (Special Drawing Rights): "the international reserve currency".

"You'll be in for a surprise when the debtor-in-chief's "sound money hit squad" knocks down your door, empties your safe, and gives you nothing in return."

For the elites to create a new monetary paradigm, they will use any excuse to try to steal your hard-earned wealth when things go wrong. Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, encouraged citizens to hand over their gold in exchange for steel wristbands bearing the inscription "Gold for the Fatherland", the Soviet Union banned large private ownership of gold altogether, and Saddam Hussein, the deceased Iraqi dictator, cleaned out citizen's gold, jewelry, and other valuables while holding them at gunpoint — they traded their assets for their lives.

Despite past events, elites will tell you gold is nothing more than a barbarous relic, a useless lump of shiny rock with no purpose in modern-day society while continuing to amass vast quantities of gold bullion. Since 2000, Russia has increased its reserves by 680%, China has increased its reserves by 393%, and U.S reserves remain equal despite a 100% debt-backed currency. When the time comes they will show their true feelings towards gold and will come for yours — if required.

Though, there are ways to get around a government that imposes tyrannical policies in desperate times. But you'll have to game the system, discard patriotism, and think outside the box.

Removing all your assets from entities connected to the banking system is the first step. With "bail-in" legislation passed and enacted in several countries — the G20 bank bail-in solution was signed into supranational law in late 2014 — if you store your gold within your bank and your bank goes bust, they have the power to use your gold — and even your savings — to bail out their mistakes.

You might think to store gold in your home safe, but like anything in investing, diversification is key. Storing gold in a private vault is important, but so is the location: You must store it offshore, outside your government's jurisdiction, otherwise they will hunt down your stash, like in 1907, 1959, and 1966. Though you don't need a high net worth to store your assets in other countries. Companies like Goldmoney allow their clients with small account balances to buy and store gold in various countries from Singapore to Switzerland — countries with governments that have never seized precious metals.

Though, if you're desperate to keep some gold at home, stick to jewelry. You don't need to hide your gold bracelets, earrings, and other wearables because the U.S government doesn't recognize them as financial assets. As precious metals analyst, Jeff Clark, says, "History has shown, in the developed world, gold confiscations have targeted monetary metals, like coins and bars. Jewelry was spared. Only in oppressive nations, ruled by dictators, was it a target. In other words, residents of developed nations that own gold jewelry have an asset that remains [less] appealing … to grab."

"Your primary aim is to preserve your capital avoiding wealth destruction and confiscation."

Another way to preserve your purchasing power is to use asset classes that most people shun as investments, ones you can touch, feel, and treasure, but also profit from over your lifetime. They have real uses, they tend to hold their value, and, most importantly, governments don't need them to restore order during monetary Armageddon. "To bail out our beloved country, we're seizing all vintage guitars, fine wine, and luxury watches," is something you'll never hear on the six o'clock news — hopefully.

In 1957, you could have bought a Rolex submariner watch for $1,265 — adjusted for inflation — compared to today's price of $7,250, not only preserving both your wealth and purchasing power but netting yourself a tidy profit. Today, with that money, you could walk into any watch shop and purchase 11 of them without breaking a sweat.

Vintage guitars sell for 1000% more than their 1960s price. If you choose the right guitar, it could become part of your retirement fund. When the world goes into a prolonged recession or depression, people lose confidence in their paper wealth and shift into tangible assets, hence, guitar prices appreciate significantly. The VGP50 price index shows above-average price rises during the 2008 financial crisis.

But the most underrated and most overlooked asset of all time is fine wine. Over the past decade, the Burgundy 150 index, the broadest price measure of fine wine, has outperformed the S&P500 index by roughly 300% with an annual 12.7% growth rate. Prices vary based on rarity, exclusivity, and desirability. A bottle of Domaine Romane´e Conti will set you back roughly $50,000 while a bottle of Fontaine Gagnard will cost you around $1,000. Though the fine wine market is difficult to enter with limited learning resources online — and a degree of pretentiousness — going down this rabbit hole has reaped big rewards so far.

Then, there are the "protected" asset classes: stocks, bonds, and real estate. As we have a financialized economy, not a real economy, higher prices in speculative assets maintain the stability of a broken system, so the last step the government will take is to confiscate assets that paint over American's fake economy. They want you to keep buying these — and in bulk!

But creating a diversified portfolio of physical assets, which remain outside the protected class and have proven the test of time, will help you financially and will give you future peace of mind. You're spoilt for choice with old-timers like precious metals, and new kids on the block like Bitcoin.

The hard part, of course, is trying to predict which assets will not only hold their value but appreciate over time, though with a few hours of research, your chances will rise dramatically. Again, it's a bonus if an asset yields a profit. Your primary aim is to preserve your capital, avoiding wealth destruction and confiscation.

The rise of anti-fiat sentiment worldwide has caused a surge in alternate versions of wealth preservation, and with central banks and governments continuing their money printing onslaught, protecting your purchasing power through "radical" means will likely gain popularity in the next decade.

The mighty U.S dollar could survive for many years to come, and by then, the world will be a very different place: a new government, a new culture, a new society, a new way of life. But whatever the future holds, the elite's monetary agenda remains the same. Though in the next economic collapse, if you have gone the extra mile to safeguard your real wealth, you won't care whether the state starts seizing assets by any means necessary.

Your real wealth will be undetectable in plain sight.

Sarah Kendzior -"This is a transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government."

"These are kleptocratic empires. They want power, they want money, Putin wants territory and sanctions dropped. If Trump joins an alliance of autocrats, it's easier to keep illicit financial deals going without oversight or accountability."

Yet another study confirms that drivers of expensive cars are more likely to ignore pedestrians, 3-4-20

Nevada study finds that every thousand bucks of added value decreases the odds of yielding to pedestrians by three percent.

New Finnish study confirms that BMW and Audi owners drive like idiots, 1-29-20

Not only that, they are "argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic." And all men.

Whenever I see the most egregious behaviour by drivers, they are often in BMWs, Mercedes or Audis. This isn't a new phenomenon; I wrote about it a few years ago in Study reveals the obvious: The rich are different from you and me, especially behind the wheel, which measured their behaviour at four-way stops and pedestrian crosswalks.

Now a new study (which we can't actually quote the title of in TreeHugger, as it breaks our rules) confirms our prejudices. A Finnish professor of social psychology found that "Audi and BMW drivers seemed much more likely to ignore traffic regulations and drive recklessly."

Study reveals the obvious: The rich are different from you and me, especially behind the wheel

I often find that when the bike lane is blocked, it is a fancy car, most likely a Mercedes or a BMW or an Escalade. Now a study confirms what everybody always knew: many rich people have a sense of entitlement and don't think the rules apply to them.

America's greedy and unpatriotic millionaires and billionaires

The results are in. The Trump tax cuts resulted in most families saving so little that majorities continue to insist they see no difference in their paychecks. But one very small group made out spectacularly.

According to figures put together by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, detailed in their soon-to-be-released book, "The Triumph of Injustice,” and reported in the New York Times on Monday, last year the 400 richest Americans "paid a lower total tax rate — spanning federal, state and local taxes — than any other income group.” One impact? Income inequality is at record levels while wealth inequality in the United States is approaching that of Third World countries.

This, however, is still not enough for the richest Americans. Like the starving Oliver Twist, they want some more. They continue to prioritize their wealthy-to-extremely-wealthy bottom line over our welfare and what we stand for as a country.

Even as President Trump melts down in public, tramples long-standing alliances, destroys the integrity of our political and regulatory systems, denies the reality of climate change and inflicts cruelties on the poor and desperate on a seemingly daily basis, the big money remains most concerned about their own bottom lines and the possibility of either Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren winning the Democratic presidential nomination. One prominent Democratic donor told The Post he would refuse to vote if Warren was the nominee going up against Trump. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg claimed a Warren victory would be an "existential" crisis for the social media giant. Wall Streeters and corporate superstars rant about Sanders and Warren so much, they sound all but unhinged — billionaire private equity investor Stephen Schwarzman recently complained, "Maybe Bernie Sanders shouldn't exist.”

Some of our complainers sound as if they stepped out of a Gilded Age satire. Wall Street Journal columnist John Stoll found yacht and boat manufacturers — already bleeding financially as a result of the Trump tariff wars — stumping for Trump because higher taxes could "slow demand for high-dollar boats.” (I'll remember that while I'm pondering my soaring bills for health care, housing and my children's college education.)

The reason is for these rants? Both Sanders and Warren are proposing not just significantly increased taxes on wealth, but crackdowns on big-money influence in politics and big-businesses power over all of us. On Monday morning alone, Sanders, still off the campaign trail while he recovers from a heart attack he suffered last week, called for banning all corporate contributions to funding the Democratic National Convention and presidential inauguration events, while limiting individual donations to $500 for the latter. As Sanders pointed out, Facebook and a number of other companies gave more than $1 million to the party's 2016 convention. As for Trump's 2017 inauguration, it smashed records at $106 million. Also Monday morning, Warren released a plan to end financial conflicts of interest among the judiciary, a complement to other proposals to crack down on corporate lobbying and overall government and business corruption. Both senators have said they will crack down on private equity and break up Facebook.

Beginning in the 1980s, short-term shareholder value became the be-all and end-all, something that almost certainly not so coincidentally befitted the people in charge, who received the bulk of their ever increasing pay in that form. (Yes, Sanders has a plan to fight that, too.) That money allowed them an ever greater influence in our culture, economy and politics, celebrated as people of unique genius and insight. It's a selfish, shortsighted way of thinking but one that's been ascendant for the better part of 40 years. The result? Those Trump tax cuts.

While it's understandable that someone with few or no dollars to spare will ponder which candidate is better for their personal finances, it's reprehensible that this is the position of these wealthy whiners. They'll be fine with less in their bank accounts or even one or two fewer zeros off their net worth statement. They can afford to think about the moral and long-range implications of their choice. What should concern them is a would-be strongman in the White House. Unstable, boastful, erratic ignorant rulers are not a sign of a country climbing to greater heights but of one descending to ever deeper depths.

Creeping Toward Tyranny

The destruction of the rule of law, an action essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state, began long before the arrival of the Trump administration.

By Chris Hedges, May 06, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

The destruction of the rule of law, an action essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state, began long before the arrival of the Trump administration. The George W. Bush administration's invasion of Iraq and implementation of a doctrine of pre-emptive war were war crimes under international law. The federal government's ongoing wholesale surveillance of the citizenry, another legacy of the Bush administration, mocks our constitutional right to privacy.

Assassinating a U.S. citizen under order of the executive branch, as the Obama administration did when it murdered the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, revokes due process.

The steady nullification of constitutional rights by judicial fiat — a legal trick that has enabled corporations to buy the electoral system in the name of free speech—has turned politicians from the two ruling parties into amoral tools of corporate power.

Lobbyists in Washington and the state capitals write legislation to legalize tax boycotts, destroy regulations and government oversight, pump staggering sums of money into the war machine and accelerate the largest upward transfer of wealth in American history, one that has involved looting the U.S. Treasury of trillions of dollars in the wake of the massive financial fraud that set off the 2008 economic collapse.

The ruling elites, by slavishly serving corporate interests, created a system of government that effectively denied the citizen the use of state power. This decades-long disregard by the two major political parties for the rule of law and their distortion of government into a handmaiden for corporations set the stage for Donald Trump's naked contempt for legality and accountability. It made inevitable our kakistocracy, rule by the worst or most unscrupulous (“kakistocracy" is derived from the Greek words kakistos, meaning worst, and kratos, meaning rule).

Those in the parade of imbeciles, grifters, con artists, conspiracy theorists, racists, Trump family members, charlatans, generals and Christian fascists, all of whom often see power as a way to enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayer, are too many to list here. They include former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (who blamed "environmental terrorist groups" for the 2018 California wildfires, hired private jets to fly himself around the country and opened public lands for mineral and gas exploitation), former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt (who held lavish dinners with the coal-mining and chemical executives whose companies he then deregulated) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

This moral swamp also contains bizarre, Svengali-like figures darting in and out of the shadows, such as Stephen Miller, Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci and Omarosa Manigault Newman, not to mention paid-off porn stars and mistresses, sleazy lawyers and bungling and corrupt campaign managers.

At the center of this clown court is Trump, who, if the rule of law was in place, would have been impeached on his first day in office for violating the Constitution's emoluments clause; by violating that prohibition, this chief executive is raking in millions from officials of foreign governments and lobbyists who stay at his hotels and resorts and use his golf courses. Trump not only does not attempt to mask his profiting from his office but in corporate promotional material says that those who stay at his properties may be able to get a photo with the president of the United States. As illustrated by the Robert Mueller report and by Attorney General William Barr's open contempt for Congress, Trump does not even bother to pay lip service to the requirements of the law or the Constitution.

The mechanisms that once made democracy possible have withered and died. We no longer have elections free of corporate control; real legislative debate; an independent press rooted in verifiable fact that lifts up the voices and concerns of the citizens rather than peddling conspiracy theories such as "Russiagate" or cheerleading for disastrous military interventions and occupations; academic institutions that vigorously examine and critique the nature of power; or diplomacy, negotiation, détente and compromise.

Puffed up by self-importance, intoxicated by the ability to wield police and military power, despots and their grotesque courtiers are freed with the collapse of the rule of law to carry out endless vendettas against enemies real and imagined until their own paranoia and fear define the lives of those they subjugate. This is where we have come, not because of Trump, who is the grotesque product of our failed democracy, but because the institutions that were designed to prevent tyranny no longer function.

Trump will eviscerate what little legal restraint remains. The Republican Party, which has been transformed into a Trump personality cult, will not stop him. Neither will the Democratic Party leadership, which thinks Trump will be an easy target in the 2020 presidential election, a foolish mistake similar to the one Hillary Clinton made in the 2016 campaign. That the Democratic Party elites place their hope to regain power in Joe Biden, a goofy male version of Clinton, is yet another example of the colossal failure of the democratic process. It shows how out of touch the ruling elites are with the growing social inequality, economic stagnation, suffering, disempowerment and rage that afflict over half the population.

The old forms of political theater and the ruling ideology of neoliberalism that buttressed the ruling elites in the past do not work anymore. Yet, the mind-numbing presidential campaigns, begun two years before the vote and devoid of meaningful content, are once again dominating the airwaves with empty slogans and the posturing by carefully packaged political personalities.

This burlesque is anti-politics masquerading as politics. Its disingenuousness, obvious to most of the country, is what made Trump's crude taunts and ridiculing of the system so attractive to betrayed voters. Trump may be inept, vile and a con artist, but in this system of anti-politics you vote not for what you want, but against those you hate. And the established elites, the Bushes and the Clintons, are loathed far more than Trump by most of the country.

The billions in campaign funds provided to selected candidates by the wealthy and corporations, as the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin wrote, created, before the arrival of Trump on the political landscape, "a pecking order that calibrates, in strictly quantitative and objective terms, whose interests have priority. The amount of corruption that regularly takes place before elections means that corruption is not an anomaly but an essential element in the functioning of managed democracy. The entrenched system of bribery and corruption involves no physical violence, no brown-shirted troopers, no coercion of the political opposition. While the tactics are not those of the Nazis, the end result is the inverted equivalent. Opposition has not been liquidated but rendered feckless.”

Mass culture has for decades been awash in the lies skillfully disseminated by the public relations and advertising industries. These lies appeal to our vanity and insecurities. They are used to sell us products or experiences that promise an unachievable happiness. These forms of manipulation, which confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge, also were adopted by political parties before Trump gained the presidency. "The result,” Wolin wrote in "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spector of Inverted Totalitarianism,” "has been the pollution of the ecology of politics by the inauthentic politics of misrepresentative government, claiming to be what it is not, compassionate and conservative, god-fearing and moral.”

Armando Iannucci's movie "The Death of Stalin,” a brilliant black comedy, captures what happens when self-interested narcissists, buffoons and gangsters make the laws and rule a state. Once power is based solely on blind personal loyalty and whim, anything, including wholesale murder, becomes possible. Rights are transformed into privileges that can be instantly revoked. Lies replace truth. Opinions replace facts. History is erased and rewritten. The cult of leadership replaces politics. Paranoia grips a ruling elite that feeds off conspiracy theories, sees mortal enemies everywhere and increasingly lives in a hermetically sealed nonreality-based universe. Force becomes the sole language despots use to communicate to a restive population and the outside world.

Despotic regimes are uninterested in, and often incapable of understanding, nuance, complexity and difference. They perpetuate themselves through constant drama and never-ending crusades against internal and external enemies that are presented as existential threats to the nation. When real enemies cannot be found, they are invented. The persecution of "undesirables" starts with the demonized—immigrants, the undocumented, poor people of color and Muslims, along with those under occupation in the Middle East or socialists in Venezuela—but these "undesirables" are only the beginning. Soon everyone is suspect.

Trump's capricious and arbitrary decisions to remove those around him from power keep his courtiers constantly on edge. The instability fuels the vicious court intrigues that characterize all despotism. Trump's inner circle, aware that the only criterion to remain in power is an exaggerated and obsequious personal loyalty acutely attuned to his mercurial moods and temper tantrums, base all decisions on pleasing the despot. This leads to extreme mismanagement and corruption.

The corporate capitalists who hold real power view Trump as an embarrassment. They would prefer to put a more dignified face on the American empire, one like Biden who will do their bidding with the decorum of a traditional president. But they will work with Trump. He has given them huge tax cuts, is slashing what is left of government oversight and regulation and has increased the budgets for internal security and the military.

It may be an uncomfortable relationship, as was the relationship between German industrialists and the buffoonish leaders of the Nazi Party, but for the corporate elites it is far preferable to having to deal with a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren. Capitalists, throughout history, have backed fascism to thwart even the most tepid forms of socialism. All the pieces are in place. The hollowing out of our democratic institutions, which cannot be blamed on Trump, makes tyranny inevitable.

The insulin story, a perfect example of corporations stealing the wealth of most of us, 2-26-19 Kos

I used the example of Pharmaceutical companies inflating the price of insulin to show how our economic system by design steals so much from everyday Americans that it stops the ability of most to build wealth. Instead, it systematically ensures it leaves most without wealth.

PLEASE Listen to the entire video. We must get more in-depth analysis, my friends.

While the insulin rip off is one example, it occurs in every segment of our economy. Indentured servitude by the masses is the outcome if we continue on the current path.


Recently I blogged about the advent of the standalone emergency rooms using their pricing power and dubious practices to rip off Americans in an article titled "These stories show legalized theft, the reason we need Medicare for All" that everyone should read. [see below]

There is a basic tenet we must recognize in our economic system that the article "Why our economic system is designed to keep most people broke by robbing us legally" explains. [see below]

Ultimately, those with unregulated and unlimited pricing power on products and services you must have, can ensure one can never accumulate wealth. They own you. They can extort from you.

The above reality defines our economy. And the proof is a continual decline in the wealth of the masses as the few gets a more significant percentage. Unchanged, math prevails. Welcome to indentured servitude.

Why our economic system is designed to keep most people broke by robbing us legally

Our economic system is designed to rob the masses of all of their income thus preventing the growth of our wealth. We are doomed if we do not fix it.


Gouging Americans for a life or death drug has consequences as noted at MedPage Today.

... Grant is now buying the insulin online from a Canadian pharmacy, which charges $295 for a 90-day supply, including shipping. For comparison, last week he looked up the price of a 90-day supply of Humalog at Express Scripts. "It would cost me $1,489 with my insurance."

Jeremy Greene, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a practicing physician, has heard similar stories. "Over the past decade in my clinic, when I asked patients why they were not taking the insulin as prescribed, I frequently heard that the cost of insulin is prohibitive," he told the committee. Although Greene first thought maybe he was just prescribing an expensive name-brand insulin instead of a cheaper generic one, "I was surprised to hear that generic insulin simply did not exist."

Instead, three pharmaceutical manufacturers -- sanofi-aventis, Novo Nordisk, and Eli Lilly -- control 99% of the nearly $27 billion global insulin market, even though none of the main agents used are protected by patents, said Greene. "A recent survey found that one of four type 1 diabetics admitted to rationing insulin at least once due to cost in the past year … Humalog was $21 a vial in 1996 and by 2017, it cost $275 for a 1-month supply … This has real consequences for Americans living with diabetes."

It is easy to understand why the increasing price of drugs has life or death consequence in the immediacy. What is not immediately apparent is how this mechanism, this economic system by design is intended to rob you blind.

Insulin is an old medicine, over 100 years old. There is no patent on it. Worse as noted in the article above, it was virtually placed in the public domain. Therefore it should be one of the cheapest drugs on the market. There is a virtual monopoly in companies selling the product. They determine the price. The private sector determines how much they will force you to pay for a drug you must have.

Pricing of any product in our economic system is based on a corrosive concept known as "Whatever the market will bear." And what will the market bear? All of your income plus your total creditworthiness, how much you can borrow.

Sadly, the reality is that corporations whose fiduciary responsibility is to their shareholders and their huge undeserved salaries, will keep raising prices until people are simply unable to afford what they are selling. If it is something they must have, Americans will spend up to their limit to get it.

The tenets of the current economic system are predicated on this behavior that effectively prevents us from saving. It makes us entities that are nothing but conduits of our income used to create the increasing wealth of a few, those who determine prices, the Plutocrats.

In the past when we made taxes very high on income after a few million, there was no incentive for the legal robbery of the American people through predatory pricing because the ill-gotten gains were recycled right back to "we the people" via taxes.

As politicians on the take started reducing and eliminating taxes, the results are clear. Our colleges are more expensive than they should. Schools are underfunded. Our infrastructure is deteriorating. 80% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. But a few people get extremely wealthy, not on their worth or work, but their manipulation of prices, their pricing power.

Is this the life we want? Is this even living? We should learn from these Danish women and work toward a society more like theirs.

These stories show legalized theft, the reason we need Medicare for All.

The Houston Chronicles' excellent article titled "Cracking the Code: How facility procedure codes can become weapons" is a must-read. It illustrates just one cog in the health industrial complex's method of ripping people off, the grand pilfer.

[photo of free standing emergeny room] Her dizziness for which they were incompetent to diagnose appropriately still resulted in a $15,000 bill. What profession allows that kind of billing without guaranteed success or satisfaction?

Theft #1 - Sarah Hirsch was teaching a second-period art class at Manvel High School in November when she felt as if the room was spinning. It was unnerving enough that she went to the school nurse's office to lie down and soon felt better. But when she stood, the dizziness came back.

The cause of Hirsch's symptom was never determined, but the doctor who saw her the next day quickly discovered fluid in her ears, a common cause of dizziness that usually requires no immediate treatment. Yet, by the time she left the Montrose Emergency Center, a free-standing emergency room, Hirsch had accumulated more than $15,000 in charges that included two CAT scans, an electrocardiogram, two urine tests, blood work, and an IV of saline solution to prevent dehydration — even though she was told she was not dehydrated.

She now owes $13,794.49 because insurance covered less than 10 percent of the charges since it was out-of-network.

Theft #2 - He hit his head, used superglue to fix his wound, and then two days later stepped into a facility just to make sure. He ended up with a $1,200 dollar bill for a 20-minute visit.

In January 2018, Richard Kelley tried to step over his sprawled Labrador retriever just as the dog stood up. The Tomball construction manager went tumbling into the corner of a granite countertop, opening a cut to his temple.

Kelley, 63, was in pain and bleeding, but not hurt badly. He applied some do-it-yourself doctoring to the wound and closed it with Super Glue. He wasn't disoriented and did not feel nauseous.

Still, his wife, Maxine, was worried about infection. Two days later, Kelley agreed to have the cut checked. He couldn't get an appointment with his doctor, so he tried the Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center nearby. He didn't know anything about it, but the receptionist promised no waiting.

A few minutes later, the doctor felt along Kelley's eye socket and cheekbone and declared nothing broken. He asked Kelley about concussion warning signs.

"Richard, I don't think stitches are going to help you any,” Kelley said the doctor told him. The nurse applied a few Steri-strips across the cut and Kelley was done. The whole deal, from walking in to walking out, took about 20 minutes, he said.

In March, the couple got a bill from Memorial Hermann. They owed $1,188.75 for the facility fee described as emergency care.

Theft #3 - All he needed was a tetanus shot he would have gotten for free at Walgreen. It cost him $1,900 + $200 copay = $2,100.

These corporations running free-standing emergency rooms are not doing anything illegal. They are playing by the tenets of our economic system. All of those who think Medicare for All would result in the takeover of America's healthcare should ask themselves how well is the private system working.

Those private urgent care centers and private emergency rooms popping up in strip marts are nothing more than profit centers for major corporations. They sell healthcare services like any product, by mostly lying or highlighting the aspects you want to hear.

If a corporation is selling clothes, shoes, electronic equipment, or other trinkets, who cares if prices or description are less than accurate or untruthful. We have a choice to purchase or not, be gullible or not.

When it comes to healthcare there is something fundamentally immoral to apply that same model. If folks do not want government control of healthcare, then open the door for controlled non-profits whose goals are good healthcare for all via Single-Payer Medicare for All.

My goal is to continue to highlight the immorality of our healthcare system and grander, our economic system that by design hurt most of us to benefit a few. I hope most will read these articles in that context. I had my own experience with one of those "legal theft" free-standing emergency rooms. I've lived it. And my wife has lived through the basic thievery of our healthcare system as well.

Green New Deal, I've Got One Word for You... Plastics, 2-7-19

"If your bathtub was overflowing, you wouldn't immediately reach for a mop — you'd first turn off the tap. That's what we need to do with single-use plastics,” wrote Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA and Martin Bourque, executive director of the Ecology Center, Berkeley in a recent LA Times op-ed.

Last month, more than 600 organizations submitted a letter to House members that laid out a vision of what a true Green New Deal should include. "Halt all fossil fuel leasing, phase out all fossil fuel extraction, and end fossil fuel and other dirty energy subsidies" topped the list. In other words, the metaphorical tub of fossil fuels is overflowing. Turn off the tap.

The version of the Green New Deal introduced today in a joint resolution by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-NY), and Sen. Ed Markey, (D-MA) makes no mention of a phasing out of fossil fuels. For all of the good things GND does, going after the problem at its source is not one of them. The Green New Deal is just the latest policy proposal to put all of the emphasis on demand rather than supply, or on consumption rather than production.

Recent analysis by a team of British researchers demonstrated that we can limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C, but only if we act now. They found that every year of procrastination reduces by two years the amount of time we have left for the phase out. Sound climate policy must address production.

But there's another reason why attention must be given to production and it brings us back to the single-use plastics Leonard and Bourque are fighting to stop. The main ingredient in single-use plastics is ethylene extracted from ethane molecules that are cracked open in processing facilities called cracker plants. Ethane is a gas that exacerbates climate change in three ways: 1) it is a greenhouse gas, 2) it contributes to the formation of smog, a major player in global warming, and 3) it deprives the very powerful greenhouse gas methane of the hydroxides it needs to convert to carbon dioxide, thereby extending its life in its most climate-killing form.

Ethane is at the heart of a second-generation fracking boom, a petrochemical boom that has nothing to do with energy production. Ethane is a greenhouse gas, but not a fossil fuel. Fracking for it creates all of the same problems fracking for methane has caused for well over a decade. Ethane crackers pollute the air with Volatile Organic Compounds. The cracker Royal Dutch Shell has proposed for Beaver County, Pennsylvania would be the single biggest source of VOC pollution in the western part of the state. Just like methane production, ethane production means more pipelines, more processing facilities, and more export facilities which bring about more pollution, more risk of explosions and fires, and more health impacts. And just as it is with the natural gas industry, the investment into the expansion of all of the infrastructure to support the petrochemical industry means we will be locked in to production of a greenhouse gas far longer than we can afford to be.

Organizations like Leonard's Greenpeace and the organization she founded, The Story of Stuff, are among those in the single-use plastics fight that have made the link to ethane's role in climate change, but there's no mention of it in GND, nor in the letter sent by the environmental community to House members.

Procrastination from widening our focus to include the supply side of the climate issue not only reduces the time we have for a phase out, it prevents us from understanding and preparing for what it is we need to phase out. It's time to stop limiting the conversation to fossil fuel production and start calling for the phase out we really need – a phase out of greenhouse gas production. And do it quickly — the tub is overflowing.

The 400 richest Americans own more than the bottom 150 million, 2-8-19


The 400 richest Americans — the top 0.00025 percent of the population — have tripled their share of the nation's wealth since the early 1980s, according to a new working paper on wealth inequality by University of California at Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman.

Those 400 Americans own more of the country's riches than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent of the wealth distribution, who saw their share of the nation's wealth fall from 5.7 percent in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014, according to the World Inequality Database maintained by Zucman and others.

Overall, Zucman finds that "U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties.” That shift is eroding security from families in the lower and middle classes, who rely on their small stores of wealth to finance their retirement and to smooth over economic shocks like the loss of a job. And it's consolidating power in the hands of the nation's billionaires, who are increasingly using their riches to purchase political influence.

Zucman, who advised Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on a recent proposal to tax high levels of wealth, warns that these numbers may understate the amount of wealth concentrated in the hands of the rich: It has become more difficult to account for the true wealth of the ultra-rich in recent decades, in part because many hide their assets in offshore tax shelters.

Wealth, here, is roughly synonymous with net worth: the value of everything that a family owns, minus the value of any debt. Assets such as homes, land, rental properties, stock holdings, business equity and bank accounts are included.

The definition excludes personal possessions like cars and furniture. They're difficult to measure, don't produce income and would amount to a tiny fraction of the nation's net worth if they were included, according to Zucman.

For illustrative purposes, consider a person who owns a $250,000 house with $200,000 in outstanding mortgage debt. She also has $5,000 in her bank account and $25,000 in a 401(k). That person has a net worth of $80,000, a figure derived from the sum of all her assets ($250,000 + $5,000 + $25,000) minus the sum of all her debts ($200,000). That $80,000 puts her close to the national median of household net worth, according to previous research by Edward N. Wolff of New York University.


American wealth is highly unevenly distributed, much more so than income. According to Zucman's latest calculations, today the top 0.1 percent of the population has captured nearly 20 percent of the nation's wealth, giving them a greater slice of the American pie than the bottom 80 percent of the population combined. That bottom 80 percent figure includes the 1 in 5 American households that has either zero or negative wealth, meaning that its debts are greater than or equal to its assets. According to NYU's Wolff, the share of U.S. households with zero or negative wealth has risen by roughly one-third since 1983, when it was 15.5 percent.

The top 10 percent of individuals, meanwhile, own more than 70 percent of the nation's wealth, more than twice the amount owned by the bottom 90 percent. The top 10 percent have increased their share of wealth by about 10 percentage points since the early 1980s, with a concomitant decline in the share of wealth owned by everyone else. In some ways, Zucman finds, the distribution of wealth in the United States more closely resembles the situation in Russia and China than in other advanced democracies such as the United Kingdom and France.


Several caveats to this discussion are in order. First, a person with negative net worth is not necessarily penniless. A number of the households in the negative-net-worth bucket may be young professionals, like doctors or lawyers, starting off their careers with large amounts of student debt. This is not necessarily a problem if their high earnings ultimately erase their debt and catapult them into the upper reaches of the wealth spectrum later in their careers.

But young, high-earning professionals account for a minority of negative-net-worth families. The 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, for instance, shows that about 40 percent of families in the bottom quartile of net worth had an outstanding student loan balance of any kind. High-earning professionals probably account for just a fraction of that 40 percent.

Second, rising wealth inequality may not necessarily be a zero-sum game: The rich gobbling up a larger share of the national wealth pie may not be a problem if there's still more pie left for everyone else, relative to several years or decades ago. There's good reason to suspect that this may be the case for income: While incomes at the top have risen dramatically over the past few decades, incomes in the middle have risen, too, albeit much more slowly.

But the same dynamic is not occurring with household wealth. According to Wolff, the median household wealth in the United States in 2016 ($78,100) was slightly lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was three decades ago in 1983 ($80,000). Over the same time period, the average wealth of the top 1 percent of households more than doubled, from $10.6 million to $26.4 million.

The wealthy are becoming wealthier, in other words, and there's good reason to think it's happening at the expense of everyone else. As Zucman notes, this has very different implications for different groups of people. "For everybody except the rich,” he writes, wealth's "main function is to provide security.” Middle-class families tend to use their wealth to save for rainy-day expenses or to draw down on for retirement.

But "for the rich, wealth begets power,” according to Zucman. Our electoral system is highly dependent on outside financing, creating numerous opportunities for the wealthy to convert their money into influence and tip the political scales in their favor. As a result, politicians have become accustomed to playing close attention to the interests of the wealthy and passing policies that reflect them, even in cases where public opinion is strongly trending in the opposite direction.

"Wealth concentration may help explain the lack of redistributive responses to the rise of inequality observed since the 1980s,” Zucman writes. The interplay between money and power, in other words, may be self-reinforcing: The wealthy use their money to buy political power, and they use some of that power to protect their money.

In Case You Missed it - Reposted From December 2006 - Why We're at War? Confessions of a USA Economic Hit Man, Meet John Perkins

By Sam Elfassy, January 29, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", blows the lid of US imperiliasm and provides the reasons as to why it is at war in the Middle East.

Since his book was published, and his famous interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now TV, where he also describes more of the US ugly deeds against the innocent Iranian people, John Perkins has worked to get the truth out in every possible way.

Perkins describes himself as a former economic hit man - a highly paid professional who cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars - in US government service.

In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he writes how he helped the US cheat poor countries around the world by blackmailing them to borrow more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies.

Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard Professor, John E. Mack, writes about the book: "One of the most important stories of our time… a work of great insight, moral courage and transformational depth…a page turner about the ruthlessness with which the United States uses economic manipulation and political coercion to extend our power and control over other nations".

Perkins writes: "The book was to be dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been his clients whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits - Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. THEY WERE ASSASSINATED BECAUSE THEY OPPOSED THAT FRATERNITY OF CORPORATE, GOVERNMENT, AND BANKING HEADS WHOSE GOAL IS GLOBAL EMPIRE. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring Roldós and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in".

Here is a three part speech given to the Veterans For Peace National Convention, Seattle, WA, in late 2006.




Warren's ultramillionaire wealth tax and Ocasio-Cortez's tax hike on high incomes change everything


First, it was AOC. Earlier this month, newly-elected New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for raising the marginal income tax rate to 70 percent—a rate that would apply only to each taxable dollar earned above $10 million in a given year, mind you (Got that, Scott Walker? Do you need us to explain it more slowly?).

Now, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing a companion piece, namely a 2 percent annual tax on wealth over $50 million, with the rate rising to 3 percent for those households who have $1 billion or more. This is not based on income, but accumulated assets.

Additionally, her plan would enact an "exit tax" on those who would renounce U.S. citizenship to get out of paying the wealth tax. Warren's plan has been called an "ultramillionaire tax”—although the moniker certainly applies to AOC's plan as well. These proposals represent the new vanguard for progressive economic policy, and they could not have come at a better time.

There are other proposals out there aimed at addressing economic inequality, including one that projects to bring in more than the $700 billion over 10 years that AOC's does:

Betsey Stevenson, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, favors other targets: eliminating the "step-up" valuation that lets some inherited assets avoid capital gains taxes, and capping tax deductions for the wealthy.

While AOC's proposal deals with annual income, Warren addresses the other key source of economic inequality: accumulated wealth. As Lily Batchelder, a top Obama administration economic adviser, noted: "We tax the very wealthiest less than everyone else because we tax income from capital and inheritances at much lower rates than income from good, old-fashioned hard work.”

The data on this is staggering, as Daily Kos' Meteor Blades presented in a recent post. The gap between the very rich and the rest of us has sharply widened since Ronald Reagan entered the White House and Republican trickle-down tax and economic policies were implemented—policies that shoveled wealth up the economic chain, from the 99 percent to the 1 percent.


Despite progress on tax rates and other economic and tax policies made by Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama, their moves were largely undone by their Republican successors, G.W. Bush and Individual 1, both of whom had Republican-controlled congresses that passed new legislation with bare majorities (avoiding the filibuster by utilizing reconciliation).

The need for Ocasio-Cortez's and Warren's proposals is made crystal clear by the graphs to the right. America cannot continue on as a country where a tiny percentage capture the lion's share of our wealth. And it doesn't have to be this way. Only four decades ago, our country did significantly better when it comes to economic inequality.


Furthermore, there is no way to address the racial wealth and income gap without addressing the wide disparities between the overwhelmingly white top 1 percent and the far more diverse rest of the American population. Both Warren and AOC have spoken clearly about the connections between economic and racial inequality. Additionally, as recent research data from Demos has shown, explaining these connections to voters will help elect Democrats, and thus help enact the policies required to make real progress on both fronts:

An honest conversation with voters about how the right has weaponized racial fear to build support for plutocracy can create a new progressive majority, a coalition of economic populists and racial-justice advocates who recognize that economic and racial justice will be won together.

Finally, this is about power. The concentration of wealth at the very top has given the ultra-millionaires and billionaires—and the corporations they control—far too much power over our government. When a society is ruled by the very wealthiest, it is called an oligarchy, and our society is moving dangerously close to falling into that category. We progressives must fight to ensure that power remains in the hands of all the people, including those of every economic level, every race and ethnicity, every gender, and every religion.

While Democrats are out there defining themselves as the party that will restore opportunity for the 99 percent by making sure everyone benefits from economic growth, Republicans are, literally, out there sounding like Marie Antoinette. Speaking about federal employees who are currently going without pay, a number of Republicans revealed an incredible lack of either sympathy for, or understanding of, what life is like for those who do not have enough money to pay the bills because they are missing paychecks thanks to the Trump Shutdown. For example, when discussing unpaid federal employees having to visit homeless shelters and food banks in order to eat, Commerce Secretary (and billionaire) Wilbur Ross—he of the $600 embroidered slippers—replied:

Well, I know they are, but I don't really quite understand why. Because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from the bank or credit union, are in effect federally guaranteed. So the 30 days of pay, which some people will be out – there's no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan against it.

Nancy Pelosi's response was perfect: "Is this the 'let them eat cake' kind of attitude? Or call your father for money?” A New York Times news article referred to the "Let Them Eat Cake Shutdown.”

Going beyond the shutdown, Republican policy under Trump, and G.W. Bush, and Reagan, has long favored the economic elites over the rest of us. The one thing of significance that Trump and a Republican Congress managed to pass was cutting taxes on millionaires.

At least the American people are seeing through that sham of a plan, which has done essentially nothing so far to improve the lives of average Americans, while sending money up the economic ladder and massively inflating our national debt. That's what Republicans do. As Ocasio-Cortez and Warren have made clear with their recent proposals, we do the opposite.

The marker has been laid down. Whose side are politicians on? Democrats and progressives are fighting for the 99 percent, and Republicans are fighting for those at the tippy-top. When the American people understand that, our side wins. And when our side wins, so do the American people.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (forthcoming in May 2019).

'The aristocrats are out of touch': Davos elites believe the answer to inequality is 'upskilling' - At the same time, they panned the idea of higher tax rates for society's wealthiest

January 26, DAVOS, Switzerland — Leaders of the world's largest and most powerful companies are on edge. A decade after the financial crisis, their businesses are thriving and their pocketbooks are overflowing, but they worry about populism and the threat it poses to the global order they helped build.

Many executives gathered at the exclusive World Economic Forum this week acknowledged that inequality is a major problem fueling populist backlash, and that some middle-class jobs in the West are being lost to trade and automation (even though more jobs overall are being created around the world).

A few business leaders in Davos went so far as compare today's situation to the late 19th century, an era when tycoons like Andrew Carnegie, Andrew W. Mellon, and John D. Rockefeller amassed huge fortunes while most in the working class toiled under harsh conditions.

"We're living in a Gilded Age," said Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, which manages more than $265 billion in assets. "I think, in America, the aristocrats are out of touch. They don't understand the issues around the common man."

"The lack of education in those areas in digital is absolutely shocking. That has to be changed," Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, told a panel. "That will very much lessen the inequalities that people have in terms of job opportunities."

Schwarzman, whose net worth is estimated at $13 billion, said it is "up to the grown-ups" to make digital upskilling happen in K-12 schools.

Dell, who is worth an estimated $28 billion, said the issue goes beyond K-12 education and that companies need to train workers continuously. His own company struggles with finding enough skilled workers, and poaching them from other companies doesn't work, Dell added. "You need to hire and train and grow them from within."

"Upskilling is not going to alter the insecurities and inequalities," said Guy Standing, author of "The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class," who spoke on four panels at Davos this year. He said most executives still don't understand what is needed.

Standing said calls for more education and training were a "cop-out," and that the result would undoubtedly help only a small number of people, which in turn could bring down wages and status in whatever new jobs they went on to obtain.

A study in 2015 by economists Brad J. Hershbein, Melissa S. Kearney and Lawrence H. Summers postulated what would happen if 10 percent of American men, ages 25 to 64, who did not have a bachelor's degree suddenly obtained one. They found that it would improve pay and job prospects for the men who earned the degrees, but would do little to reduce the inequality gap because the richest Americans have so much more income and wealth.

There's also the question of who would pay for education and re-skilling. Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have proposed higher income taxes on the rich, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is set to unveil a proposal for a new tax on wealth.

But millionaires and billionaires in Davos panned the idea of higher taxes, arguing that the private sector does a better job than the government of spending money wisely.

By contrast, leaders from academia and the nonprofit world were quick to call for higher taxes and a redistribution of income.

"Extreme economic inequality is out of control," Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International, told a panel. "We're in a world where governments do not tax wealth enough, do not tax the rich enough."

An Oxfam report this week found that the share of wealth held by billionaires was increasing by $2.5 billion a day, while the share of wealth among the 3.8 billion of the world's poorest was decreasing by $500 million dollars a day. While some quibble with the methodology of the Oxfam report, there's widespread consensus that inequality is getting worse in many parts of the world.

Standing, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, called for a "new income distribution system," where governments commit to assuring a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME that would be enough to keep its citizens out of poverty.

A Gallup poll last year showed that only 56 percent of Americans overall — and less than half of Democrats — have a positive view of capitalism, a decline in sentiment in one of the best years for the economy since at least 2000. MORE DEMOCRATS NOW THINK MORE FAVORABLY OF SOCIALISM THAN CAPITALISM.

Critics were quick to pounce on the executives as out of touch, and their proposed remedy of upskilling as naive, if not insulting.

said Standing. "But in a sense, we can't expect them to provide the answers. They are part of the problem."

To Wilbur Ross, saving 3,000 coal jobs is essential — but 800,000 government workers are a blip, 1-24

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross packed an awful lot of potentially damaging rhetoric for the administration into a fairly brief interview Thursday on CNBC. The highlight of that interview was his bafflement at why federal employees who've gone without pay since late last month would turn to soup kitchens to help make ends meet.

Ross was also asked about a government contractor who said the shutdown was "damaging to the brand of our country,” a comment Ross dismissed as "hyperbole."

Trump officials keep showing they have no idea what it's like to live in the real world

Capping a day with some action but little progress on ending the government shutdown, President Trump showed that he's not quite aware of how normal people engage with the world.

Asked about some inartful comments made by his secretary of commerce earlier in the day, Trump suggested that people ask their "grocers" to work with them.

But, for most Americans, long gone are the days of the community butcher or the corner bodega where that may in fact have been true.

It's not just Trump who is out of touch. Trump has surrounded himself with people who seem to struggle with the concept of financial insecurity.

Since the partial government shutdown began 34 days ago over Trump's demand for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the president, his family members and administration officials have made insensitive and dismissive comments about the 800,000 federal workers and their lost wages.

Commerce secretary doesn't understand why unpaid federal workers use food banks

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday said he doesn't understand why federal workers are visiting food banks during the partial government shutdown, saying they should instead seek low-interest loans from banks and credit unions to supplement their lost wages.

Ross is a billionaire and a longtime friend of President Trump.

His comment drew immediate criticism from top Democrats.

"Is this the 'let them eat cake' kind of attitude?" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. "Or call your father for money?”

Pelosi is schooling Trump. He's a slow learner., 1-24, WP, Eugene Robinson

Contrary to legend, Marie Antoinette probably never actually said "let them eat cake.” The Trump administration is saying it loud and clear, though, to government workers who have now gone more than a month without a paycheck.

"I don't really quite understand why" unpaid employees are resorting to food pantries and other forms of charity, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Thursday. They should just take out loans from banks or credit unions to pay for necessities, he advised. Of course they'd have to pay some interest, but "there's no reason why some institution wouldn't be willing to lend.”

Ross, who is a billionaire, should try supporting a family on less than $45,000 a year, like most Transportation Security Administration airport agents do. He would be shocked to learn that banks do not treat every prospective borrower the same. Where is the red carpet? Why are rose petals not being strewn in my path? What do you mean by "no”?

At least Ross didn't advise unpaid employees to do what President Trump did whenever his real estate schemes threatened to collapse in ruin: borrow millions of dollars from Dad.

Meanwhile, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told a reporter that federal employees who are being forced to work without pay are "volunteering.” The truth is, of course, that if they don't work, they could lose their jobs.

This is the heartless, clueless worldview with which Republicans in Congress have aligned themselves. They demonstrate no sympathy whatsoever for the 800,000 government employees — plus the likely thousands of contract workers — who are being made to suffer because Trump does not understand how the Constitution works.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is teaching the president, but he's a slow learner.

Davos attendees are worried about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She's the least of their problems., 1-23-19

Attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, are worried about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). So says CNBC, which reports that the multimillionaires and billionaires at the annual elite gathering are all but quaking in their expensive winter boots at the thought of her proposed 70 percent marginal income tax rate. "It's scary,” claimed Scott Minerd, a high-ranking executive at investment firm Guggenheim Partners. Bridgewater's Ray Dalio predicted the call for a 70 percent top tax rate would pick up steam ahead of the 2020 election. Michael Dell, the head of Dell Technologies, with an estimated net worth of slightly more than $31 billion, proclaimed that it wasn't necessary. "I do not think it will help the growth of the U.S. economy.”

But no one could top Ken Moelis, the head of the Moelis & Co investment bank, who claimed the freshman congresswoman's proposal would "be disastrous for the economy,” because it would take away the incentive to work. He also asked:" "What's going to happen to the two-workforce family? You forget where 70 percent starts to kick in.”

For the record, Ocasio-Cortez would like to see that top marginal rate kick in at $10 million. I don't know too many families earning that sort of money even if they send all their children and assorted pets to work, and I doubt you do either, unless you live next door to the owner of a hedge fund.

When you hear comments like Moelis's stated belief that a 70 percent tax on income over $10 million is going to put an end to the two-income family, you realize that Ocasio-Cortez is the least of the problems facing the people who can afford to attend Davos.

It's hard to blame billionaires from wanting to get together and congratulate each other on their smarts (not to mention attend many a party), but our ruling plutocrats also want to be congratulated for their unique virtue while doing so. Z

The idea all but baked into the Davos gathering is that the elite who can afford to attend are among what was once called the best and the brightest, people who by dint of their wealth and their financial accomplishments bring an understanding of important matters, one that exceeds that of most mere mortals and voters.

In fact, in many cases, it's the opposite. Their wealth cuts them off, allowing them their restricted vision, and I mean that literally. A few years back, a behavioral finance study determined that the wealthier people are, the less they look at other people surrounding them as they walk down the street.

Reports on the ground say the men — and they are mostly men — attending Davos are more than a bit depressed. It's not just that 70 percent marginal tax threat. President Trump is a last-minute no-show, thanks to the partial shutdown of the federal government he initiated and refuses to bring to an end. British Prime Minister Theresa May, still reeling from her Brexit vote defeat last week, isn't present either. Ditto France's Emmanuel Macron.

Fears of a global recession are thick on the ground. And then there is another top discussion item, a scolding letter penned by non-attendee Seth Klarman, the head of the Baupost Group hedge fund, who wrote, "It can't be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions.”

But somehow — maybe it's that blinkered vision — the men and occasional woman at Davos mostly fail to see their personal responsibility for all that economic and political unhappiness. They don't get that there's a connection between, as Oxfam reported, the wealthiest 1 percent of the world population capturing 82 percent of all wealth created last year, and the increasing unrest.

Reminder: These are the sorts of people who believe the typical worker will be impacted by a tax that begins at $10 million in annual income.

As it turns out, possessing the ability to spend the tens of thousands of dollars that gains you admission to Davos (not to mention paying the absurd prices when there, like ordering a $56 hamburger) means never needing to worry about your role in the problems Klarman described, and the ones keeping the leaders of the United States, Britain and France away.

It means you can surround yourself with people who will tell you it's not your fault that the masses are angry after decades of income stagnation, while the wealthiest continue to make gain after gain.

It means you can continue to pontificate about possible solutions for the mess of problems confronting the world order, while somehow exempting yourself from the sacrifice needed to solve them. And it means you don't need to acknowledge that you are part of the problem, and not likely to be among those to offer a solution.










How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country, 6-19-18

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A team of political activists huddled at a Hardee's one rainy Saturday, wolfing down a breakfast of biscuits and gravy. Then they descended on Antioch, a quiet Nashville suburb, armed with iPads full of voter data and a fiery script.

The group, the local chapter for Americans for Prosperity, which is financed by the oil billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch to advance conservative causes, fanned out and began strategically knocking on doors. Their targets: voters most likely to oppose a local plan to build light-rail trains, a traffic-easing tunnel and new bus routes.

"Do you agree that raising the sales tax to the highest rate in the nation must be stopped?” Samuel Nienow, one of the organizers, asked a startled man who answered the door at his ranch-style home in March. "Can we count on you to vote 'no' on the transit plan?”

In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government.

At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties.










Censorship

NewsGuard and Microsoft Team Up To Destroy Independent Media Ahead Of 2020 Elections; Linked To Several Think Tanks, Government Officials, 1-30

Full graphic here: https://swprs.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/cfr-media-network-hdv-spr.png

The service NewsGuard, an establishment attempt to silence alternative media and independent media sites, has teamed up with Microsoft to help its effort to destroy free press. Meanwhile, the mysterious firm connected to intelligence agencies and former government officials on their advisory board has also just been linked to Saudi Arabia through Publicis Groupe, an investor in NewsGuard.

NewsGuard is now automatically included in Microsoft's Edge browser on iOS, Android and Microsoft phones. Microsoft's press release regarding the partnership states that NewsGuard "will empower voters by providing them with high-quality information about the integrity and transparency of online news sites."

Just one problem, who is providing transparency about the news rating agency?

When a user decides to search the Web, the extension tells the user whether or not a story is credible or not credible with 5 indicators and an information box judging the website.

Green icon - Sites that follow "basic standards of accuracy and accountability" based on nine criteria,which include full disclosure of possible conflicts of interest, financing, and "notable ideological or political positions held by those with significant financial interests in the site."

Red icon - Sites that do not fulfill NewsGuard's criteria for credibility and transparency.

Orange icon - Satire and humor sites that mimic real news.

Blue icon - Sites that primarily host user-generated content.

Gray icon - Unrated sites.

There is just one problem: the plugin is only blacklisting certain sites and does not actually have fact checkers looking into the story in question. So, in fact, the service is censoring alternative and independent media. But, let's be honest, that's exactly what its founders, creators, funders, and advisors want.

About that transparency - the list of advisors for NewsGuard includes Tom Ridge, the former secretary of Homeland Security, Richard Stengel, former editor of Time magazine and Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (Obama administration), (Ret.) General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, former Director of the National Security Agency and former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (George W. Bush administration), Don Baer, chairman of Burson, Cohn & Wolfe and former White House Communications Director (Clinton administration), Elise Jordan, political analyst, NBC, and former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Oh and then there are the journalists (traitors of free speech) like John Battelle, co-founding editor of Wired and founding chief executive of Industry Standard and Jessica Lessin, founder, and editor-in-chief of The Information.

If you aren't worried about a company with a former CIA director (who lied under oath to Congress misleading officials, according to the Senate report on the CIA's interrogation program) and a former secretary of Homeland Security official as its advisors, you may need a reality check. Please go see Dr. Benn Swann for a checkup stat!

Then there is Richard Stengel, a member of the Atlantic Council (neo-liberal think tank) and former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under President Barack Obama who deserves a short blurb for his own involvement. Why? Because Stengel admitted his role in life at a previous discussion hosted last May by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). At the event Stengel described his past position at the State Department as a "chief propagandist" and further stated that he is "not against propaganda" and it was needed. H/T Disobedient Media.

"Every country does it and they have to do it to their own population and I don't necessarily think it's that awful," Stengel said.

Investors in NewsGuard - which raised a whopping $6M in funding - include the following people and corporations, according to Finsmes, a website for real-time VC and private equities and news. However, Finsmes appear to have left out a big investing group known as the Publicis Groupe. Publicis Groupe is the third largest global communications company in the world, with more than 80,000 employees in over 100 countries and an annual revenue of over €9.6 billion ($10.98 billion), according to its website.

Meanwhile, the current CEOs of NewsGuard are Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, one of whom has a colorful history; the other is just a journalist. Crovitz is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and he further notes in his bio, available on NewsGuard's website, that he has been an "editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation."

Yes, the infamous Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank.

But it doesn't end there! In the early 1980s, Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at The Wall Street Journal, eventually becoming executive vice president of Dow Jones and the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Ironically, Crovitz "Mr. I want to fix fake news" has consistently been accused of spreading misinformation into his Wall Street Journal columns, with groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation accusing him of "repeatedly getting his facts wrong" on NSA surveillance. And hilariously he falsely claimed that the Internet was invented entirely privately at Xerox PARC, which was exposed as "fantastically false claims" by the same people he cited for them.

The company is lobbying to have its rankings of news sites installed by default on computers in U.S. public libraries, schools, and universities as well as on smartphones and computers sold in the United States. And its partnership with Microsoft for its Edge browser just helped that effort rigorously.

Several articles represent NewsGuard as using "old-school journalism" to fight "fake news" through its reliance on nine criteria to determine whether a news site is credible or not.

However, as Breitbart pointed out (like them or not the information is credible), the news check extension is marking verifiable FAKE news stories as real news, a worrying prospect. Of course, it's worth noting that NewsGuard is probably (speculatory) in partnership with select news publications like The New York Times, LA Times, CNN, Washington Post, etc. (All the usual big players.)

Then there is the lack of mention by NewsGuard about the Washington Post's founder Jeff Bezos $600 million conflicts of interest with the CIA and Voice of America, the U.S. state-funded media outlet having been involved in propaganda admitted by its acting associate director, Ted Lipien, who said that the outlet produces "fluff journalism."

Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright has previously stated that VOA, Radio Free Europe, and many others "should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics." Fulbright's amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky, who argued that such "propaganda" should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. "from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity."

These are obvious red flags for anyone looking for a truly unbiased fact-checking service when such things are hidden and not publicly displayed ... that, or they just suck at researching, which would essentially mean they aren't qualified to determine what is real and fake news.

Digging even deeper into NewsGuard we may find answers as to why they are not fact checking every news story and just giving websites themselves a rating, because the company only has 21-30 employees according to Pitchbook.

If that's not enough, Publicis Groupe includes a vast number of P.R. firms whose sole purpose is to shape the news and influence the public on behalf of its corporate clients including the drug and tobacco industries. One of those firms connected to Publicis Groupe is Qorvis Group.

The Intercept describes how Qorvis tried to shape American public opinion in favor of Saudi Arabia's policy.

The Saudi Embassy's effort to shape media coverage is led by Qorvis, a consulting firm that has worked for the Saudi government since the months following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Qorvis' recent disclosures under the Foreign Agents Registration Act show that it created an entire website - operationrenewalofhope.com - to promote the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It also "researched potential grassroots supporters in select states" and provided an ongoing effort to reach out to reporters concerning the Yemen war.

[...]

In July, the Saudi Embassy announced the launch of Arabia Now, an "online hub for news related to the Kingdom," according to a press release. Since then, the site has work to promote Saudi Arabia as a bastion for human rights and progress, with posts claiming that the Kingdom is the "most generous country in the world." While Saudi Arabian war ships blocked humanitarian assistance to Yemen, the Arabia Now news hub claimed that "Saudi Arabia was the only country that responded to the humanitarian assistance appeal launched by the U.N. to help Yemen by extending a donation of $274 million."

[...]

Recently filed disclosures show that Targeted Victory, a consulting firm founded by Zac Moffatt, a GOP strategist who served as digital director for Mitt Romney's campaign, has helped to manage Arabia Now. Moffatt's firm was brought on by Qorvis.

For more information on NewsGuard, see the more in-depth NewsGuard backstory on MintPress News, about the firm's connections to Silicon Valley Giants and the government.

How a NeoCon-Backed "Fact Checker" Plans to Wage War on Independent Media - As Newsguard's project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site's ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States.

This, of course, follows attempts by another service, PropOrNot, to do much of the same, who I ruined when I was working at We Are Change exposing them to the core. So much so they responded to my now-suspended Twitter account An0nkn0wledge. H/T guys! As a reminder, on the last attempt PropOrNot was found to be backed by none other than the Foreign Policy Research Institute. And what is the Foreign Policy Research Institute? A think tank with the mission of indoctrinating the U.S. with its foreign policy agenda

So here we have two attempts to censor information, both appearing to come from think tanks and several government officials as advisors on "NewsGuard." Which, if we're being honest should have a name change to "Propaganda Guard" because they are guarding propaganda by telling everyone it's real news, like the examples stated above. You can't judge sites with a rating of green, orange, blue, gray and red. This isn't a terror advisory, Tom Ridge (I can only guess the idea came from Ridge). When Ridge was the former secretary of Homeland Security under George Bush, he came up with the coded terror alert system after 9/11. The system is elementary at best and doesn't really require any type of thinking to come up with, so who knows who came up with it. But it's extremely flawed.

Knowing that both "Propaganda Guard" (NewsGuard) and PropOrNot had government involvement should scare the shit out of you because both companies are about as unbiased as The Washington Post was towards Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Both have a stake in the future foreign policy of America; NewsGuard through its former government advisors, and PropOrNot through the more hilariously connected Foreign Policy Research Institute. Neither company has a right to shape the opinions of Americans or anyone else by giving news websites like Activist Post and many others any type of rating. That's up to the readers themselves to decide, not a shadowy firm with "trained analysts" who are creating a censorship blacklist of information or opinions they don't like - you know, like the ones that hinder corporations or the military industrial complex's forever war machine.

In fact, it will be interesting to see where this goes if this plugin is adopted by the mainstream as a default into applications. I foresee class action cease and desist lawsuits against "NewsGuard" for intentionally causing harm to businesses with just a checkmark. This is already pretty well proven with a recent Gallup study that stated 63 percent of news readers were less likely to share a website with a red rating, while a green rating increased the likelihood of sharing by 56 percent. Although the study was funded by NewsGuard themselves, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt. That study actually could be used to bite them in the ass later.

Did anyone think this through before saying, "oh yeah I want to help destroy the livelihoods of other people?"

All of this has an interesting timing, right before the 2020 primaries. Who's to say that this technology couldn't be used to sway the election far more than Russia, the UK or Israel ever could? Especially since the firm is seeking to have its tech implanted by default into every major technical device.

With all that stated, it's worth mentioning that 90% of U.S. media was owned by 6 different companies in 2012 including GE, NewsCorp, Disney, Viacom, TimeWarner, CBS. Which, as a fun fact, the CFR owns the media. As former Army Major Todd Pierce described, the CFR acts as "primary provocateurs" using "'psychological suggestiveness' to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the U.S. population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover."

So with all that in mind, one finds it hard to believe that a CFR member and government cronies - some even connected to think tanks - want to "restore trust and accountability" in journalism.

This is far from the only effort to try and suppress the free flow of information online. In 2017 Activist Post reported that Full Fact foundation, backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and our favorite billionaire tycoon George Soros, were also planning to fight the efforts of "fake news" with their AI-powered "bull shit detector." Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was also planning to launch a crowd-funded news service called WikiTribune to help combat fake news.

Send your mail to NewsGuard's Twitter feed and Facebook page, and flood them with your opinion about their efforts. If they ask who sent you, say George Orwell from his grave and make sure to tell them they aren't the Ministry Of Truth, this isn't 1984.

NewsGuard Facebook page

NewsGuard Twitter page

Putting the future of what we believe in anyone's hands, let alone artificial intelligence, seems reckless; but a system backed by Soros and Omidyar or think tanks and government officials seems like a dangerously stupid idea that can only lead to a path paved toward a road of Orwellian censorship the likes of which even George Orwell couldn't have imagined.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.










Propaganda

NewsGuard and Microsoft Team Up To Destroy Independent Media Ahead Of 2020 Elections; Linked To Several Think Tanks, Government Officials, 1-30

Full graphic here: https://swprs.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/cfr-media-network-hdv-spr.png

The service NewsGuard, an establishment attempt to silence alternative media and independent media sites, has teamed up with Microsoft to help its effort to destroy free press. Meanwhile, the mysterious firm connected to intelligence agencies and former government officials on their advisory board has also just been linked to Saudi Arabia through Publicis Groupe, an investor in NewsGuard.

NewsGuard is now automatically included in Microsoft's Edge browser on iOS, Android and Microsoft phones. Microsoft's press release regarding the partnership states that NewsGuard "will empower voters by providing them with high-quality information about the integrity and transparency of online news sites."

Just one problem, who is providing transparency about the news rating agency?

When a user decides to search the Web, the extension tells the user whether or not a story is credible or not credible with 5 indicators and an information box judging the website.

Green icon - Sites that follow "basic standards of accuracy and accountability" based on nine criteria,which include full disclosure of possible conflicts of interest, financing, and "notable ideological or political positions held by those with significant financial interests in the site."

Red icon - Sites that do not fulfill NewsGuard's criteria for credibility and transparency.

Orange icon - Satire and humor sites that mimic real news.

Blue icon - Sites that primarily host user-generated content.

Gray icon - Unrated sites.

There is just one problem: the plugin is only blacklisting certain sites and does not actually have fact checkers looking into the story in question. So, in fact, the service is censoring alternative and independent media. But, let's be honest, that's exactly what its founders, creators, funders, and advisors want.

About that transparency - the list of advisors for NewsGuard includes Tom Ridge, the former secretary of Homeland Security, Richard Stengel, former editor of Time magazine and Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (Obama administration), (Ret.) General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, former Director of the National Security Agency and former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (George W. Bush administration), Don Baer, chairman of Burson, Cohn & Wolfe and former White House Communications Director (Clinton administration), Elise Jordan, political analyst, NBC, and former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Oh and then there are the journalists (traitors of free speech) like John Battelle, co-founding editor of Wired and founding chief executive of Industry Standard and Jessica Lessin, founder, and editor-in-chief of The Information.

If you aren't worried about a company with a former CIA director (who lied under oath to Congress misleading officials, according to the Senate report on the CIA's interrogation program) and a former secretary of Homeland Security official as its advisors, you may need a reality check. Please go see Dr. Benn Swann for a checkup stat!

Then there is Richard Stengel, a member of the Atlantic Council (neo-liberal think tank) and former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under President Barack Obama who deserves a short blurb for his own involvement. Why? Because Stengel admitted his role in life at a previous discussion hosted last May by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). At the event Stengel described his past position at the State Department as a "chief propagandist" and further stated that he is "not against propaganda" and it was needed. H/T Disobedient Media.

"Every country does it and they have to do it to their own population and I don't necessarily think it's that awful," Stengel said.

Investors in NewsGuard - which raised a whopping $6M in funding - include the following people and corporations, according to Finsmes, a website for real-time VC and private equities and news. However, Finsmes appear to have left out a big investing group known as the Publicis Groupe. Publicis Groupe is the third largest global communications company in the world, with more than 80,000 employees in over 100 countries and an annual revenue of over €9.6 billion ($10.98 billion), according to its website.

Meanwhile, the current CEOs of NewsGuard are Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, one of whom has a colorful history; the other is just a journalist. Crovitz is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and he further notes in his bio, available on NewsGuard's website, that he has been an "editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation."

Yes, the infamous Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank.

But it doesn't end there! In the early 1980s, Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at The Wall Street Journal, eventually becoming executive vice president of Dow Jones and the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Ironically, Crovitz "Mr. I want to fix fake news" has consistently been accused of spreading misinformation into his Wall Street Journal columns, with groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation accusing him of "repeatedly getting his facts wrong" on NSA surveillance. And hilariously he falsely claimed that the Internet was invented entirely privately at Xerox PARC, which was exposed as "fantastically false claims" by the same people he cited for them.

The company is lobbying to have its rankings of news sites installed by default on computers in U.S. public libraries, schools, and universities as well as on smartphones and computers sold in the United States. And its partnership with Microsoft for its Edge browser just helped that effort rigorously.

Several articles represent NewsGuard as using "old-school journalism" to fight "fake news" through its reliance on nine criteria to determine whether a news site is credible or not.

However, as Breitbart pointed out (like them or not the information is credible), the news check extension is marking verifiable FAKE news stories as real news, a worrying prospect. Of course, it's worth noting that NewsGuard is probably (speculatory) in partnership with select news publications like The New York Times, LA Times, CNN, Washington Post, etc. (All the usual big players.)

Then there is the lack of mention by NewsGuard about the Washington Post's founder Jeff Bezos $600 million conflicts of interest with the CIA and Voice of America, the U.S. state-funded media outlet having been involved in propaganda admitted by its acting associate director, Ted Lipien, who said that the outlet produces "fluff journalism."

Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright has previously stated that VOA, Radio Free Europe, and many others "should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics." Fulbright's amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky, who argued that such "propaganda" should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. "from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity."

These are obvious red flags for anyone looking for a truly unbiased fact-checking service when such things are hidden and not publicly displayed ... that, or they just suck at researching, which would essentially mean they aren't qualified to determine what is real and fake news.

Digging even deeper into NewsGuard we may find answers as to why they are not fact checking every news story and just giving websites themselves a rating, because the company only has 21-30 employees according to Pitchbook.

If that's not enough, Publicis Groupe includes a vast number of P.R. firms whose sole purpose is to shape the news and influence the public on behalf of its corporate clients including the drug and tobacco industries. One of those firms connected to Publicis Groupe is Qorvis Group.

The Intercept describes how Qorvis tried to shape American public opinion in favor of Saudi Arabia's policy.

The Saudi Embassy's effort to shape media coverage is led by Qorvis, a consulting firm that has worked for the Saudi government since the months following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Qorvis' recent disclosures under the Foreign Agents Registration Act show that it created an entire website - operationrenewalofhope.com - to promote the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It also "researched potential grassroots supporters in select states" and provided an ongoing effort to reach out to reporters concerning the Yemen war.

[...]

In July, the Saudi Embassy announced the launch of Arabia Now, an "online hub for news related to the Kingdom," according to a press release. Since then, the site has work to promote Saudi Arabia as a bastion for human rights and progress, with posts claiming that the Kingdom is the "most generous country in the world." While Saudi Arabian war ships blocked humanitarian assistance to Yemen, the Arabia Now news hub claimed that "Saudi Arabia was the only country that responded to the humanitarian assistance appeal launched by the U.N. to help Yemen by extending a donation of $274 million."

[...]

Recently filed disclosures show that Targeted Victory, a consulting firm founded by Zac Moffatt, a GOP strategist who served as digital director for Mitt Romney's campaign, has helped to manage Arabia Now. Moffatt's firm was brought on by Qorvis.

For more information on NewsGuard, see the more in-depth NewsGuard backstory on MintPress News, about the firm's connections to Silicon Valley Giants and the government.

How a NeoCon-Backed "Fact Checker" Plans to Wage War on Independent Media - As Newsguard's project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site's ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States.

This, of course, follows attempts by another service, PropOrNot, to do much of the same, who I ruined when I was working at We Are Change exposing them to the core. So much so they responded to my now-suspended Twitter account An0nkn0wledge. H/T guys! As a reminder, on the last attempt PropOrNot was found to be backed by none other than the Foreign Policy Research Institute. And what is the Foreign Policy Research Institute? A think tank with the mission of indoctrinating the U.S. with its foreign policy agenda

So here we have two attempts to censor information, both appearing to come from think tanks and several government officials as advisors on "NewsGuard." Which, if we're being honest should have a name change to "Propaganda Guard" because they are guarding propaganda by telling everyone it's real news, like the examples stated above. You can't judge sites with a rating of green, orange, blue, gray and red. This isn't a terror advisory, Tom Ridge (I can only guess the idea came from Ridge). When Ridge was the former secretary of Homeland Security under George Bush, he came up with the coded terror alert system after 9/11. The system is elementary at best and doesn't really require any type of thinking to come up with, so who knows who came up with it. But it's extremely flawed.

Knowing that both "Propaganda Guard" (NewsGuard) and PropOrNot had government involvement should scare the shit out of you because both companies are about as unbiased as The Washington Post was towards Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Both have a stake in the future foreign policy of America; NewsGuard through its former government advisors, and PropOrNot through the more hilariously connected Foreign Policy Research Institute. Neither company has a right to shape the opinions of Americans or anyone else by giving news websites like Activist Post and many others any type of rating. That's up to the readers themselves to decide, not a shadowy firm with "trained analysts" who are creating a censorship blacklist of information or opinions they don't like - you know, like the ones that hinder corporations or the military industrial complex's forever war machine.

In fact, it will be interesting to see where this goes if this plugin is adopted by the mainstream as a default into applications. I foresee class action cease and desist lawsuits against "NewsGuard" for intentionally causing harm to businesses with just a checkmark. This is already pretty well proven with a recent Gallup study that stated 63 percent of news readers were less likely to share a website with a red rating, while a green rating increased the likelihood of sharing by 56 percent. Although the study was funded by NewsGuard themselves, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt. That study actually could be used to bite them in the ass later.

Did anyone think this through before saying, "oh yeah I want to help destroy the livelihoods of other people?"

All of this has an interesting timing, right before the 2020 primaries. Who's to say that this technology couldn't be used to sway the election far more than Russia, the UK or Israel ever could? Especially since the firm is seeking to have its tech implanted by default into every major technical device.

With all that stated, it's worth mentioning that 90% of U.S. media was owned by 6 different companies in 2012 including GE, NewsCorp, Disney, Viacom, TimeWarner, CBS. Which, as a fun fact, the CFR owns the media. As former Army Major Todd Pierce described, the CFR acts as "primary provocateurs" using "'psychological suggestiveness' to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the U.S. population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover."

So with all that in mind, one finds it hard to believe that a CFR member and government cronies - some even connected to think tanks - want to "restore trust and accountability" in journalism.

This is far from the only effort to try and suppress the free flow of information online. In 2017 Activist Post reported that Full Fact foundation, backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and our favorite billionaire tycoon George Soros, were also planning to fight the efforts of "fake news" with their AI-powered "bull shit detector." Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was also planning to launch a crowd-funded news service called WikiTribune to help combat fake news.

Send your mail to NewsGuard's Twitter feed and Facebook page, and flood them with your opinion about their efforts. If they ask who sent you, say George Orwell from his grave and make sure to tell them they aren't the Ministry Of Truth, this isn't 1984.

NewsGuard Facebook page

NewsGuard Twitter page

Putting the future of what we believe in anyone's hands, let alone artificial intelligence, seems reckless; but a system backed by Soros and Omidyar or think tanks and government officials seems like a dangerously stupid idea that can only lead to a path paved toward a road of Orwellian censorship the likes of which even George Orwell couldn't have imagined.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.










Murder

Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America's War on Venezuela

By Garikai Chengu, January 31, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded..

American economic sanctions have been the worst crime against humanity since World War Two. America's economic sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.

The fact that for America the issue in Venezuela is oil, not democracy, will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history. Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves on the planet.

America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

From the first moment Hugo Chavez took office, the United States has been trying to overthrow Venezuela's socialist movement by using sanctions, coup attempts, and funding the opposition parties. After all, there is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d'état.

United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, recommended, just a few days ago, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as a possible crime against humanity perpetrated by America.

Over the past five years, American sanctions have cut Venezuela off from most financial markets, which have caused local oil production to plummet. Consequently, Venezuela has experienced the largest decline in living standards of any country in recorded Latin American history.

Prior to American sanctions, socialism in Venezuela had reduced inequality and poverty whilst pensions expanded. During the same time period in America, it has been the absolute reverse. President Chavez funneled Venezuela's oil revenues into social spending such as free+6 healthcare, education, subsidized food networks, and housing construction.

In order to fully understand why America is waging economic war on the people of Venezuela one must analyse the historical relationship between the petrodollar system and Sanctions of Mass Destruction: Prior to the 20th century, the value of money was tied to gold. When banks lent money they were constrained by the size of their gold reserves. But in 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard. Nixon and Saudi Arabia came to an Oil For Dollars agreement that would change the course of history and become the root cause of countless wars for oil. Under this petrodollar agreement the only currency that Saudi Arabia could sell its oil in was the US dollar. The Saudi Kingdom would in turn ensure that its oil profits flow back into U.S. government treasuries and American banks.

In exchange, America pledged to provide the Saudi Royal family's regime with military protection and military hardware.

It was the start of something truly great for America. Access to oil defined 20th-century empires and the petrodollar agreement was the key to the ascendancy of the United States as the world's sole superpower. America's war machine runs on, is funded by, and exists in protection of oil.

Threats by any nation to undermine the petrodollar system are viewed by Washington as tantamount to a declaration of war against the United States of America.

Within the last two decades Iraq, Iran, Libya and Venezuela have all threatened to sell their oil in other currencies. Consequently, they have all been subject to crippling U.S. sanctions.

Over time the petrodollar system spread beyond oil and the U.S. dollar slowly but surely became the reserve currency for global trades in most commodities and goods. This system allows America to maintain its position of dominance as the world's only superpower, despite being a staggering $23 trillion in debt.

With billions of dollars worth of minerals in the ground and with the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela should not only be wealthy, but her people the envy of the developing world. But the nation is essentially broke because American sanctions have cut them off from the international financial system and cost the economy $6 billion over the last five years. Without sanctions, Venezuela could recover easily by collateralizing some of its abundant resources or its $8 billion of gold reserves, in order to get the loans necessary to kick-start their economy.

In order to fully understand the insidious nature of the Venezuelan crisis, it is necessary to understand the genesis of economic sanctions. At the height of World War Two, President Truman issued an order for American bombers to drop "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 140,000 people instantly. The gruesome images that emerged from the rubble were broadcast through television sets across the world and caused unprecedented outrage. The political backlash forced U.S. policy makers to devise a more subtle weapon of mass destruction: economic sanctions.

The term "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) was first defined by the United Nations in 1948 as

"atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above."

Sanctions are clearly the 21st century's deadliest weapon of mass destruction.

In 2001, the U.S. administration told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Iraq was a terrorist state; Iraq was tied to Al Qaeda. It all amounted to nothing. In fact, America already knew that the only weapons of mass destruction that Saddam had were not nuclear in nature, but rather chemical and biological. The only reason they knew this in advance was because America sold the weapons to Saddam to use on Iran in 1991.

What the U.S. administration did not tell us was that Saddam Hussein used to be a strong ally of the United States. The main reason for toppling Saddam and putting sanctions on the people of Iraq was the fact that Iraq had ditched the Dollar-for-Oil sales.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million Iraqis died due to Bill Clinton's sanctions; 500,000 of whom were children. In 1996, a journalist asked former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about these UN reports, specifically about the children. America's top foreign policy official, Albright, replied:

"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

Clearly, U.S. sanctions policies are nothing short of state-sanctioned genocide.

Over the last five years, sanctions have caused Venezuelan per capita incomes to drop by 40 percent, which is a decline similar to that of war torn Iraq and Syria at the height of their armed conflicts. Millions of Venezuelans have had to flee the country. If America is so concerned about refugees, Trump should stop furthering disastrous foreign policies that actually create them. Under Chavez, Venezuela had a policy of welcoming refugees. President Chavez turned Venezuela into the wealthiest society in Latin America with the best income equality.

Another much vilified leader who used oil wealth to enrich his people, only to be put under severe sanctions, is Muammar Gaddafi. In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa's wealthiest nation. Perhaps, Gaddafi's greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his quest to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. Dollars and denominate crude sales in a new gold backed common African currency. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya's Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold-backed Dinar currency.

Africa has the fastest growing oil industry in the world and oil sales in a common African currency would have been especially devastating for the American dollar, the U.S. economy, and particularly the elite in charge of the petrodollar system.

It is for this reason that President Clinton signed the now infamous Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which the United Nations Children's Fund said caused widespread suffering among civilians by "severely limiting supplies of fuel, access to cash, and the means of replenishing stocks of food and essential medications.” Clearly, U.S. sanctions are weapons of mass destruction.

Not so long ago, Iraq and Libya were the two most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa, with the highest regional standards of living. Nowadays, U.S. Military intervention and economic sanctions have turned Libya and Iraq into two of the world's most failed nations.

"They want to seize Libya's oil and they care nothing about the lives of the Libyan people," remarked Chavez during the Western intervention in Libya in 2011.

In September 2017, President Maduro made good on Chavez's promise to list oil sales in Yuan rather than the US dollar. Weeks later Trump signed a round of crippling sanctions on the people of Venezuela.

On Monday, U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton announced new sanctions that essentially steal $7 billion from Venezuela's state owned oil company. At that press conference Bolton brazenly flashed a note pad that ominously said "5,000 troops to Colombia”. When confronted about it by the media, Bolton simply said,

"President Trump stated that all options are on the table."

America's media is unquestionably the most corrupt institution in America. The nation's media may quibble about Trump's domestic policies but when it comes to starting wars for oil abroad they sing in remarkable unison. Fox News, CNN and the New York Times all cheered the nation into war in Iraq over fictitious weapons of mass destruction, whilst America was actually using sanctions of mass destruction on the Iraqi people. They did it in Libya and now they are doing it again in Venezuela. Democracy and freedom have always been the smoke screen in front of capitalist expansion for oil, and the Western Media owns the smoke machine. Economic warfare has long since been under way against Venezuela but military warfare is now imminent.

Trump just hired Elliot Abrams as U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, who has a long and torrid history in Latin America. Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Iran Contra affair, which involved America funding deadly communist rebels, and was the worst scandal in the Reagan Era. Abrams was later pardoned by George Bush Senior. America's new point man on Venezuela also lied about the largest mass killing in recent Latin American history by U.S. trained forces in El Salvador.

There is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d'état. A UN Human Rights Council Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, pointed out that America's aim in Venezuela is to "crush this government and bring in a neoliberal government that is going to privatise everything and is going to sell out, a lot of transitional corporations stand to gain enormous profits and the United States is driven by the transnational corporations.”

Ever since 1980, the United States has steadily devolved from the status of the world's top creditor country to the world's most indebted country. But thanks to the petrodollar system's huge global artificial demand for U.S. dollars, America can continue exponential military expansion, record breaking deficits and unrestrained spending.

America's largest export used to be manufactured goods made proudly in America. Today, America's largest export is the U.S. dollar. Any nation like Venezuela that threatens that export is met with America's second largest export: weapons, chief amongst which are sanctions of mass destruction.

This article was originally published by "Global Research"










Wealth Inequality

Income inequality is rising so fast our data can't keep up, 2-21-19

(Illustration by Christopher Ingraham for the Washington Post/Illustration
by Christopher Ingraham for the Washington Post)

Wages at the top of the income distribution continue to rise much more rapidly than wages for everyone else, according to an analysis of the latest federal data by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank.

But the data are just as notable for what they don't say, according to the report by EPI economist Elise Gould. Increases in wages at the top are outpacing economists' ability to measure them because the federal survey tracking the wage data "top-codes" the highest earnings amounts: For confidentiality reasons, wages are fully recorded only up to a certain threshold. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, which jointly administer the survey, haven't changed that threshold in 20 years, even as top incomes have skyrocketed. As a result, the survey is capturing less information on top pay than it used to.

The 400 richest Americans own more than the bottom 150 million, 2-8-19


The 400 richest Americans — the top 0.00025 percent of the population — have tripled their share of the nation's wealth since the early 1980s, according to a new working paper on wealth inequality by University of California at Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman.

Those 400 Americans own more of the country's riches than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent of the wealth distribution, who saw their share of the nation's wealth fall from 5.7 percent in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014, according to the World Inequality Database maintained by Zucman and others.

Overall, Zucman finds that "U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties.” That shift is eroding security from families in the lower and middle classes, who rely on their small stores of wealth to finance their retirement and to smooth over economic shocks like the loss of a job. And it's consolidating power in the hands of the nation's billionaires, who are increasingly using their riches to purchase political influence.

Zucman, who advised Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on a recent proposal to tax high levels of wealth, warns that these numbers may understate the amount of wealth concentrated in the hands of the rich: It has become more difficult to account for the true wealth of the ultra-rich in recent decades, in part because many hide their assets in offshore tax shelters.

Wealth, here, is roughly synonymous with net worth: the value of everything that a family owns, minus the value of any debt. Assets such as homes, land, rental properties, stock holdings, business equity and bank accounts are included.

The definition excludes personal possessions like cars and furniture. They're difficult to measure, don't produce income and would amount to a tiny fraction of the nation's net worth if they were included, according to Zucman.

For illustrative purposes, consider a person who owns a $250,000 house with $200,000 in outstanding mortgage debt. She also has $5,000 in her bank account and $25,000 in a 401(k). That person has a net worth of $80,000, a figure derived from the sum of all her assets ($250,000 + $5,000 + $25,000) minus the sum of all her debts ($200,000). That $80,000 puts her close to the national median of household net worth, according to previous research by Edward N. Wolff of New York University.


American wealth is highly unevenly distributed, much more so than income. According to Zucman's latest calculations, today the top 0.1 percent of the population has captured nearly 20 percent of the nation's wealth, giving them a greater slice of the American pie than the bottom 80 percent of the population combined. That bottom 80 percent figure includes the 1 in 5 American households that has either zero or negative wealth, meaning that its debts are greater than or equal to its assets. According to NYU's Wolff, the share of U.S. households with zero or negative wealth has risen by roughly one-third since 1983, when it was 15.5 percent.

The top 10 percent of individuals, meanwhile, own more than 70 percent of the nation's wealth, more than twice the amount owned by the bottom 90 percent. The top 10 percent have increased their share of wealth by about 10 percentage points since the early 1980s, with a concomitant decline in the share of wealth owned by everyone else. In some ways, Zucman finds, the distribution of wealth in the United States more closely resembles the situation in Russia and China than in other advanced democracies such as the United Kingdom and France.


Several caveats to this discussion are in order. First, a person with negative net worth is not necessarily penniless. A number of the households in the negative-net-worth bucket may be young professionals, like doctors or lawyers, starting off their careers with large amounts of student debt. This is not necessarily a problem if their high earnings ultimately erase their debt and catapult them into the upper reaches of the wealth spectrum later in their careers.

But young, high-earning professionals account for a minority of negative-net-worth families. The 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, for instance, shows that about 40 percent of families in the bottom quartile of net worth had an outstanding student loan balance of any kind. High-earning professionals probably account for just a fraction of that 40 percent.

Second, rising wealth inequality may not necessarily be a zero-sum game: The rich gobbling up a larger share of the national wealth pie may not be a problem if there's still more pie left for everyone else, relative to several years or decades ago. There's good reason to suspect that this may be the case for income: While incomes at the top have risen dramatically over the past few decades, incomes in the middle have risen, too, albeit much more slowly.

But the same dynamic is not occurring with household wealth. According to Wolff, the median household wealth in the United States in 2016 ($78,100) was slightly lower, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was three decades ago in 1983 ($80,000). Over the same time period, the average wealth of the top 1 percent of households more than doubled, from $10.6 million to $26.4 million.

The wealthy are becoming wealthier, in other words, and there's good reason to think it's happening at the expense of everyone else. As Zucman notes, this has very different implications for different groups of people. "For everybody except the rich,” he writes, wealth's "main function is to provide security.” Middle-class families tend to use their wealth to save for rainy-day expenses or to draw down on for retirement.

But "for the rich, wealth begets power,” according to Zucman. Our electoral system is highly dependent on outside financing, creating numerous opportunities for the wealthy to convert their money into influence and tip the political scales in their favor. As a result, politicians have become accustomed to playing close attention to the interests of the wealthy and passing policies that reflect them, even in cases where public opinion is strongly trending in the opposite direction.

"Wealth concentration may help explain the lack of redistributive responses to the rise of inequality observed since the 1980s,” Zucman writes. The interplay between money and power, in other words, may be self-reinforcing: The wealthy use their money to buy political power, and they use some of that power to protect their money.










Taxes

For the first time in history, U.S. billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class last year, 10-8-19


A new book-length study on the tax burden of the ultrarich begins with a startling finding: In 2018, for the first time in history, America's richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class.

"The Triumph of Injustice,” by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley, presents a first-of-its kind analysis of Americans' effective tax rates since the 1960s. It finds that in 2018 the average effective tax rate paid by the richest 400 families in the country was 23 percent, a full percentage point lower than the 24.2 percent rate paid by the bottom half of American households.

In 1980, by contrast, the 400 richest had an effective tax rate of 47 percent. In 1960, that rate was as high as 56 percent. The effective tax rate paid by the bottom 50 percent, by contrast, has changed little over time.

The analysis differs from many other published estimates of tax burdens by encompassing the totality of taxes Americans pay: not just federal income taxes but also corporate taxes, as well as taxes paid at the state and local levels. It also includes the burden of about $250 billion of what Saez and Zucman call "indirect taxes,” such as licenses for motor vehicles and businesses.

The analysis, which was the subject of a column Monday in the New York Times, is also notable for the detailed breakdown of the tax burden of not just the top 1 percent but also the top 0.1 percent, the top 0.01 percent and the 400 richest households.

The focus on the ultrarich is necessary, Saez and Zucman write, because those households control a disproportionate share of the nation's wealth: The top 400 families have more wealth than the bottom 60 percent of households, while the top 0.1 percent own as much as the bottom 80 percent. The top 400 families are a "natural reference point,” Zucman says, because the IRS publishes information on the top 400 taxpayers as a group, and other sources, such as Forbes, track the fortunes of the 400 wealthiest Americans.

The relatively small tax burden of the super rich is the product of decades of choices made by American lawmakers, some deliberate, others the result of indecisiveness or inertia, Saez and Zucman say. Congress has repeatedly slashed top income tax rates, for instance, and cut taxes on capital gains and estates. Lawmakers also have failed to provide adequate funding for IRS enforcement efforts and allowed multinational companies to shelter their profits in low-tax nations.

But the tipping point came in 2017, with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The legislation, championed by President Trump and then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, was a windfall for the wealthy: It lowered the top income tax bracket and slashed the corporate tax rate.

By 2018, according to Saez and Zucman, the rich were already enjoying the fruits of that legislation: The average effective tax rate paid by the top 0.1 percent of households dropped by 2.5 percentage points. The benefits the bill's supporters promised — higher rates of growth and business investment and a shrinking deficit — have largely failed to materialize.

Not all economists accept Saez and Zucman's analysis. It is based in part on their previous work, along with French economist Thomas Piketty, on the distribution of wealth and income in American society. Other economists have generated estimates of that distribution that show smaller disparities between the nation's haves and have-nots. Saez, Zucman and Piketty have defended their research and maintain that their methods are the most accurate.

On the question of tax burden, Jason Furman, an economics professor at Harvard who chaired the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, noted that Saez and Zucman did not include refundable tax credits, such as the earned-income tax credit (EITC), in their analysis.

The credit, which is intended to encourage low-income families to work, "is part of the tax code,” Furman said. A person who paid $1,000 in federal income taxes and then received a $1,500 credit would have a total federal tax burden of -$500, but Furman said that under Saez and Zucman's analysis, that person would instead show a burden of $0. That result would make total tax burdens at the lower end of the income spectrum appear higher than they are.

"The best estimates indicate that the tax system is progressive — with the rich paying a higher tax rate than everyone else,” Furman said.

Zucman countered that his and Saez's analysis considers the EITC and other credits like it as transfers of income, akin to food stamps or jobless benefits, rather than tax provisions.

"If you start counting some transfers as negative taxes, it is not clear where to stop,” he said via email. "Do you treat the EITC as a negative tax? veterans' benefits? medicaid? defense spending? … There's no clear line and the results become arbitrary.”

There is general agreement among economists, however, that the tax burden of the rich has fallen considerably in recent decades.

"The rich definitely pay less in taxes than they did in the past and less than they should,” Furman said.

Americans are finally finding out they got royally screwed by the Republican tax scam, 2-9-19


In late 2017, about a year before they were summarily booted out of office, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives passed something they called the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.”

At that time Republicans not only made up a majority in the House, but in the Senate as well. They also had the amazing fortune of having a president eager and willing to sign whatever they chose to put in front of him. So they had an unprecedented, really tremendous amount of power, just then.

They could have used that power to fundamentally improve the lives of ordinary Americans. They could have passed all kinds of incentives to keep corporations from "outsourcing" jobs and hiding and parking their profits overseas. They could have routed vast sums of money to rebuild deteriorating highways and bridges that Americans rely on every day. They could have bolstered up Medicare and Social Security, ensuring that millions of citizens enjoyed a dignified and prosperous retirement. They could have helped families pay for their kids' college educations. They could have funded all kinds of services that would improve the quality of Americans' lives.

Instead, they chose to do the exact opposite. They chose to reward the corporate conglomerates who had bankrolled their political campaigns with millions of dollars in campaign ads and ghost-written voter suppression laws. They completely turned their backs on the ordinary people who had voted them into office. And they did this knowing full well that their big, ballyhooed tax "cut" was really nothing more than a huge tax giveaway to the nation's wealthiest, that would not do a single thing to help the people who had voted for them.

They knew that as long as they kept repeating the time-tested mantras of "abortion" and "undeserving" and "illegals,” that their gullible voting base would swallow whatever snake oil they could cook up. That's why they never even bothered to mention their "tax cut" in their re-election campaigns last November. They knew it was all an embarrassing scam.

They were all in on it. Every single one of them. And now, safe in their cushy corporate sinecures they had all pre-arranged before the voters wised up and kicked them out of office, they're having a good laugh at everyone else's expense. Yes, the Republicans screwed Americans over good, and they're not looking back.

Now the returns are literally coming in—and it's dawning on ordinary folks how badly they were conned.

The average refund is down about 8% under the first full year of the overhauled tax code, according to data released by the IRS on Friday. Refunds averaged $1,865 compared to $2,035 for tax year 2017.

***

Some workers saw a bump in their take-home pay after employers started using the new IRS income tax withholding tables.

But experts have said people could see smaller refunds than expected if they didn't adjust their paycheck withholdings after the changes took effect. Others could see their tax burden increase because the revised code eliminated some popular deductions.

That so-called "bump" in take-home pay was part of the scam, and it was aided and abetted directly from the top.

[J]ust to be sure that voters noticed all the good Paul Ryan had done for them, the Trump administration reportedly pressured the IRS to err on the side of withholding too little from Americans' paychecks "so people will see big increases in their take-home pay ahead of this year's midterm elections.”

As it turned out, most people really didn't notice much of a "bump" in their paychecks at all. So they took their anger out on the Republicans last November, sweeping them out of office. But as reported by Eric Levitz for New York Magazine, the real reckoning of this travesty is just beginning to come into view:

Now, the bill for the GOP's (reported) withholding shenanigans is coming due: The average American's tax refund was 8.4 percent lower in the first week of 2019 than it was one year ago (under the pre-Trump tax code). And while Americans have trouble noticing tax changes when they're dispersed across 12 to 24 separate paychecks, they do typically pay very close attention to the size of their refunds. About three-quarters of the country typically qualifies for a tax refund most years — and for many of those households, that check from the IRS is the largest lump sum they'll receive all year.

All told, about three million more Americans will end up owing the IRS money than last year, before the Republican tax plan took effect.

The economic consequences of this con job amount to more than simply confirming that the Republicans are charlatans. As pointed out in the Intercept by David Dayen (quoted by Levitz), the reduction in tax refunds is likely to reduce spending, which will end up slowing economic growth

***

So not only will the Republican tax "cut" have failed to do anything to help the economic prospects of ordinary Americans, it may very likely end up resulting in an economic slowdown that could haunt the present administration as it tries to tout its achievements, going into the 2020 elections.

While that may be a case of just desserts for the political future of Donald Trump, in the end, it's all of us who will end up suffering the consequences of this colossal Republican fraud.

I Finished My Taxes. Here is What Happened to Me and What You Might Expect, 2-5

So I just finished my taxes, and in other diaries I've seen a lot of people expressing concerns about what to expect. I finished my own taxes just a bit ago, and I was bit by the tax law changes. I'm careful and will be fine, but it was a nasty surprise. So let me share what I saw on my tax forms, and an easy way for some folks with straightforward tax situations to see if they'll be bit like me.

The history: In 2017, the Trump administration 'cut' taxes.

For a lot of Americans, the changes in law can be summarized as follows:

Doubled standard deduction (from 6K single/12K married to 12K single/24K married).

Doubled the refundable child tax credit from 2K to 4K.

Eliminated some common deductions.

The administration also pressured the IRS into making a dirty change. They reduced the standard withholding amounts. That's where the magic happened. They did this for the completely obvious and purely political effect of trying to give people a 'bigger' paycheck www.cbsnews.com/… . They also did it in the most predictably assholish way possible, by making the withholding reduction about equal to the standard deduction.

What happened to me:

My tax refund was way smaller than last year. The withholding changes wiped out 95% of my baseline refund. The much touted doubling of the standard deduction was worth about as much as the mice my cat leaves on the carpet. (though with my cat I can at least appreciate the love he brings along with, and he gives me snuggles and purrs). If it wasn't for the child tax credit being refundable, I wouldn't have gotten squat.

I deconstructed my return to see what happened to my money. Basically, it looks like the IRS precomputed withholding to match the 'average' american family with 2 deductions and the standard deduction, and 'baked' it in to their formula. This essentially gave everyone a major part of their tax refund split paycheck by paycheck throughout the year. By touting it as a 'pay raise’, they essentially told Americans NOT to save it, even though most Americans use the tax refund as a savings source and depend on it as an annual lump income. That is why purchasing spikes in the May time frame, as refunds go out and Americans spend it.

email, Daily KOS, 2-5-19

over the weekend, news broke that the Trump administration separated thousands more children from their families at the southern border than was previously reported. Officials claim that reuniting these families would be too much work, and could further traumatize the children they kidnapped.

The only crisis on our southern border is the one created by the Trump administration. As Congress hashes out a deal on immigration, let's make sure they hear our opposition to Trump's wall, to more detentions, to more deportations, to more deaths, and to more policies that separate families and traumatize children.

Hoo-boy! Lots of people are really unhappy with their tax refunds this year, 2-4

"Fuck @realDonaldTrump and the Congress"

They're just waking up, I know just what they'll do. Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, then the boobs down in Trumpville will all cry boo-hoo.

Below is just a small sampling of Twitter reactions from taxpayers who expected a bigger refund following the passage of the GOP tax scam at the end of 2017.

If this is being repeated across the country (and millions are yet to file), the backlash could be, well, extreme.

It's one thing to serve the NCAA champs cold berders and fries or to, I don't know, insist on remaining president even though you're the goddamn stupidest sentient being in the universe, but if people don't get the refunds they're expecting, look out:

I'm starting to see a few tweets from folks saying they aren't getting the tax refunds that the @GOP promised with their tax scam bill. Remember, we were told we'd be able to remodel our kitchens, buy a new car, or take that big vacation.

- Impeach Trump @dumptrump33

@realDonaldTrump I just got back from my tax accountant. All I can say is you phucked us bad. On the same income as 2017 I went from getting a ~$6,000 refund for both state and federal to owing ~$2,000 total. I will not vote for you again. Your tax changes SUCK!

- Jeff Dearborn

Thanks #GOPTaxFraud Not only am I NOT getting a #refund I now OWE 6000 MORE. Middle class tax cut my A@@

- kd728

Thanks @realDonaldTrump for my shitty tax refund this year. 2k less than last year. I make 68k a year. I�m glad your rich friends get all the money I could have used.

- Colleen Clare

Despite my income and withholding staying the same, my refund decreased by about 66%. Who gained from the deficit exploding tax cut? Not the middle class! #taxscam #taxhike #taxhike2018 @realDonaldTrump @ChuckGrassley @SenJoniErnst @SteveKingIA

- Mark Nieman

Trump straight fucked up my tax refund this year. #FuckTrump

- Sal Ramirez

I always file my taxes early & get a small refund. This year I am fully f*cked due to the #GOPTaxScam. I even increased witholdings when the tables changed but I still owe almost $2000 this year. If you're anything other than a millionaire steel yourself for an ugly tax season.

- Trisha

Fuck @realDonaldTrump and the Congress. Take my half my damn tax refund away because y'all wanna raise the standard deduction! Fuck all y'all you pieces of shits! Fucking with my damn money. #FuckDonaldTrump - Dev

And many many more like this. Let's hope this ends the Trump support.


Regime Change

In Venezuela, White Supremacy is a Key to Trump's Coup

By Greg Palast, February 10, 2019 "Information Clearing House"


What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela, 2-10

A Case of News-Suppression All Across the Mainstream Media


By Eric Zuesse, Introduction

This news-report is being submitted to all US and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hide such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper's account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the UN General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report's author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public.

THE COVERED-UP DOCUMENT

On 3 August 2018, the UN's General Assembly received the report from the UN's Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel th[r]ough both countries focused on "how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries."

He "noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone."

He noted "that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services." However (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General's Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military.

AU travel: Do not travel to Venezuela due to the unstable political
and economic situation, food, water, medicine and petrol shortages and
high levels of violent crime. Many hospitals are closed. Power and water outages are common.

29. …Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being "weaponized" against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization.

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied].

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [UN] resolution 2625 (XXV): "no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State".

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through "fake news", aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights "end" justifies the criminal means.

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that "the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”. In short: economic sanctions kill.


41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military "humanitarian intervention".

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines.

45. The "crisis" in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it "is still a high-income country ... and as such is not eligible".

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called "protagónica", is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter'48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the "relevant" rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a "fake investigation". Social media insults bordered on "hate speech" and "incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert's integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.


48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the "relevant" rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a "fake investigation". Social media insults bordered on "hate speech" and "incitement". Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert's integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly:

(g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes?

(h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law....

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain's Independent headlined "Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens", and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

Mapa de regiones naturales (Venezuela) - Wikimedia

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to "crimes against humanity" under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in "economic warfare" against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself "interim president" of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him...

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas's allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: "The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA's inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas's findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government ministers, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup...

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country's economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change.

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed...

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas's report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country...

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions...

“In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an "economic siege" like the one Venezuelans are living under…

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a "humanitarian crisis" are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being "weaponised" to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more "palatable"...

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they're not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

Important Notes

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who "reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the US empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.

Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas's report on this matter. As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the UN needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that's targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the UN's bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the UN itself.

On January 23rd, Germany's Die Zeit headlined "Christoph Flü:gge: 'I am deeply disturbed': The UN International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flü:gge: Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges". Flü:gge: especially cited US President Trump's agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain's Guardian, bannered "International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference".

This news-report said that, "A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN's international courts in The Hague citing 'shocking' political interference from the White House and Turkey." The judge especially criticised Bolton:

The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat." Flü:gge said that the judges on the court had been "stunned" that "the US would roll out such heavy artillery."

Flü:gge told the Guardian: "It is consistent with the new American line: ‘'e are No 1 and we stand above the law'."

On February 6th, a former UK Ambassador to Syria vented at an alt-news site, 21st Century Wire (since he couldn't get any of the major-media sites to publish it), "A Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria", and he brazenly exposed there the Doublespeak-Newspeak that the US Government and press (what he called America's "frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers") apply in order to report the 'news' about Syria.

So: how can the public, in a country such as the US, democratically control the Government, if the government and its press are lying to them, like that, all the time, and so routinely?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity

No Hay Comida = There is no food





Empire, Colonialism

Controlled Demolition By Paul Edwards November 24, 2020 "Information Clearing House"

My first thought for a title was “A House Divided…”, but, even in Nixon-Kennedy days that would have been dishonest. Pace, Abe Lincoln, America has always been a House Divided, yet it has stood, propped up and constantly refitted by a political system that kept an ignorant, gullible people baffled for decades while power and privilege stripped them of the phenomenal bounty that, by rights and law, was theirs.

What’s new in our beleaguered country is not the division of our house but its total fragmentation. The structure held deceptively intact for so long by constant applications of partisan bullshit, rhetorical spit, legislative baling wire and executive duct tape, is now so fissured and faulted as to be more standing rubble than viable edifice. We are not simply split in our politics, we are pulverized, in every aspect of our reality. Start anywhere.

Economically, we’re the most wildly inequitable of wealthy nations where 10% have more money than 90%, three men have more than half of us, and the richest take everything from everybody. The bitter resentment of each for the other is intensified by being suppressed as impermissible.

In religion nearly half the population rejects irrefutable science in favor of an embarrassing porridge of myth, magic and risible lies that has rotted for two millennia, invulnerable to reason, and fealty to the wacky formulas of Christian dogma is obligatory from politicians, while those who have at last shrugged off that yoke still have to pretend otherwise lest they be beaten with the stupid stick of empowered, imbecile “end times” millennialism.

In race relations, at least half the white population is deeply, morbidly racist and openly prejudiced against blacks and people of color while the other half struggles with its unconscious bias to be inclusive, without any idea of how to practically relate to those it vows, in theory, to support.

In ecological questions, there is fierce opposition between the powerful camp that sides with raping Capitalist extractive industries and a growing minority who condemn them. On climate change, Capitalist industry and its great mass of slaves and flacks deny it and obstruct any mitigation, indifferent to the coming extinction of many species, including our own.

On foreign policy, there is acrimonious conflict between the Exceptionalist mob and the War Machine that sells that rot, and Americans of all levels of wealth and education who are passionately against our Imperial, militarist drive to brutally bully the world and its peoples. That timid anti-war faction is silenced and repressed while forced to finance the endless, blundering, military failures that enrich the massive merchants of death and murder.

On Labor regulations, supporters of unionization, collective bargaining and defense of workers’ rights have been driven nearly out of the game by the coalition of Big Industry and a majority unskilled labor pool which angrily rejects organization in favor of the new serfdom and the gig economy.

In the battleground of immigration, the hard lines are between those who favor a lenient policy on illegals and refugees with pathways to residency and eventual citizenship, and those who would criminalize undocumented entry and demand that illegals be rounded up, jailed, and deported.

In sexual mores, one faction defends the rights to free choice in matters of sex orientation, physiology, marital rights, abortion, and pregnancy, and the other opposes fiercely all such personal sovereignty while contending fiercely that it is exactly that individual liberty they will defend to the death.

In medical policy, the majority who see healthcare as a human right that should be provided as a federal service with emphasis on genuine care, are bitterly fought by the combined power of the insurance/drug/hospital cabal that sell medical services for profit and their faithful, who damn the “socialized medicine” that would affordably and efficiently serve them.

Even in regard to government and its function there is irreconcilable disagreement between those who believe it should be empowered to protect and serve the people, and the many, allied with the juggernaut of Capitalist exploitation, who see government itself as the enemy and seek to dismantle all regulation that mitigates against industry’s brute power.

A House Divided..? This is a House shattered, dismantled, atomized. This is inexorable disintegration, the inevitable consequence of a continuous, uninterrupted, controlled demolition.

Whose plan was it? It was Capitalism’s. Not, of course, the plan they thought they were implementing. All these percolating disasters are unintended consequences of an economic system the sole purpose of which is to grind the living world to powder for money; a system without one single provision for the care and preservation of life in any form other than as a source of monetary gain. It is a system for which life itself has no intrinsic value. With this as its foundational principle, it followed that whatever was done to humanity and the living world was of no concern to Capitalism. And it hasn’t been. The fouling and pillaging of the living world and the evisceration of our society are simply collateral damage.

This last, ongoing, Presidential election idiocy—we have been instructed— is one of supreme, indeed, unparalleled importance. On the outcome, the fate of our “democracy” depends, we’re told. Its result will save or sink us, is the cry from both factions. The fact is that neither will do anything but accelerate the process of our implosion and devolution. The notion that either of these grotesques od the farcical, juvenile, Mad Hatter Parties that offered them up to a blithered automaton electorate could make an iota of difference in the vector or velocity of our catastrophe is beyond absurd.

There will be no “coming together”; no “healing of wounds”. No “long, national nightmare” will be over.

The lesions that unrestrained Capitalism has inflicted and left raw and festering on the body politic are not healable, and are fatal. The abject lunacy with which it has inseminated the insect brain of the American people will not abate and is not educationally or psychologically treatable. The emotional and cognitive confusion and incapacity that relentless subjection to poisoning by the virulently noxious propaganda of Capitalism cannot now be reversed or diluted.

The end of the pathetic, ridiculous stalemate will come and another set of dimwitted, visionless imperial maniacs and hysterics will assume their positions. One vacuous moral cripple will assemble his cadre of clowns and jesters and, facing a bifurcated Congress almost entirely composed of loons, throwbacks, hicks, and flimflam men, will do his damndest to take us hurtling down the fast lane to chaos and dissolution.

A hundred years ago, the poet Robinson Jeffers wrote a heartbroken love letter to his country. He called it, “Shine, Perishing Republic”. It has taken this long for his worst fears to come to full fruition. He wept to foresee it: it remains for us to live it.

American Requiem By Chris Hedges

However inequitable its bias, capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse.

November 06, 2020 "Information Clearing House" - Well, it's over. Not the election. The capitalist democracy. However biased it was towards the interests of the rich and however hostile it was to the poor and minorities, the capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse. The iconography and rhetoric remain the same. But it is an elaborate and empty reality show funded by the ruling oligarchs — $1.51 billion for the Biden campaign and $1.57 billion for the Trump campaign — to make us think there are choices. There are not.

The empty jousting between a bloviating Trump and a verbally impaired Joe Biden is designed to mask the truth. The oligarchs always win. The people always lose. It does not matter who sits in the White House. America is a failed state.

“The American Dream has run out of gas,” wrote the novelist J.G. Ballard. “The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It's over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now.”

There were many actors that killed America's open society.

THE CORPORATE OLIGARCHS who bought the electoral process, the courts and the media, and whose lobbyists write the legislation to impoverish us and allow them to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth and unchecked power.

THE MILITARISTS AND WAR INDUSTRY that drained the national treasury to mount futile and endless wars that have squandered some $7 trillion and turned us into an international pariah.

The CEOs, raking in bonuses and compensation packages in the tens of millions of dollars, that shipped jobs overseas and left our cities in ruins and our workers in misery and despair without a sustainable income or hope for the future.

THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY that made war on science and chose profits over the looming extinction of the human species.

THE PRESS that turned news into mindless entertainment and partisan cheerleading.

THE INTELLECTUALS who retreated into the universities to preach the moral absolutism of identity politics and multiculturalism while turning their backs on the economic warfare being waged on the working class and the unrelenting assault on civil liberties.

And, of course, THE FECKLESS AND HYPOCRITICAL LIBERAL CLASS that does nothing but talk, talk, talk.

If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient.

The liberal class, once again, served as pathetic cheerleaders and censors for a candidate and a political party that in Europe would be considered on the far-right. Even while liberals were being ridiculed and dismissed by Biden and by the Democratic Party hierarchy, which bizarrely invested its political energy in appealing to Republican neocons, liberals were busy marginalizing journalists, including Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, who called out Biden and the Democrats.

The liberals, whether at The Intercept or The New York Times, ignored or discredited information that could hurt the Democratic Party, including the revelations on Hunter Biden's laptop. It was a stunning display of craven careerism and self-loathing.

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are, the election has illustrated, oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing.

Restoring the rule of law, universal health care, banning fracking, a Green New Deal, the protection of civil liberties, the building of unions, the preservation and expansion of social welfare programs, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, the forgiveness of student debt, stiff environmental controls, a government jobs program and guaranteed income, financial regulation, opposition to endless war and military adventurism were once again forgotten.

Championing these issues would have resulted in a Democratic Party landslide.

But since the Democratic Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate donors, promoting any policy that might foster the common good, diminish corporate profits and restore democracy, including imposing campaign finance laws, was impossible.

Biden's campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America. At least the neofascists have the courage of their demented convictions.

The liberal class functions in a traditional democracy as a safety valve. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. It ameliorates the worst excesses of capitalism. It proposes gradual steps towards greater equality. It endows the state and the mechanisms of power with supposed virtues. It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements. The liberal class is a vital component within the power elite. In short, it offers hope and the possibility, or at least the illusion, of change.

The surrender of the liberal elite to despotism creates a power vacuum that speculators, war profiteers, gangsters and killers, often led by charismatic demagogues, fill.

It opens the door to fascist movements that rise to prominence by ridiculing and taunting the absurdities of the liberal class and the values they purport to defend. The promises of the fascists are fantastic and unrealistic, but their critiques of the liberal class are grounded in truth. Once the liberal class ceases to function, it opens a Pandora's box of evils that are impossible to contain.

The disease of Trumpism, with or without Trump, is, as the election illustrated, deeply embedded in the body politic. It is an expression among huge segments of the population, taunted by liberal elites as “deplorables,” of a legitimate alienation and rage that the Republicans and the Democrats orchestrated and now refuse to address. This Trumpism is also, as the election showed, not limited to white men, whose support for Trump actually declined.

Fyodor Dostoevsky saw the behavior of Russia's useless liberal class, which he satirized and excoriated at the end of the 19th century, as presaging a period of blood and terror. The failure of liberals to defend the ideals they espoused inevitably led, he wrote, to an age of moral nihilism. In "Notes From Underground," he portrayed the sterile, defeated dreamers of the liberal class, those who hold up high ideals but do nothing to defend them. The main character in 'Notes From Underground' carries the bankrupt ideas of liberalism to their logical extreme. He eschews passion and moral purpose. He is rational. He accommodates a corrupt and dying power structure in the name of liberal ideals. The hypocrisy of the Underground Man dooms Russia as it now dooms the United States. It is the fatal disconnect between belief and action.

“I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect,” the Underground Man wrote. “And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figure – primarily a limited being.”

The refusal of the liberal class to acknowledge that power has been wrested from the hands of citizens by corporations, that the Constitution and its guarantees of personal liberty have been revoked by judicial fiat, that elections are nothing more than empty spectacles staged by the ruling elites, that we are on the losing end of the class war, has left it speaking and acting in ways that no longer correspond to reality.

~ ~ ~
The “idea of the intellectual vocation,” as Irving Howe pointed out in his 1954 essay "This Age of Conformity," “the idea of a life dedicated to values that cannot possibly be realized by a commercial civilization — has gradually lost its allure. And, it is this, rather than the abandonment of a particular program, which constitutes our rout.”

The belief that capitalism is the unassailable engine of human progress, Howe wrote, “is trumpeted through every medium of communication: official propaganda, institutional advertising and scholarly writings of people who, until a few years ago, were its major opponents.”

“The truly powerless people are those intellectuals — the new realists — who attach themselves to the seats of power, where they surrender their freedom of expression without gaining any significance as political figures,” Howe wrote. “For it is crucial to the history of the American intellectuals in the past few decades — as well as to the relationship between ‘wealth' and ‘intellect' — that whenever they become absorbed into the accredited institutions of society they not only lose their traditional rebelliousness but to one extent or another they cease to function as intellectuals.”

Populations can endure the repression of tyrants, as long as these rulers continue to effectively manage and wield power. But human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded.

This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in the former Yugoslavia, a conflict I covered for The New York Times.

The historian Fritz Stern in "The Politics of Cultural Despair," his book on the rise of fascism in Germany, wrote of the consequences of the collapse of liberalism.

Stern argued that the spiritually and politically alienated, those cast aside by the society, are prime recruits for a politics centered around violence, cultural hatreds and personal resentments.

Much of this rage, justifiably, is directed at a liberal elite that, while speaking the “I-feel-your-pain" language of traditional liberalism, sells us out.

“They attacked liberalism,” Stern writes of the fascists emerging at the time in Germany, “because it seemed to them the principal premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it; the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament and the parties, the lack of political leadership. Even more, they sense in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.”

We are in for it. The for-profit health care system, designed to make money — not take care of the sick — is unequipped to handle a national health crisis. The health care corporations have spent the last few decades merging and closing hospitals, and cutting access to health care in communities across the nation to increase revenue — this, as nearly half of all front-line workers remain ineligible for sick pay and some 43 million Americans have lost their employee-sponsored health insurance.

The pandemic, without universal health care, which Biden and the Democrats have no intention of establishing, will continue to rage out of control. Three hundred thousand Americans dead by December. Four hundred thousand by January. And by the time the pandemic burns out or a vaccine becomes safely available, hundreds of thousands, maybe a few million, will have died.

The economic fallout from the pandemic, the chronic underemployment and unemployment — close to 20 percent when those who have stopped looking for work, those furloughed with no prospect of being rehired and those who work part-time but are still below the poverty line are included in the official statistics — will mean a depression unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s.

Hunger in US households has already tripled since last year. The proportion of US children who are not getting enough to eat is 14 times higher than last year. Food banks are overrun. The moratorium on foreclosures and evictions has been lifted while over 30 million destitute Americans face the prospect of being thrown into the street.

There is no check left on corporate power.

The inevitable social unrest will see the state, no matter who is in the White House, use its three principle instruments of social control — wholesale surveillance, the prisons and militarized police — buttressed by a legal system that routinely revokes habeas corpus and due process, to ruthlessly crush dissent.

People of color, immigrants and Muslims will be blamed and targeted by our native fascists for the nation's decline.

The few who continue in defiance of the Democratic Party to call out the crimes of the corporate state and the empire will be silenced.

The sterility of the liberal class, serving the interests of a Democratic Party that disdains and ignores them, fuels the widespread feelings of betrayal that saw nearly half the voters support one of the most vulgar, racist, inept and corrupt presidents in American history. An American tyranny, dressed up with the ideological veneer of a Christianized fascism, will, it appears, define the empire's epochal descent into irrelevance.

Regime Change Is Urgently Needed In Washington

By Andre Vltchek, February 28, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

It is not Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Iran that are in dire and crucial need of 'regime change’. It is the United States of America, it is the entire European Union; in fact, the entire West.

And the situation is urgent.

The West has gone mad; it has gone so to speak, bananas; mental. And people there are too scared to even say it, to write about it.

One country after another is falling, being destroyed, antagonized, humiliated, impoverished. Entire continents are treated as if they were inhabited by irresponsible toddlers, who are being chased and disciplined by sadistic adults, with rulers and belts in their hands yelling with maniacal expressions on their faces: "Behave, do as we say, or else!”

It all would be truly comical, if it weren't so depressing. But… nobody is laughing. People are shaking, sweating, crying, begging, puking, but they are not chuckling.

I see it everywhere where I work: in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

But why?

It is because North American and European countries are actually seriously delivering their ultimatum: you either obey us, and prostrate yourself in front of us, or we will break you, violate you, and if everything else fails, we will kill your leaders and all of those who are standing in our way.

This is not really funny, is it? Especially considering that it is being done to almost all the countries in what is called Latin America, to many African and Middle Eastern nations, and to various states on the Asian continent.

And it is all done 'professionally’, with great sadistic craftsmanship and rituals. No one has yet withstood 'regime change' tactics, not even the once mighty Soviet Union, nor tremendous China, or proud and determined Afghanistan.

Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK and Syria may be the only countries that are still standing. They resisted and mobilized all their resources in order to survive; and they have survived, but at a tremendous price.

The victims keep crying. A few independent countries keep expressing their outrage. But so far, there is no grand coalition, which would be ready to fight and defend each other: "one for all, all for one”.

Until the recent 'rebellion' at the UN, no one has been openly and seriously suggesting that international law should apply to all nations of the world, equally.

People talk about 'peace’. Many are begging the brigands to 'to stop’, to 'have mercy’, to show some compassion. But, neither Europe nor North America has ever shown any compassion, for long, terrible centuries. Look at the map of the beginning of the 20th century, for instance: the entire world was colonized, plundered and subjugated.

Now it is all moving in the same direction. If the West is not stopped, our planet may not survive at all. And let us be realistic: begging, logical arguments and goodwill will not stop Washington, Paris or London from plundering and enslaving.

Anyone who has at least some basic knowledge of world history knows that.

So why is the world still not forging some true resistance?

Is Venezuela going to be the last straw? And if not Venezuela, that is if Venezuela is allowed to fall, is it going to be Nicaragua, Cuba or Iran next? Is anything going to propel people into action?

Are we all just going to look passively how, the socialist Venezuela, a country which has already given so much to the world, Venezuela which managed to create beautiful visions and concepts for our humanity, is going to be burned to ashes, and then robbed of all of its dreams, its resources and of its freedom?

Are we all such cowards? Is this what we – human beings – have actually become; been reduced to? Cowards and cattle, selfish and submissive beings; slaves?

All this, simply because people are too scared to confront the empire? Because they prefer to hide and to pretend that what is so obvious, is actually not taking place?

Therefore, let me pronounce it, so at least my readers do not have that 'luxury' of claiming that they were not told:

This world is being brutalized and controlled by the fascist clique of Western nations. There is no 'democracy' left in this world, as there is near zero respect for international law in North American and European capitals. Colonialism has returned in full force. Western imperialism is now almost fully controlling the world.

And begging, trust me – begging and talking of peace is not going to help.

During WWII, fascism had to be stopped. If not, it was going to devour the entire planet. In the past, tens of millions have already died fighting for freedom and for our mankind. Yes, some nations tried to compromise and negotiate with Nazi Germany, but we all know where it all ended.

Now, the situation is the same. Or worse, perhaps much worse, because the West has nukes and a tremendous propaganda apparatus: it controls human brains all over the world with 'mass media’, and 'education’.

And because the citizens of the West are now much more brainwashed than the Germans and Italians were in the late 1930's and early 1940's; more brainwashed, more scared, submissive and more 'disciplined’.

Look, seriously: are the people who are now writing those "peace essays”, in which they argue with the Western regime about who is right and who is wrong, seriously thinking that they are going to move people like Donald Trump, or Pompeo, or Abrams, or Rubio?

Do they believe that Washington is going to stop murdering millions of people all over the world? Or that the neo-colonialist plunder would stop, after the US Congress and Senate suddenly understands that it has been at the wrong side of history?

This is not some rhetorical question. I am serious: I demand answers!

Does 'peace movement' thinks that by amassing arguments it could stop Western expansionism? Yes or no?

Do they believe that Pompeo or Trump will suddenly hit their foreheads and exclaim: "You people are correct! We did not see this!” And call their troops, their thugs and mercenaries back?

If not, if this is not what peace movements believe would be done by North American and European leaders, then why all those thousands of wasted pages?

Would you go near a crocodile that is ready to devour an innocent child, and try to reason with it? Would you, seriously? Do you think it would stop, drop a few tears, wag its tail and leave?

Sometimes I tend to believe that 'peace movements' in the West are making things worse. They create false hopes, and they behave as if the empire is some entity that has a soul, and understands logic. They grossly underestimate the threat; the danger.

And they tend to analyze the Western threat from a Western perspective, using Western logic.

It somehow gets lost in interpretation that fascism, terror, and bestiality have to be confronted and fought.

One cannot negotiate with a group of countries which are already bathed in the blood of some 80% of the planet. If it was to happen, it would just be a mockery and it would simply humiliate everyone that is sincerely trying to stop the assassins.

Right now, Venezuela needs solidarity. It requires direct help, actions; not words. And so do many other countries.

Instead, it gets an endless avalanche of best wishes, as well as premature obituaries.

The Bolivarian Revolution has gotten plenty of colorful words. But what it urgently needs is volunteers, money, and internationalist brigades!

I know that billions of people all over the world are now cheering from their armchairs; in fact, doing absolutely nothing, while also spending zero. Their love for Venezuela is 'platonic’.

I have just left Syria, where I was covering the Idlib war zone. There was not one single foreigner near me, during those days. Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley usually work all over the toughest areas in Syria, but how many others do? And most of the time we work with near zero backing, just because we feel that it is our moral obligation to inform humanity.

I am wondering, how many foreigners are fighting for Venezuela, right now?

Who is going to face the Western spooks implanted into the Caracas and the Venezuelan borders with Colombia and Brazil? A few RT and TeleSur reporters, those true heroes, yes, but who else?

Only direct action can save Venezuela, and the world.

This is no time for debates.

This is worse, much worse than the late 1930's.

The proverbial crocodile is here; its enormous ugly mouth open, ready to devour yet one more brilliant, proud country.

It is time to stick a big metal rod into its mouth. Now, immediately; before it gets too late.

Let us shout LONG LIVE VENEZUELA! But with our hands, muscles and purses, not just with our mouths.

And let us not be scared to declare: if anywhere, it is Washington where regime change is truly and urgently needed!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are China and Ecological Civilization with John B. Cobb, Jr., Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel "Aurora" and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: "Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky "On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.










Bogus Boss Guilt

Are You Working Hard Enough? The question your boss wants you to keep asking yourself

Andrew Carnegie once told a newspaper, "It isn't the man who does the work that makes the money. It's the man who gets other men to do it." Not exactly inspirational, but at least he was being honest.

This line of thought has poured the foundation of our current economy — one that pretends to value hard work, but doesn't really. Not always.

Meanwhile, the truth is that working hard isn't enough. Neither is working smart. It used to be, but no longer.

What counts more than anything is learning how to play the game.

And you need to. Not so that you can take advantage of others, but so you can avoid getting conned into workaholism.

Wall Street is doing better than ever, but most workers haven't seen this little money since the 1920s — the era of reckless speculation and consumption that caused the Great Depression. A study released earlier this year by a UC Berkeley economist says the top one percent of adults now enjoy 25 percent of all wealth in the U.S.

These types cling the hardest to mantras that apply to everyone but themselves. They don't just profit off our work — but also our guilt and our ethics. It ensures you keep giving them 120 percent. Raise your hand if you've ever felt bad about not answering an email within a couple of hours. If you've ever regretted taking an entire weekend off, or pursuing a side project, instead of doing more work for your company.

Maybe it's time to take a look at your priorities. If it hasn't got you anywhere, then think about where else you could put that extra time and attention. Stop feeling guilty about it. You get paid to do what's in your contract: nothing more.

. . .
You may have seen a movie called Bad Moms. Near the beginning, a character played by Mila Kunis humors her emo boss as he recounts a semi-sexual dream, in agonizing detail, that ends with him enthusiastically telling her that she will now, single-handedly, head up the company's latest efforts to distribute their coffee to hotels. He makes it sound like a promotion — it's definitely not.

Kunis reacts about the way you'd expect.

Later, she gets fired for blowing off one of those pointless meetings designed solely to boost the boss's ego.

There's a reason why these movies do so well. Most of us know what it's like to hear a boss play up more responsibility as something to celebrate. We see her struggle to keep things running, while her superiors think up more work for her to do that will make them more money.

Some of us have already been down this track, giving up nights and weekends for years, canceling dates and vacations. All for a bit of praise and a two percent pay bump. And if we don't do it? We judge ourselves. Your boss doesn't have to call you a slacker — he's already got you doing it to yourself.

. . .
Working hard has long served as a kind of moral imperative in the U.S., and yet, everyone wants out. The less time you spend in manual labor and service professions, the better. That's unless you go into a skilled trade like plumbing or carpentry.

College used to offer an escape from a life of double-shifts and late bills, but the last recession caved that one in.

Politicians have effectively defunded higher education, forcing institutions to make up the difference with increased tuition. Meanwhile, Pell Grants cover less than ever. The maximum amount would barely pay for half a year's tuition at the majority of state universities.

On top of that, our dear president wants to raid $1.9 billion from this fund to build his "Space Force".

It's no wonder most universities are bracing for an "enrollment cliff" over the next five years. Millennials didn't boom out babies like they were supposed to, and college has been ruined by corporations and the politicians they've gathered in their pockets.

. . .
Your dad is fond of telling you how he worked his way through college, but that's essentially impossible now. These days, a student has to work more than 2,000 hours at a minimum wage job to afford a single year's worth of tuition. Four decades ago a year of college only cost about a fifth that in real terms.

Instead of fixing this problem, those at the top blame overpaid professors — along with the general "uselessness" of book smarts. According to them, you're better off going straight to work.

Once you're there, it doesn't get much better.

A lot of bosses think like Carnegie did and it's leading to an epic tidal wave of burnout and misery. More and more of us are giving up nights and weekends to please our bosses. What used to count as extreme motivation has become the norm — an unspoken expectation.

If you're not answering emails on Sunday, are you even trying?

This problem goes beyond merely setting boundaries. If you're worried about getting fired for lack of ambition, or missing a promotion, it's hard to say no to your boss.

We're working harder than ever to generate record profits for companies that don't care about us in the least.

. . .
Today's boss excels at getting people to do hard work for them. In an ordinary world, that's fine: a good boss is supposed to delegate.

A good boss is supposed to surround themselves with experts. But these experts are supposed to be paid well — they're not supposed to be fed spare change and adulation alone.

They're not supposed to be rewarded with yet more work.

They're not supposed to feel wracked with guilt for every single detail that might fall through the cracks.

They're not supposed to call themselves lazy for wanting to read a book on their profession, instead of sitting through endless meetings where nothing happens, except that everyone looks tidy and professional.

I've seen the Carnegie model in action plenty of times at my own workplace — corporate flunkees making twice my salary, who barely know how to use spreadsheets, and don't understand statistics.

Maybe you've found yourself in a similar situation. A failing company has opened your eyes to all the free work you've been doing. Work that goes unappreciated, except in the most superficial forms like a nice email, or a token two percent pay raise. If so, it's probably time to start looking for a better, more fulfilling line of work.

Most importantly, don't let some big shot make you feel like a dead weight simply because you don't parrot their agenda and do their heavy lifting for them, while they reap the credit and bonuses.

Even if your actions don't turn a profit for your boss, you're never lazy if you're doing something that advances your knowledge, skills, or your understanding of the world. Always choose that when you can.

You'll never regret building yourself.

Written by Jessica Wildfire









Climate Inaction

How to Save the Planet and Ourselves, By Chris Hedges

November 18, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

If you read only one book this year, it should be Roger Hallam's "Common Sense for the 21st Century: Only Nonviolent Rebellion Can Now Stop Climate Breakdown and Social Collapse."

Hallam's lucid and concise book, which echoes Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," says what many of us now know to be true but do not say: If we do not replace the ruling elites soon we are finished as a species. It is a cogent, well-argued case for global rebellion - the only form of resistance that can save us from ecosystem collapse and human-induced genocide. It correctly analyzes the failure of environmentalist activists in groups such as 350.org to understand and confront global corporate power and thus make a meaningful impact as we barrel toward ecocide. "Common Sense for the 21st Century" is a survival manual for the human species.

"The corrupt system is going to kill us all unless we rise up," Hallam, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, bluntly warns.

The activism, protests, lobbying, petitions, appeals to the United Nations and misguided trust in "liberal" politicians such as Barack Obama and Al Gore, along with the work of countless NGOs, have been accompanied by a 60% rise in global carbon dioxide emissions since 1990. The United Nations estimates this will be augmented by a 40% rise in CO2 emissions in the next 10 years. Hallam, who has long been a part of the environmental movement, says of his past activism: "I was wasting my time."

We must reduce carbon emissions by 40% in the next 12 years to have a 50% chance of avoiding catastrophe, according to a report last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But the ruling elites, as expected, ignored the warning or mouthed empty platitudes. CO2 emissions increased by 1.6% in 2017 and by 2.7% in 2018. Carbon dioxide levels went up by 3.5 parts per million (ppm) last year, reaching 415 ppm. We are only a decade away, Hallam warns, from 450 ppm, the level equivalent to a 2-degree Celsius average temperature rise.

"Let's be frank about what 'catastrophe' actually means in this context," Hallam writes. "We are looking here at the slow and agonizing suffering and death of billions of people. A moral analysis might go like this: one recent scientific opinion stated that at 5°C above the pre-industrial mean temperature, we are looking at an ecological system capable of sustaining just one billion people. That means 6-7 billion people will have died within the next generation or two. Even if this figure is wrong by 90%, that means 600 million people face starvation and death in the next 40 years. This is 12 times worse than the death toll (civilians and soldiers) of World War Two and many times the death toll of every genocide known to history. It is 12 times worse than the horror of Nazism and Fascism in the 20th century. This is what our genocidal governments around the world are willingly allowing to happen. The word 'genocide' might seem out of context here. The word is often associated with ethnic cleansing or major atrocities like the Holocaust. However, the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition reads 'the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.'"

"It is time to grow up and see the world as it is," Hallam writes. "There are some things which are undeniably real, there are some things we cannot change, and one of those is the laws of physics. Ice melts when the temperature rises. Crops die in a drought. Trees burn in forest fires. Because these things are real, we can also be certain about what the future holds. We are now heading into a period of extreme ecological collapse. Whether or not this leads to the extinction of the human species largely depends upon whether revolutionary changes happen within our societies in the next decade. This is not a matter of ideology, but of simple math and physics." Hallam points out that most predictions by climate scientists have turned out to be wildly over-optimistic. "...Recent science shows permafrost melting 90 years earlier than forecast and Himalayan glaciers melting twice as fast as expected," he writes. "Feedbacks and locked-in heating will take us over 2°C even before we factor in additional temperature rises from human-caused emissions over the next ten years."

"In short, we are fucked--the only question is by how much and how soon?" Hallam continues, "Do we accept this fate? I suggest we do not. Many self-respecting people who can overcome the human failing to disbelieve what they don't like, now accept what is obvious looking at the natural science. But they have yet to work through the political and social implications."

Hallam understands that even with reformists in power--and the political mutations caused by neoliberalism have not favored the rise of reformers but instead right-wing demagogues including Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro who accelerate the ecocide--any change will be too incremental and too slow to save us from catastrophe.

Extinction Rebellion has the stated aim of bringing down the ruling elites. It organized last month's coordinated series of demonstrations in 60 cities around the globe. Some 1,832 people were arrested in London alone. Additionally, more than 1,000 people were arrested during 11 days of civil disobedience in the streets of London in April. You can see interviews I did with Hallam here, here and here.

video On Contact: Climate Emergency with Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion

video On Contact: Civil Disobedience to Stop Ecocide

video On Contact: Extinction Rebellion

"This is not a matter of one's political party preferences," Hallam writes. "It is a matter of basic structural sociology. Institutions, like animal species, have limits to how fast they can change. To get rapid change they have to be replaced with new social systems of policy, practice and culture. It is a terrible and painful realization, but it is time to accept our reality."

It is only by bringing tens of thousands of people onto the streets to disrupt and paralyze the functioning of the state and finance capitalism--in short, a rebellion--that we can save ourselves, he writes. He grasps the fact that the protests must be nonviolent and must focus on governments.

"After one or two weeks following this plan, historical records show that a regime is highly likely to collapse or is forced to enact major structural change," he writes. "This is due to well-established dynamics of nonviolent political struggle. The authorities are presented with an impossible dilemma. On the one hand they can allow the daily occupation of city streets to continue. This will only encourage greater participation and undermine their authority. On the other hand, if they opt to repress the protestors, they risk a backfiring effect. This is where more people come onto the street in response to the sacrifices of those the authorities have taken off the street. In situations of intense political drama people forget their fear and decide to stand by those who are sacrificing themselves for the common good."

"The only way out is for negotiations to happen," he writes. "Only then will a structural opportunity open up for the emergency transformation of the economy that we need. Of course, this proposal is not certain to work but is substantially possible. What is certain, however, is that reformist campaigning and lobbying will totally fail as it has for decades. The structural change we now objectively need has to happen too fast for any conventional strategy."

No rebellion succeeds, Hallam understands, unless it appeals to a segment within the ruling elite. Once there are divisions in the ruling class, paralysis ensues and ultimately larger and larger fragments of the elite defect to those who are rebelling or refuse to defend a discredited ruling class.

"Mass action cannot just be nonviolent in a physical sense but must also involve active respect towards the public and the opposition, regardless of their repressive responses," Hallam notes.

He writes specifically of the police:

A proactive approach to the police is an effective way of enabling mass civil disobedience in the present context. This means meeting police as soon as they arrive on the scene and saying two things clearly: "This is a nonviolent peaceful action" and "We respect that you have to do your job here”. We have repeated evidence that this calms down police officers thus opening the way to subsequent civil interactions.

The Extinction Rebellion actions have consistently treated the police in a polite way when we are arrested and at the police stations, engaging in small talk and quite often in political discussions and other topics where activists might have affinity (inequality, unfair pay). If police initially stonewall activists, they can become more open by a willingness to engage with and listen to them.

This engagement can start before an action. Often a face-to-face meeting with police is effective as they are able to understand that the people they are dealing with are reasonable and communicative.

Rebellion will also require repeatedly breaking the law. This will mean time spent in jails and prisons.

"It would be beneficial to the Rebellion for people to be in prison before the major civil resistance event to create national publicity," writes Hallam, who was jailed for six weeks this fall in London. "The best way of potentially doing this is for people to do repeated acts of peaceful civil disobedience and then read out statements as soon as they enter court, ignoring the judge and court staff. In a loud voice they might say 'I am duty bound to inform this court that in bringing me here it is complicit in the "greatest crime of all" namely, the destruction of our planet and children due to the corrupt inaction of the governing regime whose will you have chosen to administer. I will not abide by this court's rules and will now proceed to explain the existential threat facing all life, our families, communities and nation ...' and then start a long speech on the ecological crisis.

"This will likely result in the arrestee being in contempt of court and placed in remand or given a prison sentence. It will be a dilemma for the authorities (depending on the regime) as to how long the remand or sentence would be. If the period of imprisonment is short, then people will be out soon and can continue peaceful civil disobedience. If the sentence is long, it will create a national media drama which will feed into overall rebellion.”

Popular assemblies have to be formed to take power and oversee a dramatic and swift reduction in CO2 emissions.

The science is unequivocal. The temperature increase must be stabilized at between 1 degree C and 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, and CO2 levels must be stabilized at about 350 ppm. We have to find ways to largely eliminate human-created greenhouse gas emissions of all types within a decade, two at the most, and put in place programs to cool the earth, including planting trillions of trees to absorb CO2. One of the easiest and most significant ways an individual can directly reduce his or her environmental impact on the planet is to eat a diet free of animal products. The animal agriculture industry rivals the fossil fuel industry as one of the largest, multi-factorial causes of climate catastrophe.

The danger, Hallam points out, is that if we do not act soon we will trigger runaway climate feedbacks or tipping points at which no effort to curb emissions will succeed. Fossil fuels must be swiftly eliminated from the economy, including through a ban on all new investments in fossil fuel exploration and development. Coal-fired and gas-fired power stations must be shut down within a decade. This process will require a massive reduction in energy use that may have to include rationing.

Hallam is acutely aware that we may fail. It may be too late already, he admits. But not to resist is to be complicit in this act of genocide. Hallam understands global corporate power. He knows how to fight it. The rest is up to us.

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/










A Warning, by Anonymous

Highlights from the book

"Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” —Theodore Roosevelt

With every dismissal or departure of a level-headed senior leader, the risks to the country grow, and the president is validated by a shrinking cadre of advisors who abet or encourage his bad behavior. We are already seeing the consequences.

What This Book Is The criticism of the Trump administration is so frenzied that ordinary Americans are struggling to discern truth from fiction. There is only so much the public can absorb. When everything is a crisis and a scandal, the end result is that nothing is.










The Fed

The "Repo" Fiasco; the Fed's Cash Injections Send Stocks Soaring

The scale of the Fed's manipulation is truly breathtaking.

By Mike Whitney February 01, 2020 "Information Clearing House"

A five-alarm fire has broken out in a little known, but critically important area of the financial system where high-quality bonds are swapped for cash. The "repo" market, which is short for repurchase agreements, is part of the nondeposit, shadow banking system that remains largely unregulated despite the fact that it was ground zero in the 2008 financial crisis.

On September 17, 2019, the repo market was whipsawed by a sudden spike in short-term interest rates that rose from the Fed's target rate of roughly 2% to an eye-popping 10% in a matter of hours. The incident, that put traders into an immediate frenzy, sent the Fed scrambling for the printing presses where it swiftly rolled-off $75 billion to finance additional short-term loans and to add liquidity to a market badly in need of cash.

The Fed's efforts did in fact bring rates back down to the 2% target-range but at great cost to its credibility. Despite repeated assurances that the financial crisis was over, the Fed has resumed pumping $60 billion per month into a market that is liquidity-starved and dangerously out-of-whack. In truth, the only thing preventing another spike in rates followed by an excruciating debt cascade, is the Central Bank's ability to bury the problem under a mountain of freshly-minted dollar bills. Absent that, another cataclysmic crash would be unavoidable. Check out this excerpt from an article from Wall Street on Parade:

"According to the data made available on the public website of the New York Fed, since September 17, 2019 it has funneled a cumulative total of $6.6 trillion to some of the 24 trading houses on Wall Street that are known as its "primary dealers.” The giant sum has been sluiced to Wall Street in the form of repurchase agreement (repo) loans without any details being provided to the elected representatives in Congress as to which firms are getting the money or what it's being ultimately used for."

The Fed is swapping cash for collateral of unknown quality. The public doesn't know the terms under which these agreements have been made nor do they know whether the banks are concealing their own insolvency as they did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. What we do know, however, is that the Fed has provided a "cumulative total of $6.6 trillion" at the discounted rate of 1.55% to the most distrusted institutions in America without any congressional oversight, without any independent review of the process, and without the American people having the slightest idea of the risks that are involved in blindly rolling over trillions of dollars of short-term loans to these thoroughly corrupt and totally unreformable financial institutions.

The Fed has no intention of allowing the public to know what's really going on behind the scenes. Remember, the Fed "battled in court for more than two years to keep the details of its loans a secret from Congress and the American people”, so they're certainly not going to do an about-face and open up today. No, what they are going to do is push the envelope as far as they can, operate far beyond their legal mandate, and conceal their inappropriate or illegal activity behind an iron wall of obfuscation and denial. Keep in mind, no one knew the extent of the Fed's lavish handouts until years after the dust had settled.

So "over $29 trillion" was shoveled into the banking system without congressional approval and without the American people having any idea of how they were being finagled. We should probably expect the same underhanded goings on in the current crisis, in fact, that looks to be the case. The Fed is not going to acknowledge what it is doing and the media is not going to publish the details. It's a conspiracy of silence.










Covid-19

Coronavirus - The Aftermath. A Coming Mega-Depression... By Peter Koenig

What will be next? Is a question on many people's minds. Very likely the world will never be the same again. That might be good, or not so good, depending on how we look at this disastrous, "pandemic" which by all serious accounts does not deserve the term "pandemic”, that was unwittingly attributed to the SARS-2-CoV, or 2019-nCoV, renamed by WHO as COVID-19.

On March 11, Dr. Tedros, WHO's Director General called it a pandemic. This decision was already taken by the WEF (World Economic Forum) in Davos, from 20 -24 January 2020, when the total COVID19 cases outside of China were recorded by WHO as 150. On January 30, the WHO Director General determines that the outbreak outside of Mainland China constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This was a first indication that there was something not quite right, that there is another agenda behind the "outbreak" of the COVID-19 disease.

On March 26, in a peer-reviewed article in the highly reputed New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the US National Institutes of Health – NIH), likened COVID19 to a stronger than usual common flu:

If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively. nejm.org

This scientific assessment in the New England Journal of Medicine has not prevented Dr. Fauci from saying exactly the opposite, when interviewed by the mainstream media: see below.

Health and Science

Top US Health Official says the coronavirus is 10 times 'more lethal' than the seasonal flu

In the meantime, other high-ranking scientists, microbiologists and medical doctors from all over the world, are questioning the draconian worldwide shutdown because of the corona virus. They all say, these draconian measures are not necessary to contain a pandemic with a relatively low fatality rate.

Even in Italy, if the counting and accounting was done more carefully, more according to true statistical norms, the fatality rate would be perhaps 1%, or less. On March 23, Italy's civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli, told La Repubblica newspaper, it was credible that for every officially reported case, there may be at least 10 infected cases not reported, asymptomatic cases, not requiring a doctor's visit. If this were true, the actual mortality rate would in a stroke become one percent instead of ten percent.

What the world is experiencing, resembles a well-planned worldwide declaration and implementation of Martial Law with socio-economically disastrous consequences, far worse than the disease itself. Nobody moves. The economy comes to an almost standstill.

This begs the question, what is behind it, and what comes next?

Let's first look at a not-so-good scenario.

Al-Jazeera reports on 2 April that Global Coronavirus cases top 1 million with 50,000 deaths. Politico said on April 2 that only two weeks into the corona lockdown almost 10 million workers in the US are without a job.

“The total job losses in just two weeks — almost 10 million Americans — amounts to a staggering, sudden blow to American workers never seen before in the U.S. economy. The labor market in the coming weeks could blow past the 15 million jobs lost at the peak of the 18-month Great Recession from 2007 to 2009.”

On March 31, the FED predicted an alarming forecast: 32% unemployment and 47 million out of work for the next quarter as the coronavirus continues to spread. Bankruptcies, especially of small and medium-size enterprises may be spiraling out of control within a month or two. This would have a further domino effect on unemployment.

Goldman Sachs – GS (on 20 March 2020)

“sees unprecedented stop in economic activity, with 2nd quarter GDP contracting 24% Goldman Sachs economists forecast a historically sharp and swift recession, with second-quarter GDP sinking a stunning 24% after a 6% decline in the first quarter.” GS economist predict a further GDP decline of 5% in the second quarter

"Home lenders brace for up to 15 million US mortgage defaults.” So, says Bloomberg (April 2), adding that "Mortgage Defaults Could Pile Up at Pace That Dwarfs 2008”. Mortgage lenders are preparing for the biggest wave of delinquency in history

All of this is already happening. These figures cover only the United States, and do not yet account for Europe and the rest of the world. Such figures for Europe are not yet available, but predictions are that they may be similarly grim.

Looking at Asia, except for China, Africa and Latin America, they have a large informal sector which is difficult to control, but which most certainly is slipping through any flimsy social safety net countries may have.

Reliable statistics are not available. But "guestimates" have it, for example in Peru, that in good times, the informal sector may amount to as much as one third of the economy. In hard times, like now, possibly up to 50%, or even higher.

The picture of a coming mega-depression, that never existed in recent history, may continue as many of the bankrupt small and medium size enterprises – including airlines, tourist industries – et al, will be bought up by huge monopolies, that already exist, (e.g.Google, Amazon, AliBaba and more). Mergers of gigantic proportions may take place. It may be the last shift of capital from the bottom to the top in our era of civilization as we know it.

5G and Artificial Intelligence

In the meantime, G5 and soon to come, 6G will be rolled out to drive Artificial Intelligent (AI) which may push ahead the development of these colossal corporations, their production, distribution and ultimately the peoples' consumption around the world.

Telecom companies are already flooding the world with electromagnetic fields (EMF), so poisonous that many people will be affected. The plan is to increase its intensity by tens of thousands of satellites to cover by 2030 every centimeter of the planet. But get this, none of the health impacts of 5G have been officially studied. Not in the US, not in Europe and not in China. The impact may be disastrous on human life, and on life on Mother Earth in general.

Numerous scientists have written about it, warned governments of the potentially disastrous effects on life – and have launched petitions to stop the launch of 5G, or to put a moratorium on 5G until serious studies have been carried out. See EU 5G Appeal – Scientists warn of potential serious health effects of 5G . The organization in charge of health and of prevention of health damage, is the UN-agency, World Health Organization (WHO). Yes, the same that has declared COVID-19 a global health emergency, in early February 2020, when there were less than 200 official "confirmed cases" worldwide, outside of China.

As of this day, WHO has strangely kept silence on the issues related to 5G. Why? – There are unproven suspicions voiced, including from some renown scientists that the severity of COVID-19 may, at least in some cases, have to do with 5G.

5G has already been rolled out in Northern Italy, Rome and Napoli – and in New York City

A Parenthesis. Contradictory Report

According to the WHO, COV-19 is akin to influenza.

In this regard, New York Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell, suggests that his assessments do not correspond to the normal pattern of COV-19 as defined by the WHO.

Dr. Kyle Sidell is an emergency medicine physician based in Brooklyn, New York, affiliated with the Maimonides Medical Center. According to Dr. Kyle Sidell, COVID-19 is an "Oxygen Deprivation Disease" dissimilar from Pneumonia. All locations report severe cases of respiratory blockages that cannot be resolved with the common respirators. In fact, they are made worse by respirators. – What are the underlying causes.

Video: A Doctor from ICU talks about the effects/symptoms....

Coronavirus – The Aftermath. A Coming Mega-Depression... By Peter Koenig April 12, 2020

What will be next? Is a question on many people's minds. Very likely the world will never be the same again. That might be good, or not so good, depending on how we look at this disastrous, "pandemic" which by all serious accounts does not deserve the term "pandemic”, that was unwittingly attributed to the SARS-2-CoV, or 2019-nCoV, renamed by WHO as COVID-19.

On March 11, Dr. Tedros, WHO's Director General called it a pandemic. This decision was already taken by the WEF (World Economic Forum) in Davos, from 20 -24 January 2020, when the total COVID19 cases outside of China were recorded by WHO as 150. On January 30, the WHO Director General determines that the outbreak outside of Mainland China constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This was a first indication that there was something not quite right, that there is another agenda behind the "outbreak" of the COVID-19 disease.

On March 26, in a peer-reviewed article in the highly reputed New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the US National Institutes of Health – NIH), likened COVID19 to a stronger than usual common flu:

If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively. nejm.org

Back to the economic calamity that is already upon the world's population.

It is even worse for the people of the informal sector. They have no firm employment, they depend on day-to-day labor, or even hourly work. They live from one day to the next, they have no savings. Their sheer survival depends on these sporadic jobs and meek incomes – incomes way below the minimum wage that allow them barely to survive- and often not.

They suffer famine, disease – as they have no fixed homes, no money to pay rent – they may die of famine or sheer despair.

Delinquency and crime may also increase exponentially. Hungry people have nothing to lose. They may raid supermarkets and drug stores. It has also been reported that bodies were found in the streets of large cities in Latin America.

They could have died from all sorts of reasons related to the economic shut-down: hunger, diseases, desolation, suicide. Is their infection (or death) ascribed to COVID-19? What this would result in is a process of inflation of the estimates pertaining to those people who have allegedly died from the virus, thereby contributing to more fear and more panic.

Is that the goal? Make everybody afraid. People in fear and panic can easily be manipulated.

People will ask for police protection from an invisible enemy. The size of the COVID-19 virus is 70 to 90 billionth of a meter, or nano meter- nm (one nm = 0.000000001 m). Scary. You don't see it, but people could transmit it – invisibly too. They could be deadly – in the case of COVID-19, their lethality is relatively low. Depending on how you measure the infection and death rate (see paras. 2 and 3, above). But the fear factor may be more important than the virus itself.

This doomsday scenario is not a fiction, its real. Its already happening now.

And what we see, might be just a tiny tip of the iceberg.

We may be looking at a complete collapse of our western economy, and growing misery- for the masses. –

What will happen to these people, without jobs, without incomes, many of them may also lose their homes, as they will not be able to pay their mortgages or rents?

Reduction of Population

In 1974, under the Nixon administration, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was entrusted –under the auspices of the National Security Council– to outline the contours of a "depopulation program" largely targeting Third World countries. A Document entitled NSC Study Memorandum 200 was drafted.

The Depopulation Agenda has remained an integral part of US foreign policy. It was also endorsed by several corporate charities and foundations. In this regard, the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Rockefeller foundations have addressed the relationship between extreme poverty and depopulation.

Is population reduction part of this ongoing pandemic exercise which may be followed by a compulsory vaccination program?

Bill Gates in a 2010 TED show talked about a 10% to 15% population reduction (circa 1 billion people) through global vaccination, health care, etc.

According to William Engdahl:

"Gates made his remarks to the invitation-only Long Beach, California TED 2010 Conference, in a speech titled, "Innovating to Zero!." Along with the scientifically absurd proposition of reducing manmade CO2 emissions worldwide to zero by 2050, approximately four and a half minutes into the talk, Gates declares, "First we got population. The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent." (Ref. Bill Gates, "Innovating to Zero!", speech to the TED2010 annual conference, Long Beach, California, February 18, 2010).

Video: Bill Gates Innoivating to Zero!

Vaccination

The Gates Foundation has for the last 20 years carried out intensive children vaccination programs in Africa.

In 2014 and 2015 Kenya carried out a massive tetanus vaccination program, sponsored by WHO and UNICEF. The Government administered a vaccine of tetanus toxoid impregnated with beta human chorionic gonadotropin (BhCG) that causes permanent infertility among girls and women, to about 500,000 girls and women between the ages 14 and 49.

An organization called GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) is a public-private partnership; the public part being WHO and UNICEF; the private partners are a series of pharma-giants. GAVI is handing out free vaccines to poor countries, like Kenya.

If a vaccine can be implanted with a sterilization agent, any other health or DNA affecting molecule or protein can be put into a vaccination cocktail. (See these references Kenya: Thousands infertile after govt-sponsored vaccination and "Mass Sterilization”: Kenyan Doctors Find Anti-fertility Agent in UN Tetanus Vaccine?

Event 201. The Pandemic Simulation Exercise

There is another important factor which may all be linked the COVID-19 outbreak, curiously right at the beginning of the decade 2020, and only a few weeks after Event 201 on October 18, in NYC, sponsored by – you guessed it, Bill Gates, The Johns Hopkins University Health Institute (founded by the Rockefeller Foundation), and the WEF (World Economic Forum), that meets every year in January in Davos Switzerland).

One of the agenda items of Event 201, was a simulation of a pandemic – curiously called 2019-nCoV – the current corona virus pandemic. The simulation results were after 18 months 65 million deaths, a stock market crash of at least 30%, massive bankruptcies and massive unemployment – in short, an economic collapse which the world has never experienced in recent history. That was the simulation. – Is this the direction we are headed for now?

Agenda ID2020

Strangely in order to carry out and monitor these various components of a larger game plan or picture, there is this little-heared-of Agenda ID2020 – also a creation of the Gates Foundation. One of the Cabal's ideas is to have every citizen of the world equipped with an electronic identity, so he can be followed and his words and actions monitored everywhere. This is one of the Agenda ID2020 tasks, to be first tested – currently ongoing – in Bangladesh.

The idea is, in due time (whenever the program is ready) – to use the vaccination program, possibly forced, to inject along with the vaccine also a nano-chip, that can be injected along with the vaccination program. It could be done without the person's knowledge and later remotely uploaded with personal data, from health records, to criminal records, to bank accounts. In fact, the Gates Foundation, together with GAVI has already developed a tattoo-like chip which would be used for both, vaccination and electronic ID.

To implement, monitor and control these multiple-purpose programs strong electromagnetic waves are needed.

That's why 5G – totally unstudied, untested – in uncharted waters is necessary. No time to be lost in testing. Because the target for this program to be completed is 2030, the same as the target for the UN-declared Sustainable Development Goals. (SDG)

In fact. Agenda 2020 is intimately linked to the SDG's, specifically to SDG 16 which is basically promoting the rule of law.

During a special Summit in May 2016 in New York, inspired by the Gates Foundation, the United Nations Office for Partnership (UNOFP), the SDG 16.9 was created, fitting the purpose of Agenda ID2020:

“Provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030 …. harnessing Digital Identity for the Global Community…. Around one-fifth of the world's population (1.8 billion people) is without legal identity, which deprives them of access to healthcare, schools, shelter.”

Also see

Coronavirus – No Vaccine Is Needed to Cure It, Global Research 4/1/20/20

The New York Times reported on 30 March that President Trump retreated from his earlier statement that by 12 April the COVID-19 lock-down should be over and its "back-to-work" time. Instead he said that an extension to the end of April was necessary – and possibly even to June. This, he said, was following the guidance of his advisors, of whom Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), within the National Institute for Health (NIH), is one.

Virus COVID-19 has so far caused far less infections and death than the common flu in past years.

WHO reports on 30 March worldwide 750,000 infections with a death toll of 36,000. In the US about 161,000 cases and 3,000 deaths. Yet, alarmist Fauci claims that there may be millions of US coronavirus cases and 100,000- 200,000 deaths. And, coincidentally, so does Bill Gates, using pretty much the same figures.

All with the idea of pushing a vaccine down the throat of the public.

A multibillion dollar vaccine is not necessary.

The NIAD and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are collaborating with a view to developing a COVID-19 Vaccine.

China has proven that COVID-19 could be brought under control at rather low-cost and with strict discipline and conventional medication. The same medicines and measures have been used for centuries to prevent and cure successfully all kinds of viral diseases.

First, a vaccine against COVID-19, or coronaviruses in general, is a flu vaccine. Vaccines don't heal. In the best case, flu-vaccines may prevent the virus from affecting a patient as hard as it might without a vaccine. The effectiveness of flu vaccines is generally assessed as between 20% and 50%. Vaccines are foremost a huge money-making bonanza for Big Pharma.

Second, here are a myriad of remedies that have proven very successful. See also this and this.

::French Professor Didier Raoult, who is one of the world's top 5 scientists on communicable diseases, suggested the use of HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE (CHLOROQUINE OR PLAQUENIL), a well-known, simple, and inexpensive drug, also used to fight Malaria, and that has shown efficacy with previous coronaviruses such as SARS. By mid-February 2020, clinical trials at his institute and in China already confirmed that the drug could reduce the viral load and bring spectacular improvement. Chinese scientists published their first trials on more than 100 patients and announced that the Chinese National Health Commission would recommend Chloroquine in their new guidelines to treat Covid-19.

::China and Cuba are working together with the use of INTERFERON ALPHA 2B, a highly efficient anti-viral drug developed in Cuba some 39 years, but little known to the world, because of the US imposed embargo on anything from Cuba. Interferon has also proven to be very effective in fighting COVID-19 and is now produced in a joint-venture in China.

""There is an old natural Indian / Ayurveda medicine, CURCUMIN, that comes in capsules as C90. It is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound that has been successfully used to treat cancer, infectious diseases and, yes, coronaviruses.

::Other simple, but effective remedies include the use of heavy doses of Vitamin C, as well as Vitamin D3, or more generally the use of Micronutrients essential to fight infections, include vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.

::Another remedy that has been used for thousands of years by ancient Chinese, Romans and Egyptians, are COLLOIDAL SILVER PRODUCTS. They come in forms to be administered as a liquid by mouth, or injected, or applied to the skin. Colloidal silver products are boosting the immune system, fighting bacteria and viruses, and have been used for treating cancer, HIV/AIDS, shingles, herpes, eye ailments, prostatitis – and COVID-19.

::A simple and inexpensive remedy, to be used in combination with others, is menthol-based "Mentholatum”. It's used for common flu and cold symptoms. Rubbed on and around the nose, it acts as a disinfectant and prevents germs to enter the respiratory track, including corona viruses.

::Northern Italy and New Orleans report that an unusual number of patients had to be hospitalized in Intensive Care Units (ICU) and be put 24×7 on a 90%-strength respirator, with some of the patients remaining unresponsive, going into respiratory failure. The reported death rate is about 40%. The condition is called acute respiratory distress syndrome, ARDS. That means the lungs are filled with fluid. When this description of ARDS episodes applies, Dr. Raoult and other medical colleagues recommend COVID-19 patients to "SLEEP SITTING UP" UNTIL THEY ARE CURED. This helps drain the liquid out of the lungs. The method has been known to work successfully since it was first documented during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.

::Finally, Chinese researchers in cooperation with Cuban and Russian scientists are also developing a vaccine which may soon be ready for testing. The vaccine would attempt to address not just one strand of coronaviruses, but the basic coronaviral RNA genome (RNA = Ribonucleic Acid), to be applied as a prevention of new coronavirus mutations. In contrast to the west, working exclusively on profit-motives, the Chinese-Cuban-Russian vaccine would be made available at low cost to the entire world.

These alternative cures may not be found on Big Pharma controlled internet. Internet references, if there are any, may advise against their use. At best, they will tell you that these products or methods have not proven effective, and at worst, that they may be harmful. Don't believe it. None of these products or methods are harmful. Remember, some of them have been used as natural remedies for thousands of years. And remember, China has successfully come to grips with COVID-19, using some of these relatively simple and inexpensive medications.

Few doctors are aware of these practical, simple and inexpensive remedies. The media, under pressure from the pharma giants and the compliant government agencies, have been requested to censoring such valuable information. The negligence or failure, to make such easily accessible remedies public knowledge is killing people.

The Role of Bill Gates and the Lockdown

Bill Gates may have been one of Trump's 'advisors’, suggesting that he should extend the "back-to-work" date to at least end April, and, if Gates has his way, to at least June. That still remains to be seen. Gates is very-very powerful:

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wants businesses to open by Easter, April 12, to soften the economic impact. … Gates acknowledged Tuesday that self isolation will be "disastrous" for the economy, but "there really is no middle ground." He suggested a shutdown of six to 10 weeks. (CNBC, March 24, 2020)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will drive the mass vaccination effort which is scheduled to be launched in the period after the lockdown.

The vaccination association includes, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a semi-NGO, to which NIH / NIAID outsourced oversight of the vaccination program – supported by Bill Gates; GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization – also a Bill Gates creation, supported by WHO, also amply funded by the Gates Foundation; the World Bank and UNICEF; plus a myriad of pharmaceutical partners.

Bill Gates also strongly suggests that travelers must have in their passport a vaccination certificate before embarking on a plane, or entering a country.

The program implementation, including a related global electronic identity-program, possibly administered with nano-chips that could be embedded in the vaccine itself, would be overseen by the little-know agency Agenda ID2020 which is also a Bill and Melinda Gates foundation initiative.

Bill Gates is also known as a strong proponent of drastic and selective population reduction. Knowing what we know, who would trust any vaccine that carries Bill Gate's signature. Hope that this evil endeavor will not succeed is omnipresent. We must hope to the end, then the end will never come – and gradually Light will drown Darkness

For further details on Agenda ID2020, see

The Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic: The Real Danger is "Agenda ID2020”

What is the infamous ID2020? It is an alliance of public-private partners, including UN agencies and civil society. It's an electronic ID program that uses generalized vaccination as a platform for digital identity.

This is a scenario on which we must reflect.

Now let's look at a good scenario, one that we the people have the power to make good.

First, no complex projection of the type described before can ever be modeled and implemented over time, because dynamics take over. The world is alive. Anything that is alive cannot be directed by linearism (modelling is linear), but is subject to the laws of dynamics.

Second, we have the power to reverse this nefarious game plan which threaten Humanity and Mother Earth. It's a question of waking up. And many people start seeing the light -perhaps in part because of this absurdity, this worldwide lockdown, this insanity of an endless thirst and greed for power and money by a few. Mother Earth is sick and tired of this abuse of the upper crust of society. She is stronger than the 0.01%. We, the people, can join Mother Earth, be on her side, and be safe.

People start seeing the thought of utter destruction behind this fake epidemic, or according to WHO's highly questionable leadership, a pandemic – a fear-mongering pandemic. We might as well call the corona virus, Virus "F" – for Fear. And yes, people can die of fear. WHO is dancing to the tune of the powerful, of Bill Gates, the Rockefellers, the pharma giants – and the behind-the-door (invisible) WEF-politicians and bankers. All this, under the pretext of saving the world from the invisible corona virus, from a pandemic that isn't.

As this neoliberal corrupt system comes crashing down, there will be many victims, sadly, many may not survive – a lot of misery, desolation and suffering. We, as a society should act in solidarity and do whatever we can to help the victims, to reduce the damage, to the extend our hands, arms and souls with all our positive spirits and actions. And the will-power of solidarity is enormous, almost endless.

The World Bank and the IMF have already offered help with large low-cost loans and even some grants for the poorest of the poor countries. Initial figures of the WB were US$ 12 billion and by the IMF US$ 50 billion for corona damage-alleviating lines of credits. In the meantime, both have upped the ante. In the case of the IMF, they are talking of up to a trillion dollars. Some IMF Board members have called for a Special SDR (Special Drawing Rights) Fund of up to 4 trillion SDRs.

This shows how much the ruling elite doesn't want to lose their handle on globalization. More than 60 countries have apparently already applied for "help" (sic) from the IMF.

These governments are committing their countries' and their peoples' soul to enslavement, to the ever-bolder elite economic and monetary tyranny. These loans are conditional, similar to what was earlier called "structural adjustments" – privatization of social services and infrastructure – what's left of it – and concession to foreign corporations to exploit their natural resources oil, gas, minerals…. What ever the west covets to forge forwards towards full domination of planet earth.

My advice to all countries and peoples who want to use this economic holocaust to restructure their economy, to regain their financial and monetary sovereignty, stay away from the IMF, the World Bank and all the regional development banks, even the various UN funding mechanisms.

Become self-sufficient, autonomous to the extent possible, applying the simple principle of – Local production for local consumption with local money and local public banks that work for the development of the local economy. Use local money, and local debt for your economic development. No outsider will be able to claim repayment of your local internal debt. That you will manage internally at YOUR own terms and conditions.

China and other nations have applied this principle. This is what makes countries immune against predatory financing. You may enter into solidarity pacts with like-minded countries, for example, à la ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), an alliance of Latin American and Caribbean countries based on the idea of social, political and economic integration.

Conclusion

We have enormous spiritual powers within us which we can mobilize to stem against the propaganda stream. In fact, the reason we are exposed to this type of ferocious propaganda, is precisely because the masters know about that strength of the human mind. And the way to immobilize it is through fear. That's what's happening.

The longer this pathetic and oppressive Martial Law situation lasts (yes, in many countries, even Europe, Martial Law has become the state of the affair), the more this inner power and conviction of Self, of us, Sovereign Selves that we are, will resurface in humanity and displace the fear – to become a force to stand up against the evil forces, stand up for justice and for human equality, for human dignity – and ultimately for solidarity and love.

Love is what makes us overcome this diabolical plan.

That is the scenario of hope and love. Endless hope is hoping and creating to the end, then the end will never come. And as we hope and create endlessly, avoiding conflict, we see the light emerging from the dark – a harmonious flow of peaceful creation.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greanville Post; Defend Democracy Press, TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.










Cultural Revolution

The West's Descent into 'Cultural Revolution'

The goal of the Cultural Revolution is to render all those who resist the ruling elites politically and socially invisible.

A Cultural Revolution is a movement designed to preserve the political and financial power of a ruling elite by social rather than political or financial means.

Thus the primary tools of a Cultural Revolution are not redistributing power via elections (politics) or financial reforms; the primary tools are public shaming and denouncements, purges of those in positions of authority, show trials, guilt-by-association, wholesale denouncements of entire classes and widespread accusations of anti-progressive ("counter-revolutionary") tendencies in which guilt is defined by all-or-nothing litmus tests of one's loyalties to the Cultural Revolution's strict ideology.

The key dynamic of a Cultural Revolution is the oppressors appropriate the language of liberation as their favored tool of suppressing dissent, denouncing opponents and fueling widespread purges of anyone who might harbor the slightest potential to question the social suppression of dissent.










Bilderbert Group

Masters Of The World

Hidden behind many of today's major news stories, the Bilderberg Group is an elite clique of the most powerful names in politics, media, business, and finance, who want to impose a one-world government on the rest of us. Led by such iconic members as Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Richard Perle, Melinda Gates (wife of Bill Gates), David Rockefeller, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, and Margaret Thatcher, their secret conferences (where press has long been banned) are rumored to have engineered many of today's monumental global events, including:

The September 2008 collapse of worldwide banking.

Bill Clinton's presidency and the passage of NAFTA.

The loss of America's jobs to foreign nations.

The toppling of Margaret Thatcher for trying to keep the U.K. out of the E.U.

"H. Paul Jeffers reveals stunning insights about the Bilderberg Group. Wars, coups, assassinations; control of banking, finance, the media, and education--any means necessary to fulfill their agenda." --Michael Benson, author of Inside Secret Societies










Cash Laundering

Congress bans anonymous shell companies after long campaign by anti-corruption groups. Bipartisan measure requires companies established in the U.S. to disclose their real owners. By Jeanne Whalen Dec. 11, 2020

A groundbreaking measure to ban anonymous shell companies in the United States cleared Congress on Friday as the Senate joined the House in passing a defense-spending bill with a veto-proof margin.

The Corporate Transparency Act, which was tacked onto the defense bill, would require corporations and limited liability companies established in the United States to disclose their real owners to the Treasury Department, making it harder for criminals to anonymously launder money or evade taxes. The rule applies to future and existing entities alike.

The measure passed the Senate with an 84-to-13 vote as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which cleared the House earlier this week. Trump pledged to veto the defense bill — one of few laws that passes every year — because it doesn’t include his demand to repeal liability protections for social media companies. Trump also opposes a clause that orders military bases named for Confederate leaders to be renamed.

The anonymous-shell-company ban was years in the making, as supporters slowly built a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, law-enforcement officials and even business groups that originally opposed the idea, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We are on the verge of celebrating the most significant anti-money-laundering victory in a generation due in large part to the widespread and growing support for reform,” said Clark Gascoigne, senior policy adviser at the FACT Coalition, an alliance of anti-corruption groups that helped push for the legislation.

Criminals and kleptocrats will find it harder to launder money in U.S. if bill passes

Nearly 2 million corporations and limited liability companies are registered each year in the United States, at the state level. Few states today require companies to disclose their true owners, with Delaware and a few others turning the registration of anonymous companies into big business.

That’s one reason the U.K.-based Tax Justice Network has named the United States the globe’s second most financially secretive jurisdiction, behind the Cayman Islands and ahead of Switzerland.

Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock last year endorsed the Corporate Transparency Act, calling it a “fair, bipartisan compromise” that would make it the federal government’s responsibility to collect the ownership data, which he said was better than a “piecemeal” state-by-state approach.

Tolerance of anonymous shell companies has long helped drug- and human- traffickers, organized crime groups and foreign kleptocrats launder their ill-gotten gains through the U.S. financial system, supporters of the legislation say. It took Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, only a few days to set up and use an anonymous Delaware LLC to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels, in violation of campaign finance laws.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), who introduced the legislation to the House in 2009, and continued resubmitting it each year, said U.S. shell companies have helped corrupt foreign leaders and criminals anonymously buy luxury real estate in her district, which includes Manhattan.

“If you drive through my district at night you will find a lot of apartment buildings with absolutely no lights on,” Maloney said during a news conference this week to mark the House passage. “They were purchased purely to hide money and act as a bank account.”

To combat dirty money, Britain asks: How did you pay for that mansion?

The law requires anyone registering a new company to disclose the name, address and date of birth of the real owners, and an identification number for each owner, such as a driver’s license or passport number. Corporations and LLCs that already existed before the law’s adoption must disclose their ownership information to the Treasury Department within two years.

Anyone willfully providing false information, including lawyers helping with corporate-registration paperwork, will be liable for fines of up to $10,000 and prison terms of up to two years.

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network will collect the data and provide ownership details to law-enforcement agencies and banks upon request.

The legislation has limitations. The general public won’t have access to the ownership data, a disappointment to anti-corruption campaigners, who say public scrutiny would help combat criminal activity.

Bullock, the Delaware secretary of state, said these limits on access to the data were one reason the state supported the legislation.

Tax cheats deprive governments worldwide of $427 billion a year

In some cases, allied nations will be able to request ownership details to aid their own investigations, said Gary Kalman, director of the U.S. office of Transparency International, a big backer of the legislation.

In another transparency setback, the law also exempts some entities from the disclosure requirements, including domestic investment funds that are advised and operated by a registered investment adviser. Gascoigne said that exemption was the result of lobbying by the private-equity and hedge-fund sectors.

The database is likely to help prosecutors nationwide build cases against criminal groups, said Frank Russo, director of government and legislative affairs at the National District Attorneys Association.

The lack of such a database today is undermining efforts in Florida to combat human-trafficking networks at illicit massage parlors, Russo said.

Investigators “can’t figure out who is financing and paying for these operations” because the ringleaders hide behind anonymous shell companies, he said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a key backer of the Senate bill, along with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and others, said shell companies have enabled everything from sex trafficking to fentanyl pushers in his state.

“This is a really big deal to get this passed, and as you know it took a long time,” Brown said during the news conference Thursday, adding that he hoped Republican senators would “stand strong” and vote to override any Trump veto, if necessary.

The banking industry became an important supporter of the legislation in recent years, after realizing it would help banks identify the real owners of all accounts, as required under Obama-era regulation.

The legislation will give banks access to the Treasury ownership database to verify information on new customers requesting accounts.

Other developed nations are also cracking down on anonymous shell companies, responding to fears about terrorist financing, and public outrage about corruption and tax evasion. The European Union instructed all member countries to create public databases by 2020 that disclose companies’ true owners. Britain mandated the same in 2016.

The president is golfing and exercising White male privilege. By Robin Givhan Senior critic-at-large November 17, 2020

Few images capture the position of privilege from which the president operates better than the ones that depict him at his golf club in Virginia. In several of the pictures, he isn’t playing the game — or even holding a club — but rather simply tooling around the course like a feudal lord in a golf cart with his personalized campaign baseball cap pulled low.

Trump is a lame duck and the ALL-CAPS president

These aren’t depictions of a sportsman or a statesman. For Donald Trump, who has recently turned golfing into his prime presidential duty second only to tweeting, they are portraits of a reckless man in full — specifically a man full of himself.

Trump is the unmasked duffer clutching the wheel of a golf cart, zipping over knolls while his caddie — also unmasked — hangs off the back. Trump has noted that these outings are an efficient form of exercise — practically medicinal, which is about as accurate as saying that being borne up the side of a mountain on a donkey is a form of good-for-you cardio.

The picture of a well-fed White man in a golf cart at a private club is a familiar trope in film and literature that has long been used to telegraph a narrative about fat-cat economics, stifling social hierarchies and inherited advantages. The golf course is the ground on which business is conducted by those on the inside track. It’s a place of backslapping, trash-talking and — in pre-pandemic days — handshaking.

It’s a classic metaphor for privilege and disregard — and sometimes establishment ineptness — and one that is also terribly apt for Trump. While a pandemic rages across the country, the president works on his swing. While images of unemployed Americans in seemingly endless food lines sear painful scars into our national psyche, the president is a man at leisure, rolling across the lush, manicured greenery of his private playground while his supporters cheer him on from outside the secure perimeter — and his critics protest.


Email comments to Professor Colby Glass, PhDc, MLIS, MAc at co@dadbyrn.com