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One Nation Under Surveillance
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NSA intercepts computer deliveries to plant spyware
by Jeremy Kirk
Posted Dec 31, 2013

NSA - Eye Of SauronA special hacking unit of the U.S. National Security Agency intercepts deliveries of new computer equipment en route to plant spyware, according to a report on Sunday from Der Spiegel, a German publication.

The method, called "interdiction," is one of the most successful operations conducted by the NSA's Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which specializes in infiltrating computers, wrote the publication, citing a top-secret document. The workshops, called "load stations," install malware or hardware components that give the NSA access to the computer, it wrote.

Der Spiegel wrote that a 50-page "product catalog" it viewed from the NSA described a division called "ANT," which specializes in engineering access to products from companies such as firewall maker Juniper Networks, networking giants Cisco Systems and Huawei Technologies, and Dell. More...

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Hope and Defiance - A Lot of Hope is Dangerous
Part 2 of 2 Part Article
by James Quinn
Posted Dec 12, 2013

Orwellian state In the 1st installment of this article – May the Odds Ever Be in Your Favor – The Reaping, I addressed how wealth inequality created by men rigging the system and utilizing media propaganda ultimately leads to rebellion. In Part 2, I will show how hope and defiance can ignite the flame of liberty in the minds of men. Edward Snowden has ignited that flame.  

The last 13 years has confirmed the country is run by one party, as the Republican figurehead rolled out new trillion dollar entitlement programs, fought undeclared wars, created an Orwellian organization to spy on Americans, and drove deficits to staggering levels. Now the current Democrat figurehead has rolled out a disastrous new trillion dollar entitlement program, continues to fight undeclared wars, drones innocent people in foreign countries, secretly collects data on every American, and has driven deficits to epic heights. More...

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May the Odds Ever Be in Your Favor – The Reaping
Part 1 of 2 Part Article
By James Quinn
Posted Dec 11, 2013

wasteland TVWe are five years into the Crisis that will not resolve itself until sometime in the 2020's. No one can predict the specific events that will fundamentally change history over the next decade, but the catalysts of debt, civic decay and global disorder were evident sixteen years ago when Strauss and Howe wrote their prophetic generational history. The volcanic eruption occurred in 2008 when the worldwide financial system blew and the molten lava continues to spew forth and flow along the Federal Reserve created channels, protecting the corrupt establishment while incinerating senior citizens, the working middle class and Millennials.

Deep within the volcano the pressure is building again as the mood of the country darkens. It will blow again and the economic, social, political and military distress will catalyze into a catastrophic emergency that will tear the fabric of the country asunder. The existing social order will be swept away and replaced by a new paradigm which could be better or far worse. More...

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Pension Theft: Class War Goes to the Next Stage
by Dean Baker
Posted Dec 10, 2013

elites stealing pensionsIn the past two days we've seen a federal judge rule that Detroit can go bankrupt, putting its workers' pensions in jeopardy, and we have seen Illinois' Legislature vote for substantial cuts in its retirees' pensions. Undoubtedly these two actions are just the tip of the iceberg. We have opened up a new sport for America's elite: pension theft.

The specifics of the situations are very different, but the outcome is the same. Public employees who spent decades working for the government are not going to get the pensions that were part of their pay package. In both cases we have governments claiming poverty, and therefore the workers are just out of luck. In the case of Detroit, the typical pension is a bit more than $18,000 a year. In Illinois it's around $33,000 a year. It's important to note that most Illinois workers do not get Social Security, so this is their whole retirement income. More...

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Chomsky: It Is All Working Quite Well for the Rich, Powerful
By CJ Polychroniou and Anastasia Giamali
Posted Dec 9, 2013

ChomskyThe basic explanation is the usual one: It is all working quite well for the rich and powerful. In the US, for example, tens of millions are unemployed, unknown millions have dropped out of the workforce in despair, and incomes as well as conditions of life have largely stagnated or declined. But the big banks, which were responsible for the latest crisis, are bigger and richer than ever, corporate profits are breaking records, wealth beyond the dreams of avarice is accumulating among those who count, labor is severely weakened by union busting and "growing worker insecurity," to borrow the term Alan Greenspan used in explaining the grand success of the economy he managed, when he was still "St. Alan," perhaps the greatest economist since Adam Smith, before the collapse of the structure he had administered, along with its intellectual foundations.

So what is there to complain about? The "market-centric rule" imposes harsh discipline on the many, but the few who count protect themselves from it effectively. More...

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The Tribal Mentality Indoctrinating Individuals into the Tribe's Beliefs Politics
By Dr. Jeff Lewis
Posted Dec 5, 2013

tribal indoctrinationDue to his nature, the ruler of the tribe (almost certainly a sociopath), couldn't possibly have one of his tribe members, whom he saw merely as human cattle, just pick up and leave. What if more people decided to leave as well? Or even worse, what if the young man came back with news about some wonderful new place where the trees were filled with fruits, or rivers filled with fishes, or plains filled with animals? After all, sociopaths always rule by means of scarcity and fear (they are incapable of love after all.) So faced with the situation, the ruler convinced the rest of the tribe that this was all there was to the world, and that thinking that there might be something more was a ludicrous fantasy, and whoever thinks differently was a threat to the tribe!

And people believed the ruler. He talked a big game about unity and hope, and how he cared about their well-being, and folks ate it all up! It was an easy sell in fact, because for most people, whoever think differently must be the enemy. More...

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6 Signs Our Culture Is Sick With Greed
By RJ Eskow
Posted Dec 4, 2013

greedMore than ever, we seem infatuated with the fruits of unproductive greed.The love of money for money's sake is the social disease of our time. We see it all around us: in the celebration of ill-gotten stock gains, public admiration for the heads of criminal banks, the words of Kanye West, in the commercialization of charity and even spirituality.

This week a self-styled financial advisor on the investment website Seeking Alpha celebrated the investment opportunities created by the wave of criminality and fraud which has overtaken JP Morgan Chase. The bank's epidemic of internal fraud has led to tens of billions in fines during the tenure of CEO Jamie Dimon. More...

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Decline of the American Empire? Global Configurations of Power, The Swindle Economy and the Criminal State
By Prof. James Petras
Posted Dec 3, 2013

empire in declineBubbles and busts come and go – but let us talk of 'beneficiaries': Those who cause crashes, reap the greatest rewards while their victims have no say. The swindle economy and the criminal state prosper by promoting the perversion of culture and literacy. 'Investigatory journalism', or peephole reportage, is all the rage. The world of power spins out of control: As they decline, the leading powers declare "it's our rule or everyone's ruin!"

The dominant view of most critical analysts is that over the past decade US empire-building has suffered a series of military defeats, experienced economic decline, and now faces severe competition and the prospect of further military losses. The evidence cited is impressive: The US was forced to withdraw troops from Iraq , after an extremely costly decade-long military occupation, leaving in place a regime more closely allied to Iran , the US ' regional adversary. The Iraq war depleted the economy, deprived American corporations of oil wealth, greatly enlarged Washington 's budget and trade deficits and reduced the living standards of US citizens. The Afghanistan war had a similar outcome, with high external costs, military retreat, fragile clients, domestic disaffection and no short or medium term transfers of wealth (imperial pillage) to the US Treasury or private corporations. More...

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End the 1 Percent's Free Ride: Taxing Land Would Solve America's Biggest Problems
By Jesse Myerson
Posted Nov 25, 2013

real tax overhaulWant a real overhaul of the tax code? Here's an elegant way to reduce inequality and mitigate poverty — in one tax.

At present, neither party advocates the tax code so elegant it can reduce inequality, mitigate poverty, stimulate productivity, prevent asset price bubbles, stem community-shredding gentrification and drain the distended Wall Street cabal of its ill-gotten gains – in just one tax.

Land value. If we want a real overhaul/simplification of the tax code, the way to do it is to tax land value. It might be the only tax we need. No sales tax. No income tax. No payroll tax to fill a Social Security trust fund. No corporate income tax that, as we can plainly see, offshores profits. No need to tax labor and industry at all. Just tax the stuff that humans had nothing to do with creating, and therefore have no basis to claim ownership over at all. You'll find that almost all of it is "owned" by the fabled 1 percent. More...

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The Dark Heart Of Centralized Power
by Charles Hugh-Smith
Posted Nov 24, 2013

power corruptsIt's little wonder so many sociopaths end up in positions of power: power attracts the ruthless unencumbered by empathy. No wonder the phrase pathology of power resonates.

There is an ontological darkness in centralized power, and it flows from the disconnect between authority, responsibility and consequence. A leader with vast centralized powers--a president, an emperor, a dictator--has the authority to send young citizens into combat in distant lands, but he does not carry an equal responsibility to ensure their lives are not lost in the vain glories of Empire. The consequences of his decisions do not fall on him; he is far from the combat and the loosed dogs of war. His concern is the domestic political squabbles of the Elites who support his centralized power.

All centralized power carries the same pathology: those with the authority are never exposed to the consequences of their authority, nor do they have any responsibility for the consequences. The president who launches an unwinnable war that chews up the nation's youth and treasure leaves office to fund-raise for his self-glorification, i.e. a presidential library. The CEO whose strategies fail to revive the corporation and indeed send it to the brink of insolvency leaves with a "golden parachute" worth tens of millions of dollars. More...

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The Internet Is Now Weaponized, And You Are The Target
by Zero Hedge
Posted Nov 17, 2013

Internet is weaponized against youBy now, thanks to Edward Snowden, it is common knowledge and not just conspiracy theory, that every bit of information sent out into the wired or wireless ether is scanned, probed, intercepted and ultimately recorded by the NSA and subsequently all such information is and can be used against any US citizen without a court of law (because the president's pet secret NISA "court" is anything but). Sadly, in a country in which courtesy of peak social networking, exhibitionism has become an art form, the vast majority of Americans not only could not care less about Snowden's sacrificial revelations, but in fact are delighted the at least someone, somewhere cares about that photo of last night's dinner. However, it turns out that far from being a passive listener and recorder, the NSA is quite an active participant in using the internet. The weaponized internet.

Because as Wired reports, "The internet backbone — the infrastructure of networks upon which internet traffic travels — went from being a passive infrastructure for communication to an active weapon for attacks." And the primary benefactor: the NSA - General Keith Alexander massive secret army - which has now been unleashed against enemies foreign, but mostly domestic. More...

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9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact
Posted Nov 16, 2013


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The Shamelessness of Bankers
By Richard (RJ) Eskow
Posted Nov 13, 2013

unbridled greed and impunityIt's not easy to maintain a civil tone while describing the magnitude of the misbehavior among executives at Wall Street's largest institutions. To criticize bankers is to describe large-scale wrongdoing, mass-produced outrage which leads to widespread misery. It can't be done without routinely deploying words like "perjury," "forgery," "fraud," "deceit," "corruption," and "rapaciousness."

Unfortunately, the forms of speech which adequately convey big-banker behavior also make it easy for insiders in politics, government, and the media to dismiss that same speech as excessive.

That's one reason why some recent remarks by William Dudley, President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, are so important. He's no outsider, and he's no extremist. And yet, after exploring potential solutions to the "too big to fail" problem in a speech to Global Economic Policy Forum last week, Dudley went on to discuss what he called "the apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust." More...

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The Illusion of Freedom - Democracy, Religion, Science and Propaganda
by Nadeem Walayat
Posted Nov 11, 2013

illusion of freedomAs the past 10,000 years seen the domestication of many animals such as cattle, sheep and chickens, so have human's effectively been domesticated by the various ruling elite's at the time into highly docile and compliant population's in the service of the ruling elite's of each society which enables a small ruling elite to relatively easily manage an every increasing mass of slaves to their advantage.

The most effective system's of slavery are those where most of the people cannot perceived that they are in actual fact slaves. As an example whilst most in the west may be able to recognise that for instance most of the people living in North Korea are in fact living a slave existence. However many North Korean slaves have been successfully conditioned through propaganda to view themselves as being in a superior state of existence as compared to those that live in the west which they consider to be under U.S. Imperial control that seeks total dominion over the peoples of the planet, and for evidence they look at their own history of conflicts with the U.S. reinforced by a string of subsequent U.S. wars and military strikes. More...

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The Hegelian Dialectic and its use in Controlling Modern Society
by General Maddox
Posted Nov 10, 2013

controlling the massesTo put it simply, the basis of Hegelianism dictates that the human mind can't understand anything unless it can be split into two polar opposites. Good / Evil, Right / Wrong, Left / Right.

For example when people are talking about 2 political parties, Labor or Liberal, what they're actually referring to, without realising it, is the thesis and the antithesis based off the Hegelian Dialectic. The only real debate that occurs is just the minor differences between those two parties. Nothing is said or done about the issues that neither left or right is discussing. This in particular will become more apparent as the election draws near.

Another form of the Hegelian Dialectic is Problem – Reaction – Solution. Most of us unwittingly fall victim to it all too often and sadly if we don't stop, we will continue to lose our free will and liberties. It has been widely used by our governments and corporations around the world. You could say that in terms of controlling the masses, and society in general, it's deployment has been an effective tool in keeping humanity in check. More...

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America's Culture of Ignorance Politics
By James Quinn
Posted Nov 2, 2013

ignorance of the massesThe kabuki theater that passes for governance in Washington D.C. reveals the profound level of ignorance shrouding this Empire of Debt in its prolonged death throes. Ignorance of facts; ignorance of math; ignorance of history; ignorance of reality; and ignorance of how ignorant we've become as a nation, have set us up for an epic fall. It's almost as if we relish wallowing in our ignorance like a fat lazy sow in a mud hole. The lords of the manor are able to retain their power, control and huge ill-gotten riches because the government educated serfs are too ignorant to recognize the self-evident contradictions in the propaganda they are inundated with by state controlled media on a daily basis.

The levels of ignorance are multi-dimensional and diverse, crossing all educational, income, and professional ranks. The stench of ignorance has settled like Chinese toxic smog over our country, as various constituents have chosen comforting ignorance over disconcerting knowledge. The highly educated members, who constitute the ruling class in this country, purposefully ignore facts and truth because the retention and enhancement of their wealth and power are dependent upon them not understanding what they clearly have the knowledge to understand. The underclass wallow in their ignorance as their life choices, absence of concern for marriage or parenting, lack of interest in educating themselves, and hiding behind the cross of victimhood and blaming others for their own failings. More...

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Global Wealth and Inequality: Towards a World of Super Rich "Trillionaires" Amidst Mounting Poverty
By Paul B. Farrell
Posted October 17, 2013

extreme wealthAmerica's new 'economic guillotine' is dead ahead. Wealth report on inequality calls to mind French Revolution

Credit Suisse's new Global Wealth Report reminds us of the 1790s when inequality ignited the French Revolution and 40,000 met the guillotine. Today, Credit Suisse data reveal that just 1% own 46% of the world, while two-thirds of the world's people have less than $10,000 wealth. Credit Suisse predicts a world with 11 trillionaires in a couple generations, as the rich get richer and the gap widens.

Can this trend continue? Or will it trigger an "economic guillotine?" Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz, author of "The Price of Inequality," is not as optimistic as Credit Suisse: "America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity." But today the "numbers show that the American dream is a myth … the gap's widening … the clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom." More...

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There Is a Vast Oligarch Conspiracy Afoot to Destroy the Retirement Plans of Millions of Workers
by David Sirota
Posted October 12, 2013

stealing pensionsPretending public pensions are the primary cause of state budget problems allows greedheads and ideologues to distract attention from their beloved corporate welfare.

As state legislatures prepare for their upcoming sessions, you will no doubt hear a lot about public pensions. More specifically, you will hear allegations that states are going bankrupt because of their pension obligations to public employees. These claims will inevitably be used to argue that states must renege on their pension promises to retirees.

his is what I've called the Plot Against Pensions in a report I recently completed for the Institute for America's Future. Engineered by billionaire former Enron trader John Arnold, championed by seemingly nonpartisan groups like the Pew Charitable Trusts and operating in states throughout America, this plot is not designed to strengthen pensions or to save taxpayer money, as its proponents claim. It is designed to slash public employees' guaranteed retirement income in order to both protect states' corporate welfare and, in some cases, enrich Wall Street. More...

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Martial Law and the Economy: Is Homeland Security Preparing for the Next Wall Street Collapse?
by Ellen Brown
Posted October 11, 2013

boston- preparing for martial lawReports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that's enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?

When depositors cannot access their bank accounts to get money for food for the kids, they could well start breaking store windows and helping themselves. Worse, they might plot to overthrow the financier-controlled government. Witness Greece, where increasing disillusionment with the ability of the government to rescue the citizens from the worst depression since 1929 has precipitated riots and threats of violent overthrow. More...

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30 Mindblowing Statistics About Americans Under The Age Of 30
by Michael Snyder
Posted October 9, 2013

underemployedWhy are young people in America so frustrated these days? You are about to find out. Most young adults started out having faith in the system. They worked hard, they got good grades, they stayed out of trouble and many of them went on to college. But when their educations where over, they discovered that the good jobs that they had been promised were not waiting for them at the end of the rainbow. Even in the midst of this so-called "economic recovery", the full-time employment rate for Americans under the age of 30 continues to fall. And incomes for that age group continue to fall as well. At the same time, young adults are dealing with record levels of student loan debt. As a result, more young Americans than ever are putting off getting married and having families, and more of them than ever are moving back in with their parents.

It can be absolutely soul crushing when you discover that the "bright future" that the system had been promising you for so many years turns out to be a lie. A lot of young people ultimately give up on the system and many of them end up just kind of drifting aimlessly through life. More...

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The "Hyper-meritocracy" – an Oxymoron Led by Criminal Morons
by William K. Black
Posted October 6, 2013

rewarding wealth destructionThis column was prompted by William Galston's review of Tyler Cowen's new book Average is Over. Galston's column worries about the huge, permanent underclass that Cowen envisions will grow in the United States. I write to challenge Cowen's assumption that winners will prevail through a process of "hyper-meritocracy." Cowen's embrace of Social Darwinism assumes that the winners have a selective advantage that arises from "merit" – which Cowen conflates with the ability to create wealth. This is passing strange as we are still suffering from an orgy of wealth destruction led by the "winners." The people who grew wealthiest were often the people most responsible for the largest destruction of wealth in history. In this first column I show that it is the most anti-meritocratic system. We do not live in a "winner-take-all" Nation. We increasingly live in a "cheater-take-all" system.

The mortgage fraud crisis occurred because the fraudulent CEOs whose banks created the twin epidemics of mortgage origination fraud deliberately generated a series of Gresham's dynamics that produced an unethical race to the bottom in the professions that aided and abetted the loan origination fraud. The earliest warnings of this were made by honest appraisers in 2000. New York Attorney General (now, governor) Cuomo investigation of Washington Mutual (WaMu) found that it had blacklisted honest appraisers. Cuomo described WaMu as typical of nonprime lenders. More.

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Understanding the Cancer Stage of Capitalism
By Giorgio Baruchello
Posted September 21, 2013

cancer stage of capitalismWhile US President Barack Obama bangs loud drums of war, the Pope (the first of the Catholic Church to choose the name of Francis) accuses "the great ones of the earth [to] want to solve" the world's crises "with a war… Because, for them, money is more important than people! And war is just that: it is an act of faith in money, in idols" ("Pope Francis: War is the suicide of humanity", Vatican Radio, 2 June 2013).

The Church of Rome itself rejects "the magic of the market" and it sees that the "invisible hand" has got fingers that pull triggers.

But what has exactly gone so wrong in the economic system, which had the world believing after the fall of the Berlin Wall that a new era of peace with vast dividends for public wealth was now upon us, and that the panacea of a "global free market" would solve all problems by "ever more prosperity" and "the end of the nation state"? More...

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Government Standards Agency "Strongly" Suggests Dropping its Own Encryption Standard
by Jeff Larson and Justin Elliott
Posted September 16, 2013

NSA undermining InternetFollowing revelations about the NSA's covert influence on computer security standards, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, announced earlier this week it is revisiting some of its encryption standards.But in a little-noticed footnote, NIST went a step further, saying it is "strongly" recommending against even using one of the standards.

Cryptographers have long suspected the standard in question was faulty. Seven years ago, a pair of researchers in the Netherlands authored a paper that said the random number generator was insecure and that attacks against it could "be run on an ordinary PC." A year after that, in 2007, two Microsoft engineers flagged the standard as potentially containing a backdoor. More...

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At World's End - The Five Stages of Collapse
by James Quinn
Posted September 13, 2013

Five stages of collapseAnyone who denies we are in the midst of an ongoing Crisis that will lead to a collapse of the system as we know it is either a card carrying member of the corrupt establishment, dependent upon the oligarchs for their living, or just one of the willfully ignorant ostriches who choose to put their heads in the sand and hum the Star Spangled Banner as they choose obliviousness to awareness. Thinking is hard. Feeling and believing a storyline is easy.

A moral society must be inhabited by an informed, educated, aware populace and governed by honorable leaders who oversee based upon the nation's founding principles of liberty, freedom and limited government of, by and for the people. A moral society requires trust, honor, property rights, simple just laws, and the freedom to succeed or fail on your own merits. There is one major problem in creating a true moral society where liberty, freedom, trust, honor and free markets are cherished – human beings. We are a deeply flawed species who are prone to falling prey to the depravities of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Men have always been captivated by the false idols of dominion, power and wealth. The foibles of human nature haven't changed over the course of history. This is why we have 80 to 100 year cycles driven by the same human strengths and shortcomings revealed throughout recorded history. More...

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Why Worry About Total Surveillance When You're Just An Ordinary Joe?
By Joe Giambrone
Posted August 31, 2013

NSA spying"I'm an upstanding citizen and I'm not doing anything wrong. I just don't want the government invading my privacy." --unnamed

I got into a heated argument, a disagreeable shouting match over that idea today -- mostly being shouted at for nitpicking someone on my own side. I find the above rationale to be a surface response without any thought behind it or any acknowledgement of how actual surveillance-societies of the past devolved into Orwellian abominations. Worse still, the current drive for a "Total Information Awareness" society, where birth to death communications will be stored forever by the government, looms over us. NSA / Booz Allen Hamilton whistleblower Edward Snowden has said: "they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them." More...

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From Spying on "Terrorists Abroad" to Suppressing Domestic Dissent: When We Become the Hunted
by Mark Karlin
Posted August 23, 2013

Government surveillanceWe have created an entire new class of society that gathers and has access to classified information - an elite class that promises to grow as private companies seek increased revenue and as the government operates in unparalleled secrecy.

The majority of national intelligence, an astonishing 70 percent, is carried out by contractors. That translates into tens of thousands of analysts from more than 1,900 private firms who have performed intelligence functions over the past few years. Large contractors conduct most of the work, including Booz Allen Hamilton (which according to The New York Times, derived $1.3 billion in revenue from intelligence contracts), Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications and Science Applications International Corporation (with 39,600 employees, a reported $11.17 billion in revenue as of 2013, and a recent $6.6 billion contract from the Defense Intelligence Agency).

In 2012, an estimated 1.1 million private contractors had security clearance. The number of federal employees with security clearance is 2.6 million. More...

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Monsanto's GMO Feed Creates Horrific Physical Ailments in Animals
by Katherine Paul
Posted August 18, 2013

GMO feed"A culture that views pigs as inanimate piles of protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however cleverly the human mind can conceive will view its citizens the same way -- and other cultures." –Joe Salatin, Restoring Health, Wealth and Respect to Food and Farming

New research is showing some troubling information about animals on the receiving end of industrial agriculture's big GMO experiment. We associate food with at most, pleasure, at the very least, survival. It's not too different for animals. Lambs turned out on new grass move "quickly over certain grasses to get to others – to nosh on clover and mustard grass, avoiding horse nettle and fescue along the way," writes Dan Barber in A Chef Speaks Out. Wild pigs, capable of seeking out the nutrients they need, "enjoy eating nuts, roots, fruits, mushrooms, bugs, rabbits, and, occasionally, dead animals." More...

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Midway
by Chris Jordan
Posted August 10, 2013

The MIDWAY film project is a powerful visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch. Returning to the island over several years, our team is witnessing the cycles of life and death of these birds as a multi-layered metaphor for our times. With photographer Chris Jordan as our guide, we walk through the fire of horror and grief, facing the immensity of this tragedy—and our own complicity—head on. And in this process, we find an unexpected route to a transformational experience of beauty, acceptance, and understanding.

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Shocking 'Extermination' Fantasies By the People Running America's Empire on Full Display at Aspen Summit
by Max Blumenthal
Posted August 4, 2013

Big brother is watchingWhile participants in the Security Forum expressed total confidence in American empire, they could not contain their panic, outrage, and fear at the mere mention of Snowden. "Make no mistake about it: These are great people who we're slamming and tarnishing and it's wrong. They're the heroes, not this other and these leakers!" NSA chief General Keith Alexander proclaimed, earning raucous applause from the crowd.

Corporations like AT&T, Google and Microsoft that had been compelled to hand over customer data to the NSA "know that we're saving lives," the general claimed. With a straight face, he continued, "And that's good for business because there's more people out there who can buy their products."

Following the gales of cheering that resounded from the room, Mattis, the gruff 40-year Marine veteran who once volunteered his opinion that "it's fun to shoot some people," outlined the challenge ahead. The "war on terror" that began on 9/11 has no discernable end, he said, likening it to the "the constant skirmishing between [the US cavalry] and the Indians" during the genocidal Indian Wars of the 19th century. More...

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Count Yourself Among The Poor!
by Ben Tanosborn
Posted August 3, 2013

sinking middleclassGo ahead, be a fool, tell yourself that you are still part of that once proud American "middle-class," then dare look in the mirror and see yourself as nothing but a zombie. Or, rather, the new identifiable species in the US: the Amerizombie, a reanimated economic corpse, undead but politically clueless to the new global realities.

Still managing to put food on the table, living on borrowed money and tiredly keeping both your mind and your mouth shut as you face America's sad sack economic reality? Well, if so… you are doing it at your peril; living your economic agony in denial, begging for that last pain-killing shot of economic morphine before you expire.Unfortunately, we, the poor in America – including those soon-to-be poor – will depart this world leaving behind those we have procreated; a generation, perhaps two, of future slaves we have incestuously sold to the ruling class. More...

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How Giant Tech Firms Help the Government to Spy on Americans
by Tom Burghardt
Posted August 1, 2013

stop the spyingAs the secret state continues trawling the electronic communications of hundreds of millions of Americans, lusting after what securocrats euphemistically call "actionable intelligence," a notional tipping point that transforms a "good" citizen into a "criminal" suspect, the role played by telecommunications and technology firms cannot be emphasized enough.

Ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking secrets to media outlets about government surveillance programs, one fact stands out: The zero probability these privacy-killing projects would be practical without close (and very profitable) "arrangements" made with phone companies, internet service providers and other technology giants.

Indeed, a top secret NSA Inspector General's report published by The Guardian, revealed that the agency "maintains relationships with over 100 US companies," adding that the US has the "home field advantage as the primary hub for worldwide telecommunications." More...

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Where the Hell Is The Outrage?
by Richard (RJ) Eskow
Posted July 13, 2013

Wake upFrom the first breath of life to the last, our lives are being stolen out from under us. From infant care and early education to Social Security and Medicare, the dominant economic ideology is demanding more lifelong sacrifices from the vulnerable to appease the gods of wealth.

Middle-class wages are stagnant. Unemployment is stalled at record levels. College education is leading to debt servitude and job insecurity. Millions of unemployed Americans have essentially been abandoned by their government. Poverty is soaring. Bankers break the law with impunity, are bailed out, and go on breaking the law, richer than they were before.

And yet, bizarrely, the only Americans who seem to be seething with anger are the beneficiaries of this economic injustice — the wealthiest and most privileged among us. But those who are suffering seem strangely passive. More...

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Genetically-modified Rice Trials in U.S. Contaminate World's Rice Supply
by Ethan A. Huff
Posted July 7, 2013

why di they need chem suits if safe?New evidence has emerged suggesting that the entire global supply of rice may have already been contaminated by unapproved, genetically-modified (GM) rice varieties manufactured by the American multinational corporation Bayer CropScience. A recent entry in the GM Contamination Register explains that between the years of 2006 and 2007, three different varieties of illegal GM rice, none of which have ever been approved for cultivation or consumption anywhere in the world, were identified in more than 30 countries worldwide.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigation into the matter was unable to verify whether or not contamination was the result of cross-pollination, also known as gene flow, or mechanical mixing. But in either case, vagrant GM rice planted in open fields for "testing" purposes definitely escaped, and now American rice farmers are suffering the consequences as the European Union (EU), Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and others have placed strict limitations on GM rice imports. Both Russia and Bulgaria, on the other hand, have completely banned all rice imports from the U.S. More...

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There's a New Fascism on the Rise, and the NSA Leaks Show Us What It Looks Like
by John Pilger
Posted June 30, 2013

rising fascismIn 1971, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as The Pentagon Papers, revealing that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the US Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the full extent of the invisible government: the domestic spying and subversion and warmongering by intelligence and "security" agencies and the backing they received from big business and the media, both conservative and liberal.

Speaking about the National Security Agency (NSA), Senator Church said: "I know that the capacity that there is to make tyranny in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law … so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return." More...

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Big Lie: America Doesn't Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World...We're Ranked 27th!
by Les Leopold
Posted June 26, 2013

#27 in the worldAmerica is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet's riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that's what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it's a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we're number 27. More...

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The $385 Billion Military-Industrial Boondoggle You've Never Heard Of
by David Vine
Posted June 20, 2013

halliburton profit from warOutside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history. With US troops gone from Iraq and the withdrawal from Afghanistan underway, it's easy to forget that we probably still have about 1,000 military bases in other peoples' lands. This giant collection of bases receives remarkably little media attention, costs a fortune, and even when cost cutting is the subject du jour, it still seems to get a free ride. With so much money pouring into the Pentagon's base world, the question is: Who's benefiting?

Once upon a time, however, the military, not contractors, built the barracks, cleaned the clothes, and peeled the potatoes at these bases. This started to change during the Vietnam War, when Brown & Root, better known to critics as "Burn & Loot" (later KBR), began building major military installations in South Vietnam as part of a contractor consortium.

The use of contractors accelerated following the Cold War's end, part of a larger trend toward the privatization of formerly public services. By the first Gulf War, one in 100 deployed personnel was a contractor. Later in the 1990s, during US military operations in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Italy, and especially the Balkans, Brown & Root received more than $2 billion in base-support and logistics contracts for base construction and maintenance, food services, waste removal, water production, transportation services, and much more. More...

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Transcend Conditioned Consciousness None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds
by David DeGraw
Posted June 11, 2013

money addictsAfter analyzing the most recent data, here's the headline: US millionaire households now have $50 trillion in wealth. They have $39 trillion in legally accounted for wealth, and an estimate of $11 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.

Let that sink in for a moment… 50 TRILLION DOLLAR$.Most people cannot even comprehend how much $1 trillion is, let alone $50 trillion. One trillion is equal to 1000 billion, or $1,000,000,000,000.00.

Only one-tenth of one percent of the population makes one million dollars a year, and, again, most of that wealth is in the top one-hundredth of one percent.

To show how consolidated the wealth is, even in the upper most portion of the top one percentile, the richest 400 people have as much wealth as 185 million Americans combined; that's only 400 people with as much wealth as 60% of the entire US population. Imagine what could be done with that amount of wealth. Imagine the implications, the possibilities. Imagine how we could evolve society, to the benefit of everyone, with modern technology and just a fraction of that staggering amount of wealth. More...

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10 Signs That You're Fully Awake
by Shreyti Garg
Posted June 1, 2013

Here are ten signs you may be fully awake:

Are you truly awake1. You know there's no meaningful difference between major political parties(Democrats and Republicans): It's so easy to get caught up the left-right debate and believe there's a difference between the two major political parties. However, debate is one thing, while actions are another. By their deeds you shall know them, and it is indisputable that there is no significant difference between political parties when it comes to action on the most important issues.

2. You understand that the Federal Reserve, or international central banking more broadly, is the engine of our economic problems: Debt slavery is the totalitarian force that threatens all of humanity, not some temporary political puppet or some greedy Wall Street trader. When a small group of people have the ability to create wealth out of nothing and charge interest on it, they have the ability to enslave the planet to their ownership despite what type of government a country claims to have. More...

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The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty -- and It's Creeping toward 75%
by Paul Buchheit
Posted May 29, 2013

poverty in the USAAccording to IRS data, the average household in the bottom 75% earns about $31,000 per year. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four. Again, Census income figures are about 25% higher because of SNAP reporting requirements, bringing average household income for the bottom 75% to about $39,000.

Incredibly, Congress is trying to cut food assistance. Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee referred to food stamps as "stealing." He added a Biblical quote: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat." A recent jobs hearing in Washington was attended by one Congressman.

Putting it in Perspective, inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just 20 rich Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire 2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people. And as Congress continues to cut life-sustaining programs, its members should note that their 400 friends on the Forbes list made more from their stock market gains last year than the total amount of the food, housing, and education budgets combined. More...

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How Can Wal-Mart REALLY Help Improve Our Schools?
by Peter Dreier
Posted May 28, 2013

really interested in schools?As a business chain, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart has spent a fortune -- in philanthropy and campaign contributions -- trying to break into the Los Angeles retail market with its low-wage retail stores. But the Walton family is also trying to use that fortune to bring Wal-Mart-style education to Los Angeles.

Since 2000, the Walton family -- none of whom live in Los Angeles -- has poured more than $84 million into campaigns, candidates, political action committees and institutions which support privatization. They have donated to charter schools and organizations that support them, such as Green Dot Schools, ICEF schools, and the Los Angeles Parent Union, as well as candidates or political action committees which support diverting tax dollars away from public schools to charter schools. LA already has more charter schools than any other district in the country. More...

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The End of the Beginning of the End
by William Rivers Pitt
Posted May 27, 2013

peaceful protests to end?A report released early this year by the organization Oxfam International revealed that the combined income of the richest 100 people in the world is enough to end global poverty four times over, and that the gap between rich and poor has exploded by some 60% in the last 20 years. Rather than hinder this division, the recent global economic crisis has exacerbated it. Money does not disappear, you see, but tends to be translated up the income ladder in times of financial distress.

Occupy was only the beginning, but may very well have been the last manifestation of peaceful resistance against the ever-widening chasm of inequality and desolation. The noose is tightening around the necks of average people, and more become radicalized with each passing day.

The wealthy would do well to take note of this, and voluntarily move to square the savage imbalance that drives billions around the world into furious despair. It does not have to be this way, and if it continues in this way, eventually the dam is going to break. When that happens, woe be unto those who believe their wealth keeps them safe and cozy. On that day, the rock will not hide them, and the dead tree will give no shelter. More...

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Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal
by Robert Jensen
Posted May 26, 2013

Tim DeCristopherFeeling anxious about life in a broken economy on a strained planet? Turn despair into action.

n December 2008, Tim DeChristopher attended a protest at a federal auction of drilling rights to Utah wilderness lands. He found a better way to disrupt the auction when he picked up a paddle and began bidding on the leases as "Bidder 70." He won $1.8 million worth of parcels and inflated the price of many others. When it was discovered that he had no money to back his bids, the auction had to be shut down.

Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for his actions, but his boldness stopped the sale of 22,000 acres of scenic wilderness and highlighted government misconduct. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar scrapped a rescheduled auction because the Bureau of Land Management had skimped on its environmental analysis and inadequately consulted with the National Park Service. In January 2013, a federal court denied an energy industry appeal to reinstate the leases. More...

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March Against Monsanto and GMOs - Philadelphia
Video by End The Illusion
Posted May 26, 2013

Millions of people marched against the Monsanto corporations and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in hundreds of cities across the world. The corporate controlled main stream media has again failed the people with its meager (if any) coverage of these marches. At the Philadelphia March, there was no main stream media anywhere in sight. It is up to us to show what really happened.

The irony is that the main stream media laments its losing of market share, but how much of the blame for that rests on them?

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The New Crime of Eating While Homeless
by Jim Hightower
Posted May 24, 2013

homelessWhenever one of our cities gets a star turn as host of some super-sparkly event, such as a national political gathering or the Super Bowl, its first move is to tidy up -- by having the police sweep homeless people into jail, out of town, or under some rug. But Houston's tidy-uppers aren't waiting for a world-class event to rationalize going after homeless down-and-outers. They've preemptively outlawed the "crime" of dumpster diving in the Texan city.

In March, James Kelly, a 44-year-old Navy veteran, was passing through Houston on his way to connect with family in California. Homeless, destitute, and hungry, he chose to check out the dining delicacies in a trash bin near City Hall. Spotted by police, Kelly was promptly charged with "disturbing the contents of a garbage can in the [central] business district." Seriously. More...

The people who passed this law and those who enforce it will have some serious explaining to do when they meet their maker.
"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" .--- Matthew 25:40

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Military Quietly Grants Itself the Power to Police the Streets Without Local or State Consent
by Jed Morey
Posted May 19, 2013

military on our streetsThe lines between the military and law enforcement have blurred even further.The manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects offered the nation a window into the stunning military-style capabilities of our local law enforcement agencies. For the past 30 years, police departments throughout the United States have benefitted from the government's largesse in the form of military weaponry and training, incentives offered in the ongoing "war on drugs." For the average citizen watching events such as the intense pursuit of the Tsarnaev brothers on television, it would be difficult to discern between fully outfitted police SWAT teams and the military.

The lines blurred even further Monday as a new dynamic was introduced to the militarization of domestic law enforcement. By making a few subtle changes to a regulation in the U.S. Code titled "Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies" the military has quietly granted itself the ability to police the streets without obtaining prior local or state consent, upending a precedent that has been in place for more than two centuries. More...

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Round the Clock Surveillance: Is This the Price of Living in a "Free, Safe" Society?
by John Whitehead
Posted May 15, 2013

Surveillance stateImmediately following the devastating 9/11 attacks, many Americans willingly ceded their rights and liberties to government officials who promised them that the feeling of absolute safety could be restored.

Now, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, we are once again being assured that if we only give up a few more liberties and what little remains of our privacy, we will be a free, safe society. The reality of life in America tells a different tale, however. For example, in a May 2013 interview with CNN, former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente disclosed that the federal government is keeping track of all digital communications that occur within the United States, whether or not those communicating are American citizens, and whether or not they have a warrant to do so. More...

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'Police State' Registry System Being Set Up to Track Your Vaccination Status
by Jeffry Aufderheide
Posted May 14, 2013

big brotherYour government is watching and tracking your decisions – even saying "No" to vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control has been quietly rolling out a nationwide program called the Immunization Information Systems (IIS), registering your vaccine information into a database. [1] This effort has been run in parallel with state vaccine registry implementations. Once this system is completely operational, the sky is the limit. Big Brother has the capability to track more than just vaccines. You can anticipate finding just about any pharmaceutical drug mandated by the government in this same system.

The question then becomes, who influences the government agencies mandating vaccines? More...

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Bringing Young and Old to the Climate Fight
By Bill McKibben
Posted May 13, 2013

tar sandsIt always seems to me that different groups can bring different things to the climate fight — not completely different, but subtly so, in ways that reflect the diversity of our society.

There are things that can be hard for young people — if you're 22 right now, in our economy, an arrest record may not be the best thing for your resume. Past a certain age, however, what the hell are they going to do to you? So when we announced plans for mass civil disobedience to protest the Keystone pipeline in 2011, we asked older people in particular to step up. We didn't ask the 1,253 arrestees (the most in any protest for 30 years) how old they were — that would be rude. But we did ask 'who was president when you were born?' And we were delighted when it turned out the biggest cohorts came from the Truman and FDR administrations. Elders were beginning to act like elders, and taking real pride in it. More...

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Fearlessness Grows From the Grass Roots: US Protest Movement against the Banksters
by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Posted May 11, 2013

fearlessness growsAs more people see that the government represents Wall Street and concentrated wealth, instead of them; that the government continues to give the banksters who crashed the economy a break while cutting access to basic necessities, that the government continues to put big energy profits ahead of protecting the planet – more people are becoming fearless.

Last week, front-line environmental groups including climate justice activists, opponents of tar sands, mountaintop removal and many others who oppose the extraction economy that poisons our land, water and air while risking climate change, announced "Fearless Summer." They announced a week of actions from June 24 to 29 to begin "an epic summer of actions." The rising tide of courage in the environmental justice movement is one we also see growing in many communities on many issues. More...

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The United States Is Fighting How Many Wars?
by Kevin Gosztola
Posted May 11, 2013

intervention in over 60 nations since 1945With neoconservatives and neoliberals amplifying calls for US military intervention in Syria, it is worthwhile to take a moment and consider all the places in the world, where the US currently has forces engaged in daily operations.

Secrecy, the reality that a substantial portion of US military or espionage operations with troops are likely happening covertly, may mean it is impossible to truly get a complete picture of where America is projecting power and targeting and killing people. But, Linda J. Bilmes and Michael D. Intriligator, ask in a recent paper, "How many wars is the US fighting today?" More...

We came, we saw, we destroyed, we forgot
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How Class Works
by Richard D. Wolff
Posted May 10, 2013

As a loan, it has two sides: The borrowwer and the lender. In our kind of capitalist economy, it is the rule that a banker has the social responsibility of properly assessing risk. If billions upon billions of dollars were lent to people who couldn't pay it back, then the culpability is at least as much from the side of the bankers who made those loans as it is on the borrowers who took them out.

Borrowing vast amounts of money to buy homes took off in the 1970s and 80s and 90s. It had not happened before. So if you're going to blame the victim, you'll have to explain why the victim undertook these blameworthy activities jus then and not, for example, in the previous 150 years. And now the most important poin which I made earlier: Starting in the 1970s the American working class stopped getting real wage increases. More...

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Resource Shock: How Resource Scarcity and Climate Change Could Produce a Global Explosion
by Michael T. Klare
Posted May 7, 2013

resource scarcityBrace yourself. You may not be able to tell yet, but according to global experts and the U.S. intelligence community, the earth is already shifting under you. Whether you know it or not, you're on a new planet, a resource-shock world of a sort humanity has never before experienced.

Two nightmare scenarios -- a global scarcity of vital resources and the onset of extreme climate change -- are already beginning to converge and in the coming decades are likely to produce a tidal wave of unrest, rebellion, competition, and conflict. Just what this tsunami of disaster will look like may, as yet, be hard to discern, but experts warn of "water wars" over contested river systems, global food riots sparked by soaring prices for life's basics, mass migrations of climate refugees (with resulting anti-migrant violence), and the breakdown of social order or the collapse of states. At first, such mayhem is likely to arise largely in Africa, Central Asia, and other areas of the underdeveloped South, but in time all regions of the planet will be affected. More...

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Lockdown, USA: Lessons From the Boston Marathon Manhunt
by Henry A Giroux
Posted May 6, 2013

martial law for one criminal?When I hear that authorities have locked down a school, a workplace, a transit system, a cell phone network, or a city, the subtext seems unmistakable: We are now in control. Listen carefully and do as you are told. What I hear is the warden saying that communication will flow in one direction only, and that silence and obedience are the only options.

Other critics suggested the lockdown represented a massive overreaction that was symptomatic of a larger social crisis. Steven Rosenfeld argued that "beyond lingering questions of whether the government went too far by shutting down an entire city and whether that might encourage future terrorism, a deeper and darker question remains: why is America's obsession with evil so selective?" More...

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Economic and Social Abnormality Reigns, American's Loving Their Servitude
by James Quinn
Posted April 25, 2013

willingly giving up freedomThe most disgraceful example of abnormality that has infected our culture has been the cowardice and docile acquiescence of the citizenry in allowing an ever expanding police state to shred the U.S. Constitution, strip us of our freedoms, and restrict our liberties. Our keepers have not let any crisis go to waste in the last seventeen years. They have also taken advantage of the willful ignorance, childish immaturity, extreme gullibility, historical cluelessness, financial illiteracy and techno-narcissism of the populace to reverse practical legislation and prey upon irrational fears to strip the people of their constitutionally guaranteed liberties and freedoms.

Every crisis, whether government created or just convenient to their agenda, has been utilized by the oligarchs to expand the police state and benefit the crony capitalists that profit from its expansion. The character of the American people has been found wanting as they obediently cower and beg for protection from unseen evil doers. The propagandist corporate media reinforces their fears and instructs them to submissively tremble and implore the government to do more. More...

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America's New Math: 1 Wall Street Hour = 21 Years of Hard Work For the Rest of Us
by Les Leopold
Posted April 20, 2013

making money with no productive workIt's perverse: the top 10 hedge funds managers make as much as 196,000 registered nurses. Here's how we change that. America's new math: 1 Wall Street hour = 21 years of hard work for the rest of us.

Together the top 10 hedge fund managers waltzed off with $10.1 billion in 2012, which is more than enough to hire 250,000 entry level teachers or 196,000 new registered nurses.

It's not just that these financial gurus are filthy rich. It's that they are the richest of the rich and we don't even know what they do. Overall, hedge fund managers make 50 to 100 times more than our top athletes, movie stars, CEOs, lawyers, writers, doctors and celebrities. Yet, their activities are treated like state secrets. More...

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The Corporate Betrayal of America -- Ripping off the Public, Running off with the Profits to Avoid Taxes
by Paul Buchheit
Posted April 10, 2013

multinationals tax dodgersThe huge multinationals have made it clear; they don't feel obliged to give anything back to the people who made it all possible. Multinational corporations have built their businesses on the backs of American taxpayers. They've depended on government research, national defense, the legal and educational systems, and our infrastructure.

Yet they've turned around and mocked us with declining tax payments. They've cut workers. They've refused to invest their massive profits in job-producing research and development. And they've insulted existing employees with low wages and dwindling retirement support. As a final disdainful act, many of them have tried to convince us that they LOSE money in the U.S. while only making profits overseas.

Here are the facts. More...

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"American Dream": Food loaded into Dumpsters while Hundreds of Hungry Americans Restrained by Police
by Sarah Carlson
Posted April 7, 2013

American NightmareResidents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.

The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news "a potential for a riot was extremely high."

"People got children out here that are hungry, thirsty," local resident Robertstine Lambert told Fox54 in Augusta. "Why throw it away when you could be issuing it out?" More...

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Ten Ways That Each of Us Can Take Back Control From Wall Street
by Pam Martens
Posted March 23, 2013

Wall St greedThe richest 1 percent received over one-third of the total gain in marketable wealth over the period from 1983 to 2007. The next 4 percent also received about a third of the total gain and the next 15 percent about a fifth, so that the top quintile collectively accounted for 89 percent of the total growth in wealth, while the bottom 80 percent accounted for 11 percent.

Debt was the most evenly distributed component of household wealth, with the bottom 90 percent of households responsible for 73 percent of total indebtedness. Wealth concentration in too few hands while the general populace is saddled with too much debt to buy the goods and services produced by the corporations, is a replay of the conditions leading to the crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression.

Below I offer ten ideas to take individual charge of taming the Wall Street beast. And, just to be clear to those perched on the edge of their seats preparing to scream "Socialist!," I'm not suggesting "redistributing" wealth; I'm suggesting putting the wealth back into the hands from which it was taken in a rigged wealth transfer scheme. More...

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Only Wall Street Wins in Detroit Crisis Reaping $474 Million Fee
by Darrell Preston & Chris Christoff
Posted March 23, 2013

Wall St profits from thisThe only winners in the financial crisis that brought Detroit (9845MF) to the brink of state takeover are Wall Street bankers who reaped more than $474 million from a city too poor to keep street lights working.

The city started borrowing to plug budget holes in 2005 under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was convicted this week on corruption charges. That year, it issued $1.4 billion in securities to fund pension payments. Last year, it added $129.5 million in debt, 9.3 percent of its general-fund budget, in part to repay loans taken to service other bonds.

"We have no lights, no buses, poor streets and now we're paying millions of dollars a year on our debt," said David Sole, a retired municipal worker and advocate for Moratorium Now Coalition, a Detroit group that fights foreclosures and evictions. "The banks said they need to be paid first. But there is no money." More...

Detroit leaders need to start a public bank where they can finance the projects and zero or near zero interest rates. There is no reason for the city to be paying Wall St over $474 million any longer.

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16 Giant Corpoporations Stopped Paying Taxes While Also Cutting Jobs!
by Paul Buchheit
Posted March 20, 2013

Tax havensOur nation's kids and seniors and low-income mothers may be dealing with food and housing cuts, but on the corporate playing floor new low-tax records are being set again this year. Just as this is a golden age for sports, this is also, as noted by the New York Times, "a golden age for corporate profits."

Corporations have simply stopped paying their taxes, perhaps using the 2008 recession as an excuse to plead hardship, but then never restoring their tax obligations when business got better. The facts are indisputable. For over 20 years, from 1987 to 2008, corporations paid an average of 22.5% in federal taxes. Since the recession, this has dropped to 10% -- even though their profits have doubled in less than ten years.

Pay Up Now just completed a compilation of corporate tax payments over the past five years, using SEC data as reported by the companies themselves. The firms chosen are top-earners who have filed 10-K reports through 2012. Their US Tax figures represent the five-year total of "current" payments. More...

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Researchers Find German-Made Spyware Across Globe
by Raphael Satter
Posted March 16, 2013

virus program worldwideThe discovery of a group of servers linked to an elusive espionage campaign is providing new details about a high-tech piece of spy software that some fear may be targeting dissidents living under oppressive regimes.

A Canadian research center said Wednesday that it had identified 25 different countries that host servers linked to FinFisher, a Trojan horse program which can dodge anti-virus protections to steal data, log keystrokes, eavesdrop on Skype calls, and turn microphones and webcams into live surveillance devices. More...

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A Better Plan Than 'Endless Growth': Enough Is Enough
by Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill
Posted March 5, 2013

Unlimited growthThe World Economic Forum held its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland last month. The official theme was "Resilient Dynamism," a catchphrase that makes about as much sense as the futureless economic policies trotted out at the meeting. At least the attendees had something to ponder at cocktail hour. The mission of the forum, on paper at least, is "improving the state of the world." And there is clear room for improvement: trillions of dollars of public debt, billions of people living in poverty, escalating unemployment, and a distinct possibility of runaway climate change.

The popular solution to these problems is sustained economic growth. In fact, the first item of the Davos meeting's global agenda was "how to get the global economy back on to a path of stable growth and higher employment" The thinking is that if we could just get people to produce and consume more stuff, then we could also pay off the debt, create jobs, eradicate poverty, and maybe even have some money left over to clean up the environment.

It's tempting to believe this economic fairy tale. But if growth is the cure to all of our ills, why are we in such a bind after sixty years of it? More...

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No Sanctuary in the Ivory Tower
by Chris Lehman
Posted February 3, 2013

Victim of academia cowardiceWhy didn't MIT defend Aaron Swartz? University administrators, eager to kowtow to their federal paymasters, become surrogate enforcers rather than principled defenders of academic freedom.

When Aaron Swartz took his own life with the approach of trumped up legal proceedings of evidence poised to threaten his freedom, he became a national symbol of two notorious failings of our legal system: federal prosecutors who, with an eye on their conviction scorecard, overcharge cases and bully defendants into submission; and the enforcement of proprietary computer terms-of-service agreements as if they were the republic's first line of defense against mass sedition.

But the Swartz case brought home a third failing: the abject capitulation of MIT to the dictates of the U.S. attorney’s office.More...

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Scorecard: How Many Rights Have Americans REALLY Lost?
by Washington's Blog
Posted February 24, 2013

Bill of Rights erosionWhile a lot of people talk about the loss of our Constitutional liberties, people usually speak in a vague, generalized manner … or focus on only one issue and ignore the rest.

This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right.

A federal judge found that the law allowing indefinite detention of Americans without due process has a"chilling effect" on free speech. And see this and this.

The threat of being labeled a terrorist for exercising our First Amendment rights certainly violates the First Amendment. The government is using laws to crush dissent, and it's gotten so bad that even U.S. Supreme Court justices are saying that we are descending into tyranny. More...

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Why The Banking Elite Want Riots in America
by Paul Joseph Watson
Posted February 23, 2013

bankers want riotsEvery indication clearly suggests that authorities in the United States are preparing for widespread civil unrest. This trend has not emerged by accident – it is part of a tried and tested method used by the banking elite to seize control of nations, strip them of their assets, and absorb them into the new world order.

There is a crucial economic imperative as to why the elite is seeking to engineer and exploit social unrest.

As respected investigative reporter Greg Palast exposed in 2001, the global banking elite, namely the World Bank and the IMF, have honed a technique that has allowed them to asset-strip numerous other countries in the past – that technique has come to be known at the "IMF riot." In April 2001, Palast obtained leaked World Bank documents that outlined a four step process on how to loot nations of their wealth and infrastructure, placing control of resources into the hands of the banking elite. More...

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Watch Out -- The Drones Are Coming Home To Roost
by Jim Hightower
Posted February 20, 2013

drone wityh cameraThe goal of drone pushers is to have a startling 30,000 of these pilotless contrivances zipping through the air by 2020. Holy moly! Our nation's entire commercial fleet of passenger and cargo planes numbers only about 7,000. And lest you think that 30,000 drones is an industry fantasy, a map compiled from military records discloses that as of last June the Pentagon alone already had 64 drone bases throughout our country, with another 22 bases planned. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the military from operating on American soil, but there it is. What are they doing? We don't know. But it's time to ask.

The good news is that the industry and its cohorts have been recently stunned by a remarkable left-right counterpunch. They are not only being confronted by such progressive opponents of their liberty-busting gambit as the ACLU, CodePink and Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts in the U.S. House and Ron Wyden of Oregon in the Senate, but also a determined bunch of Republican privacy defenders in Congress and the media, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, "Morning Joe" Scarborough on MSNBC, Bloomberg columnist Ramesh Ponnuru and even far-right Fox commentator Charles Krauthammer, who says: "I don't want restrictions (on drones) — I want a ban." More...

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How to Spot -- and Defeat -- Disruption on the Internet
by Washington's Blog
Posted February 19, 2013

Internet trollsWe've seen a number of tactics come and go over the years. Here are the ones we see a lot of currently.

Start a partisan divide-and-conquer fight or otherwise push emotional buttons to sow discord and ensure that cooperation is thwarted. Get people fighting against each other instead of the corrupt powers-that-be. Use baseless caricatures to rile everyone up. For example, start a religious war whenever possible using stereotypes like "all Jews are selfish", "all Christians are crazy" or "all Muslims are terrorists". Accuse the author of being a gay, pro-abortion limp-wristed wimp or being a fundamentalist pro-war hick when the discussion has nothing to do with abortion, sexuality, religion, war or region. Appeal to people's basest prejudices and biases. And -- as Sweeney explains -- push the author into a defensive posture.

When the powers-that-be cut corners and take criminally reckless gambles with our lives and our livelihoods, protect them by pretending that the inevitable result - nuclear accidents, financial crises, terrorist attacks or other disasters -- were "unforeseeable" and that "no could have known".

Protect the rich and powerful by labeling any allegations of criminal activity as being a "conspiracy theory". For example, when Goldman gets caught rigging markets, label the accusations as mere conspiracies. More...

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"I want my fair share--and that's ALL OF IT": The Kochs & the XL Pipeline
by Greg Palast
Posted February 16, 2013

Koch indictmentAccording to the transcript of the secretly recorded tape, Charles Koch was chuckling like a six-year old. Koch was having a hell of a laugh over pilfering a few hundred dollars' worth of oil from a couple of dirt-poor Indians on the Osage Reservation.

Why did Koch, worth about $3 billion at the time (now $20 billion) need to boost a few bucks from some Indian in a trailer home? Koch answered:

"I want my fair share -- and that's all of it."

Now "all of it" includes a pipeline, the Keystone XL, which would run the world's filthiest oil, crude made from tar sands, down from Canada to his family's refinery on the Gulf Coast of Texas. More...

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The Institutionalization of Tyranny
by Paul Craig Roberts (Asst Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term)
Posted January 22, 2013

erosion of constitutionRepublicans and conservative Americans are still fighting Big Government in its welfare state form. Apparently, they have never heard of the militarized police state form of Big Government, or, if they have, they are comfortable with it and have no objection.

Republicans, including those in the House and Senate, are content for big government to initiate wars without a declaration of war or even Congress' assent, and to murder with drones citizens of countries with which Washington is not at war. Republicans do not mind that federal "security" agencies spy on American citizens without warrants and record every email, Internet site visited, Facebook posting, cell phone call, and credit card purchase. Republicans in Congress even voted to fund the massive structure in Utah in which this information is stored. But heaven forbid that big government should do anything for a poor person.

Obama Democrats are no more disturbed than conservative Republicans that a dutiful American soldier is being prosecuted because he has a moral conscience. In Manning's trial, the government's definition of victory has nothing whatsoever to do with justice prevailing. For Washington, victory means stamping out moral conscience and protecting a corrupt government from public exposure of its war crimes. More...

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A loss to the World: The Death of Aaron Swartz
by Kevin Zeese
Posted January 16, 2013

Arron Swartz, loss to the worldSo that his death is not in vain, let it lead to an awakening about how off-track the United States has become on prosecutorial power and loss of privacy; and let's all work so the issues he stood for, Internet freedom and free sharing of information, gain strength as his legacy.

Who knows what more Aaron Swartz would have contributed to the world. He did so much in such a short time. Swartz was cofounder of the social media sharing site Reddit, a co-author of RSS, a co-creator of Creative Commons, and founder of Demand Progress — which successfully rallied millions to fight SOPA and PIPA. Swartz was mercilessly prosecuted, threatened with over 30 years in prison, for actions which — were he guilty — had no real victims, were not done with intent to benefit financially, and whose main target requested the case be dropped.

The prosecutors who hounded him to his death should resign in shame or be fired as they are not fit to have the tremendous power they have been given. But,while Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney showed her personal flaws, this case also highlighted the flaws of a criminal justice system that has given too much power to prosecutors and results in obscenely long and harsh sentencing. More...

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The Digital Disruption: Technology and Economics for the 99%
by Peter Brown
Posted January 12, 2013

robotic assemblyRobotic automation is a subject we rarely hear mentioned in all the talk about the economy, jobs, climate change, and other elements of our growing global crisis. Why? Because the 1% dare not address an issue that shakes our system to its foundations.

The bipartisan perspective of our current leadership is that our problems are just another, mysteriously huge, business cycle; that "any day now" things will turn around and "we" must tighten our belts until then; and that with enough reforms we can restore economic balance and avert global climate disaster. The truth is that the continued existence of capitalism is incompatible with the positive potential of robotic automation. More...

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Obedience To Authority, Should We Trust The Government?
by James Quinn
Posted January 5, 2013

believe what you are toldThe white collared psychopathic criminals on Wall Street reaped billions in profits, paid themselves millions in bonuses, and cost taxpayers trillions when it all blew up in 2008. The ruling elite have added $6 trillion to our national debt and their central banker has added another $2 trillion to our ultimate tab, while providing free money to their Wall Street bank owners. They realize their efforts to restart the exponential growth engine have failed. They gutted our productive manufacturing based economic system by shipping the blue collar jobs overseas to Chinese slave labor facilities, replaced workers with machines, stimulated consumption with unlimited distribution of high interest debt, and allowed conglomerates to drive small business owners out of business with their cheap foreign sourced goods, all in the name of capitalism. The plan worked so well that real wages haven't risen in 40 years, inflation has destroyed the purchasing power of the middle class, 47.7 million people are dependent on food stamps to survive, and the masses can't even afford the cheap slave labor produced trinkets anymore. There is too little cash, too few jobs, too much debt, too many takers, too few makers, too many bankers, too much delusion, and too few resources to sustain the unsustainable. We have entered the end stages of a ravenous locust swarm. The fields have been stripped barren.

When the men in smoke filled rooms realized their soft totalitarianism was losing its grip on the oblivious, submissive, egoistical, distracted masses, they began phase two of their effort to retain their wealth, power and control. They began to institute Orwellian measures to strike fear into the populace. Their illusion of control is dissipating and they are resorting to force in order to maintain hegemony. It began with the immediate passage of the Orwellian Patriot Act one month after 9/11. More...

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Genetic Engineering and the GMO Industry: Corporate Hijacking of Food and Agriculture
By Colin Todhunter
Posted January 2, 2013

GMO unproven safetyWhen rich companies with politically-connected lobbyists and seats on government-appointed bodies bend policies for their own ends, we are in serious trouble. It is then that our democratic institutions become hijacked and our choices, freedoms and rights are destroyed. Corporate interests have too often used their dubious 'science', lobbyists, political connections and presence within the heart of governments, in conjunction with their public relations machines, to subvert democratic machinery for their own benefit. Once their power has been established, anyone who questions them or who stands in their way can expect a very bumpy ride.

What the GMO sector fails to grasp is that the onus is on them to prove that their products are safe. And they have patently failed to do this. No independent testing was done before Bush senior allowed GMOs onto the US market.

There is little mention of the 250,000 poor farmers who took their own lives in the Indian cotton belt because they became indebted due to this "frontier technology" not delivering the results that the GMO industry has said it would. It is easy to thus conclude that if there is a 'disgusting enemy' it is the profiteering corporate-controlled terminator seed technology of the GMO industry that has resulted in mass suicides and the destruction of traditional farmer-controlled agricultural practices developed over thousands of years. More...

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