News for progressives

‘’Only little people pay taxes.’’

Off-Guardian - Sun, 2019-06-02 04:45
The Wheel of History Turns To understand the present, we must understand the past, and possibly the future direction of historical processes. Well where did it all begin? Well “it” (i.e., unbounded, rent-seeking, extractive capitalism) had existed for a long period of time dating back to the 19th century and perhaps beyond. Economic theories have …

India’s ‘Trump’ Wins Big

Oriental Review - Sat, 2019-06-01 21:43
India is on a roll. Now, even more so thanks to a strong central government that favors commerce and big business. But it’s not all sitar music and incense. India is a modern nation of 600 million atop an ancient rural nation of 700 million. Modern India will struggle to escape ancient Mother India.

Israeli Indifference is Killing People

Off-Guardian - Sat, 2019-06-01 15:15
Andre Vltchek In the past, whenever I went to (or more precisely, ‘through’) Israel, it was for some antagonistic purpose: to write about the brutal suppression of the intifada in Gaza or Hebron, to comment on the insanity of the land grab around Bethlehem, or to report from the eerie and de-populated Golan Heights, which …

Clubs, Cartels and Bilderberg

Oriental Review - Sat, 2019-06-01 13:21
“After decades of neoliberalism, we are at the mercy of a cluster of cartels who are lobbying politicians hard and using monopoly power to boost profits.” Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (2012) The emergence of think tanks was as much a symptom of liberal progress as it was a […]

Oxcarts v. Reactors

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

How fleeting is glory!  Back in 1998, the South Asian Journalists Association proclaimed me ‘Journalist of the Year’ for a newspaper article I had written about India.

But the next year the award was angrily rescinded after I wrote that India should compromise with Pakistan over the festering Kashmir conflict.  Prickly Indians didn’t like being criticized, even by an old friend like myself.

This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition won a landslide electoral victory, gaining 302 of the 542 seats in parliament.  The venerable Congress opposition party, that long led India, was crushed.

We should pay attention.  India is more or less the world’s largest democracy and is expected to be the third largest economic power by 2020.  It’s also an important nuclear state with land and sea-launched ICBM’s that can strike the United States and Canada, Europe, and its rival, China.

I’ve been writing for decades about the threat of accidental or planned nuclear war with Pakistan over Kashmir.  My first book, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ deals with the potential of future war between India and China over the high Himalayas and Burma, as well as India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

India, energized by growing economic power and nuclear Viagra is feeling its national oats.  Prime Minister Modi is a hard-line religious nationalist determined to press his concept of ‘Hindutva,’ or religious power.  He has vowed to confront India’s largest minority, some 200 million Muslims, 15% of its estimated 1.3 billion people, and make India a great Hindu power again.

Modi has sometimes been called ‘India’s Trump.’  He was governor of India’s most business-oriented state, Gujarat.  Modi is openly antagonistic to Muslims and Sikhs, and failed to halt the massacre of thousands of Muslims during his tenure.  He commands wide public support for his Muslim-bashing and anti-Pakistan invective.  Modi likes to wave the scimitar and vaunt his military muscle.

Last February, he sent Indian warplanes to attack Pakistan after Kashmir nationalists (‘terrorists’ to Indians) attacked an Indian military convoy.  India humiliatingly lost one of its MiG’s to Pakistan’s crack air force.  Worse, Modi ran a very dangerous and totally unnecessary risk by attacking nuclear-armed Pakistan.  But Hindu nationalist mobs loved it.  Just as many ill-informed Americans love Trump’s war threats against Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and, of course, Russia.

Like Trump, Modi keeps invoking India’s past without really addressing its current problems like entrenched cast problems, growing crime, terrible national sanitation, rampant corruption, lethal air pollution and endemic communal tensions.  Interestingly, in the recent elections, a majority of low cast ‘untouchables’ (now called ‘Dalits’ but still as untouchable) voted for the BJP.  So did India’s always restive eastern hills states.  These are positive signs for Modi’s BJP.

By contrast, the Congress Party that brought India to independence from British colonial rule in 1947 and gave it the elite Gandhi ruling dynasty, was crushed in the vote.  Dynastic politics is always bad medicine, be it Gandhis, Kennedys, Bhuttos or Romanovs.  The youthful but disappointing heir to the Gandhi’s Congress political machine, Rahul Gandhi, had no heart in the fight and even lost one of his two ‘safe’ seats.

That’s too bad.  Congress has a fairly moderate policy towards Muslims and Pakistan.  Not so the BJP which remains based on an extreme Hindu movement founded in 1925 that promotes grassroots Hinduisation of the nation, or even expulsion of Muslims, as just occurred in Buddhist Burma (Myanmar).  Many on the Hindu hard right also call for the ‘reabsorption’ of Pakistan into Mother India, though, confusingly, that would add 213 million angry Muslims.

Meanwhile, India’s formerly stagnant economy is bustling, thanks in good part to lifting of punitive tax and absurd government restrictions known as the ‘license Raj.’  Foreign investment is pouring into India, and highly educated Indian immigrants into the United States.  Back in the early 1990’s, I was given a early look at India’s just formed version of Silicon Valley, the city of Bangalore, (home of the ‘bangalore torpedo’ for breaching barbed wire.)  This complex grew into today’s IT powerhouse, the pride of India.

India is on a roll.  Now, even more so thanks to a strong central government that favors commerce and big business.  But it’s not all sitar music and incense.  India is a modern nation of 600 million atop an ancient rural nation of 700 million.  Modern India will struggle to escape ancient Mother India.  The Indian colossus still has political and financial feet of clay.

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The Tide of Public Opinion

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

The indictment of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act has profoundly affected press coverage of the WikiLeaks founder, with much of the media turning suddenly and decisively in his favor after  years of vilifying him.

The sharp change has also come from some politicians, and significantly, from two Justice Department prosecutors who went public to express their dissent about using the Espionage Act to indict Assange.

To the extent that public opinion matters, the sea-change in coverage could have an effect on the British or Swedish governments’ decision to extradite Assange to the United States to face the charges.

Used to Be a Russian Agent

Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election establishment media, fueled by the Mueller probe, has essentially branded Assange a Russian agent who worked to undermine American democracy.

Focusing on his personality rather than his work, the media mostly cheered his arrest by British police on April 11 after his political asylum was illegally revoked by Ecuador in its London embassy.

Assange’s initial indictment for conspiracy to intrude into a government computer was portrayed by corporate media as the work of a “hacker” and not a journalist, who doesn’t merit First Amendment protection.

But the superseding indictment under the Espionage Act last Thursday has changed all that.

Rather than criminal activity, the indictment actually describes routine journalistic work, such as encouraging sources to turn over sensitive information and hiding a source’s identity.

Since the Trump administration has crossed the red line criminalizing  what establishment journalists do all the time, establishment journalists have come full-square against the indictment and behind Assange.

Leading liberal outlets, who until Wednesday openly despised  Assange, began on Thursday to make 180 degree turns in their editorials, commentaries and news reports.

An editorial in The New York Timescalled the indictment “a marked escalation in the effort to prosecute Mr. Assange, one that could have a chilling effect on American journalism as it has been practiced for generations. It is aimed straight at the heart of the First Amendment.”

“The new charges focus on receiving and publishing classified material from a government source. That is something journalists do all the time. … This is what the First Amendment is designed to protect: the ability of publishers to provide the public with the truth.”

The Times praised Assange’s work:

“Mr. Assange shared much of the material at issue with The New York Times and other news organizations. The resulting stories demonstrated why the protections afforded the press have served the American public so well; they shed important light on the American war effort in Iraq, revealing how the United States turned a blind eye to the torture of prisoners by Iraqi forces and how extensively Iran had meddled in the conflict.”

‘Profoundly Disturbing’

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger wrote:

” I find the Trump administration’s use of the Espionage Act against him profoundly disturbing. … Whatever Assange got up to in 2010-11, it was not espionage. … Imagine the precedent if the Trump administration gets away with this. Israel and India have extensive nuclear weapons programmes – each protected by ferocious domestic official secrets acts. Think of the outcry if the Netanyahu or Modi governments attempted to extradite a British or US journalist to face life in jail for writing true things about their nuclear arsenals. …

Assange is accused of trying to persuade a source to disclose yet more secret information. Most reporters would do the same. Then he is charged with behaviour that, on the face of it, looks like a reporter seeking to help a source protect her identity. If that’s indeed what Assange was doing, good for him.”

The New Yorker‘s Masha Gessen, wrote: “The use of the Espionage Act to prosecute Assange is an attack on the First Amendment. … It stands to reason that an Administration that considers the press an ‘enemy of the people’ would launch this attack. In attacking the media, it is attacking the public.’

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the Democratic Party booster, who probably had more influence than any commentator in drumming up the Russiagate conspiracy and Assange’s alleged role in it, on Thursday launched into an astounding defense of the imprisoned publisher.  On her program she said:

“The Justice Department today, the Trump administration today, just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange’s side of the ledger. On his side of the fight. Which, I know, is unimaginable. But that is because the government is now trying to assert this brand new right to criminally prosecute people for publishing secret stuff, and newspapers and magazines and investigative journalists and all sorts of different entities publish secret stuff all the time. That is the bread and butter of what we do.”

Nick Miller, writing in The Sydney Morning Heraldsaid:

“On the face of it this indictment covers a lot of practices that are standard to investigative journalism: appealing for information, encouraging a source to provide documents that are not publicly available, reporting classified information you believe is in the public interest and the public has a right to know. …It may be that prosecutors can argue Assange was not acting as a journalist. But they would, by doing so, make the line separating journalism from espionage wafer-thin, and much more dangerous to approach, even in the public interest.”

Politicians Too

The indictment for espionage also caused a number of politicians to back Assange. Two U.S. candidates for president and another senator spoke out in his favor. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted:

Let me be clear: it is a disturbing attack on the First Amendment for the Trump administration to decide who is or is not a reporter for the purposes of a criminal prosecution. Donald Trump must obey the Constitution, which protects the publication of news about our government. https://t.co/5JtHNHH2BE

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 24, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said in a statement: “Trump should not be using this case as a pretext to wage war on the First Amendment and go after the free press who hold the powerful accountable everyday.”

“This is not about Julian Assange,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement. “This is about the use of the Espionage Act to charge a recipient and publisher of classified information. I am extremely concerned about the precedent this may set and potential dangers to the work of journalists and the First Amendment.”

In Assange’s native Australia, Sen. Rex Patrick said:

“The United States government’s decision to charge Australian citizen and publisher Julian Assange with new espionage offences relating to receiving and publishing classified US government information raises a grave threat to freedom of the press worldwide, and must be viewed so by the Australian government,” he said.

“The Australian government should be active not only in providing consular support to Mr Assange, who is an Australian citizen, but also outspoken in making representations to the British government against allowing Mr Assange to be extradited to the United States on charges that so obviously constitute a grave threat to press freedom.”

Bob Carr, a former Australian foreign minister, said:  “While it appears capital punishment does not apply in this case, the US, by seeking extradition for offences that might attract a 175 years imprisonment, could be testing the tolerance of its allies and partners. I think this changes the game almost as much as if capital punishment were the penalty.”

Carr said Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, “needs to protect herself from the charge that she’s failed in her duty to protect the life of an Australian citizen.

“Therefore I would imagine that Dfat (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) will provide her with talking points to conversations with her British, Swedish and indeed American counterparts.

“Not to do so would leave the minister exposed to withering criticism that they did not take all appropriate action that might have made a difference, mainly before the British court makes a decision.”

Extradition Made Harder

The Trump administration appears to have gone too far in its Espionage Act indictment, eliciting not only media pushback, but perhaps complicating its extradition case.  The British home secretary may now not want to been seen sending a suspect to a country that has clearly criminalized journalism.

Miller, in the Heraldwrote:

“By bringing espionage into the picture the US have also made their extradition work much, much harder. Assange’s lawyers may try to argue that he is being extradited for his political opinions (which is not allowed), or for conduct that would not be a crime in the UK (ditto). This last is a very interesting question. The UK’s Official Secrets Act may be even harder to stretch to cover Assange’s actions then the US Espionage Act.”

The Intercept reported:

“The uproar could make it easier for Assange’s lawyers in the U.K. — where he is currently serving a 50-week jail term for violating bail — to argue that he is wanted in the United States primarily for embarrassing the Pentagon and State Department, by publishing true information obtained from a whistleblower, making the charges against him political in nature, rather than criminal.”

It is not clear why the U.S. released its superseding indictment when it did. It had until a June 12deadline to do so. The U.S. government also had the option of a loophole in its extradition treaty with Britain, providing for a waiver to the “doctrine of speciality.”

That would have allowed the U.S. to ask Britain to waive the provision that the UK would have to know all the charges against a suspect before an extradition decision would be made, thereby not permitting the U.S. to add more charges once Assange was on U.S. soil. One possibility is that the U.S. asked Britain for the waiver and it was refused.

Personal Attacks Continue

The liberal news outlets who are now finally defending Assange’s activity because the indictment opens themselves to legal jeopardy could not, however, refrain from taking potshots at him.

The Times, for instance, admitted its role in cooperating with WikiLeaks, and thus its potential criminal liability, given the new circumstances.  But the paper tried to wriggle out of it by calling Assange “a source” rather than “a partner.”

If Assange were merely a “source” he would not deserve the protection the Times implies he now merits as a journalist when they compared his activity to “something journalists do all the time.”  Either he is a source or a reporter. If he’s a reporter then the Times is  just using another reporter’s work but treating him as a source. If he’s only a source then he does not merit First Amendment protection.

Maddow said:

“Despite anyone’s feelings about this spectacularly unsympathetic character at the center of this international drama, you are going to see every journalistic institution in this country, every First Amendment supporter in this country, left, right and center, swallow their feelings about this particular human and denounce what the Trump administration is trying to do here. Because it would fundamentally change the United States of America.”

And  Gessen added:

“Assange is a fundamentally unappealing protagonist. He keeps terrible political company. He is, apparently, terrible company himself. In his writing and interviews, he comes across as power-crazed and manipulative. Most important, when he published leaked classified documents, he shared information that exposed people to danger. He is the perfect target precisely because he is unsympathetic. One has to hold one’s nose while defending Assange—and yet one must defend Assange.”

Senator Warren also found it necessary to blast Assange. She said, “Assange is a bad actor who has harmed U.S. national security — and he should be held accountable.”

Unmasking Informants

Rusbridger said: “We fell out, as most people eventually do with Assange. I found him mercurial, untrustworthy and dislikable: he wasn’t keen on me, either.” Significantly, Rusbridger pointed out that, “All the collaborating editors disapproved of him releasing unredacted material from the Manning trove in September 2011.”

First, Assange’s revelation of the names of sources and informants in its publications forms a major part of the superseding indictment.  But the indictment does not spell out any law that Assange violated by doing this. It is illegal in the U.S. to unmask a covert intelligence agent, as happened in the Valerie Plame case, but not to reveal a source or informant.

Second, there is no evidence that anyone was ever harmed by the uncovering of these names.

Third, most importantly as far as Rusbridger is concerned, is that he completely omits his newspapers’ role in the affair. Rusbridger was the Guardian editor when two of his reporters, David Leigh and Luke Harding, in their February 2011 book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, published a password to unpublished and un-redacted WikiLeaks files containing the names of informants in files that only intelligence agencies and governments could decrypt. That led Assange to publish the files with their names in September 2011 so that the sources could seek safety.

Conveniently left out: Guardian inv. ed. published a secret PW in a book that led to forced release of unreacted cables. – Cowardly attempt to rewrite history: “The Guardian disapproved of the mass publication of unredacted documents …and broke with Mr Assange over the issue”. pic.twitter.com/OJ3JdS5y7o

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 24, 2019

“We don’t like Assange, so much so that we’re willing to violate minimal journalistic standards in publishing multiple smears and lies about him. But we profess to care about journalism when his plight could impact ours.” -The Guardian https://t.co/CgxkBJ6bSl

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 27, 2019

The personal attacks on Assange and what kind of person he is has never been relevant. What is relevant is that he’s a journalist who has been persecuted and now indicted for practicing journalism, a fact that mainstream journalists have finally woken up to.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

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The Unrelenting State

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

We are seriously worried about the condition of Julian Assange. He was too unwell to appear in court yesterday, and his Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, found him in a state where he was unable to conduct a conversation and give instructions. There are very definite physical symptoms, particularly rapid weight loss, and we are not satisfied that genuine and sufficient diagnostic efforts are being made to determine the underlying cause.

Julian had been held for the last year in poor, highly confining and increasingly oppressive conditions in the Ecuadorean Embassy and his health was already deteriorating alarmingly before his expulsion and arrest. A number of conditions, including dental abcesses, can have very serious consequences if long term untreated, and the continual refusal by the British government and latterly the Ecuadoreans to permit him access to adequate healthcare while a political asylee was a callous denial of basic human rights.

I confess to feeling an amount of personal relief after his arrest that at least he would now get proper medical treatment. However there now seems to be no intention to provide that and indeed since he has been in Belmarsh his health problems have accelerated. I witnessed enough of the British state’s complicity in torture to know that this may be more than just the consequence of unintended neglect. That the most lucid man I know is now not capable of having a rational conversation is extremely alarming.

There is no rational reason that Assange needs to be kept in a high security facility for terrorists and violent offenders. We are seeing the motive behind his unprecedented lengthy imprisonment for jumping police bail when he entered political asylum. As a convicted prisoner, Assange can be kept in a worse regime than if he were merely on remand for his extradition proceedings. In particular, his access to his lawyers is extremely restricted and for a man facing major legal proceedings in the UK, USA and Sweden it is impossible, even were he healthy, for his lawyers to have sufficient time with him adequately to prepare his cases while he is under the restrictions placed on a convict. Of course we know from the fact that, within three hours of being dragged from the Ecuadorean Embassy, he was already convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term, that the state has no intention that his lawyers should be able to prepare.

I have asked before and I ask again. If this were a dissident publisher in Russia, what would the UK political and media class be saying about his being dragged out by armed police, and convicted and sentenced to jail by a judge without a jury, just three hours later, after a farce of a “trial” in which the judge insulted him and called him a “narcissist” before he had said anything in his defence? The Western media would be up in arms if that happened in Russia. Here, they cheer it on.

Below is a photo of Julian in the Embassy in happier times, during the Correa Presidency, with a truly amazing and strong group of people, every one of whose stories we can follow and learn from:

Left to Right: Thomas Drake, Coleen Rowley, Julian Assange, Elizabeth Murray, Ray McGovern, Nadira, Ann Wright

I should add that I am currently trying to see Julian personally with two other close friends, but obviously access is extremely difficult.

Julian’s personal possessions have been seized by the Ecuadoreans to be given to the US government. These include not only computers but his legal and medical papers. This is yet another example of completely illegal state action against him. Furthermore, any transfer must involve the stolen material physically transiting London, and the British government is taking no steps to prevent that, which is yet another of multiple signs of the degree of international governmental coordination behind the flimsy pretence of independent judicial action.

Julian is imprisoned for at least another five months, even with parole (which they will probably find an excuse not to grant). After that he will be held further on remand. There is therefore no need for rush. The refusal of the Swedish court to delay a hearing on a potential extradition warrant at all, to allow Julian to recover to the extent he can instruct his lawyer, and the very brief postponement of the US extradition hearing in London, with the intimation it may be held inside Belmarsh prison if Julian is too unwell to move, are both examples of an entirely unaccustomed and unnecessary haste with which the case is being rushed forward. The mills of God grind slowly; those of the Devil seem to spin dangerously fast.

Finally, for those who still believe that actions against Julian, particularly but not only in Sweden, are in any way motivated by a concern for justice, particularly justice for violated women, I do urge you to read this excellent account by Jonathan Cook. As a summary of the truly breathtaking series of legal abuses by states against Assange, that the corporate and state media has been deliberately distorting and hiding for a decade, it cannot be bettered.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

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‘Grave Concerns’

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been moved to the hospital wing of the Belmarsh prison in the UK, prompting concerns about his health pending the hearing on his extradition to the US.

Assange’s health had already “significantly deteriorated” during the nearly seven years he spent inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and has continued to get worse over the seven weeks he has spent in Belmarsh, WikiLeaks said in a statement on Wednesday.

WikiLeaks has grave concerns about the state of health of our publisher, Julian Assange, who has been moved to the health ward of Belmarsh prison. – See full statement: pic.twitter.com/HnZVks4kWj

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 29, 2019

“The decision of prison authorities to move him to the health ward speaks for itself,” said WikiLeaks, adding that Assange has lost a lot of weight and was barely able to speak to his Swedish lawyer last week.

“Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” his lawyer Per Samuelson told reporters after visiting Belmarsh, but the quote was barely reported in Sweden, let alone elsewhere.

Sweden has rejected Samuelson’s motion to delay Assange’s extradition hearing, though he was never charged with anything. Swedish investigators never interviewed Assange about claims of “sexual assault” that seem to have been trumped-up as a pretext to extradite him to the US in 2012, and prompted him to seek asylum in Ecuador.

The preliminary hearing on Washington’s extradition request is still scheduled for Thursday, May 30. The US has charged Assange with 18 counts under the Espionage Act, which carry a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.

“Julian’s case is of major historic significance. It will be remembered as the worst attack on press freedom in our time,”said WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, urging people everywhere to oppose their politicians, courts, police and prisons from being abused to “leave this black stain on history.”

Reprinted from RT News.

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Prelude to a Fiasco

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

You’d think that Robert Mueller might know what any licensed attorney-at-law in the land tells a client in a tight spot with a lame alibi: better keep you mouth shut. Instead, Mr. Mueller crept Sphinx-like out of the Deep State woodwork on little cat’s paws and in a brief nine minutes blabbed out a set of whopperish riddles much more likely to get himself in trouble than the target of his hinky inquisition.

The key whopper was that he could not make “a determination” on an obstruction-of-justice charge against Mr. Trump because guidance policy from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel had said some years ago that a sitting president can’t be indicted. That is not what he told his boss, Mr. Barr, the Attorney General (and a roomful of the AG’s staffers who heard it), in person when he delivered his final report a few weeks ago.

Upon receipt of that report, Mr. Barr asked the Special Counsel three times whether his inability to conclude anything on an obstruction charge was due to the OLC guidance, and three times Mr. Mueller answered “no.” Mr. Barr relayed this on-the-record in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and, as averred above, he has plenty of witnesses. It should not be hard to reach a determination on who is telling truth here.

In fact, Mr. Mueller could have declared that he found chargeable obstruction crimes were committed based on the evidence, and also demurred to press them at this time — leaving them available to federal prosecutors until after the president was out of office, one way or another. The reason he didn’t is that Mr. Mueller does not want the case to come to trial, ever, because he would lose badly and his reputation would be destroyed. Consider that in any trial, the defendant gets to call witnesses and make his own case. The evidence for gross prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Mr. Mueller and his associates is mountainous compared to the molehill of Mr. Trump’s temper tantrums over the seditious hoax he was subject to. And that matter is now moving in the direction of adjudication.

So instead, Mr. Mueller has set in motion a potential political crisis as momentous as the Civil War, but completely unlike it. Knowing that congress can impeach the president on just about anything — especially this president, publicly reviled like no other before him — he served congress the platter of material to use in the form of his final report, and pretty much dared them to not go forward with it. Get this: it is a ruse. The object is solely to divert the nation’s attention with an impeachment circus, allowing Mr. Mueller to slip away harmlessly into history without sacrificing his own reputation in a courtroom.

Do you have any idea what a fiasco this set-up is? I will tell you. The US government itself will be discredited and crippled. At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, you’ll have the impeachment circus in which the misdeeds of the RussiaGate perpetrators will be revealed in all their naked political indecency; and at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue you’ll have many of the same government officials involved in all that indecency marched into courtrooms to be tried by Mr. Barr’s prosecutors on charges possibly as grave as treason. On the sidelines, you will see something like a fight to the death between the White House and the rogue leviathan that the nation’s “intel community” has grown into — like the ghastly, slime-dripping creature that stowed away on the spaceship Nostromo in the horror movie Alien.

In his farewell performance, Mr. Mueller declared that he considers himself unavailable to testify before congress in whatever proceedings they convene going forward. That’s rich. If you take him at his word, he said that if called, he would simply refer to his 448-page report, where all the mysteries of existence may be found — like the Old Testament Yahweh laying his Good Book on the table before the cringing multitudes. It will surely come as a surprise to Mr. Mueller that he is actually not Yahweh with such supreme powers, but a mere mortal who has fucked up mightily in the service of an earthly political conspiracy. In the event, he may find himself citing not his fabulous RussiaGate report, but the Fifth Amendment to the constitution.

That’s what we have to look forward to in the months leading up to the 2020 election, if it can even take place during what may be an epic paralysis of government verging on sickening collapse.

Reprinted with permission from Kunstler.com.

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The Pure Evil of a Wealth Tax

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

A few days ago, on the morning call-in program on C-SPAN, callers were asked to give their opinion on a “wealth tax.”

Most were in favor of a higher tax on “billionaires” or at least the “very rich.”

This is the same way the federal income tax was started in 1913.  It was set at a level that applied to very few people, so there was little opposition.

In my home state of Tennessee, the state sales tax started at 3%.  Now it is over 9%.

Supporters of a state income tax in Tennessee several years ago tried to ease it by applying it only to upper-income people.  Fortunately, we did not fall for this old scheme, and the proposed tax failed.

Now, many people are moving to Tennessee because we do not have a state income tax and relatively low property taxes.

People are moving out of the high tax states as fast as they can get out.  And most of the high tax states are having very serious fiscal and infrastructure problems.

Flint, Michigan had highly publicized water problems a few years ago.  They had lost almost half their population since the 1970s and couldn’t take care of their infrastructure.

The Congress sent them an extra $250 million.  But I said in a speech on the Floor of the House that it was not fair for the low-tax states to always have to bail out the high tax states and cities, but that is what is happening all over the Country.

A state or city that imposes high taxes gets a windfall for a few years at most.  But then businesses start moving out, taking people with them, or people have to move to find jobs.

Others move out as soon as they can retire, and young people in Tennessee and other low-tax states are finding it easier to find jobs or start businesses.

It is unfortunate that so few people understand why it is harmful to raise taxes even on the wealthy.

This is because the least economical, least efficient way to spend money is to turn it over to government, especially the federal government—the most wasteful, inefficient of them all.

There just are not as many pressures and/or incentives on government employees to hold down costs and operate efficiently as there are in the private sector.

There is waste and inefficiency in the private sector to be sure, but it pales in comparison to the waste in government at all levels.

It is also true that costs simply explode on anything the federal government subsidizes.

That is why six or seven of the ten wealthiest counties in the U.S. today are counties suburban to Washington, D.C., and why the most lucrative contracts in the U.S. are federal contracts.

It is also why two of the things that have gone up the most in the last 50 years have been two of the very things the federal government subsidizes at the highest levels – medical care and education.

Keeping taxes low and keeping more money in private hands creates more jobs and helps keep prices lower.

The people who benefit the most from lower prices and more jobs are the poor and lower- and middle-income working people.

Now all the Democrat presidential candidates want to repeal the Trump tax cuts, and most of these same candidates probably support the so-called wealth tax.

Apparently, they and their supporters in Congress have forgotten or never learned the lesson of the luxury tax on yachts which began on Jan. 1, 1990.

Just a little over two years later, the Washington Post had a headline reading, “How to Sink an Industry and Not Soak the Rich,” and the New York Times carried a story headlined, “Falling Tax Would Lift All Yachts.”

Even the liberals in Congress at that time admitted that this tax had cost 20,000 to 30,000 jobs in the boatbuilding industry, and there was almost no opposition to its repeal.

Despite President Trump’s recent dustup at the White House with Democratic Congressional leaders, some believe he may go along with some type of tax hike to pay for a massive infrastructure bill since that is what he “loves” and “what he does best.”

I hope he remembers what happened during my first term in Congress when the first President Bush went back on his no new taxes pledge.

In spite of personal calls from the President, Vice President, and Cabinet members to me and most other Republicans in Congress, Republicans in the House voted 105—71 against the tax increases.  Almost all Democrats voted for the tax hike, but because of the President, Republicans got the blame.

Before the President broke his pledge, there were polls showing the Republicans might pick up 20 to 30 seats in the House in the 1990 elections.

Shortly after announcing the tax hikes, just a few weeks before the elections, House Republicans held a panicky, late-night conference in the Cannon Caucus Room.

Ed Rollins, then head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told us that Republican candidates had lost 10 points almost overnight and advised us to “run as far from the President” as we could.  He was fired a day or two later on orders from the White House.

Ten points may not sound like a lot to some people, but it means that those who were ahead 55-45% were suddenly behind by that same margin, or those who were ahead 60-40% were suddenly tied.

Instead of picking up 20-30 seats in that election, the GOP lost 9 seats, going down from 175 to 166.

The post The Pure Evil of a Wealth Tax appeared first on LewRockwell.

Stop Pretending Democratic Voters Are Victims

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

There is a major difference in how our two national parties view each other’s voters. For Democrats, Republicans live in flyover country, which is inhabited by deplorables—racists, homophobes, and misogynists who would like to have women deal with their “reproductive health” in some back alley.

But the GOP view of their electoral opposition may be even weirder. Talk to any Republican and they’ll tell you that Democratic voters are mostly victims—children, really—abused and led around by the demagogic, bigoted, pied piper leadership of the Democratic Party. It is thus incumbent on Republican journalists and politicians to come to the rescue of Jews, blacks, and other minorities who have been deceived by the Democrats for too long.

Among their many supposed sins, the Democrats are accused of hiding their 19th-century racist past, not doing enough to back Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud coalition in Israel, refusing to spend money on charter schools that help racial minorities in cities that are run by Democrats, and, most recently, ignoring the racial insensitivity of Democratic officials in Virginia who once wore blackface.

Republicans also never tire of telling us how Democrats hurt women by misconstruing the feminist movement, which they understand better than the Left. Moreover, Democratic mayors in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and so on have been guilty of “using” black voters but then doing nothing for them. On Fox News and in Republican newspapers, we see garbage and drug needles piling up in Democratic-run cities. The residents of these places are never seen as complicit in these problems but are depicted as the pitiful victims of the Democrats they vote for.

Perhaps it’s time to see the relationship of Democratic voters to their party in an entirely different light. We should take into account friend-enemy relations, a reality that the Democratic leadership understands all too well. Millions of people vote on the basis of what they dislike and fear, and most of them are found on the Democratic side. No matter how many movies Dinesh D’Souza produces depicting Democrats as the party of slaveowners, most black voters are not about to change their voting habits on this basis. Instead black leaders denounce Republicans as tightwads who are insensitive to the financial demands they make on behalf of their communities. Republicans are also the party of white evangelicals, whom blacks may associate with past discrimination. No one is saying these stereotypes are fair. But they exist as a critical variable, which is not likely to go away, even if black neighborhoods are piled high with trash and full of crime under Democratic leadership.

Read the Whole Article

The post Stop Pretending Democratic Voters Are Victims appeared first on LewRockwell.

Bond Buyers Are Right About a Recession

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

Bond prices have spiked and yields have fallen in the last several weeks. Investors are beginning to see a recession on the horizon and they are pouring into Treasurys believing they will provide a safe haven. In his most recent podcast, Peter said bond buyers are right about the looming recession, but they are making the wrong bet.

In a podcast earlier this month, Peter Schiff called the end of the bear market rally. He reasoned that the rally was built on expectations that the Federal Reserve was shifting toward an easing cycle. When Jerome Powell came out and threw cold water on that, Peter figured that would be the end of the market rally. As he put it, “What the Fed giveth by being more dovish than the markets expected, the Fed had finally taken away by being more hawkish.”

In that podcast, Peter said he didn’t believe that the Fed was nearly as hawkish as it was projecting, nevertheless, it gave that impression.

Fast-forward to today and the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones are both down about 5.5% from their early-May highs.

I still think we are in a bear market. I do not believe that the rally that we had following the Fed’s pivot constituted a brand new bull market that is now already probably over and this is a new bear market. I think this is the same bear market.”

Peter said it did surprise him a bit that the bear market rally went as high as it did. But he thinks things are beginning to turn back and that we will eventually revisit the lows we saw early this year. That will prompt the Fed to once again come to the markets’ rescue. In fact, the markets are already pricing in rate cuts even though Powell and company took them off the table.

The question is how long with the central bank wait?

If the Fed waits until we’re officially in a recession, well, then they’re just going to go straight to zero. They’re not going to pass go. But if they started cutting rates sooner, like maybe next week or something, then maybe its possible they only go a quarter point or a half point. But that’s not going to be enough. That is going to do nothing. That is going to be like waving a scarf at a bull. Because the minute the Fed cuts the markets are going to push them to cut more.”

Peter said that he doesn’t even think another round of QE will do the trick this time around. Every time a bubble pops, it takes more air to reflate it. The amount of air — QE — that the Fed would need to blow up another bubble once the current one completely deflates would wreck the dollar.

The markets still don’t get this, but they are starting to worry about a recession.

Investors are pouring into US Treasurys, thinking they are a safe haven. The yield on the 10-year bond fell to 2.26% on May 29 and we are seeing some inversion on the yield curve. This has historically signaled a looming recession. Peter said they are right about the recession, but everybody is getting one thing wrong – this is not bullish for bonds. It’s bearish for bonds.

The bond market is betting on a recession and that the Fed will slash rates.

Now, the market is correct. We are going into recession and the Fed is going to respond to this recession the same way it responds to all recessions that it causes, and that is by doing more of what caused it, which is slashing interest rates back to zero. But what the markets, I think, have got wrong is the reaction. Because the recession we’re going to get this time is going to be stagflation. We are not going to have stable prices or a drop in the official inflation rate. Inflation is going to rise. And that means bond prices are going to fall. And that is going to exacerbate the severity of the next recession.”

In recent recessions, low inflation has provided a cushion for consumers. It has also allowed the Fed to cut interest rates which provides relief in the high-debt environment that generally precedes the economic downturn.

But if the next time the Fed slashes the short-term interest rates inflation spikes up, and that means long-term interest rates don’t go down, they go up and they follow the inflation rate higher, then that is going to exacerbate the pain of the next recession.”

Imagine how bad this will be given the extreme amounts of government, consumer and corporate debt out there right now.

The stagflation that is coming is bad for bonds.

The bond market still hasn’t figured this out yet. They still think that we’re going to follow the playbook from the last financial crisis. We’re not.”

Reprinted from SchiffGold.com.

The post Bond Buyers Are Right About a Recession appeared first on LewRockwell.

21 Questions About Sodium Bicarbonate

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

Sodium bicarbonate is a natural compound found throughout nature—in the ocean, in the soil, in our foods, and in our bodies. Baking soda is a neutralizer of many other compounds, which makes it extremely helpful as a medicine in this age of toxicity that we are all presently passing through. Its backbone characteristic is to maintain balance of carbon dioxide, bicarbonate and pH. Sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. CO2 levels in the blood, which is increased by intake of sodium bicarbonate, is one vital key to oxygen delivery to the cells. So something as simple as baking soda can often give almost instant relief for a wide range of medical situations.

2. How can I administer Sodium Bicarbonate?

Sodium Bicarbonate is one of the most flexible medicinals in terms of methods and modes of administration. It can be injected in emergency room situations, taken orally, nebulized, used transdermally as a lotion or paste, put in enemas and in larger quantities in therapeutic baths. (preferably with magnesium)

3. Who should take sodium bicarbonate? and why it is good for health ?

Everybody. Sodium bicarbonate is a universal medicine that is nutritional as well as safe and is of help no matter what syndrome we are facing. As we age our bodies produce less thus we need to supplement more to balance bicarbonate deficiencies.

4. What is the difference of sodium bicarbonate and baking soda ?

No difference. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is probably one of the most useful substances in the world.

5. Where can I find Sodium Bicarbonate?

Sodium bicarbonate is available and sold in every supermarket and pharmacy in the world;

6. What are the side effects of sodium bicarbonate ?

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is generally well tolerated. However, high doses may cause headache, nausea or irritability. If any of these effects continue or become bothersome, inform your doctor. Notify your doctor if you develop: muscle weakness, slow reflexes and confusion, swelling of the feet or ankles, black tar-like stools, coffee-ground vomit. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Adverse reactions to the administration of sodium bicarbonate can include metabolic alkalosis, edema due to sodium overload, congestive heart failure, hyperosmolar syndrome, hypervolemic hypernatremia, and hypertension due to increased sodium.

7. What is the best type of sodium bicarbonate ?

Bob’s Red Mill, Arm and Hammers (both aluminum free), and good combination formulas like pH Adjust, which includes potassium bicarbonate and magnesium.

8. Can I take it every day in order to maintain my health ?

Do not use the maximum dosage for more than 2 weeks. Other Information: Each 1/2 teaspoon contains 616 mg sodium. Many ask what a maintenance dosage would be or a cancer prevention dosage. Again, this would vary widely but one teaspoon split into two doses could be a standard but one still has to measure one’s pH for guidance.

Long term use of sodium bicarbonate is not recommended or necessary in every case and you must understand the warnings about doing this. All of this information is included in the book Sodium Bicarbonate and in Treatment Essentials.

A break from using sodium bicarbonate should also be taken every 2 weeks and the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes should be made to remain more alkaline without needing so much bicarbonate.

9. What is the recommended dose ?

The best guidance for dosages for sodium bicarbonate is provided by one’s own urinary and salivary pH, which one takes in the morning or several times during the day when doing a heavy course of dosages for cancer or other serious diseases.

The recommendation is 1/4 to ½ teaspoon per 8 oz. glass with lemon (to balance the sodium with potassium) and no more than 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons per 24 hour period.

Please observe the maximum doses of 7 half teaspoons/day if under age 60 and of 3 half tsp/day if over age 60.

Sodium bicarbonate should be taken 1-2 hours before or after a meal so as not to interfere with the hydrochloric acid needed for digestion. Sodium bicarbonate will temporarily neutralize hydrochloric acid. So if you are taking it for general maintenance take it early am or before bedtime. This should not affect the mealtime production of hydrochloric acid.

10. How can I measure my pH and what is the pH good for health?

Buy some simple and inexpensive pH strips and see for yourself how acid you are and start practicing pH medicine, or what could be called bicarbonate medicine. Bring yourself back up to a healthy pH using sodium bicarbonate and magnesium chloride and see how much better you feel.

The first step with regards to pH medicine and using baking soda is to find out for sure if your body is acidic or not. If your body is acidic then follow the guidelines for restoring as near to 7.4 PH as you can.

11. Why caffeine drinks are related to the pH ? how it affects my body ?

Coffee tends to push people into acid conditions. It also tends to dehydrate the body.

12. What are the other sources of sodium bicarbonate?

Sodium and Potassium Bicarbonates

pH Adjust

Magnesium Bicarbonate

13. Why there is a relationship between kidney diseases and sodium bicarbonate?

The kidneys alone produce about two hundred and fifty grams (about half a pound) of bicarbonate per day in an attempt to neutralize acid in the body.

The kidneys monitor and control the acidity or “acid-base” (pH) balance of the blood. If the blood is too acidic, the kidney makes bicarbonate to restore the blood’s pH balance. If the blood is too alkaline, then the kidney excretes bicarbonate into the urine to restore the balance. Acid-base balance is the net result of two processes, first, the removal of bicarbonate subsequent to hydrogen ion production from the metabolism of dietary constituents; second, the synthesis of “new” bicarbonate by the kidney.

Sodium bicarbonate in research studies have shown that 650 mg. bicarbonate 2-3x/day prevented or reversed need for dialysis in people who have trouble excreting acids. 650 is equal to about 1/8 tsp of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in a glass of water.

14. Is bicarbonate a good cancer treatment? Why?

The principal lesson to learn for anyone facing cancer is that there are hundreds of ways to kill cancer cells and get the body back in balance. What all cancer patients need to understand is that nothing will heal or actually cure cancer until we address and treat the underlying cause of the cancer.

Ten years ago, I wrote Sodium Bicarbonate – Rich Man’s Poor Man’s Treatment For Cancer. Since then, many researchers have sustained the assertion that it would be deplorable to leave this most basic substance out of anyone’s cancer treatment, even if one is using toxic chemotherapy and radiation. Said another way, bicarbonates should be used in EVERY cancer protocol.

I am not suggesting that anyone should follow Dr. Tullio Simoncini’s bicarbonate treatments administered intravenously. There is little flexibility in the blood for pH changes. Simoncini got into serious trouble for over alkalizing the blood of a patient, a condition that easily ends in death. Using oral and transdermal administration is preferable not only because of safety issues but also because one can get bicarbonate to all the cells in the body, which is impossible if one adds bicarbonate directly into the blood.

Ten years later we have more reason than ever to focus on bicarbonate therapy for cancer. A new Ludwig Cancer Research study said“If you want to clean cancer’s clock—that is, defeat it decisively—you may want to really clean it—that is, restore it to proper working order. Only cancer cells that remain active, in sympathy with the tick-tock of their internal circadian mechanisms, remain susceptible to cancer therapies. So, how might these circadian mechanisms be kept in motion? Sodium bicarbonate now promises to awaken cancer cells that have gone to sleep deep inside tumors, where oxygen deprivation and acidic conditions go hand in hand. By buffering against acidification sodium bicarbonate rescues circadian oscillation.

15. Should I mix it with water? Maple Syrup? Black Molasses?

Though I have published about the folk formula using maple syrup I do not recommend that. I recommend either black strap molasses (because you don’t have to cook it and because of its rich mineral status) or just with mineral or distilled water. Most cancer patients will want to cut sugar from the diets to starve cancer of glucose but in some people, especially those dying from starvation, it might help last ditch efforts to save people’s lives.

16. Can sodium bicarbonate be used during my pregnancy?

This medication should be used only if clearly needed during pregnancy. Small amounts of sodium bicarbonate have been found to be present in breast milk. A little carbonation in all of one’s water is healthy and the same applies to pregnant women.

17. How do I give sodium bicarbonate to babies? How much?

Do not administer to children under age 5 without careful consideration and low dosages appropriate to each child.

18. How do you know if your body is low in bicarbonates?

Bicarbonate deficiency is the most unrecognized medical condition on earth even though it is extraordinarily common. Problems from acid pH levels (relative deficiency in bicarbonate ions) take a large toll from human physiology and the more acid a person gets, the larger the problem for cell physiology. Every biochemical reaction is pH sensitive with enzymes being especially sensitive. Our diet plays an important role in maintaining appropriate pH levels in the body.

19. Will taking bicarbonate in water help all types of pain?

Sodium Bicarbonate has attractive and potent analgesic qualities. Many people have found bicarbonate to be significant to relieve unrelenting headaches as well as pain relief due to physical injury. Within minutes headaches begin to subside and are often completely gone within 30-60 minutes.

Sodium bicarbonate can be used orally in doses of 1/2 tsp in 4 oz of water every two hours for pain relief as well as gastrointestinal upset, not to exceed 7 doses per day. That’s basically the receipt on every box of Arm and Hammers sold in every supermarket in the country.

20. How to use sodium bicarbonate for treating asthma?

The bronchial secretions during attack of bronchial asthma are acidic and the acidity imparts stickiness to the secretions. Sodium bicarbonate is an excellent choice for nebulization offering it’s powerful and instant pH changing effects. Dr. Tullio Simoncini recommends aerosol use of bicarbonate for lung and bronchial adenocarcinoma.

21. What is the Lemon Bicarbonate formula?

This simple formula will normalize many biological parameters, pH, ORP, phosphates, bicarbonates and antioxidants of vitamin C. It’s potential miracle water. One whole lemon freshly squeezed. Keep adding baking soda slowly bit by bit until the fizz stops. Then you will add water to one half glass. This is often taken twice a day. To be taken once in the morning and once before bedtime on an empty stomach. Lime can be substituted. Basically, this lemon/lime juice idea is also good for people who fear some sodium retention issues. Since the lemon is already high in potassium, adding the sodium to neutralize the acid along the way will also create a sodium potassium balance.

22. Will the sodium in sodium bicarbonate affect my blood pressure?

The Journal of Nutrition study found that the drinking of the sodium-rich mineral water did not lead to any increase in blood pressure. That said anyone will high blood pressure should constantly monitor when adding sodium bicarbonate.

Reprinted with permission from DrSircus.com.

The post 21 Questions About Sodium Bicarbonate appeared first on LewRockwell.

Digital Cash

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

While modern monetary theory has provided some distraction for public and commentators alike, the war on cash goes on. In the latest issue of the Cato Journal, the distinguished economic historian Michael Bordo and his co-author Andrew Levin lament the failure of the experiments in unconventional monetary policies of the last decade to stimulate aggregate demand. While they detail these failures at length, they do not draw the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the dominant approach to monetary policy – rather, the problem is that the effective lower bound (ELB) on nominal interest rates has prevented central banks from providing “sufficient” monetary stimulus. After all, cash is interest-free, so zero or negative interest rates cannot be imposed on the economy, as people will simply shift their savings from bank accounts into cash holdings.

Clearly, something must be done to overcome this problem. It has long been recognized (e.g. by Professor Salerno) that one of the main motives in the war on cash is to overcome the ELB: eliminate cash and there will be no limit to how low the Federal Reserve can go. Professors Bordo and Levin do not wish to go that far – at least initially. Rather, they suggest that “digital cash” be established as the fulcrum of the U. S. monetary system (p. 384).

Their scheme, briefly, is as follows: digital cash should be provided in designated accounts at supervised depository institutions, which in turn would hold part or all of these funds in reserve accounts at the central bank. These digital cash accounts would earn interest and this interest rate would become the central bank’s main policy tool: in normal times, it would be positive, but in times of crisis the central bank would be able to cut the rate below zero. We’re assured by the good professors that individuals and firms would still be free to use physical cash. It’s just that digital cash will be so dang convenient that the demand for physical cash will rapidly disappear. But just to make sure, fees should be imposed on transfers from digital to physical cash so there are no incentives to arbitrage in the case of negative interest rates on digital cash.

There is a lot to criticize in this proposal.

In its totalitarian implications, it is similar to Rogoff’s book The Curse of Cash, which they cite approvingly. It is also extremely one-sided. For instance, a token-based system of digital cash (think bitcoin) is portrayed as prone to fraud, but we are lead to believe that no such problems exist when it comes to their favored form of digital cash. Their assurances that private individuals will not have to pay negative interest rates ring hollow; for once everybody is in the system, what is to stop the benevolent central bank from changing the rules on who is and who isn’t exempt from the negative rates? And once the fee on transfers between digital and physical cash is in place, why not make physical cash prohibitively expensive? Ultimately, the public is forced to use the financial system, negative interest rates are imposed as thought necessary by the central bank, and the ability to convert money into physical form is severely curtailed, if not completely abolished.

One is also struck by their curious proposition that physical cash has an opportunity cost in the form of the foregone interest on a risk-free investment while digital cash will earn interest and therefore have no opportunity cost (p. 398).

In other words, cash does not yield anything and is, therefore, an inherently worse form of money than digital cash, which will earn interest comparable to T-bills. (The good professors do not seem to recognize that they are contradicting themselves: digital cash is preferable both because people earn interest on it and because it allows for the imposition of negative interest rates?) They seem to think that money is just another financial asset, albeit a more liquid one. Monetary policy therefore boils down to managing relative interest rates: if only the spread between the interest rates on digital cash and financial assets can be maintained, there is no reason why people should not continue to be fully invested throughout a possible crisis (p. 402).

The problem is that money is not a financial asset and physical cash is not, contra Bordo and Levin, sterile. Rather, holding cash serves an important function: as Hoppe lucidly explains, holding money is an investment in certainty.

Since we can never know with complete certainty when and what we want to buy or at what prices we will be able to sell our goods and services, we always have some money on hand. The more settled and certain conditions are, the less cash reserves a person will think it necessary to keep. But in a financial crisis, uncertainty spikes again and he will, therefore, increase his cash reserves to guard against this increased uncertainty until conditions quiet down again.

Professors Bordo and Levin can perhaps be forgiven for not knowing of Hoppe’s argument — and perhaps even for ignorance of the works of Hutt and Mises on which Hoppe builds — but a recent paper from the Bank for International Settlements makes essentially the same point: despite official hostility to cash and advances in payments technology, demand for cash has risen since the Great Financial Crisis, as people turn to cash as a store of value.

Should their proposal be implemented, it is far from certain that the outcome in the event of a crisis will be what Professors Bordo and Levin desire. Physical cash will have been eliminated as a safe haven, but digital cash will be an inherently bad way of preserving purchasing power when negative interest rates are threatened. A likely outcome will therefore be that savers look for alternatives to cash to preserve their wealth. One such alternative is investing in gold, an asset that has a long track record of maintaining its value in the long term.

Rather than securing the monetary system, the digital system outlined by Professors Bordo and Levin would further empower central bankers at the expense of consumers.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

The post Digital Cash appeared first on LewRockwell.

Speeding into the Void of Cyberspace

Lew Rockwell - Sat, 2019-06-01 11:01

“The internet was hardwired to be a surveillance tool from the start.  No matter what we use the network for today – dating, directions, encrypted chat, email, or just reading the news – it always had a dual-use nature rooted in intelligence gathering and war….[Surveillance Valley shows] the ongoing overlap between the Internet and the military-industrial complex that spawned it a half century ago, and the close ties that exist between the US intelligence agencies and the antigovernment privacy movement that has sprung up in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks.”

– Yasha Levine, Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet

“My Dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place.  If you wish to go anywhere, you must run twice as fast as that.”

– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Speed and panic go hand-in-hand in today’s fabricated world of engineered emergencies and digital alerts.  “We have no time” is today’s mantra – “We are running out of time” – and because this mood of urgency has come to grip most people’s minds, deep thinking about why this is so and who benefits is in short supply. I believe most people sense this to be true but don’t know how to extract themselves from the addictive nature of speed long enough to grasp how deeply they have been propagandized, and why.

A key turning point in the creation of this mood of an ongoing emergency and tense urgency was the naming of the attacks of September 11, 2001 as “9/11.”  “Quick, call 911” permeated deep into popular consciousness. The so-called “security” it elicited became a cloaked form of interminable terror.  The future editor of The New York Times and Iraq war promoter, Bill Keller, introduced this emergency phone connection on the morning of September 12, 2001 in a NewYork Times op-ed piece, “America’s Emergency Line: 911.”  The linkage of the attacks to a permanent national emergency was thus subliminally introduced, as Keller mentioned Israel nine times and seven times compared the U.S. situation to that of Israel as a target for terrorists.  His first sentence reads: “An Israeli response to America’s aptly dated wake-up call might well be, ‘Now you know.’”

By referring to September 11 as 9/11, an endless national emergency became wedded to an endless war on terror aimed at preventing Hitler-like terrorists from obliterating us with nuclear weapons that could create another “ground zero” or holocaust.  Mentioning Israel (“America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world,” George W. Bush would tell the Israeli Knesset) so many times, Keller was not very subtly performing an act of legerdemain with multiple meanings.  By comparing the victims of the 11 September attacks to Israeli “victims,” he was implying, among other things, that the Israelis are innocent victims who are not involved in terrorism, but are terrorized by Palestinians, as Americans are terrorized by fanatical Muslims.  Palestinians/Al-Qaeda/Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan/Syria versus Israel/United States.  Explicit and implicit parallels of the guilty and the innocent.  Keller tells us who the real killers are, as if he knew who was guilty and who was innocent.

His use of the term 9/11 pushes all the right buttons, evoking unending social fear and anxiety.  It is language as sorcery. It is propaganda at its best. Even well respected critics of the U.S. government’s explanation use this term that has become a fixture of public consciousness through endless repetition.   As George W. Bush would later put it, as he connected Saddam Hussein to “9/11” and pushed for the Iraq war, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”  All the ingredients for a linguistic mind-control smoothie had been blended.  Under Obama, it was Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Russia, and now Trump touts Iran as the great threat.  So many emergencies following fast upon each other are enough to make your head spin.

This sense of ongoing urgency and dread was joined to the fast growing (and getting faster by the day) internet and cell phone world that has come to dominate contemporary life.  Permanent busyness and speed – a state of on-edge nervousness and panic with digital alerts – are today’s norms.  The majority of people live “on” their phones with their constant beeps, and the digital media have fragmented our sense of time into perpetual presents that create historical amnesia and digital dementia.  In a so-called progressive world of consumer capitalism, the era of what the astute sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has called “liquid modernity,” time itself has become an online transaction, a liquid commodity that flows away faster than a scrolling screen.

We live in a use-by-date digital world in a state of suspended animation where “time is short” and we must hustle before our use-by date is past. The pace of private and public life has outrun most people’s ability to slow down long enough to realize a hidden hustler has taken them for a ride to Wonderland where the only wonder is that more people have not gone insane as they slip and slide away on the superhighway to nowhere.

John Berger, as only a sage artist would, noted this essential truth in his 1972 novel G.:

Every ruling minority needs to numb and, if possible, to kill the time sense of those whom it exploits.  This is the authoritarian secret of all methods of imprisonment.

Today the vast majority of people, trapped by the manufactured illusion of speed, are in their cells, quickly texting and calling and checking to see if they’ve missed anything as time flies by.

Much is said about various types of environmental pollution, but the pollution of speed and its effects on mind and body are rarely mentioned, except to express gladness for more speed.  The rollout of 5G technology is a case in point. Mental and physical health concerns be damned.  Back in the 19thcentury, when space and time were being first “conquered” by the camera, telegraph, and telephone, these inventions were described as flying machines.  Time flew, voices flew, images flew.  Soon the phonograph and film would capture and preserve the “living” voices and the moving images of the living and the dead. It was scientific spiritualism at its birth. Today’s comical research into downloading “consciousness” to conquer death by becoming machines is its latest manifestation.

That the clowns behind this speed culture are growing rich on this research at our elite universities that are funded by the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies doesn’t make people howl with sardonic laughter puzzles me. Laughter’s good; it slows you down.  I just had a good laugh reading an article about scientists wondering why new research “suggests” that the universe may be a billion years younger than they thought.  I love their precision, don’t you?  My students, in their learned helplessness and desire to be told what to do, have often asked me how long their term papers should be, and when I tell them probably 37 1/2 words, they look at me with mouths agape.  What do you mean? one finally asks.  I tell them that writing 37 1/2 words is much faster than having to think slowly as you write, and when you have nothing left to say, to just stop.  A fast 37 1/2 words solves the thinking problem.  Maybe you can text me your paper, I often add, even though I don’t do texting.

On a more serious note, a lifelong student of speed (dromology), the brilliant French thinker Paul Virilio, has shown how speed and war have developed together and how totalitarianism is latent in technology.  Few listen, just as they did not listen to Jacques Ellul, Lewis Mumford, Neil Postman, and others who warned of the direction technology was taking us. Nuclear weapons are the supreme technological “achievement,” of course, devices that can eliminate all space and time in a flash. They work fast.  Virilio says,

The speed of the new optoelectronic and electroacoustic milieu becomes the final void (the void of the quick), a vacuum that no longer depends on the interval between places or things and so on the world’s very extension, but on the interface of an instantaneous transmission of remote appearances, on a geographic and geometric retention in which all volume, all relief vanish.

As I write, I look down at my wristwatch lying on the desk and laugh.  My sister gave it to me after her husband died.  He had won it as a member of the Villanova track team that won the 4 man, 2-mile relay at the famous Coliseum Relays in Los Angeles in near world record time.  Young men whose bodies were in motion to move across terra firma as fast as possible.  No drugs produced in a technological chemical factory to aid them. No gimmicks.  Just bodies in motion, unlike today.  It is an analog watch that must be wound every day when the sun rises.  But my brother-in-law never wound it because he never used it. He was saving it as a stashed-away memento in some sort of suspended time. I like it because it always runs a bit slow, unlike the Villanova flashes.  I like slow.

In a brilliant book written in 1999 before the hyper-speed era was fully underway – Speaking Into The Air: A History of the Idea of Communication – John Durham Peters, while not especially focusing on the issue of speed and technology as does Virilio, indirectly explores the fundamental issue that underlies technology and its control by the elites.  The problem with technology is that it is the use of a technique applied to physical things to control those who don’t control the machines. Today that is the Internet and digital technology, controlled by those Virilio calls “the global kinetic elites.” Many readers might remember the iconic line from the film Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman: “What we have here is failure to communicate.”  That is our issue.  How to communicate, and to whom, and who controls our means and speed of communication.  Speed kills genuine communication, which may be its point.

Here’s what Peters has to say about the new media of the 19th century.

Media of transmission allow crosscuts through space, but recording media allow jump cuts through time.  The sentence for death for sound, image, and experience had been commuted.  Speech and action could live beyond their human origins.  In short, recording media made the afterlife of the dead possible in a new way.  As Scientific American put it of the phonograph in  1877: ‘Speech has become, as it were, immortal. That ‘as it were’ is the dwelling place of ghosts.

Despite our advanced technology today, we still die, but we live faster, which is not to say better.  We live faster until modern medicine makes our dying slower.  Speed grants us the illusion of control, an illusionary sense of stop-time in the midst of techno-time, digital time, pointillistic time where so much is happening simultaneously across the internet and we “have” it at our fingertips.  Awash in cultural nostalgia that gives us a frisson of false comfort, we scroll the past as fast as we can.  In the small town where I live, urbanites come in droves for nostalgia and create hyper-gentrification.  I see them rapidly walking the country roads talking from their cells as bird song, rustling leaves, and lapping water passes them by, the technology serving as a shield from reality itself.

To realize that the Internet was developed as a weapon and has killed our sense of flesh and blood natural time to exploit us through speed should be obvious, though I suspect it isn’t.  The invention and control of the Internet by the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, and their allies in Silicon Valley, as Yasha Levine chronicles in Surveillance Valley, is a fundamental problem that deserves focused attention.  However, who can slow down enough to focus?  As he says, “American military interests continue to dominate all parts of the network, even those that supposedly stand in opposition.”  This includes Tor and Signal, two encrypted mobile phone and internet services highly touted by journalists, political activists, and dissidents for their ability to make it impossible for governments to monitor communication.  Levine writes,

While Internet billionaires like Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg slam government surveillance, talk up freedom, and embrace Snowden and crypto privacy culture, their companies still cut deals with the Pentagon, work with the NSA and CIA, and continue to track and profile people for profit.  It is the same old split-screen marketing trick: the public branding and the behind-the-scenes reality.

The Internet is, as he argues, an “old  cybernetic dream of a world where everyone is watched, predicted, and control.”  It is also where you are reading this, another article that will fast disappear from your mind as a stream of more urgent articles rush into print to push it aside.

We are homeless modern minds now, exiled from earth time, and if we don’t rediscover our way back to a slow contemplation of our fate and the ontological reality of human being itself, I’m afraid we are speeding into the void.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

The post Speeding into the Void of Cyberspace appeared first on LewRockwell.

Mass Demonstrations Against Saudi Summit and US “Deal” Mark Quds Day in Yemen

MintPress News - Sat, 2019-06-01 03:09

SANA’A, YEMEN — Massive demonstrations took place across Yemen’s major provinces on Friday to oppose a meeting of leaders of Arab and Islamic countries who gathered in Saudi Arabia. Demonstrators also rallied against the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” — as Friday is also international “Quds Day,” when protests are held across the world to show solidarity with Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia hosted Arab leaders for three summits in the holy city of Mecca in a bid to rally support against Yemen, and to curb what they claim is Iranian-backed terrorism. The summits come amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran and follow a series of Houthi retaliatory attacks against a Saudi oil pipeline deep inside Saudi territory, which resulted in the temporary shutdown of the pipeline.

In Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a, hundreds of thousands of residents from the suburbs of the city and from neighboring provinces gathered on Airport Street carrying Yemeni flags and holding banners emblazoned with messages challenging the Saudi regime and encouraging Yemen’s Army to continue to target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In Hodeida province in western Yemen, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets despite the ever-present threat of incoming artillery shells, snipers’ bullets, and Saudi warplanes hovering above. Saudi warplanes are ever-present in the skies over Hodeida but intensified their presence as residents began preparations for the upcoming rallies.

The demonstrations, which were organized by the Houthis with the support of local residents, featured a military parade of Houthi armored vehicles, tanks, military crews, and weapons, as well as infantry forces. The move was an intentional message to the Saudi-led Coalition, who has beefed up its military presence in the port city in violation of the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement.

Houthi military vehicles take part in demonstrations in Hodeida

In the Sada’a province in northern Yemen, hundreds of thousands rallied in Ibb, Taiz, al-Jawf, Reimah, Dhamar, Amran, the northwest province of Hajjah, and the central province of al–Mahweet.  

The protests drew crowds from across Yemen’s deceleration divides: Shaafa’is, Salafis, Zaydis, and Twthis, as well as most major national parties, were among the protests. The Grand Mufti of Yemen — Shams al-Din Sharaf al-Din, the highest religious authority in Yemen — was the keynote speaker at the rally in Sana`a, where he derided the gathering of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, and said that the summit was little more than cover for the Coalition’s hideous crimes and would serve as a pretext to mobilize more mercenaries to Yemen under the pretext of protecting Mecca.

For more than four years Saudi Arabia, backed by the collective military might of the world’s most powerful nations, has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, leaving tens of thousands of civilians dead and causing the collapse of the country’s health services.

According to Yemeni military leaders who spoke to MintPress, the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are a direct response to the crimes committed Saudi-led Coalition airstrikes in Yemen, which have been repeatedly criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups for intentionally targeting civilians.

 

Quds Day celebrated, U.S. “deal” condemned

Demonstrations also focused heavily on solidarity with Palestinians on international “Quds Day.”  Quds Day falls on the last Friday of every Ramadan and rallies are held across the globe in a show of support for the Palestinian cause. Demonstrations condemned the so-called U.S. Deal of the Century and vowed to support Palestinians facing the prospect of losing their rights under the U.S.-brokered plan.

On Thursday, the leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement reiterated his country’s support for Palestine in the face of Israeli occupation, calling on the Yemeni people to express their solidarity with Palestinians by partaking in International Quds Day rallies.

This year’s Quds Day rallies come weeks before a high-profile summit to be held in the Bahraini capital Manama, where the Trump administration is expected to unveil its so-called “Deal of the Century” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Protesters in Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Bahrain also took to the streets on Friday to mark Quds Day, in an impassioned show of opposition to the “deal.”

 

Saudis fanning the flames with Mecca allegation

Saudi Arabia recently accused the Houthis of launching ballistic missiles towards Mecca, which hosts millions of Muslim pilgrims around the year, especially in the month of Ramadan. However, the Kingdom provided no evidence to back its claims and the accusation is being seen by many as an attempt to rally the support of the Muslim world against Yemen. Any attack on Mecca would be seen in the Muslim world as a sacrilegious act and would serve to galvanize popular support for the Saudi-led Coalition war in Yemen, which has drawn international condemnation and engendered support for the Yemeni people.

Col. Turki al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, points to a screen showing what he said was evidence of Iranian support to the Houthis in Yemen in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, May 31, 2019. Amr Nabil | AP

In fact, from the very first moment that Saudi Arabia made the claim of a Houthi attack on Mecca, Arab social media was hit with a wave of posts rife with sectarian hatred and praise for the Saudi royal family. “The claims that we targeted Mecca seem like a desperate attempt to gain justification for a war which has killed thousands of civilians,” Mohammed al-Houthis told demonstrators in Yemen.

Indeed, as Arab leaders arrived at the International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, they were greeted by a government-organized exhibition that included a number of fragments of the wreckage of Yemeni missiles and drones.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, spokesman for the Houthi movement, said in response to the exhibition that it is a Saudi attempt to divert attention from its brutal crimes, which it couldn’t cover with a thousand exhibits. He added: “You are the ones who ignited the aggression against Yemen, so stop your aggression and our response will be stopped.”

On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia, supported by the United States, launched a large-scale attack on Yemen under the pretext of reinstating ousted former President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and defeating the Houthi Ansar Allah movement, which had gained popular support following the Arab Spring.

After four years of war, the Saudi Coalition has been unable to defeat the Houthis, nor to restore the popularly-ousted Hadi to power. The Houthis, who comprise a major component of Yemen’s resistance to Saudi interference in their country, have recently begun a series of retaliatory attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arabia Emirates.

Feature photo | Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni take part in Quds Day protests in Sana’a Yemen. Photo | Ansarallah Media Center

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Mass Demonstrations Against Saudi Summit and US “Deal” Mark Quds Day in Yemen appeared first on MintPress News.

WATCH: Israeli Diplomat offering MP £1 million

Off-Guardian - Sat, 2019-06-01 00:06
OffG The Labour Party have suspended Pete Willsman, a member of their National Executive Committee, for being “antisemitic”. The charge is that Willsman was recorded claiming that the antisemitism charges against the Labour party were all lies, and that a member of the Israeli embassy staff had been caught covertly giving money to Labour Friends …

MintCast Interviews Filmmaker Robbie Martin: The Neoconservative Endgame

MintPress News - Fri, 2019-05-31 20:56

MintCast co-hosts Alan MacLeod and Whitney Webb recently spoke to Robbie Martin (@FluorescentGrey), a filmmaker whose recent documentary series A Very Heavy Agenda explores how prominent Bush-era neo-conservatives have continued to dominate the Washington foreign policy debate and have been instrumental in creating and fomenting Russiagate and Cold War 2.0.

Neoconservatives, or Neocons, have been a key force in Washington for decades and seem to maintain their influence regardless of what political party controls the presidency or Congress. MintCast’s discussion with Martin first focuses on the origins of the term and the movement and follows its trajectory to the present. Martin makes the case that the ultimate goal of the neoconservative movement is to gain favor from both the establishment left and establishment right in order to indefinitely dominate U.S. foreign policy, and that the neocons are closer to that goal now more than ever.

MacLeod, Webb and Martin then discussed the role of the neocons in creating what is now known as “Russiagate” years before Trump was even a presidential candidate and how a top neoconservative donor in the Republican party was largely responsible for the controversial “Steele dossier” despite the fact that the president and other prominent Republicans have since accused Democrats of having been exclusively responsible for promoting the Russiagate narrative.

The discussion concludes with a focus on neoconservatism in the Trump era, with a special focus on National Security Advisor John Bolton and the push for war in Iran and Venezuela. Here, Martin asserts that Trump and Bolton are playing “good cop” and “bad cop”, respectively, with Trump casting himself as a dove compared to Bolton’s hawkishness as a foreign policy negotiating tactic and as a means of placating his base domestically.

If you enjoyed this episode of the MintCast, please consider supporting future episode by donating to MintPress News at Patreon.

Watch the trailer for A Robbie Martin’s A Very Heavy Agenda:

The post MintCast Interviews Filmmaker Robbie Martin: The Neoconservative Endgame appeared first on MintPress News.

Kosovo’s Great Martyr (I)

Oriental Review - Fri, 2019-05-31 19:57
The Battle of Kosovo surely became a focal element of the Serbian patriotism and nationalism up today as no other historical event had a stronger emotional and psychological influence on the Serb people as a nation. In fact, the battle and all different myths and legends around it in the course of time created a modern Serbian nation as an “imagined community”.

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