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DOJ Bloodhounds on the Scent of John Brennan

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

The New York Times Thursday morning has bad news for one of its favorite anonymous sources, former CIA Director John Brennan.

The Times reports that the Justice Department plans to interview senior CIA officers to focus on the allegation that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian intelligence to intervene in the 2016 election to help Donald J. Trump. DOJ investigators will be looking for evidence to support that remarkable claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report failed to establish.

Despite the collusion conspiracy theory having been put to rest, many Americans, including members of Congress, right and left, continue to accept the evidence-impoverished, media-cum-“former-intelligence-officer” meme that the Kremlin interfered massively in the 2016 presidential election.

One cannot escape the analogy with the fraudulent evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As in 2002 and 2003, when the mania for the invasion of Iraq mounted, Establishment media have simply regurgitated what intelligence sources like Brennan told them about Russia-gate.

No one batted an eye when Brennan told a House committee in May 2017, “I don’t do evidence.”

Leak Not Hack

As we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have warned numerous times over the past two plus years, there is no reliable forensic evidence to support the story that Russia hacked into the DNC. Moreover, in a piece I wrote in May, “Orwellian Cloud Hovers Over Russia-gate,” I again noted that accumulating forensic evidence from metadata clearly points to an inside DNC job — a leak, not a hack, by Russia or anyone else.

So Brennan and his partners, FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper were making stuff up and feeding thin but explosive gruel to the hungry stenographers that pass today for Russiagate obsessed journalists.

Is the Jig Up?

With Justice Department investigators’ noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan conclusively as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story. Evidence, real evidence in this case, abounds, since the Brennan-Comey-Clapper gang of three were sure Hillary Clinton would become president. Consequently, they did not perform due diligence to hide their tracks.

Worse still, intelligence analysts tend to hang onto instructions and terms of reference handed down to them by people like Brennan and his top lieutenants. It will not be difficult for CIA analysts to come up with documents to support the excuse: “Brennan made me do it.”

The Times article today betrays some sympathy and worry over what may be in store for Brennan, one of its favorite sons and (anonymous) sources, as well as for those he suborned into making up stuff about the Russians.

The DOJ inquiry, says the Times, “has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny.” Attorney General William Barr is overseeing the review but has assigned the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John Durham, to conduct it.

No Holds Barred

Barr is approaching this challenge with a resoluteness and a calm candor rarely seen in Washington — particularly when it comes to challenging those who run the intelligence agencies.

The big question, once again, is whether President Donald Trump will follow his customary practice of reining in subordinates at the last minute, lest they cross the vindictive and still powerful members of the Deep State.

Happily, at least for those interested in the truth, some of the authors of the rump, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” commissioned by Obama, orchestrated by Brennan-Clapper-Comey, and published on January 6, 2017 will now be interviewed. The ICA is the document still widely cited as showing that the “entire intelligence community agreed” on the Russia-gate story, but this is far from the case. As Clapper has admitted, that “assessment” was drafted by “handpicked analysts” from just three of the 17 intelligence agencies — CIA, FBI, and NSA.

U.S. Attorney Durham would do well to also check with analysts in agencies — like the Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department Intelligence, as to why they believe they were excluded. The ICA on Russian interference is as inferior an example of intelligence analysis as I have ever seen. Since virtually all of the hoi aristoi and the media swear by it, I did an assessment of the Assessment on its second anniversary. I wrote:

“Under a media drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria, credulous Americans were led to believe that Donald Trump owed his election victory to the president of Russia, whose “influence campaign” according to theTimesquoting the intelligence report,helped “President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.”

Hard evidence supporting the media and political rhetoric has been as elusive as proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003. This time, though, an alarming increase in the possibility of war with nuclear-armed Russia has ensued — whether by design, hubris, or rank stupidity. The possible consequences for the world are even more dire than 16 years of war and destruction in the Middle East. …

The Defense Intelligence Agency should have been included, particularly since it has considerable expertise on the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence agency, which has been blamed for Russian hacking of the DNC emails. But DIA, too, has an independent streak and, in fact, is capable of reaching judgments Clapper would reject as anathema. Just one year before Clapper decided to do the rump “Intelligence Community Assessment,” DIA had formally blessed the following heterodox idea in its “December 2015 National Security Strategy”:

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.”

Any further questions as to why the Defense Intelligence Agency was kept away from the ICA drafting table?

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

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Secrecy and Lies

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet seen the excellent HBO miniseries Chernobyl and might yet do so, you might want to wait to read this article until after you have seen the series, as it contains spoilers.

The five-part series documents the catastrophic nuclear explosion that took place at a nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, an event that threatened the lives and health of millions of people, not only in the Soviet Union but also in Europe. The series documents the heroic life-endangering efforts of thousands of people in an effort to resolve the crisis with the least amount of damage and loss of life.

The most powerful part of the series occurs in part 5.

Whenever power plant officials conducted tests on the system, everyone knew that there was a failsafe button in the event that everything went wrong with the test and an explosion became imminent. All that the power plant people had to do was push the failsafe button and the entire plant would come to a halt. The reason was that the button activated the introduction of control rods containing boron into the fissioning uranium, which would cause the entire system to be immediately shut down.

To save money, Soviet officials had used graphite in the rods. In the 1970s, a Soviet nuclear scientist wrote an article stating that the graphite would serve as an accelerator, not a suppressant, of an impending nuclear explosion. He wrote that it was imperative that all the control rods be replaced immediately.

Soviet authorities redacted the warnings and buried the report as a national-security-state secret. Thus, when the testing at Chernobyl went out of control, the managers at the plant, who were relying on the failsafe button, had no idea what was going to happen when they pushed the failsafe button, which they did. The result was a massive ongoing and out-of-control nuclear explosion.

After the crisis was brought under control, the Soviets continued to maintain as much secrecy as they could, first with a secret show trial of the plant managers and then by trying to prevent any evidence of state involvement in the disaster through the use of the defective control rods and the suppression of the 1975 warnings from the nuclear scientist.

At the trial, one of the Soviet officials responsible for resolving the crisis refused to be silenced. In his powerful testimony, he pointed out that the Soviet Union was based on two things — secrecy and lies, which was the primary cause of the disaster. For speaking the truth, he was prohibited from working again in the Soviet nuclear industry and was ostracized by Party officials. He committed suicide two years later.

As I watched that moving scene, it occurred to me: secrecy and lies! Why, that is precisely what the U.S. government has been based on ever since it was converted into a national-security state after World War II. In fact, in many ways the U.S. national-security establishment has come to bear many of the characteristics of the Soviet Union.

Look at how they are treating Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and other people who have revealed the dark secrets of the deep state. They aren’t alleging that such people have lied. They are acknowledging that they revealed the truth about the national-security state. That’s why they want them punished — for revealing the truth to people.

Edward Snowden, for example, revealed the massive illegal surveillance scheme that the NSA was conducting on the American people. He didn’t lie about. He disclosed the truth about it. That was his “crime” — speaking the truth to people about what the NSA was doing.

On the other hand, when former Director or National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr. was asked by Congress whether the NSA was conducting such secret surveillance on the American people, Clapper knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately lied, under oath. Of course, when he lied to protect the secret, he never dreamed that Snowden or anyone else would reveal the truth.

After Snowden revealed the truth, Snowden was vilified as a bad guy, while Clapper, who of course was never indicted for perjury or contempt of Congress, was celebrated as a good guy who was “keeping us safe.” While Snowden was forced to live a life of exile in Russia to avoid incarceration or execution in the United States as a “traitor,” Clapper became a popular political commentator.

Another example: Assange revealed a secret video showing U.S. helicopter pilots committing war crimes by firing on innocent people with total indifference to the moral implications of what they were doing. The revelation resulted in criminal charges, not against the pilots but rather against Assange for disclosing what they had done.

Consider other dark-side practices of the U.S. national-security state: Assassination. Torture. Indefinite detention. Denial of due process. Military tribunals. Coups. Sanctions and embargoes targeting innocent foreigners for the sake of political aims. Installation of and partnerships with dictatorial regimes.

During the Cold War, if Americans were to learn that the Soviet Union, which itself was a national-security state, was engaged in any or all of those dark-side practices, no one would have been surprised. That’s how communists regimes were expected to act. The problem for Americans arises when they learn that their own national-security state is engaged in these same types of dark-side practices. Suddenly people are faced with a crisis of conscience. What do they do now? That is precisely why national-security states are based on secrecy and lies. They don’t want their citizens to be confronted with crises of conscience.

Unfortunately, all too often the citizenry prefers to go along with the secrecy and lies. Better that they don’t know what is happening. In that way, they don’t have to deal with their consciences and then have to make discomforting and possibly dangerous choices. Oftentimes it’s just a lot easier and safer to keep praising the ones who are keeping the secrets and the lies and condemning those who disclose the truth.

Reprinted with permission from The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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What Happens If Salvini Goes Mini-BOT on the EU?

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

Since the idea was first floated there has been rampant speculation about how/when Lega Leader Matteo Salvini would introduce the Mini-BOT parallel currency to assist Italy’s fiscal situation.

Mike Shedlock has a great post on the subject that brings up a number of points about this subject. Well worth the read. Let’s go back and start at the beginning.

The mini-BOT or Mini-Bill of Treasury, is a small denomination bond that the treasury can sell which can be used by businesses and people as an alternative domestic currency.

As Mike brings up, without mandating their usage Italy skirts the letter of EU law prohibiting any country from issuing its own currency.

The big question is, will there be a bid for these mini-BOTs? Very likely. Relative to the Italian economy the euro is over-valued, it is too strong. But the euro would be under-valued relative to a mini-BOT trading at par to the euro.

And Gresham’s Law tells us that under-valued currencies are driven from the market and hoarded while over-valued ones circulate. It’s important to dispense with the “bad money drives out good money” idea. It clouds the analysis.

And with the Italian government then saying that they will take the mini-BOT or euros for payments of taxes and fees, now they have a bid. They can then circulate within the Italian economy while scarce euros are preferentially put to use in settling international trade.

The EU is, of course, dead set against this and ECB President Mario Draghi called this proposal illegal. But that’s irrelevant. The real threat to Salvini’s plans here, which is what Italy needs, is within his own government.

Mike rightly points out that Salvini’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is a technocrat. I’ll go one further and remind you what I wrote last week, that Conte, President Sergei Mattarella and Finance Minister Giovanni Tria represent a Troika of Technocrats that work for Brussels and not Rome.

Where I disagree with Mike in his analysis is the political fallout, not the economic analysis.

Salvini did very well in the European parliament elections and many speculate he will trigger elections soon to get rid of di Maio and Conte.

For now, we have the strange case of deputies Salvini and di Maio at odds with Conte and the Economy Minister, Giovanni Tria.

Conte threatened last week to resign last week and he could do so at any time. “I want a clear, unequivocal and speedy response,” Conte said, calling for “loyal collaboration” from all ministers.
This government won’t last long.

The Italian Troika will be the ones who take down the current government if they do it at all. And if the mini-BOT proposal gains steam within the Italian parliament and is forced onto Tria’s table at the Finance Ministry, something has to happen.

Salvini will not take this government down. Salvini has ruled that out as long as Five Star Movement (M5S) goes along with his part of their shared agenda. They got their major plank with Universal Basic Income. Now it’s Salvini’s quid to their quo.

With Di Maio surviving a leadership vote the coalition is strong. The hardliners within M5S who would give Salvini a harder time have been beaten back.

Salvini’s best play here is to let the traitors hang themselves and let Brussels overplay their hand. Both of these things continue to happen while he keeps coming across as someone intensely interested in solving Italy’s domestic problems and leaving the bigger political problems to themselves.

So it will not be Salvini that takes down this Italian government. It will be Conte, Tria and Mattarella who will do so if they think they can get a hung parliament vote out of the Italian populous, forcing Salvini to ally with a minor party, like Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which would have the whip hand in coalition talks.

And that could happen with the new electoral law which only appoints two-thirds of the seats via vote proportion while the other are all chosen via first-past-the-post. I don’t have a good feel for how that would shake out.

But here’s the rub. Just like in the U.K. you’ll notice Jeremy Corbyn not calling for a no-confidence vote in the Tory/DUP government. And we don’t see the DUP pulling out of the failing coalition. Why?

Because they know they would get stomped in a general election to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. And then they would lose their best chance to scuttle Brexit before the Tories regroup under Boris Johnson later this summer.

The same calculus is on the table for Mattarella, et. al. Would a new election gain them an advantage over a re-jiggered Lega/M5S government with Salvini as the senior partner? If the answer is no then the Italian Troika will hold the line for Brussels and use their positions to sabotage Salvini at every turn.

They will only threaten to take down the government if it strengthens their hand. In fact, I think Conte already tried that and Salvini flipped him off, Italian-style.

Moreover, I think taking down the government to keep Brussels happy is political suicide. It will only strengthen Salvini’s hand. And if Lega and M5S campaign on the same issues in parallel they could sweep in with 60+% of the vote between them and then run the table on the Italian Troika and Brussels.

Remember, Mattarella way over-stepped his authority last year when he vetoed Salvini’s first choice for Finance Minister, Paola Savona. Impeachment was discussed. Eventually Salvini gave in, nominated Tria and Conte to satisfy Mattarella and formed the government.

If a new election were to leave Lega/M5S in a stronger position and Mattarella tries to usurp power again, he could get impeached and removed from office. And that would change the entire dynamic.

Italy needs the mini-BOT or to leave the euro entirely. Salvini is right that German Austerity is killing the country, strangling it. And don’t kid yourself, that is the plan.

This is why the EU is threatening Italy with unprecedented budget fines for what amounts to $3 to $4 billion. It’s ludicrous and it shows the weakness of their hand if they are willing to go this route over such a small thing.

But that’s where their only leverage is over the government, through their hand-picked finance minister.

Mike is right that the mini-BOT is a Trojan Horse. In more ways that one. I It is the issue that can force the current unstable structure of Italy’s government to its crisis point and the Italian people can then decide who really works for them.

Reprinted with permission from Gold Goats ‘n Guns.

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When China Leads the World

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

By using force and pretending to benevolence the hegemon will certainly have a large state. By using virtue and practicing benevolence the wise ruler will achieve humane authority. Mencius.

In the course of his study of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides, the fifth century BC Greek historian, claimed that interstate relations are based on might, not right, and that states’ strategic interactions follow a recurrent pattern: while a change in the hierarchy of weaker states does not ultimately affect a given system, disturbances in the order of stronger states upset its stability. He said that lesser states strive to gain power at the expense of others because stronger states, hegemons, ‘do as they please while the weak suffer what they must.’

Modern thinkers theorize[1] that hegemony has three components: material power, an accepted image of world order and institutions that legitimize the use of military force, and observe that the United States used all three to institutionalize its hegemony after World War II, in what became known as the Washington Consensus. The US insisted that Athenian democracy is the only legitimate form of government and enforced its claim through its military, the United Nations, the US dollar, the World Bank, the media and numerous political, technical and scientific bodies. It rewarded conforming states and punished or excluded those, like China, that judged government legitimacy on performance rather than ideology. Lesser states could revise their native ideology–as Sweden did by abandoning pacifist socialism–or attempt to universalize their own cultural values and replace the hegemon’s norms–as China, based on its long history of world leadership, is currently doing.

An early Chinese thinker, Xunzi[2], proposed that, though hegemons know how to win wars, “The ruler who makes his own state act correctly will attain international primacy.” The domestic determines the international and since humane authority–based on morality rather than power–is superior to hegemony it is more important to win over people than territory. States wishing to exercise humane authority must be the first to respect the norms they advocate and leaders of high ethical reputation and great administrative ability will attract other states. “To be compassionate in great matters and overlook the small makes one fit to become lord of the covenants. Loving friends, being friendly with the great, rewarding your allies and punishing those who oppose you, the lord of the covenants has a definite duty and his moral standing should match it.” Presiding over the meetings of other states grants international recognition of humane authority. Two centuries later, Confucius expressed the principle thus, “Superiors and inferiors relate to each other like wind and grass: grass must bend when the wind blows over it”.

China’s bid to re-establish its leadership after a two century hiatus has been a national goal since Mao[3] warned colleagues, “To overtake the United States is not only possible but absolutely necessary and obligatory. If we don’t, the Chinese nation will be letting the world down and we won’t be making much of a contribution to humanity. If we fail we will be wiped from the face of the earth.”

Fifty years after his warning China founded the world’s most powerful military and security partnership, the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, the SCO. With a regional anti-terrorism center in Uzbekistan, a business council in Moscow and a permanent secretariat in Beijing, four nuclear states among its members, three major economies, most of the world’s energy resources, half of the world’s population and one-fourth of global GDP, the SCO unites Russia, India, and Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey are in varying stages of participation).

Four years later President Hu[4] asked the UN General Assembly for “new ways to solve conflicts in international society featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination–distinct from the law of the jungle and power politics–to create peaceful, mutual, win-win benefits and development across the world.” In 2013 his successor, President Xi, proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, based Hu’s principles. Focusing on policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties, the BRI integrates four billion people in one-hundred thirty countries and thirty international organizations across Eurasia, Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific. The BRI is changing economies, trade, logistics, communications, international relations and even geography by building power plants in Pakistan, train lines in Hungary and ports from Africa to Greece. The new alliance is exporting China’s development model, replacing Western institutions and refashioning the global economic order by forging new ties, creating new markets, deepening economic connections and strengthening diplomatic ties with one trillion dollars in annual infrastructure spending. The European Union is considering joining the BRI.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi[5] explained the model, “Throughout its five-thousand year history the Chinese nation has developed the humanistic-oriented concept of loving all creatures as if they were of our species and all people as if they were our brothers, the political philosophy of valuing virtue and balance, the peaceful approach of love, non-aggression and good-neighborliness, the idea of peace as of paramount importance and harmony without uniformity, as well as the personal conduct of treating others in a way that you would like to be treated, and helping others succeed in the same spirit as you would want to succeed yourself. These traditional values, with their unique oriental flavor, provide an endless source of invaluable cultural asset for China’s diplomacy.”

Thousands of miles of roads, rail lines, pipelines and fiberoptic cables have slashed communications costs across Eurasia and put the region at the forefront of 5G deployment: oil and gas pipelines from Pakistan’s new port of Gwadar, on the Persian Gulf, to Kunming, China bypass the Malacca Straits; the Pan-Asia Railway Network is linking Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia and North Korea–proposed as the development hub for Northeast Asia. Meanwhile, work continues on six rail lines and inland rail terminals, thirty cross-border transmission and communications projects and four deep ocean ports that will create Africa’s first transcontinental railway. BRI trade has grown seventeen percent annually since 2013 and preparations for the official BRI launch in 2021 include scholarships for thousands of students from BRI countries.

In 2018, Xi signed another one-hundred billion dollar trade and economic agreement, this time with the Eastern Europe Economic Union, EEEU–Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Russia has begun work on the Western end of a high speed rail line designed to run from Moscow to Beijing and, in 2019, added a new dimension: the Polar Sea Route, ‘connecting northeastern, eastern and southeastern Asia with Europe.’ Russia’s President Putin proposes to create a single, integrated market from the Pacific to the Atlantic with the EEEU, the BRI, the SCO and ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).

Then there’s the massive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, RCEP, a free trade agreement between ASEAN and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand: 3.4 billion people with a total GDP of fifty trillion dollars, forty percent of world GDP. The RCEP is the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy and accounting firm PwC estimates its GDP will reach $250 trillion, half of global GDP, in 2050 and increase global real incomes by $286 billion per year. By 2045 the entire Eurasian continent will be bound by treaties, roads, railways, ports, fiberoptic cables, electrical grids and pipelines: a new world order under China’s humane authority.

To knit these alliances more permanently, in 2016 Beijing launched the Global Electric Interconnect, GEIDCO, a grid of ultra-high voltage lines transmitting clean energy around the globe continually, with the sun. By 2019 GEIDCO had seven regional offices, forty global offices, six-hundred regional and national members and invested $1.6 trillion invested in eighty generation and transmission projects across Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America.

To finance this massive development China funded[6] the Silk Road International Bank[7] to mobilize local savings and is developing a new reserve currency. After the Global Financial Crisis Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the Bank of China announced, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.” He proposed Special Drawing Rights, SDRs, that derive their value from a basket of world currencies. Nobelists C. Fred Bergsten, Robert Mundell and Joseph Stieglitz, were supportive, “The creation of a global currency would restore a needed coherence to the international monetary system, give the IMF a function that would help it to promote stability and be a catalyst for international harmony.” To demonstrate the scheme’s stability China began valuing its own currency, the RMB, against a basket of dollars, euros, yen and pounds sterling and, almost immediately complaints about RMB valuation ceased. The IMF made its first SDR loan in 2014, the World Bank issued the first SDR bond in 2016, Standard Chartered Bank issued the first commercial SDR notes in 2017 and the world’s central banks began stating reserves in SDRs in 2019.

While few noticed the advent of SDRs, the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB, in 2015 was a sensation. Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers called it, “The moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system. I can think of no event since Bretton Woods⁠ comparable to the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution–and the failure of the US to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain–to stay out of it.” The AIIB guarantees a trillion dollars annually in long term, low interest loans for regional infrastructure, poverty reduction, growth and climate change mitigation and allows Eurasia’s four billion savers to mobilize local savings that previously had few safe or creative outlets.

China–which contributes a full brigade of eight thousand soldiers to UN peacekeeping–is integrating the United Nations into its plans. The UN unanimously adopted Xi’s[8] Xi’s Resolution to settle disputes through dialogue and resolve differences through discussion by coordinating responses to traditional and non-traditional threats and opposing all forms of terrorism. A UN Committee is considering his proposal to include two new rights, to food and shelter, in its Declaration of Universal Human Rights.

Humane authority seems closer every day.

HARD POWER

If the people and the nobility are not devoted then even a Sage King could not guarantee victory. The man who is skilled at obtaining the support of the people is the man who is skilled in using military force. Skillfully gaining the support of the people is essence of military undertaking-that is all.—Xunzi

At their present rates of increase, Chinese and American military budgets will reach parity in 2028 and, given that Chinese missiles in every weight class already outrange their American counterparts, the world security scene will change irrevocably.

In 1949 Mao warned[9] that the country would remain ‘insecure, unconsolidated and delegitimized’ until it transformed both the old imperial world order and the old China. The following year the US bombed coastal Dandong and strafed civilians in several cities, its warplanes buzzed coastal Shantou and Winston Churchill told the world, “I believe in the ultimate partition of China–and I mean ultimate.” The insults continued for decades.

In 1992, after the US Defense Department[10] announced its mission to prevent a rival superpower emerging in Asia the Navy held a Chinese cargo ship, the Yinhe, at gunpoint in international waters for three weeks, claiming she was carrying contraband (she wasn’t). Two years later President Clinton sent the most powerful fleet ever assembled through the Taiwan Strait. In 1998 the US dropped five precision bombs on China’s embassy in Belgrade, killing three diplomats and seriously wounding twenty and CIA director George Tenet told Congress, “It was the only target we nominated.” In 2014 a US Navy article[11] proposed laying offensive underwater mines along China’s coast and destroying her maritime lines of communication while sending special forces to arm minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet. In 2017 the Air Force reaffirmed its willingness to launch a nuclear attack on China and in 2018 the Navy practiced blocking China’s access to oil through the Malacca Strait though, says defense analyst Michael Thim, “The PLAN, China’s Navy, had sufficient capabilities in place in 1996 such that sending Carrier Strike Groups into the Taiwan Strait would be suicidal. The situation has only become more challenging for the Navy in recent years, not because the PLAN has acquired an aircraft carrier of its own, but because China has greatly enhanced and modernized its existing anti-access/area-denial capabilities.”

It has indeed. Strategically, China applies Mao’s ‘peoples war’ strategies in the South China Sea and Western navies are struggling to respond. When the Japanese or KMT armies arrived, the local guerillas would retreat but the invading forces couldn’t stay forever and, when they left, the PLA was still there. When British or American fleets arrive the coast guard and naval militia disappear and when the fleets go, the boats reappear. The goal is to push the Philippines and Vietnam to the negotiating table, at which point it has won the conflict. In such a situation conventional weapons become symbolic: whoever shoots first loses. Since an F-35 can’t actually shoot anything the PLAN can neutralize it with a fishing boat. The US cannot raise its incursions to a political level that could freeze strategy while China can coordinate military, legal, diplomatic, and economic aspects simultaneously[12]. “The power of the nation-state by no means consists only in its armed forces, but also in its economic and technological resources; in the dexterity, foresight and resolution with which its foreign policy is conducted; in the efficiency of its social and political organization. It consists most of all in the nation itself, the people, their skills, energy, ambition, discipline, initiative, beliefs, myths and illusions. And it consists, further, in the way all these factors are related to one another.”

By 2015, said the Rand Corporation, China could endanger the US Navy’s surface fleet a thousand miles from its coast and the Chief of its Indo-Pacific Command told the Senate, “There is no guarantee that the United States would win a future conflict with China.” By 2019 the Navy’s Seventh Fleet of seventy ships, charged with projecting US power to the Indo-Pacific, faced three hundred PLAN warships, two hundred missile- and gun-boats defending its coast and the Navy[13] expects the PLAN to deploy 342 warships by 2021. The PLAN’s mastery of naval logistics is unparalleled: in 2018 alone it launched fifteen new warships and began simultaneous construction of four nuclear submarines. Even the US Navy, shopping for a floating dock, visited its shipyards.

The first line of China’s naval defense, the Maritime Militia, has 180,000 ocean-going fishing boats and four thousand merchant marine[14] freighters–some towing sonar detectors–crewed by a million sailors transmitting detailed information about every warship on the world’s oceans twenty-four hours a day. Shore bases fuse their reports with automated transmissions from Beidou positioning, navigation and timing satellites and provide real time data to reporting specialists, xinxiyuan, trained in target information collection and identification, operating ‘vessel management platforms’ that collate, format and forward actionable information up the PLAN command chain. Shoreside, eight million coastal reservists train constantly in seamanship, emergency ship repairs, anti-air missile defense, light weapons and naval sabotage.

Commander Yang Yi, a woman and the youngest Chief Designer in naval history, created the PLAN’s front line defense fleet of three-hundred Type 022 Houbei Class fast attack missile boats. They carry eight C-802 anti-ship missiles with 500lb. warheads that travel at 650 mph, fifteen feet above the surface to targets a hundred miles away (a single C-802 disabled an Israeli warship in 2006). Four of her boats, she says, are sufficient to cover the Taiwan Strait while sheltering behind China’s coastal islands. Thirty Type 056 frigates with a range of 2,500 miles armed with YJ-83 anti-ship missiles, eight SAM launchers and six torpedo tubes back up the patrol boats.

Behind them are twenty Type 052D Arleigh Burke class destroyers. With sixty-four missile tubes, their arsenals includes unique Yu-8s anti-submarine missiles that fly for twenty miles then release their torpedoes into the sea: naval analysts claim they are virtually undetectable until they plunge into the water near the target. Six Type 055 heavy missile cruisers, the world’s most powerful surface combatants, each with one-hundred twenty-eight tubes, carry surface-to-air, anti-ship, land-attack and anti-submarine missiles while, below the surface, seventy nuclear and conventional submarines carry YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles and wake-homing torpedoes that deliver five hundred pound warheads at sixty mph from fifteen miles away.

The greatest threat, however, was born when the Navy invited a Chinese admiral on a courtesy visit to the USS Nimitz. Upon his return the officer told colleagues, “I’ve just seen the world’s biggest target. If we can’t hit an aircraft carrier we can’t hit anything.” Thrifty engineers attached a new guidance system to an existing land based missile and created a new class of weapon, the million-dollar DF-21D anti-ship ballistic carrier killer. It carries a half-ton warhead one thousand miles then drops it vertically, at 7,500 mph, onto $12 billion aircraft carriers. The USNI says it can destroy a carrier in one strike and that there is currently no defense against it. (Its sibling, the DF-26D, has a range of two thousand miles.) In 2019 Robert Haddick[15] warned, “China’s anti-ship missile capability exceeds that of the United States in terms of range, speed and sensor performance.” Captain James Fanell[16], a senior naval intelligence officer added, “We know that China has the most advanced ballistic missile force in the world. They have the capacity to overwhelm the defensive systems we are pursuing.”

On the ballistic front line, the CM-401, is a high supersonic ballistic missile designed for rapid precision strikes against medium-size ships, naval task forces and offshore facilities within two hundred miles but to destroy military bases in the region the PLAN relies on the larger CJ-10, a subsonic missile with a two-thousand mile range and a half ton payload that uses inertial and satellite navigation, Terrain Contour Matching and digital scene-mapping area correlation for terminal guidance, with a CEP[17] of forty feet. A longer-ranged anti-ship version, the YJ-100, can be air-launched or fired from Type 055 vertical launch tubes.

For conflicts close to the mainland or Taiwan, says The Rand Corporation, China achieved full parity in 2017 and, by 2021, will deploy more fifth generation fighters in the area than the US. J-20 fighter-bombers have an operational range of a thousand miles, carry bigger payloads faster, higher and further than America’s F-22 Raptor and release YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles that travel two hundred miles then deliver a thousand pound warhead in a corkscrew trajectory at supersonic speed. The Navy says that even against alerted warships, thirty-two percent of missiles score hits and a single strike will render any vessel inoperable.

The J-20 also carries the specialized PLA-15. Propelled by novel dual pulse rocket motors on a semi-ballistic trajectory, they home on AWACS and airborne tankers loitering behind battle lines. In 2015 USAF General Herbert Carlisle told Congress that he can field two hundred F-22 Raptors carrying six missiles while China’s more numerous fighters each carry twelve longer ranged weapons, “Look at the PLA-15, at the range of that weapon. How do we counter that?” Following his testimony the Air Force canceled its E-8C AWACS recapitalization, explaining that they would be easy prey for the PLA-15. The PLA-15’s smaller sibling, PLA-10, is no less deadly, says ISIS airpower specialist Douglas Barrie, “For the notional Western combat aircraft pilot, there is no obvious respite to be found in attempting to avoid within visual range threat of the PLA-10[18] by keeping beyond visual range. In this environment also the PLAAF will be able to mount an increasingly credible challenge and at engagement ranges against some targets that would previously have been considered safe. As one former US Air Force tanker pilot drily noted to this author, ‘“That’s aimed right at me.’”

From space, hyperspectral detection satellites peer at submerged submarines while the enormous Divine Eagle High Altitude Stealth-Hunting Drone reads aircraft electronic signals long before they approach their targets. Below them AWACS, whose solid-state detectors have twice the range of USAF’s rotating domes, track hundreds of targets and integrate information from the West Pacific Surveillance and Targeting satellite and twelve positioning satellites with ten centimeter accuracy. On the ground, passive and quantum radars emit no detectable signals while tracking objects for Russia’s S-400 antiaircraft/antimissile batteries.

China’s heavyweight ICBM, the road-mobile DF-41, is a three-stage, solid-fueled device with a twelve thousand mile range and a top speed of twenty-thousand mph that carries ten independently targetable nuclear warheads and launches on four minutes’ warning. While the DF-41 is approaching the limits of ICBM potential, the Hypersonic Glide Vehicle, the DF-ZF (which Russian Defense Minister Dmitry Rogozin compared to the first atom bombs in strategic significance) is just beginning its life cycle. Launched sixty miles above the earth from missiles traveling sixteen-thousand mph, HGVs surf the stratosphere on their supersonic shockwaves and glide to their targets. RAND says,

“Maneuverability can potentially provide HGVs the ability to use in-flight updates to attack a different target than originally planned..With the ability to fly at unpredictable trajectories, these missiles will hold extremely large areas at risk throughout much of their flights” and Congressional report concluded, “The very high speeds of these weapons combined with their maneuverability and ability to travel at lower, radar-evading altitudes would make them far less vulnerable to current missile defenses than existing missiles.” (After the PLAN’s successful HGV tests Xiamen University’s engineering department, launched and recovered its own HGV in northwest China’s desert.)

In real wars, boots on the ground determine final outcomes and the People’s Liberation Army is as unconventional as its weapons. Combat forces elect their NCOs and PLAN soldiers receive more political education than the rest of the world’s armies combined. Xiaoming Zhang[19] explained the thinking behind this, “Under the influence of Confucian philosophy the concept of the just or righteous war was prevalent throughout Chinese society so, unlike Western militaries which depend on professional ethics and training to ensure that soldiers’ perform their duties in war, the PLA opted for political indoctrination and attempted to make troops understand why a war must be fought and how it would matter to them.” Historian William Hinton says, “From its inception the Army has been led by the Party and has never played a purely military role. On the contrary, Army cadres have always played a leading political role. In 1927 Mao wrote, ‘The Red Army fights not merely for the sake of fighting but in order to conduct xuānchuán among the people, organize, arm and help them establish revolutionary political power. Without these objectives, fighting loses its meaning and the Red Army loses its reason for existence.’”

No matter how well armed or valorous an army is, to win wars it needs the support of the citizens who pay for it–and here China has an advantage. China’s leaders often invoke the feelings of the Chinese people in international disputes and surveys[20]reveal that their attitudes are more hawkish than dovish and younger Chinese much more inclined to call on the government to invest in and have recourse to military strength. In 2015, Gallup posed the question, “If there were a war involving [your country], would you be willing to fight for [your country]?”

Notes

[1] Hegemonic Stability Theory: An Empirical Assessment. Michael C. Webb and Stephen D. Krasner. Review of International Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2, Special Issue on the Balance of Power (Apr., 1989), pp. 183-198. Cambridge University Press

[2] Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power. By Yan Xuetong

[3] “Strengthen Party Unity and Carry Forward Party Traditions” (1956) China’s economy overtook America’s fifty-eight years later.

[4] Build a Harmonious World of Lasting Peace and Common Prosperity. Speech by Hu Jintao at the UN Summit, New York, September 15, 2005

[5] Wang Yi, ‘Exploring the Path of Major-Country Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics’, Foreign Affairs Journal, No. 10 (2013), p. 14.

[6] China launches $11 billion fund for Central, Eastern Europe. Reuters, November 6, 2016

[7] Behind China’s $1 Trillion Plan to Shake Up the Economic Order.By Jane Perlez and Yufan Huang. New York Times, May 13, 2017

[8] ‘Work Together to Build a Community with Shared Future for Mankind’ . January 2017. Later incorporated in a UN resolution by the 55th UN Commission for Social Development

[9] Zhai, Qiang (2005-10-20T22:58:59). China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975 (The New Cold War History) (Kindle Locations 227-231). The University of North Carolina Press. Kindle Edition.

[10] U.S. STRATEGY PLAN CALLS FOR INSURING NO RIVALS DEVELOP. By PATRICK E. TYLER. The New York Times, March, 1992.

[11] US Naval Institute Proceedings, Deterring the Dragon

[12] Power in International Politics. Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall. International Organization, Vol. 59, No. 1

[13] Chinese Naval Expansion Hits High Gear: China’s Navy Acquires 15 Warships in 7 Months

Chinese Naval Expansion Hits High Gear: China’s Navy Acquires 15 Warships in 7 Months

[14] China’s Maritime Militia, by ndrew S. Erickson and Conor M. Kennedy

[15] New missile gap leaves U.S. scrambling to counter China. Reuters. April 25, 2019

[16] New missile gap leaves U.S. scrambling to counter China. Reuters. Apr 25, 2019

[17] CEP, circular error probable is defined as the radius of a circle, centered on the mean, whose boundary is expected to include the landing points of 50% of a missile’s rounds.

[18] The PLA-10, an air-to-air missile, has a more advanced guidance system and twice the range, speed and payload of the USAF AIM-9.

[19] Zhang, Xiaoming. Deng Xiaoping’s Long War: The Military Conflict between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991 (The New Cold War History). The University of North Carolina Press.

[20] How Hawkish Is the Chinese Public? Another Look at “Rising Nationalism” and Chinese Foreign Policy Jessica Chen Weiss To cite this article: Jessica Chen Weiss (2019): How Hawkish Is the Chinese Public? Another Look at “Rising Nationalism” and Chinese Foreign Policy, Journal of Contemporary China, DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2019.1580427

Reprinted with permission from The Unz Review.

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2019 VW Beetle Final

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

In 1979, VW stopped selling the Beetle – at least, in the United States.

Uncle would not allow it.

The car designed back in the 1930s could not meet the crashworthiness and emissions standards of the ‘70s. Plus, there was a lot of very heavy competition from newer – and more modern – economy cars from Japan.

These may not have had the Beetle’s charm – or lawn mower simplicity. But they did have working heaters, among other draws.

Fast forward.

In 1998 VW brought the Beetle back – but it was a very different Beetle. Not air-cooled, or rear-engined. With heated seats – as well as climate control AC.

It was iconic looking – but not classic driving. People loved it – all over again.

But the love waned as the Beetle aged – and was once again overtaken by more modern rivals, many of them cheaper.

History does repeat – even if the engine isn’t in the same place.

What It Is

The Beetle – current iteration – is basically a Golf, VW’s compact hatchback, with a body that looks like a classic Beetle’s.

Mechanically, the current Beetle shares no common parts with the iconic original Beetle that first appeared back in the ’30s – and which VW continued to make and sell in other countries all the way through 2003.

The engine’s up front – and it’s water-cooled – unlike the original, which was rear-engined and air-cooled. It has six gears instead of just four. And it gets to 60 in less than 30 seconds.

But both the classic and the modern Beetle have one thing in common: They are compact-sized two-doors with instantly recognizable silhouettes that set them apart from the run-of-the-mill.

Base price for a 2019 coupe is $20,895; a top-of-the-line Final Edition SEL stickers for $25,995.

A convertible Beetle is available, too. They list for $25,995 to start – topping out at $29,995 for a Final Edition.

Read the Whole Article

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Yesterday’s Attacks on Ships In the Gulf of Oman Are Not In Iran’s Interest

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

Early this morning, around 6:00 UTC, two tankers in the Gulf of Oman were attacked by surface weapons. Both ships were some 50 kilometers south-east of Bandar-e Jask, Iran, and some 100+ kilometers east of Fujairah.

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The Front Altair, a 250 meter long crude oil tanker under the flag of the Marshal Islands, came from the United Arab Emirates and was on was on its way to Taiwan. Its load of 75,000 tons of naphta caught fire and the crew had to abandon the ship.

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The second attacked ship is the Kokuka Courageous, a 170 meter long tanker flagged by Panama. It was coming from Saudi Arabia and on its way to Singapore. The ship has its hull breached above the water line, but its load of methanol seems to be intact.

The Iranian Search and Rescue ship Naji picked up the 44 crews members of both ships and brought them to Bandar-E Jash. Oil prices increased by some 4%.

These attacks come a month after four ships anchoring near the UAE port Fujairah were damaged by explosives attached to their hulls. The investigation of that incident by the UAE did not blame anyone for the attack but suggested that a nation state must have been behind it. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton blamed Iran.

It is likely that Iranian proxy forces were involved in the May attacks. It seems unlikely that Iran had anything to do with today’s attacks.

The May attack was accompanied by two drone strikes launched by Houthi forces in Yemen on the Saudi east-west pipeline that allows some Saudi exports to avoid a passage through the Street of Hormuz. A third strike was a medium range missile launch by the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza strip against the city of Ashkelon in Israel.

All three strikes together were a warning that those countries who instigate for a U.S. war on Iran would get seriously hurt should Iran be attacked.

The attack today comes at an inconvenient time for Iran. The loud anti-Iran campaign John Bolton initiated in April and May recently calmed down.

U.S. President Trump tries to move Iran towards negotiations with him. He recently received the President of Switzerland in the White House. Switzerland is the ‘protecting power’ that represent U.S. diplomatic interests in Iran. The German Foreign Minister Maas was send to Iran to press for Iranian concessions. Currently the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe is visiting Tehran. He today met Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei but had no success in moving Iran towards negotiations with the Trump.

Even while Iran rejects negotiations with the U.S. as long as the U.S. keeps up its sanctions,  it has no interest in disturbing the current phase of diplomacy. Iran seems to have nothing to win from these attacks.

Is someone else out to nearly literately torpedo the current mediation attempts?

Update (11:30 utc, 7:30 AM blog time):

A few tweets Iran’s Supreme Leader issued after his meeting with Prime Minister Abe today hint at a motive Iran might have to conduct something like the attack that happened today:

Khamenei.ir @khamenei_ir – 9:36 UTC – 13 Jun 2019We do not believe at all that the U.S. is seeking genuine negotiations with Iran; because genuine negotiations would never come from a person like Trump. Genuineness is very rare among U.S. officials.

.@AbeShinzo U.S. president met & talked with you a few days ago, including about Iran. But after returning from Japan, he immediately imposed sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry. Is this a message of honesty? Does that show he is willing to hold genuine negotiations?

After the nuclear deal, the first one to immediately breach the JCPOA was Obama; the same person who had requested negotiations with Iran & had sent a mediator. This is our experience, & Mr. Abe, know that we won’t repeat the same experience.

The keyword here is “petrochemical”. The tankers hit today were loaded with naphta from the UAE and methanol from Saudi Arabia. Both are petrochemical products and not simply crude oil. Last Friday, June 7, the U.S. sanctioned all trade with Iran’s biggest petrochemical producer. These sanction will seriously hurt Iran.

When the Trump administration began to sanction Iran’s oil export last year, Iran announced new rules of the game. It said that it would retaliate against other Persian Gulf producers should Iran be unable to export its goods:

Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a vital artery for oil shipments from the Middle East. The warning comes in response to the US, which is trying to cut off Iranian crude exports.

Iran’s supreme leader’s senior adviser for international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati said his country will retaliate.“The most transparent, complete and prompt response was given by Mr [Hassan] Rouhani, the Iranian president, in his last trip to Europe. The response was clear: if Iran cannot export oil through the Persian Gulf, no-one will do this,” Velayati said, speaking at the Valdai discussion club in Russia. “Either everyone will export, or no-one,” he added.

Now we can apply the keyword Khamenei used today to these sentences: “if Iran cannot export petrochemical products through the Persian Gulf, no-one will do this”. “Either everyone will export, or no-one.”

That Iran might have this motive does not mean or prove that it is responsible for today’s attack. Risking to sink two foreign tankers in international water is not what an otherwise cautious Iran would typically do. Someone else might have initiated it to blame it.

Still – no matter if Iran was involved – what Khamenei said is a very serious message that Abe, who Trump sent to Iran, will understand and communicate back to the White House.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.

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British Home Secretary Has Signed Extradition Order

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

The British home secretary, Sajid Javid, has just signed a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the US where he faces an 18-count indictment, issued by the US Department of Justice, for charges linked to computer hacking and revealing government secrets in collaboration with Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning. The charges all fall under the Espionage Act.

“He’s rightly behind bars. There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.” – Sayid Javid

Officially, Assange is accused of soliciting and publishing classified information and conspiring to hack into a government computer. “It is a decision ultimately for the courts, but there is a very important part of it for the home secretary and I want to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request, so I’ve signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts,” said Javid.

If you were to look entirely at the law, you might say “yes, technically if he did these things, there is a case to be made.” However, was Assange involved enough in this process to prosecute him? Did he do something that was a disservice to the people? Or did he do something that was a disservice to the powerful elite?

That is something for you to decide, ideally without the manipulative rhetoric from the powerful elite and the mainstream media they own. Attempts to suggest he threatens the patriotism of the US and the national security of the US might be something to observe as a clear sign of bait and switch: get upset at this, instead of looking at what he revealed about the powerful elite in the totality of the leaks he has put out.

Swedish courts had just recently rejected an extradition request for Assange to be sent back to Sweden for an alleged rape case dating back to 2010. Assange denies the accusation and has since the beginning. The decision out of Upsalla to deny his request was fueled by the claim that Assange did not need to be detained.

Assange is currently in jail for 50 weeks for skipping bail after he spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was recently too ill to appear at a hearing at Westminster magistrates court in relation to the US request. The hearing has been rescheduled for Friday, June 14th, 2019.

Thomas Garner, an extradition lawyer at Gherson Solicitors, said Javid’s certification of the request was “an important though merely procedural step” to start the extradition process.

“I would expect the court to set a preliminary timetable for the extradition process tomorrow,” he said. “It is likely to be many months before any hearing at the magistrates court and of course either side may then seek to appeal that decision in due course. Despite this, the Swedish authorities will be monitoring the process carefully as the further down the line the US proceedings get the harder it might become for the home secretary to give precedence to any competing request.”

The Takeaway

From a systematic standpoint, this is a necessary procedural step in extraditing Assange to the US and it has been granted. It could have been blocked but Javid felt it was necessary for ‘justice to be served.’

As we can see, this is an example of a spot where someone could have stood up and said “no I don’t support this given what it does to protect the powerful elite and given what it does to journalism and the maintenance of secrecy.” Obviously, Javid would have faced much criticism if he had stood up, perhaps legal problems too, we were not able to confirm that, but we are seeing a system play entirely along with the power elite in this case.

In the video below, there is an important discussion on some of the ‘Qanon’ ideas in relation to Assange. My analysis on that is that it appears to be heavily misguided, but you decide for yourself.

Reprinted with permission from Collective Evolution.

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Missouri High School Principal Suspended

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

I’ve talked about the stigmatization of gun ownership in this country a lot. It’s the idea that the anti-gunners work to make it not just illegal to own guns, but socially unpalatable. They want to make it so gun rights supporters can’t admit to owning guns outside of groups of fellow gun owners because it reminds non-owners that people with firearms are their neighbors, co-workers, pastors, doctors, lawyers, bankers, and so on. We’re everywhere, but if people know that and recognize that people they know and trust are gun people, they might not be so willing to support gun control.

It’s imperative for anti-gunners that they make it so socially unacceptable that we have to hide it.

Part of that effort is to punish people who acknowledge their support for the Second Amendment, and a case could be made that it has to start at the schools. That means punishing pro-gun teachers and principals for standing by their beliefs and opposing anti-gun voices like what happened to a Missouri high school principal recently.

A Missouri school principal is on paid leave after replying to a tweet from a gun control activist.

The tweet was a reply to David Hogg, one of the students who survived the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School last year in Parkland, Florida.

Join @AMarch4OurLives and @bradybuzz in the #WeNeedtoKnow campaign to get Congress to fund gun violence research.

Record your own video explaining why we need to find gun violence research and tag your congressman and senators with #WeNeedtoKnow https://t.co/ynkGEYUh0q

— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) June 11, 2019

Hogg tweeted support for research on gun violence urging people to contact their congressmen and ask them to support funding.

A school principal with the Platte County School District replied to Hogg’s tweet with pictures of himself and his children holding guns. The text of the tweet simply said #merica.

It’s a personal Twitter account.

In other words, he wasn’t speaking as a school official but as a private citizen. The news agency wisely declined to share the principal’s name, but the edited screenshot of the tweet–edited to remove identifying information–clearly illustrates that it wasn’t threatening.

In a statement, the school system recounts what happened, but even they fail to claim the principal said anything threatening or dangerous.

Basically, he admitted to having guns.

The school suspended him, citing “student safety” concerns, though he is on paid administrative leave versus unpaid. That’s something, I suppose.

Read the Whole Article

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The Great Awokening Conspiracy Theory

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

What accounts for The Great Awokening that began in roughly 2013? Why did vast numbers of white Democrats suddenly subscribe to theories that only Grievance Studies majors took seriously before?

Over the past few weeks, two academics working separately, Zach Goldberg and David Rozado, have documented how extremist The New York Times, once known as The Gray Lady for its decorum, became during Obama’s second term.

Quantifying the Times over time offers the single best way to measure increasing media wokeness because of the newspaper’s breadth and its influence on other journalists, who traditionally look to it for guidance on what they are supposed to be worked up over.

Before you declare the “failing New York Times” irrelevant, note that its number of paid digital subscribers grew from 800,000 in early 2014 to 2,850,000 in early 2019. And the percentage of voters saying they regularly read the NYT roughly doubled from 2012 to 2016.

Sure, Carlos Slim had to bail out the Sulzberger family in 2009, but Slim, who has managed to extract an absurd amount of money out Mexico, is a very smart man. He’s done well off his investment, both financially and, more important, by ensuring that his monopolistic exploitation of his Mexican telephone customers wasn’t much covered by the Times and thus was generally considered in the U.S. to be Not News.

Goldberg and Rozado are more or less extending to a much larger scale the methodology I invented for my 2018 Taki’s Magazine column “The Emmett Till Effect.” I pointed out that you could graph The New York Times’ use of politically tendentious terms to measure how hard the propaganda machine was pushing particular themes.

For example, Emmett Till was a black teenager murdered in the South in 1955 by whites, who were acquitted due to their white privilege. In 1980, the Times didn’t see any reason to mention Till, his having been dead for 25 years, whereas in 1990 his name came up twice, and in 2000 four times. But by 2017, a full 62 years after his tragic death, the name “Emmett Till” was referenced 72 times.

This winter, for example, the Times responded to the embarrassing Jussie Smollett hate hoax by cranking up the Emmett Till hubbub once again.

Read the Whole Article

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Propaganda Is the Root of All Our Problems

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

new article by Forbes reports that the CEO of Crowdstrike, the extremely shady cybersecurity corporation which was foundational in the construction of the official CIA/CNN Russian hacking narrative, is now a billionaire.

George Kurtz ascended to the billionaire rankings on the back of soaring stocks immediately after the company went public, carried no doubt on the winds of the international fame it gained from its central protagonistic role in the most well-known hacking news story of all time. A loyal servant of empire well-rewarded.

Never mind that US government insiders like Hillary Clinton had been prepping for escalations against Russia well in advance of the 2016 elections, and that their preexisting agendas to shove a geostrategic obstacle off the world stage benefitted from the hacking narrative as much as George Kurtz did.

Never mind that Crowdstrike is tied to the NATO narrative management firm known as the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the US government, the EU, NATO, Gulf states and powerful international oligarchs. Never mind either that Crowdstrike was financed with a whopping $100 million from Google, which has had a cozy relationship with US intelligence agencies since its very inception.

Never mind that to this day the DNC servers have not been examined by the FBI, nor indeed were they examined by the Special Counsel of Robert “Iraq has WMD” Mueller, preferring instead to go with the analyses of this extremely shady outfit with extensive and well-documented ties with the oligarchic leaders of the US-centralized empire. Also never mind that the Crowdstrike analyst who led forensics on those DNC servers had in fact worked for and was promoted by Robert Mueller while the two were in the FBI.

The CEO of the Atlantic Council-tied Crowdstrike, which formed the foundation of the official CIA/CNN Russian hacking narrative, is now a billionaire. I’m telling you, the real underlying currency of this world is narrative and the ability to control it.https://t.co/XsBCvkIDzJ

— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) June 12, 2019

As I never tire of saying, the real underlying currency in our world is not gold, nor bureaucratic fiat, nor even raw military might. The real underlying currency of our world is narrative, and the ability to control it.

As soon as you really grok this dynamic, you start noticing it everywhere. George Kurtz is one clear example today of narrative control’s central role in the maintenance and expansion of existing power structures, as well as an illustration of how the empire is wired to reward those who advance pro-empire narratives and punish those who damage them; just compare how he’s doing to how Julian Assange is doing, for example.

But you see examples pop up every day:

  • The US State Department just got busted using a $1.5 million troll farm to manipulate public discourse on social media about Iran.
  • Video footage has just surfaced of the OPCW Director General admitting that the OPCW did indeed deliberately omit any mention in its official findings of a report from its own investigation which contradicts the establishment narrative about a chemical strike in Douma, Syria, an admission which answers controversial questions asked by critics of western imperialism like myself, and which the mainstream media have not so much as touched.
  • Mintpress News broke a story the other day about a new narrative management operation known as “The Trust Project”, a coordinated campaign by establishment-friendly mass media outlets for “gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter.”
  • In a new interview with The Canary, UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer explicitly named the mass media as largely responsible for Assange’s psychological torture, excoriating them for the way that they “have shown a remarkable lack of critical independence and have contributed significantly to spreading abusive and deliberately distorted narratives about Mr Assange.”
  • In a new essay called “Freeing Julian Assange“, journalist Suzie Dawson reports that “Countless articles appear to have been obliterated from the internet” about Assange and WikiLeaks, amounting to some 90 percent of the links Dawson examined which were shared in tweets by or about WikiLeaks and Assange since 2010.
  • I just finished reading this excellent Swiss Propaganda Research essay about the little-known fact that “most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.”

Any one of these could have a full-length Caitlin Johnstone essay written about it. I write about this stuff for a living, and even I don’t have the time or energy to write full articles about every single narrative control tool that the US-centralized empire has been implementing into its arsenal. There are too damn many of them emerging too damn fast, because they’re just that damn crucial for maintaining existing power structures.

Because whoever controls the narrative controls the world.

Power used to be much easier to identify in our society: just look for the fellow with the sparkly hat made of gold sitting in a really big chair and bossing everyone around. As our society advanced philosophically, however, people began to tire of having every aspect of their society determined by some schmuck in a golden hat, and started fighting for ideals called “freedom” and “democracy” in their respective nations. And, as far as our parents and teachers have taught us, freedom and democracy are exactly what we have now.

Except that’s all crap. Freedom and democracy only exist within the western empire to the extent that it keeps up appearances. Because the trouble with democracy, it turns out, is that human minds are very hackable, as long as you’ve got the resources. Wealthy and powerful people do have the resources, which means that it’s very possible for wealthy and powerful people to manipulate the masses into voting in a way that consistently benefits the wealthy and powerful. This is why billionaires and narrative control consistently go hand-in-hand.

This dynamic has allowed for western power structures to operate in a way that western democracy was explicitly designed to prevent: for the benefit of the powerful instead of for the benefit of the voting populace. So now we’ve got people in so-called liberal democracies voting to maintain governments which advance wars which don’t benefit them, to advance intrusive surveillance and police state policies which oppress them, to advance austerity policies which harm them, to advance labor policies which exploit them, and to maintain ecocidal environmental policies which threaten the very survival of our species. All because the wealthy and powerful are able to use their wealth and power to manipulate the way people think and vote.

I remember in the run-up to the Iraq War a friend I had known all my life suddenly said to me, ‘We must do something about this monster in Iraq.’ I said, ‘When did you first think that?’ He answered honestly, ‘A month ago’. #Propaganda @medialens

— Malcolm Pryce (@exogamist) April 12, 2018

This is why I pay far more attention in my work to narrative control than to politics. Politics is downstream from narrative control, which is why the 2020 US presidential race is already a contest to see what level of Democratic corporatist warmonger will be running against the incumbent Republican corporatist warmonger. The narrative-controlling class does its level best to hide the fact that anything’s fundamentally wrong with the system, then when people notice it’s deeply broken they encourage them to use completely impotent tools to fix it. “Don’t like how things are run? Here, vote for our other puppet!”

The root of all our problems right now is the fact that human minds are very hackable with enough resources, combined with the fact that war, oppression, exploitation and ecocide are highly profitable. This dynamic has caused human collective consciousness to generally dead-end into a kind of propagandized, zombified state in which all our knowledge and all our thinking moves in alignment with the agendas of existing power structures. It’s much easier to continue believing the official narratives than to sort through everything you’ve been told about your society, your nation and your world since grade school and work out what’s true and what’s false. Many don’t have the time. Many more don’t have the courage.

We will remain in this collective dead-end, hurtling toward either Orwellian dystopia or extinction via climate collapse or nuclear armageddon, until we find a way out of it. It won’t come from the tools our rulers have given us, and it won’t come from repeating any of the old patterns which got us here. In order to escape from the increasingly adept narrative control matrix that is being built around our collective mind by the powerful, we’re going to have to change our relationship with narrative altogether. We will either pass this great test or we will fail it, and we absolutely have the freedom to go either way.

_______________________

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitterthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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The post Propaganda Is the Root of All Our Problems appeared first on LewRockwell.

The Generals Won’t Save Us From the Next War

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

Poll after poll indicates that the only public institution Americans still trust is the military. Not Congress, not the presidency, not the Supreme Court, the church, or the media. Just the American war machine.

But perhaps that faith in the U.S. Armed Forces is misplaced. I got to thinking about this recently after I wrote articles calling for dissent among military leaders in order to stop what seems to be a likely forthcoming war with Iran. While I still believe that dissent in the ranks stands the best chance of galvanizing an apathetic public against an ill-advised, immoral conflict in the Persian Gulf, I also know its a pipe dream.

These are company men, after all, obedient servants dedicated—no matter how much they protest otherwise—to career and promotion, as much or more than they are to the national interest. The American military, especially at the senior ranks, is apt to let you down whenever courage or moral fortitude is needed most. In nearly 18 years of post-9/11 forever war, not a single general has resigned in specific opposition to what many of them knew to be unwinnable, unethical conflicts. Writing about the not-so-long-ago Vietnam War, former national security advisor H.R. McMaster, himself a problematic war on terror general, labeled in his book title such military acquiescence Dereliction of Duty. That it was, but so is the lack of moral courage and logical reasoning among McMaster and his peers who have submissively waged these endless wars in Americans’ name.

Think on it: of the some 18 general officers who have commanded the ill-fated, ongoing war in Afghanistan, each has optimistically promised not only that victory was possible, but that it was “around the corner” or a “light at the end of the tunnel.” All these generals needed, naturally, was more time and, of course, more resources. For the most part they’ve gotten it, billions in cash to throw away and thousands of American soldiers’ lives to waste.

Why should any sentient citizen believe that these commanders’ former subordinates—a new crop of ambitious generals—will step forward now and oppose a disastrous future war with the Islamic Republic? Don’t believe it! Senior military leaders will salute, about-face, and execute unethical and unnecessary combat with Iran or whomever else (think Venezuela) Trump’s war hawks, such as John Bolton, decide needs a little regime changing.

Need proof that even the most highly lauded generals will sheepishly obey the next absurd march to war? Join me in a brief trip down an ever so depressing memory lane. Let us begin with my distinguished West Point graduation speaker, Air Force General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers. He goes down in history as as a Donald Rumsfeld lackey because it turns out he knew full well that there were “holes” in the Bush team’s inaccurate intelligence used to justify the disastrous Iraq war. Yet we heard not a peep from Myers, who kept his mouth shut and retired with full four-star honors.

Then, when Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki accurately (and somewhat courageously) predicted in 2003 that an occupation of Iraq would require up to half a million U.S. troops, he was quietly retired. Rummy passed over a whole generation of active officers to pull a known sycophant, General Peter Schoomaker, out of retirement to do Bush the Younger’s bidding. It worked too. Schoomaker, despite his highly touted special forces experience, never threw his stars on the table and called BS on a losing strategy even as it killed his soldiers by the hundreds and then the thousands. Having heard him (unimpressively) speak at West Point in 2005, I still can’t decide whether he lacked the intellect to do so or the conscience. Maybe both.

After Bush landed a fighter plane on a carrier and triumphantly announced “mission accomplished” in Iraq, poor Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the newest three-star in the Army, took over the hard part of conquest: bringing the “natives” to heel. He utterly failed, being too reliant on what he knew—Cold War armored combat—and too ambitious to yell “stop!”  Soon after, it came to light that Sanchez had bungled the investigation—or coverup (take your pick)—of the massive abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison.

Read the Whole Article

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5 Alarming Reasons Americans Need To Pay Attention to Ebola

Fri, 2019-06-14 11:01

People like to think of Ebola as a disease that only strikes superstitious locals in the deepest jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. But just like the last time the disease made it to our shores, there are warning signs and it’s time to start paying attention.

There are several events in the news that when looked at together, lead to concerns we could be looking at a replay of 2014.

This article is not being written to demonize people from certain regions or the world, to bring up arguments for or against immigration, or to scare the pants off you. It’s a collection of facts that I’ve written with as little bias as possible.

A quick recap of the 2014 outbreak that made its way to our shores

Everyone remembers the Ebola outbreak of 2014. It ripped through West Africa for two years, killing over 11,000 people and sickening nearly 30,000. But the reason WE remember it in the United States is that it crept into our country. Shortly after the CDC warned us to prepare for a potential Ebola pandemic, the first case was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, when a man from West Africa visited the hospital on two occasions, having been turned away the first time as just having “the flu.” The original patient died, and two nurses caring for him caught the potentially deadly virus. One patient completely overwhelmed an entire hospital.

It is honestly shocking that more people didn’t become ill, as one nurse traveled on a plane while sick, and in another incident, a doctor in New York City who had volunteered in Guinea was also diagnosed. All in all, eleven people in the United States were treated for Ebola (that we know of, anyway) and it certainly wasn’t because of the expert handling of the near-crisis. It was pure luck.

There were all sorts of mismanagement. Everything from not requiring a quarantine of travelers returning from the affected area to housing 11 potential cases in a hotel to a ship from Liberia with sick passengers being allowed to dock in New Orleans to the near-disastrous handling of contaminated samples in Dallas, it is an absolute miracle that there was no major outbreak in the US.

If there were hundreds or thousands of patients across the country, it wouldn’t take long for things to devolve into absolute chaos. Ebola can have a death rate as high as 90%.

1) The DRC is in the midst of the second largest Ebola outbreak in history.

According to the World Health Organization, confirmed cases of Ebola have exceeded 2000 in the DRC. This makes it the second-largest outbreak in history, after the 2014-2016 epidemic.

There are several reasons that the WHO has been unable to get a handle on this outbreak. Last year, I wrote about how the families of Ebola patients were breaking them out of quarantine and taking them to prayer meetings. I also wrote that the disease had reached a major urban center, increasing the likelihood of its spread.

The area at the heart of the outbreak is a warzone, which makes it difficult for doctors to treat patients, and at the same time, the patients are untrusting of modern medicine. People are fleeing Ebola-stricken villages in fear, which just makes the spread more likely.

2) Ebola is no longer contained within the DRC

Today it was reported that Ebola has hopped the border into Uganda, where today, a young patient died. The five-year-old deceased has two relatives who have also tested positive.

Zero Hedge reports:

On Wednesday, health experts in both countries were scrambling to understand how the boy’s relatives crossed the border on June 9th, and who they may have infected along the way. The boy was taken to a Ugandan hospital after vomiting blood and exhibiting other symptoms, while two relatives of the boy also tested positive for Ebola. Uganda has been heavily screening visitors from Congo for signs of fever, and has vaccinated more than 4,700 health workers against the disease according to a joint statement by WHO and Ugandan officials.

Uganda’s health ministry said the boy’s mother, who is Congolese but married to a Ugandan and living in the Kasese district of Uganda, had travelled back to Congo to nurse her sick father, who subsequently died of Ebola. On returning to Uganda, the boy had started coughing up blood and vomiting and was taken to Kagando hospital where health workers immediately suspected Ebola.

A sample of his blood tested positive for Ebola and on Wednesday two of the boy’s relatives were also confirmed to have contracted the disease. –Financial Times (source)

Experts have warned if Ebola spreads into other countries that the virus will become even more difficult to contain.

Angola, which shares a border with the DRC, has closed that border to prevent the spread of the virus into their country.

3) The Department of Border Patrol just apprehended a large group of people from Africa

In a press release, the Border Patrol announced on May 31 that they had apprehended 116 people from Africa trying to cross the Mexican/US border.

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Del Rio Station apprehended a large group of 116 individuals Thursday.

“Large groups present a unique challenge for the men and women of the Del Rio Sector,” said Chief Raul Ortiz. “This large group from Africa further demonstrates the complexity and severity of the border security and humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border.”

Agents performing line watch operations apprehended the group after they illegally crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S. around 10:30 p.m.

This is the first large group apprehended in the Del Rio Sector and the first large group of people from Africa – including nationals from Angola, Cameroon and Congo – apprehended on the Southwest border this year. (source)

Here’s a video of the apprehension. This link came from the press release above.

4) And these aren’t the only people from the DRC coming into the United States through Mexico.

Border Patrol says that there’s an uptick of migrants from this part of the world entering the United States through the Southern border.

On June 5, agents assigned to the Eagle Pass Station arrested a group of 34 people from the continent of Africa. Since May 30, more than 500 people from the continent of Africa have been arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol in Del Rio Sector. Agents have encountered immigrants from Africa crossing the Rio Grande River in multiple separate events, including one group of over 100 individuals. These groups are primarily made up of family units from the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. (source)

On June 6, San Antonio news station put out a desperate plea for French-speaking volunteers to help with an influx of migrants from the area. Interim Assistant City Manager Dr. Collen Bridger shared the details of the situation with KEN 5:

Bridger said the Congolese migrants began to arrive in town on Tuesday. They told Migrant Resource Center workers, they traveled with a group of about 350 migrants through Ecuador to the southern border.

“When we called Border Patrol to confirm, they said, ‘yea another 200 to 300 from the Congo and Angola will be coming to San Antonio,’” Bridger said.

That included Masengi, a Congolese migrant, who didn’t want to have his face on camera but told KENS 5 via Google Translate he arrived to the southern border as an asylum seeker.

He said he came to America for security reasons and said, “My family is staying in my country but with the help of the USA I can get it back.” (source)

San Antonio will be sending the asylum seekers to other cities across the United States.

…The city opened up the Frank Garrett Center to house the Congolese migrants for the weekend, but after that, they’re not sure where they’ll house them especially since they don’t know how long some of them will be here.

“The plan was 350 of them would travel from San Antonio to Portland. When we reached out to Portland Maine they said, ‘Please don’t send us any more. We’re already stretched way beyond our capacity,” Bridger said.

“So we’re working with them [the migrants] now to identify other cities throughout the United States where they can go and begin their asylum seeking process. (source)

Obviously, just because a person is Congolese doesn’t mean they are infected with Ebola. These are just a series of connecting facts to which we should pay attention.

At this time, there is no evidence that anyone has Ebola in the United States, including Congolese asylum seekers. Border Patrol has said this internet rumor is not true.

5) The medical screening process is overwhelmed

Another concern is the quick screening process performed by physicians at the border. There has been a massive influx of immigrants crossing through from Mexico into the United States and the system is overwhelmed.

While every person crossing has some kind of health check-up, Ebola is difficult to catch in the early stages. According to the CDC:

Diagnosing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) shortly after infection can be difficult. Early symptoms of EVD such as fever, headache, and weakness are not specific to Ebola virus infection and often are seen in patients with other more common diseases, like malaria and typhoid fever.

To determine whether Ebola virus infection is a possible diagnosis, there must be a combination of symptoms suggestive of EVD AND a possible exposure to EVD within 21 days before the onset of symptoms (source)

I was unable to find detailed information on the exact screening process for asylum seekers crossing the border from Mexico. If someone locates it, please share it in the comments so I can update this article.

Update: Here’s a link to the CDC’s recommended screening process for refugees. It particularly notes tests for Hepatitis, HIV, parasites, malaria, STDs, and tuberculosis, along with some general tests. Keep in mind that the symptoms of Ebola may not show up for 21 days, so it’s possible for a person to pass a medical exam during the incubation period.

There are quarantine stations at all US points of entry and laws that cover isolation and quarantine. As for how long people are quarantined, it appears it may be 72 hours.  There’s obviously going to be some travel time, too, but it really depends on how the asylum seeker reached the border. Did they spend months walking through Mexico on foot? If so, they would have already shown symptoms. But it has not been made clear how they arrived at the border.

(Thank you to Sandy and Lisa for this additional information.)

Conclusion

The stage is being set for what could be a catastrophe of epic proportion. Here’s what you need to know to prep for a potential Ebola outbreak in the United States and here’s a detailed book about prepping for a variety of pandemics. Here’s more information about how Ebola is transmitted.

The United States dodged the bullet last time Ebola cast its shadow here. Will we get that lucky again?

The post 5 Alarming Reasons Americans Need To Pay Attention to Ebola appeared first on LewRockwell.

Falling Through the Cracks In Modern Medicine

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

IDIOPATHIC DISEASE:
When The Doctor Says
The Cause Of The Symptoms You Experience
Is Unknown
(or maybe it’s just all in your head)

Idiopathic: any disease or condition which arises spontaneously
or for which the cause is unknown.

Derrick Lonsdale MD ought to know something about patients for whom other doctors could not find a cause or reason for their chronic symptoms other than psychosomatic phenomena.  He has been helping patients resolve what are called idiopathic (unexplained) disorders for decades now.  His standby remedy, vitamin B1 (thiamine).

Dr. Lonsdale, retired (now in his 90s), teams with Dr. Chandler Marrs to document case histories of his successes over a period spanning decades in treating people with seemingly hopeless conditions.  They are cited in the new text THIAMINE DEFICIENCY DISEASE, DYSAUTONOMIA, AND HIGH CALORIE MALNUTRITION (Academic Press (2017).  Note: this is a book for physicians and it is not an easy read for lay persons.

Dr. Lonsdale highlights the role of vitamin B1 in controlling the autonomic (automatic) nervous system that regulates heart rate, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, digestion and defecation (bowel movements), blood pressure, body temperature, and sweating, tear, saliva and sweat production.

Dr. Lonsdale says there are conditions or diseases that produce symptoms that are so seemingly disparate and unconnected as to perplex the very best physicians.  This is most likely due to modern medicine’s narrow approach to treatment and therapy, which he calls the “kill the enemy” approach.  For example, use of antibiotics to kill germs or drugs to reduce cholesterol.

Modern medicine is narrowly organized

Given that physicians are organized into anatomical medical specialties, if there is some disease that produces broad symptoms throughout the body it is likely to be diagnosed as separate diseases of the heart, kidneys, brain, immune system requiring a cardiologist, nephrologist, neurologist or immunologist, says Lonsdale.

Couple that with the fact modern medicine shuns nutritional approaches to disease and you end up with medicines prescribed to allay symptoms rather than eliminate causes.  Life-long maladies for which many doctors may misclassify as psychosomatic in origin or treat narrowly as if they are actual diseases of the heart, lungs, eyes, brain, when the problem is system wide.

Dr. Lonsdale points to a single disease that produces diverse and disparate symptoms throughout the body that defies diagnosis.  The disease is beriberi (vitamin B1 deficiency).  This vitamin deficiency disease “abnormalizes” the autonomic nervous system, the automatic control of our heartbeat, breathing, waste elimination, urination, and other functions.

As evidence Lonsdale points to the fact of 696 published scientific papers that reported an attempt to use thiamine for 230 different diseases.

Modern medicine then takes these symptoms, classifies them into anatomic syndromes that require drugging.  The public is clueless over this misdirection.

Change in American diet spawned B1 deficiency

The reason for an upsurge in these perplexing diseases is that humans in advanced countries are eating diets that antagonize this essential vitamin that is ubiquitous in foodstuffs or fortified foods, and is certainly provided in multivitamins. 

Some known problematic foods like alcohol, refined sugars and processed carbohydrates (promoted in the now abandoned Food Pyramid issued by government health authorities) as well as some molecules known to be healthy called polyphenols in tea and coffee or dietary supplements (resveratrol, quercetin, cinnamon, etc.), all block B1 absorption.

Many people who supplement their diet with thiamine but drink coffee at the same time may never achieve B1 adequacy.  This author took a vitamin B1 supplement away from coffee and other vitamin supplements and experienced a noticeable darkening of his grey hair.  The effect was nullified when drinking coffee.

Thiamine deficiency is historically more prevalent in prison camps, in alcoholism, and in third-world countries where food is not plentiful.  But its prevalence in well-fed modern populations in developed countries Dr. Lonsdale calls “high calorie malnutrition.”

Modern-day drugs are also of concern.  Certainly diuretics, that increase excretion of water-soluble nutrients like thiamine and are used by millions of people, would be at the top of the list.

The cardinal signs and symptoms of beriberi involve edema (swelling) and nerve and circulatory problems.

There are two reasons low consumption or blockage of absorption of vitamin B1 would produce adverse symptoms broadly throughout the body.  The primary reasons are:

(1) Thiamine is the chief nutrient along with magnesium needed to produce cellular energy in the form of adeno triphosphate (ATP) in mitochondria, the atomic power plants of living cells.  Of concern, ~34% of 550 modern pharmaceuticals induce mitochondrial damage to living cells, thiamine being the major nutrient that invigorates mitochondria (explained below).  Another example: metformin (used by 49 million Americans), the most popular anti-diabetic drug, induces a 48% reduction in ATP.

(2) Thiamine is critical for hemoglobin, the red pigment in red blood cells, to pick up oxygen and transport it.  Essentially, a deficiency of thiamine leads to hypoxia, a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level.

Why something innocuous causes a health crisis in some individuals

By virtue of a shortage of thiamine to transport oxygen on hemoglobin, Lonsdale says this sets up the body for a stress-induced crisis. As an example, he says after vaccination young women have experienced a racing heart when standing from a sitting position, a condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia.  Standing suddenly increases the demand for cell energy and oxygen, which are lacking in thiamin-deficient subjects.

A classic sign of thiamine deficiency is a fast heart beat as a person arises from a chair (called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS).

Dr. Lonsdale explains, any otherwise innocuous stressor such as sunlight or noise or an earthquake for example, can startle a thiamin-deficient individual and throw them into a health crisis.

Lonsdale gives an account of workers in Japan where vitamin B1 was first discovered in rice bran removed to produce polished rice.  Factory workers who ate polished rice would sit down for lunch outdoors in between buildings so as not to be in direct sun.  As the sun moved across the sky, sun rays would reach the corridor between factory buildings, striking the workers.

Some of these workers experienced sudden symptoms of anxiety, heart palpitations, hives, fear, sneezing, triggered by the lack thiamin due to a shortage of cell energy and poor oxygen transport that increased these workers vulnerability to sunlight as a biological stressor.  Thiamin-sufficient individuals were not vulnerable to any sunlight-induced symptoms.  This author recalls an ex-wife who chronically sneezed when she walked from indoors to outdoor daylight.

Dr. Lonsdale calls vitamin B1 deficiency the “great pretender” that “haunts the offices of physicians.”  It is seen as heart failure, or balance problems, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus), or constipation (gastric motility), or abnormal heart beats (atrial fibrillation), low blood pressure, excessive sweating, intolerance to cold or hot temperature, light or noise sensitivity, lack of appetite (anorexia), throat spasm, even post-vaccine problems.  Another hallmark sign of B1 deficiency is pain in the calf region of the legs due to lactic acid buildup after slight physical activity.

SOME COMMON SYMPTOMS AMONG THIAMINE-DEFICIENT SUBJECTS (not an exhaustive list)

  • Salt craving (also zinc deficiency)
  • Eyelid constriction (blepharospasm)
  • Glaucoma (elevated fluid pressure in the eyes)
  • Goose bumps (anxiety)
  • Mental depression
  • Muscle pain (calves)
  • Heart palpitations (atrial fibrillation)
  • Oversleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Ataxia (appear to be drunk, slurred speech, stumbling, falling)
  • Pseudo angina (chest pain) upon exertion
  • Nausea (especially during pregnancy)
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Emotional instability
  • Memory loss, delirium (along with vitamin B12 deficiency)

If thiamine is removed from an otherwise normal healthy diet, it only takes about 18 days for thiamine to be completely depleted.

Diet induced deficiency

Because refined sugars block B1 absorption, it is very common for diabetics to be thiamine deficient (76% for Type I and II diabetes).

But because modern medicine mistakenly believes fortified food eliminates thiamine deficiency (save for alcoholics), even the most severe forms of thiamine deficiency are missed in 80% of adults, says Dr. Lonsdale.

Blood testing unreliable

Ah, this is easy, just do blood tests and that will identify these vitamin deficient patients.  However, blood tests of water-soluble nutrients like thiamine only reflect recent consumption. Lonsdale says accurate blood testing is generally not available.  He recommends a therapeutic trial of vitamin B1.

Rx: thiamin (vitamin B1)

Dr. Lonsdale generally prescribes 150 milligram vitamin B1 pills and says there have been no side effects reported with even higher doses in the many years of his practice of medicine.  However, Dr. Lonsdale does note that on the first day of use some complaints of fatigue and headache have been reported.  These symptoms subside rapidly.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is a non-prescription dietary supplement

Because of absorption problems, the fat-soluble form of B1 (benfotiamine) is preferred.

However, benfotiamine does not pass through the blood/brain barrier whereas allithiamine does.  This author supplements with both forms of B1 and formulated the only multivitamin that provides benfotiamine and allithiamine.

Also be aware that researchers are on the cusp of announcing benfotiamine as the “cure” for Alzheimer’s disease, a topic I covered in an earlier published report (view the images of the brain scans which provide convincing evidence).

Earlier texts by Dr. Lonsdale are: A NUTRITIONAL APPROACH TO A REVISED MODEL FOR MEDICINE: IS MODERN MEDICINE HELPING YOU? And WHY I LEFT ORTHODOX MEDICINE: HEALING FOR THE 21ST CENTURY; and A NUTRITIONIST’S GUIDE TO THE CLINICAL USE OF VITAMIN B1.

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What Happens After the Next War

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

International Man: The US government is actively at war in about half a dozen countries. It’s eyeing new conflicts all the time.

On the topic of getting involved in another war… President Trump was reported to have said this about his National Security Advisor John Bolton: “If it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now.”

What do you make of all this?

Doug Casey: Where to start?

Well, first of all, things are out of control. The US Government has become so big, so dysfunctional, and with its fingers in so many pies that anything can happen, unpredictably. Secondly, it’s extremely dangerous. Prodding lots of hornet’s nests guarantees you’ll be stung—perhaps enough to put you in the hospital. Third, it’s extraordinarily expensive. And the US Government is already bankrupt.

As you pointed out, the US is actively at war in right now in who knows how many countries— including at least a half a dozen in Africa that nobody can find on a map. There are combat troops in probably 100 countries around the world. There are probably 800 bases around the world. These things are all just trip wires waiting for an accident or an incident to draw the country into a real war. So far—at least since the misadventure in Vietnam—the US has just engaged in trouble-making exercises and sport wars. But the big thing on the horizon right now is Iran. This is hunting big game.

One of the things that I most regret not having done in recent years was taking advantage of an all-expense paid junket, courtesy of the Iranian Ambassadors’ Polo Club, for the New Zealand Ambassadors’ Polo Club, of which I was member. It would have been wonderful to have seen three of the major Iranian cities and met some of the top people in the country while playing polo. I couldn’t do it though, because I was injured at the time.

The Iranian people have no negative animus towards the American people. The average Iranian likes the average American. He likes American cars, American music, American movies, American culture. He likes California girls. He likes everything about America.

The way to change that and turn the average Iranian into an enemy is to send uniformed American teenagers there to destroy property and kill people. That’s exactly what morons like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are talking about. It could be a real catastrophe, because Iran is big game. It’s not like hunting small game, like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria—which themselves were terrible catastrophes.

If this gets out of control—accidentally, or through a false flag incident, or simply because Bolton decides it’s a good idea—you could be looking at the start of World War III.

The “powers that be” think that war stimulates the economy. But the idea is complete nonsense. These fools actually believe turning lots of cities into smoking ruins would stimulate the economy.

International Man: The US government and mainstream media often justify these wars on the need to “spread democracy.” What do you make of that?

Doug Casey: The idea of spreading democracy is a snare and a delusion. Democracy has become the new societal god. In fact—and I know most readers will be appalled to hear this—democracy is a bad idea. At least for anything larger than a city-state with a small, cohesive population.

First of all, democracy is simply mob rule dressed up in a coat and tie. It’s where a bunch of people—who are marginally competent at running their own individual lives—go to a voting booth to have what H.L. Mencken termed “an advance auction on stolen goods.” Democracy usually winds up turning the State into a vehicle for theft, and making that seem like a good and moral thing…

Democracy—a gentler form of mob rule—is not a good thing. It politicizes the average person and distracts him from running his own life. It focuses his attention on trying to run other people’s lives through elected representatives. Worse, the elected representatives aren’t the best and the brightest. They’re generally sociopaths who are drawn to power. They’re the worst kind of people, the kind that want to rule other people by winning a popularity contest. This is true in the US and every other place where ballot boxes are used to determine the new ruler.

The winner of an election is typically the most skilled liar. Look at what president Wilson did by pointlessly drawing the US into WWI, while claiming to do the opposite. He said it was all about making the world safe for democracy. In fact, he initiated the long decline of Western Civilization. The French Revolution was based on democracy. It didn’t work out very well. It had a lot to do with democracy—but had nothing to do with freedom. Democracy and freedom are typically at odds with each other.

International Man: Aside from the claim of promoting democracy, the US government and mainstream media also use alleged human rights abuses as a justification for war. The term “human rights” seems to be vaguely defined and inconsistently applied. It seems like more sophistry. What’s really going on here?

Doug Casey: Let me first say, the most important “human right” is simply to be left alone by other people, to be left in peace. Whenever a government gets involved in people’s private affairs it makes things worse. The US government is actually the greatest danger to both world peace and human rights today. It’s quite Orwellian the way most Americans have been propagandized into believing the opposite, like the citizens of Oceania in 1984.

The best thing to do with foreign countries is leave them alone to work things out themselves. You cannot change a culture. When you try to change a culture, you generally wind up with chaos. That’s what the US government has created in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and everywhere else it sticks its nose.

International Man: So, do these wars provide a net benefit to the average American?

Doug Casey: No. There’s no benefit at all. The correct U.S. foreign policy is to withdraw all the troops from everywhere in the world. Foreigners don’t want to see American troops on their land any more than Americans would like to see Iranian, or African, or Korean troops parading through the streets and maybe breaking down doors at 3:00 AM. That’s the first thing. If you want to “support the troops” bring all the troops home.

The next step is to cut off all foreign aid, which is really just a transfer program of about $50 billion per year from poor people in the US to rich people in poor countries. It’s almost all skimmed by cronies.

People forget that Osama bin Laden said that he only wanted three things.

First, he wanted infidel soldiers out of the homeland of the prophet, a reasonable request.

Second, he wanted the US to stop replacing Middle Eastern leaders with quislings, and interfering with local politics. Another reasonable request. The US has no more right to interfere in the politics of Middle Eastern countries than Mohammedans would interfering in US politics.

Third, he wanted the US to stop supporting Israel. Once again, a very reasonable request. We should be friendly towards all, but shouldn’t get involved in other people’s local squabbles, regardless of who we think is the good guy or the bad guy at the moment.

Of course, my saying something Osama bin Laden said was reasonable is like saying something that Hitler said was reasonable. But it doesn’t matter who says something. The facts should speak for themselves. And—just to head off hysterics—no, I neither like nor support either Osama or Adolf.

International Man: US foreign policy has serious domestic consequences. After all, “War is the health of the State” as Randolph Bourne said.

Specifically, the rapid rise of the domestic surveillance apparatus, the curtailments of civil liberties, and the turbocharging of militarized local police forces… they’re all connected to US foreign policy.

Related to all this is the inane expression “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” What do you make of all of this?

Doug Casey: Well, if that’s true then John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and the rest of the apparatchiks around the DC Beltway should be happy to post their tax returns on the internet, and have microphones and cameras in every room of their houses. They ought to be perfectly happy when they’re having a private conversation in their living room to have it available to anybody that wants to listen.

The ability to maintain privacy is one thing that separates civilized men from primitives living in mud huts. In a primitive society you have zero privacy, because your neighbors can see and hear absolutely everything that goes on through the paper-thin walls of your hut. Privacy is something that grows with civilization. These people have everything exactly backwards. They’re not just anti-freedom. They’re anti-civilization. They’re the same basic personality type as Stalin, or Ceausescu, or Pol Pot.

International Man: Another arena that has been drastically affected is the airports and the creation of a new federal bureaucracy, the TSA. Thanks to the TSA, everyone knows that “if you see something say something.” That saying is actually a registered trademark of the Department of Homeland Security.

Doug Casey: It’s Orwellian. It’s the type of thing Big Brother would advise you to do… to report your neighbors to the State for any real or imagined offense.

One time I was in a line that was snaking back and forth at immigration. My briefcase weighed about 25 pounds, so I put it down and left it for about 15 feet so I could pick it up when the line snaked back.

Not once, but twice, somebody looked around like a righteous busybody citizen and said, “Unattended baggage! Unattended baggage!”

These people are really just chimpanzees. They picked up this behavior from the government… monkey see, monkey do. I said to them sarcastically “See something, say something”, but they didn’t think I was kidding. They thought I approved of what they were doing.

International Man: Do you see this degraded behavior in other places?

Doug Casey: Of all the countries in the world that I’ve traveled to—including backwards hell holes in Africa, Russia, China, it doesn’t matter—going through the US immigration, customs, and TSA, probably provides the most degrading experience. None of these other countries ask you the kinds of questions or seem so anxious to go through your laundry. Although Canada and Australia in particular are closely following the US lead.

The average American has been propagandized into thinking that he lives in the land of the free. As a matter of fact, that’s no longer true.

The US has descended from being a shining beacon—that really was exceptional and different from every other country in the world—to being just another nation state. But, perversely, one that thinks it’s still exceptional. It’s paranoid. It thinks it’s under attack, when actually it’s the attacker.

The whole thing is upside-down, and the average American has absolutely no clue.

It’s really shameful that the US has turned into both a welfare state—with about 50% of the population reliant upon the government—and a warfare state. We’re getting the worst of both worlds.

The problem is that when the economy turns down—and it will before Trump leaves office—it’s going to go from being depressing to scary. And if they start a major war, it’s going to go all the way to terrifying, because at that point you won’t have any rights. The average American will approve of it, however. Your life and property are be

Reprinted with permission from International Man.

The post What Happens After the Next War appeared first on LewRockwell.

A USS Liberty Hero’s Passing

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

Terry Halbardier, who as a 23-year old seaman in 1967 thwarted Israeli attempts to sink the USS Liberty, died on Aug. 11 in Visalia, California. It took the U.S. government 42 years after the attack to recognize Halbardier’s heroism by awarding him the Silver Star, a delay explained by Washington’s determination to downplay Israeli responsibility for the 34 Americans killed and the 174 wounded.

On June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War, the Israeli military attacked the USS Liberty, an American spy ship which had been monitoring Israeli transmissions about the conflict. Intercepted Israeli communications indicated that the goal was to sink the Liberty and leave no survivors.

USS Liberty receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967. (US Navy photo)

Warplanes and torpedo boats had already killed 34 and wounded 174, when Halbardier slid over the Liberty’s napalm-glazed deck to jury-rig an antenna and get an SOS off to the Sixth Fleet.  The Israelis intercepted the SOS and broke off the attack immediately. In effect, Halbardier prevented the massacre of all 294 onboard. Still, the infamy of the attack on the Liberty was two-fold.

First, the Liberty, a virtually defenseless intelligence collection platform prominently flying an American flag in international waters, came under deliberate attack by Israeli aircraft and three 60-ton Israeli torpedo boats off the coast of the Sinai on a cloudless June afternoon during the six-day Israeli-Arab war. Second, President Lyndon Johnson called back carrier aircraft dispatched to defend the Liberty lest Israel be embarrassed, the start of an unconscionable cover-up, including top Navy brass, that persists to this day.

Given all they have been through, the Liberty survivors and other veterans who joined Halbardier to celebrate his belated receipt of the Silver Star on May 27, 2009 can be forgiven for having doubted that the day of the hero’s recognition would ever come.

In the award ceremony at the Visalia (California) office of Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman pinned the Silver Star next to the Purple Heart that Halbardier found in his home mailbox three years ago. Nunes said, “The government has kept this quiet I think for too long, and I felt as my constituent he [Halbardier] needed to get recognized for the services he made to his country.”

Nunes got that right. Despite the many indignities the Liberty crew has been subjected to, the mood in Visalia was pronouncedly a joyous one of Better (42 years) Late Than Never. And, it did take some time for the moment to sink in: Wow, a gutsy congressman not afraid to let the truth hang out on this delicate issue.

Treatment Accorded the Skipper

I was present that day and I could not get out of my head the contrast between this simple, uncomplicated event and the earlier rigmarole that senior Navy officers went through to pin a richly deserved Medal of Honor on another hero of that day, the Liberty’s skipper, Captain William McGonagle.

Although badly wounded by Israeli fire on June 8, 1967, McGonagle was able to keep the bombed, torpedoed, napalmed Liberty afloat and limping toward Malta, where what was left of the bodies of the 34 crewmen killed and the 174 wounded could be attended to. Do the math: yes, killed and wounded amounted to more than two-thirds of the Liberty crew of 294.

I remembered what a naval officer involved in McGonagle’s award ceremony told one of the Liberty crew: “The government is pretty jumpy about Israelthe State Department even asked the Israeli ambassador if his government had any objections to McGonagle getting the medal.”

When McGonagle received his award, the White House (the normal venue for a Medal of Honor award) was all booked up, it seems, and President Lyndon Johnson (who would have been the usual presenter) was unavailable.

So it fell to the Secretary of the Navy to sneak off to the Washington Navy Yard on the banks of the acrid Anacostia River, where he presented McGonagle with the Medal of Honor and a citation that described the attack but not the identity of the attackers.

Please don’t misunderstand. The Liberty crew is not big on ceremony. They are VERY-not-big on politicians who wink when Navy comrades are killed and wounded at sea. The Liberty survivors are big on getting the truth out about what actually happened that otherwise beautiful day in June 1967.

The award of the Silver Star to Terry Halbardier marked a significant step in the direction of truth telling. Halbardier said he accepted his Silver Star on behalf of the entire 294-man crew. He and fellow survivor Don Pageler expressed particular satisfaction at the wording of the citation, which stated explicitly — with none of the usual fudging — the identity of the attackers: “The USS Liberty was attacked by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats in the East Mediterranean Sea.”

In the past, official citations, like Captain McGonagle’s, had avoided mentioning Israel by name when alluding to the attack. I think former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck put it best in condemning this kind of approach as “obsequious, unctuous subservience to the peripheral interests of a foreign nation at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service members and their families.”  Strong words for a diplomat. But right on.

Just a Guy From Texas

Were it not for Halbardier’s bravery, ingenuity, and technical expertise, the USS Liberty would surely have sunk, taking down much if not all of the crew.

You see, the first thing the Israeli aircraft bombed and strafed were the Liberty’s communications antennae and other equipment. They succeeded in destroying all the antennae that were functional. One antenna on the port side, though, had been out of commission and had escaped damage.

In receiving the Silver Star, Halbardier made light of his heroism, claiming that he was just a guy from Texas who could do a whole lot with simple stuff like baling wire. (In the infantry we called this kind of thing a “field expedient.”)

In any case, with his can-do attitude and his technical training, he figured he might be able to get that particular antenna working again. But first he would have to repair a cable that had been destroyed on deck and then connect the antenna to a transmitter.

The deck was still being strafed, but Halbardier grabbed a reel of cable, ran out onto the deck, and attached new cable to the antenna so a radioman could get an SOS out to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

Voila. “Mayday” went out; almost immediately the Israeli aircraft and torpedo ships broke off the attack and went back to base; the Israeli government sent a quick apology to Washington for its unfortunate “mistake;” and President Johnson issued orders to everyone to make believe the Israelis were telling the truth, or at least to remain silent.

To their discredit, top Navy brass went along, and the Liberty survivors were threatened with court martial and prison if they so much as mentioned to their wives what had actually happened. They were enjoined as well from discussing it with one another.

As Liberty crewman Don Pageler put it, “We all headed out after that, and we didn’t talk to each other.” The circumstances were ready-made for serious Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The stories shared by Liberty survivors after the award ceremony, including descriptions of the macabre but necessary effort to reassemble torpedoed body parts, and the plague of survivor’s guilt, were as heart-rending as any I have heard. They are stories that should be shared more widely for those muzzled far too long.

These were the deep emotional scars to supplement the ones all over Halbardier’s body, some of which he uncovered when asked by the local press gathered there in Visalia. Typically, Halbardier made light of the shrapnel that had to be plucked out of his flesh, emphasizing that he was lucky compared to some of the other crew.

No Mistake

Despite Israeli protestations, the accumulated evidence, including intercepted voice communications, is such that no serious observer believes Israel’s “Oops” excuse of a terrible mistake. The following exchanges are excerpts of testimony from U.S. military and diplomatic officials given to Alison Weir, founder of “If Americans Knew” and author of American Media Miss the Boat:

Israeli pilot to ground control: “This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?”

Ground control: “Yes, follow orders.”

“But sir, it’s an American ship, I can see the flag!”

Ground control: “Never mind; hit it!”

Haviland Smith, a CIA officer stationed in Beirut during the Six-Day War, says he was told that the transcripts were “deep-sixed,” because the U.S. government did not want to embarrass Israel.

Equally telling is the fact that the National Security Agency (NSA) destroyed voice tapes seen by many intelligence analysts, showing that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing. I asked a former CIA colleague, who was also an analyst at that time, what he remembered of those circumstances. Here is his e-mail reply:

“The chief of the analysts studying the Arab-Israeli region at the time told me about the intercepted messages and said very flatly and firmly that the pilots reported seeing the American flag and repeated their requests of confirmation of the attack order. Whole platoons of Americans saw those intercepts. If NSA now says they do not exist, then someone ordered them destroyed.”

One need hardly add at this point that the destruction of evidence without investigation is an open invitation to repetition in the future. Think the more recent torture-interrogation videotapes.

As for the legal side: the late Captain Ward Boston, unburdened himself on his accomplice role as the Navy lawyer appointed as senior counsel to Adm. Isaac Kidd, who led a one-week (!) investigation and then followed orders to pronounce the attack on the Liberty a case of “mistaken identity.” Boston signed a formal declaration on Jan. 8, 2004, in which he said he was “outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity.’” Boston continued:

“The evidence was clear. Both Adm. Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously wounded, a war crime

“I know from personal conversations I had with Adm. Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

W. Patrick Lang, Col., USA (ret.), who was the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top analyst for the Middle East for eight years, recounted the Israeli air attacks as follows: “The flight leader spoke to his base to report that he had the ship in view, that it was the same ship he had been briefed on, and that it was clearly marked with the U.S. flag

“The flight commander was reluctant. That was very clear. He didn’t want to do this. He asked them a couple of times, ‘Do you really want me to do this?’ I’ve remembered it ever since. It was very striking. I’ve been harboring this memory for all these years.”

Lang, of course, is not alone. So too Terry Halbardier, who told those assembled at his Silver Medal award ceremony, “I think about it [the attack on the Liberty] every day.”

Why Sink the Ship?

What we know for sure is, as the independent commission headed by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Thomas Moorer put it, the attack “was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew.”

What we do not know for sure is why the Israelis wanted that done. Has no one dared ask the Israelis? One view is that the Israelis did not want the United States to find out they were massing troops to seize the Golan Heights from Syria and wanted to deprive the U.S. of the opportunity to argue against such a move.

USS Liberty after the attack.

James Bamford offers an alternative view in his excellent book, Body of Secrets. Bamford adduces evidence, including reporting from an Israeli journalist eyewitness and an Israeli military historian, of wholesale killing of Egyptian prisoners of war at the coastal town of El Arish in the Sinai.

The Liberty was patrolling directly opposite El Arish in international waters but within easy range to pick up intelligence on what was going on there. And the Israelis were well aware of that. But the important thing here is not to confuse what we know (the deliberate nature of the Israeli attack) with the ultimate purpose behind it, which remains open to speculation.

Also worth noting is the conventional wisdom prevalent in our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) that Egypt forced Israel into war in June 1967. An excellent, authoritative source has debunked that, none other than former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin! In an unguarded moment in 1982, when he was prime minister, he admitted publicly:

“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Thus, the Israeli attack admittedly amounted to starting a war of aggression, and the occupied West Bank territories and the Golan Heights gained by the Israelis in the 1967 war remain occupied to this day. The post World War II tribunal at Nuremberg distinguished a “war of aggression” from other war crimes, terming it the “supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Perhaps the attempt to sink the Liberty and finish off all survivors qualifies as one of those accumulated evils. Terry Halbardier summed it up this way when he was awarded his Silver Star:  “There’s lots of theories but let’s just say they didn’t want us listening in to what they wanted to do.”

Getting Away With Murder

In sum, on June 8, 1967, the Israeli government learned that it could get away with murder, literally, and the crime would be covered up, so strong is the influence of the Israel Lobby in our Congress, and indeed, in the White House. And those USS Liberty veterans who survived well enough to call for an independent investigation have been hit with charges of, you guessed it, anti-Semitism.

Does all this have relevance today? Of course. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands that there is little that Israel could do that would earn the opprobrium of the U.S. Congress or retaliation from the White House, whether it’s building illegal settlements or slaughtering civilians in Gaza. The Israelis seem convinced they remain in the catbird’s seat, largely because of the Israel Lobby’s influence with U.S. lawmakers and opinion makers.

One of the few moments when a U.S. official has had the audacity to face Israel down came from significantly a U.S. Navy admiral. In early July 2008, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, was sent to Israel to read the riot act to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who seemed to be itching to start hostilities with Iran while President George W. Bush was in office.

We learned from the Israeli press that Mullen, fearing some form of Israeli provocation, went so far as to warn the Israelis not to even think about another incident like the attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, that the Israelis should disabuse themselves of the notion that U.S. military support would be knee-jerk automatic if Israel somehow provoked open hostilities with Iran.

This is the only occasion I am aware of in which a U.S. official of such seniority braced Israel about the Liberty incident. A gutsy move, especially with Vice President Dick Cheney and national security aide Elliott Abrams then in the White House, two hawks who might well bless, or even encourage, an Israeli provocation that would make it very difficult for Washington to avoid springing to the defense of its “ally.”

The Israelis know that Mullen knows that the attack on the Liberty was deliberate.  Mullen could have raised no more neuralgic an issue to take a shot across an Israeli bow than to cite the attack on the Liberty. The Jerusalem Post reported that Mullen cautioned that a Liberty-type incident must be avoided in any future military actions in the Middle East.

Perhaps Mullen had learned something from the heroism of Terry Halbardier

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

The post A USS Liberty Hero’s Passing appeared first on LewRockwell.

52nd Anniversary of President LBJ’s Treasonous Attack

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

THIS VIDEO (CLICK HERE) includes interviews with many of the sailors and officers aboard the Liberty, and contemporaneous navy brass, who knew the attack was no accident.

As I’ve detailed in the book Remember the Liberty! there is no other realistic explanation for why Israel would knowingly attack a U.S. warship: That LBJ viewed the ship’s destruction, and America’s joining Israel in a nuclear attack on Egypt as the key to another “false flag” operation to ensure a second landslide election for him the following year, is the only plausible explanation that checks all the boxes of otherwise unexplained enigmas (merely a few of the many):

  • The fact that planning for this “spontaneous” war had begun as early as 1965;
  • That specific documented evidence was discovered to connect the White House (the “303 Committee”) to this planning;
  • That numerous records exist of U.S. military resources (training and monitoring personnel, aircraft and intelligence data) being committed to the operation before and during the operation;
  • That Israel had jammed the precise radio channels used by the Liberty during the attack, yet attempted to lay blame on having confused the Liberty with an old Egyptian ship that had not been in service for months;
  • Further to the previous point, the pretext of blaming the attack on “confusion” was belied by the fact that radio transmissions exist of Israeli orders to the pilots of the fighter jets to attack the ship, acknowledging that it was American;
  • That the original plan, had the attack succeeded and the Liberty sunk — blaming Egypt for the attack — was absurd, since the Israeli IDF had destroyed their air force the first day of the war (thus possibly explaining why Israel started the war four days early as a way to attempt to scuttle that part of the operation).
  • Further to the point about indications of Israeli diffidence — their awareness that the original plan was fraught with implausible questions — the fact that the first four torpedoes they fired at a virtual “sitting duck” all missed their target when there was nothing to prevent them from getting as close as necessary to the ship to guarantee their hitting it begs the question: Were they really intending to sink the ship, or merely to assuage a psychotic U.S. president?

For a more complete understanding of Lyndon Johnson’s psychotic plan to sink his own ship in order to save his presidency (the only book on this subject which provides this compelling explanation) please read Remember the Liberty!

Reprinted from lbjthemasterofdeceit.com

The post 52nd Anniversary of President LBJ’s Treasonous Attack appeared first on LewRockwell.

MSM Mourn Death of CIA-Backed Syrian

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

On Wednesday the alternative media outlet Southfront published an article titled “New Video Throws Light On Jaysh Al-Izza High-Tolerance To Al-Qaeda Ideology” about newly discovered footage showing the leader of a “rebel” faction in Syria cozying up with a militant who was wearing a badge of the official flag of ISIS.

“The video shows Jaysh al-Izza General Commander Major Jamil al-Saleh congratulating a group of his fighters on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr in a underground bunker,” Southfront reports. “One of the fighters greeted by Saleh was wearing a batch of the Islamic Black Standard with the Seal of Muhammad. This is a well-known symbol of al-Qaeda and the official flag of ISIS.”

Today, mass media outlets are mourning the death of a well-known Jaysh al-Izza fighter named Abdel-Basset al-Sarout with grief-stricken beatifications not seen since the death of war criminal John McCain. An Associated Press report which has been published by major news outlets like The New York TimesThe GuardianPBS and Bloomberg commemorates Sarout as a “Syrian soccer goalkeeper” who “won international titles representing his country”, as “the singer of the revolution”, and as “an icon among Syria’s opposition”.

Remember Major Jamil al-Saleh from two paragraphs ago? AP features his glowing eulogy in its write-up on Sarout’s death:

“He was both a popular figure, guiding the rebellion, and a military commander,” said Maj. Jamil al-Saleh, leader of Jaish al-Izza rebel group, in which Sarout was a commander. “His martyrdom will give us a push to continue down the path he chose and to which he offered his soul and blood as sacrifice.”

Other mainstream outlets like BBCThe Daily Beast and Al Jazeera have contributed their own fawning hagiographies of the late Jaysh al-Izza commander.

New Video Throws Light On Jaysh Al-Izza High-Tolerance To Al-Qaeda Ideology https://t.co/2P2LdcGP0S

— SouthFront (@southfronteng) June 5, 2019

“Formed in 2013, Jaysh al-Izza was one of the first Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in northern Syria to benefit from U.S. support through the CIA’s ‘Timber Sycamore’ train and equip program, which had been approved by then U.S. President Barack Obama,” Southfront reports in the aforementioned article. “The group received loads of weapons from the U.S. including Grad rockets, as well as Fagot and TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).”

“Jaysh al-Izza received this support under the pretension of being a ‘moderate group’ led by a known Syrian Arab Army (SAA) defector, al-Saleh,” Southfront adds. “However, the group’s acts were not in line with these claims. Since its formation, Jaysh al-Izza has been deeply linked to al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the al-Nusra Front. The group became one of the main allies of al-Nusra when its changed its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in 2017.”

“Western thought leaders are lionizing Abdel Baset al-Sarout who was killed fighting the Syrian army,” tweeted journalist Dan Cohen of the mass media response to Sarout’s death. “They conveniently omit that he fought in a militia allied with al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance to ISIS.”

Cohen linked to an excerpt from his mini-documentary The Syria Deception featuring footage of Sarout holding an ISIS flag, leading chants calling for the extermination of the Alawite minority in Syria, and announcing his allegiance to ISIS.

Western thought leaders are lionizing Abdel Baset al-Sarout who was killed fighting the Syrian army. They conveniently omit that he fought in a militia allied with al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance to ISIS. From my mini-documentary: The Syria Deception https://t.co/MpdkUbJkP7 pic.twitter.com/vLThkIMZFB

— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) June 8, 2019

Other publicly available video footage includes a speech by Sarout urging cooperation between his own faction, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise), saying “we know that these two groups are not politicized and have the same goals as us, and are working for God.”

“God willing we will work with them shoulder-to-shoulder when we leave here,” Sarout has been translated as saying in the speech. “And we are not Christians or Shiaa to be scared of suicide belts and car bombs. We consider these things as strengths of ours, and God willing they will be just that. This message is to the Islamic State and our brothers in Jabhat al-Nusra, that when we come out of here we will all be one hand to fight Christians and not to have internal fights among ourselves. We want to take back all the lands that have been filthied by the regime, that were entered and taken over by Shiaas and apostates.”

This bloodthirsty terrorist warmongering was taken by the aforementioned AP hagiography and twisted into the single sentence, “He repeatedly denounced rebel infighting and called on Syrians to unite against government forces.”

The Atlantic‘s Hassan Hassan framed Sarout’s unconscionable agendas as mere “flaws” which actually add to his inspiring and heroic story, tweeting, “Some individuals celebrated as heroes make you doubt all stories of heroes in history books. Others, like Abdulbasit Sarout, not inspire of but despite his flaws, make those stories highly plausible. He’s a true legend & his story is well documented. May his soul rest in peace.”

Yeah, come on, everybody’s got flaws. Some people suck at parallel parking, some people team up with ISIS and Al-Qaeda on genocidal extermination campaigns. We’ve all got our quirky little foibles.

Some individuals celebrated as heroes make you doubt all stories of heroes in history books. Others, like Abdulbasit Sarout, not inspire of but despite his flaws, make those stories highly plausible. He’s a true legend & his story is well documented. May his soul rest in peace: pic.twitter.com/FfCzqtyuPT

— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) June 8, 2019

We can expect more and more of these mass media distortions as Syria and its allies draw closer to recapturing Syrian land from the extremist forces which nearly succeeded in toppling Damascus just a few short years ago.

As these distortions pour in, keep this in mind: all of the violence that is still happening in Syria is the fault of the US and its allies, who helped extremist jihadist factions like Jaysh al-Izza overrun the nation to advance the preexisting goal of effecting regime change. The blame for all the death, suffering and chaos which ensues from a sovereign nation fighting to reclaim its land from these bloodthirsty factions rests solely on the government bodies which inflicted their dominance over the region in the first place.

You will see continuing melodramatic garment-rending from the US State Department and its mass media stenographers about “war crimes” and “human rights violations” as though the responsibility for this violence rests somewhere other than on the US-centralized power alliance, but they will be lying. What these warmongering propagandists are doing is exactly the same as paying a bunch of violent thugs to break into a home and murder its owner, then standing by and sounding the alarm about the way the homeowner chooses to fight off their assailants.

After it was discovered that the US and its allies armed actual, literal terrorist factions in Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, the only sane response would have been for the public to loudly and aggressively demand that all governments involved to take immediate action to completely rectify all damage done by this unforgivable war crime at any cost, and for there to be war crimes tribunals for every decision maker who was a part of it. Instead, because of propaganda circulated by the same mass media narrative management firms who are sanctifying the memory of Abdel-Basset al-Sarout today, the public remains asleep to the depravity of its rulers. This dynamic must change if we are to survive and thrive as a species.

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Punished Regardless

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

Did you know that when you’re stopped for no reason at a drunk driving checkpoint – well, stopped for no reason having anything to do with something you did to suggest you might be “drunk” – your refusal to participate in self-incrimination can result in your arrest, loss of your government permission slip to travel as well as the impounding of your car?

Your “cooperation” is not only appreciated – it is required.

This not-much-discussed aspect of Checkpoint USA is arguably even worse than the existence of Checkpoint USA – which came into being in the ’80s, when the government decided to re-interpret the limits of its own authority (a problem with government) by summarily decreeing it to be “reasonable” to randomly and arbitrarily stop people and treat them as presumptively guilty of having committed a crime.

The thing George Mason and others who insisted on the Bill of Rights as their condition for reluctantly supporting the dodgy Constitution (which was confected by an elitist minority, behind closed doors and without any mandate from “the people” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence) feared would come to pass had come to pass.

Despite the Bill and its very lucid delineation of the the lines across which the government has no rightful authority to tread, the government simply “interpreted” the line more to its liking – at its pleasure.

The government became the arbiter of its own power almost as soon as the ink on the Constitution dried – limiting first freedom of speech (Alien & Sedition acts) and many other formerly sacrosanct rights of the people – including freedom of association and the freedom to actually own property – during the ensuing years.

In the ’80s, it cast aside the Bill of Rights’ very clear prohibition of unreasonable searches – which by any etymological standard encompasses the arbitrary and random searching of everyone who just happens to be available.

But it’s not just being forced to stop without your having given reason to warrant it – or forced to submit to a search just because the government is powerful and you are not.

In many states, there is the additional requirement in law that, if ordered to do so by an armed government worker, you must perform gymnastics by the side of the road to demonstrate you are not “drunk.” Or breathe into a notoriously inaccurate device which provides evidence that can and will be used against you.

If you decline to perform the roadside gymnastics – for any of several practical and moral reasons, including perhaps because you aren’t coordinated and are nervous and the prospect of stumbling in front of the AGW, who will seize that as evidence of your “drunkeness” alarms you . . . or decline to “blow” into the apparatus presented by the AGW because you are aware of the notorious inaccuracy of roadside Breath Tests and prefer not to participate in self-incrimination that way … either is cause by itself for the AGW to apply handcuffs and take you to a cage and your car to an impound lot.

It does not matter that nothing has been proved against you. Your refusal to provide evidence is the evidence.

You are effectively tried, convicted – and punished – for being uncooperative. This has become a very serious de facto offense, even in the absence of any statutory offense.

And the “conviction” sticks even when de jure innocence of any statutory offense – including the “drunk driving” charge you were cuffed and stuffed for – has been established later on.

They win, you lose – regardless.

Read the Whole Article

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Germany Slides Towards Instability

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

At first blush the results in Germany for the EU elections looked like nothing of significance had happened. The media trumpeted the regression of the right. Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) 11% after polling as high as 18% in 2018 made it look like Angela Merkel had weathered the storm against her chancellorship from the right.

But, in doing so, she opened herself up to attack from the Left. The combined results for the ruling coalition in Germany was only 45% with the Social Democrats (SPD) under-performing even their recent bad polling data, garnering just 15.8% of the vote.

It was the loss for the SPD in Bremen which voted for both the EU parliament but its own, however, that was most disturbing as the SPD lost to the Merkel’s CDU by a point. This was the first loss in any state-wide election for the SPD in Bremen in 73 years.

That prompted two big moves in the wake of the results. Merkel supposedly ‘un-retired’ as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and, more importantly, Andrea Nehles stepped down as the leader of the Social Democrats.

This has now thrown the future of the current Grand Coalition into doubt.

And the question now is whether it can survive until the next election in 2021. The recent spate of speculation on this after Nehles’ resignation lead me to believe there may be something pushing for this behind the scenes.

The Greens have surged to more than 20% and what looked early on as a protest vote over another four years of the SPD rubber-stamping Merkel’s EU-first policies has taken on greater significance. These EU election results imply that the SPD may be, like the Tories in the U.K., in terminal decline.

Greens in Germany are of the most hawkish variety. They are the most militant about bringing about societal change through Progressive politics and the SPD have played footsie, in their eyes, with Merkel for too long. These results will only make them more strident.

And it will have knock-on effects in the EU as well.

So, like I said in my last article, the center isn’t holding in Europe. And the days of centrist politicians like Merkel are numbered. Grand coalitions that stand for nothing except care-taking the advancement of the European project were the big losers last month from both sides of the political aisle.

The political radicals will now have a far greater say and influence over the course of Europe. And it starts with the rise of the Greens in Germany. They have held above the 16% level now for months and just came through a major election above that critical level.

This is now a social movement in Germany, not a protest vote. And that could easily bring down the Merkel government.

The problem, however, is that there is now no workable coalition possible unless the Greens surge to 35% percent, wiping out the SPD entirely.

The Greens were the main reason Merkel had such a difficult time putting a coalition together after 2017’s election. Either she will have to jump harder-left, alienating her already tenuous relationship with Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) or consider a coalition with AfD, which is anathema to everyone.

Merkel spent so much political capital over the past eighteen months pushing back against the rise of AfD over her disastrous immigration policy that it has now put her in a real bind if the coalition falls apart.

I’m sure this is why she has ‘un-retired’ as head of the CDU, to help keep the SPD on side for now. But there are three big state elections in eastern Germany later this year — Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia.

All of these are AfD strongholds now. AfD won Brandenburg and Saxony and nearly won in Thuringia. This is setting up a strong East/West divide in Germany which Merkel is doing nothing to improve.

Looking ahead, Brandenburg and Saxony go to the polls on September 1st. Strong showings by AfD there should give them coattails six weeks later when Thuringia goes to the polls. Brandenburg, in particular is key for them given that the Greens are now the dominant party in Berlin.

The path for Merkel to hold onto power in Germany just got more twisted. Her policies have radicalized the right against her while dissatisfying the hard left. That trend will only continue as time goes on.

The big problem for both of these younger parties is learning how to govern. It’s easy to be a force for change when you are a vessel for people’s anger and frustration. You can influence the major parties into adopting your positions, which is part of what has stabilized the CDU’s numbers, having Merkel embrace stronger immigration controls.

It is quite another, especially in Germany’s murky parliamentary system, when you have to make deals to provide stable leadership.

That’s where AfD’s leadership to this point has fallen down. They didn’t move off of their signature platform point quick enough to outflank Merkel and she blunted their growth nationwide. Now they have to build on their regional influence through good governance, if they can leverage their leads into governing coalitions, and being respectable members of the Bundestag.

For both the Greens and AfD the good news is that Merkel is vulnerable on the economy. The rapidly slowing German economy coupled with Merkel’s strained relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump will work against her holding her coalition together.

This is where AfD can bridge the gap with voters and shore up their majorities in the eastern states, emphasizing that the current mess is Merkel’s fault and have a plan as to how to fix things. They can start with demanding sanctions be lifted against Russia over Crimea. Merkel is vulnerable here.

She’s trying to do this while saving face and not angering Trump. That’s not possible, so she continues to not lead and leave the status quo in place while the German economy suffers from lack of business opportunities for key industries.

Trade with Russia has rebounded to pre-sanctions levels but it is still way down in the important state of Bavaria, where even the Greens are making strides.

But, for now, it seems to me that it will be difficult to take down the current government because current polling precludes any viable coalition forming that could command a stable majority. The instability of Germany’s political situation will continue to build just below the headlines until Merkel finally meets her end.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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‘The Skid Is Everywhere’

Mon, 2019-06-10 11:01

All over America, large portions of our major cities are being transformed into stomach-churning cesspools of squalor.  Thousands of tens cities are popping up from coast to coast as the homeless population explodes, even the New York Times admits that we are facing “the worst drug crisis in American history”, there were more than 28,000 official complaints about human feces in the streets of San Francisco last year alone, and millions of rats are currently overrunning the city of Los Angeles.  And yet the authorities continue to insist that the economy is in good shape and that everything is going to be just fine.

Perhaps everything may seem “just fine” if you live in a heavily sanitized wealthy suburban neighborhood and you only get your news from heavily sanitized corporate media sources, but in the real world things are getting really bad.

The other day, LZ Granderson authored an editorial in which he described what life is like in Los Angeles right at this moment…

LA spent nearly $620 million in tax dollars last year to address the issue, and yet the number of homeless people increased by 16%,reaching nearly 60,000 people.

As a Los Angeles resident, I am among those who wonder what the mayor’s office is doing. When I lived downtown it was virtually impossible to walk a full block in any direction without seeing a homeless person. In Silver Lake where I live now, there are tent cities. On my drive to work I see people living underneath the highway overpasses. It’s no longer Skid Row here. The skid is everywhere.

Of course that phrase, “the skid is everywhere”, could also apply to San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Memphis, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia and countless other U.S. cities.

But without a doubt, L.A. is particularly disgusting at this point.  In fact, last weekend a columnist for the Los Angeles Times admitted that “Los Angeles has become a giant trash receptacle”

A swath of Los Angeles has devolved into a wasteland with rats scurrying among piles of decaying garbage and squalid tent cities, according to a series of stomach-churning photos that the Los Angeles Times says depict the “collapse of a city that’s lost control.”

“The city of Los Angeles has become a giant trash receptacle,” columnist Steve Lopez complained on Sunday.

We are seeing this happen at a time when we are being told that the U.S. economy is still relatively stable.

And I will concede that point.  Right now, the U.S. economy is a whole lot more stable than it will be in the months ahead.

So if things are this bad already in our major cities, what are those cities going to look like once we get deep into the next economic downturn?

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that 75,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in May.  That number is consistent with the extremely disappointing figure that ADP reported a few days earlier, and it is well below the number of jobs that we need just to keep up with population growth each month.

Prior to this latest report, there were already more working age Americans without a job than at any point during the last recession, and now things just got even worse.

But the government conveniently categorizes the vast majority of working age Americans without a job as “not in the labor force”, and so officially the unemployment rate is “very low” right now.

What a joke.

The truth is that the middle class has been steadily shrinking for an extended period of time, and all of the numbers that have been rolling in seem to indicate that an economic slowdown has begun.

For instance, when economic activity is expanding demand for key industrial resources such as copper, zinc and lumber increases and prices tend to go up.

But when economic activity is contracting, demand for those key industrial resources diminishes and prices tend to go down.

And right now we are seeing prices for copper, zinc and lumber decline precipitously

Copper prices have fallen 6% in just the past month while zinc is down 8.5%. Copper and zinc are big components for many industrial and technology companies. People pay so much attention to copper as a barometer that traders jokingly call it Dr. Copper, as if it has a PhD in economics.

Lumber prices are falling as well, plunging about 10% in the past month. That could be viewed as a sign that the housing market — particularly new home construction — is weakening.

If you were looking for some exceedingly clear indications of where the U.S. economy is heading in the near future, you just got them.

But most Americans will continue to live in denial until the very end.  And even though 59 percent of the population is living paycheck to paycheck, people continue to rack up debt as if there was no tomorrow.

In fact, we just learned that the average size of a new vehicle loan in the U.S. just hit a brand new record high

People buying a new vehicle are borrowing more and paying more each month for their auto loan.

Experian, which tracks millions of auto loans each month, said the average amount borrowed to buy a new vehicle hit a record $32,187 in the first quarter. The average used-vehicle loan also hit a record, $20,137.

People ask me all the time about how they can prepare for the next economic downturn, and one of the key pieces of advice that I always give is to not take on more debt.

Right now everyone should be building up their financial cushions, because what is coming is not a joke.

Unfortunately, most Americans are still completely in denial about what is happening, and they will find themselves ill-prepared to handle the very harsh economic environment that is ahead.

Reprinted with permission from The Economic Collapse.

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