In 2011, the United States had its dominance of the Middle East seriously threatened due to massive peaceful protests that were sweeping the Arab world. No longer were people going to put up with corrupt and oppressive regimes that were backed by Washington. No longer would they put up with horrid dictatorships in which the only freedom they had was to obey. In 2011 began what would be known as the Arab Spring.
Money corrupts, they say, and now there’s a study that shows why people get so sneaky when it comes to making a profit.
By: Kyle Buckley
I absolutely believe what I wrote in the title of this article: apathetic citizens deserve to lose their freedoms. That’s right, I’m talking to you. Those of you who don’t know what is going on withyour government, or to those of you who don’t care.
I don’t think they should lose their freedoms just because they are apathetic, nor do I want them to lose their freedoms because they are apathetic. IF we get to a point that our government takes away or limits our freedoms, those that sat around and did nothing while others warned them will deserve to have had their freedoms lost because they did nothing to prevent it. They are going to be responsible for their own oppression by the government.
To the apathetics: did you know that you even have freedoms? Probably not to the extent that you should. Let me explain some of them.
You have the right and freedom to say whatever you want. If you want to call Obama a traitor who cares more about his own power than he does about law, you can say that. If you want to call Mitt Romney a greedy moneybags who is a parasitical tumor, you can say that too.
You can also say something simple like, I don’t know if I trust my government. You can have honest conversations with people aboutanything. You can be an obnoxious, rude troll, or you can be a truth seeking citizen who wants to learn and ask questions about anything, including the government, without fear of retribution from the same government. That is your right, guaranteed by law in The Constitution. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be living in a free republic.
You have the right to be with the people you want to be with. If you want to gather with people to discuss a book, you can do that, if you want to gather to discuss local school issues with other parents, you can do that to. If you want to gather with a bunch of people to protest a war, you can do that.
You have the freedom to choose your own religion and to exercise your religious beliefs. If this means that your belief is that there is no god, you can believe that, and you can exercise that belief by worshiping yourself. Or, if you believe in God, you can exercise that according to your beliefs.
You have the right to arm yourself in order to prevent attacks from those who may harm you.
You have the right of privacy. Police, the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, the DOJ, cannot spy on you, cannot enter your home, cannot take your property, computer, smart phone, cannot read your email or texts, without first obtaining a warrant from a judge. This is your right.
“Well, I already knew all that” you say. Really, then why aren’t you standing up defending those rights? They are being violated! Do you care? No, of course you don’t. because you live in a free country and the government will never abuse its power. It will never spy on you if you are doing nothing wrong, it will never bust open your door looking for someone that you have never seen. Nothing like that has ever happened in a free country before and certainly has never occurred in America.
Lies. All of them. I’ll address those lies in a minute. But first . . . .
History is ripe with examples of apathetic citizens letting politicians who seem harmless grab unjust power and slowly take away citizens’ freedoms. They do this one small step at a time, imperceptible to apathetics, but plain to anyone actively engaged. This is how Hitler was able to lull Germany into Nazi control. He promised peace and security, he was legally elected, but Germans slowly lost their rights and freedoms, without even noticing, or without caring, all in the name of peace, security, and patriotism.
Hitler squashed opposing political voices via bullying, controlling the press, and sometimes covert violence. This enabled him to be the sole hope for Germany during an economic depression and fear of war. The end result for Germany, a loss of freedom for all, even those who supported Hitler. That’s right, even those who supported Hitler lost freedom. Why? Because they elected a person who wanted 100% control of citizens. There were warning signs, but citizens ignored them.
“That will never happen in America.” A lie. It has already started. After the Boston bombings earlier this year, citizens’ homes were broken into, searched, and residents were forced out of their homes, all without a warrant. Illegal.
The president has used the IRS to bully opposition. He has used the IRS to bully tech companies to spy on citizens. He has bullied news outlets that challenge him.
You are being spied on. Illegally. “I’m not doing anything wrong, so it doesn’t matter,” you say. That argument is irrelevant. What the government is doing is illegal. And besides, it doesn’t matter if you think you are doing nothing wrong, it matters if the person spying on you thinks you are doing something wrong. And with the thousands upon thousands of lines of tax code in this country, I guarantee that you are doing something wrong, and the government can use the IRS to bully you, or worse.
“I’m a democrat, so who cares?” you say. Think about how appalling that sounds . You belong to a party that preaches tolerance, acceptance, and freedom, but you are okay with people losing their freedoms if they think differently? You are a hypocrite, and you are facilitating fascism if you are okay with people losing freedoms just because they have a different opinion.
If you want to have the ability to have your own associations, your own political and religious beliefs, you need to let others have their own as well. And you must defend those people’s rights.
You may be okay with the current administration spying on you, because you trust Obama. Thats certainly your right to believe that, but what about the next president? What if the next president is a right-wing religious zealot? Do you want him or her to have the ability to spy on you? Do you want them violating your rights? Nope. So stop the government now before it gets out of control.
Once Hitler came into power, he started to control citizens, and he didn’t care if a citizen had voted for him. Hitler wanted complete control. I am not saying that Obama is Hitler, nor am I saying that Obama is going to do what Hitler did. I am illustrating an example from history in which citizens, apathetic or blind, lost their freedoms regardless of their political affiliations. It can certainly occur again, even in the USA.
We have warning signs that Obama is becoming a tyrant. And if history repeats itself, even in a small way, we may get to the point Obama, or a future president, won’t care if you are a democrat or a republican. He may only want complete control. I hope it never happens. And please, please, please listen to warnings. Once you lose your freedoms, you will not get them back.
Stand with me. I want you to keep your freedoms and your rights. But if you remain apathetic, you will deserve to lose your freedoms, and no one will be able to defend you.
Call your representatives, state and federal. Share this message with others.
To republicans who think that your party is going to oppose Obama about this illegal spying on citizens, think again. John Boehner and Eric Canter have both said that they don’t care about this illegal spying business — they only care about arresting the 29-year-old man who let U.S. citizens know their rights were being violated.
Note to the federal employee who is taking a break from his pornography habit to intercept this article: the “I was only following orders” excuse doesn’t work. History has taught us that. Stand up with us, defend your own rights.
Note to those who will say “Bush started the illegal surveillance:” you are right. I opposed it then too. But that doesn’t change a thing. We have to stop it now.
By Melinda Welsh
As a last-ditch effort to reverse climate change, scientists risk destroying the planet in order to save it.
Like a Bad Robot mega production from J.J. Abrams, the story of geoengineering—wherein scientists propose using large-scale technologies to manipulate the Earth’s temperature as a way to avert global warming—seems straight out of science fiction’s playbook.
By Dave Hodges
Growing up is filled with challenges, disappointments, excitement and anticipation of the future. Growing up should contain some measure of enjoyment and the self-satisfaction that the pride in our own personal growth can bring. However, for too many of our soon-to-be young adults, life is filled with misery, disappointment and a sense of hopelessness.
By Gregory Mathis
The monstrous tornado that ripped through Oklahoma City leaving death and destruction in its path last week is another painful reminder of Mother Nature’s power.
Interestingly, some of the conversation taking place in the wake of the destruction focused on ways to stop or somehow limit natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and mega-storms from happening.
By: Aiden Arnold
“…henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union between the two will preserve an independent reality.”
Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. Lying by commission, lying by omission, censorship and self-censorship by Mainstream journalist, editor, politician and academic presstitutes has enabled the continuing, Zionist-promoted, US War on Muslims that has so far since 1990 been associated with 12 million Muslim deaths from violence or from war-imposed deprivation (Google “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”).
America’s antipathy to the Iranian Atom is especially remarkable given the fact that it was Washington that exported nuclear technology to Teheran in the first place.
Russia may have become Iran’s best nuclear supplier since the 1979 Revolution, but, in the earliest days of Tehran’s flirtation with the atom, it was the Eisenhower Administration that provided encouragement, equipment, funds and uranium to kick-start an Iranian nuclear program. An instructive timeline of America’s shifting views towards the Iranian Atom (compiled by the Iranian Website Alakhbar) details this curious history.
Beginning as far back as the 1950s, the US was busy promoting nuclear power around the world and one of the nuclear industry’s first clients was Iran – then under the control of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a pro-Western despot who maintained his hold on power through the brutal excesses of his secret police, the Savak.
In 1957, under the “Atoms for Peace” program, the US inked a civilian nuclear development deal with Iran. Three years later, the US sold a small research reactor to Iran. After the reactor went online in 1967, Iran signed and ratified the NNPT.
In 1970, the US (joined by France and Germany) began negotiations for the construction of as many as 20 nuclear reactors inside Iran. The “nuclear superpowers” also reportedly discussed establishing an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
The American public was not apprised of Washington’s plan for an Iranian bomb program but it certainly heard a lot about Iran’s civilian nuclear power program.
The US nuclear industry was in an expansionist mode and would-be reactor builders needed to assure a wary public that atomic reactors would be safe and trustworthy neighbors.
And that’s how Iran’s despotic and tyrannical Shah came to star in a string of eye-grabbing nuclear power ads in the USA.
The Shah Loves Nukes So Why Don’t You?
The advertising campaign was backed by large energy companies like Westinghouse and General Electric and the ads carried the names of burgeoning nuclear operators from across several East Coast states.
The ads, which began to appear in the early 1970s, bore the slogan “Nuclear Energy. Today’s Answer.” Small print at the bottom identified the sponsors: Boston Edison, Eastern Utilities Association, New England Power Co., Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, New England Gas and Electric Companies.
The ads featured a striking photo of the Shah, in all his embroidered, beribboned, imperial splendor, epaulets ablaze and medallions aglow. Hovering over his photo was the phrase: “Guess Who’s Building Nuclear Power Plants.” There was no question mark at the end of the sentence because there was no question about the message.
“The Shah of Iran is sitting on top of one of the largest reservoirs of oil in the world,” the ad copy began. “Yet he’s building two nuclear plants and planning two more to provide electricity for his country. He knows the oil is running out – and time with it.”
It read like an Earth Day message delivered by a well-meaning nuclear industry that wanted nothing more than to save the world from a plague of oil spills, pollution and global warming.
But the real message wasn’t about the shortcomings of fossil fuels, it was about the abiding fear of atoms.
The Shah “wouldn’t build the plants now if he doubted their safety,” the ad copy read. “He’d wait. As many Americans want to do.” But the Shah was clearly wiser than the average American. “The Shah knows that nuclear energy is not only economical, it has enjoyed a remarkable 30-year safety record.”
That 30-year span would include the first atomic tests at Alamogordo, the two bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nakasaki, and years of above-ground nuclear bomb tests that spread fallout around the world. Leaving aside those minor historic footnotes, the advertising copy pressed on to argue that atomic power’s safety record was “good enough for the citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts, too. They’ve approved their second nuclear plant by a vote of almost 4 to 1. Which shows you don’t have to go as far as Iran for an endorsement of nuclear power.”
But the Shah wasn’t in the nuclear game just as a hedge against Peak Oil. There was more to it.
The Shah tipped his hand in 1974 when he boasted to a French reporter that he expected to be “in possession of a nuclear bomb” much “sooner than is believe” (sic).
President Gerald Ford publicly supported the Shah’s nuclear ambitions, as did his White House henchmen Dick Cheney, Ronald Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger who served as the Shah’s nuclear lobby in Washington.
By 1978, relations between Washington and Tehran were so cozy that the US bestowed its “most favored nation” status on the country, which allowed Iran to undertake the reprocessing of nuclear fuel (a sure pathway to acquiring “weapons-grade” uranium).
The Shah’s nuclear ambitions were never realized, however. In 1979, a popular revolution toppled the Shah and the hated Savak. The country’s new leaders terminated the nuclear pacts with the West and ordered the nuclear program shut down for religious reasons.
Nuclear Iran, After the Revolution
For the next two years, Iran remained a staunchly anti-nuclear nation. In 1982, however, the ayatollahs were forced to rethink Iran’s nuclear-free status.
What happened? Iran had come under attack by its neighbor to the west. In 1980, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, sparking what would turn out to be a bloody eight-year war.
Did the US condemn Iraq’s aggression? Far from it, the US actively partnered with Saddam in his military campaign against the anti-US leaders of post-Shah Iran.
The nuclear weapons program that had been warmly supported under the Shah’s rule suddenly became hot-button issue among Iran’s critics in Washington, triggering a frenzy of anti-Iranian “nuclear-fear-mongering” that has raged unabated for the last 30 years. (The term “Islamic bomb” has recently begun to proliferate in the Western media. At the same time, US news agencies have never felt the need to refer to the Pentagon’s atomic weapons as “Christian bombs.”)
In 1984, Jane’s Defense Weekly primed the pump with an alarmist article warning Tehran was likely to have a nuclear bomb by 1986. When that threat failed to materialize, Senator Alan Cranston, a California Democrat, warned Iran would certainly be brandishing nuclear bombs by 1991.
Undeterred by these Western allegations, Iran stubbornly maintained its anti-nuclear stance — until 1988. That was the year Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sketched out an initial proposal to militarize the country’s civilian power program. Khomeini wasn’t acting in a vacuum. His proposal was prompted by the alarm that followed Saddam Hussein’s shocking use of chemical weapons against villagers during the Iraq-Iran War.
A Bomb Is Coming, We Know It Is
With the dawn of the 1990s, it was Israel’s turn to start beating the drums about a potential Iranian A-bomb. In 1992, Benjamin Netanyahu (then a member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament) warned that Iran would be able to develop a nuclear bomb in “three to five years.” Netanyahu had a ready answer for how to confront this theoretical dilemma: “An international front headed by the US.”
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres followed up with a warning, as well. “Iran is the greatest threat and greatest problem in the Middle East,” he proclaimed. Why? “Because it seeks the nuclear option while holding a highly dangerous stance of extreme religious militantism.”
The criticism was blindingly ironic given the fact that Israel already possessed the Middle East’s only (and growing) arsenal of atomic weapons. Also, by this time, the State of Israel had accumulated an impressive record of pugnacious foreign policy adventures that could easily meet the defining test of “extreme religious militantism.”
Meanwhile, in the US, a team of House Republicans formed a research committee that claimed a “98 percent certainty” that Iran had amassed enough material for “two or three operational nuclear weapons.”
The fact that Iran never managed to meet any of these dire predictions did not deter the fear-mongers. In his 1995 book, Fighting Terrorism, Netanyahu warned Iran was “between three and five years away” from becoming a nuclear threat. A year later, Israel’s Foreign Minister Ehud Barak dialed back the hysteria a notch by warning the UN Security Council that Iran was expected to be able to produce a nuclear bomb “within eight years.”
In 1998, Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld added another log to the fire with the claim that, in as little as five years, Iran could build an intercontinental missile capable of hitting the US with nuclear or biological bombs.
By the dawn of the 21st century, the Iranian Revolution had gone nearly two decades without announcing or producing any nuclear weapons. Instead, Iran’s leaders continued to formally condemn the use or possession of nuclear weapons as incompatible with the Islamic faith. Iran’s record failed to impress George W. Bush. Upon his arrival in the Oval Office, Bush declared Iran part of the “Axis of Evil.”
In 2003, as if to prove Mr. Bush wrong, Tehran invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear facilities. While noting a past “pattern of concealment,” the IAEA concluded there was “no evidence” Iran was attempting to manufacture nuclear weapons. (In 2007, the NIE concluded with “high confidence” that Iran had completely abandoned its nuclear weapons ambitions but US and Israeli politicians continued to predict Iran would produce a bomb — perhaps sometime between 2012 and 2014.)
If Iran Poses No Threat, Why Does the US Impose Sanctions?
Despite the universal agreement within the US intelligence community that Iran’s nuclear power program poses no imminent military threat, the US successfully petitioned the United Nations to apply a series of punishing economic sanctions on Teheran.
Washington’s persistent badgering of Iran — for presenting a hypothetical but unrealized “threat” — is at odds with a stunning (but rarely mentioned) parallel reality: the specter of nuclear war already haunts the Middle East.
The one country in the region that has an atomic arsenal also has a posture of belligerence that includes both threats of military action and a history of cross-border attacks targeting its neighbors. That nation is Israel. Unlike Iran, Israel is a nuclear “rogue nation” that has refused to sign the NNPT. Unlike Iran, Israel has never permitted international inspections of its secret nuclear energy and nuclear weapons facilities.
We are left with a puzzle. Given the strategic consensus that Tehran poses no immediate military threat to the region or to the US, why does Washington persist in applying potentially destabilizing economic sanctions on the people of Iran?
A possible answer was provided by General Wesley Clark, in his book, Winning Modern Wars. In 2001, Clark wrote, he had a conversation with a “senior military staff officer.” The Pentagon planner described a plan to attack Lebanon. “But there was more,” Clark was informed. Targeting Lebanon was part of “a five-year campaign plan” to topple a succession of governments. “There were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”
In retrospect, it appears that this Pentagon game plan has played out in real-world events. General Clark’s stunning disclosure has never become part of the national foreign policy debate and you won’t find it in mentioned in newspapers or in college textbooks. But you can find it on Democracy Now! and YouTube.
A Fatwa against Fission
In 2005, US Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested to Congress that Iran was harboring a secret plan to build nuclear weapons. The argument was weakened, however, by the fact that it was Powell who earlier made the notoriously bogus claim that Iraq harbored “weapons of mass destruction.”
During a meeting with IAEA officials in Geneva, Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei offered a dramatic response to Powell’s allegations: He formally announced a binding fatwa banning the production, stockpiling, or deployment of nuclear weapons.
“We don’t need atomic bombs and, based on our religious teaching, we will not pursue them,” Iranian President Mohammad Khatami proclaimed. It was a sentiment that should have given comfort to a wary world that has yet to hear any similar statements from the leaders of nuclear-armed Superpowers.
The Greater Threat Is Closer to Home
True, President Barack Obama has called for the abolition of America’s nuclear arsenal (but so did Ronald Reagan). However, while paying lip-service to abolition, Obama approved spending $214 billion over the next ten years on new nuclear weapons and the “modernizing” of our existing bombs.
It is not Iran that poses an immediate, palpable nuclear threat. The greatest imminent danger resides is the powerful coterie of five nuclear-armed superpowers — China, France, Russia, the UK and the US — and four nuclear-rogue states operating outside the bounds of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Three of these nations happen to be US allies — India, Israel and Pakistan.
It is the fourth rogue state, North Korea, that has upped the Apocalyptic ante with recent threats to level US targets from Guam to Chicago. Faced with nuclear saber rattling from North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, President Obama seems to have rediscovered his inner nuclear abolitionist. Obama has grandly called for the North to surrender its atomic arsenal as the first step toward creating a “nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”
But, as the head of the superpower with the world’s largest inventory of nuclear weapons (and the missiles, submarines and bombers needed to deliver then), the president should lead by example. As a first step, he should also insist on a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East (Iran has already proposed this), a nuclear-weapons-free Europe and, ultimately, a nuclear-weapons-free planet.
By Joe Giambrone
The Boston Marathon bombings are going to be covered up and obfuscated such that we may never know the truth. That’s a hell of lot like the 9/11 attacks, come to think of it, and similarities are real. It should be glaringly obvious by now to anyone who’s looked at theanomalies that there is something rotten in Boston, and that the FBI’s incompetence defense –after being directly warned about Tamerlan Tsarnaev by the Russian government – doesn’t pass the laugh test.
On Tuesday, the Constitution Project, a Washington, DC think tank, released a 600-page report by its “Task Force on Detainee Treatment” documenting decades of war crimes committed by US imperialism and its military and intelligence agencies.
By Sebastian Anthony
What does it mean to be human? Biology has a simple answer: If your DNA is consistent with Homo sapiens, you are human — but we all know that humanity is a lot more complex and nuanced than that. Other schools of science might classify humans by their sociological or psychological behavior, but again we know that actually being human is more than just the sum of our thoughts and actions.
By: Michael Snyder
Have you ever wondered how the big banks make such enormous mountains of money? Well, the truth is that much of it is made by gambling recklessly. If they win on their bets, they become fabulously wealthy. If they lose on their bets, they know that the government will come in and arrange for the banks to be bailed out because they are “too big to fail”.
Either they will be bailed out by the government using our tax dollars; or, as we just witnessed in Cyprus, they will be allowed to “recapitalize” themselves by stealing money directly from our bank accounts.
So if they win, they win big. If they lose, someone else will come in and clean up the mess. This creates a tremendous incentive for the bankers to “go for it”, because there is simply not enough pain in this equation for those that are taking the risks.
If the big Wall Street banks had been allowed to collapse back in 2008, that would have caused a massive change of behavior on Wall Street. But instead, the big banks are still recklessly gambling with our money as if the last financial crisis never even happened. In the end, the reckless behavior of these big banks is going to cause the entire global financial system to collapse
Well, the truth is that they collapsed because they were making incredibly reckless bets with the money that had been entrusted to them. In a recent article, Ron Paul explained how the situation played out once the bets started to go bad…
The dramatic recent events in Cyprus have highlighted the fundamental weakness in the European banking system and the extreme fragility of fractional reserve banking. Cypriot banks invested heavily in Greek sovereign debt, and last summer’s Greek debt restructuring resulted in losses equivalent to more than 25 percent of Cyprus’ GDP. These banks then took their bad investments to the government, demanding a bailout from an already beleaguered Cypriot treasury. The government of Cyprus then turned to the European Union (EU) for a bailout.
If those bets had turned out to be profitable, the bankers would have kept all of the profits. But those bets turned out to be big losers, and private bank accounts in Cyprus are now being raided to pay the bill. Unfortunately, as Ron Paul noted, what just happened in Cyprus is already being touted as a “template” for future bank bailouts all over the globe…
The elites in the EU and IMF failed to learn their lesson from the popular backlash to these tax proposals, and have openly talked about using Cyprus as a template for future bank bailouts. This raises the prospect of raids on bank accounts, pension funds, and any investments the government can get its hands on. In other words, no one’s money is safe in any financial institution in Europe. Bank runs are now a certainty in future crises, as the people realize that they do not really own the money in their accounts. How long before bureaucrat and banker try that here?
Unfortunately, all of this is the predictable result of a fiat paper money system combined with fractional reserve banking. When governments and banks collude to monopolize the monetary system so that they can create money out of thin air, the result is a business cycle that wreaks havoc on the economy. Pyramiding more and more loans on top of a tiny base of money will create an economic house of cards just waiting to collapse. The situation in Cyprus should be both a lesson and a warning to the United States.
This is an example of what can happen when the dominoes start to fall. The banks of Cyprus failed because Greek debt went bad. And the Greeks were using derivatives to try to hide the true scope of their debt problems. The following is what Jim Sinclair recently told King World News…
When people say that the Cypriot banks lost because of being in Greek debt, what was one of the Greeks’ greatest sins? They used over-the-counter derivatives in order to hide the real condition of their balance sheet.
Depositor money, brokerage money, and clearing house money have been tangled up in the mountain of derivatives as the banks have used this cash to speculate in an attempt to make huge bonuses for bank executives.
As I have written about so many times, the global quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble is one of the greatest threats that the global financial system is facing. As Sinclair explained to King World News, when this derivatives bubble bursts and the losses start soaring, the big banks are going to want to raid private bank accounts just like the banks in Cyprus were able to…
What do you think happens when Buffett reports that he made $10 billion in derivatives? Somebody else lost $10 billion and it was most likely one financial institution. There is no question that what we are seeing right now is not isolated to Cyprus. It has happened everywhere, but is has been camouflaged by making the depositors and the banks whole. What Cyprus will reveal is that losses do not stop with the bank’s capital. Losses roar right through bank capital and take depositors’ money.
This could have all been avoided if we had allowed the big Wall Street banks to collapse back in 2008. Reckless behavior would have been greatly punished and banks would have chosen to do business differently in the future.
David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, says that because we bailed out the big banks it was a signal to them that they could go back and freely engage in the same kind of reckless behavior that they were involved in previously…
Essentially there was a cleansing run on the wholesale funding market in the canyons of Wall Street going on. It would have worked its will, just like JP Morgan allowed it to happen in 1907 when we did not have the Fed getting in the way. Because they stopped it in its tracks after the AIG bailout and then all the alphabet soup of different lines that the Fed threw out, and then the enactment of TARP, the last two investment banks standing were rescued, Goldman and Morgan [Stanley], and they should not have been. As a result of being rescued and having the cleansing liquidation of rotten balance sheets stopped, within a few weeks and certainly months they were back to the same old games, such that Goldman Sachs got $10 billion dollars for the fiscal year that started three months later after that check went out, which was October 2008. For the fiscal 2009 year, Goldman Sachs generated what I call a $29 billion surplus – $13 billion of net income after tax, and on top of that $16 billion of salaries and bonuses, 95% of it which was bonuses.
Therefore, the idea that they were on death’s door does not stack up. Even if they had been, it would not make any difference to the health of the financial system. These firms are supposed to come and go, and if people make really bad bets, if they have a trillion dollar balance sheet with six, seven, eight hundred billion dollars worth of hot-money short-term funding, then they ought to take their just reward, because it would create lessons, it would create discipline. So all the new firms that would have been formed out of the remnants of Goldman Sachs where everybody lost their stock values – which for most of these partners is tens of millions, hundreds of millions – when they formed a new firm, I doubt whether they would have gone back to the old game. What happened was the Fed stopped everything in its tracks, kept Goldman Sachs intact, the reckless Goldman Sachs and the reckless Morgan Stanley, everyone quickly recovered their stock value and the game continues. This is one of the evils that comes from this kind of deep intervention in the capital and money markets.
The lessons that we were supposed to learn from the crisis of 2008 have not been learned.
Instead, the lure of huge returns and big bonuses has caused a return to the exact same behavior that caused the crisis of 2008 in the first place. The following is one example of this phenomenon from a recent article by Wolf Richter…
The craziness on Wall Street, the reckless for-the-moment-only behavior that led to the Financial Crisis, is back.
This time it’s Citigroup that is once again concocting “synthetic” securities, like those that had wreaked havoc five years ago. And once again, it’s using them to shuffle off risks through the filters of Wall Street to people who might never know.
What bubbled to the surface is that Citigroup is selling synthetic securities that yield 13% to 15% annually—synthetic because they’re based on credit derivatives.
Apparently, Citi has a bunch of shipping loans on its books, and it’s trying to protect itself against default. In return for succulent interest payments, investors will take on some of the risks of these loans.
Yes, the Dow hit another new all-time high today. But the derivatives bubble that hangs over the global economy like a sword of Damocles could burst at literally any moment. When it does, the damage is going to be incalculable.
In a previous article entitled “Why Is The World Economy Doomed? The Global Financial Pyramid Scheme By The Numbers“, I noted a couple of statistics that show why derivatives are such an enormous problem…
-$212,525,587,000,000 - According to the U.S. government, this is the notional value of the derivatives that are being held by the top 25 banks in the United States. But those banks only have total assets of about 8.9 trillion dollars combined. In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs total assets by a ratio of about 24 to 1.
-$600,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 - The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives generally fall within this range. At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives to global GDP is more than 21 to 1.
When the derivatives bubble finally bursts, where are we going to get the trillions upon trillions of dollars that will be needed to “fix” things this time?
And sadly, the reality is that we are quickly running out of time.
It is important to keep watching Europe. As I noted the other day, the European banking system as a whole is leveraged about 26 to 1 at this point. When Lehman Brothers finally collapsed, it was leveraged about 30 to 1.
And the economic crisis over in Europe just continues to get worse. It was announced on Tuesday that the unemployment rate in the eurozone is at an all-time record high of 12 percent, and thelatest manufacturing numbers show that manufacturing activity over in Europe is in the process of collapsing.
So don’t be fooled by the fact that the Dow keeps setting new all-time record highs. This bubble of false hope will be very short-lived.
The unfortunate truth is that the global financial system is a complete and total mess, and at this point a collapse appears to be inevitable
By: Nicholas Blincoe
Is modern life making us ill? Yes, say those who suffer from electrosensitivity. Are they cranks, or should we all be throwing away our mobile phones?
Tim Hallam is just tall enough to seem gangly. His height makes the bedroom feel even smaller than it is. Muddy sunlight filters through the grey gauze hung over his window. His narrow bed appears to be covered with a glistening silver mosquito net. The door and the ceiling are lined with tinfoil. Tim tells me there is also a layer of foil beneath the wallpaper and under the wood-effect flooring.
He says, “The room is completely insulated; the edges are sealed with aluminium tape and connected with conducting tape so I could ground the whole room. It’s a Faraday cage, effectively. Grounding helps with the low frequencies radiation, apparently. The high frequencies just bounce off the outside.”
Tim is trying to escape atmospheric manmade radiation caused by Wi-Fi, phone signals, radio, even TV screens and fluorescent bulbs. It’s a hopeless task, he admits: “It’s so hard to get away from, and it’s taken a toll on my life.” I offer to put my phone outside the room and he happily accepts, firmly closing the door. He explains the phone would have kept searching for a signal. “And because it wouldn’t find one, it would keep ramping up.” With the tinfoil inside his cage, the signal would hurtle around the room like a panicked bird.
Tim estimates he spent £1,000 on the insulation, taking photographs at every stage to share with others via ElectroSensitivity UK, the society for sufferers. He found the whole process stressful, especially after a summer sleeping in the garden of his shared house in Leamington Spa to escape a new flatmate’s powerful Wi-Fi router. How did he feel about the flatmate at the time? “Oh, I hated him. It wasn’t really him, of course. But I was so angry.” Among the symptoms Tim experiences – headaches, muscular pain, dry eyes – there are memory lapses and irritability. He now says his bed is the single most important thing he owns. “I climb in and zip it up so I’m completely sealed. Inside, I sleep extremely well. Without it, my sleep is fragmented, and without sleep, then lots of other things go wrong.”
Tim demonstrates the effectiveness of the tinfoil using a radiation detector called Elektrosmog, manufactured in Germany. It is blocky and white, which makes it look both retro and futuristic. On the front of the box, a picture of an electricity pylon is surrounded by jagged black lightning flashes. The machine gives a reading close to zero: Tim’s room is radiation-free.
As a child in the 70s, I watched a BBC science-fiction serial called The Changes, which imagined a future after humans became allergic to electricity. Pylons were the greatest danger, making people violently sick. On cross-country runs, I would speed up when I had to pass beneath a power cable, feeling the weight of the buzzing electricity above me. The idea that electromagnetic fields affect our health took root in the 1960s. A US doctor named Robert O Becker became the face of the campaign against pylons after appearing on the US TV show 60 Minutes. Professor Andrew Marino, now of Louisiana State University, was Becker’s lab partner. Marino says, “He’s the reason nobody wants to live near power lines.”
If electromagnetic radiation is dangerous to humans, there are far more risks now than 40 years ago, thanks to the telecommunications industry. More than a billion people worldwide own mobile phones. In the UK, there are more mobile contracts than people. The new 4G spectrum will cover 98% of the country, erasing all but the most remote “not spots”.
Dr Mireille Toledano runs Cosmos, a 30-year, five-nation study into the effects of telecoms radiation on humans. She knows how rapidly things are changing. In 2000, a 10-year study into mobile phones and brain tumours pegged heavy use at 30 minutes a day. The study found the 90th percentile had spent 1,640 hours of their lives on their phones. In the UK, Toledano says, “heavy use is now defined at 86 minutes a day; 30 minutes is in the median range. Across the whole [international Cosmos study], the top 10% of users have now clocked up 4,160 or more hours.”
The earlier study found no evidence linking phone use and cancer in the short term, yet as our love affair with technology keeps deepening, anxieties grow. Two years ago, the European Assembly passedResolution 1815, which, among other things, calls for restrictions on Wi-Fi in schools and the use of mobile phones by children. The World Health Organisation has classified electromagnetic fields of the kind used in mobile telephony as Group 2b carcinogens – that is, as possibly cancerous.
The issue of electromagnetic sensitivity is immediately political. It places sufferers on the other side from both industry and the governments that profit from leasing wavelengths. Over and over, I hear the phrase, “We are the canaries in the coal mine”: sufferers believe we are approaching a tipping point. Tim Hallam worries about the effects of electromagnetic fields on the most vulnerable: on his sister’s young family; on children in schools bathed in Wi-Fi rays; or old people in sheltered accommodation, each with their own internet router. “I think it’s affecting everyone’s cells. There are test-tube experiments which show it damages DNA and affects the blood-brain barrier. I do think there’s going to be a surge in the people who are sensitive in years to come. But my sister’s not fully taken that on board.”
Yet electro hypersensitivity syndrome is controversial. Sweden recognises EHS as a ”functional impairment”, or disability, but it is the patients, not doctors, who make the diagnosis. The fact is, everyone who suffers from EHS is self-diagnosed – and each has their own story to explain the cause of their problems.
Tim was 15 years old, at a gig by the industrial band Sheep on Drugs, when the singer produced a pistol and fired blanks into the ceiling. Tim, who is now 36, says, “It was the loudest thing I had ever heard.” His ears began ringing but he continued going to gigs without using ear plugs and the problem grew worse. He played clarinet in two orchestras but had to stop: “Immediately, my musical life and my social life ended.” Today, his sister is a professional classical musician. Tim, a Cambridge graduate, is a van driver for Asda. He works shifts that allow him time alone when his flatmates are out and the house is free of Wi-Fi and phones. It was the arrival of Wi-Fi in his house, just 10 months ago, that led Tim to identify the cause of his problems, but it was the tinnitus that started it all.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, 65, is wearing a jacket made from a silver-coated material that reduces the strength of electromagnetic fields. Photograph: Thomas Ball
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson has worked in the field of food intolerances and allergies for more than 20 years. She runs the industry awards for “Free From” foods from her home in north-west London, as well asfoodsmatter.com, a website that raises awareness around food intolerances. Five years ago, at the age of 60, she began to feel unwell. She was sitting at her desk when she identified the cause. “I looked up and there was the Royal Free Hospital with the phone masts on the top, beaming straight through my window, and it just clicked.” Michelle is bright and lively, happy to dive beneath her desk to show the precautions she has taken to shield herself from the spaghetti of wires. Her walls are painted with carbon paint, lined with foil and papered over. The windows have the same netting as Tim’s, though when she uses her Elektrosmog meter she discovers to her consternation that the netting is old and no longer works. Her front rooms buzz with electromagnetic radiation, though her office – now at the back of the house – shows far better readings. She says, “I’m lucky to work from home, but I often feel like a prisoner.” When she leaves the house, she wears hats lined with material similar to Tim’s mosquito netting and even has blouses made of the same material. “The important thing is to protect your head and upper torso,” she says.
Michelle precisely identifies the moment she became sensitised to radiation. She was an early user of mobile phones. “Do you remember the type with the little aerial? I had one where the antenna had broken off, but I continued to use it pressed to my ear, which people who know tell me meant that I was using my entire head as an aerial.” In her view, we are all sensitive to electromagnetic fields, but events can tip us over into hypersensitivity, like a kitchen sink filling so fast that the overflow becomes overwhelmed and water cascades to the floor.
The problem, in clinical terms, is that “hypersensitivity” refers either to allergies or to auto-immune conditions. EHS may be like hay fever or, in extreme cases, like rheumatoid arthritis but only via analogy. If we speak of “hypersensitivity” we are using a metaphor – or we are talking about something entirely new. Does this “new” condition exist?
Long-time researcher Dr Olle Johansson, from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, coined the term “screen dermatitis” to explain why computer users in the depths of the Stockholm winter could complain of sunburn-like symptoms. Johansson has a theory that could explain how extremely high levels of radiation could affect histamine levels in cells. Yet telecoms radiation is low and becoming lower as gadgets become more efficient. Johansson acknowledges that if anyone is found to be truly allergic to their phone it would be an entirely new kind of allergy, but he hopes that an awareness of EHS will lead to revolutionary changes. “In Sweden, we take accessibility measures seriously for disabilities. You think of changes to sidewalks, or wheelchair access, or ramps on buses. These are also helpful to mothers with prams, people with shopping or to rollerskaters. The big winner is everyone.” Similarly, he believes that cutting off the telecoms signals would not only help EHS sufferers, it would benefit all of us, returning us to a society based on face-to-face human interaction.
Dr James Rubin of King’s College Institute of Psychiatry is adamant EHS is not a genuine syndrome. “With most conditions, patients don’t necessarily know what’s going on. But with electrosensitivity there’s an absolute certainty about the cause. Self-diagnosis is at the core of it.” He prefers the term “idiopathic environmental intolerances”, or IEI, which covers conditions with no obvious cause, like multiple chemical sensitivity, sick building syndrome, food intolerances – even a physical reaction to wind turbines. “The problem is, if you look for a coherent set of symptoms, you are not going to find it. You even find that people’s symptoms change over time. Many have other intolerances in addition to the electrical sensitivity.”
Tim is intolerant to milk and gluten. He is also allergic to wool, and cannot sleep in a room with a carpet. Michelle has no intolerances but admits she is unusual in the community: “Most people do.” She made her diagnosis because she was familiar with EHS through her work. She is familiar with Rubin’s research and has written blogs condemning his methods: “These stupid so-called provocation studies where they place a mobile in your hand and ask if you feel unwell. And if you say yes, they go, ho-ho, the phone wasn’t switched on.” These tests pay no attention to the way that people are sensitised, or react to their sensitivity in different ways, she believes.
Rubin is a bogeyman in the electrosensitive community thanks to a 2008 paper that suggested the condition was psychosomatic. Yet he has also undertaken a review of all the research – more than 50 provocation studies – and found no evidence of sensitivity to telecoms radiation. He says, “The suffering is very real – I don’t doubt that – and I take it very seriously. But we’ve spent millions on the research and the time comes when you have to say, in the future the money would be better spent on looking for effective treatments, rather than chasing a cause.”
Professor Andrew Marino is less sceptical. “When people say they feel unwell and trace that to a Wi-Fi signal or a phone, that is a kind of experiment. It may not be well designed, they may not understand blinds and double blinds, but if they are reasonable people, carefully noting what they are suffering, we should take a look at that.”
Marino was a first-year postgraduate in 1964 when he began working with Dr Robert Becker. Once he and Becker began campaigning against electricity pylons, their funding disappeared. Becker retired at the relatively young age of 56. Today, Andrew Marino will not look to industry for research funds. He has reviewed many of the same 50 papers on EHS as Rubin, concluding, “It’s easy to find nothing.” The common denominator he identified in the papers casting doubt on EHS is that they were funded by the telecommunications industry.
EHS sufferers have criticised Rubin’s research because it is funded jointly by mobile phone companies and government. They believe this shows direct bias. Marino’s criticism is different. He recognises Rubin’s money was placed in a fund and administered by scientists separate from the industry. Yet, he argues, the industry approves funding because statistical modelling of large-scale studies averages out experiences and produces no clear-cut results. Big business is happy to back risk studies, but they favour projects that minimise risk: “You look at the statistics and see the way they design the experiments and they have no ability to find anything.”
Rubin’s research is statistic-driven. If Rubin is a pollster, then Marino is a canvasser. He believes vast overviews hide the way people really feel. Marino chose to focus on a single sufferer, a female doctor. His two-week study began by first discovering which wavelengths affected her. Once her symptoms had subsided, Marino and his team began again, using provocation studies of real and fake signals. Their results were published as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Evidence For A Novel Neurological Syndrome.
Marino and Rubin have exchanged a series of letters about the study in the Journal Of Neuroscience. If the research stands up, Marino’s syndrome is novel because it is unlike other kinds of hypersensitivity. In truth, it depends upon singularity. Marino speaks urgently: “I’m not interested in measuring the prevalence of the syndrome. I want to establish its existence.” In his view, humans – complex living organisms – are all different. In the economy of our bodies, Marino says, “causes becomes effects and effects becomes causes which become effects, and so on”. It is an endless and unpredictable cycle.
So should we all make radical lifestyle changes, like cutting down our mobile phone use or getting rid of our Wi-Fi?
“Why?” Marino sounds perplexed.
“Because we might get sick.”
Marino dismisses the idea. He may disagree vehemently with Rubin, but he views EHS sufferers as outliers, far removed from the average human experience and with few lessons for the rest of us. “Listen, I use an ear bud with my phone, and I minimise use. I don’t know if you’d call it radical but I don’t have acute reactions to anything. So there’s nothing for me to worry about.”
Mia: Don’t you hate that?
Mia: Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?
Vincent: I don’t know. That’s a good question.
Mia: That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.
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