This Was The Week That Was In Doom August 12, 2013

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 12, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.


“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”:

~Nuremburg War Tribunal regarding wars of aggression

“A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of “success” to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.”

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

Hiroshima Nuclear-Bomb

Post your comments here on the Diner Forum.

In reply to a teabagger troll inside the Doomstead Diner Forum this week, I opined that the act of dropping atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was tantamount to selling of the American soul to the devil.  Was dropping those bombs militarily necessary?   My correspondent averred that “The bombs were dropped, the Japanese surrendered,”  Which to my reading of history is a post hoc ergo proctor hoc  logical fallacy.  I say this because history is always written by the winners, and serious leaders in positions of responsibility for securing victory during World War II asserted that dropping atomic weapons was not necessary. Senior military men including Adm. William D. Leahy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D Eisenhower, and even the US Strategic Bombing Survey all agreed that dropping the bombs was militarily unnecessary. From 70 years remove, it is virtually forgotten that Japan offered to surrender in July of 1945, and that the US government ignored the proffer.

Much is made of the Japanese plan for the defense of the home islands, called “Ketsu-go.”  Near the end of 1944, the Japanese high command  had lost a succession of naval battles, including losing the Mariana Islands and the Battle of the Philippine Sea, at a cost of men and materiel not easily replaced. Japan’s planners realized that the decisive battle was likely to be fought on Japan’s main islands. They planned accordingly. Sources say that Japanese strategists predicted correctly that Americans would assault Iwo Jima and then Okinawa, where the Japanese hoped fierce resistance would force a negotiated peace. The Japanese also prepared for an invasion of Japan from Okinawa. They calculated the range of American fighter planes, and predicted correctly where the landing would be — on the island of Kyushu, and from there on to Tokyo. The Japanese called this plan Ketsu-Go, which I am unable to translate, but which either seems to mean “conclusion” and/or “a bite on the ass.” Or maybe both.


Yet by spring 1945, the emperor had his doubts. He sent an envoy to Russia to ask the Soviet Union to mediate an end to the war. The emperor and his war cabinet also faced reports citing depletion of Japanese industry, likely food shortages, poor harvests leading to mass starvation, and concern about popular unrest. The Imperial Navy was done and the Imperial Army in China was fully occupied with Chinese resistance forces  Facing this evidence, it was likely that Japan’s war planners were seeking a decisive battle sooner rather than later before their situation became so desperate that they could not even mount such a resistance.


On July 27,  Japan’s government ignored the Allied ultimatum from Potsdam, warning of “prompt and utter destruction” unless it surrendered unconditionally.  It was still waiting to hear back from Uncle Joe.  In the fullness of time, Russian invaded Manchuria, and the race for Japan was on.


 skulls hiroshimaEven George Marshall, who supported Truman’s decision to drop the bombs, said that the bombs were dropped for political rather than military reasons, not the least of which was to send a message to Russia and Stalin. It is this act that opened Pandora’s box.   The act was a message to the Soviet Union and Stalin.  It was rooted in the capitalists’ dread of communism; remember that Truman succeeded Henry Wallace on the 1944 ticket as the candidate for vice president, as Wallace was seen as too sympathetic to socialist causes. The red scares whipped up by Hoover in the post-World War I era were still within living memory of many of the people serving in Roosevelt’s administration, and fear of Godless Communism informed the defense posture and foreign policy of postwar America. It was this fear which led America  from its republican origins to the sort of garrison state that would routinely overturn governments from Iran to Central America to Argentina and Chile, and then on to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Fear gave us the atomic weapons arms race, the Cold War, and several generations of existential dread, now culminating in a national security state that serves only corporate interests and war profiteers, and whose moral framework is indistinguishable from that of the Mongol horde.


Indeed, what real moral distance is spanned between employing nuclear weapons of mass distraction on a helpless civilian population, and the “double tap” employed by our drone operators on first responders to drone attacks? You’ll not readily find such information in the corporate media. One has to look far afield even to be vaguely informed about what our government does in our name, and how the rest of the world feels about it. And we sit, complicit, in silence.

 *  *  *


In related news, “Breaking Bad” opens its fifth and final season tonight. “Breaking Bad” is in itself a study of how a good man can go wrong, and how evil, like cancer, can metastasize within us. This series can be enjoyed both as a gripping tale of money and power in the American southwest, and as a vivid allegory for contemporary American life.  “Breaking Bad” references our capacity for self-delusion, how money replaces values, how evil can grow like cancer even in the mildest of men, and how terror can become a commonplace. Hannah Arendt’s famous quote about the “banality of evil” is clearly on display. “Breaking Bad” illustrates what happens when murder becomes part of your skill set. And those of us not willing to murder yet sit, silently complicit. Part of the appeal of this program is that many of us recognize Walter White dwelling just below the surface in many people we meet, in corporate life, and sometimes even in the mirror.


The Double-Tap

Bureau Investigation Finds Fresh Evidence of CIA Drone Strikes on Rescuers

One hopes it is not overly difficult to see the direct line between the decision to drop weapons of mass distraction 70 years ago and the decisions made, now on a daily basis, to wage warfare by remote control. These techniques have in common faceless incineration and death from above, now apparently commonplace and well accepted techniques of statecraft.  investigators find the CIA is deliberately targeting rescuers, or 1st responders after drone strikes. For his part, the CIA vigorously denies the charge.

A field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Pakistan’s tribal areas appears to confirm that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) last year briefly revived the controversial tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers at the scene of a previous drone strike. The tactic has previously been labelled a possible war crime by two UN investigators.

The Bureau’s new study focused mainly on strikes around a single village in North Waziristan – attacks that were aimed at one of al Qaeda’s few remaining senior figures, Yahya al-Libi. He was finally killed by a CIA drone strike on June 4 2012.

The Bureau’s field researcher found five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosque

Congressional aides have previously been reported as describing to the Los Angeles Times reviewing a CIA video showing Yahya al-Libi alone being killed. But the Bureau’s field research appears to confirm what others reported at the time – that al-Libi’s death was part of a sequence of strikes on the same location that killed up to 16 people.

If correct, that would indicate that Congressional aides were not shown crucial additional video material.

The CIA has robustly rejected the charge. Spokesman Edward Price told the Bureau: ‘The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness. The Agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.

Read the report for yourself here.


Is the Government Out to Eat You?

A man named Paul Rosenberg runs a website called Freeman’s Perspective. In spite of the fact that Rosenberg is an avowed  “adventure capitalist” he appears to also have been a successful engineer, government consultant, educator. Even though he has many perspectives that I personally do not agree with, often I find his perspectives useful and challenging my own views. Like the article submitted for your edification, below.

Given the fact that so much of what we do on the Diner runs on the Internet, and to a significant extent my own livelihood depends on the internet’s continued function and well-being, when a writer has written the first ever standard for the installation of fiber optic cables, as has Rosenberg, I assume he has something useful to say.

This graph is a very typical display of the predator/prey relationship. It comes from a study on rabbits and coyotes, but the relationship is the same for all predator/prey tandems, from tiny parasites and their hosts to lions and antelopes. The predators always overfeed until the prey can no longer sustain them, then most of them die and the rest wait for the prey to replenish themselves.

It works in the same way for human governance. You are the rabbits; the rulers are the coyotes.



By his own admission, Rosenberg often looks at economic matters from the perspective of the rabbits. This time, if he looks at it from the perspective of the coyotes. Many things become clear:

Rulership is an exercise in skimming. Think of your own interactions with your government – the primary exchange is that they take some of your production. This occurs in many ways: when you get a paycheck, when you pay your electric bill or phone bill, when you get a license plate for your car, every time you pay sales tax, and so on. Rulership lives on the skim.

In order to maintain the skim, a ruler has several mental tools:

Claims of necessity. Make people fear that without the ruler, monstrous foreigners will invade and make things much, much worse.

Inertia. Once people are moving in any given direction (such as paying the skim as a matter of course), they will tend to keep moving that way until an outside force deflects or stops them.

Tradition. This is the story that it has always been this way, and that your grandparents (and their grandparents) have all lived this way and called it righteous. Tradition displaces analysis. At the gate of analysis (deciding if the skim is or isn’t good for you), tradition stands as a guardian saying, “You shall not pass.” To analyze would be to spit in tradition’s face.

Fear of standing alone. The friends of rulership can be counted on to present images of conformity and to exalt the concept of unity. The effect of this is to raise the price of non-conformity. To question the skim, you must face the fear of becoming an outcast.

Disguising fear. This is crucial and multifaceted. Rather than saying, “Pay taxes or armed men will imprison you,” for example, they must appeal to patriotism, shared sacrifice, helping the poor, or something. Of course it is true that people only pay because of fear, but that truth should not be seen. A plausible substitute must be provided.

From this perspective, of the coyote, “maintaining the skim” seems to be BAU in the FSA.  This weekend, where I live in southeastern Virginia, social media has been ablaze with notices of state patrol cars lying in wait on major arteries, doubtless to help state patrolman book their monthly quota of fees. To Charles Hugh Smith’s “tax donkeys and debt serfs,”  add “fine and fee monkeys.”


New Study Finds High Levels of Arsenic in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

Brian Fontenot and Kevin Schug, two of the authors of a new study that ties fracking to arsenic contamination. (University of Texas Arlington)

Pro Publica this week published an article about a study that found high levels of arsenic in groundwater near fracturing sites. An article by Theodoric Meyer includes a Q&A with Brian Fontenot, whose research gives the latest indication that fracking may be tied to arsenic contamination.
 The levels of heavy metals appear to be many times higher near fracturing sites that occurs naturally without fracking. Also, the fluid used for fracking remains proprietary to the energy companies, who resist revealing the contents. Thus it is left to sciences to investigate after the fact, and after the groundwater has been destroyed.
Here’s an excerpt:

We found that there were actually quite a few examples of elevated constituents, such as heavy metals, the main players being arsenic, selenium and strontium. And we found each of those metals at levels that are above EPA’s maximum contaminate limit for drinking water.

These heavy metals do naturally occur in the groundwater in this region. But we have a historical dataset that points to the fact that the levels we found are sort of unusual and not natural. These really high levels differ from what the groundwater used to be like before fracking came in. . . .

We also found a few samples that had measureable levels of methanol and ethanol, and these are two substances that don’t naturally occur in groundwater. They can actually be created by bacterial interactions underwater, but whenever methanol or ethanol occur in the environment, they’re very fleeting and transient. So for us to be able to actually randomly take a grab sample and detect detectable methanol and ethanol — that implies that there may be a continuous source of this.

You found levels of arsenic in areas with fracking that were almost 18 times higher than in areas without fracking or in the historical data. What would happen to someone who drank that water?

Arsenic is a pretty well-known poison. If you experience a lot of long-term exposure to arsenic, you get a lot of different risks, like skin damage, problems with the circulatory system or even an increased risk of cancer. The levels that we found would not be a lethal dose, but they’re certainly levels that you would not want to be exposed to for any extended period of time.

 Studies like this always require further research.  Arsenic occurs naturally in many formations, and it may be that the process of tracking, rather than the fluids themselves, and disturbed this natural occurrence.But one of the reasons the research is not done is because the energy extraction industries don’t want to do it, and don’t want to see it done. In a rational world frackers would be obliged to perform this research prior to drilling, but that would be bad for profits. Once again, profits are privatized, while risks and costs are socialized and borne by we mere commons.

Keep in mind  that the energy extraction industry is enthusiastically abetted by Republicans and neoliberal Democrats,  who operate by an ethical system that permits the sacrifice of the lives of many to further enrich a few.

If you care about these matters, the rest of the Pro Publica article is well worth your time.


Can Activists Win the PR Battle With the Fossil Fuel Industry? 

This TransCanada PowerPoint slide depicting anti-pipeline activists was used to brief the FBI and law enforcement officials. (Tar Sands Blockade)

In Waging Nonviolence 
Adam Federman reports: “Until recently the energy industry has been able to keep its hardball tactics largely out of public view. But if state, federal and corporate surveillance of environmental activists continues, the noisy millions … might have even more reason to join the fight.”

More evidence that rust never sleeps.  Remember those “fusion centers” created by Homeland Security with our tax dollars? Well, now they work in collusion with privatized intelligence gathering and security apparatus directly for the benefit of corporations,  against protesters, activists and others who dare oppose the privatization and profit extraction of the Commons.

In mid-June, Bold Nebraska — a grassroots environmental organization opposed to construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline — obtained documents that detail how local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the company responsible for building the pipeline, are working together to undermine peaceful political protest. The documents revealed that the company, TransCanada, had briefed the FBI as well as law enforcement officials — district attorneys, attorney generals and county sheriffs — in Oklahoma and Nebraska on the potential threat posed by environmental activists and local landowners. In their PowerPoint presentation the company suggested that district attorneys should explore “state or federal anti-terrorism laws” in prosecuting activists and provided a crude dossier on the key organizers. They also included a list of individuals previously arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in Texas and Oklahoma.

There is a long history of corporations and the state acting in concert to suppress environmental activism. But in recent years the relationship has deepened. This is in part a function of the post-9/11 national security state, which has placed a premium on information sharing between Department of Homeland Security fusion centers, local law enforcement officials and the private sector. In fact, on the same day that TransCanada delivered its presentation to Nebraska law enforcement officials, a representative of the Nebraska Information Analysis Center, a Department of Homeland Security fusion center, also briefed participants on the agency’s information-sharing network. According to emails exchanged before the meeting and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, “The NIAC will brief on our intelligence sharing role/plan relevant to the pipeline project and provide an overview of a project we are working on.”

The article goes on to say the corporations engaging in espionage on activists are not bound by the regulations that  governmental agencies are obliged to follow, at least in theory.

“They don’t have to abide by the U.S. attorney manual on spying guidelines,” Regan said. “They don’t even have to go through secretive FISA courts to hack into people’s computers or listen in on their cell phone calls.”

This is the world in which activists now find themselves. Not only must they contend with the sweeping surveillance powers of the state, brought to light most recently by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but also the expanding — and essentially unregulated — corporate security and intelligence gathering network.

Yet activists continue undaunted. Public opposition to fracturing, the Keystone XL pipeline, and other attempts to confiscate the common enterprise has resulted in a number of highly visible campaigns that continue undaunted. The fact that public opposition continues to grow  like wildfire has corporate interests very worried.  As well they should be. As common citizens become more educated to the dangers posed by the current techniques of energy extraction industries, the numbers of those willing to participate in acts of protest and civil this immediate’s can only grow. As occupiers know, the only way to affect change is to mass people in the streets. Ham-handed techniques employed by the corporate state often assist activists in getting the word out.

Read the rest of the article here.  and in a related article, here’s how they do it.


The Corporate Strategy to Win The War Against Grassroots Activists: Stratfor’s Strategies

It turns out that there is a template to corporations and governments use to disrupt, dissuade, and defuse popular movements. It certainly comes as no surprise to several former occupiers. And it turns out that it was developed by the founders of our good friends over at Stratfor

Steve Horn  Of the “Popular Resistance blog at Mint Press News published this thorough and magnificent article.  The article details the history of the groups that led to the formation of Stratfor,  the involvement of key individuals with Big Tobacco, and their current collaboration with government and the energy extraction industries (such as the American Petroleum Institute) to provide a highly sophisticated level of intelligence used to disrupt and oppose activist groups.

Unsurprisingly, they have a formula and use different take weeks on each of the four different sorts of dissenters and resisters.


Divide activists into four groups: Radicals, Idealists, Realists and Opportunists. The Opportunists are in it for themselves and can be pulled away for their own self-interest. The Realists can be convinced that transformative change is not possible and we must settle for what is possible.  Idealists can be convinced they have the facts wrong and pulled to the Realist camp.  Radicals, who see the system as corrupt and needing transformation, need to be isolated and discredited, using false charges to assassinate their character is a common tactic.

Let’s be clear about the kind of people were dealing with here. The attitude evinced below is typical of the true believer:

And how best to deal with “radicals” like Julian Assange, founder and executive director of WikiLeaks, and whistleblower Bradley Manning, who gave WikiLeaks the U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and the “Collateral Murder” video? Bart Mongoven has a simple solution to “isolate” them, as suggested by Duchin’s formula.

“I’m in favor of using whatever trumped up charge is available to get [Assange] and his servers off the streets. And I’d feed that shit head soldier [Bradley Manning] to the first pack of wild dogs I could find,” Mongoven wrote in one email exchange revealed by the “Global Intelligence Files.” “Or perhaps just do to him whatever the Iranians are doing to our sources there.”

Indeed, the use of “trumped up charges” is often a way the U.S. government deals with radical activists, as demonstrated clearly during the days of the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program during the 1960s, as well as in modern-day Occupy movement-related cases in Cleveland and Chicago.

The intelligences that Stratfor sells to corporate clients is, as the article asserts, “the information economy’s equivalent of guns.” Corporations wage war upon activists to ensure that power, profits, and control I had influenced by the actions of mere mortals. And the changes urged by activist becomes even more difficult in a political environment where corporate interests dominate with money, and corporate media offer little more than corporate press releases.


 New Crash Footage Fuels Rumors Surrounding Journalist Michael Hastings’ Death

he newly released surveillance footage shows what appears to be an uncharacteristically bright explosion from the crash of journalist Michael Hastings’ car, killing him. (Photo/screen grab via YouTube)

Some weeks ago, journalist Michael Hastings was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles.  For those who do not know, Hastings was a reporter for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone who gained an A-list reputation after he wrote the piece for Rolling Stone  that profiled Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Yes, THAT piece . . .
An odor of conspiracy surrounds this crash, including recent news about the vulnerability to hacking of on board computer systems on certain high-end vehicles via remote control.
Newly released surveillance footage shows what appears to be an uncharacteristically bright explosion from the crash.
According to San Diego 6 News, the new surveillance video provides new information about the incident, which some say may not have been an accident. As Mint Press News previously reported, hours before his death, WikiLeaks says the journalist contacted the organization’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, and said the FBI was investigating him.

The new surveillance footage “shows a flash of light appearing at the 13-14-second mark, the headlights are on at 14 seconds, but all lights are extinguished at the 16-second mark. The car then turns left and the first horizontal explosion appears just after the 16-second mark (it ejects the left front tire across northbound highland approximately 40-50 feet). The second explosion engulfs the engine compartment at the 17-second mark. The third and largest explosion consumes the passenger compartment at the 17-18-second mark.”

 This story continues to have legs, given the number of  anomalies surrounding it.  there are 2 explosions. The fire was more intense than a simple gasoline fire, which only burns at about 540°F. A palm tree that Hastings car hit had minimal damage, considering it was hit by a 3500 pound car supposedly moving at 100 mph, according to investigators.  But for all the unexplained facts surrounding this case, and the fact that some media outlets continue to speculate whether Hastings was targeted by the FBI, the Los Angeles police department has denied release of any information and close the case.

Laura Eimiller, the FBI’s Los Angeles spokeswoman, maintains the agency was not conducting an investigation involving Hastings.

 This little sewer grating outflow into the Internet is not closing the case.



You’re Shitting Me, Right?

Time now for that portion of our program where the daily headlines have outstripped the imagination.  Follow the links to read the original articles.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Tuesday managed to insult both religious Americans and climate scientists while denying the existence of global warming.

During the kickoff for the Americans for Prosperity-sponsored “Bruce Braley Big Government Tour” in Fort Dodge, King explained that attempts to fight climate change were unnecessary and hurting the economy, according to The Messenger.

“It is not proven, it’s not science,” he insisted. “It’s more of a religion than a science.”

The Republican congressman said that scientists are too focused on the bad impacts of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Everything that might result from a warmer planet is always bad in [climate scientists’] analysis,” he opined. “There will be more photosynthesis going on if the Earth gets warmer… And if sea levels go up 4 or 6 inches, I don’t know if we’d know that.”

King told the crowd that sea levels could not be precisely measured.


Louie Gohmert: Global Warming Isn’t Real Until ‘My Pool Overflows’

Sometimes, they just write themselves.

WASHINGTON – Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) today dismissed a recent report that showed evidence for drastic climate change in 2012, saying that he’ll “believe it when [he] sees it.” According to Gohmert, the report—which was authored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and documented rising sea levels, among other climatic changes—is “a bunch of voodoo science,” that he won’t accept until “the ocean’s on [his] own front doorstep.”
Gohmert—who does not believe that human activity contributes to global warming—admitted that he hadn’t actually read the report. “Rising sea levels? Melting ice caps? Well now, if that were true, how come the water in my pool isn’t any higher than it was last year?”
According to the report, in 2012 many indicators of global warming intensified appreciably. Sea levels reached record levels, and the researchers documented “dramatic spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer, and whopping temporary melts of ice in most of Greenland.”  Such measurements led Deke Arndt, co-author of the report, to conclude that climate indicators are “all singing the same song that we live in a warming world.”


#NoNeedToSatirize: Santorum: Liberals ‘make it uncomfortable’ to shower at the YMCA

Why this particular creature continues to get news coverage is a matter of continued concern and befuddlement. The last time this humunculus stood for electoral office in his home state, the people who knew him best thrashed him like a rented mule, as he lost by double digit margins.  Proving that voters in Pennsylvania still maintain some capacity for discrimination between fact and fiction, which is more than we can save for this entity.


Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently told a group of students that they needed to fight for conservative values in “every aspect of your life” because liberals who support abortion rights even “make it uncomfortable” to shower at the YMCA if you disagree with their views.

In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch on Tuesday, Rick Santorum told the group Students for Life that the truth would only win “if you have the passion, winsomeness and charity to bring to this debate, to bring it to your communities, to bring it to every aspect of your life.”

“You see, what the left does, what the pro-choice movement does is they just don’t focus on their little issue, they focus on everything they do and every aspect of their life,” he explained. “They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a young men’s Christian association YMCA gym.”

“Because they live it. They’re passionate. They’re willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company. They’re willing to make the sacrifice at their business because they care enough… They simply won’t give up. We have the truth and we give up! We have righteousness and we give up because it’s unpopular!”

Santorum exists as a political force largely because he can “energize the base,” otherwise tossed red meat to the evangelicals, Christian conservatives and Aryan brotherhood types who have managed to stuff themselves in the clown car of the drooling right. Yet, as Charles Pierce has observed about Scott Walker, “do not sleep on this one.” While we may snicker and shake our heads, this sort of divisive, us–against–them commentary serves to further poison an already toxic political climate.


#NoNeedToSatirize: Nugent: ‘People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom.’ 

We are thinking not. We’re thinking perhaps there are just people who hate Ted Nugent who hate Ted Nugent.


 For my money, this next item is the topper for the week:

Gun rights advocate and right-wing provocateur Ted Nugent lashed out on Saturday at critics of his recent remarks on race and protesters who are trying to have his Tuesday show in New Haven, Connecticut canceled. The New Haven Register quoted an interview with Maine AM radio station WGAN, Nugent said that slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin was a “gangster wanna-be” who was motivated by “bloodthirst,” and that the teenager got what he deserved.

“People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom,” the rocker alleged. “Trayvon got justice.”

Martin said that Martin’s violent tendencies were to blame for the escalation of his confrontation with George Zimmerman. He also accused the teen of racism for calling Zimmerman a “cracka.”

Nugent called a group of petitioners who want his August gig at the nightclub Toad’s Place in New Haven canceled “subhuman numbnuts.” He said that the Obama administration and Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder are “just bad people,” although, he said, it “pains” him to have to say so.

Connecticut petitioner Barbara Fair said that she and other protesters are against Nugent playing in the same state where the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place. She told the Register that Nugent’s views are not what the protest is about, but what he says on the national stage, including his racist rants since the George Zimmerman verdict, in which he blamed African-Americans for their own oppression. He also criticized Trayvon Martin’s parents, saying they should ask themselves why they raised a gangsta wannabe, Skittles hoodie boy.”

 Tracking the remarks of people like Da Nuge  makes an old man despair of being a member of the human race in what’s left of the United States of America.  Part of the endless, self-referential torrent of bullshit that passes for mass media these days depends on the Ted Nugents  and Ann Coulters and Michael Savages of the world saying things so outrageous that they pass the bounds of decency, thus further weakening the bounds of decency for the next  assault, as they drop their pants, squat down and squeeze out yet another opinion that would have been unthinkable to utter 20 years ago.

This franchise will be dormant for the next week, possibly two.  Family events, out-of-town visitors, and a beach wedding are at hand. Arrangements to make, fatted calves to slay, etc. And I have other articles in the queue that have suffered from lack of time to fully investigate and complete. So perhaps I will do that with the odd remaindered bits of time that I may find in the next week or so. I appreciate your indulgence; the hiatus may keep me from opening a vein.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that we operate a reasonably vibrant Facebook page, that reflects key postings on the diner forum, articles from the Diner blog, plus articles of interest from many usual suspects around the blogosphere at

Plus Kudos to JD for yeoman work in standing up the Diner Twitter feed, already vibrant with activity, and enough to make an old man get a twitter account. Damn it. Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666


Constitutionally Hypocritical

Off the keyboards of RE & William Hunter Duncan

Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 28, 2013


Discuss this article at the Guerrilla Internet Free Speech Table inside the Diner

When I began the Diner with Peter, Surly and a few other Founding Diners, my objective was not to just run my own Blog to Pontificate on Collapse, but to bring together and highlight the work of other Collapse Bloggers as well.  This sort of Blog is called a Compilation Blog, there are examples all over the net, Seeking Alpha is one, Peak Prosperity another, Zero Hedge perhaps the most famous and successful of all the Compilation Blogs.  My friend and ex-blogging partner Jim Quinn on The Burning Platform also runs a Compilation style Blog. have some very strict principles of Protocol I adhere to in Compiling Blogs on the Diner besides my own and those of other Native Diners, first one is I never Cross Post any blogger until I have had Email contact with them and received from them EXPLICIT permission to use their Blogs on the Diner.  Even if said Blogger has a Creative Commons Attribution license on their Blog (which basically says as long as you are not doing it for MONEY, it is OK to repost), I still ask first.  Just good Netiquette there.  I have some other Protocols I adhere to as well, main one as the Diners know is I am positively FANATIC about Free Speech in the Commentary with a No Ban, No Censorship Policy on Commentary here.  So even if a given Blogger deletes your commentary on their Blog, it will show up here if you post it to the parallel thread on the Diner.

Which brings me now to the reason I am writing this Blog (co-writing actually with WHD, my fellow Admin here on the Diner who will drop in here in a bit with his own inimitable style. LOL).  Recently WHD got in a pretty HOT debate over on Alt-Market, run by the Libertarian Defender of the Constitution Brandon Smith.  Brandon WAS a Cross Posted Blogger here a while back, officially approved by Brandon, but I STOPPED cross posting his Blogs for quite a few reasons.  Here is Brandon’s OK to repost on the Diner sent to my email back in February of 2012, right after we got the Diner off the ground:

February 27, 2012
You are more than welcome to reprint articles from Alt-Market, we only
ask that you link back to us the original source.  Thanks for your
interest in my writing, and I look forward to seeing how your new
website grows.

Brandon Smith

First reason I shit-canned Brandon as a Cross Blogger on the Diner was lack of Reciprocity.  Brandon’s Alt-Market is ALSO a Compilation Blog, he posts Blogs from numerous other sources on A-M all the time.   I don’t expect any Blogger I cross post who runs a Personal Blog to cross post articles from the Diner,  but if you run a Compilation Blog it is a I Scratch Your Back, You Scratch Mine kind of thing.  Jimbo on TBP and I do this all the time these days, I put up Blogs of his I think will play OK with Diner Readership; he puts up blogs of mine which he thinks will play OK with TBP readers.

Anyhow, after cross posting a few of Brandon’s Blogs, I sent him a couple of Links to Blogs I felt would fit OK on Alt-Market.  Economic stuff I write here along with discussing meta-topics like the Internet Censorship Issue and Free Speech Principles.  Not only did said blogs not go up on Alt-Market, I didn’t even get an acknowledgement to the Email that I sent them to him, or a rationale for why he would not publish them.

So I am a bit peeved here now at Brandon by this time, but I am still Cross Posting some of his Blogs on the nature of the Police State we live under, which is a subject of general Diner interest.  Since he is not Cross Posting any of my Blogs, I decide I will start dropping in on his Commentary to occasionally Plug the Diner, as I am wont to do on a few Blogs, notably Economic Undertow run by Steve from Virginia and Our Finite World run by Gail the Actuary, aka Gail Tverberg as well as Jim Quinn’s The Burning Platform of course.  I always embed my Plugs in a post which is to Topic of the given Blog I drop the comment on.  Here is a Sample of a Plug I just made over on OFW for our Podcasts, relating to the topic of Gail’s Recent Blog, which is Feedback Loops in Energy and the Economy:

Welcome Back Gail!

I’d like to let the OFWers know that we recently got up the first 2 of a 3 Part Series with David Korowicz of FEASTA, author of the paper Trade Off: Financial system supply-chain cross contagion – a study in global systemic collapse and more recently Catastrophic Shocks in Complex Socio-Economic Systems—a pandemic perspective on Diner Podcasts.

Many aspects of Systemic Feedback Loops in the Monetary System and Industrial Economy are discussed in these Podcasts. The final part will be released in the next week or two, after we get up a Podcast by John Michael Greer of The Archdruid Report as well as the last installment of the marathon Podcast with George Mobus of Question Everything. Upcoming also is another quite long one recently completed with Ugo Bardi of the Cassandra’s Legacy Blog.

Stop by the Diner OFWers to listen in on the latest in Collapse! :)


Gail has been very tolerant of my Plugging in the Commentary of OFW, and in return for that she got First Billing as one of our First Offsite Podcasts, and she has a great listenership there, well over 450 listens last I checked on her most successful Podcast, and 2nd only to Uber Doomer Guy McPherson over 800 Listens now.  Guy is the Secretariat of the Collapse Blogosphere with his Extinction theory.  You can’t get any Doomier than THAT!  LOL.

Here is another Plug I recently dropped on The Burning Platform in Jimbo’s awesome recent Feature Article, TRYING TO STAY SANE IN AN INSANE WORLD – PART 1

23rd July 2013 at 10:18 pm

Reverse Engineer says:

“The rule of law does not exist for the ruling class.”-JQ

It never has. The legal system is designed to keep Elite in power, not to protect J6P. It was like this when Woodrow Wilson admitted the country was ruled by a small group of Capitalist Industrialists. These folks have proceeded to steal the natural resource wealth of the continent and have been at the game at least since the Railroads began spreading their tentacles across the once pristine landscape in the 1820s-1830s. You will note about all those railroads went bust, the tycoons of the era walked away with the credit issued and the taxpayers were saddled with the debt, then as now. Capitalism began destroying the country in around 1830, and has more or less completed the job in slightly under 200 years.

The difference now is that globally there is insufficient stored energy that can be extracted at a cheap price, so these folks no longer can leverage up on it. They are quite finished here as it spins down.

I’ll cross post this probably on Wednesday.


Notice that the response is entirely to topic, even if my anti-Capitalist Spin runs counter to the Group Think on TBP.  I also advertise the fact I will cross post Jim’s Blog on the Diner. Anyhow, point is here it is You Scratch My Back, I Scratch Yours, and it tends to help all of us Collapse Bloggers when we cooperate in this way.

So now back to Mr. Lexington & Concord Brandon Smith here, what happens when I start showing up in the Commentary on Alt-Market?  He DELETES just about every last one of the posts I make there!  The posting is not Napalm, it is all to topic. You will see a Sample demonstrated further down in this article. I didn’t even Plug the Diner in every one!  So this does it for me, I NIX Brandon as a Cross Poster on the Diner and stop reading or commenting on his Piece of Shit Blog, I have plenty to do on my own fucking Blog anyhow! LOL.

So now you think the Story is OVER, right?  Nooooo.  You see, there are quite a few Bloggers on the Diner, I am not the only one.  One of them, William Hunter Duncan is also an ADMIN here on the Diner, though Brandon “Lexington & Concord” “Mr. Constitution” Smith does not know this.  The shit Brandon has been writing of late BUGS William, so finally HE drops in on Brandon’s Comment Stream to take him to task for his completely absurd arguments on Peak Oil and Energy, which have been utterly destroyed on just about every decent Energy related Blog, but Brandon goes on making the same old dumb ass arguments as ever that all of us in the Energy Blogosphere have dealt with Ad Infinitum for the last DECADE in some cases.

At this point, I will step back and let William take over describing the course of this Debate, and what went down before he himself ALSO finally got AXED by Brandon.  Take it away, William!


Thanks, RE

I am an American. I was Born on the Fourth of July. My mother is a radical Christian Constitutionalist, first generation immigrant. Naturally then, I have some affiliation with the Liberty, Patriot and Tea Party movements. I whole-heartedly agree that the Constitution has been eviscerated, that those in power in America seek to divide and conquer America, that they might continue to control the empire that the Republic has become. I agree with some core conservative tenets, that individual empowerment, individual sovereignty, is a core and necessary element to being human. I also agree that the Federal government, and government generally, is a means to consolidate and centralize power, for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, inevitably. That this Federal Government particularly will prove itself capable of ANYTHING, to maintain control, “to maintain the Union.”

That said, my affiliation with these conservative movements ends there. For an abundance of reasons, namely, that Western ideological exploitative command and control dominator attitudes toward the earth and people, are alive and well among so-called Liberty folk and Patriots, Tea Party etc. That they generally hate government but love Oligarchs; that it is not the abuse of power they object to, but mostly who is the one abusing it. That these movements are largely an extension of Christian “go forth and have dominion over the earth,” that there is no exploitation of the earth that is not sacred, provided it is for private benefit. That individual sovereignty means you can pollute the air or water or soil for everyone else, if it is a function of you exercising your liberty. That they hate government but don’t generally have a problem using government to terrorize cannabis users/growers, or sticking trans-vaginal ultrasound rods up women’s yoni’s in the name of protecting the unborn, or expelling Hispanics, demonizing Muslims, homosexuals, etc. Or their fetishization of weaponry.

Of particular concern is the turn of many of that (admittedly broad brush) crowd, in the direction of absolute denial that Humans are having anything like a detrimental effect on the biosphere: i.e. denial of Climate Change. For some Conservatives, disconnected as they are from the earth (like most Liberals), they have come to believe that peak oil, peak energy, peak growth, is a false narrative – which Brandon Smith says is meant to facilitate global governance and ultimately the deliberate killing of most of (conservative) humanity, by an elite Illuminati whomever. Now, I don’t discount that there are entrenched, nefarious interests driving this train called Progress. Nor do I discount the idea that said nefarious, entrenched interests might see that humanity is facing peak everything, and might take it upon themselves to initiate some apocalyptically hideous response, reducing our numbers. Denying outright though, that anything like climate change is even happening, many American conservatives reveal that they are at their core entirely captive to the mythologies of progress and growth that drive empire America, and they mostly just want to take the reign of it.

Brandon Smith is an excellent example of such disconnect, the fetishization of markets and the individual and the defilement of ecosystems (relationships) (while the Liberal fetishizes the collective – gov – at the expense of the earth.)  He also has a tendency toward cruel condescension, denouncing whole segments of the population as “stupid”, immature, etc. He also shows a propensity for manipulating the commentary on his website, to make himself look better. Which is all whatever, it’s just a blog – except maybe such tendencies might not be what you want in those exhorting you to armed confrontation with the Federal Government, i.e. the shooting and killing of your fellow Americans, your fellow humans. Sounds more to me like him making of himself a martyr or a messiah, willing to take others with him. Nevertheless, I do believe he believes the narrative,  “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” He is brilliant. In a very stiff, logical, absolutist way…(after all, the Feds are known to kill cult members – Waco – which this Liberty dude keeps calling anyone who acknowledges peak energy or climate change a cultist. LOL I call that daft – and dangerous.) Though I do say in fact, I do think he cares about people – or he wouldn’t be exhorting people to learn mechanical or craftsman skills, or gardening or the saving of heirloom seeds, etc.

So I like to drop into Alt-Market every once in awhile, like I have done at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, to stir things up a bit. My commentary gets expunged as often as not, at Alt-Market, just like it does on Huffpost. As always, you be your own judge about what you read, what you think. Difference here @ the Diner is, while we moderate the Forum, we don’t eliminate commentary. We let commentary speak for itself.

What follows is a conversation that took place between myself, Brandon Smith, and RE @ the Alt-Market, in the commentary to an article by, Brandon Smith, Get Ready For The Next Great Stock Market Exodus Several commentators had challenged Brandon on his ideas about Peak Oil. That is where I stepped in, four days after the article release, when few people were paying attention, and Brandon I judged, felt more free to debate with me rather than just expunge me, whom I judge he takes for Joe Schmo Idiot Tool. LOL

RE stepped in late and offered the last, perfectly innocuous comment. His comment and my last were EXPUNGED.


Peak Oil
written by William Hunter Duncan , July 16, 2013

Peak Oil is the point at which you have to keep the price of oil @ $100/brl to pay for all that hideously destructive fracking, tarsands, deep water activity, to maintain baseline supply. You either keep it at $100-ish, or noboby makes any money. Which also conspires to create demand destruction, which means a further increase in price hammers demand, while a collapse in price destroys the capacity of the industry to frack, etc.

Which, what is the real cost of pumping fracking fluids into the aquifers of half the nation, in the exploitation of oil and gas? How about having to gather water from the sky only, because the surface waters and below ground are all severely polluted – in a time of radically shifting climate patterns?

Votes: -1

Brandon Smith

written by Brandon Smith , July 16, 2013


And where is your evidence that fracking is now the primary source of oil production? Where is the lack of supply from the Middle East, or Russia, or Africa, for instance? What demand is not being met by standard oil production?

Again, where is the scarcity? For prices to rise based on scarcity, someone, somewhere, MUST have a demand for oil that is not being met. WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE? Show me on a map.

Why can no peak oil cultist answer this simple question? And why can no peak oil cultist fathom that perhaps, just perhaps, price increases are being caused by dollar devaluation, and that their entire religion of peak oil is based on a con designed to distract the masses away from hyperinflation?

Also, William, it is not surprising that you believe in the now debunked Climate Change con as well, since both Peak Oil and Global Warming were designed by globalist interests at the Club Of Rome in order to terrorize dupes like yourself with false environmentalism, and get you to go along with their agendas of population reduction and energy dominance.

Votes: +1


written by William Hunter Duncan , July 18, 2013

Dupe? Con artist? Cultist? Advocate for population reduction and energy dominance? How about you try flinging some more shit at me, to see if it sticks?

How about peak energy, then. Seven billion people adding 80 Million a year? If you want to persist with the fantasy of unlimited growth, go ahead. If you want to imagine oil is infinite, abiotic, whatever. Climate Change is Debunked! I’ll say again, as I’ve said before, I don’t think you give a damn about the health of the earth or it’s people.

I’d say you know jack about the Club of Rome, but whatever. As for fracking being our primary source, where’d you get such an idea that I would ever say such a thing? I said basically, if oil were unlimited like you seem to think, we wouldn’t have to be fracking above aquifers, gouging it out of the surface like they do in Alberta, or attempting to drill in the Arctic, or in ten thousand feet of water.

Finally, as for Peak Oil, it shouldn’t take a child to get that if you have a fixed amount of apples and oranges, sooner or later you are going to run out.

Votes: +1

Brandon Smith

written by Brandon Smith , July 19, 2013


You still haven’t answered my question, which tells me you don’t have the answer. And if you don’t have the answer to that very simple question, then your position on Peak Oil is essentially irrelevant.

Show me WHERE in the world demand for petroleum is not being met. Where?

Also, where is your proof that oil is a fixed resource? There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the creation of oil is an Abiotic Process, a cycle like volcanoes and rain that functions perpetually. Old oil wells have been found replenished in the NE United States, and new wells are found yearly. Again, if you can’t back your position with facts, then you are basing it on pure faith and assumption. This is what a cultist does, or a child, not a logical adult thinker.

I care about REAL environmental issues, not fake issues created by a bunch of elitists seeking to frighten thick headed people into going along with their agenda. By blindly following the lies of Peak Oil and man-made Climate Change, YOU are hurting the Earth, because you are wasting your time and energies on false notions rather than legitimate issues. It’s sad.


Votes: +0


@ Brandon
written by William Hunter Duncan , July 21, 2013

Where in the world is a demand for oil not being met? How about Japan? How about the whole of Africa? Surely many of the people of Japan and Africa would appreciate more oil than they have access to. Not to mention the whole of Europe. You think the English wouldn’t like to find a Gwhar field under the Tower of London about now?

You might want to back your assertions that oil wells in the NE are refilling, with something resembling evidence. LOL. Abiotic! Anything like 85 million barrels a day, what humanity is using about now? If that’s the case WTF are we doing fracking, etc for?

As to your last paragraph, yeah, the end of easy oil and radical climate change isn’t anything like a legitimate issue. OK bubble boy.

As for those other serious issues, like the evisceration of the Constitution, or the increasingly police/facist State, or High Finance looting of the global economy, etc, there’s a lot more cross-over between you and me than that shit you flung in an earlier comment would suggest.

BTW, I do think you care about the earth and it’s people, or I wouldn’t bother. I just think you are getting carried away by your own BS.


Votes: -1

Brandon Smith

written by Brandon Smith , July 21, 2013


Where in Japan is demand not being met? Show me a specific example. Where in Africa? Where in Europe? Show me where specifically people in these countries are lined up for gasoline and not getting any. You clearly have little to no grasp of the concept of supply and demand.

And yes, petroleum has even been found on other planets, including the moon Titan:

Where did this oil come from? Dinosaurs? I think not. This is hard evidence that petroleum molecules are produced Abiotically. If you had ever done any research outside your own cultism, you would have already known this information.

And yes, older oil wells have been found replenished all over the world:

As far as climate change goes, show me the source data for NASA and the CRU’s experiments on global warming. Show me the proof that what they say about man-made global warming is true. You’ll never find the source data, because even after hundreds if not thousands of FOIA requests, climate “scientists” still refuse to release it to the public. Why would they be afraid to release their own data to the public for scrutiny unless it was all garbage?

Again, William, you have been duped. You’re no different than a 9/11 dupe, or a Federal Reserve dupe, or a Boston Bombing dupe. You continually refuse to answer my questions with any specifics, so I have to say that there is little purpose to discussing the matter with you further. If you are comfortable in your ignorance, then nothing can be done to help you.



Written by William Hunter Duncan, July 21, 2013

Isn’t this fun. I get to call you bubble boy, and you are game enough to let me, while then slinging that shit about me being a cultist and a dupe and ignorant. 🙂

I don’t understand demand? Are you telling me the Japanese wouldn’t be burning oil like mad if they could get it for $20/barrel? Humans would be burning 200 million barrels a day, more than twice what we are, if they could get it. Again, abiotic anything like 85 million barrels a day? I say your conception of demand is stiff and narrow, which is what I would expect from an absolutist.

I dont give a shit about the source data. What I care about are things like the fact that as the climate becomes increasingly variable and unstable from my perspective, the more hysterical the Liberty movement, conservative circles, Patriots become that climate change is entirely a hoax perpetrated by global government boogeymen. Infowars loves to rave that CO2 is Good For You! Well, not @ 400ppm, while they are cutting down rainforests to plant Monsanto soybean fields.

As for that last link, isnt it great that this one Swedish study proves that oil is abiotic, wells are replenishing – contrary to the, um, not-evidence apparently, that we are fracking, gouging and deep sea drilling as fast as we can just to stand still, aka the red queen syndrome.

As for 9/11, or the Fed, or the Boston Bombing, you want to list anything else I am not a dupe about?

Written by RE, July 21, 2013

However, you never answered my question. WHERE is this so called scarcity? Where is demand for oil not being met amply? If there is scarcity, then someone, somewhere, is not receiving the “dope” they desire, right? “-BS

Many places now are being triaged off the Oil Economy by Economic means. Greece, all the PIIGS Nations, Egypt etc.  Demand for gasoline is cratering in Europe, and it is in serious decline here as well.  Steve on Economic Undertow refers to this as “Conservation by Other Means”.  A barrel of Oil not consumed in Europe is one left for a bit more Happy Motoring for a few people here.

This is happening first at the periphery of the Industrial Economy, but is working its way inward at quite a rapid pace really.


RE back at the keyboard here.

Notice a few things about the comment stream there.  WHD’s first Comment is entirely to topic, and there also are no Plugs for the Diner.  Fortunately, since if WHD had copped to being a Diner Admin at the beginning, his first post would have been Expunged.

How does Brandon come back at WHD?  He NAPALMS him!  Calls him a “dupe”, “blind follower”, “cultist” etc, trigger words all over the place in his responses.  He doesn’t ever address the fact there is plenty of evidence of Oil Scarcity issues, it’s the whole reason the economic system has gone so outta whack here!  All you gotta do is spend a couple of days reading Steve from Virginia’s Blogs on Economic Undertow, and you’ll see the picture quite clearly, at least if you have any CFS* you will.

(CFS: Diner acronym for Common Fucking Sense)

It is at this point WHD drops a note on the Diner that this Napalm Contest is going down, so I decide to go back over there and Chip In my Opinion. 🙂 I know the post won’t stay up long, but I give it the old College Try by being 100% Rational, no Napalm, no Diner Plug.  Indeed, my post has a lifespan on Alt-Market measured in minutes, and this is at something like 9PM Mountain Time as I recall.  Brandon is on the Ball here!  LOL.  Said post was not in fact my last one, I made one more after Brandon Shit Canned it.

« Reply #468 on: July 22, 2013, 12:10:19 AM »

My recent post on Alt-Market, not long for this world over there but available in perpetuity here on the Diner!  LOL.RE

Quote from: RE

Heavy censorship hand you have there dude.

What ever happenned to Constitutional Guarantees of Free Speech?  Suspended on Alt-Market?

Anyhow, said post is up on the Diner @

Have a Nice Day.


Brandon Smith spouting Ideologically driven propaganda

Brandon Smith of Alt-Market spouting Ideologically driven Propaganda

So now you come to the crux of the matter here, WTF is Brandon Smith, Mr. Constitutional Protections & Rights doing the Joseph Goebbels thing and CENSORING everything I drop on as a comment on Alt-Market, and why does he Napalm WHD for pointing out the issues with Oil Fracking?  What nasty thing did I ever do to Brandon? My only relationship with him was to cross post some of his Blogs with his explicit permission to do so!  I never even got in a Napalm Contest on Alt-Market ONCE!  LOL.

The reason is that Brandon’s ideological box does not allow him to accept ideas of Climate Change or Energy Depletion, and he doesn’t want any of that “trash” polluting his website!  LOL.  His Solution is not to debate the points, but rather to either Napalm the poster as a Brainwashed Cult Moron, or failing success with that to Expunge the offending posts from the Alt-Market board!

The Irony of course here is beyond belief, this fellow who constantly writes about how our Constitutional Rights are being undermined himself cannot maintain the most BASIC of Freedoms on his website, that of Free Speech!  Imagine if Brandon was made Minister of Propaganda for the New Republic after the next battle at Lexington and Concord with the FBI, DHS and ATF, if he actually won that battle.  You think Brandon would let me keep the Diner up on the New Republic Net?  In a Pig’s Eye he would!  The dude can’t even leave up a post which points out the obvious Economic Effects of Demand Destruction!

Anyhow, the point of this exercise besides revealing the TRUTH about this particular case of Blogosphere Censorship by Ideologically Driven Blogger Propagandists is to make Blog Readers more aware of the fact that the Expunging of Critical Commentary by MANY Bloggers is systemic around the Collapse Blogosphere, Brandon is by no means the only one who does this.  In fact many if not most of them do.  I won’t name names here, but I have and will continue to do so inside the Diner any time one of my comments gets deleted.  Anytime I suspect a Blogger of this nefarious form of Propagandizing his point of view, I will Mirror the Posting on the Diner Forum before it goes up on the given Blog, Just In Case.  If this is being done to your posting, I invite you also to cross post your comments here, where they will NEVER be deleted, at least not until the boys in the Black Cadillac Escalades show up at the Cabin to ship me off to GITMO.

You want Constitutional Protection of Free Speech?  You GOT IT here on the Doomstead Diner.  It is the CODE OF THE DINERS!


Understanding Internet Napalm

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 21, 2013

Discuss this article at the Guerilla Internet Free Speech Table inside the Diner

For anyone who has never experienced what occurs when people with diametrically opposing viewpoints that are unresolvable by normal means start butting heads, an Internet Napalm Contest is a rather unpleasant experience. Not exactly pleasant for a Veteran of MANY Napalm Contests like myself either, but at least I know what is going down and mostly how to resolve it.   We recently had one here on the Diner, not the first by any means but one which involved some long term Diners, not drop in Trolls who cruise the net specifically to disrupt Blogs and Forums, either because they are paid Trolls who do this for Goobermint or Industry or because they simply derive pleasure from causing Havoc.

Nuclear explosionThis was not the case this time, the folks who went at each other’s THROATS all know each other pretty well, and all have been discussing & debating Collapse Topics mostly amiably for quite some time.  In the course of just one day of posting though, a Napalm Battle ensued which escalated to positively THERMONUCLEAR levels.  Collateral Damage all over the place, Civilians hit as hard as the Soldiers involved directly in this Battle.

What was the CAUSE of this?  Why did normally REASONABLE people start pitching AD HOM ATTACKS at each other, start using vitriolic language designed to enflame the emotions of even the most passive of readers and generally make everyone feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable with what was passing across the keyboards?

IMHO the main reasons are two-fold.  First in this case there was a Newz Story being discussed which itself enflames emotions, the recent Trial & Acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvor Martin case.  The story brings up the Racial Divide which still exists here in the FSoA in SPADES (sic, intended).  The Black Population of the FSoA has always been the main Underclass here since the Explicit Slavery Days, and Affirmative Action did not do very much to change that.  A few of the smartest and most able with decent family support got bootstrapped up during this period, but statistically speaking as a WHOLE lot more Black Boys ended up in Prison than at Harvard Law Skkule.  The population was Ghettoized through the Industrial Era, most took on jobs that no white person would and for this community, life AFTER explicit Slavery was no better under Economic Slavery. They get blamed for their own problems, failure of Black Men to take on Family Responsibility, Internal Violence in their communities, non-stop Violence and Drug Abuse.  They are delivered by the TRUCKLOAD to the Penitentiaries we run for those who fail to find a way to make an “Honest Living”.  We Pay Through the NOSE to keep these “Failures” of the Industrial Systeam alive inside the largest Penal Colony ever devised here in the FSoA, to the tune of around $40K a year for a typical Prisoner, by the time you account for the food and the Prison Guard salaries. reason, probably even more important is the “Little Things” that accumulate over time between people who feign a respect for one another, but get bugged all the time by off the cuff comments that signal underlying differences of opinion on fundamental matters.  If someone persistently demonstrates a Disrespect for say the Underclass people of the world and does not see or acknowledge why these folks have the problems they do, it grates on you.  Eventually, some story comes across the internet which Crystallizes this, and the recent story about the Martin-Zimmerman case was such a story.

It is not JUST the differences of opinion about the Underclass that grate though, it is also the difference in personal circumstance that infuse such a debate turned Napalm Contest.  One person is Well to Do with a Pile of Gold Coins in the Basement Safe; another barely subsists on a Social Security Check or Pension fund.  One Diner cruises about in a Brand Spanking new EV, while another Diner can’t work up the change necessary to get on the Bus or Subway. One Diner lives in a Gated Community with most of the world problems still held at arm’s length; while another Diner lives in a flea infested SRO surrounded by Drug Dealers and Prostitutes.  Why on EARTH would you ever expect these people to get along AT ALL, and stay “Polite” with each other most of the time?  That MOST of the time they can is pretty remarkable, but on ocassion the dichotomy here is too great and the CLAWS come out.  They GO AFTER each other.

By no means is this the first time a Napalm Contest has gone down on the Diner, and it is common enough on other fairly Open Boards and Blogs also.  Probably the most Intense Napalm EVER to go down in the Internet Collapse Blogosphere occurred on my old haunt of The Burning Platform, run by Jim Quinn who in the commentary is about as big a Napalm Artist as I am, and there were a few others there as well Throwing Smoke in the Good Old Days.  Here’s a post I wrote on TBP in the aftermath of one of those Napalm Contests, and you will quickly recognize the similarities:

From RE’s Daily Rant on TBP, March of 2o11

Recent “Quitting Events” related to the vitriolic and hateful Napalm that passes for debate here on TBP have caused me to put on hold yet another Daily Rant I was more than half finished with on the nature of money. The meta-topic of how the members here behave is more immediately important in terms of determining how successful we will be with carrying the message of how the Financial Collapse and the effects of Peak Oil will transform our culture, however you personally think that transition will turn out. I know that is Jim Quinn’s primary purpose here in administering this forum, he has told me so several times, and it is my primary purpose in writing as well. We don’t see all the outcomes precisely the same way, but we both do want to warn people that “Something Wicked this Way Comes”.

Predating the financial collapse of Bear Stearns, I participated on and administered message boards on other topics, and like all message boards they were subject to differing levels of Napalm. Napalm can be subtle or it can be blatant, but in all cases it is Ad Hom argument. It attacks the writer rather than addresses the ideas being presented. I will write examples of both here.

First, subtle Napalm:

“You clearly have not researched this topic well enough and do not understand the graphs I presented.”

This sentence isn’t addressing anything the person actually wrote, it’s merely attacking his intelligence. Its going to anger the person it is directed at, and he is likely to scale up the napalm himself in his next response.

Next, blatant Napalm:

“You are a fucking moron. Your wife is a goddamn slut who sucks my 11.5” Smokestack. You Eat Shit.”

This form of Napalm doesn’t just attack the person, it takes the debate completely off topic into sexual innuendo and scatology, two forms of imagery that evoke emotional responses in anybody who reads them. Distilled down, those 3 sentences represent 90% of everything Smokey ever wrote on TBP.

Now, like JimQ, I never censored any Napalm on my message boards. In order to SQUASH the Napalm artists who joined my boards, I would just out-napalm them. I would get positively mean and vicious to do so. Generally I don’t use sexual innuendo or scatology to do it, I either use Comedy to ridicule the opponent or I draw from the Chattaqua School of Fire and Brimstone preaching. After absorbing trash from LLPOH and Smokey for a few weeks a while back, I got really pissed off and LET IT GO.

Room gets suddenly still and when you’d almost bet You could hear yourself sweat – he walks in Eyes black as coal and when he lifts his face Every ear in the place is on him Startin’ soft and slow-ow, like a small earthquake And when he lets go-o, half the valley shakes

I Damned to Hell LLPOH in what is generally regarded as one of the most hateful posts ever made on these pages. At least that is how Stucky characterized it at the time. On my own boards, this was pretty effective, but they were much smaller boards than this one is and I never had anyone turn up on the boards so insistent on perpetuating Napalm contests as Smokey is/was.

For a while here, I engaged both Smokey and LLPOH in Napalm contests, but neither one was going to quit and it was making it very difficult for me to continue my primary goal, which is to inform and to analyze the issues at hand from my POV. When I reformatted to the Daily Rants, I decided as part of that to stop responding to any napalm in them, whether the Napalm came as the Subtle or the Blatant varieties. It hasn’t entirely stopped the Napalm in the Rants, but there is quite a bit less of it now than there was before.

In the recent Napalm Contest between Stuck and Smokey, the emotions ran so high as to instigate a “Quitting Event”. Quitting Events happen when people on the board become so disgusted by what is going on that they no longer want to participate on the board. Its not JUST the people involved in the Napalm Contest either, there is Collateral Damage done in terms of Lurker Readers who stop reading the board because of these contests. I had a few Quitting Events happen on my boards, but again not to the scale you see on a board this size.

Now, in the aftermath of this event, Stuck has returned to the board and Apologized to Smokey, which is a pretty impressive thing to do since the kind of Napalm Smokey was using to taunt Stuck was of the most visceral and personal kind. He sensed a weakness in Stuck because of aspects of his personal life he had written about here, and used them to make Stuck feel even worse than he otherwise does about the situation. In the world of Napalm, this is a “Low Blow”. Hitting below the belt. But of course a true Napalm Artist respects NO Rules at all, because there are NO RULES in a Knife Fight. I did find it interesting that Smokey himself quit in the aftermath of this, which shows that Smokey has a conscience, or at least an inability to face the consequences of his actions, which is that everyone on the board was pissed off at him for causing Stuck to quit.

There was also something of a change in Smokey recently, the fact he came into my Existential thread and debated it free of his usual napalm was rather odd. It did not fit in with the persona he was pursuing here at all. Unless someone admits to outside circumstances impacting on them, you cannot know for sure why their behaviors will change in writing on these pages. You can speculate on it, you can observe the effects, but you cannot really know the underlying cause. Stuck has been fairly open about the problems his son is facing, so we can understand his reactions and behaviors in light of that, but Smokey’s behaviors are more opaque.

As we move forward here from this, I am going to offer a few words of advice. First, I never believe in Censorship under any circumstances, so to Jim Quinn my advice is to Carry On as he has, letting the membership post as they will, whatever the outcome of that is. I am even sorry that Jim chose to delete both DP and Hugh Betchya. However, it is his board, so he can do that if he so chooses.

The REAL POWER though to control the Napalm Artists is not in the hands of the CHIEF, it is in the hands of the TRIBE. The way you control people as a group who will not maintain community standards is by SHUNNING them. Do not respond to Napalm Artists, pay no attention to them. In the aftermath of Smokey quitting, Colma Rising has attempted to “assume the mantle” of the board’s chief flamethrower. If you buy into that shit, he will continue onward. If you ignore it, he may continue onward if he is a persistent sort of fellow, but he won’t get any satisfaction from it. If/when Smokey returns and pursues this paradigm again, I suggest the same tactic. He is a bright enough guy, he doesn’t really need to write that sort of shit to make point. I certainly won’t respond to any Napalm they pitch, although if like Smokey did in the Existential thread he writes good stuff to topic, I’ll treat them like any other good debater and welcome the input. Smokey is a smart fellow clearly, but he took on a certain persona here which overall was not real productive. Why he did that is unclear, and probably will remain unclear unless he returns.

What ARE our Community Values? Is it really that important to us to value Napalm Artistry just because it can be creative and sometimes even funny? Or is the Value of this board to INFORM on the important topics of our time? I believe the latter is the important Value of this board, and if we expect it to be successful, being a good source of information and opinion on these topics, this is what we must strive for.

For each of the Writers here, whether you are a Contributor or just respond in the Comments, I have two suggestions. First is to watch your own writing carefully for Subtle Napalm. Its often an unconscious thing to make an Ad Hom attack that will cause someone else to escalate up in napalm. Try to respond only to the ideas, rather than the author who writes them. I get a lot of Napalm pitched my way simply because it comes off the keyboard of RE. Even when I write stuff most of you will agree with, I get responses like “Much as it PAINS me to do so, I have to agree with RE here.” That is a subtle form of Napalm of course. You take the opportunity to say that even though you think what I wrote is correct, you STILL think I am an asshole. See how easy it is to write Napalm?

The second suggestion is to SHUN the Napalm Artist. Don’t perpetuate the contests by responding with ever increasing levels of Napalm. Nobody “wins”, everybody LOSES. Even if you enjoy these exercises in creative scatology and sexual innuendo, it’s a fucking waste of time and makes the board unreadable for most people. It’s a major turn-off for the average reader. If you support this stuff, you are marginalizing the board as an effective communication medium.

As for me, here in the Daily Rants I will continue to observe and analyze the collapse, and respond to anyone who makes a good argument. I will also continue to Troll other threads, and I no doubt will use both logical argument and my gift for comedy to make fun of the IDEAS other people write, but I will try very hard not to attack ad hom. Be your OWN censor. As far as challenging me goes, I welcome all challengers who will write to topic. TAKE ME ON. It is what I live for as an Internet Debater of the topics of our time. I will respect you as long as you respect me.

LLPOH brings up a point here in the Self-Censorship debate, which is that in addition to censoring the type of prose you write, you should also self-censor on its length. He prevails upon me to make my posts SHORTER. Does he prevail on Jim to make his posts shorter? No he does not, because he mostly agrees with what Jim writes. Jim’s stuff is just as long as mine is, he just doesn’t write quite so often as I do at such length. Quality is not an issue here, merely length and frequency. Length in and of itelf is not a bad thing, its only bad if you pursue ad hom in the diatribe, which I do not do. When I write LONG, I write to topic. When I Napalm in response to napalm thrown my direction, its in the Comments, not in the OP. I do not see a reason to make my articles shorter, I am not attacking anyone by having diarheah of the keyboard. LOL. My means of delivering my message is to write at length and exhaustively. It is not Napalm to do that. realize one very important TRUTH if you do take me on, which is that I will NEVER quit, and I will write long and in detail responding to what you write if I do not agree with it. I have a Fast Gun here under my fingertips on this Keyboard, I will use this gift, and I will spit the bullets out faster than you can, or anyone else. In fact I will write it faster than ALL the anybody elses will together. Live with it. NOBODY can keep up with the pace I write at, I think I have proved that one beyond a shadow of a doubt. I run the Marathon on the keyboard against a few sprinters, I’ll grind you to DUST over the whole course of the race. Unless you are the kind of Zealot I am and are as smart as I am, you will be crushed over time. Are you that far up the end of the Bell Curve of Smart People and Ideological Zealots? I have not yet run into someone who can compete on this playing field. LLPOH thinks he can, and I welcome his challenge. Fair and Square, my arguments of IDEAS against his, I am all for it. I will match my intellect up against his anytime, it’s a fun thing for me to do against another smart guy. Think of it like John McEnroe against Bjorn Borg at the US Open. Clearly,I am the Bad Boy Johnny Mac here of course. LOL. Regardless of being a bad boy though, I am a better Tennis Player than LLPOH is. He has more MONEY than I do (update 2013: well, back then he did. lol), but elsewise he has little to defend himself. He isn’t as smart as I am, and he cannot keyboard so fast as I can. He will eventually lose as result. (OK, I admit to doing some TAUNTING here. This still IS TBP after all. LOL)

LLPOH writes his “Short Stories” as means to pontificate on his perspective. All well and good there. I will challenge his Short Stories when I think they represent WRONG ideas, but that is not Napalm. I’m not attacking LLPOH, merely what he is trying to communicate as a philosophy with his short stories. I welcome him to challenge my ideas as well in any of my Daily Rants. This is not Napalm, as long as it is the IDEAS that are being attacked, not the WRITER of those ideas. Please Place Your Bets here on TBP, LLPOH vs RE, who do you think will be proved correct in the long term? Side with the Unrepentant Capitalist or the Repentant Tribalist, your choice. I KNOW my Sins, I admit them and hope for forgiveness in the Great Beyond. LLPOH does NOT Repent, this is his CHOICE, and if you side with him your choice as well. We ALL will have to pick our sides here in the maelstrom before us now, this is only the first of many choices you will have before you, but in that choice you reveal the core of what you believe in. Principles you cannot abandon without giving up how you define your understanding of the world.

Nobody DIES in these Gunfights in Cyberspace, so they will continue onward for so long as TBP lights up the Internet. Who “wins” here when we engage in good debate? EVERYBODY WINS. Good debate elucidates the underlying ideas and principles so everyone who reads grasps a better understanding of them. I learn things all the time from these debates, and my ideas evolve as a result of it. If you read for comprehension, your ideas will evolve as well. The TRUTH is that we must ALL evolve if we are to find a Better Tomorrow, although to be sure, its not going to come in our lifetimes.

See You on the Other Side.



Here in this post, I am not going to make a Value Judgement on this, who I think was right or wrong in the Napalm Contest that went down this time on the Diner.  I personally was SURPRISED that some long term Diners lost control as badly as they did this time.  I was caught unprepared, despite my years of experience as a Board Moderator on AOL, where the shit went flying on a Daily Basis.  However, once it went down, I went into Overdrive on Board Moderation, with all the tricks available to me as ADMIN, POWER OF GOD on a Forum.  I had to stop this stuff, and stop it fast.  Not really ALL the tricks are available to me in reality, because I am COMMITTED to Non-Censorship and No Banning.  I have to find other means to defuse these things without resorting to that, and trust me, it is not EZ.  I want a platform where EVERYONE can speak their mind, without the fear of Banning.  I have been Banned MANY times, on MANY Blogs and Forums.  I am a Troll of the First Order, I can overwhelm a commentary with the volume I write anytime at all.  When you do finally get SHUT DOWN as a Troll, particularly on a board or forum you have spent a lot of time on, it is EXTREMELY frustrating.  When I got Shit-Canned from Peak Oil, I went through a real tough period where I only was able to keep going because I started the Reverse Engineering Yahoo Group, and got a few friends to follow me there. If it was not for my dear friend and fellow Admin on the Diner now Surly, there would BE NO DINER.  If it was not for Peter who I met briefly before Karl Denninger Shit Canned me off Ticker Forum, there would BE NO DINER. If it was not for Haniel who Rode to the Rescue with the Database Cavalry from California, THERE WOULD BE NO DINER.  This is why making FRIENDS is important, particularly when you write on unpopular topics or have an unpopular spin.  I don’t want the Commenters here to have to go through what I did, and I also know most if not all would not have the persistence and expertiese to keep going regardless of what happens on a given Blog or Forum.  It is VERY hard to shut me up on the Web, I know how the whole thing works too well and have been at the game too long, since the Jurassic Period on AOL.  The Diner is the EVOLUTION of all those years, all those boards, all those Napalm Contests.  I WILL NOT allow the Diner to be undermined in this way, but at the same time I will make it possible for any Diner to speak their mind unexpurgated without CENSORSHIP.  I am COMMITTED to this principle of Free Speech, and if this means occassionally the emotions run hot and people get mean to each other, so be it.

One final warning to the other Napalm Artists out there.  Do not take ME on here on the Diner.  Here I am ADMIN, POWER OF GOD ON A FORUM.  You CANNOT WIN.  I will make you REGRET THE DAY YOU WERE EVER BORN. In the words of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson:


If you can’t stand the HEAT, stay out of the Diner Kitchen.  You just never know when the Oven will EXPLODE.  I certainly got surprised by this one.  In the end though, the Diners recovered, there were no Quitting Events.  Diners are TOUGH.


American Anxiety

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

Published on Clusterfuck Nation on July 15, 2013


Discuss this article at the Martin-Zimmerman Case File inside the Diner

“The whole world was watching this case to see if everybody can get equal justice, no just certain people,” Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Mr. Martin’s family, said on Sunday.                            —The New York Times

     I’m not so sure the whole world was watching. The rest of the world is quite preoccupied with countless other events careening toward criticality — civil war in the Middle East, bankruptcy all over Europe, riots in Brazil, the global bond market, a mystery epidemic in India, etc — and if they are watching, they must be mystified by what they see.

     What the Zimmerman trial showed me was a nation stuck in tired narratives about its racial predicament, and confusion about what the predicament even is. It doesn’t help that we stopped even pretending that something called common culture matters or even exists. By common culture I mean shared values and behavioral norms. The “multiculturalism” offered in place of it — at least among so-called progressives — hasn’t worked out too well either. On one side of the street you have Slate podcasters foolishly wringing their hands over “the N-word” while over on the other side Kanye West is making millions shouting “nigga, nigga, nigga.” We pretend to want to have a national conversation about race, but the truth is that it makes us too uncomfortable, so we retreat into platitudes and sentimentality.

      CNN covered the trial and its aftermath relentlessly — I saw a lot of it recovering from a Friday surgery — and the narrative there was a largely sentimental one about “a child” gunned down. Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon repeatedly omitted to mention that the six-foot-tall child was beating the smaller gunman’s head into the pavement in the minutes before he shot. Apparently the jury did notice this part of the story.

     The most uncomfortable part of the botched conversation is about behavior in general and the behavior of young black men in particular. The visible social failure is too gross and its implications are too scary, namely that we have more and more an oppositional culture saturated in violence that will never accommodate itself to any kind of a common culture. At this point that culture of young black men is oppositional to virtually every other group in America, white, Asian, Hispanic, et cetera, and the only response to it from the jittery “others” is a set of excuses for black opposition and failure.

     One excuse is that America’s drug laws have turned young black men into “political prisoners” in the world’s largest prison gulag. I’m sure that our drug laws are stupid and counter-productive, but I’m also sure that most of the young men caught in its web were doing something anti-social besides just holding, using, and selling.

     There are ways of understanding historically how we got to the current situation but they may not offer much consolation. The Civil Rights victories of 1964 and 1965 — the public accommodations act and voting rights act — created tremendous anxiety among African Americans about how they would fit into a desegregated society, so the rise of black separatism at exactly that moment of legislative triumph was not an accident. It offered a segment of the black population the choice of opting out of the new disposition of things. Opting out had consequences, and over several generations since then, the cohort of poorer black Americans has grown only more oppositional, antagonistic, and economically dysfunctional — with the sanction of America’s non-black “diversity” cheerleaders, who remain adamant in their own opposition to the idea of common culture.

     The economic challenges of the long emergency, with its desperate competition for the common resources of daily life — money, food, fuel — are liable to provoke new layers of desperate behavior, and new layers of opposition, antagonism, misunderstanding, tragedy, and failure. Do you argue that there are no “jobs” for young black men and nothing to absorb their energies? Increasingly there will be no “jobs” for anybody, except perhaps in local small scale farming. And these days that probably lacks the appeal of becoming a hip-hop star shouting “nigga, nigga, nigga.”

     What we “learned” from the Trayvon Martin case, so far, is exactly nothing.

Webs of Deceit

Off the keyboard of William Hunter Duncan

Published originally here @ the Doomstead Diner, July 15, 2013

Discuss this article in the Forum


I did not follow the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case very closely, except checking in occasionally, to take a gauge of American crazy. I did not even realize until the last few weeks, the degree to which the media had proliferated the spectacle of it. As time went on, I met more and more people who were transfixed, consumed by the menagerie. As though some dark magician were behind the scene, weaving the narrative web, catching victims regardless their political stance or socio-economic status, devouring them all, sucking out the soul, unbeknownest to the paralyzed victim. LOL. It don’t care to have my soul sucked, which is why I don’t have cable. Soul-sucking being de rigueur these days, whatever your media poison.


Whatever. This case was never anything to me but two young men attempting to model manliness, ideal or archetypal, as defined by the hideously violent culture they inhabit. As I said in the comments section of the Doomstead Diner :


“Zimmerman, the gun toting wannabe law enforcement muscle thug, Trayvon gold toothed tattooed tough guy. Like in a movie, meeting on a fateful, rainy night.”


Was deadly force necessary? I’ll let you know, the next time someone is bashing my head against the concrete. I would expect if there were anything on my mind at such a time, it would not be “I wonder if this will result in death or traumatic brain injury,” but rather, I might act from a deeper, more primal, unconscious place. Not carrying a gun, I have no fear of shooting anyone and becoming a touchstone for my culture to jerk off too with their fantasies about what Justice looks like. Nor do I necessarily worry about having my head bashed into the concrete, insofar as I mostly just garden and ride my bike, pick berries and build stuff. I don’t look or act like anybodies oppressor, or this culture’s definition of what a man looks like. Though honestly I have wondered if some black dude strung out on spectacle might take a potshot at me sitting in my house by the window or riding my bike, no thanks to my Liberal friends, or say, the HuffPost.


 Huffpost’s favored image of the adolescent Trayvon

Of course it is very much true that if you are a poor or “ghetto” black man, you aren’t going to win many “stand your ground” cases. It may also be true that a few white dudes might get to thinking they can kill without accountability. Which TPTB are perfectly fine with, the black community simmering, the white community dividing up more or less in equal opposition to the black community and each other. I knew we were doomed when I heard a “panel” discussion on NPR the other day, in anticipation of the Martin/Zimmerman jury verdict, on what to do with the black community (basically), between three white panelists and the white host, all of whom were very sincere. Meanwhile I’m fairly certain Ann Coulter has had a continuous orgasm since the verdict, if we are talking about weavers of webs of deceit. Black fomenters of black rage are salivating.


Meanwhile, what is going on in the world, on planet earth? The Treasuries of every nation state are being looted. The banks are sustained by little more than 85 billion in free, just-in-time monthly deposits of cash money digibits (speaking of dark magicians). There is a full-on corporate press to exploit every square inch of the first mile layer of earth crust, grinding it up into one enormous planetary tailings pile, which they do to finance their (perceived) galactic escape hatch. Pollinators are disappearing in alarming numbers, as para-military contractors fan out across the globe to protect the defilers, and the NSA watches every move you make.


You’ld think people thought that was Trayvon’s or Zimmerman’s fault.


Like I also said in the forum:


“Now, both touchstones for a country divided, preyed upon by TPTB and their media while TPTB LOOT IT, and pollute it beyond redemption for Right or Left, gun toting hyper individualist fuck the earth exploiters in one fist, total control government lovers of totalitarian fuck the earth in the other fist; whatever, hands coming together, SMACK, in the direction of internal WAR, while their bloody, miserable scum bag government and corporations conspire to unleash para-military contractors upon ALL THE WORLD. Fucking stupid. RIP Trayvon Martin. You too G-man Zimmerman, whenever some other douche-bag decides he’s going to become the LAW.”


So I don’t know what you think about this media spectacle aka Court of Law, in this waning, declining empire, but I recommend caring less. Try looking out for pollinators instead. It will keep you occupied, and probably less likely of falling prey to any of the dark magicians out there, or any of their prey. Find some berries to pick. Build something. Sing. Dance. Share. 🙂





























This Was The Week In Doom July 14, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 14, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

“The first change that takes place is in your mind.You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So when we said that ‘the revolution would not be televised,’ we were saying that the thing that’s going to change people is something that nobody will ever be able to capture on film.

It’ll just be something that you see, and then all of a sudden you realize ‘I’m on the wrong page.'”

  ~Gil Scott Heron


There comes a time in nearly everyone’s life when, either as the result of the catharsis or of a life-changing event, the idols you have erected for yourself fall: you realize that much that you have done, seen or own no longer serves you.  Suddenly you realize, “I’m on the wrong page.” Those of us old enough to remember a government that appeared, at least to advocate for the rights of ordinary people  in balance with those of corporate persons, that attempted to protect the public health and promote some level of general welfare, that even became an advocate for civil rights for the oppressed, who remember a republic that was at least functional,  able to enact policy via political compromise as opposed being captive to the economic terrorism of an entrenched and implacable minority, will know what I mean.  Much of the discussion in the pages of the Diner Forum centers around “fast collapse” versus “slow collapse.” Our current world of escalating cruelty and absurdity, in which the thoughtful are mocked while the basest and most ludicrous are elevated to celebrity status, shocks the senses. This week’s summary provides a luxury box with a panoramic view of what collapse looks like, with each detailed writ large– but when considered from a view high enough and far enough away, the pattern resolves a pointillist image of impending doom.


Zimmerman Acquitted


Late Saturday evening, the Florida jury deliberating on the charges against George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin
acquitted  Zimmerman of charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter  in a case that alternately fascinated and appalled large segments of a spellbound nation. As the judge confirmed the verdict with jurors, one of the six women in the jury sat with a face flushed with emotion.

It did not take long for reaction to coalesce. as waiting demonstrators in Sanford Florida learned of the verdict, a chant arose that, “the system has failed!” As of this writing, it appears that people are even yet catching up with this verdict, and is difficult to know what will happen next. Needless to say, there is plenty of outrage to go around.

On July 10, Charlie Pierce uttered the stuff of prophecy:

‘A general consensus seems to be forming around the fact that George Zimmerman, who shot down an unarmed teenager for the crime of being in a place where Zimmerman thought the teenager did not belong, may well skate in his trial down in Florida. This will happen, it is said, for a variety of reasons. The state overcharged him. The jury will buy the notion that he was having a near-death experience. Florida’s preposterous stand-your-ground law was badly drawn and gave Zimmerman a loophole through which he was able to dive.  (An acquittal in this case is a virtual hunting license for every gun-totin’ wannabe in the state. The cops must be thrilled.)

But the simple fact underlying all of these explanation is that, if the races of the shooter and his victim were reversed, Trayvon Martin already would be on his way to Raiford. (We would like this other case marked as Exhibit A in support of our argument.) This has more than dawned on many people in Florida, and local law enforcement is already nervous.’

Anyone with any sense hopes this doesn’t happen. Which leaves out the nest of otherwise unemployables working at Breitbart’s Mausoleum, who are fairly slavering for a race war to break out after the verdict. Whatever you do, stay the hell out of the comments section. It will make you despair of being a human being. Said it before, will say it again. Nothing good will come of this case. Nothing.’



The lessons of history are pretty unmistakable about what happens when people are systematically denied justice.

Whatever the merits or faults of the prosecutions case against Zimmerman, the feeling on the street is that justice has been denied.  Even those who hung on every word of the proceedings, the thousands of de facto volunteer jurors in the case,  come to different conclusions based on what they heard.

And for those convinced that justice has been served, there is the story of how a Black woman fired a warning shot and gets 20 Years , whereas a white man shoots his wife’s lover and walks free.

Zimmerman’s adoptive godfather, Sean Hannity, was not available for comment.


Radioactive Tritium At Record High Levels In Fukushima Ground- And Sea-Water

With the Western (and Japanese) media focused almost entirely on the actions of their central-planners-in-chief and how effective they are, it seems human’s omnipotence over complex systems is being greatly challenged by the ongoing Fukushima disaster.  Earlier this week, The Japan Times reported that TEPCO said that 600,000 becquerels per liter of tritium has been detected in groundwater at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant – 18% higher than levels a week earlier.

In a story Joe P. posted last night, a report by William Boardman pointed out even more grim news:

As with all nuclear reporting, precise and reliable details are hard to come by, but the current picture as of July 10 seems to be something like this: 

”   On July 5, radiation levels at Fukushima were what passes for “normal,” which means elevated and dangerous, but stable, according to measurements by the owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). 

”   On July 8, radiation levels had jumped about 90 times higher, as typically reported.  TEPCO had no explanation for the increase. 

”   On July 9, radiation levels were up again from the previous day, but at a slower rate, about 22 per cent.  TEPCO still had no explanation. 

”   On July 10, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) issued a statement saying that the NRA strongly suspects the radioactive water is coming from Fukushima’s Reactor #1 and is going into the Pacific. 

Furthermore, the utility also said it had measured a seawater tritium level of 2,300 becquerels per liter – the highest so far – near the water intakes of reactors 1 to 4. So it is that in a nation already suffering from a dreadfully declining demographic dilemma, the citizens are being exposed to highly cancerous substances still.

Let’s put this in perspective.  Here is a list of the purportedly “safe”  levels  of radiation in water.

”   10 becquerels per liter — The officially “safe” level for radioactivity in drinking water, as set by the NRA. 

A becquerel is a standard scientific measure of radioactivity, similar in some ways to a rad or a rem or a roentgen, but not equivalent to any of them.  But one need not understand the nuances of nuclear physics to get a layman’s idea of what’s going on in Fukushima.  Just keep the measure of that safe drinking water in mind, that liter of water, less than a quart, with 10 becquerels of radioactivity.

”  60 becquerels per liter — For nuclear power plants, the safety limit for drinking water is 60 becquerels, as set by the NRA, with less concern for nuclear plant workers than ordinary civilians. 

”   60-90 becquerels per liter — For waste water at nuclear power plants, the NRA sets a maximum standard of 90 becquerels per liter for Cesium-137 and 60 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134.

 so here is the current status what’s going on at Fukushima:

At some of Fukushima’s monitoring wells, radiation levels were in fractions of a becquerel on July 8 and 9. At the well (or wells) that are proving problematical, TEPCO has provided no baseline readings. 

”  9,000 becquerels per liter — On July 8, according to TEPCO, the company measured radioactive Cesium-134 at 9,000 becquerels per liter.  Since TEPCO characterized this as 90 times higher than on July 5, the implication is that the earlier reading (about 100) was less than twice as toxic as the allowable limit and only 10 times more toxic than drinking water for civilians. 

”   11,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of Cesium-134 on July 9.    

”    18,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO measurement of  Cesium-137 on July 8.

”    22,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of Cesium-137 on July 9. 

”    900,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of the total radioactivity in the water leaking from Reactor #1.  This radiation load includes both Cesium isotopes, as well as Tritium, Strontium and other beta emitters.  There are more that 60 radioactive substances that have been identified at the Fukushima site. 

This may well be too much statistical argle-bargle (geez, I actually quoted Nino Scalia) for most readers,  but suffice it to say that a situation that was already bad is getting much, much worse. And nobody can or will say why.  Water continues to flow through the Fukushima  accident site, both from groundwater and water pumped in from the ocean to contain other potential meltdowns. It is unclear what can be done, which is troubling. Even more troubling is the fact that radiation, like the weather, moves from West to East.


 Add Hastings: LAPD Gag Order on Hastings Death Indicates Murder Cover-Up?

We typically disregard stories published on this site as the work of rightist conspiracy types with a Bircher bent.  Yet evidence persists that the death of Michael Hastings was most unusual, and witnesses continue to emerge with stories that a reasonable person might think would warrant further investigation. That is, if one were really interested in finding out exactly what happened, which is to say, more reasonable than the LAPD. So forgive us if we smell a cover up.

Michael Hastings


The Michael Hastings Car Crash: No Skids Marks, a Flying Engine and “Boston Brakes”

In cases such as the highly suspicious and tragic car crash/explosion that killed celebrated investigative journalist Michael Hastings, I try to reserve commentary for a little bit to let facts emerge following the initial speculative flurry. Particularly when it involves a journalist with whom I am only slightly familiar.  I think we can all agree at this point that based on what has come forward in the past several weeks it is more than likely Mr. Hastings was murdered. The following report from San Diego News 6 provides an excellent summary of what we know, and what we don’t know.  The LAPD doesn’t seem to care much about the latter.  From San Diego 6:

An eyewitness at the scene, Jose, employed at nearby business ALSCO Inc said, the car was traveling very fast and he heard a couple explosions shortly before the car crashed. In fact, the explosion was so intense that it took the LA County assistant corner, Ed Winter, two days to identify the burned-beyond recognition body of Hastings.

As news of the journalist’s death reached family and work colleagues another story emerged, one that would seemingly contradict the LAPD’s verdict. It quickly surfaced that Hastings reached out to Wikileaks attorney Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before his death claiming the FBI was investigating him.

One particular passage in Hastings book, “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan,” revealed that a former McChrystal staff member made a death threat. “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” the unnamed staffer said. Hastings coolly retorted: “Well, I get death threats like that about once a year, so no worries.”

He later wrote; “I wasn’t disturbed by the claim. Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people, one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me.”

But the most significant missing evidence was the absence of any skid marks—even though the car made a 60-degree turn into a palm tree.

Research of this topic reveals a new angle to this story, namely —Boston Brakes.

This theory was explained by a former Marine Gordon Duff who refers to the “Boston Brakes” technique, in which “drive by wire” cars, specifically a Mercedes Benz, can be manipulated remotely to simulate an out-of-control accident, according to his Veterans Today story (The 2010 story is a must read). The story details are eerily similar to Hastings fiery accident scene as there were no skid marks.

Adding credence to the possible car-hacking scenario is former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke. After news broke on the Hastings car accident, he confirmed the “drive by wire” concept.

Clarke told The Huffington Post that a single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack. There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car.”

Another significant detail pointed out by some members of law enforcement, is the intensity of the fire inside the car. It’s highly unusual since gasoline generally doesn’t burn that hot. Reviewing video footage from the scene, the intensity of the fire resembles a “thermite” burn.

Despite the LAPD’s categorization of the Hasting fatal accident as a “no (evidence of) foul play” accident, LAPD refuses to release the accident and toxicology reports, or make the Mercedes available for inspection which only fuels speculation.

Until such time as that vehicle and the reports are available for public inspection, the speculation is likely to continue.


Wisconsin Paramilitaries

Once upon a time this might have been made the “unbelieveable” file,  but comes to us from Wisconsin, that living laboratory for what the Koch brothers have in mind for the rest of us once they get to fill statehouses with governors of their choice. Their hand-picked suzerain in Madison, Scott Walker, who Pierce describes as “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage its midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin,”  is in the process of selling off the state piece by piece. This latest datum represents what is happening as Walker transfers public land to a massive iron ore mining operation.

In response to the protestations of some who actually find this transfer objectionable and have demonstrated that point in public, the money concerned has now mounted a private army to patrol said public land to protect their purported interests.

Imagine walking through the Wisconsin woods with your children only to suddenly encounter the fellow pictured above? We’re talking here about land that is actually *open to the public*, and the Private Sector militarized mercenaries do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually  employ the weaponry that they are openly carrying around for the purpose of protecting property.

A company proposing a $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin is drawing fire for hiring heavily armed security guards to protect the project site. State Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and State Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) Monday called on Gogebic Taconite to immediately remove the “masked commando security unit” hired to protect the company’s property in the Penokee Hills in Ashland and Iron counties. Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz told the Duluth News Tribune on Monday that the company hired the Arizona-based Bulletproof Securities Force after teams of mining opponents “dressed in black and wearing masks violently attacked our drill site” in June.

More scathing commentary here, along with a VIDEO from a local NEWS station:

A brief taste:

But now Wisconsinites are getting a bite from a brand new flavor of shit sandwich that results from having a Republican-controlled legislature: Masked mercenaries with semi-automatic weapons are guarding the site of a controversial mining project that is being established near Lake Superior and understandably, people are freaking out about it.

Although there were serious environmental concerns about the mine, in March the GOP legislature pushed it through anyway. Since then there have been steady events protesting the mine, which will be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. Over the July 4th weekend, however, masked security guards wearing camouflaged uniforms and carrying multiple semi-automatic weapons started patrolling the future mine’s site. Forget about the firepower for a moment, why do these dudes require masks to do their jobs???

Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall did a little digging into the background of Bulletproof Securities the rent-a-cop on steroids firm—or as they put it, the “No Compromise Security Force”—that is minding the mine:

Here’s the Bulletproof website which lists all sorts of security/paramilitary type services. They even have their own ‘border security force’, which is something I thought the federal government took care of. But apparently not without occasional help from Bulletproof.

Indeed, as the site notes, “BPS has at its disposal the latest cache of specialized equipment for border security operations, not typically found in the private sector. As example, BPS owns heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets … The presence of BPS will prevent criminal organizations from posing a threat to your personnel or your mission.”

If your needs are different, Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.”

It turns out that the company providing the paramilitaries is an Arizona company, owned by a real estate developer. Said developer clearly is in the business of providing armed assurance to the 1% who clearly don’t feel that the federal government is doing a good enough job of protecting the AZ border. Also interesting to note is that in the rush to convey this public land to the iron mining concern, the Republicans who votes pushes through promised that they would be creating local jobs. The first thing the iron mine did was import their paramilitaries from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that the land is actually open to the public, and that Bulletproof’s armed mercenaries do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually use the weaponry that they are carrying for the purposes of “protecting property.” And yeah, why the masks, anyhow?

The question answers itself. It’s not about “protection,” it’s about intimidation. If this doesn’t look like a symptom of “fast collapse” to you, I would submit you are not paying attention.


Poison-proof mosquitoes might trigger a deadly crisis for thousands

And just when you thought it was safe to go outside comes this news from the World Health Organization.


Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited insecticide resistance as a growing threat to malaria control campaigns in Africa, saying “urgent action” is needed to stem the spread. Globally, malaria kills an estimated 650,000 people every year, most of whom are young children. In Africa alone, pesticide failure could result in an additional 259,000 child deaths every year, according to the WHO’s projections.

In its report, the WHO called upon governments to implement tighter monitoring policies and to report cases of insecticide resistance with more diligence, underscoring a critical problem: data remains sparse, inconsistent, and, until recently, scattered across disparate sources.


Globally, malaria kills an estimated 650,000 people every year, most ly young children. In Africa alone, pesticide failure could result in an additional 259,000 child deaths every year, according to the WHO’s projections.In response, they’re developing a tool called IR Mapper. The website, which launched in April, collects data on confirmed and possible insecticide resistance from more than 50 countries  and displays them on an interactive map. Users can filter the data by type of pesticide and mosquito species, and can trace the spread of resistance from 1950 to the present.Ir_mapper_2

IR Mapper collects data on insecticide resistance and displays them in a single map interface.

The idea is to bring country-level data from various studies and publications into a single platform, allowing policy makers and experts to see where pesticide resistance is most prevalent, and act accordingly.


Virginia Follies

Grifters delight…
Virginia is self-described as the “cradle of presidents,” as a disproportionate number of US chief Executives have come from the Old Dominion. Not to be outdone in the news cycles by the newly-insane  state of North Carolina, Virginia has its own home grown crop o’ craziness coming in full. The first issue is the trail of slime left by the revelations of financial impropriety by our esteemed Governor,  who had previously made certain choices and bleatings  about wanting to be the NEXT President from Virginia, a prospect receding further with each passing day.

For a while, the revelations of Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound’s financial non-disclosures were like the constant drip of a leaking faucet. That spigot was opened full bore with the revelation of the $6,500 Rolex watch and a paid for Final Four trip. This past week’s bombshell Washington Post report, carried in both The Virginian-Pilot and The Richmond Times-Dispatch, blew the spigot completely up, along with the glass house occupied by the Guv and his family,  who, incidentally, stand revealed as a set of grifters rivaling Alaska’s Palin family. The trickle of revelations has become a flood, and buried somewhere in the mud are the tatters of  Gov. T.U.’s reputation and future political ambitions. On the other hand, they resuscitated Nixon….

A prominent political donor gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his sister last year, and the governor did not disclose the money as a gift or loan, according to people with knowledge of the payments.

The donor, wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., also gave a previously unknown $50,000 check to the governor’s wife, Maureen, in 2011, the people said.

The money to the corporation and Maureen McDonnell brings to $145,000 the amount Williams gave to assist the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012.


This interview of McDonnell was broadcast earlier in the week, before the Post article broke. One wonders what he knew in advance about it when one is not busy feeding his secret hunchback. Schaudenfreude, indeed.

McDonnell has asserted that he has complied with Virginia’s loose campaign disclosure laws. It appears now that  statement may be, in the famous words of one Patrick Buchanan, “inoperable.” Also, my hunchback wonders what other shoes are left to drop?  Our Guv has garnered the attention of the Feds, and if it were only Virginia laws in question, one wonders why?

This reflects poorly on Virginia,  But then so has the entirety of the  McDonnell administration. This is a governor who, one will recall, who ran neck and neck with Scotty Walker to transfer public assets into private hands at breakneck speed, and with scant regard for existing law.  And his execrable war on women, led by his personal Iago, Ken Cucinelli, leaves an enduring stain on the reputation of the Commonwealth.

 And speaking of that current blight upon the body politic in Virginia,  otherwise known as the current attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate, there is this.

WASHINGTON — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s 2013 gubernatorial candidate, filed a petition Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to uphold Virginia’s anti-sodomy law.

Cuccinelli wants the court to reconsider a March 2013 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit striking down the state’s “crimes against nature” statute. The 4th Circuit ruled that the law did not pass muster in light of the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which struck down the latter state’s anti-sodomy law as an unconstitutional criminalization of Americans’ sexual conduct. The Virginia law, however, remained on the books.

in Virginia, the hits just keep on coming.  And nothing this week from EW Jackson, Virginia’s firebrand Republican Lieut. Gov. candidate. Rumors that the Cucinelli campaign had trussed Jackson securely in a straitjacket, gagged and secured him in the basement of the governor’s mansion in Richmond could not be confirmed at publication time.


TV Is Americans’ Main Source of News

This next item will come as no surprise to anybody who said, transfixed or no, while CNN provided 24–7 coverage of the Zimmerman trial. Had Martians landed in Washington, or nuclear war broke out in the Middle East, you can be sure that CNN would’ve remained all trade bond all the time.


The ubiquity of the idiot box makes the result of this Gallup poll somewhat dispurposeful. But if you’re the sort of evidence-based literalist who likes to actually see the data before making wide, sweeping generalizations about it to prove a point (for example, the way we do things here at TWTWID), then here you are.


Preferred news source varies by age, education, and politics, among other factors

PRINCETON, NJ — Television is the main place Americans say they turn to for news about current events (55%), leading the Internet, at 21%. Nine percent say newspapers or other print publications are their main news source, followed by radio, at 6%..


Don’t Drink The Water


A tip o’ the Surly crown of thorns to haniel for this next item: On this map you can retrieve two types of information:  US rivers in blue and the fracking areas superimposed in red, from the documentary Gasland.

There is just one thing to be said regarding this sobering and terrifying map: Be careful if you live in a red area, your tap water may be contaminated and poisoned by the chemicals and other toxic substances used for fracking and described in the following report: Chemicals Used In Hydraulic Fracturing.

An important point of clarification: NOT ALL OF THESE RED AREAS ARE CONTAMINATED, but they have a higher risk of contamination due to a substantial concentration of fracking activity. The impact that fracking has on water is already firmly established.

I remember, as a child, how the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire and burned, in those days before the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. After nearly 40 years of class war and industry capture of regulatory agencies (remember Anne Burford Gorsuch?) we have largely returned to those unregulated times.  By no means will all people who live in a red area on this map  jeopardize their health if they drink their tap water, but if I did, I would be concerned.  Test your water yourself.


Which will do it for this week’s edition of TWTWID.  This space will be vacant next week due to previous travel commitments and,  judging from the near complete absence of comments in the Forum. will not be much missed. Rest assured that while the reportage may be absent, that doom, in its various factors, will keep marching on. Because doom, like rust, never sleeps.

Let’s close with our brand new franchise, “You’re Shitting Me, Right?”


You’re Shitting Me, right?

Sometimes there are just no words.  Times like this.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson came to the conclusion on Sunday that low student loan rates were to blame for long-term joblessness.

In an interview on Sunday, conservative economics professor Peter Morici explained that President Barack Obama’s health care reform law had caused a “disaster” because only 47 percent of the population was employed.

“So here’s the part I can’t get past, 47 percent of the population works full time,” Carlson said. “That means the other 53 percent is being supported by that 47 percent. That’s not a good ratio.”

“Absolutely not,” Morici replied. “Look what’s happening with young people, my students, many of them are getting into these part-time jobs, some of them not very meaningful. You know, you got a guy with a masters degree working at Starbucks so he lives with his parents.”

“What’s going to happen to these young people and all their big student loans? The answer is very bad things,” he added. “The president has been buying lower unemployment rates by essentially providing very cheap student loans and keeping people out of the labor market.”

“Exactly,” Carlson agreed. “So, cheap student loans keep people out of the labor market. This is a dangerous spiral.”


#NoNeedToSatirize: Gohmert repeatedly shouts ‘Objection!’ to silence critics 

Gohmert repeatedly shouts ‘Objection!’ to silence claims food stamp cuts hurt hungry families

By David Edwards

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday objected over and over again in order to keep statements out of the congressional record that accused Republicans of hurting working families by taking food stamps out of the farm bill.

Before a vote could be taken on the Republican farm bill that drops the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — or food stamps — Democrats attempted to voice their unhappiness by inserting statements into the record.

“Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in strong opposition to the farm bill rule and the underlying bill because it will increase hunger in America,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said.

Although requests to “revise and extend” remarks are routine, Gohmert immediate shouted, “Objection!”

Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-IL) next asked permission to “revise and extend” his remarks in opposition to the farm bill “because it takes food nutrition away from working families.”

“Objection!” Gohmert yelled.

“What he is doing is he is not even giving members on our side the courtesy inserting their statement in the record?” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) asked.

As several more Democratic representatives attempted to insert remarks that the bill “hurts the working poor” and “increases hunger and poverty,” Gohmert repeatedly objected.

“I think it is extremely unfortunate that that members on the other side of the aisle would deny members on this side of the aisle the ability to insert written materials in the record,” McGovern noted. “In all my years here, I’ve never seen such uncourteous gesture.”


When you make a promise to your god, your late father, and your wife to quit smoking, you should actually quit this time.

Turkish man Ibrahim Yucel wanted to keep his promise so badly that he crafted a medieval-style cage to wear on his head so he couldn’t smoke. Every morning, he locks his head in the cage and gives the key to his wife so he won’t give in to his addiction at work.


The sinkhole, discovered Aug. 3, resulted from a collapsed underground salt dome cavern about 40 miles south of Baton Rouge. After oil and natural gas came oozing up and acres of the swampland liquefied into muck, the community’s 350 residents were advised to evacuate.

Texas Brine Co., the operator of the salt dome, is negotiating buyouts of residents who have not joined lawsuits filed against the company. Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said 92 buyout offers have been made, with 44 accepted so far.

  And here is an article custom made for”You’re Shitting Me, Right?”I came across an article this week in which the Atlantic, God love them, investigated whether it is really possible to meet your maker by peeing on the 3rd rail.

Last night a man reportedly was killed while peeing on the third rail of the G train in Brooklyn, leading to a renewed debate over the myth that one can actually kill oneself by taking a leak on the super electrified subway track. The report from the New York Post suggests that the man indeed died because his pee came in contact with the deadly rail. “A drunken man was electrocuted and killed relieving himself on the third rail in Brooklyn this morning, sources said,” reads the report. But, both the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and law enforcement officials have denied a “whiz-3rd rail connection” to the Wall Street Journal’s transportation reporter Tedd Man. So, it sounds more like the man fell while peeing onto the third rail and then got electrocuted and died. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to die in such a manner. We investigate.

The idea behind the myth makes scientific sense: an electrical current could travel up the stream of urine through one’s penis, thus causing a jolt. Or, as a couple of New York City kids put it to a homeless man on the verge of peeing to his death: “Your dick will get blasted, bro.” A Yahoo answers commenter also insists the risk is serious, real, and terrifying: “Electricity can arc across gaps in your pee and zap you right in the nuts. Penile electrocution is very painful. And if the electrical current is sustained, your testicles will explode.”

 And it week of consummate weirdness, you can read the rest of the article here.

That Was The Week That Was In Doom July 7, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 7, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  ~H. L. Mencken

Another week goes by as the doomsday clock continues to tick… tick… tick. Mohammad Morsi leaves to spend more time with his family, while observers speculate about how many the role the IMF has actually played behind the scenes…  ice craters in the Antarctic, the do-nothing 113th left for vacation but not before setting the thumbscrews good and tight for the next generation of college students, Sy Hersh steps on SOMEONE’s last nerve, the immensity of the spy networks becomes even more apparent, more  musings on the death of Michael Hastings, and the Diner itself comes within a hair’s breadth of its own version of fast collapse, rescued by haniel and the “database cavalry.” Plus a brand new franchise lovingly entitled, “You’re shitting me, right?” All in a weeks work watching the intertubes. So ignore your doctor’s orders,  pour another cuppa java Diner style, sit back and shake your head in disbelief at what the gobshites are doing this week.


Why The Muslim Brotherhood Failed In Egypt

There are as many reasons and interpretations of the fall of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood as there are observers. Causes and explanations sprout like dandelions. Morsi was too politically aggressive, too aggressively religious, he alienated too many Egyptians by signaling respect for secular laws then veering rightward,  his religiosity and sectarian Islamist rhetoric was getting on people’s nerves, he spat in the face of public opinion, and ultimately he lost the trust of the people.

Which is not to say that none of this is not true. But those of us who have grown up in a toxic political and media culture within the FSA are in the habit of looking for Root Causes. One such was conjured up Saturday in a fine little blog called The Excavator, in a link posted by Newshound Joe inside the Forum. An analysis by Webster Tarpley (yes, we know) reminds us that if you want the truth,as always, follow the money.

“As soon as they got into power last summer, they [Muslim Brotherhood] began negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. This is the main thing to understand. They threw away their chance to govern because they caved in to the IMF worse than any government in recent Egyptian history. The IMF has always targeted the system of subsidy going back to Nasser and Arab socialism. There is a bread subsidy, there is a cooking oil subsidy, there are other staples, there may be a rice subsidy, but it’s wheat in particular, and fuel, household fuel or gasoline.

And the demand of the IMF was we’ll give you a loan of four billion dollars if you sign a letter of intent that specifies conditionalities. What are the conditionalities? That you will immediately double the price of gasoline. That happened last November, and really it’s been a slide downhill for Morsi since that moment. In other words, he doubled the price of gasoline. Think of that. I think any country in the world you’ll get riots. And in Egypt there’s a tradition. In 1977 Sadat tried to tamper with the bread subsidy and the whole country exploded in his face and he backed off and he never tried that again.

One of the important factors in the entire color revolution-Arab Spring situation, be it Tunisia or Gaddafi or others, is these governments were weakened in advance. They were set up for destruction by years-long IMF offensive to try to attack the system of subsidies and other government interventions to maintain the standard of living. Always the character of these things is to put a floor under the very poor. So the IMF was attacking this.

And what Morsi accepted to do was to double the price of gasoline, to raise the sales tax, and to move towards the implementation of a value-added tax which would be 10, 15, or 20 percent. That was last November. That’s part of the conditionality. This is what destroyed him.” –  Webster G. Tarpley

Tarpley as a source may well be suspect, but even the stopped clock of axiom is right twice a day. Let’s just stop to consider the evidence.



“Should a regime fall without mass mobilization, it is defined as a victim of a coup d’état, usually by a military cabal.”

– Ronald A Francisco, “Collective Action Theory And Empirical Evidence.” Pg. 11.

On his blog,  continues to asser that painting Morsi as the victim of a coup is to miss the larger picture.

The military alone can’t get tens of millions Egyptians onto the streets to remove a president they don’t like. Military leaders were responding to events and the force of public opinion. Was the military happy to nudge the protests along and see the Muslim Brotherhood suffer a defeat? Yes, but the unpopularity of Morsi and the Muslim Broterhood was their own doing.

This is the bigger picture that many in the media are missing.Morsi was doing unpopular things and damaging the reputation of Egypt by calling for a holy war in Syria against Assad and threatening an unnecessary war against Ethiopia over a Dam Project. Many people believe the dispute over the Nile is resolvable through negotiations, including the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.   

If Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in power, Egypt might have been dragged into two wars. So the question that should be asked in this instance is not whether an action is good for democracy but whether it is good for the country. Keeping Morsi in power any longer would’ve hurt Egypt, and for many Egyptians their country is more valuable and sacred than the concept of democracy. 

A country should be led by its best men in a crisis and Morsi proved through his actions that he did not belong in high office. It took less than a year for the Egyptian people to recognize Morsi’s failings as a leader and they acted quickly to preserve their country. Morsi was not “ousted” by the military; he was overthrown by his people with the helpful aid of the military. I know it’s hard to believe in these cynical times but popular mass protests can lead to unforeseen political change.

And in a single observation to make the final point, one which warms the heart of this former Occupier…

Brazil’s leadership responded quickly to the massive protests by promising to dedicate the country’s oil wealth to education, health, and other government services.

The only action that changes anything is mass, collective action. Which is why the oligarchs of the FSA, via their hired thugs and rented congressmen, their instrumentations and armies of bankers all conspire to keep Americans at one another’s throats, to prevent that very thing from ever happening here. “Divide et impera,” motherfkers . . .



Antarctic flood produces ‘ice crater’

The BBC moved a story this week that reported that satellite imagery revealed evidence for a colossal flood under Antarctica that drained six billion tons of water, quite possibly straight to the ocean.

The cause is thought to be a deeply buried lake that suddenly over-topped.

Satellites were used to map the crater that developed as the 2.7km-thick overlying ice sheet slumped to fill the void left by the escaping water.

The peak discharge would have been more than double the normal flow rate of London’s River Thames, researchers say.

The location of the flood was Cook Sub-Glacial Lake (SGL) in the east of the continent, and the event itself occurred over a period of about 18 months in 2007-2008.

It was detected and described using a combination of data gathered by the now-retired US Icesat mission and Europe’s new Cryosat platform.

The American spacecraft’s laser altimeter first noted a drop in the ice-surface height associated with the slumping.

The European satellite’s radar altimeter was then employed to map the shape of the crater that resulted.


Apparently Antarctica has a little understood series of “ghost lakes” which fill, drain and are replenished via mechanisms little understood. These “ghost lakes” are kept in a liquid state by heat rising from the rockbed below and from the pressure of the weight of the massive amount of the ice pushing down from above.

At present, Antarctica is losing mass at a rate of 50-100 billion tonnes a year, helping to raise global sea level. This study suggests that a not insignificant fraction of this mass loss could be due to flood events like that seen at Cook SGL. “This one lake on its own represents 5-10% of [Antarctica’s] annual mass imbalance,” said Leeds co-author Prof Andy Shepherd. “If there are nearly 400 of these sub-glacial lakes then there’s a chance a handful of them are draining each year, and that needs to be considered,” he told BBC News.


Fk the kids… and go fk yourself!

Through inaction, which has become a vital part of this Congress’ skill set, the student loan rate doubled on July 1st. After all, why shouldn’t banksters pay half a point for the billions they borrow, while the next generation, upon which we pin our hopes and promise, start their lives with a mountain of non-dischargeable debt for student loans, which will now cost even more? Clearly, the government has recognized that education is indeed the great social equalizer which enables mobility among the classes, and the lesser classes will be getting none of it, not if the agents of the Owners can help it. The subtext is, equally clearly, to make it as difficult as possible for the children of the working classes to date their daughters in some collegiate future.

With the future of the children of the elites secured with trust funds and offshore accounts, the Koch-suckers of the 113th Congress bid America’s next generation, “Go fk yourselves!”

Bob Borosage explains in “Student Loans: Gouge The Kids,”

Interest rates on student loans will double to 6.8 percent on July 1 unless Congress acts. But it seems increasingly likely that the Congress will take off for the Fourth of July recess without addressing the problem. The major sticking point: Republicans in the House and Senate insist on gouging the kids to help reduce the deficit.

Mission accomplished. Republicans want student loan rates to double to “market rates” plus a bit more, much in the same way your credit card rates seem to never get below onerous no matter how cheap the money gets. The theory is that “the government can make a profit from the loans,”  because should government help students even a little on interest rates – never mind paying for college – it is “government spending” and is Therefore An Apostasy. The notion of “providing for the common welfare is a Capital Crime in Glennbeckistan  and Aynrandia.

What does the public want? Well, go fk yourselves.

Public Policy Polling has recently found:

83 percent of Americans want student loan rates to stay the same or be lowered.

41 percent want them to be lowered to 0.75 percent, the same rate big banks pay for overnight loans.

86 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of independents want action taken on this issue.

74 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for their representative if they let rates rise.

52 percent would be more likely to vote for them if they lowered rates.

60 percent of Democrats are more likely to vote for their representative if they lowered rates, 50 percent of Republicans.

2:1 in support of passing Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bill to lower student interest rates to 0.75 percent; including 65 percent of Democrats and, 56 percent of Republicans.

Nothing will happen between this writing and when this article publishes, so with the best of holiday greetings in sight, remember students and parents, “Go Fk Youselves!”

This message made possible by the 113th Congress.


Has Seymour Hersh grabbed the third rail?


In a speech in January, Seymour Hersh charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative “crusaders” in the former vice president’s office and now in the special operations community:

That’s the attitude,” he continued. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.”

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.”

Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited [sic] to “defence [sic] of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering,” according to its website.

“They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”

“They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins,” he continued. “They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.”



For his trouble, Hersh was called, essentially, batshit-crazy by writers in Foreign Policy. Indeed the vituperation of his critics leads a careful reader to wonder just which Establishment nerve has been struck here. Hersh reported a strange correlation and a surprising importance to a catholic religious order. An order whose past members have included William Casey, James Jesus angleton, Stanley McChrystal, William F. Buckley, Willian “Wild Bill” Donovan, and many others whose names may not be recognizable, but who have hands on the levels of foreign policy, intelligence and NGOs.

Hersh’s opponents have leapt from skepticism to attack and derision. One wonders whether Hersh stumbled onto something deeper and more important than even he realizes? Given that the RCC has been involved in a variety of sordid intrigues for centuries, just how incredulous does it seem for a newly-assertive Church to wish to reassert its  stature and influence. It is reasonable to assume the Church would simply readjust tactics for a new day.

IN any event, who to believe?

Seymour Hersh is in the middle of researching and writing a lengthy book on America’s wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has something of a history of playing looser with his facts in speeches than in print—partially to preserve his scoops pre-publication—and his speech in Doha hewed close to that tradition. In addition to the Knights, for example, he also made claims regarding Opus Dei, another secretive far right Catholic group steeped in just as much rumor and conspiracy theory. However, Hersh is a five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award—a reporter with a record that is well-burnished and nearly sterling.

Given the late 20th Century history of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” how strange would it really be to find members of the Order, in and out of the military, collaborating on a new silent crusade with their old Cold War allies?

It would certainly complement the Christian fundamentalist version of the war, as prosecuted by Erik Prince, the former CEO of the military’s most notorious civilian contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater). His views—as depicted in one affidavit from the court case against him—certainly echo much of what Hersh ascribes to the JSOC and the Knights of Malta:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

As for me, I’ll be waiting for Hersh’s next book.


Murky arrangements

A post by Hiroyuki Hamada. Here is an important article talking about a complexity of the massive NSA spying. It talks about how Western allies colluding with the US massive apparatus.

We won’t be hearing much about it in the mainstream media, but the topic of suppressing mass movements against corporate domination must be an important one among the corporate elites as the movements against austerity, GMO giants, wars, human rights violation and etc. are increasingly becoming global.
We should keep in mind as we hear about NSA revelations that it’s often “the people” who suffer from the collusion of the corporate power, government agencies and elected officials. Behind the scene, the global elites are working hard to keep “the people” under control.

Snowden is being roundly condemned by many who say he had no authority or right to provide the public with details of NSA snooping. But what right or authority did NSA director, General Keith Alexander, have to provide information on NSA surveillance at five meetings of the global Bilderberg Conference – two in Virginia and one meeting each in Greece, Spain and Switzerland?”

“Alexander claims he is protecting the American people from a constantly changing number of terrorist attacks. In fact, he is providing information to elites on the methods NSA uses to spy on labor, student, religious and progressive organizations.”

“When Alexander leaks to the elites, he’s thanked. When Snowden does it, he’s called a traitor and a coward.


Add Michael Hastings

This man’s death continues to haunt. Circumstances indicate it was inexplicable, and quite possibly no accident.

“It doesn’t take much to extrapolate, as Richard  Clarke did, what might happen to a hacked car driven by a high-value target. Really, with the difficulty in tracing an attack after the car, computers and driver have been “compromised” by a raging inferno, even not-so-high value targets that previously might have escaped retribution are now, thanks to technology, easy prey that might be too tempting to pass up.

One simple OnStar feature, for example, is “Stolen Vehicle Slowdown” which allows a remote operator to decelerate a vehicle. (Imagine the opposite happening via a hack of some kind.)

Although Clarke eschewed the moniker of “conspiracy theorist” and also made clear he was not necessarily claiming that Hastings’ late model, Bluetooth-ready car had been victimized by such an attack, it is notable that he felt the need to make such a strong case for considering the possibility. This is, you will recall, a man who has had a front row seat on the 50 yard line in terms of understanding the means available to govermnent operatives and the motivations that drive them.

As someone well-versed both in cyberwarfare and the tendency of people in power to “shoot the messenger” when the message is dangerous to them, the timing and veracity of Clarke’s interview stand out as chilling reminders of the dangerous games currently being played with national security, whistleblowers and investigative journalism.”
Read more at:
Clarke’s HuffPo interview:


Diner Almost Buys the Farm

As most regulars and some guests know, this week was difficult for the Diner as the hosting service that houses this enterprise shut the forum down, supposedly in response to a reported 75,000 database queries per hour. RE, who lived through all of this, tells it best:

It appears more likely that the old Host simply wanted me to buy a Bigger Hosting Package, based on what appears to be a fraudulent number of Database queries, quoted at around 75,000/hour, which is just insane if it is Real People and not some kind of glitch in the system or some BOT attack.  Sure, the Diner has grown here and we have a pretty decent size readership now, but not anywhere NEAR enough to generate that kind of traffic number in legitimate queries.

Thanks to the intervention of haniel and the “database cavalry,” the entire database has been mirrored, copied and even features some new Features and Widgets already installed on the new Diner. The new URL is RE again:

This is another very important aspect of running a Website, because the Hosting Server holds ALL your Data, and they can fuck with you at will. IF YOU OWN SUCH A WEBSITE, BACKUP YOUR DATABASES ON YOUR OWN HARD DRIVE!  I was not so backed up, but fortunately for me I had Haniel who could Spoof the Security on the old Host and pull it all down.  Flick of a Switch if you get in a dispute with the Host, your website is DOWN.  You cannot access your data.   So you have to host on a Server where you have decent faith in the people who run it to be Honest & Righteous.  You don’t get that on Corporate Hosts, once you pass a certain point of Popularity, they start to Blackmail you in insidious ways to cough up moreMONEY.  Buy Paid Technical Support, Buy Bigger Hosting Packages.


The literal meanings of places in the world, mapped.

Sometimes, it’s just for fun. From Slate this week. A pair of cartographers has created a map in which the original place names have been translated to reflect their original meanings.

From the “Misty Mountains” to “Winterfell,” the names of places in fantasy do for us what most real-world names do not: They evoke something. With their primitive literalism, they conjure a sense of dread, as in “Mount Doom” or durability, as in “Storm’s End,” or peace, as in “Rivendell.” Of course, the names of most places in the real world have meanings too, but many have slipped from common knowledge long ago. The above map, designed bycartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust, labels countries, cities, and landmarks with the literal meanings of their official names. Some places, such as “Darkpool” (Dublin) or “Land of the South Wind” (Australia) or “Sea of Middle Earth” (Mediterranean Sea) seem torn straight from a Tolkien epic. Others, such as “I Don’t Understand You!” (Yucatan, Mexico), “Tax Haven for Pilgrims” (Astrakhan, Russia), and “We’re Coming From Cutting Leaves!” (Abidjan, Ivory Coast), are more perplexing. To see further details about the etymology of the names and other maps like this, or to order printed copies, see the cartographers’ website. For more detail on places in the U.S., check out the U.S. map of literal place names.


Dept. of “You’re Shitting Me, Right?”

Pop singer Jennifer Lopez appeared in a special concert Saturday night for the dictator of Turkmenistan, who runs one of the world’s most brutal and oppressive regimes.

“It was our pleasure!” she cheered from the stage. “And we wish you the very happiest birthday… Happy birthday to you — happy birthday, Mr. President.”

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who last made waves in the western media for falling off his horse in front of a large crowd, has accumulated a sordid history since coming to power in 2006.

Reporters Without Borders says that under his rule, Turkmenistan has become “one of the world’s most absolute and brutal dictatorships.” Human Rights Watch similarly classifies the country as “virtually closed to independent scrutiny,” where “human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal.”

The trip to the oil-rich former Soviet nation was organized by the state-run China National Petroleum Corporation, which Lopez reportedly “obliged” at the last moment, according to The Guardian. Her publicist told the paper that she would not have performed the show had she known about the country’s regime.

You know they LOVE this kind of talk. One wonders where are the women ready to Lysistrata on their asses.

Some women like being forced to have an ultrasound before receiving an abortion, according to former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).

Republicans in state legislatures across the country have pushed legislation that requires women to undergo an ultrasound procedure 24 hours before terminating their pregnancy. The so-called “informed consent” laws usually require women to be given a picture of the fetus and be shown a fetal heartbeat, along with general information about abortion.

“The more the ultrasounds have become part of the law, where a woman gets the opportunity to see that there’s a real child, it’s beginning to change minds, and I think that’s a good thing,” DeMint said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “It’s time that the 3,000 babies we lose every day have some people speaking up for them.”

Res ipsa loquitor.


Senior Vatican cleric’s arrest for smuggling stranger than fiction

In yet another blow to the Vatican’s image, a Senior Vatican Cleric has been arrested with two others in an international money smuggling case. Sixty-one-year-old Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who worked as a senior accountant in the Vatican’s financial administration, was arrested along with an Italian secret service agent and a financial intermediary. Scarano was already under investigation in a convoluted case that reads like a spy novel.

Arrested in a Rome parish and taken to Rome’s Queen of Heaven jail, Scarano had hatched a plot to bring up to $52 million into Italy for a family of shipbuilders in his hometown of Salerno in southern Italy, magistrate Nello Rossi says. Rossi is already investigating the Vatican bank for money laundering.

Scarano is under separate investigation in southern Italy in relation to his accounts in the Vatican bank.

Scarano engaged Giovanni Zito, a paramilitary Carabiniere policeman on loan to the secret services, to help him get the money last July, which was in a Swiss bank, into Italy without tax and customs controls, Rossi says.

The third person arrested was Giovanni Carenzio, a financial broker with offices in Switzerland and the Canary Islands and who was acting as the fiduciary for the owners of the money.

It’s not yet known how the money got to Switzerland in the first place.

A cleric tries to help some friends, and suddenly, everyone’s a detective . . .


Add Catholic Church: Still Terrible, Still Stacking Cash So Tall They Could Climb It

Wonkette moved a story detailing this particular flavor of horrible: moving assets around so that they could insulate themselves from legal claims from victims:

Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday reveal that in 2007, Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, then the archbishop there, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation….

[T]he files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.

Hiding your money in trust funds does indeed improve your protection of those delicious monies. Doing so to dick over victims is just what Jesus said to do in First Corinthians, right?! NOPE NOT RIGHT.

This latest bit of financial shenanigans is just one episode in the long-running series called Milwaukee Archdiocese, Why Do You Suck So Hard? Hence, our desire for a macro because Jeee-zus it gets depressing to write about this again and again. Longtime fans will remember that the Milwaukee Archdiocese filed bankruptcy back in 2011 because it was the best way to compensate victims. No really, they said that. They’ve also been whining like a baby without a bottle over the fact that they’ve spent $9 million in legal fees so far during the bankruptcy process and are therefore hobos now. Yr Wonkette is not all that money-savvy, as we have none, but even our rudimentary understanding of how money works leads us to believe that spending $9 million dollars does not make you bankrupt when you’ve already stashed a cool $57 million elsewhere. Milwaukee Archdiocese, you are like the Mitt Romney of churches and your crocodile tears are wasted on our hardened heart. Pay the victims any amount of monies they want because fuck you.

#NoNeedToSatirize: Fox News host: Not using God to sell beer means ‘the terrorists have won’

A Fox News guest host asserted on Friday that “the terrorists have won” because brewer Samuel Adams was not in invoking God in its television commercials to sell beer.

In the “Independence” television spot that began airing last month, an actor in a Samuel Adams Boston Lager commercial quotes from the Declaration of Independence.

“Why name a beer after Samuel Adams? Because Samuel Adams signed the Declaration of Independence,” the actor says. “He believed there was a better way to live: all men are created equal. They are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Smooth, flavorful, we bow to no kings. Samuel Adams Boston lager: declare your independence.”

On Friday, the three Fox & Friends guest hosts expressed outrage that the brewer had not included the phrase “endowed by their Creator” in the commercial.

“When political correctness takes over the beer advertising industry, the terrorists have won,” said Watters, who is better known for his job as a producer on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show. “I mean, this is absolutely outrageous!”

“You know, maybe it’s because Sam Adams was the tea party guy — he started the Boston Tea Party — maybe the tea party’s being targeted here,” he added.

For its part, Sam Adams has reportedly explained that the Beer Institute Advertising Code advises against using “religion or religious themes” for marketing purposes.

But co-host Clayton Morris wasn’t buying that.

“If the beer code ethics code guideline, whatever bogus organization that is has more authority than our Declaration of Independence,” he argued, “why don’t you just pull out the Declaration of Independence and say, ‘I’ve got this document here, does this trump yours?’”

“Yeah, you can have a bikini cat fight in the pool with hair pulling and all that nonsense, but don’t put God,” Watters quipped.


Yes, friends, you can no longer make this shit up.

Until next week, then, see you around the newly renovated Diner!

The Week That Was In Doom June 2, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 2, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

Time once again to indulge ourselves with a survey of doom–and doom–related news culled from the seedier corners of the Internet. It was a week in which Occupy Wall Street retook liberty Square, in sympathy with Turkish occupiers, while in Greece a resurgent Golden Dawn reared its fascist head in Athens streets. Giant storms in Oklahoma brought out a well-practiced chorus of climate change deniers. Meanwhile, the troglodyte right in this country exhibited its well oiled, much practiced victim pose routine in fanning the flames of the IRS tax scandal, while the esteemed solons of the Senate voted once again to deny states permission to tell people whether or not they are eating genetically modified food, the reputation of PBS lies in tatters as they stand exposed as abject whores, a Chinese concern purchases a major American food processor–what could possibly go wrong?

So let’s review the bidding.


OWS retakes Liberty Square
Occupy Wall Street as plan 3 days of activities in retaking liberty Square, ostensibly in support of Turkish occupiers being faced down by riot police in Istanbul right now. The Occupy Wall Street website lists a 3 day agenda of activities.

The organizing website can be found here.

Events can also be viewed on live stream. Some very stirring video, to be sure.


Meanwhile, in Greece:

One of the more dependable things about  austerity and other self-inflicted economic wounds is that it  brings out the right wing in dependable fashion. The history of the 20th century is littered with such movements, and it’s a formula that works again and again. The right becomes the brownshirts, the muscle , or “useful idiots” for the plutocrats who actually pulling the strings and who hope to orchestrate wealth transfer and social dislocation that will redound to their advantage.

Members and supporters of Golden Dawn chant the national anthem in front of the Greek parliament. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Golden Dawn: ‘Greece belongs to Greeks. Long live victory!’

Like the soldiers on whom they model themselves, the Greeks who subscribe to the ultra-nationalist, neo-fascist dogma of Golden Dawn are the first to say they are at war. This week, as Antonis Samaras’s coalition government struggled to contain an escalating crisis over efforts to curb the extremists, it was they who appeared to be winning that war.

Amid a dramatic surge in attacks on immigrants blamed on the neo-Nazis, the debt-stricken country’s ruling alliance has come under unprecedented pressure to crack down on racially motivated crimes. Legislation calling for a ban on parties perceived to incite such violence was proposed by prime minister Samaras’s two junior leftist partners last month. Claiming that it would “victimise” Golden Dawn, which has 18 of the 300 MPs in parliament, the conservative groups last week rejected the bill as counterproductive. On Friday they put forward their own, less punitive law.

As parliament prepares to debate how best to apply legislation that will curb the party, – measures that have unexpectedly electrified the political scene – the far right is flourishing in the knowledge that, in a country reeling from the twin ills of austerity and despair, it is they who are in the ascendant.


Rising Hegemon adds this:

Clear political indications of what Austerity can do for a country:

It wasn’t just that their symbols looked like swastikas. Or that thousands of Greek flags filled the marble square beneath the Acropolis. Or that they were marking the 560th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople.

It was that there were so many of them. Angry men and angry women furiously screaming “Greecebelongs to Greeks” in the heart of ancient Athens, as tourists – some befuddled, some shocked – looked on or fled at the sight of neo-Nazis coming to town.

“Now we are in the thousands,” thundered Nikos Michaloliakos, the bespectacled mathematician who leads Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party. “Long live victory!”

It is always instructive to note how the lack of democratic input into the policy process always seems to result in a movement that will ensure even less democratic input in the process; namely fascism. Greece is well on its way, and as RE often says, “coming soon to a theater near you.”


The Stupid, It Burns

Oklahoma suffered its second set of giant tornadoes within the space of about a week. Not for nothing do they call this section of the country “tornado alley,” as it traditionally funnels cold air from the north as it meets meets warm air rising from the South at the Rockies and heads due east. This is not news. What is news is the alacrity with which the representatives of the people who live in the state engage in a remarkable set of hypocrisies. Not only do they insist on immediate aid for Oklahomans while having denied the same sort of response to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, but they also rush to practice their well-rehearsed victim pose routine, denying that climate change is making these traditional and not wholly unexpected storms much bigger and much more dangerous than they used to be.

Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican, accused the “liberal media” of exploiting the devastating tornado in Oklahoma to push its climate change “agenda.”

“The liberal media is trying to exploit a tragedy to advance and expand its own agenda. And, believe me, the victims all know this,” Inhofe said in an interview with Newsmax, adding that news outlets that link the tornado to climate change ”do a great disservice to those who have experienced this tragedy.”

“We were being hit by tornadoes long before anyone talked about climate change, and even before it was called ‘global cooling,’ before it became ‘global warming,’ and then ‘climate change,’” he continued. “The same thing that happened last week happened 14 years ago, 25 years ago, and 30 years ago.”

Inhofe is one of Congress’s most adamant climate change deniers. He has repeatedly called it a hoax, and as recently as April of this year blamed the so-called hoax on George Soros,, and Michael Moore.

Why stop there? Blame it on Hugo Chavez, Al Gore and Vladimir Lenin while you’re at it.



The real cost of low low prices everyday

 This article moved over the weekend, where most people will have missed it. Which is certainly the way Walmart and the scions of the Walton family would like it.


Walmart wages are so low that many of its workers rely on food stamps and other government aid programs to fulfill their basic needs, a reality that could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000 at just one Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin, according to a study released by Congressional Democrats on Thursday.

Though the study assumes that most workers who qualify for the public assistance programs do take advantage of them, it injects a potent data point into a national debate about the minimum wage at a time when many Walmart and fast food workers are mounting strikes in pursuit of higher wages.

The study uses Medicaid data released in Wisconsin to piece together the annual cost to taxpayers for providing a host of social safety net programs, including food stamps and publicly subsidized health care, to workers at one Supercenter in the state.

According to the report, Walmart had more workers enrolled in the state’s public health care program in the last quarter of last year than any other employer, with 3,216 people enrolled. When the dependents of those workers were factored in, the number of enrollees came to 9,207.

“When low wages leave Walmart workers unable to afford the necessities of life, taxpayers pick up the tab,” the report says.

Under this last point, Rising Hegemon has a trenchant observation:

Now THIS is the way our political class…especially the Right…wants things to work.

So not only are their employees suffering, not only do those who lose their jobs because of Wal-Mart suffer, but EVERYBODY SUFFERS.

Well, not everybody.

The Walton family, heirs to the founders of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. superchain, are worth nearly as much as the bottom half of American households combined.


The Waltons’ value — $89.5 billion in 2010 – is equal to the worth of the 41.5% of families at the lower end of the income ladder, according to an analysis by Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute. That comes out to 48.8 million households.


  The  IRS “scandal” scandal

I confess to watching this kabuki theater unfold before me with a mixed sense of outrage and horror. Let’s review the bidding conservative groups, eager to take the hill upon which Karl Rove planted the flag when established crossroads GPS, that of saying “he’s going to break the law as much as he can,” rushed to take advantage of tax law that allows tax-exempt status to “social welfare” organizations as a mask for political activity. As a matter of policy, the IRS is supposed to give all 501(C)4  groups a thorough vetting.  So what we have here are a number of archconservative groups complaining, in essence, that we are not subsidizing their illegal political activity with our tax dollars. Do I have it right?

William Boardman asks, How does the IRS doing its job become a made-up political outrage?”


Almost everything you hear and read in the media about the current IRS “scandal” is based on deliberate falsification of basic facts. Some might call it lying.

Here’s a reasonably typical media-framing of the IRS lie, from the usually careful and accurate Economist, posted May 23: “Even before this month’s revelation that conservative political groups applying for 501(c)(4) status were being singled out for special scrutiny … “

You see this false framing of the IRS story across the media spectrum, from Infowars to ABC News and NBC News to the Economist to DemocracyNOW (the latter on May 24: “the scandal over the targeted vetting of right-wing groups …”). Even the usually reliable Wonkblog at the Washington Post doesn’t get the story right, apparently because it hasn’t read the relevant law.

An exception to this remarkable mental stampede in the wrong direction was Jeffrey Toobin (New Yorker, May 14) who wondered, “Did the I.R.S. actually do anything wrong?” His answer started to put the story in reasonable perspective, with a focus on tax law and political money: ” … the scandal isn’t what’s illegal – it’s what’s legal. It’s what society chooses not to punish that tells us most about the prevailing ethical standards of the time.”

Anatomy of a False Narrative – Lying, Laziness, Partisanship, What?

How is it that the conventional framing is dishonest? Here are some of the ways:

    1. It wasn’t a revelation. All kinds of people were aware of the underlying problem, that 501(c )(4) tax status abuse had been going on since 1959, and that it took a quantum leap after 2011, when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the democratic process to money flooding that would be facilitated by the secrecy offered by the 501(c )(4) status.


    1. There were bi-partisan public hearings on the problem scheduled by the Senate well before the “scandal” broke. Anyone could look it up.


    1. As soon as the story broke, Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC’s “The Last Word”) was reporting accurately on the issue, rooted in the difference between a law that says 501(c )(4) organizations should be “exclusively” for social welfare and a 1959 IRS regulation that says, with Orwellian authority, that “exclusively” is to be interpreted to mean “primarily.” Too many reporters and others still do not get this, even though responsible research begins with these primary sources.


  1. No one was singled out. That’s right, no one was singled out. The problem with 501(c )(4) applications is that the IRS must review every one to see if the applicant qualifies for tax exempt status. Given the flood of applications from political groups of all sorts post-Citizens United, the IRS needed some way to make sure those applications were “primarily” for social welfare, even though political insiders knew that had been a joke for years (Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and are both IRS-approved 501(c)(4) organizations, of which there are thousands – reportedly 97,382 in 2011).

And it goes on. And on. Stubborn things, facts. Meanwhile, Charlie Pierce sets us straight:

We like to stay ahead of over what subjects the folks in the monkeyhouse soon will be flinging the poo if, for no other reason, so as to be prepared to duck. It is in this spirit that we present to you one Wayne Allyn Root, who writes for Glenn Beck’s little website, and who would like you to know that the IRS is prepared to let conservatives die in the streets very, very soon.

This is the same IRS that asked questions such as “What books do your members read?” “What is the content of the PRAYERS of your members?” “Please send us all your Facebook posts” and “Send us the list of your donors.” Now they are in charge of your healthcare. Will the same litmus test be in place? Before granting approval for expensive medical treatment, will we be asked what groups we belong to? What books we read? What is the content of our prayers? Will they look at our Facebook postings before deciding if we’re worthy of receiving expensive medical care? Just as the groups who dared to teach American citizens about the U.S. Constitution were targeted and denied tax exempt status, will those of us who dare to believe in the U.S. Constitution be denied the health care we need to save our lives?

Yes, friends, that’s what’s coming. That’s going to be what you hear going forward. The IRS dumbassery is going to be the new “death panels.” People are going to argue on the radio, and on the TV, and in congressional town halls in the hinterlands, that the IRS is going to “enforce Obamacare” by doing to sick conservatives what they did to all those poor social-welfare organizations with the tricornered hats and the flintlocks. We’ve already got Republican politicians out in Ohio arguing this very point. 

Here at the Doomsday Diner, we leave no turn unstoned in an effort to bring you tomorrow’s  stupid today. And speaking of tomorrow stupid, if you are not familiar with the stylings of one Wayne Allyn Root, invest 5 min. of your life is viewing this clip, prepared by Jason Jones of Comedy Central as part of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In it, Root, white-haired, freshly scrubbed, and as pink cheeked as one of Smithfield’s prized pigs, stands utterly undressed and exposed for the depraved hypocrite that he is. Must see TV, indeed.



Letter from Loretto 


In one of the more poignant pieces of information to move this week, this letter from John Kiriakou emerged. If you are not familiar with this man, according to Wikipedia, he

is a former CIA analyst and case officer, former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former counter-terrorism consultant for ABC News, blogger for Huffington Post, and author. Kiriakou is notable as the first official within the U.S. government to confirm the use of waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, which he described as torture.

On October 22, 2012, Kiriakou pled guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation. Kiriakou thus became the second C.I.A. officer convicted of violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and the first for passing along classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013 and reported to the low-security Federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania to begin serving his term on February 28, 2013.

He is thus a prisoner of conscience languishing in the empire’s gulag, for the crime of exposing the empire’s illegal acts. He shares that notable distinction with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. Thus does the Empire deal with whistleblowers. The letter itself is a fascinating insight into the realities of prison life, even in medium security prison.

The cafeteria, or “chow hall” was the most difficult experience of my first few days. Where should I sit? On my first day, two Aryans, completely covered in tattoos, walked up to me and asked, “Are you a pedophile?” Nope, I said. “Are you a fag?” Nope. “Do you have good paper?” I didn’t know what this meant. It turned out that I had to get a copy of my formal sentencing documents to prove that I wasn’t a child molester. I did that, and was welcomed by the Aryans, who aren’t really Aryans but more accurately self-important hillbillies.

The cafeteria is very formally divided. There is a table for the Aryans whites with good paper, a section of a table for the Native Americans, a section of a table for people belonging to a certain Italian-American stereotypical “subculture,” two tables for the Muslims, four tables for the pedophiles, and all the remaining tables for the blacks and hispanics. We don’t all eat at the same time, but each table is more-or-less reserved as I described.

Violence hasn’t been much of a problem since I arrived. There have been maybe a half-dozen fights, almost always over what television show to watch. The choices are pretty much set in stone between ESPN, MTV, VH1, BET and Univision. I haven’t watched TV since I got here. It’s just not worth the trouble. Otherwise, violence isn’t a problem. Most of the guys in here have worked their way down to a low-security prison from a medium or a maximum, and they don’t want to go back.

I’ve also had some luck in this regard. My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.


GMO Labeling Bill Voted Down In Senate
Within a week after over 2 million people in hundreds of cities in America and around the world marched in protest of Monsanto,the United States Senate once again decided that it simply does not want to let states tell people whether or not they are eating genetically modified food.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly — 71 to 27 – against an amendment to the sweeping farm bill, squashing a measure that would not have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, but merely would have let states decide if they wanted to require such labeling.

“The concept we’re talking about today is a fairly commonsense and non-radical idea,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the sponsor of the amendment, said shortly before the vote. “All over the world, in the European Union, in many other countries around the world, dozens and dozens of countries, people are able to look at the food that they are buying and determine through labeling whether or not that product contains genetically modified organisms.”

Sanders has noted that more than 3,000 ingredients are required to be labeled, but genetically modified ingredients are not part of that list. His state and Connecticut have passed laws to require such labeling, but Sanders said local leaders fear that large biotech corporations such as Monsanto could sue the states on the grounds that they are preempting federal authority. He said his bill would make clear that states can do what they want on the issue.

But Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chair of the Agriculture Committee, argued that the measure “is not germane to the farm bill” in the first place. She also said the labels run counter to science and the public interest in healthy food.

“This particular amendment would interfere with the FDA’s science-based process to determine what food labeling is necessary for consumers,” Stabenow said.

And us we can see that people willing to sell out the public interest occupy both sides of the aisle.


PBS Koch-suckers

This is a matter that hits somewhat close to home for me, as I spent 25 years of  a broadcast media career working in public television. By the time I left the business, I had reached a reasonably high-level executive position for one licensee, and I came to see how utterly craven and dependent upon the goodwill of funders and potential funders the ruling junta was.

People often think that university life must be wonderful for faculty: oh, to work in the halls of academe, and think the great thoughts, free from the obligations and petty scrabblings of commerce. Anyone who works for a university will eagerly dissuade you of that notion, as academe is often a nest of petty jealousies, jostlings for position and promotion, and competitions for tenure and parking. I entered public broadcasting full of utopian idealism, and left it with my eyes wide open as well. Like many nonprofits, a public broadcasting entity is not directly responsible to a bottom line so much as it is to the whims and caprices of a Board of Directors. So often, within the public broadcasting system, those well practiced at the courtiers’ arts will flourish at the expense of the ordinary and hard-working.

In contrast, for profit enterprises are, as I have come to learn, refreshingly straightforward. What matters is the bottom line. Produce, and you’re good. Fail to produce, and get a box for your shit.

So when Democracy Now moved this story, I must confess I found nothing surprising about it at all. Years ago, NPR news revealed itself to be apparatchiks of the Bush administration, using their hated term “enhanced interrogation” as a euphemism for waterboarding and torture. Thus is the language debased, thus is the propaganda catapulted, and thus to our institutions become corrupt. The need for money has corrupted the system front to back.

Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal say plans for their new documentary to air on public television have been quashed after billionaire Republican David Koch complained about the PBSbroadcast of another film critical of him, “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream,” by acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney. Lessin and Deal were in talks to broadcast their film, “Citizen Koch,” on PBS until their agreement with the Independent Television Service fell through. The New Yorker reports the dropping of “Citizen Koch” may have been influenced by Koch’s response to Gibney’s film, which aired on PBS stations, including WNET in New York late last year. “Citizen Koch” tells the story of the landmark Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court that opened the door to unlimited campaign contributions from corporations. It focuses on the role of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity in backing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has pushed to slash union rights while at the same time supporting tax breaks for large corporations. The controversy over Koch’s influence on PBS comes as rallies were held in 12 cities Wednesday to protest the possible sale of the Tribune newspaper chain, including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, to Koch Industries, run by David Koch and his brother Charles.

Read the entire article and see some video here. Where PBS’s management and development people went wrong was in taking money from David Koch in the first place. These people are not fools, and they had to have knownwho they were getting in bed with: a scion of a family remarkably ruthless in its machinations, an American Medici, with a rabidly partisan political agenda. I blame PBS.


Smithfield:  What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Big news in South Eastern Virginia this week was the revelation that a Chinese concern made an offer to purchase local Fortune 500 companies Smithfield Foods, one of the nations, and suppliers of pork products.


China is hungry.

The world’s most populous country has for years been on an agricultural buying binge, scooping up supplies of soybeans, palm oil, cotton and just about anything else that can be culled from the soil.

Now, with 1.3 billion mouths to feed, the Asian giant is turning its eyes to meat.

On Wednesday, a Chinese meat processor agreed to purchase the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods Inc., for $4.7 billion.

The deal, the largest-ever purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, underscores the rapidly evolving taste of China’s growing middle class, which is demanding more high-quality protein in a nation that has been beset by food safety scares.

But the deal also speaks to the increasingly dominant role of China in global agriculture.

Once limited to purchasing other nations’ crops on the open market, the world’s second-largest economy has steadily moved to take control of production. Over the last decade, it’s been buying up vast acreage overseas and spending billions to lock down long-term supplies of key staples. If approved by regulators, the Smithfield deal would give China one of the most prestigious names in the lucrative meat industry.

 This seems to be part of an overall buying spree for the Chinese, seem to be using their dollar surpluses to acquire food products and the ability to produce them for their growing populations.

But in recent years, the country has been on something of a food shopping spree. It more than doubled its investment in foreign agriculture between 2007 and 2010, according to the nation’s Ministry of Commerce.

The country has shored up the pipeline for soybeans — a crucial staple for humans, animals and biofuels in China — by pumping billions of dollars into land acquisition, farming and long-term crop purchase guarantees in Brazil and Argentina.

One recent deal, for example, had a Chinese grain and oil producer paying $7.5 billion and promising to build a railroad in exchange for a guaranteed supply of 6 million tons a year of Brazilian soybeans.

So insatiable has been China’s interest in South America’s fertile fields that both countries have passed laws limiting foreign ownership of arable land in recent years.

In Africa, China has been buying up supplies of cotton, while in Southeast Asia it’s invested heavily in crops as diverse as natural rubber, cashews and palm oil, which is used for food and also fuel.

Of course, the deal isn’t completely done yet. It is subject to government review and approval which it includes a consideration of food safety issues, as The Guardian explains:

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval by the committee on foreign investments in the United States. Several large takeovers by Chinese companies have been thwarted in the recent past. The most high-profile failure came in 2005 when China’s Cnooc bid $18.5bn for US oil firm Unoca, triggering a massive political backlash that ended with the House of Representatives issuing a resolution that the deal “would threaten to impair the national security of the United States”. The bid was withdrawn.

In 2008, Huawei Technologies backed out of a deal to acquire 3Com, maker of internet router and networking equipment, amid questions about the deal’s national security risks.

The largest successful Chinese takeover of a US firm to date is the $2.6bn acquisition of cinema chain AMC Theaters by Dalian Wanda – an entertainment conglomerate – in 2012. Chinese ownership of movie theatres did not trigger political ire.

Food security issues are likely to complicate issues for Shuanghui. In 2011, CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, found the company had produced and sold pork tainted with the banned drug clenbuterol. The chemical is a fat-burning additive sometimes used by bodybuilders that can cause nausea, heart problems and dizziness if consumed by humans.

More recently, China’s food industry has faced a number of scandals. In March, 9,000 dead pigs were found in the Huangpu river. There have also been recent reports of contamination of the Chinese meat supply from a bird-flu outbreak.

Smithfield, too, has been challenged by safety and work practice issues. The first confirmed case of H1N1 swine flu during the 2009 flu pandemic was a five-year-old boy living near a Smithfield subsidiary in Mexico. More than 600 residents living near the plant in La Gloria, Veracruz, were infected with a mysterious respiratory illness.

So, we ask again, what could possibly go wrong?
At 4700 words, it is time to set down the Surly Crown of Thorns for yet another week. The Week That Was In Doom will be taking a week of doom off  this week, as we are traveling and attending to family matters, including the graduation of a much beloved niece. Hope to meet you at zero point, but not too soon.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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