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The Year in Doom 2019


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on December 29, 2019

"Violence is as American as cherry pie."  –H. Rap Brown​  


2019 has been a year of notable accomplishments and disasters: China became the first country to gain access to the far side of the moon, thus announcing itself in the space race, the Ebola epidemic continued in the Congo, birds and insects continue to die at alarming rates, upsetting natural ecosystems everywhere, drought continued in southern Africa and, more recently, Australia, in combination with ruinous bush fires. California continue to burn during the autumn months.

War continued in Yemen, with millions on the brink of famine and starvation. Protests swept the world, from Haiti to Hong Kong, also making appearances in Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia. (It seems some folks don’t like neocolonialism as much as the west does.) Migrants continue to flee from the Middle East and Africa, and Central America, to places with more hospitable climate and arable soil; Nationalists shrieked in horror, rushed to build walls and whip up furor against potential newcomers. Brazil’s Boisonaro continued to burn the Amazon rainforest; people around the world wringing their hands. United States declared a trade war with China, beginning with the US charging Huawei with fraud. Suicide attacks sparked Indian conflict with Pakistan, which seems like a headline which could be reported every year. India made bold to enact new nationality laws which would exclude Muslims. Terror attacks continued, As a white nationalist killed 50 in New Zealand in March. The first image of a black hole was created. California had earthquakes. Trump shut the government down in January and reopened it several weeks later.

A man killed 22 people In a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. Enthusiast planned a “raid“ on area 51, which started as a joke but later went viral. It fizzled. Julian Assange was arrested in the UK and held for extradition. Fire broke out at Notre Dame cathedral, A comedian was elected president of Ukraine, and would find that his dealings with United States were anything but funny, and Trump met with Kim Jong-Un after they “fell in love.“ Kim Jong-Un later met with Vladimir Putin, sending a message that he was not prepared to go steady. The US attempted to foment a coup in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro, but failed, but managed to foment one in Bolivia to oust Evo Morales, and succeeded. Narendra Modi won a landslide victory in the Indian general election. Theresa May resigned, unable to wrangle Brexit, but Boris Johnson succeeded her, and won an election with enough of a mandate to put Brexit on a path to becoming reality.

Robert Mueller testified, and was a snooze, but Fiona Hill testified and was riveting.  Millions thought Mueller was going to emerge from his prosecutor's office and slap a pair of cuffs on Trump, but forgot that he reports to Bill Barr, Trumps Roy Cohn, and the most corrupt Attorney General of a lifetime, and this includes John Mitchell. Perhaps the biggest political news was a shifting power dynamic in Washington DC, as the consequences of the 2018 elections came to bear in the house brought articles of impeachment against Fat Orange, and at years end they sat on the edge of Nancy Pelosi‘s desk, awaiting Mitch McConnell‘s next move. Trump‘s approval fell to 39% during January‘s partial government shut down, and support for impeachment and removal rose to 55% at years end.

Just to review the bidding, ​One person compiled a list of 100 impeachable offenses by Trump. Here are the top 50.

The ordeal of Trump and his impeachment has been dealt with to death by other sailors with better maps. So this Year end review will not deal in depth with the many depravities of the Trump Crime Family, or with the cottage industry of racists, opportunists buffoons, failkids and grifters who have seen their profiles undeservedly elevated as a result of the Trump presidency: pardoned war criminal Edward Gallagher, Ben Shapiro, Matt Gaetz, Tucker Carlson, Charlie Kirk, Milo, Candace Owens, Stephanie Grisham, Jordan Peterson, Diamond and Silk,  Joseph-Goebbels-cosplayer Stephen Miller, Jim Jordan, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that chattering set of dentures Rudy Colludy, Meghan McCain, Scott Baio, and the entire extended Trump family.

There is plenty to consider apart from our politics as we lift our gaze from our black mirrors, blinded by normalcy bias and unable to imagine changing any of our carefully-calibrated plans to consider harbingers of doom and collapse. I have reviewed a year's worth of postings within the Doomstead Diner Forum and the Doomstead Diner Daily to compile the stories that marked our slow and steady descent. One thing is certain: no one will be able to say "they didn't know" as we spin down from a high-energy  post capitalist civilization to an uncertain, uncharted future where there will be less of everything for everyone.

William Kunstler, in a break from his usual obsequious Trumpsucking, paints the picture as well as anyone in, "There Is No Normal."

We landed in the New World five hundred years ago. It was full of good things that human beings had barely begun to exploit, laid out like a banquet. There was plenty of good virgin soil for growing food, the best timber in the world, clean rivers and great lakes, ores full of iron, gold, and silver, and down deep a bonanza of coal and oil to drive the wheel through very flush times. The past century was particularly supercharged, the oil years.

Imagine living through the very start of all that, the blinding, fantastic newness of modernity…An emergent cavalcade of wonders: electricity, telephones, railroads, subways, skyscrapers! And in a few more years movies, cars, airplanes, radio. Even the backstage wonders of the day were astonishments: household plumbing for all, running hot water, municipal water and sewer systems, refrigeration, tractors! It’s hard to conceive how much these developments changed the human experience of daily life.

Even the traumas of the 20th century’s world wars did not crush that sense of amazing progress, at least not in North America, spared the wars’ mighty wreckage. The post-war confidence of American society achieved a level of in-your-face laughable hubris — see the USA in your Chevrolet! — until John Kennedy was shot down, and after that the delirious moonshot euphoria steadily gave way to corrosive skepticism, anxiety, acrimony, and enmity. My generation, booming into adulthood, naively thought they could fix all that with Earth Day, tofu, and computers, and keep the great wheel rolling down into an even more glorious cybernetic nirvana.

Fakeout. That’s not where the wheel is going. We borrowed all we possibly could from the future to pretend that the system was still working, and now the future is at the door like a re-po man come to take away both the car and the house. The financial scene is an excellent analog to our collective psychology. Its workings depend on the simple faith that its workings work. So, it is easy to imagine what happens when that faith wavers.

We’re on the verge of a lot of things coming apart: supply lines, revenue streams, international agreements, political assumptions, promises to do this and that. We have no idea how to keep it together on the downside. We don’t even want to think about it. The best we can do for the moment is pretend that the downside doesn’t exist.

This is where we are. If you are reading this, you know it. The following sections and articles document what's happening to us. Some of the stories have some exposition. Others do not. Follow the link if the headline interests you.


Breaking Apart

Some years ago a Russian, former KGB operative Igor Panarin, predicted that the US would break up into separate countries.  Panarin is a Russian professor and political scientist best known for predicting that the United States would disintegrate within the next few years.

The Wall Street Journal reports: "Panarin is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations."

Lately other writers are expanding on this concept of Balkanization of the US. According to author Colin Woodard, the United States can be divided into 11 distinct sub-nations (see the above map). Woodard takes Panarin's idea to another level, and is far more granular. Panarin posited that parts of the balkanized former US would affiliate with other countries; Woodard does not. 

Woodard defined and illustrated the regions in his 2012 book "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America." Some regions sound familiar, like the "Deep South"; others might surprise, such as the "Midlands" region that stretches from New Jersey to northeastern New Mexico. 

"The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately, including state roles and individual liberty," Woodard, a Maine native, told Business Insider… In order to have any productive conversation on these issues, you need to know where you come from. Once you know where you are coming from, it will help move the conversation forward."

Whether fact or metaphor, the image of a country coming apart is useful in order to understand what follows.

Demography is Destiny

In an Atlantic article, How America Ends- A tectonic demographic shift is under way. Can the country hold together? Yoni Applebaum writes,

As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.

Secession notwithstanding, demographic shifts seem to fueling the white rage and nationalism that ignites the pyre of our current politics. ("You…will NOT replace us!") The theme of her article is that moderate Republicans can "save America." The fatal flaw in this argument is that there are no longer any "moderate Republicans," and that the Republican party is the party of Trump, meaning the party of Atwater, Rove, and ascendant white nationalism, who having tasted power are loath to give it up. The Rs have the power to nominate and approve unqualified right wing ideologies to pollute the federal bench for generations, and if they have to resort to right wing paramilitaries to keep it that way, so be it. Stories that moved this year that illustrate this:


The US white majority will soon disappear forever

The relentless factories of hatred, fear and lies: on the ultraconservative and reactionary waves

Yes, America is divided. The real story is how, why, and who benefits

Will America’s billionaires start a second Civil War to protect their wealth and power?

Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status, Not Economic Anxiety, Study Finds

The ‘Russia Hoax’ Is a Hoax

Donald Trump Is the Mad-King President Our Founders Feared Most

“We’re Americans, And We’re Fascists”: Inside Patriot Front

Top Military Officers Unload on Trump

The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?

This article was timely given Trump's announcement regarding removing American troops from Syria. Since they should not have been there in the first place, this seems a good thing. Except that we left the Kurds (who have fought wars for the Empire in pursuit of their own autonomy and based on American promises) in the lurch and to the tender mercies of Erdogan. I am old enough to remember how the Americans recruited the Hmong in Vietnam and Laos, then abandoned them after their utility in the US's "secret" wars was spent. 

As we speculate on next steps for what the military will do when Trump refuses to leave, I found this article instructive. On the other hand, I wish Mad Dog Mattis were still part of Pud's cabinet, as I deemed him most likely offer him the vigorous backhand of common sense.

If Trump Rage Brings ‘Civil War,’ Where Will Soldiers Stand?

The moment may come when soldiers have to choose between the Constitution and Donald Trump. No doubt most will embrace the Constitution. But some will see that as a tough call.

Trump Is ‘Last Hope for White People,’ Said Police Chief on Trial

Russian Secret Weapon Against U.S. 2020 Election Revealed In New Cyberwarfare Report

You Can Smell the Fear

8chan Is a Normal Part of Mass Shootings Now

Three white-nationalist shooters appear to have posted manifestos on the same troll forum. Here’s how 8chan became a meme-filled refuge for hate.

This Billboard Is a Sign of the Wild and Dangerous Forces Surging Through the Country

Forces that Donald Trump, American president, is actively stoking. Welcome the harvest sown in the wake the USA PATRIOT Act and follow-on legislation, by those who want to offer aid and succor to white supremacists while criminalizing opposition to them. The families of Eric Garner, tamer rice, Sandra Bland, et al were not asked for comment.

Two senators want antifa activists to be labeled ‘domestic terrorists.’ Here’s what that means.

The lack of a central governing system for antifa creates the risk of wrongly applying the label to all counterprotesters of white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that opposes anti-Semitism. This kind of mislabeling, the ADL said, could cause police to violate the civil rights of peaceful activists.

The ADL said antifa activists’ violent tactics are wrong, but that antifa and white supremacists are not equivalent. Far-right extremists have killed hundreds of people in the past decade, the ADL said, while there have been no known antifa-related killings.

Fascist Activists Have Spent The Last Year Trying to Win Over Police

Trump-Drunk Republicans Are Choosing Russia Over the Constitution

If the Republiconfederates thought about it, they would be attempting to insure that this was a nation of laws rather than men so that their descendants would be treated equitably. But no one in this country engages in thinking about anything except making the quarter, so it is probably unfair to single outright wingers for being guilty of short-term thinking. Instead, they line up in unthinking support of El Jefe, because they are terrified of opposing him, and getting primaried from the right. 

The Day People Disappeared and a New Strategy for Stealing Votes

Broken white men and the racist media that fuels their terrorism

America's Cult of Ignorance

More people are better educated than ever before, and knowledge is easier to come by. So why do we so often scorn those who plainly know more than we do? File under, "The Death of Expertise."


Unrest Everywhere

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B Yeats

This oft-quoted poem is a relevant today as it was when written 100 years ago. Protests raging on the streets of cities around the world in the past months have  triggers that vary with the locale. But what fuels them are common themes: stagnating middle classes, stifled democracy, economic inequality and the bone-deep conviction that things can be different – even if the way forward is uncertain.

More than 500,000 people rallied in Barcelona …amid a general strike after Spain sentenced Catalonia’s former separatist leaders to prison.

In Hong Kong, the police fired tear gas and anti-government protesters lit fires as tens of thousands of people marched today despite an official ban and attacks on the march promoters.

Chile declared a state of emergency after a transportation fare increase set off violence and looting. Subway stations, banks, buses and the headquarters of the country’s largest electricity provider were burned. Lebanese protesters enraged by corruption and dysfunction marched in Beirut and other cities, calling for the government’s overthrow.

Knowing about what happened to Allende was one of the ends of my innocence, and one of my way-stations on the road to collapse. Learning this story drove home what US foreign policy REALLY meant to a 23 year old with shit for brains, as well as the important lesson that Henry Kissinger was the spawn of Satan. The US was not going to tolerate a Marxist in Chile; but a fascist was just fine. Pinochet was Nixon's man. So they sponsored a coup.

Pinochet's Chile featured crimes against humanity, persecution of opponents, political repression, and state terrorism for openers. From Wikipedia:

The most prevalent forms of state-sponsored torture that Chilean prisoners endured were electric shocks, waterboarding, beatings, and sexual abuse. Another common mechanism of torture employed was "disappearing" those who were deemed to be potentially subversive because they adhered to leftist political doctrines. The tactic of "disappearing" the enemies of the Pinochet regime was systematically carried out during the first four years of military rule. The "disappeared" were held in secret, subjected to torture and were often never seen again.

We'd later learn that coup plotting, torture and wet work were the curriculum at the School of the Americas (now rebranded a la Blackwater, "The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation." Your tax dollars at work.

And an added bonus, Chile got the classical unrestrained “free market” policies of Milton Friedman, enforced by the military junta, which yielded a bumper crop of  human rights violations, institutionalized brutality, and drastic control and suppression of every form of meaningful dissent. The fact is, the truth of what happened in Chile was not that hard to find inside the US. Another fact is that no one cared.

And Haiti is on the brink of collapse because of a power struggle between its president and a surging opposition movement that has led to weeks of violent demonstrations and left streets across the country barricaded. Related stories from 2019:

Human Rights Watch supports US-backed far-right coup in Bolivia, whitewashes massacre of indigenous protesters

Media Silent as Bolivia's Coup Gov't Massacres Indigenous Protesters

Suppressing Dissent Guarantees Disorder and Collapse

The FBI’s Long History of Treating Political Dissent as Terrorism

Civil Unrest Is The New Normal Out There

A world on fire: Here are all the major protests happening around the globe right now

Tensions High as Far-Right Rally Tied To Threats Hits Portland

FBI Received Reports That Border Militia Was Training to Assassinate Prominent Democrats

Larry Hopkins, the leader of an extremist militia group known as the United Constitutional Patriots was arrested by the FBI in April after videos emerged of the group rounding up and detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. According to the New York Times, the FBI first became aware of Hopkins activities in 2017, when they received reports that his group was “training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa,” according to newly unsealed court documents.

49 killed in terrorist attack at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand suspect inspired by French writer who fears ‘replacement’ by immigrants

Ocasio-Cortez hits NRA after New Zealand shooting: 'What good are your thoughts and prayers?'

As QAnon Goes Mainstream, Trump’s Rallies Are Turning Darker

Under Trump, conspiracy theories and an all out assault on the truth have created a strange new reality.

‘I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth’ 

A self-proclaimed white nationalist planned a mass terrorist attack, the government says

Imagine what we have to look forward to in an election year.


Environmental Collapse

“A society’s fate lies in its own hands and depends substantially on its own choices.” 
― Jared Diamond

Few know what COP25 stands for (COP means Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.) The 25 stands for the 25th year that such an annual conferences has taken place, each year in different country, a tourist bonanza for the thousands travel but light on results and bereft of action steps.The COP 25 Failure in Madrid this fall encapsulates the impotence of governments around the world to acknowledge there is a problem with climate change, much less summon the will to do anything about it.

It is an illusion to believe that Big Business, Big Industry, Big Finance – and Big Growth-driven Profit – will yield to environmental or climate concerns. In spite of attracting 27,000 attendees, including Time Magazine's Person of the Year Greta Thunberg, the conference achieved alomst nothing.

Ultimately, however, the talks were unable to reach consensus in many areas, pushing decisions into next year under “Rule 16” of the UN climate process. Matters including Article 6, reporting requirements for transparency and “common timeframes” for climate pledges were all punted into 2020, when countries are also due to raise the ambition of their efforts.

UN secretary general António Guterres said he was “disappointed” with the results of COP25 and that “the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

This section has many links. The headlines tell a story of their own, with news that is almost unremittingly bad.

Sea Level Rise

The Arctic Is Undergoing Changes Scientists 'Never Expected Would Happen This Soon'

With Sea Level Rise, We've Already Hurtled Past a Point of No Return

Global Warming Will Drown Bangkok, Shanghai, Mumbai

150 million people are currently living in places that will be below high-tide in 30 years, according to new research

Nine climate tipping points now 'active,' warn scientists

IPCC report: Sea levels could be a metre higher by 2100

Sea Level Rise Maps

Speculative maps showing the changes to our world from an 80m sea level rise. Effectively all ice on earth having melted. Created with a variety of climate science reference, digital elevation models, and Photoshop.

Alaska’s Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History

Big Heat

The hellish future of Las Vegas in the climate crisis: 'a place where we never go outside'

‘Bleak’ U.N. Climate Study: World on Track for Up to 3.9 Degrees Warming by 2100

In Greenland’s Melting Ice, A Warning on Hard Climate Choices

Melting permafrost in the Arctic is unlocking diseases and warping the landscape

A Weather Station Above the Arctic Circle Hit 94.6 Degrees Fahrenheit

Over the past year, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gained increased global attention for her work. From speaking in front of the United Nations to creating Fridays for Future,

Greta Thunberg Speaks the Horrific Truth of Humanity’s Fate

Xraymike returns to the keyboard with another lighthearted frolic.

We'd Better Retreat from the Coasts While We Still Can, Scientists Urge Amid Climate Crisis

Do it now or do it later, with much, much worse outcomes.

Degradation

Soil in the Arctic Is Now Releasing More Carbon Dioxide Than 189 Countries

Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn

Following a Familiar Script, U.S. Withdraws From Paris Climate Pact

Experts declare climate emergency and warn of 'untold human suffering'

EPA to Weaken Public Protections Against Toxic Coal Ash in Water

Insects are going extinct in DROVES, finds new study

Dark money is pouring in to protect the "worst energy policy in the country"

Report Shows 'Stunning and Dramatic' Scenes of Thawing Permafrost in Siberia That 'Leaves Millions on Unstable Ground'

There used to be 4 billion American chestnut trees, but they all disappeared


Goldman Sachs released a 34-page analysis of the impact of climate change. And the results are terrifying.

When the Vampire Squid says it's bad, perhaps even the elites will listen. They won't listen to Greta, but when the Squid speaks…

 

Global Burning

Welcome To The Third World, Part 30: California Burning In The Dark 

We’re About to Become People Fighting Desperately Fighting For Survival on a Dying Planet, and It’s Not Going to Be Pretty

Or, When Self-Preservation Takes Over, It Usually Takes Civilization, Democracy, Decency, and Sanity With It

Experts Brace For An Apocalyptic Future As Earth’s Forests Burn To The Ground

Amazon fires could accelerate global warming and cause lasting harm to a cradle of biodiversity

Amazon on fire: 'The earth isn’t dying. It’s being killed.'

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted

(How) Climate Change is a Hangover of Colonialism, Exploitation, and Slavery

(Why) Climate Change Isn’t About Your Burger — It’s About (Centuries of) 10% of the World Growing Rich by Leaving 90% of the World Poor

Europe is burning just as new research offers a chilling truth about the volatility of climate change

Cooler years mask the underlying behaviour of the system. As natural variations move in the other direction, they can unleash a period of supercharged heating

Satellite Images Show Vast Swaths of the Arctic On Fire

Vast stretches of Earth’s northern latitudes are on fire right now. Hot weather has engulfed a huge portion of the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia. That’s helped create conditions ripe for wildfires, including some truly massive ones burning in remote parts of the region that are being seen by satellites.

The New Trail of Tears: How climate change is forcing the relocation of species, including our own

Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change

The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing

'We are 50 to 100 years ahead of schedule with the slowdown of this ocean circulation pattern,' says climate scientist Michael Mann.

Heatwave: Think It’s Hot in Europe? The Human Body Is Already Close to Thermal Limits Elsewhere

Earth's Ancient Life Forms Are Awakening After 40,000 Years in Permafrost

By 2050, many world cities will have weather like they’ve never seen, new study says

Humans destroyed 10% of wilderness in just 25 years

The poisons released by melting Arctic ice

This remarkable Greenland photo highlights extreme Arctic melting

Report: Prepare for the Climatic Collapse of Civilization

The end of the Arctic as we know it

Arctic Is Thawing So Fast Scientists Are Losing Their Measuring Tools

Previously thought stable permafrost terrain high in Arctic is melting due to increased summer temperatures

Start planning for catastrophes, new EPA document says

Release of a government report means that even the last to know, know. regardless of their public posturing. Research details how human-caused climate change is contributing to record heat, more-intense storms, more-severe flooding and other events.

 

Biodiversity

'What Could Be More Important?': World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass Extinction Event Now Underway

California's monarch butterfly population drops 86% in single year

'Almost certain extinction': 1,200 species under severe threat across world

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation

Science, Sensationalism, and the Lessons of 'Insectageddon'

Humans Are Wiping Out Species So Fast That Evolution Can't Keep Up

Arctic sea ice loaded with microplastics

Plants are going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical norm

 

Food and water

Water is a growing source of global conflict. Here’s what we need to do

Climate crisis reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, says IPCC

Why does Stamford company director say: "We are going to starve to death?"

'Biggest Crisis No One Is Talking About': Quarter of Humanity Faces 'Extremely High Water Stress' Intensified by Climate Emergency

The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it's rapidly disappearing

Ruined crops, salty soil: How rising seas are poisoning North Carolina’s farmland

Climate Change Is Here—and It Looks Like Starvation

Over One-Tenth of Global Population Could Lack Drinking Water by 2030

First global look finds most rivers awash with antibiotics

Almost two-thirds of the rivers studied contained enough antibiotics to contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century

Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast

Expert Says Indians Will Soon Become Water Refugees Heading for Water-Rich Europe

Rajendra Singh, also known as the “Waterman of India”, says over 70 percent of the country has dried up, and this may lead to climatic migration to other countries.


The Great Culling: They Don't Give a Flying Fuck About You

“If people feel lost and alone and helpless and broken and hopeless today, what will it be like if the world really begins to come apart at the hinges?” 
― Brandon Andress​

If you’ve made it this far, you had an opportunity to contemplate the many vectors of environmental ruin headed our way, at a time when collectively we are at one another’s throats with an enthusiasm and sense of purpose rarely seen since the last Civil War.

The current world population is estimated to have reached 7.7 billion people as of April 2019. It took over 200,000 years of human history for the world's population to reach 1 billion; and only 200 years more to reach 7 billion. We are now faced with automation and AI, at a time of profound income (and thus power) inequality. connect the dots to see that robots and algorithms can replace a lot of labor, which is occurring as we speak. And what happens when any private industry takes over a public one? They slash payroll, loot pensions, and rid themselves of "useless eaters," and redistribute the savings to "investors." Wash, rinse, repeat.  Thus, whether by design or default, the Great Culling is Coming To a Theater Near You. "The Great Culling" is not about putting fluoride in your drinking water so much as a plan to reduce earth's population over generations.

RationalWiki calls this a conspiracy theory. And you won't easily find much credibly written on the subject. Yet it is difficult to consider the toxic hellbroth of the rise of ethno-nationalism, climate emergency, the increasingly oppressive tone and tenor of life under increasingly straightened circumstances, the ethics of investment banks and the logic of the spreadsheet, and conclude that such a plan is not in effect as a practical matter. If this hurts, you can always get some Oxycontin from kids at your local middle school. Here are stories that moved in 20019 that illustrate the point.

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows — ProPublica

Opioid epidemic may have cost states at least $130 billion in treatment and related expenses – and that's just the tip of the iceberg

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

Good to know the FSoA can still make something that other people in the world want to buy. Besides arms, that is.

Harvesting the Blood of America's Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism

When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested

Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.

Just 100 Companies Will Sign Humanity’s Death Warrant

Digital dystopia: how algorithms punish the poor

Turkish Scientist Sentenced to Prison for Publishing Paper Linking Pollution to Cancer

The Secretary of Agriculture Just Came Out and Said America Is for Big Business

Interesting tack at a meeting of small farmers who are already in trouble.

How Capitalism Torched the Planet by Imploding Into Fascism

Why Catastrophic Climate Change Is Not A Problem For Fascists — It Is A Solution

Martial law masquerading as law and order: The police state’s language of force

The gloves are off: 'predatory' climate deniers are a threat to our children

"The Public Is Now Aware That the Elites Are Taking Them To Their Death!" Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion

NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It's Not Looking Good for Us

Pentagon Wants 16-Year-Old Kids To Fight The Empire's Wars

I am among those who think that launching a gratuitous, meat-grinder war in spring of 2020 to self-anoint as a "wartime president™" is completely within Fat Orange's capability. It may already be part of his campaign plan, given the sheer evil of his administration.

For me here is the money shot:

If The Donald gets us into a big shooting war over in the Middle East or in the South China Sea, the mandatory servitude of conscription will be required. It won’t be a turkey shoot like Iraq or Libya. It will be an existential threat, so all males —criminally inclined or not — between 16 and 45 will be inducted, same as they were after FDR tricked the Japanese into invading Pearl Harbor, or Johnson said the North Vietnamese attacked our warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

Anyone who thinks that Iran is going to do an "el foldo" like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq is sadly mistaken. Unlike Iraq, which was cobbled together via the Balfour declaration and held together by Saddam's brutality, Iran has a long, continuous history as a people and are not going to be exterminated quietly. Since Iran is surrounded by American bases, the outcome will never be much in doubt, but the costs will be extreme and the fighting scorched earth. Victory will be had, at the cost of your last grandson or granddaughter, so there is little doubt that Uncle Cracker will be looking for fresh meat.

Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans. 

Everyone’s Got a “Surveillance Score” and It Can Cost You BIG Money

Congress Targets Middle-Class Retirement Savings

A Stealth Levy on IRAs and 401K Plans to Pay for Corporate and 1% Tax Cuts. Because the Waltons Just Don't Have Enough.

Humans consume the equivalent of a credit card worth of plastic every week

Mitch McConnell is Making the 2020 Election Open Season for Hackers

Millennials are ‘canaries in the coalmine’ for toxic economic trends, say Stanford scholars

A new report by Stanford scholars lays out the problems U.S. millennials face as a result of decades-long rising inequality. Problems they experience include rising mortality rates and increased poverty among those without college degrees.

Audit: Pentagon Cannot Account for $6.5 Trillion Dollars in Taxpayer Money

Banned bread: why does the US allow additives that Europe says are unsafe?

U.S. HAS SPENT SIX TRILLION DOLLARS ON WARS THAT KILLED HALF A MILLION PEOPLE SINCE 9/11, REPORT SAYS

From New York’s fake heiress to Donald Trump, we’re living in the age of the scam

Everywhere you look, there are people who have figured out ways to game our shoddy system

List of mass shootings in the United States in 2019

Our Towns: What Happens to Abandoned Malls?

Meet the precariat, the new global class fuelling the rise of populism

Suicide, alcohol, drug deaths reach all-time high

When the Interests of Monopolists and Authoritarians Coalesce 

 The U.S. is funding dangerous experiments it doesn’t want you to know about

No One Trusts the US Government, Not Even the American People – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Crumbling infrastructure is a hidden tax on all Americans

10 Mind-Blowing Pentagon Audit Reports All Americans Need to Know

Dutch historian Rutger Bregman goes viral after challenging Davos panel to talk about taxing the wealthy

Where he said, unforgettably:

I mean, 1,500 private jets flown in to hear David Attenborough speak about how we're wrecking the planet.
"I hear people talking the language of participation and justice and equality and transparency.
"But then almost no-one raises the real issue of tax avoidance, right, and of the rich just not paying their fair share.
"It feels like I'm at a firefighters' conference and no-one's allowed to speak about water."

He made the mistake of telling the truth.

USDA says filler once known as 'pink slime' can be labeled ground beef

E Coli is a vitamin under Trump. 

"Beef trimmings are easily contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella, so they need to be sterilized with "a puff" of ammonia…"

Bon appetit.


Lying Corporate Media

"Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."

-A. J. Liebling

The news media in this country is under assault both from the political establishment and from the same market and technology forces that have disrupted other business sectors. Newspapers are shrinking, press jobs lost, and many towns are without a daily paper in print. And for those that remain are a hollow, shrunken version of their former selves. Smaller, fewer sections, reliance on wire service content: "yesterday's news tomorrow." Accelerating their demise is their adherence to a radically false doctrine, that of "Both Sides Do It" and thus "both sides" deserve to be treated with fairness and balance. But that doesn't work when one side works in relentless bad faith.

The bad faith works as follows: "We are not bound by what you call facts. We have our own, and we will proceed to put them out regardless of the evidence. We’re not trying to 'win the news cycle,' or curry favor with you. We’re trying to demonstrate independence from and power over you people, and stick your own rules up your nose. Your program is a theater of resentment in which you play a crucial part, and since our base hates your guts, we get to score points with them by displaying our contempt for you."

Here's an excellent analysis of the failures of Chuck Todd (and by extension, the rest of the corporate media opinion-manufacturing industry) by one of the country's best observers of the press, Jay Rosen.

The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd

After the better part of a career of allowing republican politicians to posit falsehoods as divinely-received wisdom, Chuck Todd had an epiphany:

Three years after Kellyanne Conway introduced the doctrine of “alternative facts” on his own program, a light went on for Chuck Todd. Republican strategy, he now realized, was to make stuff up, spread it on social media, repeat it in your answers to journalists — even when you know it’s a lie with crumbs of truth mixed in — and then convert whatever controversy arises into go-get-em points with the base, while pocketing for the party a juicy dividend: additional mistrust of the news media to help insulate President Trump among loyalists when his increasingly brazen actions are reported as news.

Note that the very guy who has made a living inviting pathological Republican liars to be on his TV show continues to feign shock at the discovery that they pathologically lie when they're on his TV show. Since taking over the Meet the Press chair from David Gregory, Chuck Todd has displayed the sense of "both sides" faux  balance that has made him one of the Republican party's favorite towel boys. This it would be amusing  to see ol' Chuck protesting and trying to push back with his atrophied, baby arms now that the Republican grifters and Trumpsuckers who come on his show for the purpose of extruding the propaganda do so with the same impunity that he has provided them.

Since 2007 Todd has been NBC’s political director, which means he has influence over all coverage the in-house expert and decision-maker. You don’t get to claim you are naive about politics in such a role. Well, that’s the job. The truth is It’s not naiveté. It’s a willful blindness to what the Republican Party has become.

As such Todd provides a template for most the mass media, whose behavior can be observed (and predicted) though the filter of a quote by Noam Chomsky:

The major media-particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow-are corporations “selling” privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product. Concentration of ownership of the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations, and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well. Journalists entering the system are unlikely to make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures, generally by internalizing the values; it is not easy to say one thing and believe another, and those who fail to conform will tend to be weeded out by familiar mechanisms."

Oc course, none of this is new. It was observed by muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair in The Brass Check, a book few of us have ever read, let alone heard of. For those of us who virulently distrust corporate media, it's good to know that one of the pillars of the muckraking era exposed it all a century ago and despite being on elf the literary lions of the era, had his book constructively buried and erased from history.

A brass check was the token purchased by a customer in a brothel and given to the woman of his choice. Sinclair implies that, in a similar fashion, the owners of the mass media purchase journalists' services in supporting the owners' political and financial interests.

Sinclair criticizes newspapers and the Associated Press (owned by newspapers) as ultra-conservative and supporting the political and economic powers that be, or as sensational tabloids practicing yellow journalism, such as newspapers run by William Randolph Hearst. In both cases, their purpose is to promote the business interests of the paper's owners, the owner's bankers, and/or the paper's advertisers. Clearly, some things never change.

For his trouble, Sinclair challenged those who charged him with inaccuracy to review his published facts and to sue him for libel if they found him wrong. None did. But because Sinclair was denied access to the mainstream media to refute such charges, they assumed an aura of truth and gave the book a reputation for inaccuracy that have caused it to be largely forgotten.

Those who reviewed the book found The Brass Check's analysis of the media accurate and valuable, "astonishingly prescient in its critique of the coziness of big media and other corporate interests."

The stories:

Newsweek Journo Quits After Editors Kills Report On Syria Chemical Attack Scandal

The Media Yells Cut Whenever Trump Challenges War and Militarism

Who Will Tell the Truth About the Free Press?

The False Balance Between Fascists and Antifascists

Former Israeli Intel Official Claims Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell Worked for Israeli Intel

A former high-ranking official in Israeli military intelligence has claimed that Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual blackmail enterprise was an Israel intelligence operation run for the purpose of entrapping powerful individuals and politicians in the United States and abroad.

The Incredible Belief That Corporate Ownership Does Not Influence Media Content

The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?

The Pentagon is using a moral panic over “fake news” to gain influence over the domestic news landscape

Corporate Media Filled With Nameless Voices Attacking Progressive Democrats

Of Two Minds – It's Not Just the News That's Fake–Everything's Fake

Tiptoeing around Trump’s racism is a betrayal of journalistic truth-telling

Asymmetry between the major parties fries the circuits of the mainstream press – PressThink

Per one source, Russia has seen 42 Journalists killed during Putin's Rule

Trump and Putin Joke About 'Getting Rid of Journalists' on Anniversary of Capital Gazette Shooting

Some Real News About Fake News

It’s not just making people believe false things—a new study suggests it’s also making them less likely to consume or accept information.

Fake Has Become Realer Than Real And The Dogs Of War Are There To Keep It That Way

This is long; you may want to pack a lunch, but it is well reported, and I'll bet you've never heard a bit of it. By design.

 


Economic Fix is In

"The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing."

–Frank Zappa

“If you sit in on a poker game and don’t see a sucker, get up. You’re the sucker.” Crony capitalism that in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. Typical tools include permits, government grants, tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention, especially where the state can confer public goods. Think "looting of the commons."

America's economy was a success in the 19th century due the plunder of a pristine environment and abundant natural resources. Before the frontier was closed, all one had to show up and build wealth using what was at hand. The world wars finished off Europe as an economic dynamo, bankrupted the British empire, and put economic and financial supremacy in Washington’s hands.  The US dollar became the world reserve currency, enabling the US to pay its bills by printing money. And enabling the US to plunder foreign resources the way vanishing American resources had once been plundered. We plunder in a more sophisticated way now; see John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man for how that works.

As it gets harder and harder for corporations to make an honest buck, they have to go "where the money is," much like bank robbers did before credit card fraud. And tht means you: your pension, your Social Security, your 401K. They want it, and they'll get it. Meanwhile, economic life in the "Home of the Brave, Land of the Free" means death by a thousand cuts for too many people. Here are 2019 stories that make the point:

The US Economy Is a System of Plunder

We Can Only Choose One: Our National Economy or Globalization

The world is sitting on a $400 trillion financial time bomb

Why the middle class can’t afford life in America anymore

Fed Ups Its Wall Street Bailout to $690 Billion a Week as Media Snoozes

Connecting the Dots to the Budding Wall Street Crisis

The Dirtiest Secret Capitalism Doesn’t Want You to Know

Have the Slow, Catastrophic Costs of Capitalism Exceeded the Long-Term Benefits? Or, Why Capitalism Failed Spectacularly as a Global Economy

The Repo Loan Crisis, Dead Bankers, and Deutsche Bank: Timeline of Events

This is (just another) absolutely terrific by the Martens. If you read nothing about money, read this.
The timeline is particularly telling, especially this gem:

May 19, 2019: The New York Times’ David Enrich writes the bombshell report describing how a Deutsche Bank whistleblower, Tammy McFadden, and four of her colleagues, had their efforts blocked by the bank when they tried to file suspicious activity reports on bank accounts affiliated with Donald Trump and his son-in-law/advisor Jared Kushner. The suspicious activity reports (SARs) should have been filed with the Federal agency known as FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) but were quashed by a unit of the bank that manages money for the super wealthy. The article appeared in the print edition of the New York Times on Monday, May 20, 2019. The stock closes that day at $7.43.

We're back to counting dead bankers. It may be that having HIV is safer than working for Deutsche Bank

Day After Trump Said 'Inequality Is Down,' Federal Data Shows US Income Inequality Highest Since Census Began Measuring

How Much (Money) Does America Really Have to Invest in its Future? 

The answer, of course, is the triumph of libertarian PR. Every man an individual, in the endless war of all against all. 

America’s Collapse: An Economy Based on Plunder

Noam Chomsky: “Worship of Markets” Is Threatening Human Civilization

Revenge of the Power Grid

The ‘giant sucking sound’ of NAFTA: Ross Perot was ridiculed as alarmist in 1992 but his warning turned out to be prescient

New Survey: 69% Of U.S. CFOs Believe That A Recession Will Start "By The End Of 2020"

The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich

Social Security Benefits Have Lost 33% of Their Buying Power Since 2000 

Economic Hitman John Perkins reveals US-led Blueprint for Acquiring Countries

The Coming Generation War

Russia tops global gold buyers list as it turns away from US dollar

Deep adaptation, post-sustainability and the possibility of societal collapse

The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does

Found this article on Scientific American this morning while compiling the paper. Gives a glimpse at the sort of tools already in use to track us, sift and resell our preferences, for purposes unknown. What could possibly go wrong? The traces we leave on the Web and on our digital devices can give advertisers and others surprising, and sometimes disturbing, insights into our psychology

"Middle Class" Once Meant Stability and Now Means Fragility


What Don't fit

This is a grab-bag where a number of doom- and collapse-related stories of note that don't fit the other categories have gone to die.

The Ultimate Doom Post | Just kidding, it's worse than that.

2019 hasn't been easy and the word of the year proves it

The mainstreaming of Occupy Wall Street: How rethinking American capitalism became the most important debate of the 2010s

Fleecing the Flock: A Snapshot of America's Richest Pastors

Even among people who observe and measure how the wheels are coming off the wagon, plenty of disagreement. An old Diner friend Ugo Bardi makes an appearance in this article.

The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun

Scientists disagree on the timeline of collapse and whether it's imminent. But can we afford to be wrong? And what comes after?

All Great Civilizations Fall. Is America Next?

Read Sacha Baron Cohen's scathing attack on Facebook in full: 'greatest propaganda machine in history'

We're running out of time to stop killer robots

A new report warns that they're coming sooner than you think

CIA, the Real Lords of The Poppy-Fields & Striking White Gold in Afghanistan

‘OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations

How America Failed to Understand its Own Collapse

Google Is Coming for Your Face

Personal data is routinely harvested from the most vulnerable populations, without transparency, regulation, or principles—and this should concern us all.

Did a large meteorite hit the earth 12,800 years ago? Here’s new evidence

Democracy Is Now a Hindrance to the Imperial State

Democracy is the coat of paint applied for PR purposes to the Imperial State.

White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump

Why “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” Became a Populist Battle Cry

‘This Will Teach You Next Time,’ 911 Dispatcher Told Arkansas Woman Who Later Drowned. 

Debbie Stevens was delivering morning newspapers in her S.U.V. when she was swept away by floodwaters in Fort Smith, Ark.

‘We are moving into a new, controlled society worse than old totalitarianism’ – Zizek on Google leak

Study Finds Rise In 'Doomsday Prepping' Due To Mainstream American 'Culture Of Fear'

The Granddaddy of American Conspiracy Theorists

Decades before QAnon, false flags, “crisis actors” and Alex Jones, there was Milton William Cooper. An exclusive excerpt from ‘Pale Horse Rider’ 
Long before there was a Diner, long before 9-11, there was Milton William Cooper. His book was an underground sensation. The Hour of the Time radio program was also circulated and downloaded long before podcasts existed; I have them all. He was right about so many things, including 9-11, and the fact that he knew that by telling the truth, they would come for him and kill him. Which they did.

First human-monkey chimera raises concern among scientists

Researchers reprogrammed human cells before injecting them in the monkey embryo

This is what algorithms see when they spy on you in public

They see a lot more than you think and can make inferences about everything from personal relationships to life expectancy to “social worth.”
 

Why an “AI Race” Between the U.S. and China Is a Terrible, Terrible Idea

‘Years and Years’ is TV’s most haunting show

Foreskin reclaimers: the ‘intactivists’ fighting infant male circumcision

The U.S. Military Will Have More Robots Than Humans by 2025

We spoke to survivalists prepping for disaster: here’s what we learned about the end of the world

ARE WE LIVING IN THE DAWNING OF ALFONSO CUARÓN'S CHILDREN OF MEN?

The Unimaginable Reality of American Concentration Camps

China forcefully harvests organs from detainees, tribunal concludes

Organ transplant trade is worth $1 billion a year. 

Senators get classified briefing on UFO sightings

Tennessee Pastor Who Repeatedly Raped Daughter, 14, Gets Light Sentence Because Jesus

Was Shakespeare a Woman?

A thousand guns were found in an LA mansion. Then the mystery deepened

Trump Wants to Make It Legal for Debt Collectors to Text You “Where’s the Money, A$$hole?”

Ethiopian Bible is oldest and most complete on earth

Scientists Call for a Moratorium on Editing Inherited Genes

Amid a controversy over gene-edited babies, leading researchers want to call a halt and install a global governance process.

Opium-Addicted Parrots Are Terrorizing Poppy Farms in India

The Inconvenient Truth of Modern Civilization’s Inevitable Collapse

Medieval Letter Reveals Bawdy Nun Who Faked Her Death to Escape Convent

When the Trucks Stop Delivering, ‘The System’ Will Collapse

And that's a year's worth of doom. As we head into a pivital year of impeachment, elections and the usual schemes, here's hoping we're together back here next year "pretending that the downside doesn’t exist." Enjoy your new year!

 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week In Doom July 14, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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                                                                                                                                                                               Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 14, 2019

“The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.” 
― Barbara W. Tuchman, The Guns of August
 


There is a steady drumbeat of madness in the air… or it is simply my pulse in my ears? It grows louder. It screams of inevitability. When I was a little boy, four or five, I distinctly recall wondering whether mine might not be the last generation to live until "the end of the world."  A singular thought for a child– but this was the age of fallout shelters and under-the-desk nuclear attack drills– all of it kabuki, but calculated to help you feel you were doing something. Lately I've had those thoughts again, unbidden after sixty years. A fear, leading up to a Third, and final, world war as pieces float into place. 

A nuclear tipped empire led by a madman drunk on vanity, enabled by a vocal, hate-brimmed minority intent on nothing so much as making Those People suffer. "Those people" mean the right people in their view– immigrants, democrats, liberals, academics, knowledge-workers, African-americans, Latinos, queers– anyone not likely to be found in a Prosperity Gospel megachurch, a Chamber of Commerce breakfast, or a Trump Klux Klan meeting. These people have always been with us. In his satirical 1922 novel about American culture, Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis observed the vacuity of middle-class life and the social pressure toward conformity in a midwestern town. To remember that a quarter of our neighbors are nazis-in-waiting, never forget that as Nixon boarded the helicopter to his ride to shame and infamy, he stood at 24 per cent approval, per Gallup.

Our media reinforces that conformity, even though we are all repeatedly told what special snowflakes we are. Corporate media holds the coat for the military-industrial complex as we push for war. All is propaganda, to "support the troops;" special camo-version uniform accents for major league sports teams; Blue Angels overflights. Relentless propaganda against the new enemy, which this month has been Iran. Unlike the Cold War that informed my childhood, our world is no longer kept “stable” through a bipolar death grip of mutually assured destruction. The mood these days seems to evoke the period prior to WWI, where no one knows how shifting diplomatic alliances will fall, when the competition was between nation states and competing economic orders rather than ideologies. Prior to WWI, the global hegemon/empire was Britain, which after being bled white by two World Wars found the costs of Empire unsupportable. The US assumed the mortgage, and in the fullness of time, we too will assume that Whiter Shade of Pale. In the runup to WWI, the unstable nutcase in the equation was Kaiser Wilhelm. In our case, the loose orange cannon has 24-7 access to our nuclear codes and a troubled path to re-election.

Here's the week:


Alex Acosta Had to Go, But the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal Is Really About Money and Privilege

Acosta took the fall in the Jeffrey Epstein debacle for his role in the disgraceful 2008 sweetheart plea deal that gave Epstein mansion "house arrest" and other perks not available to those us whose net worth is south of ione figures. But it is likely Acosta is merely the first domino.

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s resignation Friday amid the mushrooming Jeffrey Epstein investigation made him the latest in a growing list of President Trump’s Cabinet members to depart under a cloud of scandal, plunging an administration that has struggled with record turnover into further upheaval.

As a private businessman, Trump had socialized with Epstein in the early 2000s, was famously quested as saying Epstein "enjoyed his social life," but said he had a "falling out" with Epstein some 15 years ago and ended their relationship.

People who knew the hedge fund business didn't know Epstein, unusual for someone who maintained a lavish lifestyle (including his own private island) supposedly by running hedge funds. 

Real Hedge-Fund Managers Have Some Thoughts on What Epstein Was Actually Doing

Long before Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida more than a decade ago, his fellow Palm Beach resident and hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass was intrigued by the local gossip about his neighbor.

“I’m hearing about the parties, hearing about a guy who’s throwing money around,” says Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners Management. While stories about young girls swarming Epstein’s waterfront mansion and the sex parties he hosted for the rich and powerful were the talk of the town, Kass was more focused on how this obscure person, rumored to be managing billions of dollars, had become so wealthy without much of a track record.

Kass was well-connected on Wall Street, where he’d worked for decades, so he began to ask around. “I went to my institutional brokers, to their trading desks and asked if they ever traded with him. I did it a few times until the date when he was arrested,” he recalls. “Not one institutional trading desk, primary or secondary, had ever traded with Epstein’s firm.”

When a reporter came to interview Kass about Bernie Madoff shortly before that firm blew up in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, Kass told her, “There’s another guy who reminds me of Madoff that no one trades with.” That man was Jeffrey Epstein….

…there is much skepticism among the hedgies Intelligencer spoke with that Epstein made the money he has — and he appears to have a lot, given a lavish portfolio of homes and private aircraft — as a traditional money manager.  A fund manager who knows well how that kind of fortune is acquired notes, “It’s hard to make a billion dollars quietly.” Epstein never made a peep in the financial world.

More in this excellent article from The Intelligencer at the link.

Some have observed that we've seen the like of Epstein before. I think not. While indulging his taste for pedophilia, Epstein has for all intents and purposes run a honeypot operation spanning decades, and including high rollers and the odd president or two. The contents of Epstein's "little black book" is worth billions. Acosta said he was waved off in the 2008 plea deal, having been told that Epstein "belonged to intelligence." Whose intelligence, no one is saying. 

As Douglas Kass said in the quote above, "It's hard to make a billion dollars quietly." Yet no one in hedge find circles knew of him, had traded with him, or knew anyone who had. Yet someone was paying for his lifestyle. Billionaires and politicos buying decades of silence?


A Twitter post by one Quantian that lays out a likely scenario for Epstein's scheme that ticks off all that we know to be true. If is worth a read, on Threadreader here and on Twitter, if you'd rather.


It mat be that Epstein is not a garden variety pedo. He ran a network supplying children– not "young women," as the media spinners might put it– for high rollers and the connected. Whether or not we will ever know the "truth," or what passes for it, remains very doubtful. We've seen this act before– remember the Franklin affair and cover-up? Those bastards literally got away with murder. the investigators got steamrollered with money, and even the FBI got involved on the part of those accused: they managed to stop a John Walsh America’s Most Wanted series which featured the Franklin case. Most charges were dismissed. So those seeking justice may be disappointed, but before the charges are dismissed, some of the names in Epstein's famous "little black book" may do some summertime sweating. The root issue is the workings of the American class system. From Franklin, Nebraska to New York City and "St. Jeff's Island," we see the the manner in which people of great wealth and high social standing are often able to purchase their own flavor of justice, regardless of how flagrant or hideous their crimes may be.  Judges, prosecutiors, and juries often genuflect before a high enough pile of cash.


Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans. 
Spreading invasive tick spawns without mating and can transmit deadly disease.
Ravenous swarms of cloned ticks have killed a fifth cow in North Carolina by exsanguination—that is, by draining it of blood—the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned this week….

The tick—the Asian longhorned tick, or Haemaphysalis longicornis—was first found terrorizing a sheep in New Jersey in 2017 and has established local populations in at least 10 states since it sneaked in. Its invasive sweep is due in large part to the fact that a single well-fed female can spawn up to 2,000 tick clones parthenogenetically—that is, without mating—in a matter of weeks. And unlike other ticks that tend to feast on a victim for no more than seven days, mobs of H. longicorni can latch on for up to 19 days.

The state government is North Carolina no longer maintains any capability to respond to this type of new public health threat – the Republicans who took control of the state legislature in 2010 eliminated the  Public Health Pest Management Section — which included the state’s tick control and research programs — in their 2011 budget.


Trump backs away from census citizenship question, orders agencies to hand over citizenship information to Commerce

President Donald Trump retreated from his quest to add a question about US citizenship to the 2020 census on Thursday, instead asking government agencies to provide records that could determine a head-count of citizens without polling census-takers directly. 

The turnaround comes after Trump repeatedly said he would continue fighting to insert the question despite a Supreme Court ruling that dealt a blow to the effort last month. It reflects legal reality intersecting with Trump's desire to bolster his image as an immigration hard-liner as he moves ahead with his 2020 reelection bid.

Some type of direct action by Trump had been one of several avenues explored by the administration to place the question on the population survey following the late June Supreme Court ruling. 

The Trump administration initially announced printing would go forward without the citizenship question. Government attorneys had asserted to the courts that the printing process — either with or without the question — needed to begin on July 1 to avoid extra costs.


Top 1% Up $21 Trillion. Bottom 50% Down $900 Billion.
Stop the Presses: The rich get richer.

Every quarter, the Federal Reserve puts out the Financial Accounts (aka “Z1” or “Flow of Funds”), which provide economy-wide aggregates for nearly every kind of asset and liability there is. Every three years, they put out the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which is a household survey that records many of the same kinds of assets and liabilities that are in the Financial Accounts. In a perfect world, the assets and liabilities in the SCF would sum up to the aggregates in the Financial Accounts, but for various reasons they do not.

Recently, the Federal Reserve released a new data series called the Distributive Financial Accounts, which combine the Financial Accounts and the SCF to provide quarterly estimates of the distribution of wealth in America that do sum to the aggregates in the Financial Accounts. The series goes back to 1989, the first year the modern SCF was administered and runs to the fourth quarter of 2018, the last quarter for which there is Financial Accounts data.

The insights of this new data series are many, but for this post here I want to highlight a single eye-popping statistic. Between 1989 and 2018, the top 1 percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion. The bottom 50 percent actually saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion over the same period…

What the final product reveals is a 2018 where the top 1 percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing, meaning they have more debts than they have assets. This follows from 30 years in which the top 1 percent massively grew their net worth while the bottom half saw a slight decline in its net worth.


By 2050, many world cities will have weather like they’ve never seen, new study says

The price of climate denial will be paid. Gardeners already know that growing zones have moved steadily northward during our lifetimes, and that temps keep getting hotter as glaciers at both poles melt and sea levels rise, and storms come earlier and with greater force and water load. Tropical Storm Barry this week was an early preview.

CLIMATE FORECAST FOR 2050: New York City winters will have the weather of today’s Virginia Beach, damp and cold London will be hot and dry like Barcelona, wet Seattle will be like drier San Francisco, and Washington D.C. will be more like today’s Nashville but with even greater variation in temperatures and precipitation. Those predictions are according to the first global analysis of how some cities’ climate conditions will shift under climate change.

“We wanted to know what’s the most conservative estimate of what the climate will be for 520 major cities in 2050,” said Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and senior author of the study published today in the peer-reviewed science journal PLOS ONE.

“The changes we found are huge,” Crowther says in an interview.

Generally speaking, cities in the Northern Hemisphere will have the climates cities more than 620 miles to their south have today, he said.

There are no good pairings or analogues for more than 22 percent of the world’s major cities—those with one million or more people currently, researchers found. Those 115 cities, including Washington and 16 other U.S. cities, will have unprecedented climate conditions by 2050 compared to what they saw in 2000, the baseline for the study.

That doesn’t mean that Washington will be hotter than Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, today. It means that there is no current match for the wide climate variations in temperatures, seasonality, and precipitation the city will experience, said Crowther.

The vast majority of the 115 cities that will experience “novel” climates are in the tropics and include metropolises like Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Rangoon, and Singapore. Changes in tropical cities will be less in terms of temperature increases, but will be dominated by more frequent extreme precipitation events and the severity and intensity of droughts.

“The fate of major tropical cities remains uncertain as many will experience unprecedented climate conditions,” the study concludes.


Earth's Ancient Life Forms Are Awakening After 40,000 Years in Permafrost

Researchers in a warming Arctic are discovering organisms, frozen and presumed dead for millennia, that can bear life anew. These ice age zombies range from simple bacteria to multicellular animals, and their endurance is prompting scientists to revise their understanding of what it means to survive.

"You wouldn't assume that anything buried for hundreds of years would be viable," said [evolutionary biologist Catherine} La Farge, who researches mosses at the University of Alberta.

In 2009, her team was scouring Teardrop's margin to collect blackened plant matter spit out by the shrinking glacier. Their goal was to document the vegetation that long ago formed the base of the island's ecosystem.

"The material had always been considered dead. But by seeing green tissue, "I thought, 'Well, that's pretty unusual'," La Farge said about the centuries-old moss tufts she found.

She brought dozens of these curious samples back to Edmonton, lavishing them with nutrient-rich soils in a bright, warm laboratory. Almost a third of the samples burst forth with new shoots and leaves.

"We were pretty blown away," La Farge said. The moss showed few ill effects of its multi-centennial deep-freeze.

Russian teams working on a similar project have reanimated nematodes from over 40,000 years ago:  the most complex creatures ever revived after a lengthy deep freeze. What else could be buried in the Arctic deeps awaiting reanimation? And what could possibly go wrong?


Global clean-energy spending is plummeting

Worldwide funding of clean-energy projects fell to its lowest level in six years, in a staggering blow to the battle against climate change.

The findings: BloombergNEF found that global investments in solar, wind, and other clean energy sources added up to $117.6 billion during the first half of 2019, a 14% decline from the same period last year and the lowest six-month figure since 2013.
China saw a 39% drop in investments, as the nation eases up on its aggressive solar subsidies to get costs under control. But spending also declined 6% in the US and 4% in Europe, part because of policies that are being phased out and weak demand for additional energy generation in mature markets.

The big picture: The new report suggests last year’s slowdown in renewable-energy construction has extended into 2019, taking the world in exactly the wrong direction at a critical time (see “Global renewables growth has stalled—and that’s terrible news”).  Every major report finds that the world needs to radically accelerate the shift to clean energy to have any hope of not blowing past dangerous warming thresholds (see “At this rate, it’s going to take 400 years to transform the energy system”).

The smart money says we don't have 400 years, or even 40.


The fact is that our modern system is dependent upon petroleum, and will be for the foreseeable future. Our lives, society and economies are based on oil and petroleum byproducts.  The plastics, the supply chains that take the raw ingredients from manufacturing to retail are all dependent on petroleum and byproducts. Whether we can generate enough renewable power to replace a significangt portion. of this is arguable. . Decision makers have always known this.

We knew the potential impacts of global warming 40 years ago. Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House; Reagan had them removed, and declared, "Morning in America." Weaning a society and a world from petroleum might have been difficult enough had we summoned the will; but with the Reaganauts in charge such change was off the boards.

Today, production webs are now globally interlocked. The rise of developing nations like China and India and the Pacific Rim means that their citizens want a car in the driveway and steak on their plate just like the first world imperialists that stole their assets 100 years ago. Any attempts for the West to move to a zero emission scheme would have been rendered moot if the Third World refused to go along. Forego growth? Not likely.

So knowing this, the elites have chosen to deny climate change for as long as possible to a public too complacent to notice or make changes themselves. Once a general alarm was sounded and a tipping point of public opinion was close, they would pay lip service to environmentalism. Enter some toothless carbon-cutting deals without enforcement mechanisms, and with an action date near mid-century. Anything to keep people placated and assuming that their Governments were actually working the issue.

Use the notion of the free market meeting the problem head on once there is enough profit involved. By the time this might be viable, it'll be far too late to head off the four degrees Celsius increase, the tipping point towards full blown environmental Armageddon.

Meanwhile, TPTB maximize short term profit, and use that profit to start socially engineering the lower energy footprint, ownership-free world that the New World Order will demand. And rathole money in land, bunkers and other assets to make sure they and their progeny are prepared to survive a couple years of zombie unpleasantness, then emerge with prerogatives intact.

The exacerbated income inequality demonstrated above is just more evidence that TPTB are concentrating the wealth. It's a game we're not even aware is being played, because we're so complacent. By the time the jig is up, they will already field their own private armies in order to keep themselves and their families safe from a very pissed off population.

Two degrees rise is almost certainly baked in at this point, and because the world economic system is reliant on petroleum, there's no changing its current  direction absent a worldwide commitment, the consensus for which is notably absent. And this does not account for other hidden feed back loops within the Earth's biosphere, such as frozen methane reserves in the Arctic.

When I was young, the earth was home to 3.7 billion people. Now, 8+ billion people will all want desperately to survive what is coming. The kind of climate migrations we'll be facing will almost certainly mean nations will go to war over dwindling supplies, sources of fresh, clean water foremost among them. Look to the news out of India this week, then consider what the disappearance of glaciers will mean for the great, glacier-fed rivers of Asia. We know what the end game is, and we've known, or been able to deduce, for forty years. Nothing has changed except that time grows shorter. And I still wonder whether my generation will be the last to walk the earth as we knew it.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone.

Lies, Damned Lies, and News Reports

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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cell-phone-news

An earlier, more temperate report on cell phones and cancer has supposedly been eclipsed by a newer, better one. But wait.

 

Published on The Daily Impact on June 1, 2015

 


“U.S. Leads Globe in Oil Production for Third Year.”

“Major New Study Reveals Cellphone Radiation Causes Cancer.”

These are just two examples of headlines that circled the world in the past week, subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge. Of course there were others: the “violent, chair-throwing riot” at the Nevada Democratic convention that turned out to have involved no violence, no chair-throwing and no riot; the long, dumbfounded pause when a group of pro-gun people were asked a hard question by Katie Couric, a pause that in reality was neither long nor dumbfounded. And on and on.

How are we to fulfill our responsibilities as informed citizens  (I know, it’s a quaint concept) when the information we get is consistently wrong and/or incomplete? For starters, it helps to understand the nature of the problem — in this case the dumbness and dumberness of American journalism. First Rule: when something is happening either because of stupidity or a conspiracy, always assume stupidity. These people aren’t smart enough to maintain a conspiracy.

Consider, for example, “U.S. Leads Globe in Oil Production for Third Year.” Anyone who has paid any attention at all to the oil industry in recent years knows that can’t be true. So how can a slick website like Climate Central,  “researching and reporting the science and impacts of climate change,” join the knuckle-draggers who published and believed it?

Hard to say. The Energy Information Administration report to which these articles referred had a slightly different headline: “United States remains largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons,” which does not mean, it turns out, that the US is biggest in both petroleum and natural gas, but is biggest when you add petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons together. Moreover, “petroleum,” as used in the EIA reporting, is not the same thing as “crude oil,” although the reporting assumes it is: “Government estimates show that crude oil production has continued to grow across the country, from nearly 8 million barrels of oil per day in 2008 to about 15 million in 2015.”

In fact, government estimates show nothing of the kind. According to the EIA, the same agency being quoted in these pieces, crude oil production in the United States has been declining sharply and steadily for a year and a half — from a high of less than 10 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia and Russia are both pumping slightly more than 10mgd, meaning that the US is in third place, right where it’s been for years. Moreover, says EIA, world crude oil production has been declining since last November.

The only way you get the happy numbers used in these puff pieces is to change the definition of oil, to include things like biofuels, and suspend your critical faculties. Not what we want our journalists to be doing.  

Now to the other journalistic atrocity, “Major New Study Reveals Cellphone Radiation Causes Cancer.” No, actually, it did not. It revealed that if you bombard rats with the radio frequencies cellphones use for nine hours a day, the male rats in the group irradiated at an intensity 75 times the maximum allowed human exposure from cellphones had a slightly elevated chance of developing two types of cancerous tumors.

The study did not receive the peer review that is normal before publication,perhaps because the first few peers to look at it had serious problems with it. It had no explanation, for example, for the fact that the irradiated rats lived far longer than the control group, who received no RF radiation at all. Or for why none of the female irradiated rats developed tumors.  

Frankly, I smell a rat, and so should every journalist writing and reader reading about this travesty of science, or about the oil business. .


Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Dance to the Panama Papers ‘Limited Hangout’ Leak

putin gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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putin

Originally published in Telesur on April 5, 2016


Calling out around the world; time to put on your made in Ecuador Panama hat and frantically start dancing to the ultimate limited hangout leak.

And if you believe in the purity of intentions of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) at the center of the leak, I’ve got a made in Shenzhen Panama hat to sell you (disclosure: I never was, and never will be, a member of the ICIJ).

The Washington-based ICIJ gets its cash and its "organizational procedure" via the Exceptionalistan-based, Orwellian-named Center for Public Integrity. The funds flow mostly from the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Kellogg Foundation and the George Soros-owned Open Society.

Then there is Eastern Europe-based partner organization OCCRP, an even more Orwellian outfit self-styled as playing some sort of progressive, alternative media role. OCCRP is funded by Soros and USAID.

And finally there’s this fictional land named Panama – a certified U.S. vassal. Absolutely nothing of real substance happens in Panama without a green light by the United States government. Or, as an international tax lawyer told me, “you have to be an idiot to stash money in Panama. You cannot flush a toilet there without the Americans knowing about it.”

This sets the scene for the Panama Papers leak – a massive hoard of 11.5 million documents allegedly leaked from someone inside offshore heavies Mossack Fonseca to the center-left, NATO-friendly Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich and then shared by the ICIJ with selected mainstream media partners.

Even without a smoking gun, a case can be made this alleged most massive leak ever was obtained by – what else – U.S. intel. This is the kind of stuff the NSA excels at. The NSA is able to break into virtually any database and/or archives anywhere; they steal “secrets;” and then selectively destroy/blackmail/protect assets and “enemies,” according to USG interests.

Absolutely nothing of real substance happens in Panama without a green light by the United States government.

That’s the essence of a limited hangout sold to public opinion as a serious corruption investigation. And that’s where Western corporate media enters the scene, protecting whatever 0.00000001 percent honcho is caught in the net, as well as sacrificing some disposable pawns.

So we have over 300 reporters pouring over hundreds of thousands of document/files for over an interminable year with, miraculously, no leaks whatsoever; just for a bunch of corporate mainstream media hacks meticulously cherry picked stories and decide what is “newsworthy." Western alternative media would have investigated the data without sparing anyone; but it would be out of the question to grant them access.

What’s already certain is that the full extent of the Panama leak will never be known. Even the by now exceedingly pathetic The Guardian admitted, on the record, that "much of the leaked material will remain private". Why? Because it may – inadvertently and directly – implicate a gaggle of Western 0.00000001 percent multibillionaires and corporations. All of them play the offshore casino game (although not necessarily in Panama.)

So the Panama Papers, stripped to the bone, may reveal themselves essentially as an infowar operation by the NSA – targeted mostly against “enemies” (as in the BRICS nations) and selected disposable pawns; a weaponized psyops posing as an 'activist leak', straight from the Hybrid War playbook.

Step on the Monster Truck

A who’s who of wealthy/powerful players has been directly targeted in the Panama Papers, from the – demented – King of Saudi Arabia to former Fiat/Ferrari stalwart Luca de Montezemolo, from Lionel Messi to (unnamed) Chinese Communist Party officials and the brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Extra-juicy element is provided by the presence of Alaa Mubarak – the son of the deposed Egyptian snake; Ayad Allawi, the butcher of Fallujah and former U.S. occupation prime minister; Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (a Saudi protégé, so he must get offshore advice as well); and Dov Weisglass, the butcher of Gaza and former advisor to Israeli Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert (this one already convicted of corruption.) These are all disposable.

We find in the list not only Middle Eastern racketeers but also the token “respectable” European – from Iceland’s Prime Minister (already forced to resign) to David Cameron’s father Ian. And some players that might be considered Exceptionalistan’s friends, such as vulture fund-friendly Argentina President Mauricio Macri and chocolate heavyweight cum Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has a lot of funds parked in the British Virgin Islands.

Predictably, particular emphasis is on BRICS members – from those mysterious Chinese to Indian companies. As far as Brazil is concerned, there may be a healthy counterpoint; the presence of notoriously corrupt leader of the lower house Eduardo Cunha; his Swiss accounts had surfaced after the HSBC leaks, now some more showed up on the Panama Leaks.

Still to be explained is a juicy Brazilian-related angle; whether the Panama Leaks are directly related to the fact that Ramon Fonseca, 50 percent of Mossack Fonseca, was dismissed as president of the Panameñista Party last month because of Operation Car Wash – which targets mostly the ruling Workers’ Party in Brazil. The Panama Papers are in fact a Monster Truck, global version of Car Wash.

Lula, predictably, is not on the Panama list – to the despair of the Exceptionalistan-supported regime changers in Brazil, many of them (media barons, bankers, businessmen) featured on the previous HSBC leaks. Regime-Changers-in-Chief, the Globo media empire, are also not on the Panama leaks, although they profit from a certified offshore racket.

Syria was always bound to be a key target. Much of Western corporate media “newsworthy” stories now focus on “Assad’s fixer” Rami Makhlouf, described in U.S. diplomatic cables as Syria’s “poster boy for corruption” and under U.S. sanctions since February 2008. Such a convenient target. Yet “poster boy” happened to be quite sheltered by HSBC as well.

Putin Did It

And so we finally get to the key target of Monster Truck (in Brazil’s Car Wash they are Lula and President Rousseff). It’s got the requisite BRICS angle and it’s a dream spin; cue to virtually every major Western corporate media headline blaring that Vladimir Putin has stashed US$2 billion offshore.

The problem is he didn’t. Putin is guilty by association because of his “close associates” Arkady and Boris Rotenberg’s alleged ties to money laundering. Yet three “incriminating” emails in the files happen not to “incriminate” them, or Putin.

And then there’s cellist Sergey Roldugin, a childhood friend of Putin’s. Here’s the – politically filtered – spin by the ICIJ:

“The records show Roldugin is a behind-the-scenes player in a clandestine network operated by Putin associates that has shuffled at least US$2 billion through banks and offshore companies. In the documents, Roldugin is listed as the owner of offshore companies that have obtained payments from other companies worth tens of millions of dollars. … It’s possible Roldugin, who has publicly claimed not to be a businessman, is not the true beneficiary of these riches. Instead, the evidence in the files suggests Roldugin is acting as a front man for a network of Putin loyalists – and perhaps for Putin himself.”

What about rephrasing it as, “the evidence in the files suggests Lionel Messi is acting as a frontman for a network of football loyalists trying to evade the rape of Argentina by U.S. hedge fund vultures friendly to new President and offshore account holder Mauricio Macri”?

The juiciest bit is that Moscow knew all along another Hybrid War offensive chapter was imminent, days if not weeks before Panama went viral.

Make America Great Again

Offshore bank accounts are not intrinsically illegal. Quite a few though involve dodgy money, or at least provide the euphemistic “low-tax environment” fundamental to the very wealthy.

It’s not an accident that the Panama Papers unveil connections to several dozen firms and individuals who are prominently featured in U.S. sanctions blacklists. That configures the Panama Papers as even more of a limited hangout; the real Papers would be the Cayman Papers or the Virgin Island Papers. That’s where most of the in-the-know park their money (not to mention Luxembourg). Adding to the hilarity factor, David Cameron suddenly woke up to the need to stop British overseas territories – and Crown dependencies – being used by the wealthy to park their untaxed fortune.

It’s never going to happen. The so-called international banking/financial system is a demented casino. It’s not only 8 percent; Hong Kong players tell me as much as 50 percent of global wealth may currently be parked, undisturbed, in untaxable offshore havens. If a fraction of these astonishing funds would be taxed, governments right and left would be paying their debts, investing in infrastructure, launching round after round of sustainable growth, and a productive spiral would be in motion.

And that leads us to the cherry in the corruption cake; how come there are no Americans in this limited hangout leak? Of course there are none. Panama is for suckers. Too obvious. Too rakish. Too crude. Ergo, forget about The Cayman Papers.

As for foreigners in-the-know, we just need to go back a mere three months ago to this Bloomberg piece, where Andrew Penney, Managing Director of Rothschild & Co., spells it all out; the U.S. “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world.”

The circle is finally squared; Panama is revealed as the patsy – mere collateral damage in this limited hangout Monster Truck operation. Domestic tax haven providers, such as Rothschild, are the real deal. Make America great again? It already is – as the top tax shelter for hardcore dodgy money had to be…a monster Panama: Exceptionalistan itself. Now dance, suckers.


PepePepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Anti-Empire Report #123

Off the Keyboard of William Blum

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nature bailout

Published December 4, 2013 by William Blum on The Anti-Empire Report

“If nature were a bank, they would have already rescued it.” – Eduardo Galeano

 

What do you think of this as an argument to use when speaking to those who don’t accept the idea that extreme weather phenomena are man-made?

Well, we can proceed in one of two ways:

  1. We can do our best to limit the greenhouse effect by curtailing greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere, and if it turns out that these emissions were not in fact the cause of all the extreme weather phenomena, then we’ve wasted a lot of time, effort and money (although other benefits to the ecosystem would still accrue).
  2. We can do nothing at all to curtail the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and if it turns out that these emissions were in fact the cause of all the extreme weather phenomena (not simply extreme, but getting downright freaky), then we’ve lost the earth and life as we know it.

So, are you a gambler?

Whatever we do on a purely personal level to try and curtail greenhouse gas emissions cannot of course compare to what corporations could do; but it’s inevitable that the process will impinge upon the bottom line of one corporation or another, who can be relied upon to put optimization of profit before societal good; corporate “personhood” before human personhood. This is a barrier faced by any environmentalist or social movement, and is the reason why I don’t subscribe to the frequently-voiced idea that “Left vs. Right” is an obsolete concept; that we’re all together in a common movement against corporate and government abuse regardless of where we fall on the ideological spectrum.

It’s only the Left that maintains as a bedrock principle: People before Profit, which can serve as a very concise definition of socialism, an ideology anathema to the Right and libertarians, who fervently believe, against all evidence, in the rationality of a free market. I personally favor the idea of a centralized, planned economy.

Holy Lenin, Batman! This guy’s a Damn Commie!

Is it the terminology that bothers you? Because Americans are raised to be dedicated anti-communists and anti-socialists, and to equate a “planned economy” with the worst excesses of Stalinism? Okay, forget the scary labels; let’s describe it as people sitting down and discussing what the most serious problems facing society are; and which institutions and forces in the society have the best access, experience, and resources to offer a solution to those problems. So, the idea is to enable these institutions and forces to deal with the problems in a highly organized and efficient manner. All this is usually called “planning”, and if the organization of it all generally stems from the government it can be called “centralized”. The alternative to this is called either anarchy or free enterprise.

I don’t place much weight on the idea of “libertarian socialism”. That to me is an oxymoron. The key questions to be considered are: Who will make the decisions on a daily basis to run the society? For whose benefit will those decisions be made. It’s easy to speak of “economic democracy” that comes from “the people”, and is “locally controlled”, not by the government. But is every town and village going to manufacture automobiles, trains and airplanes? Will every city of any size have an airport? Will each one oversee its own food and drug inspections? Maintain all the roads passing through? Protect the environment within the city boundary only? Such questions are obviously without limit. I’m just suggesting that we shouldn’t have stars in our eyes about local control or be paranoid about central planning.

“We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.” – William James (1842-1910)

So, George W. Bush is now a painter. He tells his art teacher that “there’s a Rembrandt trapped inside this body”. 1 Ah, so Georgie is more than just a painter. He’s an artiste.

And we all know that artistes are very special people. They’re never to be confused with mass murderers, war criminals, merciless torturers or inveterate liars. Neither are they ever to be accused of dullness of wit or incoherence of thought.

Artistes are not the only special people. Devout people are also special: Josef Stalin studied for the priesthood. Osama bin Laden prayed five times a day.

And animal lovers: Herman Goering, while his Luftwaffe rained death upon Europe, kept a sign in his office that read: “He who tortures animals wounds the feelings of the German people.” Adolf Hitler was also an animal lover and had long periods of being a vegetarian and anti-smoking. Charles Manson was a staunch anti-vivisectionist.

And cultured people: This fact Elie Wiesel called the greatest discovery of the war: that Adolf Eichmann was cultured, read deeply, played the violin. Mussolini also played the violin. Some Nazi concentration camp commanders listened to Mozart to drown out the cries of the inmates.

Former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadzic, on trial now before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, was a psychiatrist, specializing in depression; a practitioner of alternative medicine; published a book of poetry and books for children.

Al Qaeda and other suicide bombers are genuinely and sincerely convinced that they are doing the right thing. That doesn’t make them less evil; in fact it makes them more terrifying, since they force us to face the scary reality of a world in which sincerity and morality do not necessarily have anything to do with each other.

Getting your history from Hollywood

Imagine a documentary film about the Holocaust which makes no mention of Nazi Germany.

Imagine a documentary film about the 1965-66 slaughter of as many as a million “communists” in Indonesia which makes no mention of the key role in the killing played by the United States.

But there’s no need to imagine it. It’s been made, and was released this past summer. It’s called “The Act of Killing” and makes no mention of the American role. Two articles in the Washington Post about the film made no such mention either. The Indonesian massacre, along with the jailing without trial of about a million others and the widespread use of torture and rape, ranks as one of the great crimes of the twentieth century and is certainly well known amongst those with at least a modest interest in modern history.

Here’s an email I sent to the Washington Post writer who reviewed the film:

“The fact that you can write about this historical event and not mention a word about the US government role is a sad commentary on your intellect and social conscience. If the film itself omits any serious mention of the US role, that is a condemnation of the filmmaker, and of you for not pointing this out. So the ignorance and brainwashing of the American people about their country’s foreign policy (i.e., holocaust) continues decade after decade, thanks to media people like Mr. Oppenheimer [one of the filmmakers] and yourself.”

The Post reviewer, rather than being offended by my intemperate language, was actually taken with what I said and she asked me to send her an article outlining the US role in Indonesia, which she would try to get published in the Post as an op-ed. I did so and she wrote me that she very much appreciated what I had sent her. But – as I was pretty sure would happen – the Post did not print what I wrote. So this incident may have had the sole saving grace of enlightening a Washington Post writer about the journalistic standards and politics of her own newspaper.

And now, just out, we have the film “Long Walk to Freedom” based on Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography of the same name. The heroic Mandela spent close to 28 years in prison at the hands of the apartheid South African government. His arrest and imprisonment were the direct result of a CIA operation. But the film makes no mention of the role played by the CIA or any other agency of the United States.

In fairness to the makers of the film, Mandela himself, in his book, declined to accuse the CIA for his imprisonment, writing: “The story has never been confirmed and I have never seen any reliable evidence as to the truth of it.”

Well, Mr. Mandela and the filmmaker should read what I wrote and documented on the subject some years after Mandela’s book came out, in my own book: Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2000). It’s not quite a “smoking gun”, but I think it convinces almost all readers that what happened in South Africa in 1962 was another of the CIA operations we’ve all come to know and love. And almost all my sources were available to Mandela at the time he wrote his autobiography. There has been speculation about what finally led to Mandela’s release from prison; perhaps a deal was made concerning his post-prison behavior.

From a purely educational point of view, seeing films such as the two discussed here may well be worse than not exposing your mind at all to any pop culture treatment of American history or foreign policy.

Getting your history from the American daily press

During the US federal government shutdown in October over a budgetary dispute, Washington Post columnist Max Fisher wondered if there had ever been anything like this in another country. He decided that “there actually is one foreign precedent: Australia did this once. In 1975, the Australian government shut down because the legislature had failed to fund it, deadlocked by a budgetary squabble. It looked a lot like the U.S. shutdown of today, or the 17 previous U.S. shutdowns.” 2

Except for what Fisher fails to tell us: that it strongly appears that the CIA used the occasion to force a regime change in Australia, whereby the Governor General, John Kerr – a man who had been intimately involved with CIA fronts for a number of years – discharged Edward Gough Whitlam, the democratically-elected prime minister whose various policies had been a thorn in the side of the United States, and the CIA in particular.

I must again cite my own writing, for the story of the CIA coup in Australia – as far as I know – is not described in any kind of detail anywhere other than in my book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II (2004).

Americans are living in an Orwellian police state. Either that, or the greatest democracy ever.

There are those in the United States and Germany these days who insist that the National Security Agency is no match for the East German Ministry for State Security, or Stasi, which, during the Cold War, employed an estimated 190,000 part-time secret informants, and an additional 90,000 officers full time, in a spying operation that permeated both East and West Germany. Since the end of the Cold War, revelations from the Stasi files have led to thousands of collaborators being chased from public life. Even now, new accusations of a Stasi association can hound politicians and celebrities in Germany. 3

All that of course stems from an era before almost all information and secrets became electronic. It was largely labor intensive. In the digital age, the NSA has very little need for individuals to spy on their friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. (In any event, the FBI takes care of that department very well.)

Can we ever expect that NSA employees will suffer public disgrace as numerous Stasi employees and informants have? No more than war criminals Bush and Cheney have been punished in any way. Only those who have exposed NSA crimes have been punished, like Edward Snowden and several other whistleblowers.

Notes

  1. Washington Post, November 21, 2013
  2. Washington Post, October 1, 2013
  3. Washington Post, November 18, 2013

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

 

 

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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Inside the Diner

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizfrazierpeck/2020/08/12/are-you-still-getting-another-1200-s...

I like Putin better than any America politician. Rock on Vlad.

Kamala is a half Jamaican and half India intellectual. She does not look black, her father does not loo black, Stanford Univeriisty professor of economics. She puts blacks in jail. Hindus are the highest earning ethnic group in the US. I hope she pick...

Nine tonnes of elephant ivory were destroyed this week in Singapore.It was the largest ivory crushing event in recent ye...

China has doubled its fighter jets on India’s disputed northern border, according to American analysts.As of July 28, China has 36 aircraft and helicopters at the Hotan air base in China’s Xinjiang region, near the disputed northeastern Indian territo...

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Knarf’s Knewz

China has doubled its fighter jets on India’s disp [...]

Hungary has signed a declaration of intent to purc [...]

COVID-19 has forced numerous changes, unfamiliar e [...]

Diner Newz Feeds

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Doomstead Diner Daily July 17The Diner Daily is av [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily July 16The Diner Daily is av [...]

The point being to wear down the "precariat [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

China has doubled its fighter jets on India’s disp [...]

Hungary has signed a declaration of intent to purc [...]

COVID-19 has forced numerous changes, unfamiliar e [...]

Quote from: K-Dog on February 24, 2020, 06:23:52 P [...]

I wonder how much these coins have been debased? [...]

Precious tip of the day.....Buy silver NOW  She [...]

Scientists have unlocked the power of gold atoms b [...]

Quote from: azozeo on August 14, 2019, 10:41:33 AM [...]

I am OUT of Jury Service!  I got summoned to be a [...]

Quote from: Eddie on May 16, 2020, 10:30:30 AMQuot [...]

Quote from: RE on May 16, 2020, 08:20:06 AMQuote f [...]

Quote from: RE on May 16, 2020, 08:20:06 AMQuote f [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

The Flim-Flam Men by Cognitive Dissonance   I suspect if average Joe or Jane were asked to identify [...]

The Coming War With China Re-posted from CaitlinJohnstone.com   (Have you noticed that (suddenly) Ch [...]

Papers Please! By Cognitive Dissonance     For those who may not know, Mrs. Cog and I live in the mo [...]

Lies, Damn Lies and Coronavirus Statistics By Cognitive Dissonance     “Never believe anything in po [...]

The Decline and Fall of Civil Society Chapter One By Cognitive Dissonance     From my perspective at [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-10http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-09http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-08http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-07http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-08-06http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

In other words, treat COVID-19 like a dry-run for the upcoming "big one" [...]

However don't expect strikes and yellow vests to fix underlying problems [...]

So how many more times are we going to hear that this is our last chance to take action in order to [...]

This is definitely not a bona fide post [...]

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Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

The Great Pause Week 21: Coronation Part II"How do you undo in a short time what has been inculcated into a culture over half a century? [...]

The Great Pause Week 20: Coronation Part I"With the number of Covid patients closing in on 20 million, epidemiologists hope the virus has [...]

"Your future is a story you were told, like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy."Thirty years a [...]

The Great Pause Week 18: Midwinter Down Under"Our objectives are low-tech, anti-fragile, and human-centered. By using tools of permaculture [...]

The Great Pause Week 17: Toppling Mount Rushmore"We are being schooled in the deficiencies of human neurobiology."President Cobblepot and [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

In reply to Tim Groves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiE5mE0ZorA Also https://www.chick.com/produ [...]

In reply to Robert Firth. Most of the reforms of the Edo period were carried out by one man—Abarenbo [...]

In reply to rufustiresias999. You could say that if something wasn’t forbidden, it was mandatory. If [...]

In reply to Tim Groves. that's interesting, that where you live the people do not cover their p [...]

In reply to grbofw. The virus lives in the intestines and is often detected in stool samples, and so [...]

Reante learns at the overripe age of 44 that he doesn't have a working crystal ball, just a dea [...]

Nothing to see here. Move along! Lol. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/biden-vice-president-pick-dith [...]

Steve seeing as how this is reante's fourth in a row, lemme know if I'm posting up too muc [...]

Hey Steve what do you think if the idea that the 1K/mo digital UBI for US citizens 18 and older (plu [...]

Who was it who used to argue here years ago about how much fat could be cut from the system? Was it [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

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Technical Journals

It is imperative to know the spatial distribution of vegetation trends in India and its responses to [...]

Air pollution continues to be a serious issue for plant health and terrestrial ecosystems. In this i [...]

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) burnt area products are widely used to assess [...]