Heart - Black

Paradise Stolen - The Myth of Efficiency

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A six-minute video by Stefan Verstappen that answers some of the arguments against the idea that small sustainable communities are impractical.

Stock Down

Signs that the American elite are feverishly preparing for something BIG

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The American war machine is being turned inwards...
What in the world are the elite up to? In recent days, we have learned that the New York Fed is moving a lot of operations to Chicago because of concerns about what a "natural disaster" could do, the federal government is buying 62 million rounds of ammunition commonly used in AR-15 semi-automatic rifles for "training" purposes, and NORAD is moving back into Cheyenne Mountain because it is "EMP-hardened". In addition, government authorities have scheduled a whole host of unusual "training exercises" all over the nation. So are the elite doing all of this in order to prepare for something really BIG, or should we just chalk up all of this strange activity to rampant government paranoia?

First, let's talk about what the New York Fed has been doing. What kind of natural disaster would be bad enough to completely shut down the operations of the New York Federal Reserve Bank? It would have to be something very unusual, and apparently the New York Fed is very concerned that such an event could happen. According to Reuters, the New York Fed has been transferring personnel to Chicago and building up its satellite office there just in case a "natural disaster" makes it impossible for normal operations to continue in New York...

Comment: It's coming, and it could happen as soon as next month.


Better Earth

(VIDEO) Russian President Vladimir Putin's 2015 public Q&A marathon with highlights

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© RIA Novosti / Michael Klimentyev
April 16, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) answers questions from the public during the annual Q&A session live on Russian television and radio.

Russia sees no enemies among other countries and advises no one to treat it as such. It wants to be America's equal partner and refuses to be Uncle Sam's vassal. And Putin took Schröder to a Russian banya and doesn't want to be cloned.

These are some of the highlights of President Putin's 13th annual Q&A marathon televised from Moscow on Thursday. The Russian leader spoke for about four hours, falling some 50 minutes short of his previous record. RT picked some memorable Putin quotes.

On anti-Russian sanctions
"Pressuring Russia with such measures is useless and senseless. I think our partners will soon realize this and will at least try to seek compromise instead of trying to fit us into the stereotypes they consider right."
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On passing the worst of the crisis
"Oil prices did grow a little, but [recovery of the Russian economy] is not directly linked to it, and experts see it. The ruble's appreciation is not linked to this rise, there are other factors. Experts see that we have passed the worst of the problems with paying our foreign debt, with our banking sector, with real sector businesses. We corrected the ruble's exchange rate and nothing burst, everything is working."

Comment: In his recent article anticipating President Putin's Q&A, Matthew Chance (writing for CNN) begins:

"In Russia's tightly-managed democracy, where being an opposition politician can seriously damage your health, chances to question the country's leader are rare."

This statement, of course, is an allusion to the murder of Boris Nemtsov that has become one more notch in the Western narrative of how evil Russia and its president are supposed to be - with no real facts or data needed to back it up. The rest of the article is pretty much par for that course, and predictably puts Putin's Q&A through an almost expertly subtle exercise of dissembling. But that's all that the West is capable of and all they know how to do at this point: no matter how many efforts, conferences, pledges, proofs, treaties, offers of good will, and shows of conscience Russia and it's President Vladamir Putin demonstrate - the projection of malevolence and malcontent will always be thrust upon them.


USA

No matter who wins the White House, the new boss will be the same as the old boss

"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It's not good at much else."—Author Tom Clancy
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Here's Hillary...
The American people remain eager to be persuaded that a new president in the White House can solve the problems that plague us. Yet no matter who wins this next presidential election, you can rest assured that the new boss will be the same as the old boss, and we—the permanent underclass in America—will continue to be forced to march in lockstep with the police state in all matters, public and private.

Indeed, as I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it really doesn't matter what you call them—the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that no matter which party occupies the White House in 2017, the unelected bureaucracy that actually calls the shots will continue to do so.

Consider the following a much-needed reality check, an antidote if you will, against an overdose of overhyped campaign announcements, lofty electoral promises and meaningless patriotic sentiments that land us right back in the same prison cell.

FACT: For the first time in history, Congress is dominated by a majority of millionaires who are, on average, fourteen times wealthier than the average American. According to a scientific study by Princeton researchers, the United States of America is not the democracy that it purports to be, but rather an oligarchy, in which "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy."

FACT: "Today, 17,000 local police forces are equipped with such military equipment as Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear and armored vehicles," reports Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. "Some have tanks."

FACT: Thanks to an overabundance of 4,500-plus federal crimes and 400,000-plus rules and regulations, it is estimated that the average American actually commits three felonies a day without knowing it. In fact, according to law professor John Baker, "There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration."

FACT: The number of violent crimes in the country is down substantially, the lowest rate in forty years, while the number of Americans being jailed for nonviolent crimes such as driving with a suspended license is skyrocketing.

FACT: Despite the fact that women only make up 8 percent of the prison population, they are more likely to be strip searched, though not more likely to carry contraband.

Yoda

Time Magazine readers - over half of whom are Americans - name Putin most influential person in world

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© RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin
In a diverse field of competitors made up of pop stars, technology gurus, visionaries and politicians - and at a time when US-Russia relations have hit rock bottom - President Putin has emerged victorious in Time magazine's 2015 reader poll.

Among the 100 most influential people in the world, as hand selected by the editors of TIME, the Russian leader proved his rock-star credentials by edging out 24-year-old rapper Lee Chae-rin (better known by her stage name, 'CL') of the South Korean girl-group 2NE1 to claim the number-one spot with 6.95 percent of the votes in the final tally.

Putin - the only world leader to rank in the top 10 - grabbed the global spotlight from the leading divas of pop music: Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Taylor Swift (2.6 percent, 1.9 percent and 1.8 percent of the votes, respectively). Aside from the Russian leader, the only non-celebrities to appear in the top 10 were the Dalai Lama (1.7 percent), Pakistani female activist Malala Yousafzai (1.6 percent) and Pope Francis (1.5 percent).

Che Guevara

Juice Rap News: The EuroDiVision Contest - What to do about 'Austerity Measures'? Decolonize Europe!

We've all heard of EuroVision. But there's another song that's being sung across Europe - the peoples' chants of protest against Europe's austerity measures.

Today we'll hear some of the leading and loudest voices in this competition, such as Greece, Spain and Ireland, who are fighting back against austerity with people power; before turning to the contest's three judges: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Slovenian philosopher-rockstar Slavoj Žižek, and IMF dominatrix err... director, Christine Lagarde.

Join Robert Foster as he examines the Eurozone crisis and the causes behind it: Is it all economics and budgets? Or is this an ideological class war aimed at the welfare state? What are the solutions? And what on earth is Australia doing competing in this EuroZone song contest? All these questions and more will be tackled as Juice Rap News dives into this most bizarre of modern European traditions. Welcome to the EURODIVISION CONTEST!


Comment: Juice News nails it again.


Safe

Meet the secretive group that runs the World

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First unofficial meeting of the BIS Board of Directors in Basel, April 1930.
Over the centuries there have been many stories, some based on loose facts, others based on hearsay, conjecture, speculation and outright lies, about groups of people who "control the world." Some of these are partially accurate, others are wildly hyperbolic, but when it comes to the historic record, nothing comes closer to the stereotypical, secretive group determining the fate of over 7 billion people, than the Bank of International Settlements, which hides in such plain sight, that few have ever paid much attention.

The following is an excerpt from TOWER OF BASEL: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World by Adam LeBor. Reprinted with permission from PublicAffairs.

Comment: So who guides the BIS?


Vader

U.S. sponsorship of neo-Nazi Ukraine and Arab dictators shows true face of Washington is fascism and dictatorship

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© Flickr/ DAVID HOLT
American sponsorship, simultaneously, of Neo-Nazis waging ethnic cleansing in Ukraine and of Arab dictators bombing an impoverished Yemen is stark testimony to the true nature of US power. Unmasked from unctuous vanity and virtuous pretensions, the ugly face of Washington is fascism and dictatorship.

Ukraine and Yemen, to some, may seem disconnected theatres. Not at all. The American-backed lawlessness and barbarity running amok in both countries are an integral function of how US power really operates in the world; not as a recent aberrant phenomenon, but rather going back to the fundamentals of how the American ruling class functions under capitalism.

Let's survey America's partners in practice: first in Yemen, then in Ukraine, and finally integrate the systematic connections.

As the death toll among civilians mounts in Yemen, aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe in the Arab Peninsula country. Rundown hospitals can't cope with the droves of injured, many of them children suffering severe burns.

Yet this week Washington announces it is stepping up its weapons supplies to the coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia that has been bombing Yemen for nearly two weeks.

US Army Colonel Steve Warren announced that the weapons are "a combination of pre-existing orders to our partners [sic] and some new requirements."

Bad Guys

Ukraine: a perfect storm of politics and bullsh*t

Once in a while a book appears that forces us to rethink the previous cognitive patterns. To use the celebrated phrase from Thomas S. Kuhn's influential, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), it introduces the paradigm shift. Kuhn's explored scientific revolutions and the shifts produced by, say, Newtonian or quantum physics. The realm of social ideas is not immune to similar breakthroughs. In the twentieth century, Orwell's analysis of a doublespeak and the mutual corruption of politics and language has clearly changed the way we look at modern politics.

Recently, Harry C. Frankfurt's little pamphlet, with its beguilingly simple title, On Bullshit (Princeton University Press, 2005) has pushed Orwell's insights into a higher degree of conceptualization. While written in Orwellian vein and addressing the abuse and manipulation of language, Frankfurt's analysis offers a new way of looking at the old problem. The book open with the following, by now well-known observation: "One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows it. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves."

Without proper understanding of its functions and purposes, we are left, frankly, unarmed to confront and understand bullshit, despite our confidence to recognize it. For Frankfurt, BS is a greater enemy of truth then a lie because a liar does care about truth and thus tries to pass falsehood for truth, while BS artists do not really care about the truthfulness of their statements - they just make assertions to impress, while disguising their real agenda. There are obvious mechanisms to challenge lies: just produce facts. But how does one challenges bullshit and understands its secret agenda? There is no cognitive frame, no intellectual traps into which the bullshitter can be caught.

Comment: Mr. Golstein is oh, so close. What he describes is the classic psychopathic approach to the world, especially when in a position of power. Basic psychopathic traits:
  • Unreliability
  • Frequent lying
  • Deceitful and manipulative behavior (either goal-oriented or for the delight of the act itself)
  • Lack of remorse or shame
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Incapacity for love
  • Poverty of general emotions
  • Loss of insight
  • Unresponsiveness in personal relations
  • A frequent need for excitement
  • An inflated self-worth
  • An ability to rationalize their behavior
  • A need for complete power
  • A need to dominate others



Quenelle

Political repression and resistance in 'Democratic Europe'

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Liberté, égalité, fraternité... parfois
For all its rhetoric about "liberal democracy" and "freedom," Europe has quietly become a hotbed of political repression. While some groups are allowed to express themselves openly - from fascists that praise Nazi collaborators of the World War II period, to feminist and gay rights groups - there is one particular brand of free speech that is simply not allowed: anti-war protest.

Masking the repression of anti-war, anti-NATO, and anti-imperialist groups behind defamatory rhetoric and demonization, the mass media in Europe attempts to portray such activists as little more than "pro-Kremlin" puppets whose strings are secretly being pulled by the wicked villains of Moscow. Rather than engaging with the critical issues raised by such groups, the political and media establishment instead targets them for repression.

Police and state repression, often of a violent nature, has been carried out under the auspices of "fighting terrorists" in Ukraine all throughout the conflict that erupted in early 2014. So too has such repression reared its ugly head in Lithuania in recent months, as anti-imperialist leftist organizers have been singled out for political persecution by the vehemently Russophobic, Euro-sycophant government. Additionally, Estonia has continued its systematic oppression of its Russian-speaking population which has been forced to exist as second class citizens, with dubious legal protections to say the least.