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Bullseye

Imagine life under martial law

soldiers
© unknown
The U.S. Federal Government under both the Bush and Obama administration has made it perfectly clear that in the event of almost any major disaster scenario, including economic and environmental, they see the institution of Martial Law as not only viable, but inexorable. From legislative actions like the Patriot Act and the Enemy Belligerents Act (currently in committee) to continuity of government programs such as Rex 84 (formerly classified) and Presidential Directive PDD 51 (currently classified, even from Congress), all the "legal" precedents have been put into place to allow the Executive Branch to implement military oversight of civilian affairs, dissolution of Constitutional liberties, even the end of Miranda Rights and the right to a speedy impartial trial as protected under the Sixth Amendment. In some cases, government legislation allows for the rendition and torture of American citizens as combatants, all for the "greater good", of course...

Some in this country dismiss such bills and directives as abstract novelties that don't constitute any real threat to our freedoms or our daily life. People have a tendency to assume that the atmosphere we live in today will remain the same tomorrow and always. Many of us never consider that dramatic, even violent change in American domestic policy is possible on a moments notice. On the contrary, the continuity legislation now in place shows that our government under the direction of corporate globalists is not only prepared to implement a military lockdown of this country, they fully anticipate that such an event will occur in the near future.
Shoe

Duck, duck, shoe! Clinton, Bush, Blair learn about flying footwear

© Politico screen grab
Hillary Clinton — ducked a shoe.
Want to protest a politician? Throwing a shoe is a time-honored way of showing offense.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's brush with an orange and black shoe in Las Vegas on Thursday wasn't her first with flying footwear.

In 2012, then-secretary of State Clinton's motorcade was pelted with shoes and tomatoes during a visit to Egypt after Mohamed Mursi was elected president. Shoes and a water bottle landed near the Clinton delegation's cars in Alexandria. Clinton's vehicle wasn't struck. Protesters were chanting "Monica, Monica," in a reference to former president Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Others chanted, "Leave, Clinton," according to Reuters.
Chess

Putin says oil wars with Russia will make West bleed

oil russia
© Reuters / Henry Romero
Opportunities for the West to hurt the Russian economy are limited, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Europe cannot stop buying Russian gas without inflicting pain on itself, and if the US tries to lower oil prices, the dollar will suffer.

If the West tries to damage Russia's influence in the world energy market, efforts will likely backfire, the Russian President said during his twelfth annual televised question and answer session.

To really influence the world oil market a country would need to increase production and cut prices, which currently only Saudi Arabia could afford, Putin said.

The president added he didn't expect Saudi Arabia, which has "very kind relations" with Russia, will choose to cut prices, that could also damage its own economy.

If world oil production increases, the price could go down to about $85 per barrel. "For us the price fall from $90 to $85 per barrel isn't critical," Putin said, adding that for Saudi Arabia it would be more sensitive.

Also the President said that being an OPEC member, Saudi Arabia would need to coordinate its action with the organization, which "is very complicated."

Meanwhile, Russia supplies about a third of Europe's energy needs, said Putin. Finland, for example, is close to Russia economically, as it receives 70 percent of its gas from Russia.

"Can Europe stop buying Russian gas? I think it's impossible...Will they make themselves bleed? That's hard to imagine," the Russian president said.
Light Sabers

Why more Bundy standoffs are coming - revolution brewing

© New American
The federal government's over-the-top police action against the Bundy family ranch is an ominous portent of more to come, as rogue agencies and their corporate/NGO partners attempt to "cleanse" the West of ranchers, farmers, miners, loggers, and other determined property owners.

On Saturday, April 12, the federal bureaucrats backed down. Faced with hundreds of men and women on horseback and on foot who were armed with firearms and video cameras - as well as local television broadcast stations and independent media streaming live video and radio feeds across America - the Obama administration called off the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) operation to confiscate hundreds of cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy, the current patriarch of a respected pioneer family that has been ranching in Nevada's Clark County since the 1800s.
Rose

First 'open source seeds' released - ethical plant breeders do end-run around Monsanto monopoly

open source seeds
© J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including broccoli, carrots and kale, on Thursday.

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

It's inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone's proprietary product.

At an event on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. In fact, any future plant that's derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well.

Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It's an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.

"If other breeders asked for our materials, we would send them a packet of seed, and they would do the same for us," he says. "That was a wonderful way to work, and that way of working is no longer with us."

These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you're not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.
Dollars

The problem of wealth inequality

wealth 1%
The Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an institute funded by the right-wing conservative Bradley Foundation. In April of 2013, the Center announced the "Bradley Freedom Prize" essay contest, in which they asked for a response to the question: "Do the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes? What amount would be fair and why?"

The following Bradley Award-losing essay submission likely inflamed the judges of the prize; rather than focusing on taxes and wealth merely in relation to the economy - the obsession of nearly all news media reports and academic literature - it instead focuses on taxes and wealth in relation to ethics, equity, and ecology.

Why Only the Rich Should be Taxed

As our country and the world face the unprecedented scourge of global climate change, the constant toxification of our air and water, and ever-increasing social and economic inequities, the few means to combat these problems exist in the form of government regulations and interventions, funded by taxes. Though the richest among us may be touted as beneficent "job creators" by ideologues and the obsequious mass media who revere them, the rich, in fact, are actually the major source of the harms and evils facing our society. Their vast industrial and corporate enterprises directly and indirectly contribute to the majority of all fossil fuel emissions, toxic pollution, worker exploitation, and income inequality. Contrary to popular opinion, the rich do not gain their wealth because they work harder or possess more skills and intellect than the rest of us; they amass profligate fortunes because they are more selfish, narcissistic, and sociopathic than others. They are rich for a specific reason. Where you or I would freely give of ourselves to help others and eschew extravagant excess, the goal of the rich is money-making, so everything they do is toward that end. Psychological studies have demonstrated that wealthy people are less altruistic than poorer people, which is precisely why they are wealthy. In this era where the United States faces the greatest income disparity in the nation's history, on top of unprecedented environmental and ecological catastrophes, it is imperative that those responsible for causing these calamities pay for them rather than benefit from them.

The rich are indeed different than the rest. They are more liable to lie, cheat, steal, and act unethically.1 It is precisely this behavior that enables their accumulation of wealth. According to Professor Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, "the higher you go up the ladder... the great number of sociopaths you will find there." 2 Thus, it is not surprising that many of the richest, most powerful people in our society perpetrate tremendous damage and injustice. They more often lack empathy and pro-social behavior, while they take more and give less than their poorer counterparts.3 These negative attributes of the upper classes commonly manifest themselves in the form of lack of concern for the environment, for other species, and for other humans. Given that the ten richest Americans are all corporate/industrial magnates of one form or another, 4 it is inevitable that tremendous damage has resulted from their industrial pursuits, both due to the nature of the wealthy individuals themselves and due to the nature of corporations. In addition, since corporations are considered people as per a Supreme Court decision, it is imperative that not only rich individuals, but corporations as well bear the burden of reimbursing society for the destruction they spread.

Comment: The author puts the blame for climate change on industrialists, when in fact it is due to many other factors besides the use of fossil fuels. However, all of the other points of this essay are right on target. The unfettered greed of oligarchs are laying waste to the planet and the creatures (including humans) who inhabit it, all the while feeling it's their right, because it's THEM. In their blindness they can't see they are destroying the very foundation of their prosperity. To quote Lobeczewski's Political Ponerology:
Goaded by their character, such people thirst for just that even though it would conflict with their own life interest. They do not understand that a catastrophe would ensue. Germs are not aware that they will be burned alive or buried deep in the ground along with the human body whose death they are causing.


Briefcase

IRS audit rates lowest in years

IRS audit
As millions of Americans race to meet Tuesday's tax deadline, their chances of getting audited are lower than they have been in years.

Budget cuts and new responsibilities are straining the Internal Revenue Service's ability to police tax returns. This year, the IRS will have fewer agents auditing returns than at any time since at least the 1980s.

Taxpayer services are suffering, too, with millions of phone calls to the IRS going unanswered.

"We keep going after the people who look like the worst of the bad guys," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an interview. "But there are going to be some people that we should catch, either in terms of collecting the revenue from them or prosecuting them, that we're not going to catch."

Better technology is helping to offset some budget cuts.

If you report making $40,000 in wages and your employer tells the IRS you made $50,000, the agency's computers probably will catch that. The same is true for investment income and many common deductions that are reported to the IRS by financial institutions.

But if you operate a business that deals in cash, with income or expenses that are not independently reported to the IRS, your chances of getting caught are lower than they have been in years.

Last year, the IRS audited less than 1 percent of all returns from individuals, the lowest rate since 2005. This year, Koskinen said, "The numbers will go down."

Koskinen was confirmed as IRS commissioner in December. He took over an agency under siege on several fronts.
Blue Planet

We are all selfish, rational materialists- new economic events show this is false

new commons economics
© AllanGregg/ YouTube.com
The commons lies at the heart of a major cultural and social shift now underway.

Jeremy Rifkin's new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society, brings welcome new attention to the commons just as it begins to explode in countless new directions. His book focuses on one of the most significant vectors of commons-based innovation - the Internet and digital technologies - and documents how the incremental costs of nearly everything is rapidly diminishing, often to zero. Rifkin explored the sweeping implications of this trend in an excerpt from his book and points to the "eclipse of capitalism" in the decades ahead.

But it's worth noting that the commons is not just an Internet phenomenon or a matter of economics. The commons lies at the heart of a major cultural and social shift now underway. People's attitudes about corporate property rights and neoliberal capitalism are changing as cooperative endeavors - on digital networks and elsewhere - become more feasible and attractive. This can be seen in the proliferation of hackerspaces and Fablabs, in the growth of alternative currencies, in many land trusts and cooperatives and in seed-sharing collectives and countless natural resource commons.

Beneath the radar screen of mainstream politics, which remains largely clueless about such cultural trends on the edge, a new breed of commoners is building the vision of a very different kind of society, project by project. This new universe of social activity is being built on the foundation of a very different ethics and social logic than that of homo economicus - the economist's fiction that we are all selfish, utility-maximizing, rational materialists.

Durable projects based on social cooperation are producing enormous amounts of wealth; it's just that this wealth is not generally not monetized or traded. It's socially or ecologically embedded wealth that is managed by self-styled commoners themselves. Typically, such commoners act more as stewards of their common wealth than as owners who treat it as private capital. Commoners realize that a life defined by impersonal transactions is not as rich or satisfying as one defined by abiding relationships. The larger trends toward zero-marginal-cost production make it perfectly logical for people to seek out commons-based alternatives
Candle

People power: Anti-govt protesters seize Ukrainian APCs, army units 'switch sides'

People power in Kramatorsk
© AFP Photo/Anatoly Stepanov
Anti-government activists block a collumn of Ukrainian men riding on Armoured Personnel Carriers in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on April 16, 2014.
Kiev's military faced off with protesters in east Ukraine on Wednesday to sort out their differences...and found none. Soldiers appeared reluctant to go into battle against anti-government activists.

When Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev's military operation against anti-government protesters in the east of the country, they were stopped in their tracks, surrounded by crowds of local residents.

One YouTube video of what happened next shows a woman coming to a soldier with the reproach: "You are the army, you must protect the people."

"We are not going to shoot, we weren't even going to," is the soldier's reply.

Similar conversations could be heard at each of several APCs which entered the city, with locals promising to defend their neighbors, in case the soldiers start a military operation.


Military vehicles parked in downtown Kramatorsk have turned into hotspots for political discussion, with people beside the vehicles trying to get their views through to people on top of the tanks.

Another video features the Kramatorsk crowds loudly chanting "Army with the people" and applauding the soldiers as they were leaving their APCs.

"Guys, we are with you! You are great!" women are heard yelling to the vacating soldiers.

Comment: The people are clever enough to see that killing fellow Ukrainians is not going to do any good for Ukraine and will only serve the minions in power, who want bloodshed so as to be able to call on NATO support.

This has so far been mainly peaceful in contrast to the Maidan protests, where policemen were set on fire and bulldozed by the fascist elements who were allowed and probably encouraged to take the lead.

Stock Down

Insiders tell all: Both the stock market and the SEC are rigged (but we know that already)

obama wall street

President Obama Nominates Mary Jo White for Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Since bestselling author Michael Lewis appeared on 60 Minutes on March 30 to promote his new book, Flash Boys, and explained how the U.S. stock market is rigged; and Brad Katsuyama, the head of IEX, an electronic trading platform who plays a central role in the Lewis book, did the same on CNBC a few days later, the debate has gone viral.

But Lewis and Katsuyama were not the first to blow the whistle on rigged U.S. stock markets. Sal Arnuk and Joseph Saluzzi, Wall Street insiders and co-founders of Themis Trading LLC literally wrote the book on Broken Markets in 2012 and have been exposing details of the rigging on their blog ever since.

Wall Street Journal reporter, Scott Patterson, mapped out the exotic and corrupt order types permitted by the stock exchanges to fleece the little guy in his 2012 book, Dark Pools, which follows the trading career of Haim Bodek, who has set up his own web site to blow the whistle on just how badly the stock market is rigged.

Following all the media hoopla, the FBI has recently announced that it has opened an investigation into the allegations. But under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the FBI is not in charge of rigged stock exchanges - the Securities and Exchange Commission is. But according to insiders, the SEC has stood down in much the same fashion that it ignored warnings about Bernard Madoff from whistleblower Harry Markopolos for years. The explanation for the SEC's inaction, many traders feel, is that the SEC itself is rigged against Main Street in favor of big Wall Street firms. That view has found support among the SEC's own insiders.
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