To wrap of 2014, The Truth Perspective reviewed some of the global trends in the world over the past year. Among the many topics discussed in this year-end show are: Israel's laws and its progression into an exclusively Jewish State, the IDF's attack of Gaza, the developments in Ferguson Missouri, police state U.S.A., flight MH17, the Ebola scare, and more. The hosts also discussed a few things about Christmas you may not know which add to the earlier program about early Christianity.

Running Time: 01:48:00

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Here's the transcript:

Harrison: Hello and Merry Christmas. It is December 27th and this is another edition of the Truth Perspective on the SOTT Radio Network. In the studio today, returning from last week, we have Elan.

Elan: Hey there.

Harrison: Caroline.

Caroline: Hello.

Harrison: And William. Welcome back, I'm your host Harrison Koehli. This week we are going to be talking about a whole bunch of things, including some current events, things that have happened in the past week or so as well as a kind of overview of the year, all the stuff that has happened, everything, almost all 365 days of it. We'll cover it all; at least that's the plan. We probably won't get there.

But to start out with: a couple of weeks ago we had a show on a book that we were all reading, on early Christianity or bible manuscripts in general and early Christianity. We wanted to bring up something but just never got around to it. Now is the perfect time because Christmas has come and gone, another year, another festive season of gift giving and card getting and merry cheer all around.

Caroline: And food.

Harrison: And food yes; can't forget the food. But Christmas, what's that all about? Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I was raised Roman Catholic, and while we went to church pretty much every Sunday, we made sure to go to church on Christmas and that was always my favourite time of the year with all of the Christmas carols and songs that would be sung in church. That made it worth it, but what was Christmas about? Well, the baby Jesus apparently.

Caroline: Our lord and saviour was born.

Harrison: Yeah. Growing up I never really questioned it. It was just baby Jesus; he was cute, it was a good story. But after reading a book like Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman or any number of other ones that pretty much all go into this - if you look at the academic approach to Christianity. So what we wanted to mention about this is something that pretty much everyone in biblical studies knows and you certainly don't hear it when you go to church and that's probably because it's kind of controversial from a religious perspective, challenges some firmly held beliefs. I'll just come out and say it: "The baby Jesus didn't exist."

Caroline: (Gasps)

Elan: No!

Caroline: Oh my god!

Harrison: Okay, well let's assume that Jesus did exist, just for the sake of argument. So there must have been a baby Jesus, right? But what I mean is the stories that you hear about baby Jesus are fiction and there's a few reasons for believing this, from the study of the biblical texts. So just a little bit of trivia for you first of all. Sorry for all those people whose eyes glaze over as soon as you hear the word bible or Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but we've got to get into this because it's very important.. So these are the four collections of events and biographies of Jesus' life. If you look at them, right away two of them, John and Mark, contain no birth story of Jesus, no childhood events whatsoever. It's just bam! there's Jesus, doing his thing as an adult. Actually John kind of has a birth story in the sense that it goes back to the very beginning of time when Jesus was just the word logos, but that doesn't really count. That's something completely different.

So the only two books that talk about Jesus' childhood and birth are Luke and Matthew. None of the other new testament books even mention things that Jesus did as a kid. When we take a look at Luke and Matthew first of all and we just look at the two stories that are there, we find all the elements that make up the Christmas story. We've got: the virgin Mary, all the angels, the wise men, the shepherds, Bethlehem, Herod's slaughter of the innocents, the flee to Egypt, no room at the inn of course, the manger, all that. Those are all in these two books but the weird thing is that the two stories, when you look at them, are completely different. All the main elements in each of the stories don't show up in the other stories. There are very few similarities between Luke's and Matthew's portrayal of what happened.

Caroline: So the story we get in church is an amalgamation of these two.

Harrison: Yeah. They put them all together. But when you look at it, the only things they have in common are a) Mary was a virgin, so she had this immaculate conception/virgin birth of baby Jesus; and then two places, Bethlehem and Nazareth. So Jesus was born in Bethlehem and then subsequently grew up and stayed in Nazareth. But there are problems.

So let's just look at the Luke story. This is the one with the angels announcing the coming of the lord and telling Mary that she's going to get pregnant and bear the son of god. And then there's the census. So Augustus is the emperor and in the reign of Quirinius as governor of Syria. They're doing this massive census where everyone in the entire Roman empire has to go back to their lands - we'll get into that in a second - and take part in the census. So Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem and there's no room at the inn. The shepherds hear about the son of god coming so they come to visit little baby Jesus and then there's angels again. Jesus is then circumcised eight days later and then the family returns to Nazareth and then he grows up and does all these great things as a kid. That's Luke.

Now in Matthew we've got Mary, but then we've got the wise men. So these are the wise men that go to Herod, and Herod learns that there is this guy that's going to try to become a king and usurp his position so he orders the slaughter of all the male babies in the land. In this one though, Joseph and Mary are already in Bethlehem and they're living in a house. So they're living in Bethlehem, they're not just visiting for a census; there's no mention of a census whatsoever. So then they hear about this slaughter that's coming and so they flee to Egypt and they hide out there for a while before then returning to Nazareth when the coast is clear and they can make their way safely.

So those are the two stories, completely different and even contradictory. In one they don't live in Bethlehem and in the other they do, but in both Jesus is born in Bethlehem. In one they stay there for a while, Jesus gets circumcised, they do everything they have to do and then about a month later they return to Nazareth. In the other one they go and they flee to Egypt, to get away from this massive slaughter. So, contradictory accounts. That's one thing to look at.

The second thing is just the historical context of what's going on here. First of all, a census that big, you'd think that we'd know something about it from the historians of the time. We've got pretty good records for Augustus' reign, the things that happened. There's no mention of a census that big and also Quirinius, the guy in Syria, didn't even become governor until something like ten years after Augustus died. So they couldn't have been at the same time. There's a little historical inaccuracy there.

But just think about this census. Joseph goes back to Bethlehem because his ancestor David was allegedly from that place, a thousand years before Joseph lived. Can you imagine a census where they have everyone in the entire Roman empire had to go back to their ancestral homelands from a thousand years beforehand? (laughing). It's ridiculous to think about that. Think about it. Can you remember, many of our esteemed listeners, do you know exactly what town your ancestors were in a thousand years ago?

Caroline: It is ridiculous. But Ehrman's book goes on to say that both Luke and Matthew were attempting to, in their own ways and Matthew in particular, to tie this figure that they were writing about, to biblical prophecy. What they did is they went back into a lot of Isaiah's Psalms which often had nothing to do with messianic prophecy but they tried to make the facts fit these previous writings as closely as possible. So there's calling Jesus as the son of man, he's from Bethlehem, the business of going into Egypt because "out of Egypt I have called my son". So this is kind of a retrofitting of the story, to the scriptures that presumably people were already familiar with. And Matthew's point was to make Jesus particularly acceptable to the Jewish population. Whether or not Matthew actually wrote it is indeed another question.

Harrison: And that gets to a third reason for suspecting these stories as being something other than the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I mentioned that the other two gospels, Mark and John, have no record of Jesus' childhood. It's pretty widely accepted, if not universally almost among biblical scholars, that both Luke and Matthew used the gospel of Mark as a source. You can tell this because when you look at Matthew, they both follow the same structure as Mark. They focus on the same events in Mark and then in some passages they will change some wording and in some they'll add some more narrative in between. But you've got the skeleton of Mark in those two books.

Mark was the book probably written before Matthew and Luke, at least that's what most of these scholars think. So that doesn't necessarily mean that they weren't true stories without Jesus' childhood floating around there, not necessarily. But when you look at Luke and Matthew and you look at the stuff they added, there is no evidence that there were these stories before then. You can't find any manuscripts or other sources that say these things.

A curious thing when you look at the gospel of Luke as we have it, it's longer than an earlier version of that gospel and how we know that is because there was this guy named Marcion. He was considered a heretic in the 100 to 200 years after, and then for the rest of Christian history after his death. But he was the first Christian to create a new testament, to actually gather together some books and say "this is our holy scripture". Before then a group might have their own book that they read but there was no kind of canon. There was no official book of "god's word". But Marcion put together what he believed to be the canons. That included ten letters from Paul and a gospel, what was an early version of the gospel of Luke.

The scholars looking at it today, now, after a hundred years of controversy, pretty much accept that this was a more original form of Luke and that the gospel of Luke as we have it now, which is combined with the Acts of the Apostles, was an expanded version. So whoever wrote that one took the gospel that Marcion used or a common source between the two and then added a whole bunch of stuff on to it. One of the things they added on to that gospel was Jesus' birth story; the whole first two or three chapters - I can't remember how many. The original gospel of Luke started just like Mark and John with an adult Jesus.

Caroline: So you could consider the additions, since they were trying to make a case for the divinity of Jesus, the writers, and we don't know who they are. Just because they have been labelled the gospels of Luke and Mark and everybody else, that doesn't necessarily mean that they wrote it. It was very common in ancient times to appropriate well known names to give credence to whatever it is you were writing. They didn't have copyright laws and that kind of thing so there wasn't a whole lot you could do about it.

But they also drew on many, many other mythologies that were extant at the time so a lot of gods had virgin births. Mithras had a virgin birth and Babylonian gods were virgin births. So this was one of the elements they could add on to the Jesus story. It was a familiar trope, so here's another god who's begotten by God, with a capital G, star gods. So that's something. Should we really put the cat among the pigeons and talk about Carotta and Mark?

Harrison: I think we'll save that for another time.

Caroline: Okay. Tune in next time and we may talk about it eventually.

Harrison: That's not to say that it's anti-Christian or anything like that, probably the opposite. But the important thing is to learn things and to learn what's really going on. If you're going to look into anything, you should want to get the truth of it, basically. When you find a lie, it's like "well you've kind of got to point it out, even if it hurts". But that doesn't mean that there isn't good stuff still there. I mean, i like baby Jesus even if it's just a story.

Caroline: Well it was a way to gather around a certain moral code, a certain way of dealing with the world and if you could gather that into one figure to look up to and emulate, then there is value in that.

Harrison: Yes, and that's what it really comes down to is how you live your life and what kind of a person you are. I think it's kind of extraneous what exact beliefs you have. It's what you do with perfectly possible to be a genuinely good "Christian" without believing in, for example, these stories of Jesus' childhood. They're kind of two separate issues.
But that's a whole other topic. But since we're on the topic of the Middle East, Bethlehem.

Caroline: Oh yeah.

Harrison: The first thing we want to talk about, looking over the year and what's been going on recently, is Israel and Gaza and what's been going on there because it seems like it's been out of the news recently.

Caroline: Recently.

Harrison: It was big news for a while and MH17 happened and then except for little blips here and there relating to Palestine, it's been off the radar. Bring me up to date on that guys.

Caroline: I've turned into a bit of a Twitter junky lately and just to tie the two together, somebody tweeted that if Joseph had had to make his journey today to Bethlehem, for starters he would have to pass 35 checkpoints from his ancestral city to get to Bethlehem. So what does that tell you about the state of Israel today? We were wondering also, just looking at the fact that a lot has been going on in Israel. The most recent appalling thing was an 8-year-old child in East Jerusalem was getting off the bus coming home from school and an IDF soldier took at pot shot at him with a rubber bullet and damaged his eyesight. He has a fractured orbital bone. In the Haaretz version of it - they actually try to give both sides. The claim was there was a set of demonstrators and they were about to be dispersed and this kid just got caught in the crossfire. But in interviewing this boy's father, he said there was nothing going on at all.So apparently it's open season on children in East Jerusalem.

William: That's nothing new.

Caroline: Yeah. Charming.

Elan: That reminds me of the letter that was put out by a number of intelligence employees of Israel's intelligence agencies. The gist of what they said was that they "routinely targeted innocent Palestinians". I guess a good number of them had said enough is enough and they didn't like what they were being asked to do, and I think that there are pangs of conscience coming from some of the former soldiers and intelligence employees of Israel who are coming out now. A few months back you also had three former IDF and Shin Bet leaders addressing Netanyahu and his coalition government about its policy towards Gaza, and basically coming out and saying "We are on the wrong track" and seeing very bad things down the road for Israel.

William: And although the statement that Israel passed about it, wanting to be a state for Jews. That got recently passed and that caused quite a furor as well. Earlier this month Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was going to call for some early elections, after firing two of his key ministers which was the finance minister Lapid and the justice minister Livni. He partially attacked them as actually trying to attempt a push on the government. This all comes on top of the vote for the UN General Assembly opting for Palestinian statehood. Quite a few countries have already recognized, among them: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Romania, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic and the only EU state is Sweden. We've got Belgium, France and Spain that are pending similar resolutions. So there's a lot of heat going on and in the polls also taken in Israel of about 500 Israelis, 65% polled said that they would not want Netanyahu to continue running the country.

Caroline: Hm boy! He looks like he's getting more and more desperate. Any opposition at all seems to be squashed immediately within the government, without the government. The guy's losing it, he really is.

Elan: Well he only really has the support of the most far right extreme faction of Israel who are taking the most fanatical interpretation of what they perceive to be the laws of the bible and kind of deciding that Israel has to be this singularly Jewish extremist nation.

Caroline: He has definitely made it his business to court them whenever there's been arguments over illegal settlements - land just simply taken by some West Bank settlers who are predominantly American, apparently. They come to Israel and they grab a hilltop and they throw a couple of trailers on it. He immediately provides them with protection. He will hook up utilities for them and keep the area clear until they can build something permanent, pushing out whoever is in the area. It's this great symbiotic relationship; they support him and he supports this ongoing illegal land grab, burning down trees. There's tragic pictures. Apparently the oldest olive tree in Israel, it's like 900 years old, was torched by settlers. These people are nuts, just nuts. Illegal settlers, I'll say that. Settlers sound like such an innocuous, ground-breaking, pioneering thing. They aren't. They are illegal occupiers, there's no question.

William: Yeah, and this month alone there's over 800 new settlements being conducted on the West Bank. It's just never going to stop apparently.

Caroline: But we're not hearing about it. Normally at least there would be some mention of it somewhere and somehow they've managed to bury it or skew it. Did anybody see that article that was written about how the New York Times covers events in Israel?

Harrison: No.

Caroline: Oh, okay, I'll make sure it gets up. But somebody took it upon themselves to analyze the story about the poor little kid and the rubber bullet and another Israeli child and it points out the difference that in how things are presented can skew your perception. So when they were talking about this Israeli girl, it was an "Israeli child eight years old," da, da, da, da and very, very emotive, emotional language and the anguish of the father, all of this other stuff. it gives a few more paragraphs of analysis and then further down it just said "Palestinian youth shot." Very dry reporting; no background, no context, nothing to tug at you and make you feel some empathy for this child. It was just reported as a statistic. When they were talking about this other child who had been hurt about how tragic it was and there's an uptick in Palestinian violence, he just went with what the New York Times leave out, in terms of context and the fact that there had been four other attacks previously, by Israel, on children in Gaza and the West Bank. So there might be a little bit of righteous anger that might have motivated - nobody wants to see a child hurt or anyone hurt, but the fact that these two different ways of skewing the story is what keeps the westerners, and particularly the US, asleep as to the reality of the situation.

Elan: And that's really how Operation Protective Edge was covered as well. If you remember last summer when Israel attacked Gaza after a very questionable story of three Israeli teenagers being kidnapped, 2,200 Gazans were killed; over 500 of them were children; 11,000 injured. Every time a rocket hit a gas station in Israel the headlines blared about Israel's needs to protect itself. In the meantime you had hundreds of homes being decimated and wholesale carnage.

Harrison: A little correction. Something you said Caroline. You said "No one wants to see children or anyone hurt" but unfortunately that isn't true. Now, no normal person wants to see children or anyone hurt but that label can't really apply to the people that are responsible for these kind of things. Once you look at the Israeli leadership - I won't give any statistics because I don't know them - but a large percentage of the Israeli population itself wants to see children killed. I just saw a picture of what looked like an IDF guy, with some IDF guys but he was wearing a T-shirt on...

Elan: This is the 2 for 1?

Harrison: No it wasn't the 2-for-1 one.

Caroline: Oh that was disgusting!

Harrison: It was on the Gaza operation. Something like kind of like a Veni, vidi, vici (classic Latin) "I came, I saw, I conquered" kind of thing. "I went in there, I destroyed, I had fun", something like that. And this was on his T-shirt. That's just the mentality of some people that enjoy killing people. Unfortunately we see that a lot all over the place.

Caroline: Yeah, there was some IDF guy tweeting: "Yeah, shot a kid today. It was great." Didn't some medium-level government official come out and say that all the children should be killed and their mothers raped and this is what happens when you attack Israel? That was a couple of months ago.

Harrison: I know there are some rabbis that say things like that; published. It's horrible stuff. And the thing about the kid, I wouldn't have been surprised if the headlines said something like "Terrorist in training killed in Gaza" because that's how a lot of Israelis and people around the world see Palestinians and Palestinian children in specific, that they are just little terrorists.

Caroline: Future threats.

Harrison: Yeah, and you're doing the world and Israel a favour if you just get rid of them.

Caroline: And yet at the same time they proudly publish pictures of six-year-old kids at like an Israeli defence day, some kind of country fair kind of thing and they're being handed automatic weapons and being shown how to use them and they think it's great. The split in their minds is astounding.

Harrison: One of our chat room chatters gave a link to the photo of this T-shirt. It says "Deployed, Destroyed, Enjoyed, Gaza 2014".

Elan: Wow.

William: Lovely.

Harrison: We started talking about Christianity. And to get into one of the reasons this sort of stuff happens is that when we talked about the book a couple of weeks ago, Jesus Interrupted, Karen was mentioning some things about religion in general. And basically, religions are a very good way of herding people into a specific mindset to do certain things. I think part of the reason this works is that, like we looked at in just these two stories in Luke and Matthew and the contradictions in them; when someone reads these stories, first of all they're conditioned to accept them as the full truth and the inerrant word of god. But there are very obvious contradictions in them. So they're forcing themselves into a state of weird cognitive dissonance where they're able to hold these contradictions in mind, or at least hold them out of mind while accepting the truth about them. I think that does a number on people's brains where they can't think any longer. That's a perfect opportunity, fertile ground, for implanting suggestions that can then be unscrupulous individuals who manipulate other people.

Caroline: What's that quote? "Those who can make you believe absurdities can persuade you to commit atrocities".

Harrison: Exactly. So I think that's part of what we see. When we look at a lot of these so-called settlers, they're kind of the most extreme, radical holders of the Jewish faith. When you look at them they're kind of crazy when you think about it. But oddly enough, there's a kind of weird match and relationship between these radical Jews on the one hand and then the radical Christians on the other, so the people that firmly believe these stories from the bible, whose minds are kind of gone to mush by holding these contradictions. On the one hand you've got the Christians who want to see the Armageddon come about in Israel, they want to see a whole bunch of people die so their Jesus can come back and rule the planet. So they're really friendly with the Jews because they want this to happen but on the other hand they are counting on a whole bunch of these people dying and then maybe converting to Christianity.

Then the Jews of course in Israel, they will say "Okay, we can use some help from these Christians even though we think they're crazy and we don't like Jesus," but it's kind of a marriage of convenience that they each kind of use each other and underneath the surface hate each other but have this weird symbiotic relationship.

Caroline: Very pathological.

Harrison: Yeah. But on the subject of Israel, this will tie into another topic. Are we done with Israel?

Caroline: Well I just wanted to add a little side note. Today is the sixth anniversary of the beginning of Operation Cast Lead. That was, I believe, the first really large scale assault on Gaza which of course gave the template for the latest one, Protective Edge. But the particularly disgusting thing about it was, apparently the timing of the initial wave of bombings was just as school let out. So that kind of tells you what kind of people plan these things; all these kids in the street heading home and here come the F16s. It was just hideous.

Harrison: Something similar happened in Ukraine, happens regularly these past months. I saw two videos. One - I can't remember if they were national guard or the right sector guys but they were standing outside of a school and just firing their assault rifles at it and laughing about it, and just firing at an elementary school. Then of course there was the shelling of one of the schools in Donetsk on the first day of school. I think they killed three people, a teacher and some parents or something like that. Luckily no children were harmed, but they bombed the school on the first day of school.

William: That just boggles the mind.

Harrison: So that's what I mean when I say some people, like in Batman, some people just want to watch the world burn. And they're all over. It's not just in Israel and the states. Every country has its psychopaths and when the conditions are right, like in Ukraine or like in Israel, when you've got this manufactured, external threat that creates the war environment, it's just "Okay, I want to kill some people. I've got the perfect opportunity. I've got free licence to go and do it."

Caroline: "And I'll be totally approved. I'll get a medal."

Harrison: Yeah, "I'll get away with it".

Caroline: Israel and America sharing the psychopathic mindset. It is definitely in the states and psychopaths all over, especially when they're in power, find a way to feed each other. This is a story that's approximately two years old, but - apparently the New York police department has an office in Tel Aviv and there are regular training sessions with police departments from all over the states going to Israel and learning "crowd control", and tactics for handling large groups of unruly people. We have been seeing those applied in real time with the number of police shootings we're seeing in the states. So it's definitely, if not exported, at least trained and encouraged. It's hard to say who's the source of it. They all seem to feed each other, but we've noticed in the news that even after Ferguson and all the trouble, that police shootings have not in any way, shape or form, seem to have slowed down. It's like somewhere, somehow, they've gotten the message that they're good. "You go do whatever you want and we've got your back."

Elan: Yeah. On the heels of all that is this new shooting, I think just two miles away from Ferguson where a young man...

Caroline: His last name was Antonio.

Elan: Right. We were talking about this earlier and we said that in an original snapshot of Antonio, it indicated that he didn't in fact have a gun.

Harrison: What were the details? What happened?

Caroline: I couldn't find it. This is again, bless Twitter, you get things immediately. The police were investigating another robbery. This guy was near them, possibly maybe wanting to film what was going on, but he pulled something out of his pocket and somebody put up a still of it and it had a glow on it, so it was probably a cell phone. But they thought it was a gun and they just put 16 bullets in the guy, right there.

Harrison: So what was the story about, this photograph?

Elan: Well just that it was probably a cell phone that he was holding because of a glow that emanated from the phone and that the gun that was found on the scene, that supposedly was his - what else can you deduce from that except perhaps it was a plant?

Harrison: What were you saying Caroline earlier, that there are two photos, surveillance camera footage or something like that?

Caroline: Yeah. One showed no gun on the scene and apparently two hours later a gun magically appears on the ground. It was just so blatant, so so blatant.

Harrison: I'm pretty sure, I don't have any evidence but this is my conspiracy theory of the day, that the police officers basically have a suitcase full of spare, illegal guns in their trunks...

Caroline: And drugs.

Harrison: ...and drugs. And whenever they need them they just like "Oh, oh crap, that was a cell phone!" He runs to the back to his trunk, "I'll just put this gun down next to the guy".

Caroline: Yeah. Not only that, just to make the story even better, the shooting officer somehow did not have his body cam or his dashboard camera.

Elan: How convenient.

Caroline: How convenient. Unreal. And then there's the whole thing happening in New York, with the police turning their backs on de Blasio when he's trying to give some kind of tribute to the two guys who were killed by a white man - let's not forget that. A white guy who apparently had some kind of mental break; he shot his girlfriend and then put something up on Instagram "I'm going to go kill some cops" and he went off and did it. As an interesting side note to that, somebody tweeted that a woman died but it didn't become a story until some cops died, which is another commentary.

Harrison: Well like you mentioned, this isn't a new thing and it hasn't stopped. So it hasn't stopped after Ferguson. It's continuing on and it's been like that for a long time. I have some statistics here. From May 2013 until September 2014 of this year, there were at least 1,560 cop shootings. So the cops killed that many people in the United States in that period of time. First of all, the number is probably bigger because there is no recording centre or procedure or protocol...

Caroline: Nobody's keeping track.

Harrison: ...nobody's keeping track. The only people keeping track are a couple of websites of ordinary citizens that have started these websites as kind of open-source, community-driven projects, to collect all the examples of police killing unarmed suspects or whomever. There's no official numbers for these so you have to go through court records and police records, there's no one-stop place for statistics.

Caroline: And if you file a Freedom of Information Act, often you'll be denied. One guy, if I remember correctly, he did say "I'm starting this open source. If you have information" - again on Twitter, Twitter's full of junk but there's good stuff there too - he wanted you to send it to him; he had a link. But he detailed how much trouble he had, having to go to individual police departments and being investigated. Some people were forthcoming, who had fairly decent, low statistics, but others just flat out refused to provide them.

Harrison: Yeah, and they'll lie to you about the laws providing this kind of information. So using these numbers, they're probably low. Again, this is from one of those open-source projects, about five percent of all murders that take place in the United States are committed by police officers on duty.

Caroline: Wow!

Harrison: It ranges between three and eight percent, depending on the state. To use just one state as an example, Nevada, 30 percent of those people killed by the United States police are mentally ill. So almost one in three of the people that the cops kill in the states are mentally ill. That figure of 1,500 killed from May to September, over that more-than-a year period, works out to about 92 people per month, about three people per day.

Caroline: Good lord!

Harrison: So every day, police kill at least three people in the United States.

William: In 1980 for example, there were about 3,000 SWAT raids conducted in the United States for the year. But today, we've got more than 80,000 SWAT raids per year in this country. So that just opens up all kinds of disasters in the states that can happen.

Harrison: Yeah, I think it was even the wrong home when the police busted down the door and threw the flash bang grenade into the toddler's crib, and it blew up right next to the toddler.

Caroline: Without getting too conspiracy theory, you may as well go to the idea of whether or not this is by design. You have these police forces increasingly trained in what are essentially military tactics and then because the defence industry needs to make more money, they rotate out the equipment that is military and they give it to you for free so all of a sudden these guys have all these toys to play with and if you've got a toy, you want to play with it. It just spirals and the cycle gets stronger and stronger. So you have the mindset of a military operation. You have the equipment to pull one off and then obviously presumed innocence has gone by the board ages ago. And this is what you get.

Harrison: Just reading the news every day is heartbreaking and it's sickening to read every day the kind of things that happen. Just a few days ago I read an article about that old woman, I think she was in her 70s. The cop basically karate kicked her in the knee and broke her leg. There was an old man that made the comment...

Elan: He called the cop a fascist.

Harrison: And this guy beat up this...

Elan: 75-year-old.

Harrison: Seventy-six.

William: They have free reign on the public as well. You've got this Illinois police officer who's just been arrested for burglarizing homes and businesses while on duty and in uniform.

Caroline: Oh my goodness!

William: Now accused of ten counts of burglary and a count for residential burglary. He not only stole money but he also stole a gun from personal residences.

Harrison: Inside information on Canadian police. One of my college professors was ex-RCMP and he taught sociology at the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan College, and also the cop college in Edmonton. He was a really nice guy and a good professor too. But I remember one of the first days in his sociology class he was telling a bit about himself and his history and so he asked everyone in the room what kind of people become police officers. A few hands went up saying "Oh, people that want to protect the community and just want to do good things". And he was like "Next, next". After a few answers I put up my hand and I think i said "Psychopaths". And he said "Yup!" And he said that the people that want to become police officers are often the bottom of the barrel, the worst guys. They want to become police officers because they want a gun, they want licence to beat people up and just be a thug. He said "God bless 'em". As a teacher at the cop college he personally tried to weed those people out. But it's a Herculean task to do because that's just the way things are.

Caroline: And especially if those sorts of people manage to rise a bit in the ranks and they have the means, which they do, to circumvent those kinds of efforts. In the '60s and even into the early '70s, if you wanted to apply to be a policeman you had to have, at the minimum, a college degree in some kind of related field; sociology or maybe you took a course in criminal law or something like that. But you had to be reasonably well-educated to even get in the door and then you had to pass all of the physical requirements and all of that stuff. But there was a ruling recently allowing the lowering of IQ requirements. You can be an idiot - you almost have to be an idiot these days, and then it does not matter. You can have a GED - barely scrape through - and I guess if you've got the right personality, you're in.

Harrison: It all makes sense now.

Caroline: It all makes sense. Well basically what they're creating without having to call it, since it's against the Constitution - like that means anything - is you have a standing army in the states. You have a standing army with divisions all over the country. We just happen to call them police departments.

Harrison: We're kind of giving the US a bad rap here.

Caroline: Oh, is that possible?

William: You think?

Harrison: Well you know what? Other countries are just as bad.

William: We're supposed to be exceptional, aren't we?

Caroline: We are the shining beacon of democracy and human rights.

Harrison: Well, I have one example in mind. Just as kind of an overview of one of the things that happened this year: Mexico, the middle of September, the 43 students that were on a bus going to a protest and then they all disappeared. Some of them showed up dead and investigations were launched. Parties went out to search and mass graves were discovered and dead bodies. It turns out all these dead bodies weren't the students in question. They were other people who had just been murdered. It turned out that all 43 of these students were killed by essentially a death squad from this drug cartel that was working for the mayor.

Caroline: Yeah, I remember that. He and his wife basically ruled this town like a fiefdom.

Harrison: In Mexico they do things a certain way. The mayor just calls up the local gang lord and says "I want these people killed". In the states they just happen to be wearing badges. So it's six of one, half dozen of the other. But just like all these police shootings, like Ferguson, Michael Brown, like Eric Garner, there are protests going on all over. I don't know if they're still going on but there were protests in Mexico for this.

Caroline: Oh yeah.

Harrison: But there are protests all over. So there are people that see what's going on and that are protesting about it. Of course what happens to protestors? You get the riot police to come out and it's just more of the same.

Caroline: One can hope it will reach a tipping point. Everybody thought that, after Ferguson, it would die down after six weeks but it's still going on and it's spreading. Even worldwide you get people tying their particular local problems to Ferguson. So there's the recognition of it being a worldwide issue that everybody has their own particular flavour in their country but the underpinnings of it are essentially the same. There's maybe some hope there or at least the recognition of the situation is becoming more widespread.

Harrison: Well speaking of worldwide, let's expand our perimeter a bit. I just want to give a couple of updates on some stories that have been big this past year. First of all we've had Ebola. So the biggest outbreak...

Caroline: Ebola? We haven't heard about that in a while.

Harrison: Ebola-what?

Caroline: Ebola - no. No, no, that's over.

Harrison: Apparently if you listen to the news, or watch Fox, apparently it's over, because you're not seeing a lot of anything being reported about Ebola recently. But like I was saying, the biggest outbreak of Ebola in history; we've got upwards of 7,000 people died so far. The number of people who have had or have Ebola something like 17,000 or something like that, in that range.

Caroline: That we know about.

Harrison: That we know about. But no it hasn't been in the news recently. Just like Israel for some reason.

Elan: They had this little blip in New York just recently. The New York Post published an article about a man. Here's the story: "Health care workers displayed protective gear which hospital staff had read would protect them from Ebola infection." Okay, that's the description of the picture in the paper. "A man suffering from Ebola-like symptoms" - 'Ebola-like' - "was rushed from an upper west side apartment building to Belleview Hospital on Tuesday." That was Tuesday the 23rd. "But officials determined that he did not have the disease, authorities said. The patient recently returned from Liberia and started suffering symptoms such as high fever Saturday night sources said." They called out hazmat workers and fire officials to help usher this guy in. They said "The patient was given a blood test at Belleview and it showed negative for Ebola. He was given an alternative diagnosis and is currently in critical condition". But they don't say what that alternative diagnosis is. So I suspect that we're going to hear more of these type of cases and I think we will. They're going to call them Ebola-like.

Caroline: Well the thing is, I'm sure these doctors, let's hope, are saying that in all sincerity. And the problem is that Ebola being a virus can mutate at an incredibly rapid rate, just like any flu virus and while they may be running the tests and the tests return negative for whatever strain they're looking for, if it's mutated, you could very easily have some version of Ebola but they're testing procedures won't say that. So they're like "Oh great. Not Ebola."

Harrison: There's another angle to this too. The lack of media coverage recently has been kind of strange. You can look at Google Trends statistics and you can see the spikes in coverage of Ebola and it just drops off completely in the last month or so. There was an interesting report from an investigative journalist. It was on Fox news but the woman who did the report is, I believe, an ex-CBS...

Elan: Yes.

Harrison: She worked there for 20-something years. Attkisson.

Elan: Sharyl Attkisson.

Harrison: Sharyl Attkisson. She reported something. It's been kind of misinterpreted by people presenting this story, in many alternative news or the mainstream, because she mentioned that she had called the CDC to get some information on Ebola in general. This was back on December 1st, that she first published this on her website. She had a quote from the CDC. I don't have the exact quote with me but the CDC had said that they are currently monitoring 1,400 individuals in the United States who had returned from countries that have these Ebola cases. So some people are saying "Oh my god! Fourteen hundred cases of Ebola in the United States that they're not telling us about!" Well not exactly. These are just people that have come back from those countries that are being monitored for Ebola. So we don't know how many of them are showing symptoms but the interesting thing she said when reporting this on Fox News, just recently, that the CDC did not plan on putting that information on their website. So this isn't publicly available knowledge that the CDC is monitoring 1,400 people as possible carriers of Ebola.

Caroline: So if this gal hadn't leaked it nobody would know.

Harrison: Yeah. I think we have a call here. I'm going to see. Had you on hold for a while so let's just see.

Brent: Yeah, Harrison. Can you hear me?

Harrison: Caller, are you there? Yes I can hear you. Who is this?

Brent: Brent from New York.

Harrison: Hi Brent. How's it going?

Caroline: Oh, you're right there in the middle of the story.

Brent: Yeah, I called in when you guys were talking about the cops because I went to the protests. There was a big march on the 23rd that they encouraged to not have happen; de Blasio was not very happy about it. But they had it anyway and there was probably about a thousand people started by the Plaza Hotel up on 59th Street and 6th Avenue or Park Avenue, somewhere down there. And then it went down. It marched down 5th Avenue. Then it goes down 5th Avenue and I was with one of my friends and we were marching down and it was kind of interesting because we were walking by all these really ritzy stores and there were shoppers inside that were dressed very nicely and then there's the rabble outside chanting as you're going down the street.

Caroline: What was the general mood of these people?

Brent: Probably about a thousand people.

Caroline: Okay, but what was the mood of the crowd and the cops? How did it go down?

Brent: Well it was raining so there was probably going to be more people but they were vocal, they were excited to be there. They didn't seem terribly angry. They had a couple of people giving some speeches before the march started. And they were coordinating via text message so you could send a text to this listserv and it would give you updates about where they were heading. They went down 5th Avenue and then they turned. There was a good amount of police; there was probably about half as many cops as there were protestors. So it was probably about a couple hundred cops. And they were rather chill. They weren't heavily armed. They weren't riot police. They were just kind of standing back and watching and kind of coordinating as they went down the avenue. So I stayed with them for a few blocks because I wasn't feeling so hot. It was a great show with very few arrests. The people are pissed off and the movement will continue. I got a flyer while I was there for a planning meeting that was happening yesterday. So they're going to continue having a whole winter of action, it looks like is the idea. So I think pretty much once a week or once every other week we'll hear about something happening.

Caroline: Okay. How's the power things with the mayor? We've seen a lot of photos with cops turning their back on the mayor and all that. So what's the general opinion about how he's handling things?

Brent: Well nobody likes de Blasio. (laughing) He's not really well liked by the police and the locals aren't really a big fan either. So he's got really no one on his side. A couple of the movements do appreciate some of the stuff that he's trying to do. He's started to implement them. The reason the police really kind of went against him was because he tried to implement some minor reforms. They're doing a pilot program where the cops are going to start wearing cameras now and he has them doing a whole re-training process so all the police officers have to go through some sort of mandatory re-training. But the police are not very happy about it and then ever since these two officers were killed in Brooklyn a week-and-a-half ago - Patrick Lynch is the head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association at a PAV which is the largest police officer union in New York. He's kind of a total whack job, if you listen to some of the stuff he says. There's a lot of people with blood on their hands and he blamed the protestors and he blamed City Hall. He's got a lot of inflammatory things that he was saying. And now an email came through from the department that it puts them on 'war time footing'.

Caroline: Oh lord!

Brent: It's actually not quite as bad as what it sounds but they're only responding to calls when there's two squad cars or two groups of officers responding now instead of one. And they are advised to not arrest anyone unless absolutely necessary. Which is kind of a good thing but it kind of implies that they were arresting people when it wasn't absolutely necessary beforehand.

Caroline: So de Blasio, despite the fact that he seems to be universally disliked, was actually trying to, at least in a minor way, improve the situation with the cops?

Brent: Yes. That was my perception. He was trying to do something. You can debate about the effectiveness of cameras or not, but and whether a lot of the retraining involves that, I really don't know. But he's generally despised among most of the intelligentsia and the police. The people that do like him are probably some of the lower class, the poor people; they tend to get behind him. He's got the 'people'. But the protestors are not very happy just because they don't think he's going far enough. So he's kind of damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Caroline: Right. Well that's interesting. But generally the protests in New York have not degenerated? Well we would have heard about it if they had, possibly. Everybody's kind of keeping a grip on their emotions at this point.

Brent: Yeah, everybody seems to be very reserved. The police that I've seen don't seem to be looking for a fight which is good. They haven't really cracked down although they did use a LRAD (long range acoustic device) at one of the earlier protests to break it up. It was when the Eric Garner non-indictment came down, there was a whole wave of action that week and one of the protests was down the street from where I live on 57th Street and about 5th Avenue. They had busted out an LRAD to disperse the crowd because I think they were blocking traffic.

Caroline: Okay, what is an LRAD, for anybody who doesn't know.

Brent: LRAD is a long-range acoustic device. It's basically a sonic weapon. It emits a high-pitched pulsing noise, like a siren basically. But imagine the most irritating, obnoxious siren you can and then you get close enough to it and it can actually cause you physical pain. I can't stand regular sirens, if you go on YouTube you can type in LRAD and it'll give you examples and you can kind of hear what it sounds like. It's just like a very repetitive pulsing noise. It forces people to move away.

Caroline: Really hi-tech. Wow!

Brent: And they've got a couple of those.

Harrison: Alright. Thanks for letting us know the update, Brent. Keep us informed in coming weeks.

Caroline: Yeah, nothing like eyes on the ground.

Brent: Yeah, no problem.

Harrison: Alright, thanks for calling in.

Brent: Bye bye.

Harrison: Okay, take care Brent.

Elan: Just getting back for a moment to the Ebola story; there was another interesting dimension to this, I thought, and that was that the Ebola Czar or the head of the CDC was replaced by a gentleman, Ron Klein is his name, who apparently had no prior experience in the medical profession.

Caroline: Oh Jeez. (laughing)

Elan: And seems to be more a public relations puppet than anything else, whose sole job it is just to keep things mum. So that seems to be part of the new agenda, I think, from up high. I'm wondering if one day we're just going to hear in some alternative news or investigative blog "Five thousand people determined to have some strange Ebola-like symptoms that go beyond the normal flu or virus, bleeding from orifices and whatnot."

Harrison: We'll just have to wait and see.

Caroline: Something to look forward to in 2015.

Harrison: Anything else on Ebola? No. That is a developing story. It's been a year now since the outbreak first started I believe. I think that patient zero was December of 2013 and it's not going away so we will be talking about that in the future I'm sure. Moving on. Another one of the biggest stories in the last year, of course, is the whole situation in Ukraine. We've talked about it a lot on this show and the guys on Behind the Headlines have talked about it a lot as well so we won't get too much into it. Just in a nutshell what happened. The US staged a coup in Kiev, the Ukrainians living in east Ukraine said "Well, we don't want any of that because you guys are racist fascists" and so that started a civil war where Kiev launched their forces against the civilian population in Donetsk and Luhansk, and various other regions in east Ukraine. And of course the western media has been telling us that this is all Putin's fault personally, not just Russia, but Putin. So not only is he personally going out there and training all these rebel fighters, something big happened, the shoot-down of MH17. And that too was Putin personally.

Caroline: Absolutely.

Harrison: He drove out there, got his BUK missile system set up and he pushed the button that launched that missile to bring down that plane. Of course that's not what happened. All the evidence points towards this plane being shot down by a Ukrainian jet. That's what we now know. So new story, this in the last week. It's impossible to totally verify it at this point. But what we know is that a man, who is still remaining anonymous at this point, went to a Russian news program and gave an interview. He claims to have been a member of the Ukrainian army stationed at this airport where jets regularly took off daily to drop bombs on the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Caroline: I think he was part of the ground crew.

Harrison: And so what he says is that on the day of the downing of MH17 the planes took off as usual, the Sukhoi Su-25s, and three of them were equipped with air-to-air missiles. This was odd because in Donetsk, the rebels don't have an air force. They don't have planes so why would did they have air-to-air missiles? He said that they just had them, they didn't use them.

Caroline: Well not only that, apparently these missiles had been retired or decommissioned...

Harrison: Yeah.

Caroline: ...because they were "out of date" - I didn't know missiles had a best by date. These had a best by date that had passed and so that's another thing that he noticed, was these missiles that were supposedly not to be used were all of a sudden on the plane and that was very strange.

Harrison: So one of these planes, when it comes back, is now missing its air-to-air missiles. The pilot comes out of the plane, I believe his name is Voloshin.

Caroline: Something like that.

Harrison: He came out of the plane and he was kind of distraught, like "what's going on?" He looked stressed out and he said a couple of things like "Oh, it was the wrong plane. The plane was in the wrong place at the wrong time" implying that he had shot down this plane with an air-to-air missile. We've got the story on SOTT. You can search it. You can watch the video within. You can read the translation transcript. So this guy is interviewed on this Russian news channel and apparently since then some Russian authorities have interviewed him and gave him a lie detector test and he passed the lie detector test. So we'll have to see what comes out of this because like I said, all of the evidence points towards this being the scenario that took place, that very soon after MH17, the Russians were the only ones that actually released any hard data. Their civilian air and I believe some military radar data, and the data that they released showed a Ukrainian jet in the air, in the vicinity of MH17 at the time it went down.

Of course it couldn't have been a BUK missile system as the official story goes, for at least one obvious reason; these systems are first very loud and they leave a very distinct trail behind the missile that's visible in the air. You'd look at it and it's like a column of smoke that's in the air. This would have been seen and no one saw it; there would have been photographs of it, but there's nothing of the sort. You can even see interviews with locals in the little town where this happened that say they saw a jet or jets in the air at the same time.

So it's pretty clear what happened. This wasn't a Russian attack. This was Ukrainian. Now as to what really happened or why it was shot down, that's another question.

Caroline: Well there's been several speculations. One is that it was possibly an attack directed against Putin himself because his plane, which has very similar markings to a Malaysia plane, passed an hour earlier through the area, don't quote me on this, but possibly relatively near the flight corridor. So you can make a speculation that, maybe this pilot was told he would be a hero of the Ukraine if he managed to bring down Putin or something like that. So perhaps he had been set up with this historic mission that he was going to accomplish and didn't realize.

There's so many threads to this story and then I'll just go sideways on it. The other question is why this Malaysian plane, if you follow the flight path, was deliberately diverted by Ukrainian air traffic controllers to fly over this disputed area when the normal air corridor would have taken them out of it. They eventually found the name of the controller who was in charge of this particular plane. Her name Anna...

Harrison: Petrenko I believe.

Caroline: Anna Petrenko. She was the one who gave the instructions to alter the flight course. She immediately disappeared the next day, ostensibly going on holidays. One reporter digging around tried to find out about her, had gotten hold of this name, phoned up the brass at the Ukrainian air traffic control organization and said "We'd like to talk to this woman. We'd like to find out what happened" and was told that there was nobody with that name working there. But the reporter was quite persistent and a little bit smart so he called again, only he called some low-level administrative guy and said "I'm looking for Anna Petrenoko. Is she available for interview?" And he says "No, she's not here. She's gone on holiday." So they're caught in a lie right there. And another interesting thing is that somebody dug up her Facebook page and she is very, very close to some high-level right sector guys. Right sector is Kolomoyskyi?

Harrison: Kolomoyskyi. Yeah, we've talked about him a couple of times. He's the oligarch in the region that has several mercenary armies at his disposal. I believe some of his battalions are Aidar and Azov battalion, and a few others. These are the death squads that are going around the Ukraine.

Caroline: Okay, so that's an interesting potential connection if you want to make something out of photographs on Facebook. They seem to be chums, these two. So if you really want to go out on a limb, you could say that this pilot was set up possible to accomplish what would be an assassination and was not told that it was going to be this other plane and so he, when he comes back, realizes what he's done and he's extremely distraught about it. But what political publicity can you make out of this incident?

Harrison: Well there's a few interesting connections there. One is the Kolomoyskyi guy is a dual Ukrainian/Israeli citizen. There's Poroshenko and Kolomoyskyi and they kind of don't get along very well. They're two of the big power holders in Ukraine. When you factor in the fact that MH17 took off from Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, which is kind of a den of Mossad, the Israeli secret service intelligence agency, there are some interesting connections there. So what was really going on because Kolomoyskyi also controls all the air traffic control and the air space in that region. He's the top dog there. So you've got this Kolomoyskyi with ties to Israel and remember that MH17 happened the day before the Gaza invasion.

Elan: Just about.

Caroline: So convenient.

Harrison: So we can't really know at this point exactly what happened but it is curious. And it was pretty soon after the crash that the story about Putin's plane came out and that it was traveling pretty much in the same area or very close, and that maybe it was a failed assassination attempt. Of course the Kremlin released a statement immediately after that saying "Oh no, Putin's plane was nowhere in the area. That was false. All of our records are kept secret." Either way, the Kremlin is going to say that because yes, first of all any head of state is going to keep their flight plan as secret as possible to avoid things like this. But I suppose it is possible that somehow the Ukrainians had gotten hold of this information which wasn't supposed to be public to them at least and this was a plan or like you said, it could have been a plan within a plan where they use this as motivation to get this pilot up in the air and the plan was to take down MH17. You can't really tell a guy "Okay, go up there and shoot down this civilian aircraft."

Caroline: Right.

Harrison: It's not going to happen.

Caroline: We don't know.

Harrison: Another mystery, but good luck getting the truth out of current investigators in the final investigation. And when is the report scheduled to come out? In another year?

Caroline: Yeah.

Harrison: Another thing about the air traffic controller, and I believe it was on the Russian documentary about this, where they talked about Petrenko, and that one of the first things that you usually do in a case like this, is you take the air traffic controllers immediately and you interview them and you question them. I think they quoted a French case, I believe it was, I can't remember what the crash was but they immediately arrested the air traffic controllers and took them into custody in order to get their statements because...

Caroline: They didn't want them colluding and making up a story that covered them.

Harrison: Yeah. And there was nothing like that in this case, with MH17. The air traffic controllers weren't brought in; they weren't questioned. This woman just disappeared. We only found out about the air traffic records in that first preliminary non-report that came out, the non-conclusion that high-projectile bits had taken down the plane. So another story that is ongoing and we'll have updates next year hopefully.

Elan: Speaking of Ukraine, I nearly fell of my chair the other day reading an interview that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is Washington's man in Ukraine in addition to Poroshenko. He had an interview with Der Spiegel...

Harrison: Der Spiegel.

Elan: Der Spiegel, German newspaper. And he was being questioned about the whole situation and the interviewer asked him if it was helpful to label the Ukrainian military offensive as an anti-terror operation when so many people in eastern Ukraine already viewed Kiev with suspicion, and rightfully so. And Yatsenyuk, or Yats, responded by saying "For a long time we've been trying to win the hearts of the people of Donetsk and Luhansk."

Caroline: Okay!

Elan: This is after months of killing thousands of innocent people. It was flabbergasting to read about. I thought just about how disconnected the guy really is from reality, and psychopathic.

Caroline: Besides killing people - and that is the top of the list. But they also cut their electricity and I think water. So, way to win hearts and minds guys!

William: Yeah, I guess Yats wanted their real hearts.

Harrison: Well to be fair, I think he caught himself. He realized what he'd said after that and then he kind of backtracked a bit and said "Oh, and then the whole situation erupted, and then there was the war." So they were trying to win the hearts before they were killing them apparently but I think what he actually meant, as you said William, he was just like the guy Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; really wants to win their hearts by reaching in their chests and ripping them out. (laughter). That's the only conclusion I can come to with Yatsenyuk. Actions speak louder than words.

So, Ukraine brings us of course to Russia and another ongoing situation; Cold War 2.0. There's a lot to the whole situation. Why Russia? Why is demonisation of Putin and Russia in general so flabbergastingly apparent in the western media and government? Just what's really going on here? Well one thing that's kind of become clear over the past year, is that Russia does pose something of a threat to the west but not in any kind of aggressive, "we're an evil empire and we want to take you over" kind of way. It's more that Russia is going in a certain direction that is counter to the way that the west does things. The way the west and the United States does things is: "We're on the top and we're going to tell you what to do and you're going to do what we tell you or else we're going to kill you". That's pretty much the gangster mentality that the United States has, in collaboration with the EU, their puppets and lackeys there and of course Israel, NATO, the whole gang.

So what's going on with Russia? Russia and China have been developing an interesting relationship over the past year and more. China has called their relationship, and all of the facets of it, a "comprehensive strategic collaborative partnership" and that includes things such as an unprecedented amount of military cooperation, where they're actually sharing what used to be top secret military information and protocols. So basically doing projects and test missions.

Caroline: They've opened the safe and given each other the passwords.

Harrison: Yeah. And of course Russia and China being right next to each other, share a common geography. What one has, the other doesn't and what one doesn't have, the other has. So they have this very close need for each other and it works out to be very mutually beneficial for both halves. For example, Russia has energy; coal, gas, oil, etc. and technology like satellite technology and space technology; various types of military and civilian aircraft, submarines. China on the other hand brings to the table the kind of finance aspect, infrastructure building and capabilities. So there have been a ton of trade deals back and forth between China and Russia, meetings. And of course they are both members of several organizations, for example BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperative Organization.

The SCO as it's called, is kind of a mutual security political and economic organization. So while it's not necessarily a military alliance, there's a military aspect to it, in a regional police cooperation kind of thing going on there. Because all these regions suffer from the same problems and this is where another common interest between China and Russia comes into play, is anti-terrorism. Because there is a terrorism problem in the world, if you haven't noticed; ISIS for example. We haven't talked about ISIS but we don't need to talk about them, they're crazy.

SCO includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan; also observer members such as Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan and so-called dialogue partners including Belarus and Turkey. Turkey, soon, hopes to be a full-fledged member. I think it's possibly in 2015 they will become a full member of the SCO.

So what's going on with this terrorism thing? For example in China and I'm not even going to try to pronounce the Chinese names, but in one region of China that is suffering a terrorism problem, these are the guys that are joining ISIS. For years the police didn't even carry weapons in that region, but after these guys started showing up, now China, in that region, has adopted the strategy that was used in Chechnya, and is being used by the rebels in Ukraine, albeit in a different context. So they're not dealing necessarily with these Wahhabi terrorists, they're dealing with Nazis or right sector neo-Nazis, but their policy is now shoot on sight. That's what they did in Chechnya. It was pretty brutal, effectively brutal because now of course, Chechnya is rebuilt and doesn't have terrorism.

Caroline: But the head of Chechnya, that's his title...

Harrison: Ramzan Kadyrov.

Caroline: He came out and said, not in so many words, "We have to treat this like a disease." He was decried all over the place that they shot terrorists on sight and they took the families and booted them out of the country and burned down their houses. It's funny because you see these tactics applied by those who are considered "good guys", for lack of a better word, and those who are considered "bad guys", but it does drop, the level of terrorism. It's a very murky thing. That's the why of why you're doing things. And his rationale was "Well the families all knew. They all approved and they had to go." It's harsh, but when you've tried everything else that's kind of what's left. What was going through my head is "Well, Israel does the same thing. They boot you out. They burn down your house". But I think because these tactics are being applied selectively and not as a collective punishment, it's being applied only to those who are creating problems, who are killing and bombing, and you get rid of those particular people and things get calm again. That's the third force, if you will, sorry for that. But it just means that each situation is unique and you can't apply the same brush, even though it may look the same on the surface.

Harrison: If you look at these air strikes on ISIS, it is just indiscriminate slaughter and the world and the leaders seem to accept that as a viable option when they're dealing with the enemy of their choice. Other alleged enemies use the same rationale, do the same thing, then it's evil and a violation of human rights. And again, that's a whole other topic. When you look at what these terrorists were doing in Chechnya and are doing in Syria and Iraq - well we won't get into that.

Caroline: Another show. I was just going to say that going back to Russia and stupid psychopathic leadership. So Russia is the enemy and must be brought to her knees and one of the weapons that have been wielded, is driving down the oil price. So here's the US and Saudi Arabia colluding. Saudi is, presumably at the directions of the US, driving down the price of oil. At the very local level we're not all that unhappy about it; I mean who doesn't mind paying 40 cents less a gallon for gas. But the stupidity part is - and then you wonder about plans within plans - Saudi Arabia will now have its first massive budget deficit. It's something like $39 billion, and are proposing to cut social programs within their own country and to cut wages and salaries. Since half the population works for the government, they're going to create a lot of unhappiness at home. The US for its part is shooting itself in the foot because most of their oil and gas exports - and it's only recently that the US has been an oil and gas exporting country - comes from shale gas and fracking which is only viable between $80 and $100 a barrel price.

So by driving it down to $60, and the Saudis are quite willing to let it drop to $40, both countries are eviscerating themselves. There's already oil fracking programs that are shutting down in different parts of the country. This is a classic boom and bust. I used to live in Canada so I know what that looks like. It's ugly, ugly, ugly. And Russia for its part is kind of laughing because along with this, they have let their ruble devaluate and this does not affect the prices within the country. So as far as they're concerned internally, there really isn't a whole lot going on, while it's trumpeted that Russia will be brought to its knees and rampant inflation and all this other stuff. The fundamentals of the Russian economy are so strong that they probably will weather this crisis and Putin has been very frank about that, that two years are going to be unhappy and uncomfortable, but at the end of two years, Saudi Arabia and the US, and anybody else that they're colluding with, simply can't afford to carry on that policy for a long time and they are in no shape themselves to carry on that policy. So Putin has high hopes that the oil price will bounce faster than most people think. It's just dumb!

William: Yeah. At least four US states are having to rebalance their budgets now, that's: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alaska, due to the slowing oil prices.

Caroline: On another thing, I saw an interesting analysis, speculating that Saudi Arabia is willing to take this kind of a hit because they want to knock their competitors out of the market; the competitors ostensibly being Russia and Iran and other oil-heavy countries, Venezuela, but that without saying so, the US is on that list too. They don't want any competition.

Elan: Well, there's another dimension to the whole Russia/China connection and what makes them economically strong and able to weather the situation, and that is that they're buying up unprecedented amounts of gold. And not only that but they're trading their goods and services with each other with gold. And what does the US have? It has a lot of paper. It's been printing money for the past - how many years? - and going to lead, in all probability; to a state of hyperinflation when people realize that it's not backed up by anything. There are a lot of people speculating about the fact that the US doesn't own very much gold anymore. So there's that also.

Caroline: The barbarous relic will return.

Harrison: Back to this China/Russia thing again. One of the interesting things that I learned recently, was that China actually had several close business relationships with Ukraine and they had several development contracts in the works prior to the Ukraine kind of blowing up on itself. These contracts of course are now stalled but Ukraine was kind of strategically positioned for China. Not anymore. So this has brought China out of the influence of Europe a little bit in that area but it's also brought them closer with Russia. One of the things that China said recently is that they'll do anything they can to help Russia if they need it, with this ruble crisis. So Russia has a big ally there.

One of the interesting developments, in the middle of November, was that the defence ministers of China and Russia got together, Shoigu and Li Keqiang. They had some talks and it's uncertain with all of these meeting; you never know all of the things that they talk about. But there was an article recently that we put up on SOTT giving some interesting speculations on what went on because right after that meeting Shoigu then went to Pakistan. So what could they have been talking about? Well this author brings up the possibility that they might have been talking about North Korea, with Russia saying "We want North Korea to get rid of their nuclear weapons program in return for us protecting them". Of course this would totally change the geostrategic chess board if North Korea were no longer this existential threat, and of course Pakistan has ties with North Korea in this nuclear program. So Pakistan can provide the technology.

So the possibility is that Russia is kind of doing what they did with Syria; getting Assad to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons, do the same thing with North Korea and go to Pakistan and say "Okay guys, it'll be alright. We'll throw in a few extras for you guys if we go along with this project". This was November 18th. Then what happened just in the past couple of weeks, we have this whole Sony hack and the Interview movie fiasco blow up and now the US is itching to get North Korea back on the terror list. So what's going on with that?

Caroline: Yeah. If they take North Korea out of the picture as a threat, that's one less bully to terrorize your local population with and also it alters the political balances, not just in North Korea but also into the Philippines and all those islands there. My god, Putin would be a peacemaker! Look, he is taking away the nuclear threat to the world and destruction and they can't allow that! My goodness!

Harrison: Which makes me wonder about this Sony hack. If I get any of these details wrong, you guys just jump in. First of all, a little aside break in the conversation. I just wanted to let our listeners know that you can call in anytime, as usual. The number is 718-508-9499. It's right there on the page if you go to BlogTalkRadio. And also the Skype option is now available again, so you can try that.
Back to this Sony hack thing. We've got this low-brow humour, farce movie, where these guys go to North Korea with the intention to assassinate the leader. What's his name again? Kim Il Sun.

Caroline: Kim Jong-un. Something like that.

Harrison: Sorry.

Caroline: President Kim.

Harrison: So this movie really insulted North Koreans. "How could you do this? How could you make a movie about assassinating our leader?" It is really in bad taste when you think about it but that's Hollywood. This movie was produced by Sony and then there was this Sony hack by this group of hackers, called Guardians of Peace or something like that. So the movie release was cancelled. Everyone was like "Oh no, we can't release this!" And then "Oh, we're giving in to North Korea!"

Caroline: And freedom of speech.

Harrison: And freedom of speech and all that. So the hack was immediately blamed on North Korea. But there have been several reports going out about that say there is really no evidence that this attack came out of North Korea. So isn't it convenient that this hack was blamed on North Korea?

Caroline: North Korea has such a small internet presence.

Harrison: They have one ISP.

Caroline: There's one ISP. The NSA could stick a little microphone on the side and know everything that is going in and out of the country. It's just an absurd proposition.

Harrison: I don't know a lot about hacking. I'm not a computer guy, but the fact that the software program - I don't know the word you use for it, that was used in this hack = was developed or had ties with North Korea in the past. So they're using that as the tie to link this to North Korea where this code was leaked years ago and could be used by anyone. So that is the evidence that this was done in North Korea. There's also the fact that there's apparently this ex-Sony employee, Lena, that has had ties with this hacking group and could have been responsible. So this could have been an inside job.
As recently as a few days ago, I opened up Facebook and one of the first things I saw was "Oh, The Interview's now available to view on all these websites". So they've made it available on YouTube and Google Play and all these other websites so you can pay to watch it. And I thought well, wow! What a great PR campaign, to make this movie a global phenomenon and then release it. So first it's going to be released, then it's not going to be released and everyone's like "Oh my god! We can't watch a movie. Freedom of speech!" And then "Oh, hey, yeah we'll release it!" And then it gets released. So they must have made quite a bit on that.

Caroline: I don't know if I can quite go there because Sony was incredibly damaged. Stuff came out...

Harrison: By the leak?

Caroline: By the leak. The leak was incredibly destructive in terms of the information that was released. I think there's a couple of class action suits by employees whose personal social security numbers, personal addresses, phone numbers, all came out; very unflattering emails by one of the top brass about how they evaluated projects. Hollywood reporters and people who are interested in how the movie business functions, were just making hay with this. But for Sony itself to have this as a publicity stunt, I don't know; they capitalized on it for sure.

Harrison: Oh yeah, they capitalized on it. So that's what leads me to think that it wasn't a so-called 'inside job' on the part of Sony. But who else would stand to gain by this? In November we have these possible talks regarding North Korea by Russia, China and Pakistan. So I'm wondering if this was a response to that, to kind of head that off at the pass, to re-vilify North Korea so that this couldn't happen because of course as soon as this happened, North Korea on their national news broadcast system released - they always release the funniest statements.

Caroline: Bombastic.

Harrison: Yeah, pretty bombastic. Their statements would make a good movie in itself just because they're so over-the-top, but they responded saying that they were going to launch certain types of attacks on the pillars of the western world including...

Caroline: Well they were going to do a 9/11-style attack on some movie theatres. It was just nuts. But then you wonder if this wasn't a psychological manipulation. I think whoever masterminded this - and is there a mastermind - but North Korea is very prickly about its world image and they would immediately respond in just that way. So just anything that would damage their sense of their 'face'", if you will, on the world stage. So they could be manipulated into making all these statements and creating all of this uproar and conveniently making them look like insane bad guys.

Harrison: Yeah, and then you use that response as a justification for getting them back on this terrorist list. Again, all very convenient. And this just shows the mentality of the people involved here, that rather than have a nuclear-free North Korea or a chemical weapons-free Syria, these are all things that the west doesn't want. They want a nuclear Korea and they want chemical weapons in Syria because that gives them the excuse to have an enemy, and for example in Syria, to go in there and kill a whole bunch of people and take down Assad and put in a government that they want. That's the kind of cynical approach that these guys take. The best option for making the world a better place is, how do we deal with these people diplomatically ,and as human beings, to come to a conclusion and come to a solution that works for both sides. No, it's "We want this and so we're going to take it and we're going to kill you if you don't listen to us."

Caroline: "We want it all." Just another thing going back to Russia and China and then how neatly they fit into each other, there's a great article called Russia/China and the Double Helix and it talks about how China has manufacturing and they need raw materials; Russia has it. China has a huge population, Russia actually for the size of the country, does not have the kind of population you would expect, but they have some of the best universities in the world and I read just today that over 25,000 Chinese students have gone to Russia for training. Russia's currency currently needs support, China has huge reserves of currency. So it really is kind of a match made in heaven. And each of them are very conscious of defending their country but they are, neither of them, aggressive. Russia hasn't attacked anybody I think in almost 300 years and neither has China. They will defend themselves vociferously but they are not going out and trying to acquire more territory, despite what everybody says about Crimea; Crimea voted to go back to Russia. But they were not taken by force and Russia, even though the Donbass is there for the taking, has very clearly stated that they should stay in Ukraine with proper accommodation to the area's needs.

But the other thing about this alliance, if you will, on so many levels is it does a lot to de-couple from the US dollar. It lets them get around all of these treaties, the TTIP which are trade protocols which are heavily weighted to the US advantage and they can simply ignore it, say "Okay, that's nice. You have this treaty. We don't need to be part of it."

Harrison: That reminds me of another global development over the past year with the Crimean referendum because, as you said, Crimea held a referendum without the permission of their evil master, which is verboten in democracy apparently. And it was at this referendum that 97 percent voted to leave Ukraine and re-join Russia. Crimea used to be part of Russia and now it is again. And then after Crimea, we saw the referendums held in Donetsk and Luhansk where they declared themselves independent from Ukraine. None of those three referendums were accepted as legal by most of the world and for silly reasons.

Caroline: Most of the western world.

Harrison: Most of the western world. But then after that we saw referendum fever in the world. So there was the Scottish referendum which was not allowed to go the way it really did go. And that put the dampers on other separatist movements. There's Catalonia. And so Catalonians kind of bowed down to the will of their evil masters after the government said "Oh, it would be illegal to hold this referendum". So they held a token referendum where they just took the votes even though it wouldn't be legally binding and 80 percent of the population agreed with separating.

There were other referenda planned, for example I think there was one in Venice, in Italy.

Caroline: Northern Italy.

Harrison: Northern Italy. So we've got this trend of people wanting to exercise their right of self-determination and not being allowed to. And those that do, not being taken seriously. I just think this is a great triumph for democracy across the world, things are going exactly the way they're going because people are voting to do what they want to do, that's democracy.

Elan: Didn't a few years ago Texas and Vermont want to secede from the US or something?

Caroline: Yup.

Elan: And become its own thing as well.

Caroline: I think that's kind of the sense in North Dakota too. And they could. They've got a very sound financial footing. Going back to Russia; the government just released a statement which is probably the strongest yet, regarding NATO and the US as some of the biggest enemies to peace in the world. However they phrased it very carefully saying NATO policies, not NATO itself, but is probably been the bluntest statement coming out of Russia to date. And so you wonder what the next move is going to be when you're not couching your sentiments so carefully anymore.

Harrison: Hate the sin, not the sinner. Just to bring things back to some religious feeling (chuckles) I think we might be out of ideas for the week. I think we covered every global event of major significance in the past year. So I think that's going to be it for tonight. So thank you everybody for listening. Thank you to Brent for calling in. Thank you to Elan, Caroline and William.

Caroline: Okay, everybody have a festive holiday season. Happy New Year.

Elan: Be safe.

William: Take care everyone.

Harrison: Alright. Bye everyone. See you next week.