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Mon, 21 Aug 2017
The World for People who Think

Comet 2

Reflection: Pope Francis and the Meteor

© Unknown
As we await the dawning of the new year, I would like to look back on a pair of stories that received less coverage than they should have during 2013. Although different, each raises profound questions about our future. I don't claim that these are the most important stories, or that nobody noticed them at all -- only that we should be paying more attention, and should ponder their implications, both in the year to come and in the decades beyond.


SWAT team raids sustainable community

At around seven thirty last Friday morning, inhabitants of The Garden of Eden, a small Intentional Community based on Sustainability, were awakened by a SWAT raid conducted by the City of Arlington for suspicion of being a full fledged marijuana growth and trafficking operation. Ultimately only a single arrest was made based on unrelated outstanding traffic violations,a handful of citations were given for city code violations, and zero drug related violations were found.

The entire operation lasted about 10 hours and involved many dozens of city officials, SWAT team, police officers, and code compliance employees, and numerous official vehicles including dozens of police cars and several specialized vehicles that were involved in the "abatement" operation. Witnesses say that there were helicopters and unmanned flying drones circling the property in the days prior to the raid that are presumed to have been a part of the intelligence gathering. The combined expenses for the raid itself and the collection of information leading up to the fruitless raid are estimated in the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

All 8 adults present in the house were initially handcuffed at gunpoint by heavily armed SWAT officers, including the mother of a 22 month old and a two week old baby who was separated from her children during the raid. The majority of police activity on the day of the raid included mowing the grass, the forcible destruction of both wild and cultivated plants like blackberries, lamb's quarters and okra, and the removal of other varied materials from around the premises such as pallets, tires and cardboard that the Community members say they had collected for use in sustainability projects. No marijuana or other drugs were found on site and the inhabitants of the premises were all unarmed.


Signs of Change in December 2013

Rivers turning blood-red, whales beaching themselves in Florida, landslides, sinkholes and flooding in southern Italy, severe flooding in Malaysia, extreme storms bring hurricane-force wind and snow to the UK and northern Europe, ice-storms across the US, including the coldest average day than any day last winter, avalanches of ice falling off buildings as far south as Dallas, the coldest ever recorded temperature anywhere on Earth (in Antarctica), a 'rare winter storm of Biblical proportions' in Palestine, snow in Egypt, fireballs raining down from the sky, including one overhead explosion in Arizona whose shockwave shook buildings from Chandler to Flagstaff, two separate fireballs over Greece, heavy flooding in Rio de Janeiro washing away whole buildings, giant sinkholes swallowing cars and buildings the world over, including one in China that swallowed an entire hamlet of 11 buildings, hundreds of birds falling from the sky in Virginia, the strongest rainfall on record forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate southern China...

The following video is a sample of strange and extreme weather events that took place around the world in first two weeks of December 2013.

Cloud Lightning

Christmas chaos: Hundreds of flights delayed and millions left without power as fierce storms rage worldwide

© Tony Kershaw/Rex
Staff and residents are rescued from the flooded Mercure hotel in Dorking, England
Over a million homes and businesses without power, holiday plans destroyed over flight cancelations - that's how Christmas panned out for some people across the globe, as deadly storms swept the planet.

The disaster is expected to carry on at least for a few more days.

In the UK, stormy weather has killed five people since Monday. 150,000 homes were left without electricity. Scotland and Northern Ireland are also due to be hit by powerful winds of 140 kilometers per hour.

Weather and flood warnings have been issued across the country, leading to hazardous driving conditions.

A power cut at the North Terminal of London's Gatwick airport caused flight cancelations, before all flights were transferred to the South Terminal.

"I'm across plans to get electricity to many without power. My thoughts are with them and those facing travel problems this Christmas Eve," British prime Minister David Cameron tweeted.

Christmas Tree

Israel celebrates Christmas by sacrificing a Palestinian toddler as it sends jets and tanks into Gaza for annual slaughter feast

© Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Israel's sacrificial lamb this year was three-year-old girl Hala Bhairi, who medics said was killed by shrapnel during an Israeli air strike on the open-air prison called Gaza.
Israeli warplanes have carried out an airstrike in the Gaza Strip in response to the fatal shooting of an Israeli civilian, the Israel Defense Force has confirmed. At least one Palestinian has been reportedly killed in the strike.

Hospital officials cited by Reuters said a 3-year-old girl was killed by shrapnel in al-Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip as she was standing with her family outside their home.

Three relatives of the girl, including two young siblings, were also reportedly injured.

According to Hamas Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra, a total of 10 people were wounded in the strikes.

Following the strike, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement saying IAF aircrafts and IDF tanks and infantry targeted "terror sites in the Gaza Strip" including a weapons manufacturing facility, "terror" infrastructures, and a concealed rocket launcher.

Arrow Down

Why you should not dismiss every conspiracy theory you hear

© Wikimedia Commons
The J. Edgar Hoover building, FBI headquarters.

America has always been the land of conspiracies, after all the nation was founded by a giant conspiracy hatched in taverns across the colonies. Today the term "conspiracy theory" has a dismissive air surrounding it, and maybe it shouldn't. Each section below addresses a popular theme in modern conspiracy theories and gives the details of when the United States government did exactly that.

The US government is targeting activists through surveillance, blackmailing or discrediting them... and killing them.

It's utterly insane to believe that the US government would waste its time harassing bloggers or activists of any kind. We live in a nation where we have the FBI to stop civil rights violations such as that, which is wonderful except for the fact that it is the FBI that has historically targeted activists in the past for surveillance, slander, and even tried to blackmail one into killing himself. That unfortunate victim of blackmail was a nonviolent activist in the south; a preacher even. Now his name graces street signs and schools across the country. He even has his own holiday. Of course, we are talking about Dr. Martin Luther King.

From the early 1960s the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the very agency tasked with protecting civil rights, embarked on a non-stop campaign against the activist who preached nothing but peace and love. His hotel rooms were bugged, he was followed night and day, and he was sent a letter along with audio proof of an extramarital affair. The letter ends with the subtle advice that, our now national hero, take his own life.
King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do it (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significance). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.
This is the real FBI at work. Surprisingly, the FBI has not admitted taking part in his assassination. The Department of Justice has, in fact, issued a statement arguing that the 1999 federal court decision that determined that "government agencies" participated in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King is wrong. The King family was awarded $100 as part of the suit, which was donated to charity. The minimal amount of the settlement was to show that the family was after the truth, not financial compensation.

With this in mind, is it really so far-fetched to believe that the FBI or other government agencies are doing the same thing today?

War Whore

'Bride and Boom!' Wedding parties obliterated by U.S. air strikes

We're Number One... In Obliterating Wedding Parties

© AP
The headline -- "Bride and Boom!" -- was spectacular, if you think killing people in distant lands is a blast and a half. Of course, you have to imagine that smirk line in giant black letters with a monstrous exclamation point covering most of the bottom third of the front page of the Murdoch-owned New York Post. The reference was to a caravan of vehicles on its way to or from a wedding in Yemen that was eviscerated, evidently by a U.S. drone via one of those "surgical" strikes of which Washington is so proud. As one report put it, "Scorched vehicles and body parts were left scattered on the road."

It goes without saying that such a headline could only be applied to assumedly dangerous foreigners -- "terror" or "al-Qaeda suspects" -- in distant lands whose deaths carry a certain quotient of weirdness and even amusement with them. Try to imagine the equivalent for the Newtown massacre the day after Adam Lanza broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School and began killing children and teachers. Since even the New York Post wouldn't do such a thing, let's posit that the Yemen Post did, that playing off the phrase "head of the class," their headline was: "Dead of the Class!" (with that same giant exclamation point). It would be sacrilege. The media would descend. The tastelessness of Arabs would be denounced all the way up to the White House. You'd hear about the callousness of foreigners for days.

And were a wedding party to be obliterated on a highway anywhere in America on the way to, say, a rehearsal dinner, whatever the cause, it would be a 24/7 tragedy. Our lives would be filled with news of it. Count on that.

But a bunch of Arabs in a country few in the U.S. had ever heard of before we started sending in the drones? No such luck, so if you're a Murdoch tabloid, it's open season, no consequences guaranteed. As it happens, "Bride and Boom!" isn't even an original. It turns out to be a stock Post headline. Google it and you'll find that, since 9/11, the paper has used it at least twice before last week, and never for the good guys: once in 2005, for "the first bomb-making husband and wife," two Palestinian newlyweds arrested by the Israelis; and once in 2007, for a story about a "bride," decked out in a "princess-style wedding gown," with her "groom." Their car was stopped at a checkpoint in Iraq by our Iraqis, and both of them turned out to be male "terrorists" in a "nutty nuptial party." Ba-boom!

Bizarro Earth

A Republican Christmas Carol: Goodies for the rich, pennies for the poor

© Shutter stock
Republicans don't give a rat's ass about working-class Americans, but they want you to think they do.

During an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe today, Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy told host Joe Scarborough that Republicans need to change their messaging so they can connect to people "trying to move up the economic ladder."

"We have to actually take our message to where people are at," Duffy said. "We have moms that can't pay the utility bill, dads who can't pay the mortgage. How does our conservative ideology and philosophy actually help lift them out of the place that they are today and move them up the economic ladder? ...We don't do a good job of presenting that message, and we have to change how we're doing it."

This is the core of the problem Republicans face - there is nothing in the Republican Party's platform that actually helps people move up the economic ladder. The Republican Party's platform only helps you when you're already rich, so messaging doesn't mean anything when your policies are designed to screw working Americans and enrich the billionaires.

The Republican Party's philosophy really just boils down to two basic ideas: tax cuts for the rich and social safety net cuts for everyone else. None of these ideas do anything to help America's working class. In fact, they actively make it harder for working people to, as Congressman Duffy put it, "move up the economic ladder."

Let's start out with taxes. The idea that cutting taxes for rich somehow helps everyone has become a religion of sorts for many people on the right. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush put cutting taxes for rich people at the center of their agendas, and to this day many people in the conservative movement still believe that cutting taxes for rich people is the only way to grow the economy and build a middle-class. Those conservatives have even repeated this lie so often that a surprising number of everyday Americans believe the same thing about tax breaks for rich people.

But Republican tax breaks for the rich don't help everyday people - they hurt them.


CIA mind games and Oswald doubles: Was there more than one 'Lee Harvey Oswald'?

John Judge talk from 1988
"We do know Oswald had intelligence connections. Everywhere you look with him, there are fingerprints of intelligence."

~ Republican Senator Richard Schweiker, member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Village Voice, December 15th, 1975)

Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Zionist mob kingpin and Jacob Rubenstein... but which 'Lee Harvey Oswald' is it?
The first indication that someone might be impersonating Oswald came in a June, 1960 memo from J. Edgar Hoover to the State Department. His letter stated he believed that someone "accessed" Oswald's birth certificate and might be using it to impersonate him.

This date - 1960 - is not a typo.

Yes, the Kennedy assassination took place in 1963 and Oswald and the idea that there might be more than one of him was already on the radar screen of the FBI Director.

This and other gems - some well documented, some not - can be found in Harvey and Lee - How the CIA framed Oswald by John Armstrong.


Untold History of the United States: The coup against Henry Wallace and what might have been


Henry Wallace, the man who would have replaced FDR as President when he died during his 4th term, was forced off the presidential ticket by the corporate controllers of the Democratic Party, despite his overwhelming popular support.
Paul Jay of Real News interviews Peter Kuznick (co-author with Oliver Stone of the Untold History of the United States). A Wallace Presidency might have prevented the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan and prevented the Cold War. But far more than that, it might have completely altered the course of modern U.S. history by leaving the 'Cold War' still-born.

Comment: Top class interview about a top class gentleman. Paul Jay is so right - they would have had no qualms about shooting Wallace dead in broad daylight. This is arguably the most important nexus point in modern US history. JFK tried to reverse what had already been set in motion by the coup against Wallace and the subsequent creation of the bomb, the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA and the overall National Security State. If you haven't seen it yet, Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick's Untold History of the United States is well worth watching.