Welcome to Sott.net
Mon, 25 Jul 2016
The World for People who Think

Crusader

Margaret Thatcher's criminal legacy

Image
Hours after the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the history books are being re-written and the beatification of the Iron Lady is well underway.

Current British premier David Cameron praised Lady Thatcher for having "saved Britain" and for making the has-been colonial power "great again".

Tributes poured forth from French and German leaders, Francoise Hollande and Angela Merkel, while US President Barack Obama said America had lost a "special friend".

Former American secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev also lamented the loss of "an historic world figure". Polish ex-president Lech Walesa hailed Margaret Thatcher for having brought down the Soviet Union and Communism.

Such fulsome praise may be expected coming from so many war criminals. But it is instructive of how history is written by the victors and criminals in high office. Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel should all be arraigned and prosecuted for war crimes in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia and Mali, among other places. Kissinger has long evaded justice for over four decades for his role in the US genocide in Southeast Asia during the so-called Vietnam War in which over three million people were obliterated in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

The British state is to give Thatcher, who died this week aged 87, a full military-honours funeral. The praise, eulogies, wreaths and ceremonies are all self-indictments of association with one of the most ruthless and criminal political figures in modern times.

Wolf

The Wicked Witch is Dead: Margaret Thatcher's toxic legacy - public division and unfettered corporate greed

Image
Her legacy is public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed that together shackle the human spirit

Whether you were for her or against her, Margaret Thatcher set the agenda for the past three and a half decades of British politics. All the debates that matter today in the public arena, whether in economics, social policy, politics, the law, the national culture or this country's relations with the rest of the world, still bear something of the imprint she left on them in her years in office between 1979 and 1990. More than 20 years after her party disposed of her when she had become an electoral liability, British public life is still defined to an extraordinary degree by the argument between those who wish to continue or refine what she started and those who want to mitigate or turn it back. Just as in life she shaped the past 30 years, so in death she may well continue to shape the next 30. These are claims that can be made about no other modern British prime minister. She was in many ways the most formidable peacetime leader this country has had since Gladstone.

The fact that Mrs Thatcher was Britain's first and so far only woman major party leader, chosen entirely on merit, and then Britain's first woman prime minister, were of course huge landmarks. But her gender, though fundamental to her story, was in the end secondary. It was at least as significant, in the evolution of the late 20th-century Tory party, that she came from a petit-bourgeois background, a shopkeeper's daughter, though the man she overthrew in 1975, Ted Heath, had similarly middling origins and John Major an even humbler start. There was something of the rebel and outsider about her, as well as much that was stultifyingly conventional.

Comment: In short, she was a psychopath whose pernicious influence spread through society, embodying the destructive principle from the top down. As for the 'kinder, more cohesive face' that succeeded her, Tony Blair was worse than Thatcher... Britain, like the U.S. and elsewhere, is truly in the death grip of a bunch of toxic psychopaths.


Gold Seal

Margaret Thatcher and misapplied death etiquette

Image
© Don Mcphee
Margaret Thatcher
The dictate that one 'not speak ill of the dead' is (at best) appropriate for private individuals, not influential public figures

News of Margaret Thatcher's death this morning instantly and predictably gave rise to righteous sermons on the evils of speaking ill of her. British Labour MP Tom Watson decreed: "I hope that people on the left of politics respect a family in grief today." Following in the footsteps of Santa Claus, Steve Hynd quickly compiled a list of all the naughty boys and girls "on the left" who dared to express criticisms of the dearly departed Prime Minister, warning that he "will continue to add to this list throughout the day". Former Tory MP Louise Mensch, with no apparent sense of irony, invoked precepts of propriety to announce: "Pygmies of the left so predictably embarrassing yourselves, know this: not a one of your leaders will ever be globally mourned like her."

This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure's death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power. "Respecting the grief" of Thatcher's family members is appropriate if one is friends with them or attends a wake they organize, but the protocols are fundamentally different when it comes to public discourse about the person's life and political acts. I made this argument at length last year when Christopher Hitchens died and a speak-no-ill rule about him was instantly imposed (a rule he, more than anyone, viciously violated), and I won't repeat that argument today; those interested can read my reasoning here.

Comment: And take note that "our political leaders" who "must be heralded and consecrated as saints upon death", refers to Western leaders, who are all psychopaths or patholgicals to some extreme degree or another. It's ok to dance on Chavez's grave because he was a conscientious person who actually cared for others. That around a third of Venezuela's population turned out to send him off in a massive state funeral contrasts sharply with the lack of state funeral for Thatcher: the current Tory government must have suspected that so few people would turn up.


Vader

The U.S. is the belligerent one, not North Korea

Image

Lest we forget, it was the U.S. that dropped not one but two nuclear bombs in the region then arbitrarily divided the Korean peninsula in two...
In early March, the U.S. and South Korea launched an expanded set of war games on the Korean Peninsula, prompting concerns in some circles that the military exercises might touch off an escalation of tensions with North Korea.

Christine Hong, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, worried that the U.S. "was lurching towards war" since "the military exercises that the U.S. and South Korea just launched are not defensive exercises" but rather appear to promote a "regime change" strategy.

Those military pressures have, indeed, led to threats of escalation from North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un, and have set the Korean security situation at "hair-trigger dangerous," Professor Hong said in the following interview with Dennis J. Bernstein.

Comment: It's highly improbable that the U.S. has any real intention of bombing North Korea back to the Stone Age. Sabre-rattling against such a tiny outpost of rebellion to U.S. diktats is useful for preparing the American and Western masses for more wars of distraction while meteors continue to rain down on the planet.


TV

You think you are a consumer but maybe you have been consumed

Image
One of the guiding beliefs of our consuming age is that we are all free and independent individuals. That we can choose to do pretty much what we want, and if we can't then it's bad.

But at the same time, co-existing alongside this, there is a completely different, parallel universe where we all seem meekly to do what those in power tell us to do. Ever since the economic crisis in 2008, millions of people have accepted cuts in all sorts of things - from real wages and living standards to benefits and hospital care - without any real opposition.

The cuts may be right, or they may be stupid - but the astonishing thing is how no-one really challenges them.

I think that one of the reasons for this is because a lot of the power that shapes our lives today has become invisible - and so it is difficult to see how it really works and even more difficult to challenge it.

So much of the language that surrounds us - from things like economics, management theory and the algorithms built into computer systems - appears to be objective and neutral. But in fact it is loaded with powerful, and very debatable, political assumptions about how society should work, and what human beings are really like.

Bizarro Earth

Extreme weather events and Earth Changes in March 2013

Image

Snow hit much of the UK this March, with 12 foot snow drifts burying thousands of cattle alive
Extreme weather events and Earth Changes in March 2013: more mass animal die-offs, on land and in the sea - visits from comets - more asteroid fly-bys - fireballs and meteorites raining from the sky - pestilence and plagues of locusts - strong earthquakes - record flooding - record snowfall - sinkholes swallowing people alive - hail storms with baseball-sized hail - devastating tornadoes - massive landslides... all synchronised with ever-crazier human behavior as war theaters expand and rumors of yet more wars grow louder...


USA

Fusion center director: We don't spy on Americans, just anti-government Americans

Image
© AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot
Law enforcement intelligence-processing fusion centers have long come under attack for spying on Americans. The Arkansas director wanted to clarify the truth: centers only spies on some Americans - those who appear to be a threat to the government.

In trying to clear up the 'misconceptions' about the conduct of fusion centers, Arkansas State Fusion Center Director Richard Davis simply confirmed Americans' fears: the center does in fact spy on Americans - but only on those who are suspected to be 'anti-government'.

"The misconceptions are that we are conducting spying operations on US citizens, which is of course not a fact. That is absolutely not what we do," he told the NWA Homepage, which supports KNWA-TV and Fox 24.

After claiming that his office 'absolutely' does not spy on Americans, he proceeded to explain that this does not apply to those who could be interpreted as a 'threat' to national security. Davis said his office places its focus on international plots, "domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government. We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information."

But the First Amendment allows for the freedom of speech and opinion, making it lawfully acceptable for Americans to express their grievances against the US government. The number of anti-government groups even hit a record high in 2012, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many of these groups are 'hate groups' that express disdain for minorities. But unless they become violent, these groups are legally allowed to exist.

Comet

This is not an April Fools joke: Four asteroids flash past Earth in one day

Image
Earth is experiencing an unusual cosmic bombardment as four large asteroids pass it in just one day. Fortunately astronomers don't seem to joking when saying none are expected to pose danger.


Comment: Uhm, isn't that claim kind of meaningless after an asteroid/comet fragment totally blindsided everyone in Russia on February 15th?


The largest is 4034 Vishnu, which is 800 meters across - the length of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai - though much greater in mass. In comparison, the Tunguska meteorite that devastated hundreds of miles of Siberian wilderness when it landed in 1908 was estimated to be no bigger than 100 meters. The asteroid that may have led to the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago may have been up to 10 kilometers across.

But 4034 Vishnu - which was discovered in 1986 - will pass nearly 23 million kilometers from the Earth's surface. The closest of the four, EN 89, will be just over 5 million kilometers away from the planet. The asteroid was only discovered a fortnight ago.

Comment: Wow, so now they're putting a price on civilization-destroying space rocks. What price human extinction?


Propaganda

The treason of the intellectuals

Image
© Mr Fish
The rewriting of history by the power elite was painfully evident as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others among "Bush's useful idiots" argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false. The war boosters, especially the "liberal hawks" - who included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and John Kerry, along with academics, writers and journalists such as Bill Keller, Michael Ignatieff, Nicholas Kristof, David Remnick, Fareed Zakaria, Michael Walzer, Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, George Packer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kanan Makiya and the late Christopher Hitchens - did what they always have done: engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it.

These apologists, however, acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times, attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed "the political cesspool." Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq "do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all." He called the typical anti-war protester a "blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist." The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war - shutting down public debate.

USA

Venezuelan government announces transition to US-style democrazi

Image
In a public broadcast yesterday the Venezuelan government announced the transition to democracy. Measures include the sale of community media to business giant Rupert Murdoch, and the privatisation of the health sector.

A Venezuelan government spokesperson told the press, "On the advice of a special US commission, the government will be expanding media diversity by selling all of its community media to Rupert Murdoch".

"The media package includes Latin America's Telesur, which will no longer report from the ground and talk to real people, but rather read US government press releases from an autocue," the government spokesperson said.

Further, the government announced it will be bringing Monsanto into the country to advise on food reform.

"We realised that organised communities shouldn't participate in politics, they don't know their own needs, only transnationals like Monsanto and Macdonalds really understand these issues," the spokesperson said.

Comment: All together now, on the count of three...

"We're all living in Amerika, Amerika, Amerika!"