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Sat, 29 Feb 2020
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Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them

Ayn Rand
© AlterNet

Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping "moral philosophy" that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of "parasites," "looters" and "moochers" using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor).

As Michael Ford of Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, "In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest."

Family

America Needs Community, Not Collectivism

beehive
© n/a
Tyranny thrives by feeding on human necessity. It examines what sustains us, what we hope for, what we desire, what we love, and uses those needs as leverage against us. If you want safety, they will take it away and barter it back to you at a steep price. If you want success or respect, then you must bow to the existing arbitrary pecking order and play the game nicely. If you want to raise a family, then you must accept the state as a part-time parent. If you want kinship, then you must settle for a thin veneer of empty pleasantries and insincere associations. If you want independence, then you are simply labeled as a threat and done away with altogether. Autocratic rulers are first and foremost salesmen; they convince us that life itself has a "cost", that we are born indebted, and all bills must be made payable to the establishment. First and foremost, we are sold on the idea that in all of this, we are ultimately alone...

It is within these manipulated concepts of cost and isolation that we discover the foundation of all totalitarian cultures: Collectivism.

Collectivism is not a space age invention or a product of the abstract musings of Marxists, though many seem to think that their version of a hive society is "new" and certainly better than anything ever attempted in the past. No, collectivism is a psychological prison derived from a beneficial instinct as old as humanity itself; the instinct to connect with others, to share experiences and knowledge, to build and create together. It is an instinct as essential to our survival as breathing. Collectivism uses this instinct as a weapon. It is a corrupted and poisoned harnessing of our intuitive nature. It is an inadequate and cancerous substitute for something which normally invigorates and supports healthy culture: true community.

Cheeseburger

The Dangers of Treating Food as a Strategic Asset

Farming
© Unknown

Inside a secure compound at Canadian Security Intelligence Service headquarters this week, I had the rather odd experience of talking to spies about farming.

The spooks at CSIS, like their counterparts in other countries, have recently become obsessed with such loamy topics as marginal crop yields, soil salinity, Indonesian rice futures and dairy-supply bottlenecks. This week, they played host to scores of agrarians, crop economists, agricultural-threat analysts and farm specialists from a dozen countries in an urgent summit on food security, a meeting in which crop-irrigation ratios were treated with the sort of gravity that, a few years ago, would have been reserved for jetliner flight-training facilities in Florida.

And little wonder. As the intelligence officials listened to analyses of Indian irrigation policies and some rather silly talk about Islamist "agroterrorism threats," the world outside was blowing up over food.

The uprising inflaming Egypt on Friday began, let us not forget, with crowds marching in Cairo on Tuesday to chants of "Bread and freedom!" The Tunisian revolution began in December as a bread-price protest. Neither event was ultimately about food, but its increasing share of the household budget became a catalyst for larger tensions.

Comment: See "Doomsday Seed Vault" - Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we don't? for more 'food for thought' on why the spooks are so interested in food security right now. As we have noted here on SOTT, Earth Changes are well under way and may cause significant disruptions in the food supply chain.


Eye 1

Mohamed ElBaradei: "If Not Now, When?"

mohamed el baradei
© Lukas Beck / The New York Times
Pro-democracy leader Mohamed El Baradei is calling for Western leaders to explicitly condemn Egypt's current President Hosni Mubarak.

If Western leaders, who have backed the dictator Mubarak for 30 years, cannot stand before the Egyptian people today and say unequivocally, "we support your right of national self-determination," when can they do it?

That's the question that Egyptian democracy leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has put before Western leaders today.

Speaking to The Guardian UK in Cairo, before the planned protests today, ElBaradei stepped up his calls for Western leaders to explicitly condemn Mubarak, who, as The Guardian noted, has been a close ally of the US:
"The international community must understand we are being denied every human right day by day," he said. "Egypt today is one big prison. If the international community does not speak out it will have a lot of implications. We are fighting for universal values here. If the west is not going to speak out now, then when?"

Bandaid

Israeli NGOs Are Entrenching the Occupation

Image
© Baz Ratner
The army has difficulty effectively controlling its units, and so the task is taken up by the human rights’ organizations.
The Knesset's decision to probe the human rights' groups funding sources, a move motivated by the right's desire to clamp down on the organizations' activity, should be denounced on several accounts.

However, the right-wing parties should be interested in continuing these organizations' activity, for the simple reason that they - albeit unintentionally - are advancing those parties' long-term interest: entrenching the occupation.

In the past decade organizations such as B'Tselem, Machsom Watch and even Breaking the Silence have entered the vacuum in the government's control over the army and in the senior command's control over the field units. The center of gravity of conducting the warfare in the midst of the Palestinian population has been diverted, as is characteristic of this kind of policing-warfare, from the high command to the lower field command, which frequently exercises unbridled force on the population.

The army has difficulty effectively controlling the units, and so the task taken up by the human rights' organizations.

Sherlock

Medical examiner: Pentagon official John Wheeler died after assault

Image

John P. Wheeler III, a former Pentagon official and the first chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, "died as a result of blunt force trauma after being assaulted," the Delaware medical examiner's office said Friday.

A toxicology analysis also was done during the autopsy, but the results were not released.

Police are still trying to determine who committed the crime.

Che Guevara

New protests erupt in Yemen

Image
© AFP
Cyborg? Protests have been taking place calling for an end to Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule which began in 1978.
Dozens of activists calling for the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, have clashed with government supporters in Sanaa, the country's capital.

Plainclothes police also attacked the demonstrators, who marched to the Egyptian embassy in Sanaa on Saturday chanting "Ali, leave leave" and "Tunisia left, Egypt after it and Yemen in the coming future".

The chants were referring to the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia early this month and to continuing demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt.

No casualties have been reported in the Yemen clashes.

Tawakel Karman, a female activist who has led several protests in Sanaa during the past week, said that a member of the security forces in civilian clothes tried to attack her with a dagger and a shoe but was stopped by other protesters.

Radar

Arab world 's unrest puts pressure on Jordan king

Image
© Adam Jan/Agence France-Presse/Getty
Jordan's King Abdullah II has promised reforms
Unrest ripping across the Arab world is putting pressure on Jordan's King Abdullah II, a key U.S. ally who has been making promises of reform in recent days in an apparent attempt to quell domestic discontent over economic degradation and lack of political freedoms.

After two weeks of widespread protests inspired by the revolt that overthrew Tunisia's autocratic president, Abdullah has promised reforms in meetings with members of parliament, former prime ministers, civil society institutions and even Jordan's largest opposition group, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood Movement.

But his promises appear unlikely to quash the opposition's daring calls to elect their prime minister and Cabinet officials, traditionally appointed by the king.

The Muslim Brotherhood called for fresh demonstrations on Friday to press its demand for political and economic reforms.

Laptop

UK: Anonymous 'hacktivists' released on bail

Image
© Matt Dunham/AP
People protest outside Westminster magistrates court in London in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
WikiLeaks supporters declare arrests as 'declaration of war', as the FBI issues 40 search warrants in the US

The five people arrested in the UK in connection with a spate of online attacks in support of WikiLeaks were today released on police bail, while in the US the FBI has issued search warrants as part of its investigation into online group Anonymous.

The FBI yesterday issued more than 40 search warrants across the US as part of its Anonymous probe, where the distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks the group carried out on the websites of companies including MasterCard and Visa are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Last night Anonymous issued a statement branding the UK arrests "a serious declaration of war" against the group of internet "hacktivists".

Yesterday's arrests are the first in the Metropolitan police's central e-crime unit investigation in the UK.

Three teenagers, aged 15, 16 and 19, were held along with two others in a series of raids in the West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and London early yesterday. The teenagers have to return to their local police station on 13 April and the two men the following day.

Che Guevara

Thousands in Jordan protest, demand PM step down

Image
© Associated Press
In 3rd day of protests, opposition supporters take to streets in Amman to express anger at rising prices, inflation, unemployment.

Amman, Jordan - Thousands of Jordanian opposition supporters took to the streets Friday in the country's capital demanding the prime minister step down and venting their anger at rising prices, inflation and unemployment.

It was the third consecutive Friday of protests following Muslim prayers in Jordan, inspired by the unrest in Tunisia and rallies in Egypt demanding the downfall of the country's longtime president.