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Neoliberalism: How a 56 year-old book changed the world for the worse

© Nathalie Lees
How a ruthless network of super-rich ideologues killed choice and destroyed people's faith in politics

The events that led to Donald Trump's election started in England in 1975. At a meeting a few months after Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, one of her colleagues, or so the story goes, was explaining what he saw as the core beliefs of conservatism. She snapped open her handbag, pulled out a dog-eared book, and slammed it on the table. "This is what we believe," she said. A political revolution that would sweep the world had begun.

The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek. Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism. It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

Comment: Horsehockey. Of course, one would expect nothing less from the Guardian.

This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy. Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.

Comment: Wow, this is a hitpiece par excellence.

He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.

Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take.

Comment: That's a misrepresentation at best.

Comment: Trump may be an oligarch, but he is a practical one. He doesn't dabble in ivory-tower theories. He may not be concerned for his fellow man in a philanthropic way, but in the pragmatic, business-like recognition that the current state of U.S. affairs is a waste of human capital. If he can provide the means to unleash the untapped potential of those left behind by the policies of the last three administrations, that may be accomplishment enough.


Egyptian tomb yields millennia-old mummy

© AP/Hassan Ammar
Illustrative: the ancient ruins of the Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt, November 30, 2014.
Ancient sarcophagus belonging to a nobleman discovered near the southern town of Luxor

CAIRO, Egypt — Spanish archaeologists have discovered a millennia-old mummy in "very good condition" near the southern Egyptian town of Luxor, the antiquities ministry said on Sunday.

The find was in a tomb probably dating from between 1075-664 BC, on the west bank of the Nile river 700 kilometers (435 miles) south of Cairo, a statement said.

The mummy had been bound with linen stuck together with plaster.


Underwater Stone Age settlement discovered off the coast of Sweden

© Arne Sjöström
Discoveries indicate mass fishing and therefore a semi-permanent settlement.
Six years ago divers discovered the oldest known stationary fish traps in northern Europe off the coast of southern Sweden. Since then, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have uncovered an exceptionally well-preserved Stone Age site. They now believe the location was a lagoon environment where Mesolithic humans lived during parts of the year.

Other spectacular finds include a 9,000 year-old pick axe made out of elk antlers. The discoveries indicate mass fishing and therefore a semi-permanent settlement.

"As geologists, we want to recreate this area and understand how it looked. Was it warm or cold? How did the environment change over time?" says Anton Hansson, PhD student in Quaternary geology at Lund University.

Changes in the sea level have allowed the findings to be preserved deep below the surface of Hanö Bay in the Baltic Sea.

The researchers have drilled into the seabed and radiocarbon dated the core, as well as examined pollen and diatoms. They have also produced a bathymetrical map that reveals depth variations.


Archaeologists uncover possible Akkadian Empire outpost in Northern Iraq

© P. Pfälzner/University of Tübingen
Archeologists from the University of Tübingen perform excavation work just 27 miles from the IS territory. The settlement may have been an outpost of the Akkadian Empire.
Archeologists from the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen have uncovered a large Bronze Age city not far from the town of Dohuk in northern Iraq. The excavation work has demonstrated that the settlement, which is now home to the small Kurdish village of Bassetki in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, was established in about 3000 BC and was able to flourish for more than 1200 years. The archeologists also discovered settlement layers dating from the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is regarded as the first world empire in human history.

Scientists headed by Professor Peter Pfälzner from the University of Tübingen and Dr. Hasan Qasim from the Directorate of Antiquities in Dohuk conducted the excavation work in Bassetki between August and October 2016. As a result, they were able to preempt the construction work on a highway on this land. The former significance of the settlement can be seen from the finds discovered during the excavation work. The city already had a wall running around the upper part of the town from approx. 2700 BC onwards in order to protect its residents from invaders.

Large stone structures were erected there in about 1800 BC. The researchers also found fragments of Assyrian cuneiform tablets dating from about 1300 BC, which suggested the existence of a temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian weather god Adad on this site. There was a lower town about one kilometer long outside the city center. Using geomagnetic resistance measurements, the archeologists discovered indications of an extensive road network, various residential districts, grand houses and a kind of palatial building dating from the Bronze Age. The residents buried their dead at a cemetery outside the city. The settlement was connected to the neighboring regions of Mesopotamia and Anatolia via an overland roadway dating from about 1800 BC.


What triggered tsunamis that demolished Bronze-Age civilization?

© Nomikou P., M. Paulatto, L.M. Kalnins and D. Lampridou
A combined topographic map of the Santorini volcanic field shows how the flow of volcanic material entered the sea via the northwest strait (orange box).
The historic eruption of the Greek volcano Thera in about 1650 B.C. triggered massive tsunamis and led to the end of the dominant civilization in the Mediterranean. Now, researchers say these destructive tsunamis may have been generated by the flow of volcanic material into the sea, challenging previous explanations, according to a new study.

Studies of the Bronze Age disaster led scientists to think the collapse of the volcanic crater (called the caldera) into the sea caused tsunamis after the eruption of Thera, on the island now known as Santorini. However, in the new study, scientists used volcanic and seismic data, along with detailed mapping of the seafloor, to disprove this theory and offer a new explanation.

Their research revealed that the caldera was not connected to the sea when it collapsed and, therefore, could not have caused the tsunamis. Instead, the researchers propose that large volumes of volcanic material flowing rapidly into the sea could have displaced enough water to create tsunamis.

Pyroclastic flows are fast-moving currents of volcanic material (rock fragments; lava; and hot, expanding gases) that flow down a volcano after an eruption. These flows can reach scorching temperatures of more than 750 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius) and move at speeds of up to 45 mph (70 km/h), the researchers said. As this material flows into the ocean, it solidifies and displaces massive amounts of water, they added.

Comment: See also:

Che Guevara

Gaddafi's final words to the NATO-backed terrorists who murdered him: "What did I do to you?"

Almost six years have passed since the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi - a death that changed Libya forever. Arguably, once a stable country, it now fights an inner disease, known as Daesh or ISIL. However, the murder of the Libyan leader was orchestrated, some say because of his plan to question the standard money system. Gaddafi also wanted to introduce actual gold in the form of money - as the African Gold Dinar. This Dinar wouldn't be just paper money, but would represent value in the form of tangible precious metals itself, rather than within the government's vault. Gaddafi also wanted to trade oil for gold, not the American Dollar.

Apart from Libya being the largest oil producer in the upper African region (when under Gaddafi) and wanting the returns in gold (which obliviously made the west very upset) - Gaddafi's death makes things a bit different. If you remember his murder, then you would remember how he begged for mercy while covered in wounds and blood, and it going viral on the Internet. While these videos raced across the entire world, for all to see; this wasn't the case for another so-called terrorist, out of respect for the burial customs of the locals. Osama bin Laden, who was a supposed open threat to the United States, who was, at the time held accountable for the 9/11 attacks, had his body taken and thrown into the ocean without the humiliating torture and degradation posed in front of the world.

Comment: Killary's war crime in Libya should be enough to disqualify her from the Presidency


Q: How many times was a president elected who did not win the popular vote?

© Steve Nesius/AP
In this Nov. 12, 2000, file photo, fans are dressed as George W. Bush and Al Gore during a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
A: It has happened four times.

The 2000 election was the most recent when the candidate who received the greatest number of electoral votes, and thus won the presidency, didn't win the popular vote. But this scenario has played out in our nation's history before.

In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn't reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland's 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.

In 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn't win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.


How Britain wrought destruction on the Palestinian homeland

© Getty Images
"The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it 'Israel'"
When I was a child growing up in a Gaza refugee camp, I looked forward to November 2. On that day, every year, thousands of students and camp residents would descend upon the main square of the camp, carrying Palestinian flags and placards, to denounce the Balfour Declaration.

Truthfully, my giddiness then was motivated largely by the fact that schools would inevitably shut down and, following a brief but bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, I would go home early to the loving embrace of my mother, where I would eat a snack and watch cartoons.

At the time, I had no idea who Balfour actually was, and how his "declaration" all those years ago had altered the destiny of my family and, by extension, my life and the lives of my children as well.

All I knew was that he was a bad person and, because of his terrible deed, we subsisted in a refugee camp, encircled by a violent army and by an ever-expanding graveyard filled with "martyrs".


3,800-year-old 'tableau' of Egyptian boats discovered

© Josef Wegner
The interior of the structure is about 68 feet by 13 feet (21 by 4 m) and is covered with a tableau containing images of more than 120 ancient Egyptian boats. The images are incised into the white plaster.
More than 120 images of ancient Egyptian boats have been discovered adorning the inside of a building in Abydos, Egypt. The building dates back more than 3,800 years and was built near the tomb of pharaoh Senwosret III, archaeologists reported.

The tableau, as the series of images is called, would have looked upon a real wooden boat said Josef Wegner, a curator at the Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the excavation. Only a few planks remain of the wooden boat, which would have been constructed at Abydos or dragged across the desert, Wegner said. In ancient Egypt, boats were sometimes buried near a pharaoh's tomb.

Etchings and a boat

Archaeologists found that the tableau was incised on the white plaster walls of the building.

Comment: Related articles:


Mystery deepens over bones linked to Amelia Earhart

Updated on Nov. 7 at 9:12 a.m. ET.
© Getty Images
Amelia Earhart stands in front of her biplane called Friendship on June 14, 1928, in Newfoundland.
The partial skeleton of a castaway found in the 1940s on the Pacific island Nikumaroro shows some similarities to Amelia Earhart, scientists say.

Though extensive searches have failed to turn up the bones, scientists have found a record of the bones' measurements taken by a British doctor in 1941, they said. And those measurements match up with Earhart's build, according to Richard Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which launched a project to piece together Earhart's disappearance in 1988.

"The match does not, of course, prove that the castaway was Amelia Earhart, but it is a significant new data point that tips the scales further in that direction," TIGHAR representatives said in a statement.

However, forensic anthropologist Ann Ross, who is not involved with the TIGHAR study, said the methodology used by TIGHAR is not reliable. What's more, Ross, who is director of the Forensic Sciences Institute at N.C. State University, questions the doctor's notes due to some of the language in the writing.

Comment: See also: