Charlotte Dennett is an attorney, author, and investigative journalist. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, she became a roving correspondent for The Middle East Sketch in 1973 and a reporter for the Beirut Daily Star. Escaping Lebanon’s civil war in 1975, she returned to New York where she met her future husband, author Gerard Colby. They spent the next 18 years researching and writing Thy Will be Done:The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil. She has written for The Nation, The Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Huffington Post, and the Vermont Law Journal. In 2010, she authored The People v Bush based on her campaign for Vermont Attorney General with legendary prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. We discuss her father’s role in the U.S. pursuit of Middle Eastern oil just after World War II.
The official U.S. government line is that Iran is the main country responsible for the 9/11 attacks in America. On 9 March 2016, a U.S. civil court ruled that Iran must pay to some victims of the 9/11 attacks $10.5 billion in fines, and the Obama Administration had no comment, so the U.S. press ignored the verdict almost totally. But this verdict was the only official U.S. court ruling thus-far about state-sponsorship of the 9/11 attacks, 16 years after the event. It was therefore huge news on 9 March 2016 — it created a precedent, for the U.S. government to allege that Iran had caused the 9/11 attacks and is consequently ‘the number one terrorist state’ (as Israelis have long claimed). But it received very little coverage at the time.
The event’s significance was the precedent that this verdict set, but most of the ‘news’media simply didn’t report this important precedent: it was the first official U.S. governmental conclusion alleging that Iran had, in effect, ‘invaded’ America, on 11 September 2001; and, yet, even now, no one is saying that Iran invaded the U.S. on 9/11, because the U.S. government isn’t yet trying to prepare the public to support an invasion of Iran by American forces. Still, this precedent could become the start for such preparation, if neither of America’s Iran-hating ‘allies’, Israel and/or Saudi Arabia, can be induced to invade.
Stories, songs, movies that are popular resonate truths people want to feel and express; sometimes these truths are veiled. Consider in two minutes:
It’s just a limited analogy with none perfect even with Disneyfied wishing, of course.
And that said:
Earth’s humanity (Aladdin), in dire poverty, orphaned from connection to Life/One/God, threatened with death by a government scheming for endless sadistic power, develops unique creativity from challenging conditions nobody would choose.
Unbelievable riches (Princess Jasmin) but equally captured on Earth intersects with ordinary humanity for mutual benefit: teamwork to defeat the previously hidden evil that was the power manipulating government, and with victory the amazing possibility of unimaginable creativity in a “whole new world.”
Freedom for the first time to create as we wish in sufficient power and access to hidden truths of what was imagined as “magic” (Genie).
In our household, we measure real-world inflation with the Burrito Index: How much has the cost of a regular burrito at our favorite taco truck gone up?
The cost of a regular burrito from our local taco truck has gone up from $2.50 in 2001 to $5 in 2010 to $6.50 in 2016.
That’s a $160% increase since 2001: 15 years in which the official inflation rate reports that what $1 bought in 2001 can supposedly be bought with $1.35 today.
My Burrito Index is a rough-and-ready index of real-world inflation. To insure its measure isn’t an outlying aberration, we also need to track the real-world costs of big-ticket items such as college tuition and healthcare insurance. When we do, we observe results of similar magnitude.
Our money is losing its purchasing power much faster than the government would like us to believe.
According to official statistics, inflation has reduced the purchasing power of the dollar by a mere 6% since 2011: barely above 1% a year. We’ve supposedly seen our purchasing power decline by 27% in the 12 years since 2004—an average rate of 2.25% per year.
But our real-world experience tells us the official inflation rate doesn’t reflect the actual cost increases of everything from burritos to healthcare. ⇒ Keep Reading
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation is bogus on a number of fronts, a reality I’ve covered a number of times: though the heavily gamed official CPI is under 2% for the past four years, the real rate is 7% to 12%, depending on whether you happen to live in locales with soaring rents/housing and healthcare costs.
But the other reality is that inflation is not evenly distributed throughout the economy or populace: many people have little exposure to the crushing inflation of healthcare and higher education. For these people, inflation is a non-issue or a minor impact on their wealth, income and lifestyle.
Those fully exposed to the skyrocketing costs of healthcare insurance and higher education are being reduced to impoverished debt-serfs.
The key factor here that is missed in the official CPI is the relative size and impact of each cost input. Televisions, for example, have plummeted in price as LCD screens have become commoditized.
But how often does a household buy a new TV? Every four years? Every five years? And how big a difference does a $50 or $100 drop in the cost of a new TV make in their lifestyle? ⇒ Keep Reading
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