Is the Echo Housing Bubble About to Burst?

Speculative bubbles that burst are often followed by an echo bubble, as many participants continue to believe that the crash was only a temporary setback.

The U.S. housing market is experiencing a classic echo bubble. Exhibit A is the Case-Shiller Housing Index for the San Francisco region, which has surged back to levels reached at the top of the first bubble:

Exhibit B is the Case-Shiller 20 City Housing Index, which has notched a classic Fibonacci 62% retrace of the first bubble’s decline.

Several things pop out of the Case-Shiller San Francisco chart. One is the symmetry of the two stages of the initial housing bubble: the first leg rose 80% from 1997 to 2001, and the second leg also rose about 80% from 2003 to 2007.

There is also a time symmetry, as each leg took about five years.

The echo bubble has now inflated for roughly the same time period, and has almost fully retraced the 45% decline from the 2007 peak. Though recent buyers may hope this bubble will be different from all previous bubbles (i.e. it will never pop), history suggests the echo bubble will be fully retraced in a sharp decline lasting about two to three years, in rough symmetry with the collapse of the first housing bubble 2008-2010.

The broader 20-city Case-Shiller Index reflects the same time symmetry: the echo bubble and the initial housing bubble both took about the same length of time to reach their zenith. Once again, we can anticipate a symmetrical decline that roughly parallels the 33% drop from 2007 to 2009.

There is one key difference between the first bubble and the echo bubble: echo bubbles aren’t followed by a third bubble. Markets often give second-chances, but they rarely offer third-chances.


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Israeli Military Admits to Supporting Syrian Jihadis

The alternative press has noted for months that Israel is supporting jihadis in Syria.  But Israel has consistently denied these allegations … until now.

The Times of Israel reported 3 weeks ago:

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger. Israeli officials have previously balked at confirming on the record that the country has been helping forces that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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“We’ve assisted them under two conditions,” Ya’alon said of the Israeli medical aid to the Syrian rebels, some of whom are presumably fighting with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. “That they don’t get too close to the border, and that they don’t touch the Druze.”

Al Nusra is Al Qaeda, and closely affiliated with ISIS.  And remember, there have NEVER been any “moderate Syrian rebels” … only Islamic Sunni jihadis.

As Vice President Joseph Biden admitted:

The fact of the matter is . . . there was no moderate middle. . . . [O]ur allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. . . . They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and . . . thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis.

(Leaked NSA documents also show that Israeli special forces assassinated a top Syrian government official.)

Not all Israelis support this effort.  For example, Jacky Hugi  – an Arab affairs analyst for Israeli army radio – recently wrote:

Israel should back Assad

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Anyone who wonders why is invited to look at neighboring Iraq or distant Libya. What’s happening there is likely to happen in Syria after President Bashar al-Assad.

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In choosing between one bad thing and another, the balance tips toward the regime. The Israeli security establishment should gradually abandon its emerging alliance with the Syrian rebels

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The survival of the Damascus regime guarantees stability on Israel’s northern border, and it’s a keystone to its national security.

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It is a dangerous, irresponsible gamble to choose Assad’s enemies and encourage his collapse — it would be playing with fire. The prominent elements among Israel’s potential future neighbors are mainly Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, or the Islamic State ….

Posted in Politics / World News | 2 Comments

George Clooney Opposes War Profiteering While African

George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.

Way back yonder before World War II, war profiteering was widely frowned on in the United States. Those of us trying to bring back that attitude, and working for barely-funded peace organizations, ought to be thrilled when a wealthy celebrity like George Clooney decides to take on war profiteering, and the corporate media laps it up.

“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” said Clooney — without encountering anything like the blowback Donald Trump received when he criticized John McCain.

Really, is that all it takes to give peace a chance, a celebrity? Will the media now cover the matter of who funds opponents of the Iran deal, and who funds supporters of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.?

Well, no, not really.

It turns out Clooney opposes, not war profiteering in general, but war profiteering while African. In fact, Clooney’s concern is limited, at least thus far, to five African nations: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though these are not the only nations in Africa or the world with serious wars underway.

Of the top 100 weapons makers in the world, not a single one is based in Africa. Only 1 is in South or Central America. Fifteen are in Western allies and protectorates in Asia (and China is not included in the list). Three are in Israel, one in Ukraine, and 13 in Russia. Sixty-six are in the United States, Western Europe, and Canada. Forty are in the U.S. alone. Seventeen of the top 30 are in the U.S. Six of the top 10 mega-profiteers are in the U.S. The other four in the top 10 are in Western Europe.

Clooney’s new organization, “The Sentry,” is part of The Enough Project, which is part of the Center for American Progress, which is a leading backer of “humanitarian” wars, and various other wars for that matter — and which is funded by the world’s top war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, and by number-two Boeing, among other war profiteers.

According to the Congressional Research Service, in the most recent edition of an annual report that it has now discontinued, 79% of all weapons transfers to poor nations are from the United States. That doesn’t include U.S. weapons in the hands of the U.S. military, which has now moved into nearly every nation in Africa. When drugs flow north the United States focuses on the supply end of the exchange as an excuse for wars. When weapons flow south, George Clooney announces that we’ll stop backward violence at the demand side by exposing African corruption.

The spreading of the U.S. empire through militarism is most often justified by the example of Rwanda as a place where the opportunity for a humanitarian war, to prevent the Rwanda Genocide, was supposedly missed. But the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda in 1990 by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attacks for three-and-a-half years, applying more pressure through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame — now president of Rwanda — is the leading suspect behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the then-presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994. As chaos followed, the U.N. might have sent in peacekeepers (not the same thing, be it noted, as dropping bombs) but Washington was opposed. President Bill Clinton wanted Kagame in power, and Kagame has now taken the war into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with U.S. aid and weapons, where 6 million have been killed. And yet nobody ever says “We must prevent another Congo!”

What does George Clooney’s new organization say about the DRC? A very different story from that told by Friends of the Congo. According to Clooney’s group the killing in the Congo happens “despite years of international attention,” not because of it. Clooney’s organization also promotes this argument for more U.S. warmaking in the DRC from Kathryn Bigelow, best known for producing the CIA propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty.

On Sudan as well, there’s no blame for U.S. interference; instead Clooney’s crew has produced a brief for regime change.

On South Sudan, there’s no acknowledgement of U.S. warmongering in Ethiopia and Kenya, but a plea for more U.S. involvement.

The Central African Republic gets the same diagnosis as the others: local ahistorical spontaneous corruption and backwardness leading to war.

Clooney’s co-founder of the Sentry (dictionary definition of “Sentry” is “A guard, especially a soldier posted at a given spot to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons”) is John Prendergast, former Africa director for the National Security Council. Watch Prendergast find himself awkwardly in a debate with an informed person here.

Clooney’s wife, incidentally, works for U.S.-friendly dictators and brutal killers in places like Bahrain and Libya.

More nations could soon be spotted by The Sentry. The President of Nigeria was at the U.S. Institute of “Peace” this week pleading for weapons. U.S. troops are in Cameroon this week training fighters.

If the peace organization I work for had 0.0001% the financial support of The Sentry, perhaps the debate would change. So, one thing you can do is support the right antiwar efforts.

Another is to let The Sentry know what it’s missing. It asks for anonymous tips when you spot war profiteering. Have you ever turned on C-Span? If you see something, say something. Let The Sentry know about the Pentagon.

Posted in General | 2 Comments

EU Visa-Slams Ukrainians After February 2014 Ukrainian Coup

Eric Zuesse

Although the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 was allegedly done in order to get Ukraine into the European Union (because the overthrown President Viktor Yanukovych had just before declined the EU’s offer for Ukraine to join the EU), European countries are now denying Ukrainians visas even more than they had been doing before the coup and its follow-on Association Agreement with the EU.

Ukraine’s independent European Integration website headlined on July 21st, “The Percentage of Refusals Increased,” and reported that, “Of the 22 countries in the Schengen area [the countries where visas are not required], 16 increased the percentage of refusals of entrance to Ukrainians as compared to the year 2013,” which was the final year prior to the coup.

Furthermore: “Switzerland and Finland denied visas to Ukrainians at a rate three times higher than in 2013, and Spain, Portugal, Greece and Sweden denied visas almost twice as much as in 2013.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin “admitted: Some consulates deliberately do not give visas to Ukrainians, even when they are eligible.”

The same website had reported on June 26th that they were informed, “Most of the people who are affected by this live outside Kiev and the other major cities. … I fear it will lead to increased numbers of forged papers from those areas.”

On July 15th, the website quoted Klimkin at a meeting of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on European integration, saying, “Some countries pretend that everything remains as it was before, but against the background of internal pressure [to block more Ukrainians from visiting] they change the visa practice.” That report quoted Klimkin saying he is “now putting pressure on these consulates and capitals, demanding they return to the previous practice.”

The report on July 21st discussed what might be causing these increased refusals: “Why are Ukrainians denied visas? On this, we asked our expert Visa-free diary editor, … Sergei Sidenko:

‘The problem of increasing the number of refusals last year was a response to the events in the East [especially the region that had voted 90%+ for Yanukovych and rejected the coup-imposed government, and where the new Ukrainian government responded by bombing that region]. Some countries are suspicious of Ukrainians generally, but especially of people who live near the conflict-zone, suspicious that they’ll take advantage of tourist visas and ask for asylum.’”

The EU hadn’t been very eager for Ukraine to join it, but Ukraine’s joining the EU had long been a goal of American Presidents in order to isolate and weaken Russia, and especially President Obama planned for this, and made the changes in his Administration right after the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, in order to carry it out, such as by promoting Victoria Nuland to run European affairs, and transferring Geoffrey Pyatt to the Kiev Embassy to become the man on the ground coordinating it. The fractious EU has gone along with Obama’s plan, and (except for Netherlands), wasn’t involved with planning and perpetrating the coup. This is the reason why there still is considerable ambivalence within Europe as to whether or not Ukraine should ever be admitted into the EU: the U.S. is more eager for that to happen than the EU itself is. The EU’s leaders were even shocked to find out that Yanukovych had been overthrown by a coup. Only after the fact did it become “the most blatant coup in history,” because of the many leaks (such as the ones linked to here at “shocked to find out” and “coordinating it”). It was entirely a U.S.-run operation.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Congress Will Vote Today to Destroy States’ Rights to Protect Our Food Supply

Congress Votes Today to Override State Law and Block Americans’ Right to Know If Our Food Has Been Genetically Modified

 Do We Have a Right to Know If Our Food Has Been Genetically Modified?Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

All Americans – conservatives and liberals – want their families to have access to safe food.

Polls by ABC news, Associated Press and other major organizations show that Americans overwhelmingly want genetically modified foods (“GMOs”) labeled … and don’t believe that GMOs are safe.

A poll by Pew Research Center finds that two-thirds of Americans  think that scientists don’t fully understand GMOs, and therefore cannot guarantee people are safe if they eat genetically modified food

Indeed, most independent scientists – ones not making money from the GMO food manufacturers – say that GMO foods are very concerning.

For example a new study commissioned by Norwegian officials and conducted by a scientific authority on the safety of biotechnologies concludes GMO crops lack scientific data to prove their safety.  And see this.

And a poll shows that 68% of American and Canadian doctors think that GMOs should be labeled.

No wonder Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have voted to require GMO food labels in their states.

So how does our bought-and-paid-for Congress react? By banning GMOs until further studies are conducted? By demanding labeling of GMOs so consumers can decide?

Of course not!

The House will pass a bill today forbidding states from requiring GMO food labeling, or from banning GMOs within their states.

Just like with the TPP, Congress couldn’t care less about what the American people want … or what’s good for the country.

Conservatives support states rights. Liberals support federal action to protect our health. And all Americans support our right to make informed purchasing decisions.

But Congress only answer to its owners.

Remember, the big GMO food produces like Monsanto have already gotten their Congressional lackeys to pass legislation which strips American courts of their power.

Postscript:  This is similar to what the Feds did in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis.     As former head S&L prosecutor Bill Black – now a professor of law and economics – notes:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the resident examiners and regional staff of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [both] competed to weaken federal regulation and aggressively used the preemption doctrine to try to prevent state investigations of and actions against fraudulent mortgage lenders.

Liberals and conservatives tend to blame our country’s problems on different factors … but they are connected.   The real problem is the malignant, symbiotic relationship between big corporations and big government.

Posted in Politics / World News | 10 Comments

Will the Oil Patch Bust Trigger Recession?

This seemingly inexhaustible credit line is now drying up, with severely negative consequences for oil producers with debt that’s coming due.

Could the oil patch bust triggered by oil plummeting from $100/barrel to $50/barrel kick the U.S. into recession? Longtime correspondent B.C. recently observed: The question is whether the incipient recession in the energy and energy-related transport sectors is sufficient this time around to be the proximate cause of a US/global recession and real estate bust.

To help answer the question, B.C. sent this FRED chart of key measures of economic activity in Texas, America’s GDP and industrial production and the price of oil. The chart may look busy but the key indicators are oil (the blue line that fell off a cliff and has formed a fish hook), the red line (GDP adjusted for inflation, i.e. real GDP), the dotted line (industrial production) and the remaining two lines that reflect the leading indicators and economic activity in Texas.

Six months into the energy bust, the leading index for Texas has hit the zero line, U.S. industrial production has rolled over but real GDP hasn’t budged. So far, the impact of dramatically lower oil revenues has been limited to the oil patch, but the potential for contagion is still present.

As B.C. noted:

The last time the energy sector experienced a similar bust as is emerging today and clearly evident in Texas was in 1985-86, which occurred coincident with the crash in the price of oil and the onset of the S&L Crisis.

However, the US economy overall did not experience recession, but Industrial Production (manufacturing) decelerated to around 0% even as real GDP did not get close to “stall speed”, owing primarily to the effects of Baby Boomers entered the phase of life for peak spending and household formation.

Also, it did not hurt that the constant-US$ price of oil fell from $37 to $16 (similar scale as the recent drop from $100+ to $50/barrel) and the price of gasoline to below $2/gallon.

In other words, back in the 1980s oil bust, the drop in gasoline prices helped consumer spending and the mass entry of Baby Boomers into the housing market provided a source of broad-based economic stimulus.

The recent drop in gasoline prices has not stimulated consumer spending much, thwarting economists’ expectations of a big dividend from the oil bust.

Housing formation remains historically weak as home prices have soared out of reach of young families struggling with stagnant wages, crushing student loans and an uneven job market that rewards a few and leaves many with insecure incomes.

So these positives are either weak or missing in action.

But what’s different this time is the $550 billion that has been loaned to energy producers: Since early 2010, energy producers have raised $550 billion of new bonds and loans as the Federal Reserve held borrowing costs near zero, according to Deutsche Bank AG. With oil prices plunging, investors are questioning the ability of some issuers to meet their debt obligations. Research firm CreditSights Inc. predicts the default rate for energy junk bonds will double to eight percent next year.

This seemingly inexhaustible credit line is now drying up, with severely negative consequences for oil producers with debt that’s coming due and has to be rolled into new loans: Is The US Shale Industry About To Run Out Of Lifelines? (Zero Hedge).

Should oil resume its slide (and there are plentiful reasons this is likely–Saudi Arabia’s stated intention to increase market share, Iran’s plans to double its production and shale oil producers needing to maintain cash flow to make interest payments), then the well of ready credit could quickly dry up completely, pushing marginal producers and their lenders into insolvency.

What’s also different is a looming global recession, a $900 billion subprime auto-loan bubble that’s about to burst and an echo-bubble in housing that’s threatening to follow the first housing bubble’s trajectory of crash and burn.

The row of dominoes swaying unsteadily in these stiff winds won’t take much to topple.

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5-minute music videos: ‘One Love’ ‘Ripples,’ dances around the world as THE demanded economic & political context

“We’re gonna’ trip the light, we’re gonna’ break the night.

And we’ll see with new eyes when we trip the light.

Remember we’re lost together, remember we’re the same.

We hold the burning rhythm in our hearts. We hold the flame.”

Trip the Light from Matt’s dance video (Garry Schyman, sung by Alicia Lemke)

Playing for change contributes to the human challenge to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world. “Where the hell is Matt” Harding resonates a similar contribution.

In observation we all make, it seems 95%+ of humans want a world these videos artistically communicate: love, cooperation, and genuine progress:

Economics is the study of creating and managing money, goods, and services. OBVIOUSLY, economics is a powerful tool for realizing Earth’s optimal future because funding our needs and creativity is central for the freedom to love, work/play together, and move forward.

Politics/government is the study of managing people. OBVIOUSLY, politics is central for what we collectively do (policy) to successfully manage ourselves for optimum fulfillment in the art and science of being human (social science).

In the hearts, minds and actions of the 95%+ of humans we observe, there is growing demand that love drive the work of economics and government:

Humanity awakens that apparently for nearly all recorded history we’ve lived an Emperor’s New Clothes existence of naked facts proving unloving economics and politics of empire, and yet largely unrecognized by “official” lies.

Leading voices of the Roman empire documented this tragic-comic condition in voices as clear and strong as imaginable:

“To those who had easily endured toils, dangers, and doubtful and difficult circumstances, ease and wealth, the objects of desire to others, became a burden and a trouble. At first the love of money, and then that of power, began to prevail, and these became, as it were, the sources of every evil. For avarice subverted honesty, integrity, and other honorable principles, and, in their stead, inculcated pride, inhumanity, contempt of religion, and general venality. Ambition prompted many to become deceitful; to keep one thing concealed in the breast, and another ready on the tongue; to estimate friendships and enmities, not by their worth, but according to interest; and to carry rather a specious countenance than an honest heart. These vices at first advanced but slowly, and were sometimes restrained by correction; but afterwards, when their infection had spread like a pestilence, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most equitable and praiseworthy, became rapacious and insupportable.” – Contemporary to Julius Caesar, the Roman historian and government insider Sallust, from Conspiracy of Catiline, The Argument

In Agricola’s campaign as military and political leader of Roman Britain to expand the empire to modern Scotland from 78 – 84 AD, Tacitus recorded a speech he attributes to Scottish rebel-leader, Calgacus, to voice how those of virtue characterized Roman empire under corrupt emperors:

“It is no use trying to escape their arrogance by submission or good behavior. Robbers of the world, having by universal plunder exhausted the land, their drive is greed. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if poor, they lust for domination. Neither rule of the East nor West can satisfy them. Alone among men, they crave with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To plunder, slaughter, seize with false pretenses, they give the lying name ‘empire.’ And where nothing remains but a desert, they call that ‘peace.’ ” – Tacitus, The Agricola and the Germania (analyses here, here)

Leading Americans in the Founding Generation warned us all, again in the clearest and strongest voices imaginable, that We the People must embrace the lessons of history to avoid the tragic-comedy of tyrants overcoming freedom from Emperor’s New Clothes propaganda; the very same type of propaganda Americans rejected from their government to create the United States:

“Let us remember that ‘if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.’ It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.” – Samuel Adams, Essay, written under the pseudonym “Candidus,” in The Boston Gazette (14 October 1771).

On September 18, 1787, just after signing the US Constitution, Benjamin Franklin met with members of the press. He was asked what kind of government America would have. Franklin: “A republic, if you can keep it.” In his speech to the Constitutional Convention, Franklin admonished: “This [U.S. Constitution] is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism… when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”  – The Quotable Founding Fathers, pg. 39.

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle [liberty], and of fatal tendency. … However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion…” – George Washington in his Farewell Address, an open letter to the American public published on September 19, 1796.

The world of today proves the dangers all California Social Science teachers are admonished to teach our children:

“As educators in the field of history–social science, we want our students to perceive the complexity of social, economic, and political problems. We want them to have the ability to differentiate between what is important and what is unimportant. We want them to know their rights and responsibilities as American citizens. We want them to understand the meaning of the Constitution as a social contract that defines our democratic government and guarantees our individual rights. We want them to respect the right of others to differ with them. We want them to take an active role as citizens and to know how to work for change in a democratic society. We want them to understand the value, the importance, and the fragility of democratic institutions. We want them to realize that only a small fraction of the world’s population (now or in the past) has been fortunate enough to live under a democratic form of government, and we want them to understand the conditions that encourage democracy to prosper. We want them to develop a keen sense of ethics and citizenship. And we want them to care deeply about the quality of life in their community, their nation, and their world.”

In our world of the present, you the reader are challenged to apply your basic high school-level of education to recognize what you already learned, already honor, and any child can see with Emperor’s New Clothes ease:

I could go on to literally ~100 areas of crucial concern.

Accelerating technology can and should provide economics and government for:

  • more personal freedom from labor,
  • more beauty in infrastructure and nature,
  • greater joy in our freedom to create and explore our beautiful, powerful, and diverse virtues (something like “resource-based economics” as researched by The Venus Project).

Please understand that I represent likely hundreds of thousands of professionals making factual claims with objective evidence anyone with a high school-level of education can verify. For example, the June 2015 Seizing an Alternative conference (and here, videos here) at the Claremont Colleges had hundreds of professionals presenting data and solutions in over 80 areas of speciality. My paper and videos for this conference is here.

The purpose of education since the “Age of Enlightenment” is to present facts for public verification, and to seize the victory of refuting lies by would-be dictators, especially when such lies are obvious and of crucial public importance.

The path forward as we build a critical mass of humans recognizing the Emperor’s New Clothes truth is to demand arrests and solutions, obviously:

  1. ARRESTS: the first responsible action upon recognizing massive crimes that annually kill millions, harm billions, and loot trillions is to demand that law enforcement and military enact arrests of criminal leaders to stop the crimes and begin unwinding the truth of what happened in Earth’s tragic-comedy (four-part article series with videos on arrests as the obvious citizen response).
  2. SOLUTIONS: the .01% with corporate media have suppressed solutions documented beginning with Benjamin Franklin how government can abundantly operate without taxes: monetary and credit reform allow the public to have near-instant prosperity: full-employment, zero public deficits and debt, the best infrastructure we can imagine, falling prices, and release of public TRILLIONS held in “rainy day” accounts. Full documentation here.

Love, cooperation, and an unleashed humanity are only possible AFTER the current empire is recognized and retired to history.

Honor all Earth’s inhabitants, your family (past, present, and future), and sacred Self with your full self-expression as only you can in unique power and beauty:

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Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.

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Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).

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Posted in General | 9 Comments

Ukrainian News Service Says Standard of Living Is Plummeting

Eric Zuesse

The plunging economy of Ukraine has evidently become so bad that Ukrainians now can even feel safe to call publicly for stopping the war against the separatist Donbass region of the country, and for reallocationg those military expenditures so that Ukrainians in the non-rebelling part of the country won’t starve to death. 

On July 23rd, Dmitriy Gordon, a leading Ukrainian journalist, is thus, for the first time, publicly urging that the separatist region, Donbass (consisting of the Donetsk and Luhansk districts), be officially acknowledged to be no longer part of Ukraine. He says that “It is better to dissociate Ukraine from the occupied territories of Donbass, to spend that money on housing and financial aid for immigrants [refugees from Donbass] than to keep the people [the vast majority of residents in Donbass] who hate Ukraine [though they actually didn’t hate Ukraine until Ukraine’s government was violently overthrown in February 2014 and the new government bombed them for not accepting that new government]. … I will tell an unfashionable view. Many people think it, but not everyone will dare to say it out loud. Ukraine does not need Donbass. It shackles the country. … It is like a lizard that lays aside its tail. … We need to get away from Donbass, and move into Europe without this tail.”

The choice between guns and butter becomes easier when there is no butter. And the butter in Ukraine is now gone. So, butter is what Ukrainians increasingly want. Thus, for example, RIA Novosti Ukraine news agency headlined on July 19th, “Ukraine Today: Poverty, Absolute Poverty, and Retirees Dream of Death,”  and reported that, “Two years ago, the average salary of Ukrainians in dollar terms amounted to 275 American money. Now it’s less than 100 dollars.”

This RIAN report says that, “Neither the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, nor Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, nor Speaker of Rada [Parliament] Volodymyr Groisman — none of them — expresses public concern about the lowered living standards; no one has called to review them, much less to improve these economic conditions.”

It goes on to say, “Expert of the Public Safety Fund Yuri Havrylchenko believes that the current level of income of the majority of the Ukrainian population is poverty, and retirees are in a state of slow death from starvation. … [He says,] ‘In Ukraine, all workers live in poverty. The level of their income and consumption is less than 17 dollars a day. With a few exceptions, almost all pensioners live below the absolute poverty line, consumption is less than $5 a day. This means that they are dying of hunger, only slowly. If they do not even have enough to eat, then what can we say about the cost of everything else?'”

Mr. Gordon, for his part, might be attacked for urging separation, if he were blaming Ukraine for the civil war; so, he instead blames the residents of Donbass (the direct victims of the coup-installed government), as the cause of Ukrainians’ misery. He says: “For the most part residents of the region adhere to pro-Russian views. They hate Ukrainians, don’t want to speak Ukrainian, and they reject Ukrainian and European values.” 

He adds, “Criminal psychology is inherent in so many people there … It is no accident Yanukovych was elected so much at the mercy of bandits in the Donetsk region.” Yanukovych had won more than 90% of the votes that were cast in Donbass.

Yanukovych had turned down the offer from the European Union because the economists at the Ukraininian Academy of Sciences had calculated that the EU’s offer would cost Ukraine $160 billion.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jon Stewart Blew Last Chance to Ask Obama a Question

Jon Stewart interviewed President Obama for the last time and told jokes instead of asking questions.

If Stewart retires, where will we find someone willing to let Obama spew nonsense at such length unchallenged?

I discussed Obama’s interview on RT on Wednesday, and someone asked me to post the Youtube, but RT has to do that, not me. So here’s the gist of what I think.

Stewart said to Obama: you’ve tried bombing and overthrowing leaders and arming rebels and … what’s that new thing … oh yeah, diplomacy.

Everybody laughed.

Obama talked up the Iran deal.

Stewart should have asked Obama a question, such as, “If you prefer diplomacy in this case, why not in many other cases where you seem to prefer war?” He could have followed up by asking about each war.

Stewart jumped in with another joke line to make absolutely sure Obama wouldn’t think he’d been asked something. “We still get to bomb people,” Stewart said. Obama’s response was not the stern reprimand he gave a reporter who suggested that Obama was choosing to leave U.S. prisoners in Iran. Nor was it the warning that some topics aren’t funny, which Obama applied recently to the topic of prison rape. In fact, Obama offered no objection at all to joking about bombing, and he’s done the same himself warning would-be boyfriends of his daughters that he could murder them with a drone.

Stewart also told a non-question joke about the tangled web of enemies of enemies in current U.S. wars in Western Asia. It’s worse than Stewart said, with U.S. weapons on both sides of every war, U.S. funding on both sides in Afghanistan, U.S. allies funding ISIS, the U.S. jumping into the Syrian war in 2014 on the opposite side of what it proposed in 2013, etc. But Stewart didn’t ask a question, such as, “The majority of weapons in the most violent region on earth are U.S. weapons; why not stop selling and giving them?” He could have followed up by asking for a justification for arming each brutal government. Instead he cut off the possibility of any serious answer with, “Who are we bombing?”

Obama has no idea who he’s bombing even with drone strikes. That’s what “signature strike” means. That’s why they just killed a leader of the non-existent Khorasan Group for the third time.

Obama held up the Cold War as a greater danger than Iran presents. Well, no kidding. Whatever the latest new food at McDonald’s is, is probably a greater danger than Iran presents. But Obama spoke as if the age of the United States and Russia pointing nuclear missiles at each other were over. And Stewart said nothing. During the Cold War, the U.S. military was in Western Europe. Now it’s on the Russian border playing war games. Captain Peace Prize is building more nukes, planning more nukes in Europe, and backing a dangerous coup government and a package of war lies in Ukraine more dangerous than a Cold War skirmish.

Of course if you make these complaints to Stewart he’ll laugh and claim not to be real news. Of course he isn’t. But neither are a lot of the news outlets that report on Stewart’s non-news as if it were news material. The fact is that we don’t have a lot of good news. Stewart’s excuse could be used equally by the New York Times. So how good an excuse is it, really?

Posted in General | 1 Comment

U.S. Intelligence Officials Demand that Obama Release MH-17 Intel

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Releasing an Intelligence Report on Shoot-Down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

It has been a year since the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, resulting in the death of 298 passengers and crew. The initial response by the U.S. government supported the contention that the likely perpetrators were anti-government forces in southeastern Ukraine (the customary media misnomer for them is “separatists”), and that they were possibly aided directly by Moscow.

On July 29, 2014, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) suggested that the United States Government report publicly what intelligence it actually had relating to the shoot-down lest the incident turn into another paroxysm of blaming Russia without cause. We are still waiting for that report.

Executive Summary

Tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine are fast reaching a danger point. A major contributing factor in the American public’s negative perception of Moscow is last year’s downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

A public report detailing the investigation of the incident by the Dutch Safety authorities is expected by October but the draft is reportedly already in the hands of the United States government. There is speculation that the report will dovetail with media and leaked government sources that have placed primary blame on the ethnic Russian Ukrainians in southeastern Ukraine opposed to the government put in place after the Western-engineered coup of Feb. 22, 2014, in Kiev.

As the relationship with Moscow is of critical importance, if only because Russia has the military might to destroy the U.S., careful calibration of the relationship is essential. If the United States signs on to a conclusion that implicates Russia without any solid intelligence to support that contention it will further damage an already fractious bilateral relationship, almost certainly unnecessarily. It is our opinion that a proper investigation of the downing would involve exploring every possibility to determine how the evidence holds up.

Currently, the only thing the American public and worldwide audiences know for sure is that the plane was shot down. But the shoot-down might have been accidental, carried out by any one of a number of parties. Or it might have been orchestrated by anti-government forces, with Moscow either conniving in some way in that action or not. It is also possible that the downing was deliberately carried out by the Kiev government or one of Ukraine’s powerful oligarchs to implicate the anti-Kiev forces and Russia in this mass murder. And finally, though less likely, it might even be that based on the available intelligence it is impossible to determine who did it.

In light of the high stakes involved both in terms of our extremely important relationship with Russia as well as in establishing a trustworthy narrative that does credit to the White House, the failure of the Administration to issue a coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible is therefore puzzling. If the United States government knows who carried out the attack on the plane it should produce the evidence. If it does not know, it should say so.

In what follows, we former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of some 360 years in various parts of U.S. intelligence provide our perspective on the issue and request for a second time that the intelligence over the downing be made public to counter the fuzzy and flimsy evidence that has over the past year been served up – some of it based on “social media.”

The Russian Dimension

It would not be the first time for a tragic incident to be exploited for propaganda reasons with potentially grave consequences. We refer to the behavior of the Reagan administration in the immediate aftermath of the shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983.

Hours after the tragic shoot-down on August 30, 1983, the Reagan administration used its very accomplished propaganda machine to manage a narrative emphasizing Soviet culpability for deliberately killing all 269 people aboard KAL-007 in full knowledge that it was a civilian airliner. In reality, the airliner had been shot down after it strayed hundreds of miles off course and penetrated Russia’s airspace over sensitive military facilities in Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island. The Soviet pilot tried to signal the plane to land, but the KAL pilots did not respond to the repeated warnings. Amid confusion about the plane’s identity – a U.S. spy plane had been in the vicinity hours earlier – Soviet ground control ordered the pilot to fire.

The Soviets soon realized they had made a horrendous mistake. U.S. intelligence also knew from sensitive intercepts that the tragedy had resulted from a blunder, not from a willful act of murder (much as on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people, an act which President Ronald Reagan dismissively explained as an “understandable accident”).

The story of KAL-007 should come to mind when considering the fate of MH-17. There might be legitimate reasons for opposing the increasingly authoritarian government of President Vladimir Putin, but exploiting a tragedy does not equate to constructive statecraft for dealing with an adversary.

At a minimum, the White House and State Department one year ago displayed unseemly haste in deciding to be first out of the starting gate with a narrative implicating Russia, at least indirectly – a narrative that may not be based on fact. That twelve months have passed and there has been no effort made to either correct or amplify the record is unacceptable.

Someone Is Lying

Both Russia and Ukraine deny any active role in the MH-17 shoot down. So do the anti-coup forces in southeastern Ukraine. Someone knows something and is lying to conceal a role in the incident. From the U.S. perspective what happened needs to be clarified and become a matter of public record. No other nation has the resources that the U.S. had to come up with an evidence-based answer; and intelligence collection and analysis are the tools that must be used. The information released to date does not bear close scrutiny; it does not permit an informed judgment as to who is lying about the shoot-down of Flight 17.

One year ago today, National Intelligence Director James Clapper authorized a background briefing including some sketchy talking points in a very short “Government Assessment” for selected mainstream journalists. It was just five days after the shoot-down and two days after Secretary of State Kerry pointed the finger of blame at anti-coup Ukrainians and Russia. Understandably, corroboration was being sought.

Like Kerry’s presentations on the Sunday talk shows of July 20, 2014, however, much of the “Government Assessment” was derived from postings on “social media.” The July 22, 2014 briefing addressed, inconclusively, the key issue of who fired the Buk anti-aircraft missile widely believed to have downed the airliner on July 17, 2014.

No update to that five-day-after “Government Assessment” has been provided over the past year. Are we asked to believe that one year later the intelligence community still cannot adduce evidence that goes beyond insinuation regarding the Buk missile?

The July 22, 2014 briefing also suggested that the missile might have been fired by a Ukrainian “defector.” Has there been no clarification on that point? It is, frankly, very hard for us to believe that the U.S. intelligence community has been unable to expand its understanding of these key issues over the past year.

To be sure, there has long been a tendency in Washington to “fix the intelligence around the policy,” to quote the Downing Street memo relating to the inglorious start of the Iraq War. More recently, we note the claim repeatedly made by Secretary of State John Kerry on August 30, 2013, that “we know” the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical incidents near Damascus nine days before.

In that case, Kerry also cited a “Government Assessment” to support his charges.  We saw the introduction of this unique genre of “assessment,” instead of the normally required “Intelligence Assessment,” as evidence that honest intelligence analysts were refusing to go along with the preferred narrative. In fact, Kerry’s accusations turned out to have been based on false and even fabricated intelligence provided by opponents of the Syrian government.

Choosing to Reveal the Truth

If the White House has concrete, probative intelligence regarding MH-17, we strongly suggest that the time is right to approve it for release before the “blame Russia” narrative becomes completely dominant. The American people are perfectly capable of judging for themselves what took place but they need to have all the information presented without bias and without any attempt to evade unpleasant conclusions. And it should be done even given the risk of compromising “sources and methods,” as the broader issue of war or peace with Russia is something that should be of paramount concern to every American.

What is needed is an Interagency Intelligence Assessment – the mechanism used in the past to present significant findings. We are hearing indirectly from some of our former colleagues that the draft Dutch report contradicts some of the real intelligence that has been collected. Resorting to another “Government (not Intelligence) Assessment” to sidestep the accountability issue is not appropriate and is itself an insult to the integrity and professionalism of the intelligence community.

Mr. President, we believe you need to seek out honest intelligence analysts now and hear them out, particularly if they are challenging or even opposing the prevailing groupthink narrative. They might well convince you to take steps to deal more forthrightly with the shoot-down of MH-17 and minimize the risk that relations with Russia might degenerate into a replay of the Cold War with the threat of escalation into thermonuclear conflict. In all candor, we suspect that at least some of your advisers fail to appreciate the enormity of that danger.

The courtesy of a reply is requested.

 

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

 

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, National Security Agency

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (Ret.)

Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)

Posted in Politics / World News | 5 Comments

The American Nightmare: The Tyranny Of The Criminal Justice System

Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.—Bob Dylan, “Hurricane

Justice in America is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Just ask Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. Despite the fact that Deskovic’s DNA did not match what was found at the murder scene, he was singled out by police as a suspect because he wept at the victim’s funeral (he was 16 years old at the time), then badgered over the course of two months into confessing his guilt. He was eventually paid $6.5 million in reparation.

James Bain spent 35 years in prison for the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old boy, but he too was innocent of the crime. Despite the fact that the prosecutor’s case was flimsy—it hinged on the similarity of Bain’s first name to the rapist’s, Bain’s ownership of a red motorcycle, and a misidentification of Bain in a lineup by a hysterical 9-year-old boy—Bain was sentenced to life in prison. He was finally freed after DNA testing proved his innocence, and was paid $1.7 million.

Mark Weiner got off relatively easy when you compare his experience to the thousands of individuals who are spending lifetimes behind bars for crimes they did not commit.

Weiner was wrongfully arrested, convicted, and jailed for more than two years for a crime he too did not commit. In his case, a young woman claimed Weiner had abducted her, knocked her out and then sent taunting text messages to her boyfriend about his plans to rape her. Despite the fact that cell phone signals, eyewitness accounts and expert testimony indicated the young woman had fabricated the entire incident, the prosecutor and judge repeatedly rejected any evidence contradicting the woman’s far-fetched account, sentencing Weiner to eight more years in jail. Weiner was only released after his accuser was caught selling cocaine to undercover cops.

In the meantime, Weiner lost his job, his home, and his savings, and time with his wife and young son. As Slate reporter journalist Dahlia Lithwick warned, “If anyone suggests that the fact that Mark Weiner was released this week means ‘the system works,’ I fear that I will have to punch him in the neck. Because at every single turn, the system that should have worked to consider proof of Weiner’s innocence failed him.”

The system that should have worked didn’t, because the system is broken, almost beyond repair.

In courtroom thrillers like 12 Angry Men and To Kill a Mockingbird, justice is served in the end because someone—whether it’s Juror #8 or Atticus Finch—chooses to stand on principle and challenge wrongdoing, and truth wins.

Unfortunately, in the real world, justice is harder to come by, fairness is almost unheard of, and truth rarely wins.

On paper, you may be innocent until proven guilty, but in actuality, you’ve already been tried, found guilty and convicted by police officers, prosecutors and judges long before you ever appear in a courtroom.

Chronic injustice has turned the American dream into a nightmare.

At every step along the way, whether it’s encounters with the police, dealings with prosecutors, hearings in court before judges and juries, or jail terms in one of the nation’s many prisons, the system is riddled with corruption, abuse and an appalling disregard for the rights of the citizenry.

Due process rights afforded to a person accused of a crime—the right to remain silent, the right to be informed of the charges against you, the right to representation by counsel, the right to a fair trial, the right to a speedy trial, the right to prove your innocence with witnesses and evidence, the right to a reasonable bail, the right to not languish in jail before being tried, the right to confront your accusers, etc.—mean nothing when the government is allowed to sidestep those safeguards against abuse whenever convenient.

It’s telling that while President Obama said all the right things about the broken state of our criminal justice system—that we jail too many Americans for nonviolent crimes (we make up 5 percent of the world’s population, but our prison population constitutes nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners), that we spend more money on incarceration than any other nation ($80 billion a year), that we sentence people for longer jail terms than their crimes merit, that our criminal justice system is far from color-blind, that the nation’s school-to-prison pipeline is contributing to overcrowded jails, and that we need to focus on rehabilitation of criminals rather than retribution—he failed to own up to the government’s major role in contributing to this injustice in America.

Indeed, while Obama placed the responsibility for reform squarely in the hands of prosecutors, judges and police, he failed to acknowledge that they bear the burden of our failed justice system, along with the legislatures and corporations who have worked with them to create an environment that is hostile to the rights of the accused.

In such a climate, we are all the accused, the guilty and the suspect.

As I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’re operating in a new paradigm where the citizenry are presumed guilty and treated as suspects, our movements tracked, our communications monitored, our property seized and searched, our bodily integrity disregarded, and our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” rendered insignificant when measured against the government’s priorities.

Every American is now in jeopardy of being targeted and punished for a crime he did not commit thanks to an overabundance of arcane laws. Making matters worse, by allowing government agents to operate above the law, immune from wrongdoing, we have created a situation in which the law is one-sided and top-down, used as a hammer to oppress the populace, while useless in protecting us against government abuse.

Add to the mix a profit-driven system of incarceration in which state and federal governments agree to keep the jails full in exchange for having private corporations run the prisons, and you will find the only word to describe such a state of abject corruption is “evil.”

How else do you explain a system that allows police officers to shoot first and ask questions later, without any real consequences for their misdeeds? Despite the initial outcry over the shootings of unarmed individuals in Ferguson and Baltimore, the pace of police shootings has yet to slow. In fact, close to 400 people were shot and killed by police nationwide in the first half of 2015, almost two shootings a day. Those are just the shootings that were tracked. Of those killed, almost 1 in 6 were either unarmed or carried a toy gun.

For those who survive an encounter with the police only to end up on the inside of a jail cell, waiting for a “fair and speedy trial,” it’s often a long wait. Consider that 60 percent of the people in the nation’s jails have yet to be convicted of a crime. There are 2.3 million people in jails or prisons in America. Those who can’t afford bail, “some of them innocent, most of them nonviolent and a vast majority of them impoverished,” will spend about four months in jail before they even get a trial.

Not even that promised “day in court” is a guarantee that justice will be served.

As Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals points out, there are an endless number of factors that can render an innocent man or woman a criminal and caged for life: unreliable eyewitnesses, fallible forensic evidence, flawed memories, coerced confessions, harsh interrogation tactics, uninformed jurors, prosecutorial misconduct, falsified evidence, and overly harsh sentences, to name just a few.

In early 2015, the Justice Department and FBI “formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period…. The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said.”

“How do rogue forensic scientists and other bad cops thrive in our criminal justice system?” asks Judge Kozinski. “The simple answer is that some prosecutors turn a blind eye to such misconduct because they’re more interested in gaining a conviction than achieving a just result.”

The power of prosecutors is not to be underestimated.

Increasingly, when we talk about innocent people being jailed for crimes they did not commit, the prosecutor plays a critical role in bringing about that injustice. As The Washington Post reports, “Prosecutors win 95 percent of their cases, 90 percent of them without ever having to go to trial…. Are American prosecutors that much better? No… it is because of the plea bargain, a system of bullying and intimidation by government lawyers for which they ‘would be disbarred in most other serious countries….’”

This phenomenon of innocent people pleading guilty makes a mockery of everything the criminal justice system is supposed to stand for: fairness, equality and justice. As Judge Jed S. Rakoff concludes, “our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone.”

It’s estimated that between 2 and 8 percent of convicted felons who have agreed to a prosecutor’s plea bargain (remember, there are 2.3 million prisoners in America) are in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Clearly, the Coalition for Public Safety was right when it concluded, “You don’t need to be a criminal to have your life destroyed by the U.S. criminal justice system.”

It wasn’t always this way. As Judge Rakoff recounts, the Founding Fathers envisioned a criminal justice system in which the critical element “was the jury trial, which served not only as a truth-seeking mechanism and a means of achieving fairness, but also as a shield against tyranny.”

That shield against tyranny has long since been shattered, leaving Americans vulnerable to the cruelties, vanities, errors, ambitions and greed of the government and its partners in crime.

There is not enough money in the world to make reparation to those whose lives have been disrupted by wrongful convictions.

Over the past quarter century, more than 1500 Americans have been released from prison after being cleared of crimes they did not commit. These are the fortunate ones. For every exonerated convict who is able to prove his innocence after 10, 20 or 30 years behind bars, Judge Kozinski estimates there may be dozens who are innocent but cannot prove it, lacking access to lawyers, evidence, money and avenues of appeal.

For those who have yet to fully experience the injustice of the American system of justice, it’s only a matter of time.

America no longer operates under a system of justice characterized by due process, an assumption of innocence, probable cause, and clear prohibitions on government overreach and police abuse. Instead, our courts of justice have been transformed into courts of order, advocating for the government’s interests, rather than championing the rights of the citizenry, as enshrined in the Constitution.

Without courts willing to uphold the Constitution’s provisions when government officials disregard them, and a citizenry knowledgeable enough to be outraged when those provisions are undermined, the Constitution provides little protection against the police state.

In other words, in this age of hollow justice, courts of order, and government-sanctioned tyranny, the Constitution is no safeguard against government wrongdoing such as SWAT team raids, domestic surveillance, police shootings of unarmed citizens, indefinite detentions, asset forfeitures, prosecutorial misconduct and the like.

Posted in General | 3 Comments

3-minute poetic video: .01% tell 99.99% we’re worthless and the economic problem. Ready for arrests of .01% criminals?

hat tips: What really happened, Wake up from your slumber and Agnes Torok

“Say it’s not political, say it’s just the way it is that food banks can be cut but big banks need to be bailed out.” (from the following 3-minute poetic video)

The economic and political costs of Earth’s current .01% “leadership” demand responsible citizenry response of arrests for OBVIOUS crimes centering in war and money.

The Emperor’s New Clothes facts:

I could go on to literally ~100 areas of crucial concern.

Public demand for arrests is lawful revolution; “turn around” is revolution’s Latin etymology

Responsible citizens must think, speak, and take actions to turn around OBVIOUS crimes we all can discern with a high school-level of critical thinking to stop criminal acts that yearly kill millions, harm billions, and loot trillions.

Obviously.

Please understand that I represent likely hundreds of thousands of professionals making factual claims with objective evidence anyone can verify. For example, the June 2015 Seizing an Alternative conference (and here, videos here) at the Claremont Colleges had hundreds of professionals presenting data and solutions in over 80 areas of speciality. My paper and videos for this conference is here.

The purpose of education since the “Age of Enlightenment” is to present facts for public verification, and to seize the victory of refuting lies by would-be dictators, especially when such lies are obvious and of crucial public importance.

The public’s choice seems to be either responsible arrests and solutions, or ongoing psychopathic “leadership” (and here) for Crimes against Humanity.

The path forward as we build critical mass recognizing Emperor’s New Clothes objective facts is to demand arrests and solutions:

  1. ARRESTS: the first responsible action upon recognizing massive crimes that annually kill millions, harm billions, and loot trillions is to demand that law enforcement and military enact arrests of criminal leaders to stop the crimes and begin unwinding the truth of what happened in Earth’s tragic-comedy (four-part article series with videos on arrests as the obvious citizen response).
  2. SOLUTIONS: the .01% with corporate media have suppressed solutions documented beginning with Benjamin Franklin how government can abundantly operate without taxes: monetary and credit reform allow the public to have near-instant prosperity: full-employment, zero public deficits and debt, the best infrastructure we can imagine, falling prices, and release of public TRILLIONS held in “rainy day” accounts. Full documentation here.

Have a better plan forward than arrests of OBVIOUS criminals then good-faith transparent implementation of apparently obvious solutions?

Now’s the time to think, speak, and take action.

15 minute discussion of economic solutions: Mark Anielski and Ellen Brown’s powerful response to an interview at the Seizing an Alternative conference (and here, with videos here) with former World Bank economist Herman Daly and co-author John B. Cobb of For the Common Good (video should start at 1:04:43):

**

Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.

**

Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).

**

Posted in General | 9 Comments

Panem et Presidential Elections

I know you like the elephants and the acrobats, but we really do not have time for this.

The U.S. presidential election is very far away. There’s a measurable rise in the ocean, the construction of numerous new military bases, a decision on peace or war with Iran, a push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, intense antagonization of Russia, and more than likely another month-long bombing of Gaza between now and then.

We should be engaged in intense, all-out, creative, nonviolent resistance. We should be reforming or revolutionizing the election process, among much else. Even when elections have not been financed and reported on primarily by a wealthy elite with debates run by two parties, they haven’t tended to be the means by which important social change has come.

We need radical change, and the election process isn’t even advertising it. One of the chief sources of U.S. election funding, Sheldon Adelson, dismisses the idea of democracy because it’s not in the Bible. And of course Adelson is up-to-date compared with some of the people he funds. At least 32 Republicans are running, apparently with a collective IQ that hardly reaches three figures. For them I’d be willing to revive the Confederacy, give it lots of flags, and locate it in the portions of the Southeast expected to fall below the rising ocean (as long as Donald Trump is charged extra for beach properties!).

Of course Jill Stein has great positions, but let’s face it, the Democrats are not up to the task. Hillary Clinton has replaced FDR’s four freedoms with “the four fights.” It turns out she’s in favor of families, America, democracy, and economics (who knew?), or at least she wants to fight with them. Oh, and she also wants to fight with Iran, ISIS, China, and Russia — each of which is apparently somehow harming our “values.” Then there’s Bernie Sanders who pretends that the 54% of federal discretionary spending that goes to militarism just doesn’t exist. Military? What military? Martin O’Malley has the same approach. Lincoln Chafee claims very briefly and vaguely to oppose wars. Jim Webb adds a bit more to his claim to oppose wars, but makes clear that he wants to fund militarism while expecting doing so not to produce more wars. Chafee and Webb are the worst on non-war issues, unless you compare Clinton’s and O’Malley’s actual records to their stated desires. Sanders is the best on non-war issues but might do little to slow the rush toward bigger and more frequent wars.

A decent candidate with a basic grasp of the problem of war addiction would say something like this, and no Democrat or Republican is anywhere close to saying it:

As president I will work to change U.S. relations with the rest of the world to relations of respect, cooperation, and demilitarization. A Gallup poll at the end of 2013 found the United States widely believed to be the top threat to peace in the world. One reason for that could be that the United States spends far more on militarism than any other nation, engages in more military actions abroad than any other nation, and maintains many times as many foreign military bases as all other nations combined — all at great human, financial, and environmental cost.

Preparing for wars does not need to be the primary thing we do. In the analysis of the National Priorities Project military spending is 54% of U.S. federal discretionary spending. In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015. These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now. We need to return to 2001 levels and reduce from there.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, did not happen because military spending was too low. Thousands of nuclear weapons were of no value against an attack that used box cutters. In fact, the increased spending has been increasing dangers rather than reducing them, as former President Dwight Eisenhower warned it might, and as our experts say it has. Former Directors of National Intelligence Michael Flynn and Dennis Blair have called the drone wars counterproductive, as has an internal CIA report. Michael Boyle, Former Counter-Terrorism Adviser, agrees, as does General James Cartwright, former Vice-Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. Flynn has said the same of the war on ISIS and the war begun in Iraq in 2003. Former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief Michael Scheuer says the more the United States fights terrorism, the more it creates terrorism. Statistics seem to bear that out. Numerous other former top officials agree.

The United States is spending at least $100 billion a year on over 800 bases in 70 nations, not counting permanent ongoing trainings and exercises, even though airplanes now allow the U.S. to get troops anywhere in the world without keeping them permanently stationed abroad. We need to close these foreign bases, beginning with the large ones in Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea.

As president I will put a stop to the practice of giving free weaponry to Egypt, Israel, and other nations — which are not benefitted by increased militarism. And I will put a stop to the sale of weaponry to foreign nations, beginning with those guilty of serious human rights abuses.

As president I will abolish the presidential kill list, propose a global treaty banning weaponized drones, cease the practice of launching wars not authorized by Congress or the United Nations, maintain peace with Iran, remove the missile defense systems from Europe that were justified by the idea of a threat from Iran, propose a global treaty banning nuclear weapons, remove the United States from NATO, and initiate a process of democratizing the United Nations.

As president I will propose dramatic increases in investment, using funds withdrawn from military spending, including new investment in foreign aid, green energy, infrastructure, education, housing, tax cuts for the lowest incomes, and payment of debts. I will introduce a program of transition to assist communities and workers deprived of military industry jobs.

As president I will reward whistleblowers, end unconstitutional mass surveillance, forbid the transfer of war weaponry to local police departments, and appoint a Secretary of Peace to advise me and my cabinet on alternatives to war in resolving conflicts.

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Are Tech Giants’ New Buildings Signs of the Top?

When banks build new gleaming headquarters, that generally marks the top of the bank’s fortunes. There appears to be some sort of hubris in constructing a monumental new headquarters that shouts “we’re rich beyond all conception” that angers the stock market gods.

For this reason, we should ponder the glamorous new headquarters Facebook just completed and Apple’s “spaceship” campus that is under construction.Google’s plans for an ultra-modernist headquarters were recently tabled by the city of Mountain View, but the grandiose plans themselves may count as hubris to the stock market gods.

Here is an interior view of Facebook’s new digs: note that it’s literally dripping with arty decor:

Here is Facebook’s stock chart:

Here is a drone-cam view of Apple’s spaceship campus under construction:

Here is Apple’s stock chart:

An architectural rendering of Google’s proposed complex that was turned down by Mountain View CA:

Here is Google’s stock chart:

If pouring billions of dollars into outrageous “look at me” buildings isn’t tempting the gods, what is it? At the top, it is inconceivable that these buildings could be monuments not just to hubris but to excessive confidence in endless growth of revenues, profits and valuations.

The idea that these magnificent buildings might some day be half-empty does not occur to one in a thousand people at this juncture.

This is not to wish these tech giants ill, it is simply to note that projections based on permanently parabolic growth have a long history of crashing back to Earth when the true believers least expect it.

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America Is No Democracy. Here’s Proof:

Obama Prosecutes No Mega-Crooks. Hillary Also Wouldn’t. Would Sanders?

Eric Zuesse

The chief reason why the USA is no longer a democracy (if it ever was) is that its mega-criminals have impunity, just like kings and other dictators in countries that make little pretense to being a ‘democracy.’

Any country where someone stands above the law is a dictatorship, by those people, against the public — against everyone who is punishable by that nation’s executive, legal, and judicial, process, if they violate that country’s laws.

Any country where there are two classes of people, one class who are above the law, and another class who are subject to the law, is, by definition, a dictatorship, by the former group, over and against the latter mass. That’s what a dictatorship is — that’s what it consists of: an aristocracy and its agents, on the one hand; and the public on the other.

For example, George W. Bush still has not been prosecuted, nor even investigated by the U.S. Government under Obama, for his mega-crimes, from which not only Americans suffer, but people around the world suffered — and we all suffer them today.

He certainly was guilty of violating U.S. laws, including treaties that the U.S. had signed, against torture, even though he has never been prosecuted, nor so much as (in the U.S.) investigated, for any of the numerous crimes, organized crimes, RICO-type crimes, such as Hitler did and for which Hitler’s subordinates were hanged after foreign powers took over. (Hitler, of course, committed suicide.) Nor were Bush’s subordinates investigated for that. Obama has protected them all. If Hillary Clinton becomes President, she certainly won’t instruct her Attorney General to investigate either Bush’s crimes or Obama’s crimes (such as his protection of his predecessor from even being investigated for his numerous crimes). But would Sanders? If he wouldn’t, then no one would, and then there is no chance for the U.S. peacefully to become a democracy, because there will then remain two classes of people in the U.S. — the aristocrats and their agents (such as the U.S. Presidents they place into office) on the one hand, and the public on the other. (The law is applied against only the latter group, the public.) If this ongoing succession of criminal Presidents who let their predecessors off the hook continues, then unquestionably the United States is a land where crimes that are committed by the nation’s leadership are not and will not be prosecuted; so, it’s then an established dictatorship, because the nation’s leaders stand, and will continue to stand, above the law, and the law is applied only to punish and restrain the people down below in the social order.

Furthermore, as I first documented in a 2004 book and repeated in an 18 April 2015 online article, with documentation to the sources both times, George W. Bush definitely did lie (intentionally deceive) America into invading Iraq. At a 7 September 2002 joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he was asked, “Q Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear — new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?” and he answered that a “new report … came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.” Immediately, the IAEA denied that they had issued any such “new report” at all, or had any evidence that Iraq after 1998 had restarted their WMD program, but the President never paid any attention to their statement denying his statement, nor did the U.S. press — they ignored this exposure of an obvious fabrication by the U.S. President. It was the only clear and outright lie by Bush (assisted by the compliant U.S. press) regarding WMD in Iraq as the ‘justification’ for invading Iraq. Others of Bush’s numerous ‘misstatements’ on WMD could be attributed to the CIA (and Bush never fired his CIA Director, even after he blamed the CIA after-the-fact when no WMD were found to be in Iraq), but this one was instead attributed to the IAEA — which they promptly denied to be true. Bob Woodward repeatedly said things like “A mistake certainly can be argued, and there is an abundance of evidence. But there was no lying in this that I could find.” But Woodward couldn’t find it because, like other ‘journalists,’ he didn’t even ask the IAEA about Bush’s allegation which they had promptly denied. U.S. ‘journalists’ (actually stenographers for the U.S. Government) reflexively trust U.S. Government sources, and the IAEA isn’t part of the U.S. Government (they’re neither Democrats nor Republicans) — so, they just ignored it (even though it’s what Bush in that statement had referred to as his source).

So: Bush unquestionably did lie his nation into invading Iraq. Under the precedent that was established at the Nuremberg Tribunals following WW II, that’s a hanging offense — and Germans were hung for such war-creating lies, back then. Obama’s refusing to apply accountability for that hanging crime by Bush has made Obama an accessory after-the-fact, selectively not applying the law regarding his predecessor’s enormous crime of aggression against another sovereign nation, which had posed no threat to the U.S., and, even under Bush’s lies wasn’t clearly indicated to constitute an invasion-worthy threat to the United States. The entire Bush Administration had to lie through their teeth in order to invade Iraq — and they did. And now, Obama is part of their crime.

On 26 March 2014, I headlined “Obama Definitely Lied About Having Intent to Prosecute Banksters,” and I linked to the sources on that. Although Obama was truthful when he told the assembled banksters in private that he would block any prosecution of them, he lied in public when he said the exact opposite: that he would “hold accountable those who broke the law” regarding those mortgage-backed securities and deceptions against both mortgagees and outside investors.

Subsequently, I listed and documented the following three categories of areas of crime that will need to be investigated and prosecuted regarding Barack Obama: (1) Torture. (2) Protecting Banksters. (3) Perpetrating Ethnic Cleansing Abroad.

On top of that, Ted Rall bannered, on 17 February 2015, “Obama Destroyed Libya,” and documented that “What he did to Libya is as bad as what Bush did to Iraq.” So: there really is no basis on which the question of which of those two U.S. Presidents was the worse can easily be answered. And, on top of that, Obama’s international ‘trade’ deals will produce even more damage to the public (and more benefit to the aristocracy) than Bill Clinton’s did.

Those might seem to be crimes by Republicans — they’re so far to the right — but under Obama they have also become crimes by Democrats. Our entire Federal Government is thus now what one reasonably expects from a dictatorship. We even have the type of press that one expects in a dictatorship.

If this country does not stop being a dictatorship as soon as the next President enters office, and prosecutions start against the prior two Presidents and their officials, then only a violent second American Revolution will stand any realistic possibility of restoring American democracy, and the sham pretenses that this country is a ‘democracy’ should simply end. Lying doesn’t do any good for anybody, except psychopaths. It’s doing lots of good for them. And that’s why it should stop, right now. We don’t need to wait for the next President for that.

There is no excuse for continuing the lying. None at all.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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