Woody Harrelson: ‘I’m an anarchist’

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Posted on 25th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Via USA Today

NEW YORK — Give Woody Harrelson a piece of yarn, and he’ll knit you a full-on, multicolored sweater. Here’s his take on playing crafty mentor Haymitch Abernathy sober, as opposed to falling-down drunk in the past two Hunger Games films.

“I wanted to give him a little more of a tortured expression: Jesus Christ, sobriety! Honestly, when I was first playing him — I will generally go over the top if allowed,” says Harrelson, who credits directorial restraint for his more muted performance in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 (opens today in select cities and Friday nationwide). “A guy who’s an alcoholic, a lot of times you have no idea they’re drunk.”

One heavy drinker of Harrelson’s acquaintance, “he was big on grapefruit and vodka, with very little grapefruit. He could carry the thing and never spill a drop. He was so functional. It was impressive. He has since passed. He was a good character.”

In a sense, Harrelson, 53, is the epitome of Haymitch, the shambling former games champion who hides a pointed intelligence and canniness under a cloak of cluelessness. But don’t be fooled by Harrelson’s at-times dopey grin, or apparent obtuseness, or his oft-referenced penchant for controlled substances — which came up last weekend in his Saturday Night Live opening dialogue, when he had trouble recalling 1989.(“The memories are a little fuzzy, because of the drugs,” he joked, ​referencing the past 25 years.)

Director Francis Lawrence says Harrelson kept him at arm’s length when he signed on for the second installment of the four-part film series, replacing Gary Ross. Lawrence (no relation to series star Jennifer Lawrence) called up each cast member to introduce himself and give them his take on the material.

“Woody took the longest time to connect with me,” says Lawrence. “His trust has to be earned. I had to fly to New York to see his play Furthest From the Sun and hang out at his apartment. It took a while.”

Their partnership bears dark, violent fruit in Mockingjay, with Harrelson’s Haymitch now clean, sober and bitter about leaving the booze in his past. He’s still mentoring freedom fighter Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in her quest to overthrow the totalitarian regime of Panem.

Though Harrelson’s onscreen time in this movie isn’t hefty, “he’s very central,” the director says. “He’s betrayed Katniss and he has to make amends.”

And Harrelson himself understands Katniss’ unwillingness to live by rules that are meaningless to her.

“I’m an anarchist. You’ve got to defy certain unnecessary rules. But there are certain very good rules around traffic that are not adhered to in this town. I’m one of the idiots breaking them,” says Harrelson, who rode to this interview on his motorcycle, with his wife, Laura, sitting behind him. “For the important ones, I’m always on target. I had precious cargo in the back. That’s not even funny.”

Harrelson lives mostly in Hawaii with his wife and three daughters, staying largely out of the spotlight. So how does his rebelliousness manifest itself?

“I don’t believe in government. In other words, I think we can all look after ourselves. You want some mechanism that controls the traffic, absolutely. But generally, what the government accomplishes, 99% of that is (expletive),” he says. “I look at government as businessmen working for bigger businessmen. There’s obvious things — don’t steal, the Ten Commandments. There’s what we call victimless crimes. In my opinion, if you don’t actually have a victim who’s a human being, someone who’s been hurt or their property has been hurt, there’s no crime.”

Those are the values he instills in his brood: Deni, 21; Zoe, 18; and Makani, 8. His daughters don’t give him special treatment because he’s buddies with Lawrence, or one of the stars of one of the decade’s most lauded and profitable movie franchises.

“If that’s what made me a cool dad, I don’t know how much I’d respect them. It shouldn’t be any external factor that determines that,” he says. “But they do like it. They’re so immune to all this. They don’t live in L.A. They watch the movies, and they are great about it, but they don’t get caught up in things the way a lot of kids do.”

FLAMES OF FREEDOM

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Posted on 25th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy

The Only Way to Stop the Empire

12 comments

Posted on 25th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Guest Post by Dmitry Orlov

Dear friends,

The final days of US empire are fast approaching. Perhaps its end will pass slowly and gradually, or perhaps the event will unfold rapidly and catastrophically. Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly. This nobody knows, but the end of empire is coming as surely as day follows night and sun follows rain. Overexpansion, overreach and over-indebtedness will take their toll—as all past empires have discovered. Empires are like bacteria in a Petrie dish; unthinking, unseeing, unfeeling, they expand until they run out of food or contaminate their environment with their waste, and then they die. They are automatons, and they just can’t help it: they are programmed to expand or die, expand or die, and, in the end, expand and die.

What does the empire feed on? It feeds on money and fear; your money and your fear, both obtained with your cooperation. It is bigger now than when it faced an actual adversary in the Soviet Union. Russia is no adversary; all it wants is to be a normal country, at peace with the world. But the empire won’t let it, will it? It must create enemies. Who are our enemies? According to the authors of endless war they are North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Islamic terrorists. Are any of them actually capable of threatening the US? Well, yes, but they are all quite easy to deter. But the plan of the authors of endless war is not to deter them; it is to back them into a corner with political instability and sanctions, while whipping up the population on both sides into fear-filled frenzy.

We all know that the US military-industrial complex has become a self-perpetuating and uncontrollable organism, just like Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in 1961. Everyone knows the phrase and Eisenhower’s warning—it is part of our collective memory. At a trillion dollars a year and growing, with over 1000 bases ringing the planet, it has expanded far beyond what Eisenhower could have imagined in his worst nightmare. We can’t say we didn’t know: he warned us. After the National-Socialist episode in Germany, many good Germans voiced regrets at not speaking up, claiming that they didn’t know what was being done in their name. But we do not have that excuse: we all knew all along.

Nor was it the first time we were warned. General Smedley Butler told us before, in 1933, and his words are still with us, posted online. Why is it that everyone, generals included, suddenly gain wisdom immediately upon reaching retirement? Butler offered an explanation: his “mind was in suspended animation while serving as a soldier and following orders.” In 1933 Butler told us that he “was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” He said:

“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912…I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”

This empire is nothing new, and we knew what it is and what it does all along. We can’t say we didn’t know. We have watched throughout our lives as the US put down every popular uprising against local autocrats and oligarchs, placed countries under US control, then helped organize and train the death squads that killed off the opposition. Think of Indonesia, Argentina, or Honduras. We watched as the empire crushed every democratic government that threatened US business interests under the false pretext of “anti-communism,” starting with Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and proceeding to Congo, Haiti (numerous times), and most notably and infamously Chile in 1973 (assassinating president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973), Nicaragua in the 1980’s, and many, many others. (For details see William Blum’s Killing Hope.) And of course, many of us lived through the epic lies and genocide of millions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the so-called “Vietnam War.” We knew, we watched, and we paid taxes that paid for the bullets and the bombs.

More recently we’ve seen the barefaced lies of empire laid out for all to see in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Georgia, Pakistan, Yemen, Ukraine… they never end! But the trouble we stir up in other places never seems to come home and ring our doorbell, does it? Maybe that’s why it keeps on going. We think that we can just ignore it and go on with our lives—that it won’t affect us. Or does it?

Let’s leave aside the destruction of democracy that always accompanies a militarized, fascist police state that the US has gradually turned into. And let’s ignore the violence that pervades US society, or the vast gulag of incarceration that disposes of our useless eaters. Consider that the only military attack on US soil that actually scored a palpable hit since Pearl Harbor was 9/11. Pearl Harbor was on the periphery, way out in the Pacific, “A Day that will live in Infamy,” the more so since FDR knew it was coming and did all he could to provoke it by cutting Japan off from oil supplies, directly provoking it into launching the attack. But Hawaii is the periphery while 9/11 struck at the heart of the empire, the financial center in New York that drives the imperial wealth pump, and the Pentagon, which is charged with the mission of US world domination.

Whether you believe that 19 Arabs armed with box cutters who couldn’t fly propeller planes took down 3 World Trade buildings that plummeted straight down at the speed of freefall in what looked like controlled demolition (yes there were 3, look up “Building 7”), and destroyed a section of the Pentagon, or whether you believe it was an inside job, doesn’t matter. The point is, in that act of destruction, the wars of the empire finally came home.

What was the result? Did these events cause us to reconsider what we are doing? Of course not! Instead, we went all-in for war. Remember, the empire is an automaton, a self-perpetuating organism, living on money and fear. What better way to whip up fear than to stage, or to allow, or to simply fail to prevent, an attack on the “homeland”—which is, by the way, a Nazi propaganda term. The purpose of war is simply to cause more war, since it is so profitable for the badly misnamed “defense industry.” Butler told us in 1933 that “war is a racket,” and documented massive war profiteering during WWI. Do you know how much money Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon et al. are making from the “War on Terror”? The sums are astronomical.

As you read these words, the empire is busy doing its work in Ukraine. Here is how that works. First, it overthrows the elected government in a US-backed coup. Next, it directs its local puppet regime to unleash a military attack and organize death squads to deal with the population in the east that won’t go along with the US-backed coup, in this case using actual Nazi-branded death squads, complete with Nazi SS Insignias. (Anyone can verify these facts with the most cursory internet search.) And for the final, consummate imperialist touch, it votes in the UN (together with Canada) against a resolution condemning the Ukrainian Nazis and other racist murderers, while the Europeans shamefacedly abstain. This sort of plan used to work really well, and so the empire keeps repeating it over and over again, even though the results are worse every time.

Vast numbers of Americans support the empire’s wars of conquest because they help maintain their lavish lifestyles. They bother some of us more than others. Many of us are adamantly against them, but only a few find it emotionally unbearable to countenance the destruction of millions of lives in our names and with our money. What makes them different? Who knows, you would have to ask a psychologist.

The question for those who oppose endless war is, What have we done about it? A mass movement in the 1960’s that added up to an uprising by a vast segment of society perhaps had something to do with ending the conflict in Vietnam. In spite of these protests, the empire was able to extend the war by an extra five years all the way to 1973, when it agreed to end it on the same terms that had been offered in 1968 to Nobel “peace laureate” Henry Kissinger. There has been no significant anti-war protest since then, and certainly none that succeeded in preventing or ending war. Why?

First, the draft was ended. This put an end to the involvement of average US families in the wars of empire, and therefore ending the requirement for consent of the governed. The strategists realized that the draft was a disaster for the empire. The new, much better and cheaper way to procure cannon fodder for the endless war is to enlist the children of the underclass, by using economic oppression in order to deprive them of any other means of advancement except military service.

Second, the military has been outsourced and privatized, requiring even less involvement by US families in the military, and less need for their consent. “You’re all volunteers, so shut up” is the attitude.

Third, the vastly increased scope of domestic spying by the NSA and other government agencies has helped keep everyone under control and stifle dissent.

Fourth is the tight government/corporate control of the US media, which has become consummately successful in brainwashing and propagandizing the population.

Finally, there is the war on whistleblowers and journalists who expose the truth, from Tom Drake to William Binney, Sibel Simons, Jesselyn Radack, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. If necessary, the police, who are vastly more militarized than in the past, together with national guard troops, can squash any dissent like a bug. All these measures ensure that efforts at reform pursued through legal, nonviolent means such as voting, protest, civil disobedience, civil resistance, etc. will have absolutely no effect. The only action that can possibly stop the empire in its tracks is cutting off its food supply—the tax money on which it lives. We have to starve the beast through divestment, capital expatriation, tax resistance, tax refusal and tax revolt. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig told us this flat out in the 1980’s when, being confronted with huge protests over US Central American policy, he said: “Let them protest all they want as long as they pay their taxes.” Truer words were never uttered by a US official. Is there any evidence to contradict his statement? Has any other measure had any impact on the war machine? The honest answer is no. Millions of people around the world protested before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These protests were ignored. No amount of protest or other efforts can stop it, because it doesn’t cut off the empire’s food supply of money and fear. Only by cutting off its funds by not paying taxes can we stop the empire.

Many have said that the US doesn’t need tax money as it survives on endless debt. Yes, the empire lives on debt, but the ability to sell debt is based on the bond rating of US treasury bonds. Most recently in June, 2014 S&P gave the US a AA+ rating with “stable outlook.”

If there is any doubt about the US credit rating, the ability to sell debt to continue financing the empire comes into question. The ability to collect taxes is what maintains the US bond rating. Any reduction of the US bond rating, and interest rates have to go up in order to continue attracting more investment. Then the interest on the debt balloons out of control and becomes unrepayable—never mind the principal, which they have no intention of ever paying back. By the way, the Tea Party’s efforts to shut down government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling was helping this effort for a time, although for different reasons. They thought that the welfare system is bankrupting the country. This is a laughable claim, because welfare spending looks negligible when compared to military spending. Still, they did manage to lower the bond rating for a time. Shutting down the federal government is a step in the right direction, and since in recent years only the Tea Party has managed to do it, lets give them some credit

If the US became unable to reliably collect taxes, then its ability to finance the empire with debt would be diminished, and the US would have to turn to increasing taxes—another politically unpalatable choice, especially in the age of the Tea Party, when the empire’s main constituency is dead-set against more taxes. So it is absolutely clear that the only thing that could stop the empire is a tax revolt. It wouldn’t even have to be that big; the slightest question about the ability of the federal government to collect taxes could reduce the bond rating. Even a minor reduction could raise interest rates enough to make the US debt unrepayable.

Let’s get down to brass tacks: How do you avoid paying taxes, when the IRS withholds our salaries, and the tables are rigged to withhold about 15% more than necessary on average, so 80% of people get a refund? Did you think that this is a coincidence? No, this is a one-year interest-free loan to the empire from taxpayers. But it’s actually quite simple not to pay taxes. Get a W-4 form, write EXEMPT in the space provided, and turn it in to your friendly HR office. Your employer is not allowed to change it unless directed by the IRS. Normally they have no reason to question it.

Here’s what happened last time it was tried on a big scale. In 2007, Code Pink joined the War Resisters League to organize a national project for war tax refusal, to “Stop Bush’s Wars.” This was not a true tax revolt, just more or less a referendum on how many people would potentially support withholding a portion of their taxes owed, even a token amount. The online petition asked people if they would be willing to commit to withhold some of their taxes, even $1, if 100,000 other people would agree to do the same. Out of the US population of 316 million, how many people do you think signed it? About 2,000. So you see, there is not much evidence that people will do the only thing that could stop the empire: a true Tea Party tax revolt.

What this implies is that the empire will continue to churn along, and debt will continue to build up, because any other approach to paying for it is not feasible, and therefore collapse is inevitable. The aftermath of collapse is unpredictable; maybe there will be a soft landing, maybe not. But unless you are willing to engage in some form of tax revolt, collapse is inevitable. You will get to live with the results: stage a tax revolt now, or face collapse later.

Are you sure you want to take your chances on collapse? The results of a personal tax revolt are predictable: retribution with penalties and interest from the IRS; living in fear of having your salary, your property, even your house seized, or worse, your door broken down by federal agents (although these extreme measures don’t happen too often, they happen often enough to instill fear). Perhaps there would be loss of income, or even your job. Losing one’s job often leads to depression, divorce, drug or alcohol abuse, etc. So you may prefer collapse after all: loss of your savings, no heat, electricity or trash removal, shops looted or closed, armed gangs roaming the streets… Your choice!

On the other hand, collapse might go well! Hope springs eternal in the optimistic American heart. We are (or used to be) the “can-do” people. Maybe we can-do collapse better than anyone else? Doubtful though if you read Dmitry Orlov’s Collapse Gap presentation.

The results of collapse later are likely to be worse then the effects of tax revolt now. Especially, since the IRS takes years to catch up to exempt W-4 forms, and it would be even harder to crack down if it were being was done en masse. But it’s perfectly understandable if you opt to do nothing now and suffer no consequences, while engaging in ineffective protest to assuage your conscience. You probably have a family to support, an expensive hobby, or some other excuse. So you decide to take your chances with collapse later. After all, collapse might turn out OK for you! This psychology is quite understandable. I truly hope that collapse will be as painless as you wish it will be, but somehow I doubt it. Good luck though! Whatever happens, you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your life—be it long or short.

Signed, expat and long-time conscientious tax refuser, Gary Flomenhoft.

QUOTES OF THE DAY

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Posted on 25th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

“Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long as individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.”

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and opressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson

“The means of defence against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

James Madison, Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison

“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”

Jeff Cooper, Art of the Rifle

THE FUN BEGINS AT 9:00 PM

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Posted on 24th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Looks like we could have an early Black Friday. I hear the deals at the looted stores across our urban ghetto kill zones will be a real steal. Will this verdict be an excuse for a race of people to steal, loot and act like thugs? Or will they peacefully protest the verdict and act like human beings? I’m sure our president will calm his voters down with his teleprompter words of wisdom. He surely won’t question the verdict of the grand jury. Right?

If the grand jury votes to indict the officer will white people around the country riot, loot and create havoc?

Let’s see who acts civilized this evening.

Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Due At 9ET, School District Closed Tomorrow, Protests Spreading – Live Feed

Tyler Durden's picture

The Grand Jury result will be announed at 9ET…

Live Feed (via NBC)

 

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Crowds are gathering

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UPDATE: The Ferguson School District has been closed for tomorrow.

 

And protests are spreading


Having quietly got married this weekend, the 28-year-old Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson – who fatally shot unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August – will discover shortly after 5pmET today if he will stand trial for Brown’s death after the grand jury verdict is released by the St.Louis prosecutors office. As Brown’s lawyer previously noted “ninety-nine percent of the time the police officer is not held accountable for killing a young black boy,” Crump said. “The police officer gets all the consideration.” Dragging the decision out over the weekend has some fearing it has merely stoked tensions, and protests have already been arranged for later this evening. Police, as we previously noted, are prepared; and the White House has reiterated their call for calm. After-school activities in Ferguson have been cancelled (somewhat suggesting the outcome is not what Ferguson residents are hoping for).

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We shall see shortly…

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Some background color from ABC


More ABC US news | ABC World News

The Grand Jury

 

Locals are preparing

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Perhaps something to consider…

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Could be a long night…

 

Maybe the preparation was worth it…

 

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Media is in Ferguson en masse

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Not everyone agrees with the decision…

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A timeline of key events following the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. (via FOX)

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AUG. 9 — Brown and a companion, both black, are confronted by an officer as they walk back to Brown’s home from a convenience store. Brown and the officer, who is white, are involved in a scuffle, followed by gunshots. Brown dies at the scene, and his body remains in the street for four hours in the summer heat. Neighbors later lash out at authorities, saying they mistreated the body.

AUG. 10 — After a candlelight vigil, people protesting Brown’s death smash car windows and carry away armloads of looted goods from stores. In the first of several nights of violence, looters are seen making off with bags of food, toilet paper and alcohol. Some protesters stand atop police cars and taunt officers.

AUG. 11 — The FBI opens an investigation into Brown’s death, and two men who said they saw the shooting tell reporters that Brown had his hands raised when the officer approached with his weapon and fired repeatedly. That night, police in riot gear fire tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a crowd.

AUG. 12 — Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson cancels plans to release the name of the officer who shot Brown, citing death threats against the police department and City Hall.

AUG. 14 — The Missouri Highway Patrol takes control of security in Ferguson, relieving St. Louis County and local police of their law-enforcement authority following four days of violence. The shift in command comes after images from the protests show many officers equipped with military style gear, including armored vehicles, body armor and assault rifles. In scores of photographs that circulate online, officers are seen pointing their weapons at demonstrators.

AUG. 15 — Police identify the officer who shot Brown as Darren Wilson, 28. They also release a video purporting to show Brown robbing a convenience store of almost $50 worth of cigars shortly before he was killed, a move that further inflames protesters.

AUG. 16 — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declares a state of emergency and imposes a curfew in Ferguson.

AUG. 17 — Attorney General Eric Holder orders a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown.

AUG. 18 — Nixon calls the National Guard to Ferguson to help restore order and lifts the curfew.

AUG. 19 — Nixon says he will not seek the removal of St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch from the investigation into Brown’s death. Some black leaders questioned whether the prosecutor’s deep family connections to police would affect his ability to be impartial. McCulloch’s father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty when McCulloch was a child, and he has many relatives who work in law enforcement.

AUG. 20 — Holder visits Ferguson to offer assurances about the investigation into Brown’s death and to meet with investigators and Brown’s family. In nearby Clayton, a grand jury begins hearing evidence to determine whether Wilson should be charged.

AUG. 21 — Nixon orders the National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson.

SEPT. 25 — Holder announces his resignation but says he plans to remain in office until his successor is confirmed.

SEPT. 25 — Ferguson Chief Tom Jackson releases a videotaped apology to Brown’s family and attempts to march in solidarity with protesters, a move that backfires when Ferguson officers scuffle with demonstrators and arrest one person moments after Jackson joins the group.

OCT. 10 — Protesters from across the country descend on the St. Louis region for “Ferguson October,” four days of coordinated and spontaneous protests. A weekend march and rally in downtown St. Louis draws several thousand participants.

OCT. 13 — Amid a downpour, an interfaith group of clergy cross a police barricade on the final day of Ferguson October as part of an event dubbed “Moral Monday.” The protests extend beyond Ferguson to sites such as the nearby headquarters of Fortune 500 company Emerson Electric and the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis, site of a Monday Night Football game between the St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers.

OCT. 21 — Nixon pledges to create an independent Ferguson Commission to examine race relations, failing schools and other broader social and economic issues in the aftermath of Brown’s death.

NOV. 17 — The Democratic governor declares a state of emergency and activates the National Guard again ahead of a decision from a grand jury. He places the St. Louis County Police Department in charge of security in Ferguson, with orders to work as a unified command with St. Louis city police and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

NOV. 18 — Nixon names 16 people to the Ferguson Commission, selecting a diverse group that includes the owner of construction-supply company, two pastors, two attorneys, a university professor, a 20-year-old community activist and a police detective. Nine of its members are black. Seven are white.

NOV. 24 – Grand Jury finds…

60 MINUTES INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT WAS CORPORATE PROPAGANDA

15 comments

Posted on 24th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I rarely if ever watch 60 Minutes, as they have been kissing Obama’s ass since before he was elected in 2008. They are part of the left wing media and are now a joke when it comes to investigative journalism. Last night it came on after the football game I was watching and the opening story was about the infrastructure crisis in this country. I thought I’d give it a chance. After five minutes of propaganda, mistruths, false story lines and interviewing an ultimate insider hack lobbyist for corporate America, I turned on a more realistic truth telling show – The Simpsons.

Every time a politician or media pundit opens their mouth about infrastructure you know they are lying. Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty of misleading the public about this issue. They know the sheep aren’t paying attention and will believe their bullshit. The mantra is always the same. We’ve neglected our roads and bridges and now they are dangerous. The Federal government must do something about this crisis. They need more money. Somehow we managed to not spend any money on our highways for the last 30 years. The politicians and the media insist we need a trillion dollar infrastructure plan to save our highways and bridges. Amazingly, these politicians and media outlets are supported by contributions and advertising revenue from the corporations who would benefit from a massive infrastructure bill.

The reason our roads suck isn’t because there isn’t ENOUGH money. It’s because politicians chose other things to spend OUR money on. Here is the deal. The states spend in excess of $200 billion per year on their highways. The Feds spend another $50 billion of your money on roads. Most of these funds are extracted from your pocket through gasoline taxes and tolls at the State and Federal level. How come $250 billion per year isn’t enough? The Keynesian morons like Krugman and Larry Summers are sure a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan paid for with your money will stimulate the economy and save America. If I recall, the $800 billion Obama porkulus infrastructure program was about shovel ready jobs. How did that work out? The fact is the federal government is only responsible for 140 thousand miles of road or 3.4%, largely roads in national parks, military bases and Indian reservations. Roads are a State and local issue. Local governments are responsible for maintaining and improving 3.17 million miles of road or 77.5% of the total. State highway agencies are responsible for 780 thousand miles of road, or 19.1%.

There are 4 million miles of roads in the U.S., with only 2.6 million miles that are paved. We are paying almost $100 per mile per year. The Federal Highway Administration tracks the state of repair on 892,163 miles of major highways that are eligible for federal aid. In 2012, the latest data available, the FHWA found that 182,872 miles, or 20.5%, were in poor or mediocre condition and needed repaving or even more substantive repairs.  The nation’s Interstate Highways are in relatively good condition, with only 1.8% of rural miles and 5.0 percent of urban miles in poor or mediocre repair. Other highways, however, are in much worse shape, particularly in urban areas where more than one third of all arterial and collector miles are in poor or mediocre condition.

The Federal Highway Administration‘s 2013 National Bridge Inventory shows that 146,598, or 24.2%, of the nation’s 605,471 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. This includes 63,207 structurally deficient bridges (10.4%), which are safe to use but need significant maintenance or repair to remain in service, and 83,391 functionally obsolete bridges (13.8%) which may be in good repair but fail to meet current design standards, such as lane width, shoulder width or overhead clearance and thus need to be upgraded when they are replaced. In recent years, state and local highway agencies have been investing heavily in bridge maintenance and repairs. As a result, bridge conditions have been improving. Between 1998 and 2012, the number of deficient bridges fell from 29.5% to 24.2%. The improvement was concentrated in structurally deficient bridges, which declined from 16.0% of all bridges to 10.4%.

The roads I travel every day have been under some form of construction for the last six years. There is no lack of activity on roads and bridges in the U.S. If $250 billion per year isn’t enough than politicians shouldn’t have pissed their budget funds away on worthless education initiatives, free school lunches, outrageous government worker pension plans, free shit for the masses, tax breaks for mega-corps, and a myriad of other wasteful corrupt spending. Every State and local government in the country is required to have a balanced budget. As a homeowner, I know that as my house ages things will break and need to be replaced or repaired. Everyone knows this will happen. It isn’t a shock. I’ve lived in my house for 19 years. I’ve had to replace my garage doors, windows, front door, back door, hot water heater, faucets, lighting, sump pump, washer, dryer, stove, dishwasher, TVs and many other household items. I have always anticipated these things in my budget and made sure I could pay for them.

Politicians who run our State and local governments know the expected life of highways, water pipes, sewer pipes, utilities, public buildings, and all the other infrastructure they are required to maintain on behalf of the citizens. They do a budget every year that must balance and be approved. It is they who have purposely chosen to not set aside enough money to maintain the infrastructure. They have chosen to spread the money to their benefactors in the corporate world or the union sector. This is not a crisis for the country. This is a failure of government at every level. Instead of focusing on the terrible management of taxpayer funds, 60 Minutes interviews Roy LaHood (former Secretary of Transportation) who declares that Congress needs to dramatically increase spending and taxes for infrastructure. Everyone wants MOAR.

LaHood sells himself as a noble patriot co-chairman of Building America’s Future, a bipartisan coalition of current and former elected officials that is urgently pushing for more spending on infrastructure. The faux journalists at 60 Minutes fail to reveal that LaHood has two other jobs that deal with infrastructure. LaHood is Senior Advisor to Meridiam Infrastructure, a private equity underwriter (PEU) specializing in infrastructure and Senior Advisor to law firm DLA Piper, a lobbying firm for infrastructure companies. The guy is a whore for corporations that would benefit from your taxpayers being pissed away on bloated construction projects.

Here is the reality of our infrastructure crisis:

  • Gas taxes and tolls were supposed to pay for highway maintenance. Now general tax revenues are also being funneled to union contractors and no bid contracts which make every infrastructure project 30% or more over priced.
  • At least 25% of federal gas tax funds are diverted to non-highway uses including maintaining sidewalks, funding bike paths, and creating scenic trails. Congress allocates highway money to truck parking facilities, safety incentives to prevent operation of motor vehicles by intoxicated persons, grants for anti-racial profiling programs, magnetic levitation trains, and dozens of other non-road activities.
  • Money allocated to public transit in our urban kill zones has increased by 1,000% since 1978 and ridership is flat to down in most cities. The cities have the worst streets and the Democratic leadership has funneled their budgets to government and teacher’s unions, along with free shit for their voting constituents. They could have spent their budgets on 100 year old sewer pipes and water pipes that burst on a daily basis, but that wouldn’t get them votes.
  • There are dozens of PA Dept of Transportation executives sitting in prison today. It is the most corrupt agency in PA and probably in all the other states. Kickbacks for contracts is rampant. Every construction job is a union job. The union premium is 30%. But, at least they are slow. No bid contracts and payoffs add another 20% to every infrastructure project. Politicians do nothing about this. It’s the game. They need jobs when they leave office. Ask Roy LaHood.

60 Minutes is nothing but another propaganda outlet for the vested interests. They don’t want the system to change. They just want more of your money. The entire Infrastructure Crisis Storyline is a scam.

“It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.”  ― P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government

British and American Security Services Pass Around Our Nude Photos … While Protecting Pedophiles

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Posted on 24th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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George Washington's picture

The British spy agency GCHQ and the NSA collected millions of webcam images … many of them nude.

NSA employees routinely pass around nude photos and videos of everyday normal citizens gathered through mass surveillance.

They say: “Trust us, we won’t misuse any nude images.”  They say: “We’re the good guys … just trying to stop bad guys.”

But the British security services allegedly helped to cover up widespread pedophelia in Britain.  Indeed, a whistleblower alleges that the British security services supported and funded pedophile rings as a way to blackmail establishment figures.

Something similar may have happened in the U.S.  Yahoo News reported in 2010:

A 2006 Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation into the purchase of child pornography online turned up more than 250 civilian and military employees of the Defense Department — including some with the highest available security clearance — who  used credit cards or PayPal to purchase images of children in sexual situations. But the Pentagon investigated only a handful of the cases, Defense Department records show.

 

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But the DCIS opened investigations into only 20 percent of the individuals identified, and succeeded in prosecuting just a handful.

What about the other 80 percent?  Were they blackmailed?

Yahoo continues:

Without greater public disclosure of how these cases wound down, it’s impossible to know how or whether any of the names listed in the … papers came in for additional scrutiny.

 

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According to the records, DCIS prioritized the investigations by focusing on people who had security clearances — since those who have a taste for child pornography can be vulnerable to blackmail and espionage.

 

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At least some of the people on the … list with security clearances were never pursued and could possibly remain on the job ….

The NSA also tracks people’s porn-viewing habits in order to discredit activists.  The NSA also keeps nude and suggestive photos of people in order to blackmail them.

Bill Binney – the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, a 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees, an expert on spying by the Soviets – told Washington’s Blog:

This is just one of the ways to make controlling people possible.  Standard KGB/Stasi tactics.

Should we really trust these people? Are they the good guys?

U.S. Postal Service ‘mail imaging’ program used for law enforcement, surveillance

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Posted on 24th November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Via Police State USA

Law enforcement granted unfettered access to individuals’ mail patterns without warrants.

(Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

The U.S. Postal Service runs a massive dragnet surveillance program of all the mail in the United States; enabling law enforcement to generate profiles of associations and contacts of every American.

Two key programs play a role in the surveillance. The first is called “Mail Imaging.” As the name suggests, the program involves taking a digital photograph of every piece of physical mail that crosses through the USPS. The images provide a permanent record of the source and destination addresses posted on all packages and letters in the country.

The scope of the program is absolutely huge. The New York Times reported that about 160 billion pieces of mail were scanned in 2012.

Ostensibly, the Mail Imaging program is used to sort mail. However, law enforcement agencies are regularly granted access to this data without even the requirement of obtaining a warrant. The massive trove of data can be used to profile individuals and gather intelligence on their private lives. For example, the government can glean who the individual corresponds with; who the individual does business with; who sends the individual birthday cards; who sends the individual monthly bills; who the individual contracts for legal services.

A second program, called the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) program is engaged when there is special interest in a targeted individual. Reportedly, the program allows law enforcement to “track or investigate” the contents of mail connected to specific people.

An audit performed by the USPS Office of the Inspector General concluded that few safeguards (not warrants) that exist were not faithfully applied to the program. As often as 20% of the law enforcement surveillance requests were not properly approved, the audit revealed. The lax system was recently described in a report by Politico:

Meanwhile, some of the safeguards set up to catch these shortcomings were missing: The Postal Service wasn’t regularly conducting the annual reviews required by federal rules.

While many Americans have abandoned so-called snail mail for most of their communications, the auditors found the Post Office issued 49,000 mail cover orders in the past fiscal year. And postal workers were often slow to stop recording and sending data on mail even after those orders expired: The audit found 928 covers considered “active” even though the orders for them had expired.

“There are a lot of mail covers, but they don’t seem to be very careful about following their own rules,” said Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies.

The mail imaging and surveillance program was secretly established in 2001 and not publicly revealed for over a decade. The extents of the surveillance are still not fully known, because anything considered to be related to “national security” is evidently held secret and not subject to FOIA disclosure requests. The Times elaborated:

The mail cover surveillance requests cut across all levels of government — from global intelligence investigations by the United States Army Criminal Investigations Command, which requested 500 mail covers from 2001 through 2012, to state-level criminal inquiries by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which requested 69 mail covers in the same period. The Department of Veterans Affairs requested 305, and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security asked for 256. The information was provided to The Times under the Freedom of Information request.

Postal officials did not say how many requests came from agencies in charge of national security — including the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection — because release of the information, wrote Kimberly Williams, a public records analyst for the Postal Inspection Service, “would reveal techniques and procedures for law enforcement or prosecutions.”

The secrecy behind the activities of key federal agencies is disconcerting. Traditionally, warrants were required to physically open mail, but that check and balance has been eroded during the rise of the War on Terror. President George W. Bush asserted in a signing statement on the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act on December 20, 2006, that authorities had the power to conduct “physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.”

It is unknown to what extent the federal government is opening mail for intelligence collection, because the courts have broadly allowed government secrecy on national security issues.

The various mail surveillance programs employed by the USPS and law enforcement agencies leaves us with the conclusion that privacy in the mail is tenuous at best. The massive dragnet holds similarities to that of the NSA in its effort to track the digital and telephone communications of every American.

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