Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fukushima: The Extinction-Level Event That No One Is Talking About

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In 2011, A massive earthquake of 9.0 magnitude struck just off the coast of Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami, which left parts of the country in shambles. Official reports claim that 15,891 people lost their lives, 6,152 were injured and 2,584 were reported missing.

Japan is a nation full of nuclear reactors which produce almost 30% of the nation’s electricity. The majority of operable reactors are located across the coast, in one of the most seismically active areas of the planet!



The devastating tsunami caused complete devastation of three of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi facility, the cores of which melted withing the first three days.

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The destroyed reactor sites have been dumping hundreds of tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean, every single day for the past four years, the results of which are obvious. Radioactive cesium rapidly contaminates and ecosystem and poisons the entire food chain, and this waste offshoot has been detected in Japanese food supplies over a 200-mile radius of the Daiichi facility.

Cesium along with other radioactive waste products are bio-accumulative, meaning they accumulate in an organism at a rate faster than the organism can eliminate it. The Japanese government and TEPCO have of course, lied about the amount of radioactive waste that has been leaking into the Pacific.

TEPCO has admitted that between “20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium may have leaked into the sea since the disaster.” Since it’s been shown over and again, that TEPCO repeatedly lied and covered up the true extent of the disaster, that number is most likely far greater.

Naohiro Masuda, the decommissioning chief of the Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning Company, also stated that the technology does not exist to remove the highly radioactive debris from the damaged reactors:




It has been claimed that decommissioning the plant by 2051 may be impossible without huge leaps in technological advancement. It has also been estimated that the plutonium fallout has been 70,000 times greater than Hiroshima.

Have you ever heard any of this discussed by the mainstream media? I know I haven’t, it is all one huge cover-up! TEPCO has repeatedly lied and covered up the true extent of the disaster.

Childhood cancer rates, particularly, thyroid cancer.

Official sources have said repeatedly that there is no danger from the leaking radiation, but the environment would beg to differ. Sea life all along the west coast of the United States has been dying in alarming numbers, and many fish and sea creatures tested off the west coast have shown extremely high amounts of radioactivity, amounts that exceed the safety limits.


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In 2013, the Huffington Post reported that massive amount of krill washed up along the west coast in a 250-mile stretch from Oregon to California. Krill is an essential part of the ocean’s food chain. When marine life on the low end of the food chain begins to die off, the larger animals that feed off the marine life starve to death.

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Massive amounts of starfish have appeared along the west coast that have literally turned to mush. USA Today reported it, but of course they claim that no one knows why. It might have something to do with the fact that the Pacific has become a toxic, nuclear waste dump?

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98% of the sea floor of the Pacific is covered with dead sea life. But of course, global warming takes the blame by default.

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“In the 24 years of this study, the past two years have been the biggest amounts of this detritus by far,” said marine biologist Christine Huffard, who works at the research station off of California. “Multiple other stations throughout the Pacific have seen similarly alarming increases.”

In Nov, 2014, Ken Buesseler, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution claimed:

“My biggest concern is what’s going on in Japan today, and how that might make its way across to our coast. We know it’s still leaking because we’re measuring higher levels off Japan to this day.Even just the basic question, ‘How much radioactivity was released at Fukushima?’ I can’t answerthat today. We may never be able to because of the lack of sampling, particularly in the ocean.”

An experienced, veteran sailor by the name of Ivan Macfadyen, who has sailed the Pacific taking part in races, stated in an interview that:

“It’s dead…for thousands of miles there was nothing [between US and Japan] like sailing in a dead sea…everything’s all gone. Just talking about it makes me feel like I want to cry. No birds, no fish, no sharks, no dolphins, no turtles, nothing.”

Truthfully, nobody knows how to contain the radioactive leaks, so the Japanese govt. and TEPCO do the next best thing, they lie and downplay the real dangers. The time for humanity to collectively wake up and come together is here and now. We cannot put off this mess, and leave it for future generations to clean up.

The Slide Toward War With Russia

In recent weeks, tensions have risen to a truly dangerous level. We must renew dialogue now.

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In recent weeks, US-Russian relations have reached a perhaps fateful and exceedingly dangerous turning point, provoked by growing tensions on multiple overlapping fronts. The CIA is reportedly readying a “cyber covert action” in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee, with Vice President Joe Biden declaring that the administration will be “sending a message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin “at the time of our choosing.” The Clinton campaign has denounced Putin for “trying to put his thumb on the scale through cyber-attacks aimed at influencing the election.”

Such a series of overt threats against Russia is almost without precedent. Ominously, many in the Russian political elite see this as a prelude to war. As Moscow’s UN ambassador observed, relations are “probably the worst since 1973.” (At the height of that year’s Arab-Israeli conflict, US military forces were placed at DEFCON 3, the second-highest level of alert.) Russia just staged a civil-defense drill involving up to 200,000 personnel and has deployed nuclear-capable missiles to its European enclave in Kaliningrad. Putin has also withdrawn from a long-?standing nuclear-security pact with the United States; in defense of the suspension, his administration pointed to a “radical change in circumstances, the emergence of a threat to strategic stability as a result of hostile actions of the United States of America.”

The saber rattling comes amid news that the most recent round of talks to achieve a cease-fire in Syria has ended without progress, even as the war there enters a new and more dangerous phase (though it appears that the talks will continue). After the collapse of the September 9 cease-fire agreement, the carnage in eastern Aleppo escalated to horrifying levels, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling for a war-crimes investigation of the Russian and Syrian governments.

Now the bipartisan war party in Washington sees an opening to push President Obama toward a military solution. The State Department, the CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been examining military options, even as prominent figures—including, most worryingly, Hillary Clinton—have stepped up calls for the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria. The assumption seems to be that escalation would be a consequence-free choice, but nothing could be further from the truth. ?Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has warned that a no-fly zone would require hundreds of US military personnel and would cost up to $1 billion a month. Also, Russia has deployed highly sophisticated S-300 and S-400 antiaircraft systems in Syria, and its defense ministry has warned Washington against carrying out air strikes on Syrian regime forces. The unavoidable fact is that the establishment of a no-fly zone is a recipe for direct war with Russia, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the entire planet.

Throughout the 2016 campaign, the establishment media have crafted a narrative in which one can accuse Russia of virtually anything. Accusations of Russian hacking and electoral interference are still largely unsubstantiated, but high-profile Clinton surrogates like former CIA directors Michael Morrell and David Petraeus tirelessly promote what MIT professor emeritus Theodore Postol has described as “another serious and unjustified escalation of empty but highly dangerous rhetoric from the US side against Russia.” Those who dissent from the narrative are often unfairly smeared as Trump supporters, leading to the squelching of debate.

The Nation has long argued that “no modern precedent exists for the shameful complicity of the American political-media elite” in the rush to a new Cold War. As German Foreign Minister Frank-?Walter Steinmeier recently observed, “It is an illusion to believe this is the old Cold War. The new times are different; they are more dangerous.” For that reason, said Steinmeier, “the USA and Russia must continue talking with each other.”

We call for an end to brinkmanship and a return to the hard but necessary work of diplomacy before it is too late. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who along with President Reagan worked to end the first Cold War, urged the two sides to “return to the main priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, fighting terrorism and prevention of global environmental disasters.” Said Gorbachev, “We need to renew dialogue.” We agree, and we urge Presidents Obama and Putin to do so at once.

How Power Works

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Heather Ann Thompson’s book “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy” is a detailed study of the inner workings of America. The blueprint for social control employed before and after the crushing of the Attica revolt is the same blueprint used today to keep tens of millions of poor people, especially poor people of color, caged or living in miniature police states. Thompson meticulously documents the innumerable ways the state oppresses the poor by discrediting their voices, turning the press into a megaphone for government propaganda and lies, stoking the negative stereotypes of black people, exalting white supremacy, ruining the lives of people who speak the truth, manipulating the courts and law enforcement, and pressuring state witnesses to lie to obstruct justice. Her book elucidates not only the past but also the present, which, she concedes, is worse.

“America by the early twenty-first century had, in disturbing ways, come to resemble America in the late nineteenth century,” Thompson writes near the end of her book. “In 1800 the three-fifths clausegave white voters political power from a black population that was itself barred from voting, and after 2000 prison gerrymandering was doing exactly the same thing in numerous states across the country. After 1865, African American desires for equality and civil rights in the South following the American Civil War led whites to criminalize African American communities in new ways and then sent record numbers of blacks to prison in that region. Similarly, a dramatic spike in black incarceration followed the civil rights movement—a movement that epitomized Attica. From 1965 onward, black communities were increasingly criminalized, and by 2005, African Americans constituted 40 percent of the U.S. prison population while remaining less than 13 percent of its overall population. And just as businesses had profited from the increased number of Americans in penal facilities after 1870, so did they seek the labor of a growing captive prison population after 1970. In both centuries, white Americans had responded to black claims for freedom by beefing up, and making more punitive, the nation’s criminal justice system.”

On Sept. 9, 1971, prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York rebelled in the face of intolerable conditions. They were sick of the racist-fueled violence of the white, rural guards; angry at poor medical care and the dearth of vocational and educational programs; underfed (the prison allocated only 63 cents a day to feed a prisoner); unhappy about their mail being censored, or destroyed if it was in Spanish; living in poorly ventilated cells with little or no heat or stifling heat; unable to buy basic commissary items on salaries that averaged 6 cents a day; and tired of being given only one bar of soap and one roll of toilet paper a month and allowed only one shower a week.

The uprising was not premeditated. It took place when prisoners, trapped inadvertently by guards in a tunnel that led to the yard, thought they were going to be given another beating by sadistic correction officers. The spontaneous uprising took place “because ordinary men, poor men, disenfranchised men, and men of color had simply had enough of being treated as less than human,” Thompson writes.

Four hundred fifty prisoners had previously staged a peaceful sit-down strike in the prison’s metal shop to protest wages that, as a witness later testified at a New York state hearing, were “so low that working at Attica [was] tantamount to slavery.” Prisoners had formed committees and sent respectful letters to prison authorities asking them to address their concerns. The requests were largely ignored. Despite authorities’ promises that there would be no retribution, those who organized the protests were put in isolation or transferred to other prisons. The callousness of the officials was especially unconscionable in light of the fact that the state had netted huge sums for sales of products made by the prisoners.

After three days of negotiations, in which the prison authorities refused to grant the rebellious prisoners amnesty, 550 New York state troopers, 200 sheriff’s deputies and numerous Attica prison guards were issued high-powered weapons, including rifles loaded with especially destructive bullets that expanded on impact, bullets banned in warfare under the Geneva Conventions. The prisoners had no firearms. The assault force members were fed a steady diet of lies and unfounded rumors to stoke their hatred of the prisoners. Black radicals were coming, they were falsely told, to the town of Attica to kidnap white children, a rumor that led to the closing of the schools.

Through clouds of CS gas, the assault force stormed the yard, where some 1,200 prisoners held 42 guards and civilian staff members. It unleashed a blizzard of gunfire, shooting 130 people. Twenty-nine prisoners and nine hostages died. (One guard beaten by prisoners in the first moments of the uprising died later in a hospital.)

The assault force, which had done all the killings that day, immediately began to hide evidence of its crimes. State officials told the press outside the prison that seven or eight of the hostages had died when the prisoners slit their throats. They claimed that the genitals of one of the guards were cut off and stuffed in his mouth. These reports were untrue, but they dominated the news coverage.

Meanwhile, inside the retaken institution, many prisoners were suffering from gunshot wounds that would not be treated for days. Some were stripped and made to run gantlets in which they were beaten by guards with ax handles, baseball bats and rifle butts. Those singled out as the leaders of the rebellion were marked with Xs on their backs, forced to crawl through mud, tortured and in few cases, it appears, executed.

New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and the Nixon White House feared that the rebellion presaged armed revolution. The scores of dead and wounded were, for them, a message to the rest of the country—defy us and we will kill you. Today, any citizen who seriously resists the corporate state can expect the same response.

Thompson writes, “All of those assembled in the president’s office agreed that while the morning’s events made a particularly ‘gruesome story,’ news of the slashings and castration would go a long way toward discrediting America’s ‘bleeding hearts’ like ‘the Tom Wickers of the world.’ ‘I think this is going to have a hell of a salutary effect on future prison riots,’ Nixon said. ‘Just as Kent State [the May 4, 1970, shooting by National Guardsmen of unarmed students that left four dead and nine wounded] had a hell of a salutary effect. … They can talk all they want about force, but that is the purpose of force.’ ”

The avalanche of government lies permeates the narrative—not a surprise to anyone who has reported on the inner workings of power or spent time in our prisons and marginal communities.                                     

There are heroes in the narrative. Their fate, which is almost universally bleak, is also instructive. The prisoner Sam Melville, who was serving an 18-year sentence in Attica for setting off explosives in government buildings to protest the Vietnam War, who taught classes to other inmates and who researched prison operations to show how the institution cruelly exploited prisoner labor for profit, was executed by guards after the uprising, according to other prisoners. So, apparently, was Elliot “L.D.” Barkley, who was in prison for violating parole by driving without a license and who, although he was only 21, was one of the most articulate spokespeople for the prisoners. Prisoners such as Frank “Big Black” Smith, savagely tortured by guards after the uprising, and Bernard “Shango” Stroble rose up majestically during the revolt to protect hostages and maintain order, and they fought for justice long after their release from prison. Civil rights attorneys such as Ernie Goodman and William Kunstler came to the prisoners’ defense.

A few within the governmental system exhibited rare moral courage. Among them were Dr. John Edland of the Monroe County medical examiner’s office, who refused to falsify autopsy reports and told the public that the hostages had been killed by state gunfire; Attica guard Michael Smith, who defied his own fraternity to speak the truth about state abuse; and government attorney Malcolm Bell, who exposed the state cover-up of the killings by the state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and prison guards. However, most who knew the truth remained silent.

Edland was especially singled outfor condemnation. He was attacked as incompetent by state officials and called a clown and, although a Republican, a radical left-winger. (State troopers were dispatched to local funeral homes to prevent morticians from informing families of the cause of death of hostages.) Edland received death threats and other hate mail, was shunned by the local community and saw state troopers menacingly idle their automobiles in front of his home. Edland called the day he released the autopsy findings “the worst day of my life.”

When the state decides to isolate, discredit and crush you it has innumerable ways to do so. The press often is manipulated. Employers blacklist you. A gullible population is made to believe the caricature of you as a traitor or an enemy. Such smear campaigns are now directed against Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

New York State Police Capt. Henry “Hank” Williams oversaw the investigation into the 1971 assault. This meant that, in Thompson’s words, “the main investigators of the crimes of Attica were those who may well have committed them.” Williams made sure that “nothing related to the shooting—shell casings, the weapons themselves—was collected.” No chalk outlines, usually required at a crime scene, were drawn to indicate where the bodies had fallen. No calculations were made regarding bullet trajectories. The yard where the killings took place was cleaned up under Williams’ supervision as quickly as possible.

Prisoners were threatened with violence or indictment if they refused to incriminate the leaders of the uprising. The goal was not justice; it was to punish and isolate the prisoner leadership and protect law enforcement.

“When strong-arm tactics still proved ineffective,” Thompson writes concerning one interrogation, “they switched their approach: should this witness help them, investigators suggested, they would, in turn, help him get paroled. In addition to enticing the witness with the possibility of parole, they also promised to make prison life easier for him in the meantime.”

Scores of prisoners were indicted in connection with the uprising; only one member of the assault force was charged, with a minor offense. The state’s entire case when it went to the courts was built on a scaffolding of lies designed to exonerate the assault force and punish prisoner leaders. Jurors, who saw doctored films and photographs, never knew they were being presented with fabricated and tainted evidence, including photos of crude knives that had been planted next to slain prisoners. Witnesses recited stories fed to them by government investigators.

The state has never admitted wrongdoing for the Attica assault, and important parts of the record—autopsies, ballistics reports, trooper statements, and depositions—remain sealed nearly five decades later. Thompson stumbled onto Attica files in the Erie County courthouse and the New York State Museum, but since her discovery, she writes, they have vanished or “been removed from anyone’s view.” 

“American voters ultimately did not respond to this prison uprising by demanding that states rein in police power,” she concludes. “Instead they demanded that police be given even more support and even more punitive laws to enforce.

“Indeed, the 1960s and 1970s were all about the politics of the ironic. At the Democratic National Convention protests of 1968, Kent State in 1970, and Wounded Kneein 1973, unfettered police power each time turned protests violent, and yet, after each of these events, the nation was sent the message that the people, not the police, were dangerous. Somehow, voters came to believe that democracy was worth curtailing and civil rights and liberties were worth suspending for the sake of ‘order’ and maintaining the status quo.”

Though immediately after the Attica uprising there were minor reforms, these improvements were soon rolled back. Conditions in prisons today are worse than those that led to the 1971 revolt. Control of prison populations is more brutal, more sophisticated and more inhumane. It is doubtful that the press, unlike at Attica in 1971, would ever be allowed inside a prison during an uprising to air the voices of the prisoners.

Much of the worst damage was done during the Clinton administration. President Bill Clinton signed into law, with Republican support, the draconian 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. It provided $9.7 billion to build more prisons. By 1995 the prison population exceeded 1 million. It would soon double.

“The fact that so many of these people now in prison had been arrested because they were drug addicts, mentally ill, poor, and racially profiled concerned few if any politicians, whether in a statehouse or in Washington, D.C.,” Thompson writes. “Then, to make sure that this now enormous group of the incarcerated did not resist their deteriorating conditions of confinement via the nation’s legal system as they had done so effectively both before and after the Attica uprising, in 1996 legislators passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).”

The PLRA made it difficult and often impossible for prisoners to use the courts to protect their Eighth Amendment right not to endure cruel and unusual punishment.

The New York Times columnist Tom Wicker, who was part of the negotiating team that tried to resolve the Attica uprising without bloodshed, singled out white fear as the central issue in the 1971 case. “White fear fixed itself upon the literal presence of black human beings. Black people, to whites, were the symbolic representation of the evil in man and thus were also the handy instruments by which white people could hold themselves symbolically innocent of that evil.” Wicker concluded, “The heart of the matter was the fear of blackness.”

This white fear remains unexamined in America. It allows us to stand by passively and watch the daily murders by police of unarmed black men and women. It allows us to maintain a prison system that holds a staggering 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the majority of them poor people of color. This white fear condemns us as a nation. It perpetuates the evil of white supremacy. Poor people of color have been robbed of the most elemental forms of justice and basic constitutional rights. But the state, in the age of deindustrialization, has no intention of stopping there. These forms of social control, so familiar to poor people of color, will bear upon all of us.

The Ruling Elite Has Lost the Consent of the Governed

Brimming with hubris and self-importance, the ruling Elite and mainstream media cannot believe they have lost the consent of the governed.
 
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Every ruling Elite needs the consent of the governed: even autocracies, dictatorships and corporatocracies ultimately rule with the consent, however grudging, of the governed.
The American ruling Elite has lost the consent of the governed. This reality is being masked by the mainstream media, mouthpiece of the ruling class, which is ceaselessly promoting two false narratives:
1. The "great divide" in American politics is between left and right, Democrat/Republican
2. The ruling Elite has delivered "prosperity" not just to the privileged few but to the unprivileged many they govern.
Both of these assertions are false. The Great Divide in America is between the ruling Elite and the governed that the Elite has stripmined. The ruling Elite is privileged and protected, the governed are unprivileged and unprotected. That's the divide that counts and the divide that is finally becoming visible to the marginalized, unprivileged class of debt-serfs.
The "prosperity" of the 21st century has flowed solely to the ruling Elite and its army of technocrat toadies, factotums, flunkies, apparatchiks and apologists.The Elite's army of technocrats and its media apologists have engineered and promoted an endless spew of ginned-up phony statistics (the super-low unemployment rate, etc.) to create the illusion of "growth" and "prosperity" that benefit everyone rather than just the top 5%.
The media is 100% committed to promoting these two false narratives because the jig is up once the bottom 95% wake up to the reality that the ruling Elite has been stripmining them for decades. As I have tirelessly explained, the U.S. economy is not just neoliberal (the code word for maximizing private gain by any means available, including theft, fraud, embezzlement, political fixing, price-fixing, and so on)--it is neofeudal, meaning that it is structurally an updated version of Medieval feudalism in which a top layer of financial-political nobility owns the engines of wealth and governs the marginalized debt-serfs who toil to pay student loans, auto loans, credit cards, mortgages and taxes--all of which benefit the financiers and political grifters.
The media is in a self-referential frenzy to convince us the decision of the century is between unrivaled political grifter Hillary Clinton and financier-cowboy Donald Trump. Both belong to the privileged ruling Elite: both have access to cheap credit, insider information (information asymmetry) and political influence.
The cold truth is the ruling Elite has shredded the social contract by skimming the income/wealth of the unprivileged. The fake-"progressive" pandering apologists of the ruling Elite--Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and the rest of the Keynesian Cargo Cultists--turn a blind eye to the suppression of dissent and the looting the bottom 95% because they have cushy, protected positions as tenured faculty (or equivalent).
They cheerlead for more state-funded bread and circuses for the marginalized rather than demand an end to exploitive privileges of the sort they themselves enjoy.
Consider just three of the unsustainably costly broken systems that enrich the privileged Elite by stripmining the unprivileged: healthcare (a.k.a. sickcare because sickness is profitable, prevention is unprofitable), higher education and Imperial over-reach (the National Security State and its partner the privately owned Military-Industrial Complex).
While the unprivileged and unprotected watch their healthcare premiums and co-pays soar year after year, the CEOs of various sickcare cartels skim off tens of millions of dollars annually in pay and stock options.
The system works great if you get a $20 million paycheck. If you get a 30% increase in monthly premiums for fewer actual healthcare services--the system is broken.
If you're skimming $250,000 as under-assistant dean to the provost for student services (or equivalent) plus gold-plated benefits, higher education is working great. If you're a student burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt who is receiving a low-quality, essentially worthless "education" from poorly paid graduate students ("adjuncts") and a handful of online courses that you could get for free or for a low cost outside the university cartel--the system is broken.
If you exit the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, etc. at a cushy managerial rank with a fat pension and lifetime benefits and are hired at a fat salary the next day by a private "defense" contractor--the famous revolving door between a bloated state and a bloated defense industry--the system works great. If you joined the Armed Forces to escape rural poverty and served at the point of the spear somewhere in the Imperial Project--your perspective may well be considerably different.
Unfortunately for the ruling Elite and their army of engorged enablers and apologists, they have already lost the consent of the governed. They have bamboozled, conned and misled the bottom 95% for decades, but their phony facade of political legitimacy and "the rising tide raises all boats" has cracked wide open, and the machinery of oppression, looting and propaganda is now visible to everyone who isn't being paid to cover their eyes.
Brimming with hubris and self-importance, the ruling Elite and mainstream media cannot believe they have lost the consent of the governed. The disillusioned governed have not fully absorbed this epochal shift of the tides yet, either. They are aware of their own disillusionment and their own declining financial security, but they have yet to grasp that they have, beneath the surface of everyday life, already withdrawn their consent from a self-serving, predatory, parasitic, greedy and ultimately self-destructive ruling Elite.

AT&T Spying on Americans for Profit, New Documents Reveal

'If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future'
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Telecommunications giant AT&T is spying on Americans for profit and helped law enforcement agencies investigate everything from the so-called war on drugs to Medicaid fraud—all at taxpayers' expense, according to new reporting by The Daily Beast.

The program, known as Project Hemisphere, allowed state and local agencies to conduct warrantless searches of trillions of call records and other cellular data—such as "where a target is located, with whom he speaks, and potentially why"—for a massive range of investigations, the Beast's Kenneth Lipp reports. In one case examined by the news outlet, a sheriff's office in Victorville, California used Hemisphere to track down a homicide suspect.

Hemisphere was first revealed by the New York Times in 2013, but was described at the time as a "partnership" between AT&T and drug enforcement agencies used in counter-narcotics operations.

Neither, it turns out, is entirely true.

Lipp writes:
AT&T's own documentation—reported here by The Daily Beast for the first time—shows Hemisphere was used far beyond the war on drugs to include everything from investigations of homicide to Medicaid fraud.
Hemisphere isn’t a "partnership" but rather a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers. No warrant is required to make use of the company's massive trove of data, according to AT&T documents, only a promise from law enforcement to not disclose Hemisphere if an investigation using it becomes public.
The details were revealed as AT&T seeks to buy out Time Warner in a mega-merger that media watchdogs are warning would create "dangerous concentrations of political and economic power."

Evan Greer, campaign director at the digital rights group Fight for the Future, said Tuesday, "The for-profit spying program that these documents detail is more terrifying than the illegal [National Security Agency] surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed. Far beyond the NSA and FBI, these tools are accessible to a wide range of law enforcement officers including local police, without a warrant, as long as they pay up."

"It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it," Greer said.

While the government can request that private companies hand over user data, the documents show that AT&T went above and beyond to make the operation profitable, Lipp writes. ACLU technology policy analyst Christopher Soghoian told the Beast, "Companies have to give this data to law enforcement upon request, if they have it. AT&T doesn't have to data-mine its database to help police come up with new numbers to investigate."

And because the contract between the telecom company and the U.S. government stipulates only that agents not speak about Hemisphere if a probe using it becomes public, investigators may be left with no choice but to create a false narrative to explain how they obtained certain evidence, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) attorney Adam Schwartz.

"This document here is striking,” Schwartz told Beast. "I've seen documents produced by the government regarding Hemisphere, but this is the first time I've seen an AT&T document which requires parallel construction in a service to government. It's very troubling and not the way law enforcement should work in this country."

"At a minimum there is a very serious question whether they should be doing it without a warrant. A benefit to the parallel construction is they never have to face that crucible. Then the judge, the defendant, the general public, the media, and elected officials never know that AT&T and police across America funded by the White House are using the world's largest metadata database to surveil people," he said.

Greer added: "Customers trusted AT&T with some of their most private information, and the company turned around and literally built a product to sell that information to as many government agencies and police departments as they could. Not only did they fail to have any safeguards to prevent unauthorized use of the data, they actually required law enforcement to keep the program secret and dig up or fabricate other evidence, to hide the fact that they'd received information from AT&T."

Fight for the Future called on AT&T to shut down the program and on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Hemisphere and reveal all the cases in which it was used.

"If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future," Greer said.

Budgeting the Good War, for 75 Years

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World War II never quite ended — it morphed.

Today we call it the status quo, or endless war, or we just don’t bother to notice it. Indeed, now more than ever we don’t notice it. It’s barely part of the 2016 election, even though we’re engaged in active conflict in half a dozen countries, toying with a relaunch of the Cold War with Russia and, of course, hemorrhaging, as always, more than half our annual discretionary budget on “defense.”

World War II has been going on for seven decades now and has no intention of ever stopping . . . of its own volition. But this year’s rocking electoral craziness — not just Hurricane Donald, but the unexpected staying power of the Bernie Sanders campaign — may well be the harbinger of transcendence. Apparently there’s another force in the universe capable of standing up to the American, indeed, the global, military-industrial status quo.

Slowly, slowly this force is organizing itself and taking human shape. This isn’t a simple process. After all, the game of empire — the game called war, the game of domination — has been coalescing political power for several thousand years now.

But our current military budget was birthed by the wars of the 20th century. William Hartung, writing recently at TomDispatch, shows the fascinating connectedness of the wars that followed VE and VJ Days, as the corporate beneficiaries of the Big War aligned with mainstream politicians of both major parties and coalesced into the Washington consensus. Over the decades they have engaged in an ongoing struggle to maintain military spending at breathtakingly high levels and avoid any sort of transition to something called peace.

The two pillars of this consensus, as Hartung points out, are the ideology of “armed exceptionalism,” that a shifting array of enemies are out there itching to destroy us, but we will persist in our mission to maintain order in every corner of the planet; and the “strategic placement of arms production facilities and military bases in key states and Congressional districts,” ensuring entrenched political power for the arms lobby.

So World War II initially, as we know, morphed into the Cold War, America’s crusade against communism, which was set into motion in 1950 by a long-classified report (NSC-68) prepared by the State and Defense departments and the CIA, urging the vigorous containment of Soviet expansion and the development of the hydrogen bomb.

President Truman “was somewhat taken aback at the costs associated with the report’s recommendations,” according to history.com, and “he hesitated to publicly support a program that would result in heavy tax increases for the American public, particularly since the increase would be spent on defending the United States during a time of peace.”

Peace! What a nuisance! But: “Thank God Korea came along,” as an aide to Secretary of State Dean Acheson put it at the time. The Korean War gave the militarists the enemy they needed and the nuclear arms race, and so much else, was born. The military budget was set for decades.

As Hartung points out, the next terrible hurdle the budget boys faced was in the wake of the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. That war, and the universal draft that essentially pulled the whole country into a front-row seat for it, spawned a passionate antiwar movement and, ultimately, a moldering national disgust for war, known as Vietnam Syndrome. The Cold War continued, but the U.S. military was confined to proxy wars for a while and had to rethink its strategy.

Two things happened. The universal draft was ended, removing most of the American middle class from a life-and-death stake in our military operations; and Saddam Hussein, our ally, was recast as Adolf Hitler. And in 1991, President George H.W. Bush embarked on a month of war with Iraq known as Operation Desert Storm. Not only did the U.S. “win” this war and kill over 100,000 Iraqis (and ultimately cause hideous health problems for American soldiers), but, perhaps most importantly: “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.” So the president proclaimed.

Unfortunately for the war consensus, the Soviet Union dissolved a short time later and the Cold War ended . . . and a “peace dividend” loomed. Hartung notes that Gen. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed the situation thus: “I’m running out of demons. I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il-sung.”

Would military spending be diverted to infrastructure repair, free education, universal health care?

Well, no. The Bill Clinton presidency found a few new demons. It fought a war in Kosovo and, on the domestic front, vastly expanded the prison-industrial complex. Meanwhile, the neocon think tanks cogitated and one of them, the Project for a New American Century, reflecting the fact that geopolitical thinking had stopped with World War II, decided that what America needed was a new Pearl Harbor. And then came the presidency of George W. Bush, 9/11, and the Global War on Terror. And the U.S. military budget was carved, seemingly, in stone.

Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 on the promise of serious change, but any hope that he intended to upend W’s wars was soon dispelled. He dumped the name but kept the wars, essentially settling “for a no-name global war,” Hartung writes. “He would shift gears from a strategy focused on large numbers of ‘boots on the ground’ to an emphasis on drone strikes, the use of Special Operations forces, and massive transfers of arms to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia. . . . (O)ne might call Obama’s approach ‘politically sustainable warfare.’”

And here we are, immersed in a no-name global war that has no logical end and few serious critics in the world of mainstream media and politics. But maybe the American democracy is not the closed system it’s supposed to be.

For instance, John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus, points out that Donald Trump, in all his fun-house recklessness, is shaking up the consensus: “Democrats and Republicans disagree about many things. But with a few exceptions they all support an enormous military budget, an expensive overseas expeditionary force, and unilateral acts of force when necessary to protect U.S. national interests (understood broadly).

“It’s an odd paradox that Trump, who blathers on about making America great again, departs from this consensus.”

He won’t win, and he shouldn’t win for a million reasons, but in his recklessness he has touched the raw anger of a sizable chunk of the American electorate. Sanders, speaking with compassion and integrity and delivering a far different message, managed to tap the same well of public outrage. And, as Feffer noted, “the mainstream is worried that the political parties will realize that the ‘bring the war dollars home’ message can win a national election and disrupt the comfortable revolving-door consensus.”

And World War II will finally end? Not this year, but maybe four years from now, if we refuse to let the war consensus have any peace in the interim.

In secret Goldman Sachs speeches, Clinton explains why the rich should rule

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In one question-and-answer session on October 24, 2013 at Goldman Sachs, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein in attendance, an audience member asked the current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the following question: “And Mike Bloomberg had 30 billion other reasons than to take office. Do we need a wholesale change in Washington that has more to do with people that don’t need the job than have the job?”
Clinton’s answer was revealing. “That’s a really interesting question,” she said. “You know, I would like to see more successful business people run for office. I really would like to see that because I do think, you know, you don’t have to have 30 billion, but you have a certain level of freedom. And there’s that memorable phrase from a former member of the Senate: You can be maybe rented, but never bought. And I think it’s important to have people with those experiences.”
Clinton’s response is an open defense of the aristocratic principle: the rich should rule. By virtue of being very wealthy, the rich have the leisure time to pursue a political career. Moreover, they supposedly have immunity from being bribed, since they are already so wealthy. Finally, they have the “experience in business” necessary to preside over a social system that benefits the social layer which appropriates all the profits from business and finance. These are sentiments that any 18th or 19th century aristocrat would recognize and embrace.
Clinton merely echoes, in a more crude form, the patrician arrogance of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (1830-1903), whose views were summed up by historian Barbara Tuchman:
He did not believe in political equality. There was the multitude, he said, and there were the “natural” leaders. “Always wealth, in some countries birth, and in all countries intellectual power and culture mark out the man to whom, in a healthy state of feeling, a community looks to undertake its government.” These men had the leisure for it and the fortune, “so that the struggles for ambition are not defiled by the taint of sordid greed… They are the aristocracy of a country in the original and best sense of the word… The important point is that the rulers of a country should be taken from among them,” and as a class they should retain that “political preponderance to which they have every right that superior fitness can confer.”
Clinton’s argument that her own wealth entitles her to govern America is an argument also made repeatedly by Donald Trump, who touts his own billions as a reason he will remain immune to “special interests.”
The “former member of the Senate” to whom Clinton was apparently referring was John Breaux, a Louisiana Democrat who held office from 1987 to 2005. Considered one of the most conservative Democrats ever to take office, Clinton’s role model went on to pursue a lucrative lobbying career at the firm Squire Patton Boggs. His name is synonymous with Washington’s corrupt “revolving door.”
On Saturday, WikiLeaks published the transcripts of three lavishly paid speeches given by Clinton at gatherings held by Goldman Sachs, dating from June 4, October 24 and October 29, 2013. All three feature a mix of groveling before the financial malefactors who hired her to speak and gloating over her own wealth.
In one of her secret Wall Street speeches, Clinton frankly admitted that she has a “public position” and a “private position.” The private position is expressed in “backroom discussions,” while the “public position” consists of the lies she tells to the rest of the population.
The fact that Clinton addressed the notorious investment bank in the first place highlights the extent to which the American corporate, financial and political establishment is drenched in corruption and criminality. In April 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report entitled “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse.” This report exhaustively documented that the financial crash of 2008 and the recession that followed were the product of fraud and illegality on the part of mortgage lenders and banks such as Goldman Sachs, with government regulatory bodies as well as credit rating agencies serving as accessories.
Forty percent of the 639-page report, or some 240 pages, were devoted to the fraudulent and deceptive practices of Goldman Sachs. The report presented documents, emails, internal communications and other evidence showing that the largest US investment bank had sold billions of dollars in subprime mortgage-backed securities to investors, vouching for their value, even as it was betting that the investments would fail. Goldman made billions and CEO Blankfein and other top executives pocketed millions in bonuses by accelerating the collapse of the financial system.
Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee, famously described how the investigation had uncovered “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.”
“Using their own words in documents subpoenaed by the subcommittee,” Levin said, “the report discloses how financial firms deliberately took advantage of their clients and investors, how credit rating agencies assigned AAA ratings to high-risk securities, and how regulators sat on their hands instead of reining in the unsafe and unsound practices all around them. Rampant conflicts of interest are the threads that run through every chapter of this sordid story.”
So when Clinton was hobnobbing with Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein in 2013, while investigations of wrongdoing by Goldman and the other Wall Street banks were still ongoing, she was consorting with a man who belonged in prison. In 2011, Levin had recommended that the Justice Department criminally prosecute Blankfein for his fraudulent and deceptive conduct, and the Senate subcommittee charged that he had perjured himself in testimony in 2010 regarding his bank’s role in the financial crash. Nevertheless, no charges were brought, and in 2013 Clinton was accepting upwards of $225,000 per speech from Blankfein’s firm.
Hillary and Bill Clinton have accumulated a total of $153 million in speaking fees since Bill Clinton left the White House. Only the very naive could believe that these vast sums were paid for the speeches themselves. They were payment for services rendered to the American financial aristocracy over a protracted period.
Clinton’s Wall Street speeches deserve to be widely read. They provide an invaluable first-hand education in the sheer cynicism of the American ruling class. While the Obama administration publicly insisted that the Dodd-Frank reforms of 2010 were “strict regulations” that would ensure that the 2008 crash would “never happen again,” Clinton privately told her Goldman audience not to worry, that these cosmetic reforms had to be passed for “political reasons,” to provide the appearance that the government did not “sit idly by and do nothing” as people lost their jobs, homes and life savings.
When Blankfein snidely asked Clinton how, should he decide to run for president, he should conduct his campaign, Clinton responded with her own cynical joke. “I think you would leave Goldman Sachs and start running a soup kitchen somewhere,” Clinton replied, to the merriment of the assembled guests.
The response to the publication of these speeches by so-called “socialist” Bernie Sanders exposes the utterly fraudulent character of his entire presidential bid. While he postured during the Democratic Party primaries as a proponent of a “political revolution” against the “billionaire class,” Sanders now functions shamelessly as a sideshow for the Clinton campaign, browbeating his (now much smaller) audiences with admonitions to vote for the preferred candidate of the “billionaire class” he claimed to oppose.
During his run for the Democratic nomination, Sanders repeatedly called on Clinton to release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches, which she refused to do. He charged that the speeches would show her subservience to the bankers. Now, transcripts have been leaked to the public, completely substantiating his accusations. His silence only underscores the depth of his political treachery and dishonesty.
Meanwhile, emails published by WikiLeaks to and from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, reveal the consummate cynicism with which Hillary Clinton sought to portray herself as a champion of “everyday Americans,” small businesses, unionized workers, minorities and women. Having no connection whatsoever to any popular movement or any policies that have benefited the bottom 90 percent of American society, Clinton relies on a network of “community leaders,” union bureaucrats, academics, celebrities and media “surrogates,” who use empty demagogy and identity politics to market her brand to voters.
In one particularly Machiavellian email, one of Clinton’s aides discussed adding a “riff” of demagogic statements against Wall Street in a speech to Deutsche Bank in 2015, “precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those fat cats.”
“I wrote her a long riff about economic fairness and how the financial industry has lost its way,” the aide wrote. “Perhaps at some point there will be value in sharing this with a reporter and getting a story written. Upside would be that when people say she’s too close to Wall Street and has taken too much money from bankers, we can point to evidence that she wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power.”
In another email, Podesta frankly noted that Clinton hated the phrase “everyday Americans,” but Podesta urged her to use it anyway. “I know she has begun to hate everyday Americans, but I think we should use it once the first time she says I’m running for president because you and everyday Americans need a champion,” Podesta wrote.
The cynicism of Clinton’s campaign knows no bounds. Her staff actually worked to help Donald Trump secure the Republican nomination, believing that Clinton would have a better chance of defeating Trump in the election than a more conventional Republican candidate. The media was encouraged to “take him seriously,” and Clinton was urged to single Trump out for criticism in order to “help him cement his front runner status” among the Republican primary candidates.
Around 11,000 out of 50,000 emails obtained by WikiLeaks have been published. The Clinton campaign’s response to these exposures has been to blame Russia, in line with the Obama administration’s campaign of saber-rattling against the Putin administration. In an interview last weekend on Fox News, Podesta suggested that the emails were not authentic, while simultaneously (and inconsistently) arguing that the emails were acquired by “the Russians,” who are supposedly attempting to deliver the election to Donald Trump.
On Friday, Podesta taunted WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange with a picture of a number of uniformed chefs preparing a luxurious private dinner for the Hillary Victory Fund. “I bet the lobster risotto is better than the food at the Ecuadorian Embassy,” Podesta wrote as the caption to the photograph on Twitter, referring to the fact that Assange has been a de facto prisoner at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since he sought asylum there in June 2012. Assange immediately replied, “Yes, we get it. The elite eat better than the peasants they abuse.”