The United States may be a nation deep in debt, but you'd never guess, with stores still ringing in the takings. But it's the credit card firms who're making the killing, with shoppers weighing heavy on the plastic. RT's Anastasia Churkina met Reverend Billy - a man with a mission to break the American addiction to shopping.
Friday, December 31, 2010
There are fresh demonstrations in Madrid against severe budget cuts as the country tries to reduce its massive debt. Spain has been tipped as the next Eurozone economy at risk of needing a bailout, but some say it could be too big to save. RT talks to Jim Corr, a political activist and musician from the Irish band the Corrs.
Espionage Act: How the Government Can Engage in Serious Aggression Against the People of the United States
By Naomi Wolf (Huffington Post)
This week, Senators Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein engaged in acts of serious aggression against their own constituents, and the American people in general. They both invoked the 1917 Espionage Act and urged its use in going after Julian Assange. For good measure, Lieberman extended his invocation of the Espionage Act to include a call to use it to investigate the New York Times, which published WikiLeaks' diplomatic cables. Reports yesterday suggest that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder may seek to invoke the Espionage Act against Assange.
These two Senators, and the rest of the Congressional and White House leadership who are coming forward in support of this appalling development, are cynically counting on Americans' ignorance of their own history -- an ignorance that is stoked and manipulated by those who wish to strip rights and freedoms from the American people. They are manipulatively counting on Americans to have no knowledge or memory of the dark history of the Espionage Act -- a history that should alert us all at once to the fact that this Act has only ever been used -- was designed deliberately to be used -- specifically and viciously to silence people like you and me.
The Espionage Act was crafted in 1917 -- because President Woodrow Wilson wanted a war and, faced with the troublesome First Amendment, wished to criminalize speech critical of his war. In the run-up to World War One, there were many ordinary citizens -- educators, journalists, publishers, civil rights leaders, union activists -- who were speaking out against US involvement in the war. The Espionage Act was used to round these citizens by the thousands for the newly minted 'crime' of their exercising their First Amendment Rights. A movie producer who showed British cruelty in a film about the Revolutionary War (since the British were our allies in World War I) got a ten-year sentence under the Espionage act in 1917, and the film was seized; poet E.E. Cummings spent three and a half months in a military detention camp under the Espionage Act for the 'crime' of saying that he did not hate Germans. Esteemed Judge Learned Hand wrote that the wording of the Espionage Act was so vague that it would threaten the American tradition of freedom itself. Many were held in prison for weeks in brutal conditions without due process; some, in Connecticut -- Lieberman's home state -- were severely beaten while they were held in prison. The arrests and beatings were widely publicized and had a profound effect, terrorizing those who would otherwise speak out.
Presidential candidate Eugene Debs received a ten-year prison sentence in 1918 under the Espionage Act for daring to read the First Amendment in public. The roundup of ordinary citizens -- charged with the Espionage Act -- who were jailed for daring to criticize the government was so effective in deterring others from speaking up that the Act silenced dissent in this country for a decade. In the wake of this traumatic history, it was left untouched -- until those who wish the same outcome began to try to reanimate it again starting five years ago, and once again, now. Seeing the Espionage Act rise up again is, for anyone who knows a thing about it, like seeing the end of a horror movie in which the zombie that has enslaved the village just won't die.
I predicted in 2006 that the forces that wish to strip American citizens of their freedoms, so as to benefit from a profitable and endless state of war -- forces that are still powerful in the Obama years, and even more powerful now that the Supreme Court decision striking down limits on corporate contributions to our leaders has taken effect -- would pressure Congress and the White House to try to breathe new life yet again into the terrifying Espionage Act in order to silence dissent. In 2005, Bush tried this when the New York Times ran its exposé of Bush's illegal surveillance of banking records -- the SWIFT program. This report was based, as is the WikiLeaks publication, on classified information. Then, as now, White House officials tried to invoke the Espionage Act against the New York Times. Talking heads on the right used language such as 'espioinage' and 'treason' to describe the Times' release of the story, and urged that Bill Keller be tried for treason and, if found guilty, executed. It didn't stick the first time; but, as I warned, since this tactic is such a standard part of the tool-kit for closing an open society -- 'Step Ten' of the 'Ten Steps' to a closed society: 'Rename Dissent 'Espionage' and Criticism of Government, 'Treason' -- I knew, based on my study of closing societies, that this tactic would resurface.
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Fragment of What the Bleep down the Rabbithole
By Mark LeVine (Al-Jazeera)
When your Swiss banker throws you overboard, you know you've made some very powerful enemies.
Long famed for hiding money for everyone from Nazis and drug lords to spies and dictators, the Swiss government's banking arm has decided that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are just too hot even for it to handle.
And so the PostFinance, which runs the country's banks, declared in early December that it had "ended its business relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Paul Assange" after accusing Mr. Assange of - gasp! - providing false information about his place of residence.
This move followed similar moves by credit card companies MasterCard and Visa, as well as PayPal and Amazon.com, to no longer process WikiLeaks payments and, in Amazon.com's case, to cease hosting its data.
As I write this, Bank of America has joined the crescendo of corporations taking aim at WikiLeaks, refusing to process payments for it any longer because of "our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."
And soon after, none other than Apple joined the chorus, pulling the plug on a WikiLeaks app only days after it went on sale on its iTunes website. Every sector of the corporate economy, it seems, is out to get WikiLeaks.
Zeroing in on "neocorporatism"
Should CIA agents, mafia bosses and other fellow Swiss banking customers who have likely been even less than forthright in their personal representations than Assange is alleged to have been also worry about the loyalty and discretion of their Swiss bankers?
Probably not. And that's because the world's criminals, autocrats and spooks are very much part of the global political economic system, even if sometimes on opposite sides.
But WikiLeaks both operates outside the system, seeking "Matrix"-style, to use technology - the internet - to "destroy" it by prying it open to public scrutiny, exposing the constant conspiracies of the powerful against the rest of society.
This task, Assange argues, is the most important way to help free the system's millions of often complicit - if not quite willing - victims and in so doing, "change or remove... government and neocorporatist behaviour".
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Roosevelt Institute Braintruster William K. Black explains how the finance economy preys on the real economy instead of serving it. He shows how both have become dysfunctional and warns that we must not neglect the real economy — the source of our jobs, our incomes, and the creator of goods and services — as we focus on financial reform.
What exactly is the function of the financial sector in our society? Simply this: Its sole function is supplying capital efficiently to aid the real economy. The financial sector is a tool to help those that make real tools, not an end in itself. But five fatal flaws in the financial sector's current structure have created a monster that drains the real economy, promotes fraud and corruption, threatens democracy, and causes recurrent, intensifying crises.
1. The financial sector harms the real economy.
Even when not in crisis, the financial sector harms the real economy. First, it is vastly too large. The finance sector is an intermediary — essentially a "middleman". Like all middlemen, it should be as small as possible, while still being capable of accomplishing its mission. Otherwise it is inherently parasitical. Unfortunately, it is now vastly larger than necessary, dwarfing the real economy it is supposed to serve. Forty years ago, our real economy grew better with a financial sector that received one-twentieth as large a percentage of total profits (2%) than does the current financial sector (40%). The minimum measure of how much damage the bloated, grossly over-compensated finance sector causes to the real economy is this massive increase in the share of total national income wasted through the finance sector's parasitism.
Second, the finance sector is worse than parasitic. In the title of his recent book, The Predator State, James Galbraith aptly names the problem. The financial sector functions as the sharp canines that the predator state uses to rend the nation. In addition to siphoning off capital for its own benefit, the finance sector misallocates the remaining capital in ways that harm the real economy in order to reward already-rich financial elites harming the nation. The facts are alarming:
• Corporate stock repurchases and grants of stock to officers have exceeded new capital raised by the U.S. capital markets this decade. That means that the capital markets decapitalize the real economy. Too often, they do so in order to enrich corrupt corporate insiders through accounting fraud or backdated stock options.
• The U.S. real economy suffers from critical shortages of employees with strong mathematical, engineering, and scientific backgrounds. Graduates in these three fields all too frequently choose careers in finance rather than the real economy because the financial sector provides far greater executive compensation. Individuals with these quantitative backgrounds work overwhelmingly in devising the kinds of financial models that were important contributors to the financial crisis. We take people that could be conducting the research & development work essential to the success of our real economy (including its success in becoming sustainable) and put them instead in financial sector activities where, because of that sector's perverse incentives, they further damage both the financial sector and the real economy. Michael Moore makes this point in his latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story.
• The financial sector's fixation on accounting earnings leads it to pressure U.S manufacturing and service firms to export jobs abroad, to deny capital to firms that are unionized, and to encourage firms to use foreign tax havens to evade paying U.S. taxes.
• It misallocates capital by creating recurrent financial bubbles. Instead of flowing to the places where it will be most useful to the real economy, capital gets directed to the investments that create the greatest fraudulent accounting gains. The financial sector is particularly prone to providing exceptional amounts of funds to what I call accounting "control frauds". Control frauds are seemingly-legitimate entities used by the people that control them as a fraud "weapons." In the financial sector, accounting frauds are the weapons of choice. Accounting control frauds are so attractive to lenders and investors because they produce record, guaranteed short-term accounting "profits." They optimize by growing rapidly like other Ponzi schemes, making loans to borrowers unlikely to be able to repay them (once the bubble bursts), and engaging in extreme leverage. Unless there is effective regulation and prosecution, this misallocation creates an epidemic of accounting control fraud that hyper-inflates financial bubbles. The FBI began warning of an "epidemic" of mortgage fraud in its congressional testimony in September 2004. It also reports that 80% of mortgage fraud losses come when lender personnel are involved in the fraud. (The other 20% of the fraud would have been impossible had these fraudulent lenders not suborned their underwriting systems and their internal and external controls in order to maximize their growth of bad loans.)
• Because the financial sector cares almost exclusively about high accounting yields and "profits", it misallocates capital away from firms and entrepreneurs that could best improve the real economy (e.g., by reducing short-term profits through funding the expensive research & development that can produce innovative goods and superior sustainability) and could best reduce poverty and inequality (e.g., through microcredit finance that would put the "Payday lenders" and predatory mortgage lenders out of business).
• It misallocates capital by securing enormous governmental subsidies for financial firms, particularly those that have the greatest political power and would otherwise fail due to incompetence and fraud.
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From Why women really do love self-obsessed psychopaths by Steve Connor (The Independent)
Bad boys, it seems, really do get all the girls. Women might claim they want caring, thoughtful types but scientists have discovered what they really want – self-obsessed, lying psychopaths.
A study has found that men with the "dark triad" of traits – narcissism, thrill- seeking and deceitfulness – are likely to have a larger number of sexual affairs.
Peter Jonason, of New Mexico University in Las Cruces, believes that these traits may have an innate, genetic component that explains why some men seem unable to stop themselves behaving badly.
The dark triad of traits are the self-obsession of narcissism, the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. "We have some evidence these traits may represent a successful evolutionary strategy," Dr Jonason told New Scientist magazine.
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From Hungary's 'Orbanization' Is Worrying Europe, by Erich Follath (DerSpiegel)
The move by Hungary's right-wing government to muzzle the media is the most recent example of a disturbing political trend in the country that was once hailed as a model for post-commununist development. Should Europe impose sanctions just as Hungary is about to assume the rotating EU presidency?
The Hungarians have been Europe's heroes twice in the last few decades. The way they fearlessly faced off against Soviet tanks in 1956 and fought for their ideals remains unforgotten. In 1989, they courageously opened the borders that separated Eastern Europe from freedom. And in the initial years following the fall of communism, many saw Budapest as a possible model for the successful development of a democracy and market economy. Hungary, the land of the Magyars, was also a land of hope.
But that seems long ago now. The rotating chairmanship of the European Union, which Hungary assumes on Jan. 1, will not represent the culmination of a successful story. In fact, the opposite could be the case. Because of its policies, Budapest could now "be in for some serious problems," Martin Schulz, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats in the European Parliament said last Tuesday. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn went a step further, accusing the Hungarian government of violating "the spirit and text of the EU treaties." "The question arises," he continued, "as to whether such a country deserves to lead the EU. If we don't do anything, it will be very difficult to talk to China or Iran about human rights."
A great deal of anger has been building up. The fact that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has just cold-bloodedly pushed through a law that muzzles the press, only a few days before he steps onto the pan-European stage, is just the final straw. It has been a last, and possibly decisive step towards autocracy.
No other European politician will have as much power to implement such drastic measures against critical media as Orbán, whose right-wing populist Fidesz Party has a two-thirds majority in parliament. The new, 170-page law attempts to regulate all television and radio stations, newspapers and Internet sites. It even applies to blogs and foreign media available in Hungary.
At the center of the control mechanisms is a new government agency staffed exclusively with Fidesz members. It has the power to impose fines of up to €750,000 ($983,000) for articles with objectionable content -- and it alone will decide what is deemed objectionable. The staff of public media organizations will be placed under government supervision.
Outraged opposition politicians demanded to know how this differs from censorship in the days of former Communist Party General Secretary János Kádár, and demonstratively taped their mouths shut in parliament. Some Hungarian newspapers have published empty front pages in protest at the law.
Government representatives assured critics that the new law would not be applied in a restrictive manner. But when a journalist of government-owned radio station MR1-Kossuth Radio used a minute of silence to protest the change in the treatment of the press, he was suspended.
There are many reasons for Hungary's descent into the ranks of countries that are only partially democratic, but archconservatives and the radical right wing are not the only ones responsible for this adverse development. The Hungarian left has committed a form of gradual suicide. For several parliamentary terms it had the chance to shape Hungary, most recently between 2006 and the spring of 2010. But hopeful steps were quickly abandoned as corruption and nepotism shaped the political scene. Former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány highlighted the dilemma in a 2006 speech, when he said: "No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have … We have lied in the morning, at noon and at night." It was only the failure of the Socialists that enabled the triumph of the conservative challenger, a seducer of the people.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010
(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, DECEMBER 27 - The ''large flames of social uprising'' fanned by the rage of workers and students in Greece, France and Italy is a foretaste of ''the next large-scale global uprising'' against a ''new form of fascism'' of the powers-that-be. These were the words of the imprisoned leaders of the main Greek anarchist-insurrectionary group, Revolutionary Struggle (EA), saying that in this climate of conflict it is necessary to choose ''bankruptcy'' over the ''austerity'' imposed by the EU and the IMF as a tool for national exploitation and liquidation of the latest social victories. This analysis of events by the EA is contained in a letter from jail by Maziotis, Pola Roupa and Costas Gournas, self-declared leaders of the armed group responsible for numerous attacks including the launch of a missile against the US embassy in 2007. In the letter the leaders of the EA - which is believed to have links with the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, which in November claimed responsibility for letter bombs targeting embassies and international leaders - say that after the US crisis ''in one European city after another millions of people went into the streets to oppose the harsh neo-liberal offensive''. To move forward the fight against pension and education reform, write the three, demonstrations have been organised everywhere, and ''in Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland there turned into uprisings'', each of which '' feeding the revolt of the other while awaiting a large-scale European-wide social fire''. It is a 'fire' which, under the slogan ''us or them'', meaning us or ''the fascists who govern and control the wealth of society'', write the EA leaders, will lead - beginning from Greece - to the ''next worldwide large-scale uprising''.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
China's Challenge: As tensions elevate on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang's patron deploys a weapon designed to sink the very ships we are sending to protect an ally. This does not bode well.
The prospects that the Korean War, which ended in only an interminable armistice, may resume has become an increasingly real possibility in recent months.
That its patron, China, without which North Korea would collapse of its own rot, now has deployed a missile designed to target and sink U.S. carrier battle groups adds a new and disturbing element to any confrontation in the region.
Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun last Sunday that China's touted "carrier-killer," an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) designated the Dong Feng-21D, had reached "initial operational capability."
This version of China's land-based mobile medium-range missile is off the drawing boards and in the field.
"Beijing has successfully developed, tested, and deployed the world's first weapons system capable of targeting a moving carrier strike group from long-range, land-based, mobile launchers," confirms Andrew Erickson, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College.
Erickson says that at least one unit of China's Second Artillery Corps is equipped with the DF-21D.
Defense analysts have called the weapon a "game-changer," as have we — one that could force U.S. carrier battle groups to keep their distance and stay away from areas of Chinese interest or territorial claims, such as Taiwan or Japan's Shenkaku islands, both of which Beijing claims are Chinese territory.
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U.S. commander says China aims to be a 'global military' power
Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said he believes that China aspires to become a "global military (power)" by extending its influence beyond its regional waters.
"In the capabilities that we're seeing develop, that is fairly obvious," Willard told The Asahi Shimbun in a recent exclusive interview in Hawaii.
"They are focused presently on what they term their 'near seas'--the Bohai, Yellow Sea, South China Sea, East China Sea," he said. "(But) I think they have an interest in being able to influence beyond that point."
Willard also said he believes that China's anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) system, known as "aircraft carrier killer," has achieved initial operational capability (IOC), even though "it will continue to undergo testing ・for several more years."
The full text of the interview follows...
All of which is troubling news in light of:
The Dear Leader Calls for Holy War
Christmas or no Christmas, the Korean Peninsula is boiling once again, with threats flying thicker than the winter snow along North Korea's icy Yalu River.
Last week, North Korea threatened a nuclear "holy war" against South Korea. The North Korean "Dear Leader," Kim Jong-il, has repeatedly vowed to "liberate" South Korea, which he calls an American colony.
Korean tempers are as hot as their beloved national pickled cabbage dish, kimchi.
In South Korea, there is open talk of "liberating" the North.
While a majority of South Koreans favor negotiations and patience in dealing with their difficult northern brothers, many conservatives in South Korea, and particularly so Evangelical Christians, advocate military action against the North.
Military forces in both Koreas, China's northeast, Japan, and Russia's Far East are on high alert. So are US forces in the region.
Chances still are against full-scale conflict because both sides have so much to lose. War would be a disaster for all 73 million Koreans. The last Korean War, in the 1950's, killed over two million Korean civilians and left the nation's cities in ruins. ...
North Korea 'ready for holy war' against South
North Korea warned on Thursday of a "holy war" using its nuclear deterrent, following the largest-ever military drills by the South earlier today.
"To counter the enemy's intentional drive to push the situation to the brink of war, our revolutionary forces are making preparations to begin a holy war at any moment necessary based on nuclear deterrent," the North's KCNA news agency quoted Minister of Armed Forces Kim Yong-chun as saying during a rally in Pyongyang.
The South's largest show of force yet, the drills involved hundreds of military personnel and more than 100 types of weapons, including tanks, anti-tank missiles, helicopters and fighter jets.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has vowed a "merciless counterattack" to any further Northern attack.
The South also continued its three-day naval live-fire exercises some 100 km south of the disputed maritime border with North Korea.
The North earlier described South Korean exercises as "warmongering."
Tensions remain high, a month after Pyongyang shelled the South's Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, killing four people.
MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti)
By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon with assistance from Ingemar Smith
"The prisoners have done all they can do now. It's up to us to build a movement out here that can make the changes which have to be made." – Rev. Kenny Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS)
Eight days after the start of Georgia's historic prisoners' strike, in which thousands of inmates in at least six prisons refused to leave their cells, demanding wages for work, education and self-improvement programs, medical care, better access to their families and more, representatives of the communities the inmates came from met in downtown Atlanta with state corrections officials. The community delegation, calling itself the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights, was headed by Ed Dubose of the NAACP of Georgia's state conference, and included representatives from the US Human Rights Organization, the Nation of Islam, the Green Party of Georgia, The Ordinary Peoples Society and attorneys from the ACLU of Georgia, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and elsewhere, along with state Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam.
State officials claimed they knew about the strike action well in advance and said they locked the institutions down as a preemptive measure. They declared they'd confiscated more than a hundred cell phones, mostly in public places, and identified dozens of inmates whom they believed were leaders of the strike. They admitted confining these inmates to isolation and in some cases transferring them to other institutions.
The coalition asserted that brutal reprisals were being taken against nonviolent strikers by prison authorities and that constant threats were being made against inmates. These incidents, the coalition insisted, along with the vast gulf between the reasonable demands of the inmates and some of the well-known conditions in the state's penal institutions, made the immediate entry into the affected prisons by a fact finding team of advocates, community representatives and attorneys at the earliest moment an absolute necessity.
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The Largest Prison Strike In US History Rages On
By Ole Ole Olson, NEWS JUNKIE POST
On December 9th, the largest prison strike in US history began in multiple facilities in Georgia. Thousands of those inside have united in a self-imposed lockdown to demand various human rights demands ranging from an end to slave labor, access to health care and education, communication from their families, and an end to cruel and unusual punishment. Despite a harsh crackdown, the strike has been raging on for the last week, and shows no signs of ending.
The strike has been taking place from between six to eleven facilities across Georgia, and is currently still strong in Hays State Prison in Trion, Telfair State Prison in Helena, Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe, and Smith State Prison in Glennville. Georgia correction officials refused to comment on the strike until earlier this week, when they confirmed these four facilities were on lockdown status.
Although information is tightly controlled by the prison industry, inside sources claim that inmates have suffered a series of reprisal and punitive measures that include widespread destruction of their personal property, denial of food, and beatings. While outside temperatures dropped to freezing, heat and hot water have also been cut in an attempt by prison officials to break up the strike. Despite allegations that the crackdown by guards are tactics designed to instigate a violent response, there are no reports of violent action taken by the prisoners themselves, this appears to be a peaceful protest.
Advocate for prisoner human rights Elaine Brown has been in contact with the inmates, and reports inmates at Augusta State Prison were "brutally ripped from their cells … and beaten, resulting in broken ribs, one man beaten beyond recognition." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues:
She said officers assigned to the riot squad at Telfair State Prison had "roughed up prisoners and destroyed all their property. At Macon and Hays State Prisons, tactical squads have menaced the men for days, removing some to the 'hole,' the wardens ordering heat and hot water turned off. Tear gas has been used to force men out of their cells at various prisons, while guards patrol grounds with assault rifles."
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By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
...DR. GABOR MATÉ: The hardcore drug addicts that I treat, are, without exception, people who have had extraordinarily difficult lives. And the commonality is childhood abuse. In other words, these people all enter life under extremely adverse circumstances. Not only did they not get what they need for healthy development, they actually got negative circumstances of neglect. I don't have a single female patient in the Downtown Eastside who wasn't sexually abused, for example, as were many of the men, or abused, neglected and abandoned serially, over and over again.
And that's what sets up the brain biology of addiction. In other words, the addiction is related both psychologically, in terms of emotional pain relief, and neurobiological development to early adversity.
AMY GOODMAN: What does the title of your book mean, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts?
DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, it's a Buddhist phrase. In the Buddhists' psychology, there are a number of realms that human beings cycle through, all of us. One is the human realm, which is our ordinary selves. The hell realm is that of unbearable rage, fear, you know, these emotions that are difficult to handle. The animal realm is our instincts and our id and our passions.
Now, the hungry ghost realm, the creatures in it are depicted as people with large empty bellies, small mouths and scrawny thin necks. They can never get enough satisfaction. They can never fill their bellies. They're always hungry, always empty, always seeking it from the outside. That speaks to a part of us that I have and everybody in our society has, where we want satisfaction from the outside, where we're empty, where we want to be soothed by something in the short term, but we can never feel that or fulfill that insatiety from the outside. The addicts are in that realm all the time. Most of us are in that realm some of the time. And my point really is, is that there's no clear distinction between the identified addict and the rest of us. There's just a continuum in which we all may be found. They're on it, because they've suffered a lot more than most of us.
DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, ADD has a lot to do with that. I have attention deficit disorder myself. And again, most people see it as a genetic problem. I don’t. It actually has to do with those factors of brain development, which in my case occurred as a Jewish infant under Nazi occupation in the ghetto of Budapest. And the day after the pediatrician—sorry, the day after the Nazis marched into Budapest in March of 1944, my mother called the pediatrician and says, “Would you please come and see my son, because he’s crying all the time?” And the pediatrician says, “Of course I’ll come. But I should tell you, all my Jewish babies are crying.”
Now infants don’t know anything about Nazis and genocide or war or Hitler. They’re picking up on the stresses of their parents. And, of course, my mother was an intensely stressed person, her husband being away in forced labor, her parents shortly thereafter being departed and killed in Auschwitz. Under those conditions, I don’t have the kind of conditions that I need for the proper development of my brain circuits. And particularly, how does an infant deal with that much stress? By tuning it out. That’s the only way the brain can deal with it. And when you do that, that becomes programmed into the brain.
And so, if you look at the preponderance of ADD in North America now and the three millions of kids in the States that are on stimulant medication and the half-a-million who are on anti-psychotics, what they’re really exhibiting is the effects of extreme stress, increasing stress in our society, on the parenting environment. Not bad parenting. Extremely stressed parenting, because of social and economic conditions. And that’s why we’re seeing such a preponderance.
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From The Physics arXiv Blog:
There's something exciting afoot in the world of cosmology. Last month, Roger Penrose at the University of Oxford and Vahe Gurzadyan at Yerevan State University in Armenia announced that they had found patterns of concentric circles in the cosmic microwave background, the echo of the Big Bang.
This, they say, is exactly what you'd expect if the universe were eternally cyclical. By that, they mean that each cycle ends with a big bang that starts the next cycle. In this model, the universe is a kind of cosmic Russian Doll, with all previous universes contained within the current one.
That's an extraordinary discovery: evidence of something that occurred before the (conventional) Big Bang.
Today, another group says they've found something else in the echo of the Big Bang. These guys start with a different model of the universe called eternal inflation. In this way of thinking, the universe we see is merely a bubble in a much larger cosmos. This cosmos is filled with other bubbles, all of which are other universes where the laws of physics may be dramatically different to ours.
These bubbles probably had a violent past, jostling together and leaving "cosmic bruises" where they touched. If so, these bruises ought to be visible today in the cosmic microwave background.
Now Stephen Feeney at University College London and a few pals say they've found tentative evidence of this bruising in the form of circular patterns in cosmic microwave background. In fact, they've found four bruises, implying that our universe must have smashed into other bubbles at least four times in the past.
Again, this is an extraordinary result: the first evidence of universes beyond our own.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
With tinted windows hiding the "authorities" from the public, a hydraulic lift system and cameras on each side, the tower was an intimidating structure. This is a small town with low crime and the tower was placed next to a clean and well maintained city park.
What could the reason behind this be? Conditioning? Perhaps a trial run to see reaction of the people? As we watched, we saw others slow down and stare in wonderment. No one approached the Guard Tower. It seems no one complained either because the Prison Guard Tower was later brought back again for a few days.
We thought that it could be for the train station. But then why wouldn't they just put an officer in the station? Why the blacked out windows? Why is it positioned in the middle of the park and not closer to the train station?
This is clearly meant to condition all the local citizens to accept the police state that is now America. Our nation is supposed to be based on liberty and freedom, now it has been turned into a virtual prison with literal guard towers on small streets, cameras at intersections and body scanners at our airports. This is all meant to show you that you are no better to those with the power than any common criminal. It is about conditioning, not safety.
Please, stop accepting this sort of conditioning and start working to prevent the growing police state that is now choking our once free nation."
A seven-year effort by the Central Intelligence Agency to hide its relationship with a Swiss family who once acted as moles inside the world's most successful atomic black market hit a turning point on Thursday when a Swiss magistrate recommended charging the men with trafficking in technology and information for making nuclear arms.
The prospect of a prosecution, and a public trial, threatens to expose some of the C.I.A.'s deepest secrets if defense lawyers try to protect their clients by revealing how they operated on the agency's behalf. It could also tarnish what the Bush administration once hailed as a resounding victory in breaking up the nuclear arms network by laying bare how much of it remained intact.
"It's like a puzzle," Andreas Müller, the Swiss magistrate, said at a news conference in Bern on Thursday. "If you put the puzzle together you get the whole picture."
The three men — Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, Urs and Marco — helped run the atomic smuggling ring of A. Q. Khan, an architect of Pakistan's nuclear bomb program, officials in several countries have said. In return for millions of dollars, according to former Bush administration officials, the Tinners secretly worked for the C.I.A. as well, not only providing information about the Khan network's manufacturing and sales efforts, which stretched from Iran to Libya to North Korea, but also helping the agency introduce flaws into the equipment sent to some of those countries.
The Bush administration went to extraordinary lengths to protect the men from prosecution, even persuading Swiss authorities to destroy equipment and information found on their computers and in their homes and businesses — actions that may now imperil efforts to prosecute them.
While it has been clear since 2008 that the Tinners acted as American spies, the announcement by the Swiss magistrate on Thursday, recommending their prosecution for nuclear smuggling, is a turning point in the investigation. A trial would bring to the fore a case that Pakistan has insisted is closed. Prosecuting the case could also expose in court a tale of C.I.A. break-ins in Switzerland, and of a still unexplained decision by the agency not to seize electronic copies of a number of nuclear bomb designs found on the computers of the Tinner family.
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The Drug Enforcement Administration
has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a
reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation
so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it
against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables.
In far greater detail than previously seen, the cables, from the cache obtained by WikiLeaks
and made available to some news organizations, offer glimpses of drug
agents balancing diplomacy and law enforcement in places where it can be
hard to tell the politicians from the traffickers, and where drug rings
are themselves mini-states whose wealth and violence permit them to run
roughshod over struggling governments. Diplomats recorded
unforgettable vignettes from the largely unseen war on drugs: In Panama, an urgent BlackBerry message from the president to the
American ambassador demanded that the D.E.A. go after his political
enemies: "I need help with tapping phones."
In Sierra Leone, a major cocaine-trafficking prosecution was almost
upended by the attorney general's attempt to solicit $2.5 million in
bribes. In Guinea, the country's biggest narcotics kingpin turned out to be the
president's son, and diplomats discovered that before the police
destroyed a huge narcotics seizure, the drugs had been replaced by
flour. Leaders of Mexico's beleaguered military issued private pleas for
closer collaboration with the drug agency, confessing that they had
little faith in their own country's police forces.
Cables from Myanmar, the target of strict United States sanctions,
describe the drug agency informants' reporting both on how the military
junta enriches itself with drug money and on the political activities of
the junta's opponents. Officials of the D.E.A. and the State Department declined to discuss
what they said was information that should never have been made public. Like many of the cables made public in recent weeks, those describing the drug war
do not offer large disclosures. Rather, it is the details that add up
to a clearer picture of the corrupting influence of big traffickers, the
tricky game of figuring out which foreign officials are actually
controlled by drug lords, and the story of how an entrepreneurial agency
operating in the shadows of the F.B.I.
has become something more than a drug agency. The D.E.A. now has 87
offices in 63 countries and close partnerships with governments that
keep the Central Intelligence Agency at arm's length.
Because of the ubiquity of the drug scourge, today's D.E.A. has access
to foreign governments, including those, like Nicaragua's and
Venezuela's, that have strained diplomatic relations with the United
States. Many are eager to take advantage of the agency's drug detection
and wiretapping technologies. In some countries, the collaboration appears to work well, with the drug
agency providing intelligence that has helped bring down traffickers,
and even entire cartels. But the victories can come at a high price,
according to the cables, which describe scores of D.E.A. informants and a
handful of agents who have been killed in Mexico and Afghanistan.
In Venezuela, the local intelligence service turned the tables on the
D.E.A., infiltrating its operations, sabotaging equipment and hiring a
computer hacker to intercept American Embassy e-mails, the cables
report. And as the drug agency has expanded its eavesdropping operations to keep
up with cartels, it has faced repeated pressure to redirect its
counternarcotics surveillance to local concerns, provoking tensions with
some of Washington's closest allies.
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By Rick Rozoff, OpEd News
On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year's Defense Department budget.
The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.
The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.
The proposed figure for the Pentagon's 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.
Even as it currently is, the amount is the highest in constant dollars (pegged at any given year's dollar and adjusted for inflation) since 1945, the final year of the Second World War. With recent U.S. census figures at 308 million, next year the Pentagon will spend $2,354 for every citizen of the country at the $725 billion price tag alone.
Last year's Pentagon budget, by way of comparison, was $680 billion, a base budget of $533.8 billion and the remainder for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In July of this year Congress approved the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act which contained an additional $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Next year's defense authorization of $725 billion compares to, according to the Center for Defense Information, a Pentagon budget of $444.6 billion in 1946; $460.4 billion in 1968, the highest yearly amount during the Vietnam War; and $443.4 billion in 1988, the highest during the eight years of the Ronald Reagan administration's massive military buildup. (Numbers in 2004 constant dollars.) 
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates American military spending for 2009 to have accounted for 43 percent of the world total. Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, earlier this year estimated the 2010 U.S. defense budget to constitute 47 percent of total worldwide military expenditures and to amount to 19 percent of all American federal spending.
In addition, Pentagon spending has increased by 100 percent since 1998 and "the Obama budget plans to spend more on the Pentagon over eight years than any administration has since World War II." 
With 2.25 million full-time civilian and military personnel, excluding part-time National Guard and Reserve members, the Defense Department is the U.S.'s largest employer, outstripping Walmart with 1.4 million employees and the U.S Post Office with 599,000. 
"Add in what Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Energy departments spend on defense and total US military spending will reach $861 billion in fiscal 2011, exceeding that of all other nations combined," according to Todd Harrison, senior fellow for Defense Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. 
In April Robert Higgs of The Independent Institute advocated that the budgets - in part or in whole - of the departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Energy, State and Treasury and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) should be calculated in the real military budget, which would in 2009 would have increased it to $901.5 billion.
"Adding [the] interest component to the previous all-agency total, the grand total comes to $1,027.8 billion, which is 61.5 percent greater than the Pentagon's outlays alone."
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